Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's All About The Pizza, Baby!

When people come to visit Florida from out-of-state (aka "Snowbirds"), they're often shocked to find that it actually does get cold down here! Granted, we don't get the snow and ice our Northern friends do; however, it does get pretty chilly at times.

This past week, we had weather down into the teens, which is enough to make a Florida Gardner (that's me too) cry. You see, one of the perks of being down here is the benefit of two growing seasons and gardening ALL YEAR. The downside is two growing seasons and gardening ALL YEAR. A girl can get pretty darn tired, and sometimes I wish I could just pack it all up at the end of the year! So, what do we do when the weather gets frigid and our little green babies are in peril? We do the "Bedsheet Boogie" and cover our little darlings with bedsheets, clothespins, and Christmas lights. A solid freeze can end up costing hundreds of dollars, not to mention watching something you've babied all year shrivel away to mush.

Anywho, I didn't come here to talk about the weather; I came here to talk about pizza baby! When the weather turns cold, I want cheesy, melty, crunchy, carb-loaded pizza. And since we're watching our pennies, I can make my own pizza darn it! Besides, there's no limit to what you can do with a pizza; I always like more sauce.

I present to you another wonderful recipe from The Cooking Forum! I've made this a few times and it's always wonderful. The crust is a little on the thick side, which I like; however, I feel that it could use some flavor. So feel free to add some spices (garlic powder, etc.) or even a little shredded cheese to the dough when you're mixing.

Also, the key to a good homemade pizza is to NOT OVERLOAD the pizza. That means go easy on the toppings that might make the dough soggy, for example tomatoes and mushrooms. The above example was a lovely tomato and basil combo and I sliced the tomatoes really thin.

This does take some time, but it is worth it. You will need a baking stone for this, and be sure to cut the parchment paper so it won't overlap your baking stone, or else it will catch fire. Trust me!

The BEST Pizza

2 –cups bread flour, plus more bread flour if the dough is too wet and for dusting the work surface
1 -teaspoon instant yeast
1 -teaspoon salt
1 –tablespoon olive oil, plus more olive oil, for brushing the dough
1 -cup warm water

PIZZA SAUCE (Makes enough for 2-3, 13x18 inch pizzas)
1 (28 -ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 – minced garlic cloves
2 -tablespoons olive oil
1 -teaspoon oregano
1 -teaspoon ground fennel
salt and pepper, to taste

1 -full recipe pizza dough
1 -tablespoon olive oil
2 -teaspoons dried basil (or 8-10 leaves minced fresh) -
8 -ounces mozzarella cheese, slices (use the real stuff NOT pre-shredded crap!)
1 1/3 -up to 2 cups tomato sauce (depending on whether you want a thin or medium pizza)
1 -medium onion
1 -cup sausage (precooked and browned in a skillet) -
1 -cup shredded mozzarella cheese - (shred yourself)
1 -cup shredded mild cheddar cheese


DOUGH: In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic dough blade, pulse the flour, yeast, and salt to combine; about five 1-second pulses. With the machine running, slowly add the oil, then the water through the feed tube; continue to process until the dough forms a ball, about 15 seconds. Generously dust the work surface with flour. Using floured hands, transfer the dough to the work surface and knead lightly, shaping the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a 1-quart measuring cup with cooking spray, place the dough in the measuring cup and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft free place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 - 1/2 hours.
Note: I used my Kitchenaid mixer. The dough should be pliable, but not wet. If it cannot be handled or hand-kneaded, add more flour a little at a time.

PIZZA SAUCE: Mix this up while the dough is rising, giving the flavors some time to meld.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. This may take as long as 30 minutes, so allow enough time for the oven to get hot. Remove all racks except the one holding your baking stone, for easier positioning of pizza onto the stone.

BUILDING: When the dough has doubled, grease hands with olive oil and remove it from the measuring cup, placing into the middle of a lightly floured board. (A silpat placed on the work surface makes cleaning up easier.) Being careful not to deflate all the air in the dough, roll dough into a ball and set aside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut parchment paper and set aside. Do NOT cut parchment larger than your pizza stone.

Oiling hands again, gently stretch the dough, shaping it into a large rectangle on the parchment paper. With palms, stretch and flatten the dough until it takes the shape you want it to have, keeping a slightly thicker edge for the crust. Dock the surface of the dough with your fingers to "texture" the surface and hold the toppings. Oil the dough before building the pizza. Place finely cut (or dried) basil across the top of the dough. Add Mozzarella cheese slices on top of the basil. Spread a thin, even layer of the pizza sauce, adding onions, pork sausage (or your choice of ingredients), shredded Mozzarella and mild cheddar over the top of the dough. You can really use any toppings you'd like.

BAKING: Position the baking stone on the bottom rack of your electric oven, or on the floor of your gas oven. Lift the parchment paper and slide onto the bottom of a sheet pan, then quickly slide pizza onto the baking stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the crust are browned. Check the bottom of the pizza for doneness before removing from the oven. Using tongs, transfer pie onto oven rack and set aside to cool a few minutes. Cut with a pizza cutter and enjoy!


OhioMom said...

Love the pizza ! I have made Lou's pizza dough a couple of times, DS now loves Mom's pizza :)

Just the Right Size said...

Oh yes! Lou has given us quite a few goodies! Love his lasagne too!


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