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Farewell to Summer With Outdoor Supper

Easy grilled pizza (the appetizer) and Cornish hens

"Not too long until fall," my husband, David, mused on our run yesterday morning. At first I thought he was rushing things a bit, but his observation piqued my awareness. I looked down. Sure enough, here and there on the gravel road was a smattering of red and yellow leaves.

See also: Planning a family reunion?

I'm not deceived. I've lived long enough to know there are still a few scorchers in the offing, but I also know fall's knockin' on summer's back door. While the weather's still holding, why not celebrate? And while it's still easy, use the grill.

Start with grilled pizza. Never tried it? You'll like it. I promise. With the grill's direct and enveloping heat, grilled pizza cooks up faster and crisps up better than oven-baked. You can make your own pizza dough. It's just five minutes in the food processor and a couple of unattended hours rising time. But these days pizza dough is also widely available in one-pound balls, making fresh pizza almost as simple (and more superb) than store-bought crust.

  • If you're using fresh dough — store-bought or homemade — I offer a few tips:
  • Resist the temptation to punch down and knead risen dough (and don't aggravate the grocery store stuff either). In its relaxed, supple state it's ripe for stretching. Knead it and you're stuck waiting for it to relax again.
  • Stretch pizza dough into long rectangles rather than rounds. It's easier (as is cooking and cutting).
  • Get the grill good and hot, but then turn down the heat once the stretched dough is put on the grill.

Next: More grilled pizza tips and recipes. >>

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