Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon + Cheese Crouton

I know, I know. It's been way too long since my last post. I've still been eating over the last couple months, and cooking too. And now here I am. Back ready to do regular postings on the blog. Let's get underway.

I just read The Omnivore's Dilemma, which is a phenomenal book if you're interested in the philosophy of what we eat. The ideas contained within got me thinking about eating organically and locally, so my next few meals will reflect that. I ordered a box of winter produce from Plan B Organic Farms so a lot of the ingredients I have laying around right now are grown locally and/or organically. As a side note, and because this is the internet where opinions rule, I'd recommend local over organic any day. Big organic monoculture is almost as destructive and counterproductive as our current industrial style of growing lots and lots of the same thing. Organic asparagus from Argentina in the winter? Far away and out-of-season produce just doesn't hold water logically. But you can read all about that in Pollan's book. Or buy me a drink and I'll talk your ear off.

Back to the actual recipe. It's winter, squash was in the box, and a few other things I tossed in combined to make a delicious soup that'll take the chill out of your bones. The idea and process are from J.Oliver but the ingredients are modified quite a bit. The crouton gives the dish mad style points, and its easy to do, Oliver is cool like that. Makes 4 good sized bowls.

Here's what you need:

For the Soup:
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks
1/2 lb bacon
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
handful of fresh rosemary
8-10 fresh sage leaves
4 cups beef stock
olive oil

For the Croutons:
4 pieces of sliced baguette
fresh grated Parmesan
olive oil

Here's what you do:

1. Get a large pot or high-sided pan and heat it up to the max. Pour in some olive oil.
2. When the oil starts smoking, drop your sage leaves in and let them sizzle for half a minute then take them out carefully with a spoon or something. This gives the oil some crazy good flavor, and you'll also use the leaves later for your crutons. (Style points, remember!)
3. In the mean time, set up another pan and get your bacon frying on medium temperature. When this is done, keep the bacon fat in the pan. Trust me on this.
4. Turn your main saucepan to medium heat and throw in all your vegetables and spices, except the squash. Add salt and pep as you please.
5. After everything is getting all nice and soft (10 to 15 minutes let's say,) add the squash, your now-cooked bacon, and the stock, stir it all around and let it simmer for at least half an hour.
6. While your soup is doing its thing, you can make the crouton. Drizzle some olive oil on both sides of your bread slices, then cover them in grated cheese. Now comes the delicious part.
7. Turn your pan of bacon fat to medium if it isn't already, and fry up the croutons in the goodness. You want them to be golden brown on both sides. Or maybe you dont, but I do.
8. At this point in time, your soup should be ready. You can judge it's doneness by the squash. As soon as the squash is, well, squashy, you're good to go. From here you have two options: blend your soup in a blender, or use a hand blender to mash everything up in the pot. I like to keep the consistency more on the chunky side, as I am wary of liquefied bacon. Your call.
9. Pour soup into your bowls, float a crouton on top, and a crispy sage leaf or two on top of that.


What to listen to:

Deep Dark Woods - Winter Hours

It's cold outside, and snow is blowing outside your kitchen window. Deep Dark Woods, from Saskatoon, embodies all those things. And more. Pure Canadian storytellers them boys is. Plus the album is called 'Winter Hours', how good does it get?

What to drink:

Some might disagree with me on this, but I'm going to suggest Sibling Rivalry White, from St. Catherines; it is an outstanding white. It's local, it's fresh and goes with pretty much everything. I figure the soup is heavy enough with the squash, bacon and cheese crouton that a red, or even a porter beer would make a man go into hibernation. Life is all about balance. Sibling Rivalry is what you need, right now.

P.S. I got an iPhone now, so I'll be able to post pictures of most my meals. Internet FTW.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dinosaur Stew

Although there isn't any Dinosaur meat in this (though it would be rad) I couldn't help but thinking that this dish looks completely huge, jurassic and downright dangerous. The combination of the beef rib bones sticking out of the chunky, meaty red caveman sauce and giant rigatoni looks like something a 5 year-old would make if he could cook. Or if some neanderthal had a range and iron skillet in his cave. Well, I unleashed my inner 5 year-old/caveman and Dinosaur Stew is the result. This hearty meal will warm you up during an ice age blizzard, or just a cold day for those of us that live in less exciting times. *Note, do the ribs first because they'll take about 2 hours.

Here's what you need:

For the meaty caveman sauce:
1 pound ground sirloin
Healthy splash of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped (or garlic powder, in a pinch)
2 big cans (28oz) of peeled or whole tomatoes. If whole, crush them by hand, arrgggh!
big rigatoni (no. 24)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
a few shakes of:
hot pepper flakes

For the dinosaur bones
4 or 5 beef short ribs
Olive oil
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and peper
2 cans of beer
1 cup beef stock or water

Here's what you do:

1) Heat up a good dose of olive oil in a large skillet or pan
2) Dredge the ribs in the flour, shaking off any extra and sear them in the oil, about 5 minutes each side
3) After they are nicely brown on each side, pour in your beer and water, move to low heat, cover and let everything simmer for about 2 hrs. Occasionally check the liquid levels, and add more water/beer as needed
4) With 40 minutes left to go with the ribs, its time to get started on the sauce. First, you need to brown up the ground sirloin, onions and garlic in the bottom of a high sided pan or pot.
5) After the meat is pretty much cooked through, add all the other ingredients and let it come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and let it do it's thing for 30 minutes or so.
6) With roughly 15 minutes left to go, time to start bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. After it's boiling, drop in a good handful of rigatoni per person and boil for 12-13 minutes, or, until its not quite done, and your test piece will feel springy in your mouth.
7) Now we're getting somewhere. The ribs should be about done now, so dump out most of the liquid from the skillet, but save some for flavor bonus points. Drain your pasta and dump that over the ribs in the skillet. For the finale, dump your sauce all over the previous two ingredients, and let it simmer on low heat for about 2 minutes, giving the pasta a chance to cook the rest of the way. Stir it well, making sure everything is covered.
8) Look at the skillet and tell me that doesn't look like a might delicious Dinosaur Stew, with the bones sticking out, the chunks of meat and tomatoes everywhere and the large tubes of rigatoni.

What to listen to:

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
Aside from the obvious naming implications, the music also fits. Classic riff heavy stone-age rock is all you need for making and eating this dish.

What to drink:

Normally I'd say some type of big red wine, but since you already have the beer out, and considering this dish is more meat than pasta, a decent lager will do you no harm. Pilsner Urquell or Czechvar.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old Bay Battered Seafood Fryup

This recipe is fun, delicious, and you'll probably make a huge mess cooking it. The batter is loosely based on a recipe for fried pearl onions from my Batali cookbook Molto Italiano. While his original idea was certainly good, I wanted to make it into a full meal, and also, he had pecorino romano cheese in the batter, which in my opinion, didn't jive as well with the seafood as it did with the onions. I've included some seafood options to fry up in this mix, but by no means is this the totality of choices. Use your imagination! If it's from the sea, chances are it will work great in here. I decided that I'd kick it over to the East Coast with some old bay instead. Glad I did. You will be too.

Here's what you need:

For the batter:
2 Eggs, separated
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk (1% or 2%, depending on how thin you feel)
Dash of parsley
Healthy dose of Old Bay seasoning

1 pound peeled pearl onions (the little ones, about the size of a marble)
1 pound large scallops
1 pound previously cooked, de-tailed shrimp
About half a bottle of olive oil for frying

Here's what you do:

1) Separate your eggs, and leave put the whites off to the side for now
2) In a large bowl, combine all your dry batter ingredients, then slowly add your milk and eggs. Whisk it all together, or you can use a fork, or your hand or whatever. Leave this off to the side as well.
3) For your onions, boil them for about 2 minutes then dump them into a bowl of ice, or cold water. Theoretically this is called 'blanching.'
4) For your seafood, you can get a big pan ready, and throw everything in, just to heat it up and cook it a little bit before it goes into the batter.
5) So, with all your onions chilling and seafood slowly cooking, you can now whip up your eg whites into stiff peaks. Not going to lie, I have no mechanical or whisk, so I did this by hand, with a fork. It took me about 30 minutes of solid whipping. I don't recommend doing it my way unless you are dedicated to fluffy batter and/or have a mixer. You were warned.
6) Fold the whites into the batter, until they disappear, but don't be too rough with it, egg whites are delicate creatures and should be treated with care.
7) FINALLY, now we can get to the good stuff. Heat up your oil in a large high sided pan/pot.
8) You'll most definitely have to work in batches here, use tongs dip your choice fryables in the batter, shake off the excess and drop into your oil. Wait until it is deliciously golden on all sides then put into a colander or onto some paper towels to drain and dry. Each time you are finished a batch, sprinkle with some more Old Bay, and shake it around to get good coverage.

There you go, that's it. If this seems confusing or my instructions aren't quite clear, just use your head and think about this in required steps. It's a pretty hard dish to mess up though, and even though you'll have batter splatter all over your kitchen, it'll be more than worth it. Also, very easy to scale this one up, to serve a whole giant pot to some hungry people.

What to listen to:

Florence and The Machine - Lungs
This is a wicked and diverse album. It fits great because its upbeat, and covers a wide range of styles. The cooking process is quick you you'll feel like you'll be doing lots of stuff at once, but in the end its all worth it. Not sure if this has anything to do with the meal, but I love her voice.

What to drink:

Beer man, beer! This meal just crys out for beer, and not an overpowering one either. Moosehead in Canada, or some Sam Adams lager in the US. Both east coast beers, both very good.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork with Bourbon BBQ Sauce

The first time I had pulled pork was in Atlanta as a wee lad. I've been hooked ever since. Lacking the necessary smoker (or right now, even a bbq) I've had to rely on the goodness of southerners to make it for me. No longer. After my dad fired me an email talking about the food in North Carolina on one of his golf vacations, I decided it would be time to give it a shot. Now I'm not claiming that this is better than real smoked pulled pork, but for a guy in a studio apartment in LA, it's pretty darn good. What follows is less recipe and more technique. The whole process hinges on getting the best pork you can but other than that, it's light on ingredients. Most likely you'll have everything else you need lying around the kitchen. This is based on trial and error, as well as becoming student of old school southern bbq techniques.

Here's what you need:
- A 5-8 lb pork shoulder (called a Boston Butt.) You can have it either bone in or out, it doesn't matter. They usually have them pre cut and wrapped at the grocery store, but if they don't you can ask and the butcher will be able to give you that cut easily.
- Dry pork rub (you can buy this or make your own, depending on your inclination. DIY recipe is at the bottom)
- Bottle of regular BBQ sauce (again, I'm trying to keep this practical here. You can make your own bbq sauce, as I have done in the past. But for my purposes, going out and buying molasses and brown sugar that I'll only use once doesn't jive with my student budget)
- 2oz bourbon
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- Bottle of apple juice

Here's what you do:

1) Preheat oven to 250F. Make sure there are two racks in the oven, one in the middle and one on the bottom
2) Cover your pork shoulder in dry rub, really massage it in there, and let it sit for about 30 mins, giving a chance for the spice to do its thing
3) Pour some apple juice onto a baking tray, and put it on the bottom rack. You may need to top up the apple juice from time to time, depending on how much evaporates
4) Put your pork on a baking pan and put it in the oven for 8 hrs. Just put it in and thats it, you don't need to move it at all.
5) When the pork is about 20 minutes from being done, dump your bbq sauce into a pan and heat on low, then add some bourbon and vinegar to taste. You can also add some apple juice to the sauce if you want. Stir.
6) After 8 hrs (or internal temperature of 160F, I don't have a thermometer so I just estimate) take the pork out and put in a large mixing bowl. Using two forks, just start pulling the pork apart from itself, it should go pretty easily, considering how tender the pork will be. After everything is all pulled apart, just dump in your bbq sauce mixture and give it a good mixing with the forks.
7) Serve piled high on fresh kaiser buns.

Overall this meal is fantastic as it has little prep work, and the reward is simply mindblowing. Whats more, you can easily scale up this recipe for an epic pork party with little added work. Since modern gas ovens tend to give off a dry heat, the apple juice prevents the pork from drying out while giving it an nice hint of sugar and apple. The addition of vinegar to the bbq sauce thins it out nicely, giving the pork more of a Carolina vibe, rather than the thicker Kentucky/Texas sauces most of us are used to. The bourbon is just an added bonus.

What to listen to: Brock Van Wey - White Clouds Drift On and On
I'm not an emotional guy, but this album is what I would call "heartbreakingly beautiful." Slow builds and sighing releases, strings and vocals all come together for a moving experience. Which is exactly how you'll feel as your first bite of pulled pork is melting in your mouth.

What to drink: Since you already have the bite of the vinegar and the strength of the bourbon, I recommend a nice full hoppy beer. Fat Tire in the US, Cameron's Auburn Ale in Canada.

*For the DIY dry rub
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (I like it spicy, if you don't, you can leave it out and add heat as need be)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coffee Crisp

Readers out there (cricket...tumbleweed...) I have something special for you. It's not quite a meal bit rather a delicious drink. I discovered this drink at Magnum's in AZ, which is quite the place if I do say myself. A fine liquor, wine and cigar store attached to a full bar that serves all these things. Buy some wine and a nice gar, go next door, have it corked and lit for you. Done.

Anyway, I testmarketed this drink in Oakville and the residents have eaten (drank) it up. Here we go.

The Coffee Crisp
Here's what you need:

2 oz Van Gogh Espresso Vodka
1 can Guinness

Here's what you do:

1)Mix it.

Music Mix:

You have to play this one fast and loose, and ideally, at high volumes
Japandroids - Post Nothing
(Canadian boys who rock it)


Lime-Chili-Tequila Butter

Yes, hey it's the first post in a while. I'm going to keep it short and sweet, just like the recipe. Just the facts please!

Here's what you need:

2 sticks'a butter
1 jalapeno (finely minced, minus seeds and white crap)
2 oz tequila
1 dash of Cumin powder
1 lime (juice thereof)
A little bit of salt and pepper

Here's what you do:

1) Get the butter to room temp
2) Put butter in a bowl
3) Add all ingredients, mix dem up with a rubber spatula. You might say "but J, the tequila and lime juice don't mix well with the butter!" To that I say "keep mixxing, it'll blend."
4) Place mix in some saran wrap, and wrap it into a cylinder, twisting the ends. Put in the fridge. It will harden into something useful.

Once this good stuff hardens you'll have a fantastic compound butter you can add to steaks, stirfrys, toast or fajitas. Simple yet effective.

Drink mix: Since you already have the tequila out I suggest a man-garita
2 oz tequila
juice of half a lime
couple cubes of ice

Mix er'y thing up in a glass and enjoy. This is what we call a "friendly drink"

Music mix
Rick Ross - Mafia Music

Can I justify this music selection? Probably not. Other than the fact than it's butter and it's Ross the Boss. Everyone likes them both. Seriously though, Officer Rawse has impeccable taste in beat selection.


Saturday, March 7, 2009


Everybody knows what this stuff is. Limoncello is a digestif, and it aids, duh, digestion after a big meal. Maybe you have an Italian uncle who brings it over at every family gathering, or maybe the waiter brought you and your date some after a fancy meal at an Italian restaurant. Or maybe you just like the taste and sip it at home, it don't matter. Today we're going to make some.

Here's what you need:

2 cups grain alcohol (basically everclear, or anything else that's in the 75-80% range)
4 lemons
1 1/2 cups simple sizzurp (the syrup recipe is for sugar or splenda, stick to sugar for the first time around, I haven't tried splenda. Also, remove the fruit from the recipe.)
Mason Jar (or something else freezer-proof)
7 days

Here's what you do:

1) Peel the lemons, you can use a knife or a peeler (peeler is easier). Take care to get just the top yellow part of the peel, don't gouge too deep into the white crap, which isn't conducive to a smooth digestif.
2) Fill your mason jar with the alcohol, add the lemon peels, and wait. For about 7 days, minimum. You can go longer if you want, to get a more lemon-y flavor.
3) When you're ready, remove the lemon peels, and any small bits leftover, (I strained it through a coffee filter) and add your sugary syrup. Mix it together in the mason jar, screw the cap on nice and tight and stick it in the freezer until you are ready to use. It should keep for a couple months at least.

*Note: It is possible to use vodka in this recipe, however due to the lessened alcohol content, you will want to soak the lemon peels in the vodka for at least two weeks, and up to a month. Grain alcohol absorbs flavors quickly, and well, that's why I use it. I've had it both ways though, and they are both tasty, if a bit unique. Also, you can use vodka if you find the double shot power of grain alcohol is too much for you.

It has been said that these make a great gift. I have yet to give/receive one myself, but I'm pretty sure that if someone gave this to me, I would be happy, if not a little impressed. It's better than socks, I guess.

Considering this isn't really 'cooking' per se, and it's spread out over the course of many days, I'm going to skip the music selection.
Needless to say though, that when it's done, you know what you should be drinking, because you've been dying to taste it.

From here the possibility for expansion is great. You can follow this same process, but swap out lemons for meyer lemons, oranges, tangerienes, even basic and lavender.

Shoutout to CHOW for the idea.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kapusta, From the Motherland

Today I'm giving a big shout out to my heritage and Ukrainians in general. This kapusta (Ukrainian for cabbage) is so bomb, but its a classic of all classics. Kapusta, or some variation of this dish, depending on what state food rations were available, is to Ukraine what pasta is to Italians.

This recipe is based on what my Grandma used to make for me all the time to bring to lunch at work. It's got that distinct Eastern European smell, which I love, and can be eaten hot, cold or whenever. I've also simplified the recipe somewhat, but I cleared it with my Grandma, since I'm a young man living in a Los Angeles studio apartment, it might not be too realistic for me to ferment my own cabbage to make sauerkraut, raise my own pigs to make kielbasa or forge my own iron skillet out of scraps stolen from the Iron mines of Minsk. Also, butter is not really a common thing in the eastern bloc, they use pure fat. Yeah, sooo, I don't really need to fatten up for any long harsh cold winter, or need strength working a double shift at the rocketbomb plant, I can use butter here. Luckily, for my purposes, we now have stores where we can buy these things. Yay capitalism.

Here's what you need:

1 medium onion (peeled and chopped)
1 jar natural sauerkraut (try to get one made with only salt, cabbage and water, no vinegar)
half pound of good quality keilbasa (about 6-8 inches in length) (chopped into rough cubes)
a good sized chunk of butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 bay leaf

Here's what you do:

1) Start sauteeing your onion in the butter for a few minutes, until they start to get soft, but not quite brown
2) Add your sauerkraut to the onions, but leave the juices. So you can either drain the entire jar completely, but I recommend just forking it out the jar into the pan. That way you get a little bit of juiciness in the mix, and you have extra juices to add later if need be. Add sugar, caraway, bay leaf at this time too.
3) Stir it all around, on low to medium heat and leave it until it gets nice and soft. After about 10 mnutes, add the keilbasa and then just let it cook on low for another 10.
4) Depending on the saltiness of the sauerkraut, the dish should be salty enough, but if you want, add salt and pepper to taste.

Congrats, you're done. It was that easy. So basic but so absolutely delicious. The caraway seeds are the magic ingredient that pulls it all together in my opinion. Serve it in bowls with a fresh peice of dark russian rye bread.

What to listen to: The cold wind swirling through the trees outside
What to drink. Russian Standard vodka. Straight.
In the eastern bloc, drinking vodka is always meant to compliment food, and it's looked down upon to drink it straight for the purpose of getting drunk. Also, vodka is never for mixing.

(I would recommend a Ukrainian vodka, but apparently they can't get their act together enough to ship some bottles over here. Regardless, Russian/Ukrainian vodka is all the same, heck they invented the stuff.)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Standard Pizza

Homemade pizza is something I've really been getting into lately, and it all stems from how awesome it is to have a pizza stone. My journey to make my ultimate pizza has been going quite successfully, and I've gotten it down to basically two different kinds that I make. This is the first one, it's basic, but just incredible.

If there's one word I can give to you aspiring pizzaiolos out there, it would be: minimalism. With pizza, less is more. More, is, well, less. Too many toppings and your cooking times get all screwed up, the crust is cooked before the toppings are, and/or you're left with soggy wetness in the middle. Plus, you just spent all that time making your dough from scratch, you want to be able to taste it after all! I have a 2 ingredient max rule, not including cheese. Anything else and I would kindly ask that you leave the room and order from domino's. There is also evidence that too many choices leads to lower overall satisfaction, in life not just with pizza: the paradox of choice. If you are cooking for other people, or if you own a pizza restaurant and are seeking my advice (hey, it could happen...), my advice would be to offer less choice, stick to a few core selections and focus more on making every ingredient great. In essence, it's better to do two things great, than to do five things fairly good.

This is the point where I step down off my soapbox, and step into the kitchen.

Here's what you need:

Pizza Dough

Pizza Sauce
Low moisture mozzarella, the whiter the better (shredded)
Pepperoni (I like turkey pepperoni, don't be weirded out, its actually awesome)

Here's what you do:

1) Heat up your pizza stone in the oven at 500 degrees F, for at least 30 minutes, if not a full hour before cooking. I like my crust thin and crispy, and the hotter the stone, the crisper the crust. Your stone should be on the middle rack, but you can adjust as necessary, (when the stone is cold, obviously): higher = faster melting of cheese and cooking of toppings; lower = faster cooking of crust. Find your happy medium.
2) On your counter or your pizza peel, sprinkle with flour, then take your room temperature ball of dough and squish it with your hand to make a rough circle.
3) Start rolling it out, in all directions with a rolling pin. This is kind of hard to describe properly, without seeing someone doing it, but I'm sure you'll get the hang of it. Again, I like thin crust, so I will roll it thin.
4) Take your dough off the peel (if its not done already) and sprinkle the peel with some semolina flour. This will act like little edible ball bearings that enable easy transitions between peel and stone.
5) Now with your dough back on the paddle, spread out, it's is ready for its adornment. From here on it, if you've ever eaten a pizza before in your life, you know what the drill is: Spread a thin layer of sauce on the dough using the back of a spoon. Put the desired amount of cheese on the sauce, leaving one inch of crust around the edge for strategic thumb placement. Then lay out the pepperoni over top, covering as much or as little as you like.
6) Now it's time to slide the pizza onto the stone. This also take some practice, and I learned the hard way that you cant really move the pizza around for the first few minutes when it's on the stone, the dough is too soft and it will fold. So getting it right the first time is key. I like to slide the peel all the way to the of the oven, then slowly tilt it and bring it forward, leaving the pizza placed perfectly in the middle of the stone.
7) This step is pretty hard to lay down hard and fast rules for, because it all depends on how hot your oven is, and how 'done' you like your pizza. Ignore what your mother said about not opening the oven before the food is done. Just keep checking on it, till you see what you like. Once the pizza starts to cook, you can even slide your peel in and turn the pizza around if you see one half is cooking faster than the other.
8) When the pizza is done to your liking, take it out, and cut it into appropriate shapes with a pizza cutter. Now is the time to bask in the glow of a hard-earned sense of accomplishment. You can eat it right off the pizza peel for that authentic experience.

Now you know how to make a homemade pizza. The heart of this idea is the pizza stone. Without it, in my opinion, a great pizza isn't possible. I have had some pretty good ones, made on a baking sheet, but for your pizza to be truly transcendent (that's what you were going for, right?) the stone is your key to pizza nirvana. From here, the sky is the limit for what kind of stuff you want to put on your pizza, as long as you remember the 2 topping rule.

What to drink: As I mentioned before, I love Fat Tire, especially with pizza. It's got that bread-like flavor that goes superb with some homemade pie. (Fat Tire shares the title of my favorite beer with Guinness)

What to listen to: Led Zeppelin, How The West Was Won, CD1. Seriously. Why not? It's a great live CD, and pretty sure that if you time it right, Stairway to Heaven will come on just as you are about to eat your pizza and experience a truly heavenly experience.


Pizza Dough

Pizza dough. The foundation for any good pizza. Let's do this.

Here's what you need:

3 cups white bread flour
1/2 cup semolina flour (it's more granular, plus you use it for stuff other than baking, as you'll see in a minute)
2 tablespoons quick rise yeast
a squirt of honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt

Equipment needed:

Pizza Stone - Quite possibly my favorite kitchen apparatus, aside from my iron skillet, and the oven itself. It's a porous stone that stays in your oven all the time. This will give your crust, or bread, or anything you bake on it a great crispness that you'd find in a pro pizza oven. It stores heat too, so when the oven cycles on and off, you get a nice constant temperature. Not expensive at all, I got mine for $30 at Sur La Table.
Pizza Peel - Some people call it a pizza shovel. Whatever you call it, its the paddle thing that is used to get the pizza flat on the stone and to take it out and move it around. They come in aluminum or wood. I personally like (and have) the wood one, because it just so happened that the wood ones at the store were bigger than the aluminum ones. Larger paddle area = larger pizzas. There's something you need to know about untreated wood pizza peels (or cutting boards, or any wood used in the kitchen) and that's that you need to treat it with mineral oil a couple times before your first use, and again every time you wash it. This video from CHOW explains everything.

Here's what you do, if you're mixing it by hand. I'm not going to give you mixer instructions because I don't have a mixer, plus, the pizza becomes more rewarding after you've put some muscle into it. Also, maybe wear an old shirt, because you will get flour-y:

1) In a large mixing bowl, add the water, salt and honey. Stir it up with a large metal spoon, until everything is more or less dissolved, add the yeast, stir some more, then let is sit for five minutes.
2) Add the olive oil then the semolina flour, while stirring, avec spoon, with your other hand. Once that is more or less mixed, add the remaining flour and keep mixing. At this point, the spoon will be useless against the powers of the dough, so get your hands in there. I like to lightly coat my hands in flour before starting to mix, just so the stick-factor is reduced. Mix till there is a coherent mass. If your dough is too wet and sticky, add small amounts of flour, conversely, if it's too dry, add small amounts of water.
3) Does your dough look like a ball? Good. Okay you're done... No, just kidding.
4) Take out your pizza peel, (or just use an empty counter top) and cover it in flour. Drop your dough on the surface and get kneading. It's pretty much impossible to over-knead dough. Kneading develops the gluten in the bread, which is quite a good thing. This is the time for self-expression, or maybe even a little stress relief. You can pound the dough any which way, stretch it, fold it, whatever. Just follow your heart. Do this for about 15 minutes or so.
5) Wash and dry your big bowl, then coat the inside with a bit of flour. Put your doughball inside, cover it with a paper/kitchen towel and let it rise for about 1 hour. After 1 hour, punch it down, get all the air out of it, and let it rise again for another hour or so, until it doubles in size.
6) Once your dough has risen twice, (and you've punched it down twice) you have some options. Depending on how many people you want to feed, I usually cut the dough in to 4 pieces. Then I'll wrap three in saran rap, put them in a container and then into the freezer. That one baseball sized dough portion will be enough to make one medium pizza, so it can feed one or two, depending on who you are.

This concludes my dough recipe. I have been working on pizzas for a few weeks now, trying different doughs and procedures, and this is the one I like the best. Now you know.

But you may ask, "Yo, I wanted pizza, not dough, your blog sucks."
To you I say, "Yes, I understand, I split up the posts for pizza and dough, so it's easier to link back to. And YOU suck."

What do drink: We'll considering you'll be making this ahead of time, I would suggest something non-alcoholic like an Arnold Palmer. But then again, if you're making it the night of, then definetly Fat Tire. Yes, that's my final answer.

What to listen to: Making dough is a pretty organic procedure, especially when mixing and kneading by hand, invariably you'll want music to reflect this: Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing In The Hands

Now, lets get pizza!