Trader Joe’s Arugula Pizza

Since I don’t have any baking supplies left, I haven’t been able to make any pizzas. Boy do I miss that garlic crust. I picked up this Arugula Pizza at Trader Joe’s when I went the other day, and I must say I was pleased with the product.

It has arugula, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, manchego, provolone, and pecorino. I also sprinkled on a bit of parmesan cheese when I took it out of the oven. You can never have too much cheese!

The crust was thinner than I normally like, but it was still super yummy. Even though I ate half of the pizza and it has three servings, I wasn’t as full as I would have liked. This is something I would probably eat with a salad or some other veggies on the side.

With that said, I definitely want to get this pizza again. It would be too expensive to make it on my own, what with the multiple types of cheese. However, I will happily pay $4.29 for two delicious meals. Yay for Trader Joe’s!

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Le Pain Quotidien

From time to time my dorm actually has events I want to participate in, especially when they involve baking. I signed up to go to Le Pain Quotidien to learn how they make their dough. Playing on the dough pun, this outing was also an educational event about how to negotiate your future contract and salary. I learned a lot of good things from the faculty-in-residence who led the event, and I think I’m definitely going to be in contact with him when it’s my turn to do this.

We got to the restaurant and sat down at a long wooden table while we waited for our turn in the baking class room. While we waited we  sipped hot drinks and went over the educational portion of the trip. I tried my first latte ever, and I have to say it wasn’t half bad.

Once we got in the room, we donned our aprons and hats and gathered around another giant work table. The woman teaching us went over the ingredients we would be using and demonstrated the proper techniques to make the dough. They actually use the same dough for their sweet and savory things, so we only needed to learn to make one dough for both the chocolate-filled rolls and the pizzas.

It was a very sticky process, with dough sticking to everyone and everything with every touch. I got the hang of it quickly enough, so I wasn’t quite as dough-y as others who have had less experience. Give them time and they’ll learn too. We didn’t end up using the dough we made for our pizzas because they had to rest and rise, so we got to take it home to make more things. Also, isn’t this oven great! It’s HUGE!

We had a choice of toppings for our pizza, and I went with mozzarella, parmesan, and bacon(!!). Their sauce is pretty much just crushed tomatoes, and they don’t even cook it at all. I LOVE this sauce. It’s perfection, with no onion bits that I can’t stand for me to pick out.

The chocolate and butter rolls were also really good. I took a couple home to share with my suitemates, and they approve of them as well.

I baked my little ball of dough and covered it in butter, cinnamon, sugar, and powdered sugar. I really love this combination. It brings me back to fried dough at the lake and the beach when I was younger.

SUCCESS!!!

Biscoff consumption has begun to decrease in the suite as of late. No, it’s not that we’re getting sick of it. It’s the exact opposite, actually, we still love it and want to take baths in it every day. The reason we haven’t been eating it is far more depressing: I can’t find it at Trader Joe’s! The unthinkable happened so much sooner than I expected. I went to the store a few days ago and went to its supposed location, but it was no where to be found! You have no idea how heartbroken I was at this discovery. There were so many things I hadn’t made yet and so many spoonfuls I hadn’t consumed. Oh TJ’s, why must you break my heart into a million pieces. Looking at prices on Amazon also broke my heart, because even though I love it, I will NOT pay nearly $10 for a jar. No way. I can’t believe my love affair with Biscoff  has ended after only one jar. I’ll look again when I go shopping next week, but I won’t be too optimistic, so that my heart doesn’t break all over again.

Despite the sorrow we have been experiencing, we’ve had to persevere and get our work done. Midterms are over and the final spring break of my life has officially begun. This is my last official school vacation, and I’m having some mixed feelings about it. I still have April vacation when I don’t have to go to work, but this is still the end of an era for me. Seventeen years of schooling is almost over and it’s absolutely terrifying to think that I’m almost a real adult. Almost a real adult who will soon (HOPEFULLY) have a real job and a real apartment . . . and real bills (yuck!).

But I’m not going to dwell on that anymore right now. Instead I want to celebrate my victory over the dreaded kitchen demon yeast. I have a very mixed history with this leavening agent, and I’ve never really had much luck with it, save for when I make cinnamon rolls. I’m happy to report that that all changed with last night’s dinner.

I was checking the usual baking blogs in the morning, and what did I happen to find but the yummiest looking pizza ever! How Sweet It Is never fails to disappoint, and this Garlic Bread Pizza Crust takes the cake! I was a bit wary because of the yeast, so just to be sure it would work and rise well, I went to the store (not Trader Joe’s) and bought a different brand entirely, and after the results I think I’m going to stick with it from now on. I also took the time to meticulously measure the temperature of the water (yay multipurpose candy thermometer!), so that could have been a factor in my favor as well.

The dough was so soft and pliable and easy to manipulate. It came together really quickly, but it was a bit on the sticky side from time to time as the flour worked into it from the kneading surface. It rose amazingly well during the hour and a half wait time, but it was torture to have such a great smell in the kitchen that I couldn’t devour for such a long time. That’s another thing: this dough smells phenomenal! The combination of yeast, olive oil, honey, and basil is heavenly!

After the rising period, I was hesitant to start rolling out the dough. I never have the best luck with getting dough into the shape I want, but once again this dough surprised and pleased me to no end. But silly me disappointed myself. I plopped the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured counter top. It plopped into a PERFECT circle and it was SO easy to press out. But . . . it was too soft to transfer to the baking sheet, so I lost the perfection and had to do it all over again on the sheet itself. It wasn’t as perfect this time, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s more important that I’ve learned from the disappointment this mistake resulted in, and I now know what not to do in the future.

The pizza was already gigantic on the baking sheet, but after rising again and baking it was INSANE! It spanned the width of the pan and was about an inch and a half thick in some places. Now that’s my kind of pizza! All I could do was stare at it for a few moments with my “It’s a mountain!” suitemate. We were in awe!

There are no words for how well the smell translated into taste. The crust was everything I expected: fluffy, tender, flavorful, buttery, GARLICKY, and cheesy. The cheese and sauce were a bit lacking in flavor though, so I sprinkled on some more Parmesan and cracked some garlic pepper. Much better. I think this is definitely a crust that works better with some additional salt and punch, so I’ll have to expand my pizza cheese horizons beyond shredded mozzarella. I also probably shouldn’t use my go-to spaghetti sauce on it either, because it needs a sauce with more depth of flavor. Next time there will also definitely be pepperoni and maybe a drizzling of olive oil in the last few minutes in the oven. Looks like I’ll be experimenting soon!

You also wouldn’t go wrong with just making the dough alone and bathing it in extra butter/garlic/Parmesan instead of making a pizza. I just wanted to keep eating the outer crust, cheese and sauce be darned! It’s so addicting!