For those who make pizza regularly — who always happen to have dough in some state of readiness, who can stretch and top and flip with the grace of a Benihana chef — pizza is the weeknight savior. And so the fact that I've neglected to throw a pizza party after a year and a half of Monday night dinner parties seems, well, amateur. Inexperienced. Irresponsible.
And when it comes to yeasted things, I am all of those things. We all have our kitchen fears, and doughs — stretchy, springy doughs, things that bubble and burp and are very much alive — are mine.
If you're like me — and even if you're one of those weeknight pizza people — just turn to Jim Lahey. He gives you a dough that's easier to make than a batch of cookies, one that can turn into dinner with a few stirs and folds and a bit of cheese. You'll make it all a few days ahead, forget about it, and then somehow pull off a party that feels way too fun for a weeknight.
Two nights before the party: Make your no-knead dough; it'll take two minutes. Stick it in the corner of your kitchen.
The night before: Shape your pizza dough into four equal mounds. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and stick them in the fridge. Make the dressing for your kale and kale and anchovy salad, and bake your rhubarb almond crumb cake.
When you get home from work: Toast your breadcrumbs with the garlic, chili, and lemon; set aside. They will go in with the snap peas once they're cooked. Take your dough balls out of the fridge; you want them to be at room temperature when you go to shape them.
When it's almost dinner time: Enlist a friend to dress the kale and anchovy salad; it'll need to sit for around 15 minutes. Start shaping your pizzas — see here for step-by-step directions. Cook your snap peas just until they're bright green — about two to three minutes. Toss with your breadcrumbs. Pour them into a bowl.
Dinner time! Gather your friends at the table, and feed them salad while your pizzas cook. Bring each out to the table with a flourish, and watch them get devoured. Serve with the breadcrumby snap peas.
When all the pizza is gone: Serve your crumb cake, and send the leftovers home with your guests; it makes a noble breakfast.
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