Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July Feast, A Summer Thanksgiving

The Freemans give a such a gorgeous party every Fourth of July, that we have started calling it our summer Thanksgiving. Casey wrote about the grilled pizza they made- a delicious way to feed a crowd.

What better time to gather together and share in summers bounty? The Fourth of July really is all about the food. This year, the spectacular (albeit rainy) fireworks from the Richmond Diamond took a backseat to the real show, the food! An amazing array of summer salads with plenty of corn, tomatoes, green beans, basil, squash, zucchini and cucumbers represented. Also watermelon and plenty of sweets...hopefully more about the brownies later from Shannon.
And the star of the show, a crowd favorite, grilled pizza. Although it does involve a bit of prep, pizza can make for an easy and delicious party entree. One trip to St. Stephen's Farmers Market on Saturday supplied most of the toppings which included fresh tomatoes, grilled eggplant, squash and onions (a house favorite) mushrooms, tomatillo. We even sought out a beautiful melt in your mouth Nostrano Salami from Belmont Butchery.
There are a lot of ways to make pizza dough, but the standby recipe at our house is a very simple adaptation from the basic No Knead Bread Dough recipe. We also use this dough to make everyday loaf bread, cinnamon rolls and rustic fruit tarts. Once you get into the rhythm of making it, the possibilities are endless.

Basic No Knead Dough

5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
3 cups warm water

Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Pour warm (but not hot) water into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a separate bowl.) Add yeast to water and let it sit for a minute or so. Gradually add flour to the water and yeast mixture. I usually do with with the dough hook attachment on my stand mixer but a regular bowl and wooden spoon work as well. Mix together until the flour and water some together to form a dough ball, not too sticky or too dry, you may need to add a little extra water to get it the proper consistency.

After it is mixed, put it in a large plastic container, it will double in size so find something big to store it in. Let it sit on the counter loosely covered until the dough doubles in volume and then settles on the top. Cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Then take the amount you need out of the fridge and make your dough ball (about the size of a large grapefruit) or pat out your pizza dough on a metal baking sheet (use a little olive oil under the dough to keep it from sticking.) Let the dough rest for about 30 min, pizza dough doesn't need so long but it's good to bring down to room temperature.

Top you pizza and bake it for about 10 min. If you are making bread, slash the top with a knife to allow it to expand and bake it for 30 min.


  1. What a great post! I've just learned to make bread (after 5 disastrous tries :), so this is one that I'm going to bookmark and refer back to.

  2. Can't wait to make this! Great to meet you at The Farm Table celebration!