Wow, a post about pizza! Well, why not? Pizza is good food, especially if you make it yourself, and it is a fun way to get the family involved. You’re not spending the day peeling potatoes and shucking corn, you’re having a Pizza Party! Hello!
I remember as a kid an old comic book in which Little Lotta orders a pizza. (At least I think it’s Little Lotta…) The pizza maker asks, “Would you like me to cut it into 8 or 12 slices?”
“Oh eight slices, please,” replies Little Lotta. “I could never eat 12!”
I know; if you’ve never made pizza before you’re reading this thinking there is no way. It’s too complicated. It will be a flop. I don’t have the ingredients. What are the ingredients anyway? How the heck do you make pizza dough? I’m not a trained cook, I’m lousy at bread making…I don’t have all day…I don’t have a wood fired oven, or a peel. This is what I thought too, then I decided to give it a go anyway. And guess what. It was a total success. Seriously, one of the best pizzas you will ever have will come from your very own oven, it will not take all day, it will be fun to make, and you can put whatever your little heart desires on it. Even leftovers!
Weird, you might think, but the pizza pictured above, a “Meatball Pizza” that is the subject of today’s post was made mostly with leftovers.
We’re going to break the pizza into three parts: dough (or crust), sauce, and toppings. Of these three, the make or break element to your pizza is going to be your crust. Nobody, and I mean nooobody likes a soggy crust. I used a basic pizza dough recipe and it worked perfectly. It’s totally simple, unfussy, and I bet you have the ingredients.
Chances are you don’t have a peel, or a pizza stone, most home cooks do not, so you can’t easily slide your pizza onto a super hot stone. So to get a nice, crisp crust pre-bake your crust for about 10 minutes, until the crust just starts to stiffen. Remove from oven and add your sauces and toppings, then finish for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden.
The sauce was leftover pasta sauce. I like to keep my pasta sauce really simple. I cooked it the night before and made a couple dozen one inch spicy meatballs that were cooked right in the sauce. There was enough sauce left over for two good sized pizzas, so I removed the twelve or so small meatballs and sliced each ball thin, a la pepperoni. Grated mozzarella cheese and a few mushrooms and red onion rounded it out with a garnish of fresh basil from the garden.
If you are making your sauce from scratch for this pizza, why not use the recipe below. Totally easy, and you can prepare your toppings, while the dough is rising.
For toppings, use whatever strikes your fancy, and of course, if you are having a pizza party, everyone can go wild!
Makes two large (approx 16 inch) crusts, or several small pizzas.
4 cups flour
1 tbsp or 1 package yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1.5 c warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tbsp cornmeal
-Add sugar to the warm water, and add yeast; let it proof for 5 minutes
-mix 3 ½ cups of the flour with the salt
-stir in yeast/water and oil with a fork, then use hands to combine
-turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for five minutes, adding the remaining flour if needed so dough forms a nice sponge and is not too sticky
-place dough in oiled bowl; cover with a tea towel, place in a warm area and let rise til dough is doubled in size, about an hour.
-remove dough, cut into two equal portions and form two balls. Flatten and roll thin on floured surface, about 1/8 of an inch. Transfer dough to a cookie or baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Peruse the net for recipes from your favourite chef. Choose a simple recipe, as an overworked sauce might detract from your fresh toppings. Here’s my favourite:
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes (the better the tomatoes, the better the sauce, go figure)
splash of olive oil
1/2 onion, diced fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp herbs de provence
1 tsp each kosher salt and fresh pepper
– lightly sauté onions in olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and stir.
– Add tomatoes, herbs and salt and pepper, heat to low/med
– Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 30 min.
– Remove from heat.
Assembling and cooking
-Preheat oven to 475 F
– Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes
-remove from oven
-Spread sauce evenly over crust. Add grated mozzarella cheese. Add toppings.
– Return pizza to oven and bake for another 10 minutes
-Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut* and serve.