Friday, August 13, 2010

Pizza Pizza Pizza

After an extended hiatus I have returned to the world of blogging!

I thought a perfect way to return - is with pizza! Everyone loves pizza, right?? From a recent get-together that SB and I hosted we had a lot of cheese leftover. It was too precious for me to throw out but at the same token way too much for two people to possibly consume. I thought about how I could put all this cheese to good use. I thought about Mac and Cheese but somehow that didn't excite me and then I thought about Fondue but for that I didn't have enough of the right cheeses. The only option in my mind left was (yes, you guessed it): Pizza! Ahhhhh!!!!

I remember growing up in Germany, pizza was always one of my all time favorite foods to eat. But it was also one of my favorite foods to make. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are in the kitchen with my mother and my brother and sisters. We would knead the dough, throw flour at each other, laugh together, and throw any toppings we wanted onto the pizza. (OK - so perhaps not one of my mother's fondest memories as she was left to deal with the mess and destruction that we left behind in the kitchen). The anxious wait to eat what we had made always seemed to last forever. But when we finally got to eat it, it was so satisfying, and perhaps as a child even a little tastier knowing that we had made it ourselves.

Now as an adult I still enjoy a good pizza and there is still something so satisfying about getting your hands dirty and kneading the dough. I know, some might still prefer to have a big, sweaty, hairy Italian dude get his aggression out on the dough. Let's be honest here with ourselves, that is how it's been done traditionally. Not that there's anything wrong with that - but why let him have all the fun?? I'm telling you if you have never done it before you're missing out! You might find it quite enjoyable; plus every now and again it's nice to defy tradition.

I got this recipe for pizza dough from Giada on the Food Network:
  • 1 pack dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
In a bowl combine the warm water and yeast and stir a little to dissolve the yeast. In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt and mix. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix. Dump the mixture onto a clean working surface and start kneading the dough. Now - I have found that 1 1/2 cup of water (as the recipe calls for) was not enough. So much of baking and working with flour depends on environmental conditions, such as humidity as well. In my case I needed about another 3 tablespoons of warm water to get the consistency that I wanted. My suggestion is, as you knead the dough add additional water one teaspoon at a time and see how the dough comes together. You want the dough to be soft, smooth, workable, elastic but not stick to your hands.

Then place the dough in a greased bowl with either butter or olive oil, cover it with a damp kitchen towel and place it in the oven (turned off). Let it rest and rise for 2 hours. Then remove the dough from the bowl and knead for few minutes and cut into 3 or 4 equal balls (depending on how small or big you want the pizzas). Place each dough ball into another greased bowl and again place a damp towel over it and place in the oven (turned off). Let rise for another hour.

After the hour has passed, knead the air bubbles our of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface. Place the rolled out dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Top it with any toppings of your choice and bake for 15-17 minutes at 475 degrees.

Here is my favorite, I call it the Fresh Fresh Pizza (here are the ingredients. Place in the order in which they appear):

  • A drizzle of Olive oil
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Very finely minced garlic
  • Very finely sliced red onion (use a mandoline if you have one)
  • Whole basil leaves
  • Fresh Mozzarella
Another one I love, is my Veggie Pizza:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Minced garlic
  • Sliced onions
  • Minced bell peppers (all colors)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Minced kalmata olives
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
The beautiful thing is that it really is so easy to make and you can really put anything you like on it. Have fun with it - be experimental! This is truly such a fun activity to do with you family or even friends. Make the dough, have some friends over, open a bottle of wine and then reap the delicious fruits of your labor!

Happy eating!!


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