Another easy pizza crust, perfect for something unpleasant like Wednesday.

So … burdock will have to wait until tomorrow. When you see prosciutto on special, you jump on it, and then you maximize its salty porkiness by cutting it into strips and baking it onto a pizza.

I make this foccacia bread that contains potato, and it’s quite delicious and always very moist. Sometimes I stretch the dough out and turn it into pizza, but it’s not a thing to make on weeknights, when I need to eat now-if-not-sooner the moment I get home. I thought tonight I’d try shredding potato into pizza dough and baking it that way, because it’s quicker than foccacia, and I might be onto something. Something awesome.

I topped the pizza with a sauce of a crushed bulb of roasted garlic and olive oil and some basil, strips of prosciutto, and a half-pound of mushrooms cooked in olive oil and garlic. And cheese, but not that much, actually, because even though it seems counter-intuitive not to load the thing up with an excess of cheese, on a pizza like this it’s better to use only what you need.

I’m only going to give you the recipe for the crust, because you can top it with whatever you want. But if you top it with roasted garlic and basil and prosciutto and mushrooms, I promise, you’ll be ecstatic upon eating it.

Potato pizza crust

(Makes one large-size pizza crust.)

  • 2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 medium potato (such as Yukon Gold), grated
  • 2 cups + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cornmeal

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and water. Let stand about five minutes, until yeast is fluffy.

Add potato. Stir to combine.

Add two cups of flour, salt, and oil, and mix until a slightly sticky dough has formed. If your potato is bigger and causes an excessively moist dough, add a bit more flour. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead in the additional quarter cup of flour.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cover dough and let stand for 20 minutes, as close to the oven as you can. Let it feel the warmth and grow just a bit.

Roll dough out into a relatively round sheet, a bit less than a half-inch thick, and lay onto a baking sheet sprinkled with the teaspoon of cornmeal. Top with whatever you like, and bake for about 25 minutes.

This is a bit unusual, and probably not what you want if you’re a die-hard thin-crust fan. It’s fluffy, because the potatoes get steamy as they cook, foofing up the flour and making this perfectly moist.

The other thing about it is that it’s filling, which is perfect for weeknight dinner, but it’s unexpected, and so you’re surprised around slice number three that you don’t even want dessert anymore, and you’re tempted to change into pajama pants if you haven’t already. Which I guess is good? Well, maybe the n0-dessert thing. Nick keeps mentioning my pajama pants, and how other wives wear skirts or sexy yoga pants, and he can shut right up because I feed him better than the other wives feed their Nicks, and they’re less fun and can’t hold their liquor. My pajamas are a point of contention around here.

Anyway, make this. It’s delicious. And soon, I promise, something about burdock root, which is not actually a very good hook if I’m hoping to get you to come back.

Winter chili: Sometimes you’re just too lazy to go to the store.

Today was very busy, and I went into it tired, which never bodes well. I got home a bit early from work, and we were supposed to write tonight, because we’re doing that now, so I put on a big pot of chili. We never got to the writing – we were both malfunctioning creatively. Fortunately, chili is comfort food, and so as we vegetated, we at least did a little something good for ourselves.

I make this sort of thing a lot, and there was never really a recipe until tonight, when I finally wrote down everything that’s in it. It’s so easy, and you probably have most of what you need already. It’s a winter chili – in the springtime, and in the summer, we’ll have vegetarian chili with bell peppers, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and things like that. This is a hearty dish making use of what’s available right now, things like the canned goods you have in your pantry and sweet potatoes. It takes a little longer than you may like for dinner on a weeknight, but it’s the kind of thing you can stick in a crockpot and cook all day, if that’s easier.

Serve this with cornbread.

Vegetarian winter chili

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped (about two cups)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, including liquid
  • 1 19 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beer, such as pilsner or pale ale
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • Salt, to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, sweat onions and sweet potatoes in olive oil. Stir in garlic, and add canned tomatoes. Reduce to medium heat.

Add beans to the pot, and stir in tomato paste. Stir in beer, add spices and salt, and simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Here is where you may want to add something like chopped chipotle peppers, or a dose of Tabasco or sriracha or something, but I didn’t feel like it. Had a spicy lunch.

Cover, and reduce to medium-low heat. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft.

Serve hot, in bowls. This makes quite a lot, so divvy the remains into dishes to take for lunches. I love meals like that, that you enjoy in the first place, and that you can revisit later on in lunch form. It makes good sense, and it saves having to trek out into the world in search of a mediocre deli sandwich.

Speaking of excess, today I bought some burdock root. I have what amounts to eight feet of it, because I watch too much Iron Chef and am never smart enough to know when I’m outmatched by an ingredient. I’ll show it to you tomorrow – it’s a little ridiculous, and was a pain to carry home on the bus. I think I am going to pickle the stuff.

Have you any good ideas for burdock root? A Google search turned up very little information – apparently all of Japan is confused by the stuff, and only has one recipe for something called Burdock Kinpira, and since it’s been done to death, I’d like to try a new approach. If you’ve tried it and have some good ideas, let me know. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a thinking day, and that I will have my wits about me. Wish me luck.