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Do-It-Yourself Dinner Parties: Gourmet Pizzas, Crepes and More!

January 25th, 2011

A Do-It-Yourself Dinner Party
by Daniela Kretchmer, Big City Chefs
(C) 2011

Oolala Strawberry Crepes

Making it Personal
A terrific way to host an easy dinner party is to allow your guests to make their own food. This doesn’t have to be a big production; in fact, just the opposite is true. You do a little bit of prep work for them, and they get to create their own meal A great example is hostinga personal pizza party. You make the pizza dough (we’ve provided a recipe in the right column to get you started) and lay out the sauces, cheeses, and a variety of toppings. Then you and your guests have a blast shaping your own dough and throwing (or delicately placing) toppings onto your individual pizzas. Also, if you and your guests want a little bit more direction, our Hands-On Artisanal Pizza Workshop is a perfect way to learn how to make restaurant style pizzas from the pros. Our professional chefs will teach you and your friends how to make several different types of pizza dough, sauces, and toppings.

Then for dessert, sweet crepes are both decadent and customizable. Begin with a basic crepe recipe (again, we’ve provided you with one in the right column) and simply prep the toppings. Great toppings include chocolate, nutella, whipped cream, fresh fruit (such as strawberries and bananas), powdered sugar, and honey. You can cook the crepes in advance, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days, and reheat them for your guests to choose the fillings they want.

Traditional Pizza Dough

1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Lukewarm Water
4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting work surface (approximately)
1 cup Cool Water
2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup of flour. Dust the top lightly with flour, cover bowl with a towel, and leave the dough to rise until the top forms cracks in the flour, about 20 minutes.

2. Add 3 cups of flour, the cup of cool water, olive oil, and salt.

3. Knead at low speed at first, then increase speed to medium as flour is incorporated. Add remaining flour as needed to create a slightly moist, soft dough. Continue to knead dough until it adheres to the dough hook of the mixer.

4. Dust dough with flour and scrape out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, folding dough over on itself (“crush and roll” technique helps create a great texture). Shape dough into a ball, flatten slightly, dusty with flour, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a bowl until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.

Chocolate-Ganache Dipped Crepes

3 large Cage-Free Egg
1 1/3 cups Milk
3/4 cup Unbleached Organic Flour
6 tablespoons Unsalted Organic Butter, and more for pan, melted
2 tablespoons Cocoa powder
pinch Kosher Salt
Various toppings: whipped cream, chocolate sauce, jams, powdered sugar, etc.
Chocolate Ganache (makes 1 cup)
1/2 cup Heavy cream
8 ounces Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Unsalted Organic Butter

1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add remaining ingredients and whisk vigorously until combined, small lumps are ok. Set batter aside to rest for 20 minutes.

2. Heat an 8-inch nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the hot pan, twirling the pan so the batter spreads out evenly into a very thin layer. Cook about 30 seconds until the crepe comes away from the sides of the pan. Gently flip the crepe over with your fingers or the help of a rubber spatula and continue cooking another few seconds. Transfer to a plate and repeat cooking crepes until all the batter is used.

3. For the ganache, in a small saucepan heat cream to a simmer. In a bowl pour simmering cream over chopped chocolate. Add butter and stir until smooth.

4. Top crepes with the ganache and toppings of choice.

5. Enjoy!

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