BY REBECCA LINDAMOOD
---- — I play a game on the Foodie with Family Facebook fan page called "Either-Or," in which I present a set of ingredients, circumstances, or dishes and ask folks to name their preferences.
This is a game where I give myself the illusion of power. How so? Because my children either-or me to death every day of the week on dinner preferences. I offer to make pizza for dinner, which should be an instant winner that earns me hugs and praises. Don’t get me wrong, I get those, but first I get, “Can we have it absolutely covered in anchovies?” “I don’t WIKE anchovies, can I have it covered in pepperoni?” “How about one without sauce? I’m not up for sauce this week.” “Anything but onions, please. And no olives!” “Oh! That reminds me, can I have it covered in anchovies, olives, onions and no pepperoni?”
Either-Or lets me pose the question. The rules are simple. I ask whether you like option “A” or option “B” better. Sometimes, I include an option “C”, “D” or “E”. It’s my game; I’m flexible. So I want to ask all of you the Either-Or question that was — by far — the most popular on Facebook and that, surprisingly, delivered the most heated responses: “Do you prefer either root beer floats or chocolate milkshakes?”
Honest to Pete, you’d think I had asked something far more scintillating, given the nearly 90 responses — some quite passionate — I received. But I guess when it comes down to it, we’re all pretty loyal to our iced desserts.
So today, in honor of Independence Day and all that July Fourth means to us, I’m going to declare both root beer floats and chocolate (malted) milkshakes to be the winner. And since man can’t live by ice cream beverages alone, I’m also including the blank canvas pizza that my family loves that either can be topped by anchovies, onions, black olives, pepperoni, and sauce, or with none of these, OR with (here’s option “C”) some combination thereof. How’s that for Independence?
It is important to note that Either-Or Pizza is not a recipe that is well suited to loading high with toppings. Little bits of everything are the order of the day because it is cooked at such a high temperature. Keeping the toppings fewer in number helps the crust to cook all the way through. If you want to load the crust, you can brush it with oil and cook it until it puffs and sets before removing from the oven, adding your toppings, and baking until the toppings are finished.
1 grapefruit-sized ball of your favorite pizza dough
1/3-1/2 c. of your favorite pizza sauce ~or~ ¼ cup olive oil plus 1 minced clove of garlic
1 1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella
¼ c. shredded hard Italian cheese (such as Romano, Parmesan, or Asiago)
12 whole, flat anchovy filets
12 thin slices pepperoni
¼ c. diced onion
¼ c. sliced black olives
¼ c. diced green or red bell pepper
¼ c. diced mushrooms
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 500° F or — if your oven temperature can’t go that high — as high as it can go with a rack positioned in the center. If you have a pizza stone, heat it on the center rack of the oven. While the oven is heating, generously drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, using your fingers to make sure the oil gets into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a small handful of cornmeal over the bottom of the pan and tap the pan around to evenly distribute the cornmeal. Shake out any excess.
On a clean work surface, roll out the pizza dough roughly to the shape of your prepared pan. Carefully lift the dough and drape it into the pan. If needed, wet your hands and stretch the dough to fit the pan. If you have areas where the dough drapes over the edge of the pan, simply tuck it back in along the edge. Use your fingers to dimple the dough along the inside of the pan, forming a bit of an outer lip.
If using the sauce, spread it over the crust just up to the lip of the dough. If using the olive oil, drizzle it over the crust likewise, then use a pastry brush to evenly cover the surface of the dough before sprinkling the minced garlic over the oil.
Scatter the shredded cheeses over the sauce or oil and garlic. Add any additional optional toppings and bake just until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and starting to brown in places and the outer edge of the pizza is golden brown to your liking. I can’t give you a hard time, because every pizza is different, but I’d say you’d be very safe if you start checking it at 8 minutes and keeping looking every couple of minutes after that. It’s more than okay to check on pizza as it bakes, in fact, it’s desirable.
Recipes for my favorite pizza doughs, slow-cooker pizza sauce, and various — far more specific — combinations of toppings can be found on my site at www.foodiewithfamily.com/recipes
Root Beer Float
Ingredients per float:
1 to 2 large scoops vanilla ice cream
12 oz. very well chilled root beer
There isn’t much to this, but I think the order in which the ingredients make it into the glass is important. You must choose a glass big enough to accommodate ice cream dropped into poured root beer. I prefer to use a wide-mouthed quart jar for the job. Trust me. There’s nothing much sadder than having to stick your face in a root beer geyser and trying to slurp up all the foam that happens when you add the ice cream. A quart jar holds it all right where it’s supposed to be so you can sip with leisure.
So ... To a wide-mouthed quart jar, add 12 ounces of super-chilled root beer. Carefully ease 1 to 2 large scoops of vanilla ice cream into the jar. Give one or two good stirs with a long spoon and sip away.
Chocolate Malted Milkshake
Ingredients per milkshake:
2 large scoops rich chocolate ice cream
1 ½ c. milk (I prefer whole milk)
2 T. malted milk powder (i.e. Ovaltine.)
Add all of the ingredients to the carafe of a blender. Fix the lid in place and pulse until smooth. Do not simply blend on high as that can heat the ice cream and make your thick, lovely milkshake melt. If it’s not thick enough for your liking, add a little more ice cream. Serve immediately.