Dinner and a Movie, the Sequel
Two blog posts in one week!?! It’s hard to contain the excitement, I know.
As promised, below you’ll find my go-to recipe for homemade pizza complete with my favorite tricks, gathered from various sources and incorporated into one ultimate recipe.
The basic dough recipe is very simple. You can make it as late as an hour or so before dinner or as early as the morning of. My personal preference is to start it mid-afternoonish. I like to get the dough going no later than 3:00 or 4:00 if we’re planning to eat between 5:30 and 6:00.
2 1/4 cups flour (white or whole wheat or some combination)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 Tbsp. olive oil (plus more for coating the bowl)
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix.
2. Add the water and the olive oil and mix to combine.
3. Once the dough is combined (with little to no flour on the side of the bowl), begin kneading by hand for 4-5 minutes. NOTE: You may need more flour or water to get the dough the right consistency. Again, you’re looking for all of the flour to be incorporated without an overly moist dough.
4. Drizzle 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover with saran wrap and let it rise at least 1 hour or until you’re ready to cook. If you’ve got more than 4 hours to let the dough rise and it starts to get really big, just punch it down, flip it over, and let it continue to rise till you’re ready to use it. Repeat as necessary. Pizza dough is very forgiving.
5. Before cooking the dough, be sure that it has risen at least till doubled. At this point, if your spouse walks in and says “It’s Friday. You don’t need to cook, let’s all go out to dinner!” you can divide the dough in half, shape into slightly flattened discs, place in greased Ziploc baggies and toss in the freezer. When you decide to cook it, pull it out of the freezer and let it warm up in the bag till it’s room-temperature (2-4 hours). Sans that scenario, continue with the steps below.
Sooooo easy. Honestly, it’ll probably take you as long to read this post as it would to get the pizza dough together.
Now, before you cook the pizza you’ll want to gather the following items: a pizza stone, parchment paper, a pizza peel – that giant spatula-looking thing – or a cookie sheet/cutting board, a wire rack for cooling cookies/cakes, your favorite collection of Dean Martin music.
Step 1: Put on a little Dino to get you in the right frame of mind. If you are fortunate to have his version of “That’s Amore” start there and then let him croon away whilst you get cooking.
Step 2: Place the pizza stone in the oven with the rack as close to the bottom of the oven as possible. Set the oven to 500 and let the stone warm up for at least 15 minutes. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can certainly use a pizza pan or cookie sheet. However a pizza stone might set you back all of $15 and it is well worth the expense. I use mine all the time for cooking pizzas and pitas. You can also find a kit which will include a pizza peel (wooden or metal) for around $25.
Step 3: While the stone warms up, divide your dough in half and roll the dough out into a mostly circular shape. There are lots of methods for doing this and I prefer a little of everything. I roll it out to begin with then stretch it with my hands, then roll a little more till I get the size and shape I want. I generally shape the dough directly on the parchment paper which is sitting on top of my pizza peel for easy transition into the oven. I have tried so many methods for rolling out the pizza and getting it into the oven – flour, cornmeal, oil – and the parchment paper is THE BEST. It’s easy, effective, and it completely minimizes the mess.
Step 4: Once your dough is shaped, tuck the edges under for a thicker crust (if you like), drizzle some olive oil on top and spread across the dough. This creates a barrier between the crust and the sauce and keeps the crust from getting soggy.
Step 5: Spread 3 tablespoons of your favorite sauce on top of the olive oil, add 3-4 ounces shredded mozzarella and the toppings of your choice.
Step 6: Transfer the parchment paper with the pizza on top to your pizza stone and cook for 6-8 minutes. Be sure to watch carefully until you get the feel for how quickly your oven cooks the pizza.
Step 7: Remove from oven once the dough is golden brown and the cheese is fully melted. I like to scoot the pizza off of the parchment paper and directly on to the cookie sheet to cool. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Repeat steps 3-7 for the second pizza. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you’re feeding a crowd.
In terms of sauce, I have yet to find a pizza sauce recipe that I just love. Sometimes I’ll throw together a quick sauce with either tomato paste, tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes plus garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasonings; other times I use sauce from a jar. Either way, you can put the leftover sauce in muffin cups (I’ve got the silicone ones and they work great) and place them in the freezer. Once the sauce freezes, dump it into a freezer-safe baggie and pull out sauce as you need it. I also use this method with my cheese. I buy the giant block of mozzarella at Sam’s Club, shred it all, and then put it some individual baggies and toss in the freezer. This makes for extra-easy prep the day of.
Some of our favorite topping combinations are:
Pepperoni (a classic)
Ham and Pineapple
Pepperoni, Mushroom, and Green Chile (that’s chile with an “e” for my fellow New Mexicans)
Ultimate Veggie – tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, spinach, Swiss chard, onions, jalapenos (especially the jalapenos from our homemade sweet-hot pickles)
Kansas City BBQ – grilled chicken breast (usually from leftovers, sliced into thin strips), purple onions, and BBQ sauce instead of the traditional pizza sauce
Add a little fresh parmesan, pop in a movie, and enjoy with your beverage of choice. What a lovely way to kick off the summer!
Speaking of summer, those temperatures they are a risin’ so be sure to properly store your produce once you get home. In order to get the most out of those verdant greens, let them sit in an ice bath for 10 minutes and then place in an airtight bag or container while still wet. They’ll keep forever that way. For other tips and tricks click here: The Home Grown Farm Tips and Tricks.
Now, take us out, Dean…
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”