A few weekends ago a dear long time friend we hadn’t seen for a very long time was stopping by for coffee and some of my homemade cheesecake. As it turned out, our guest arrived several hours late because of an issue at there job. We chatted for several hours and I put out cheese and crackers to start. We had lots to catch up on and before you knew it, it was well past dinner time.
Being this dinner with a guest was unexpected we decided to order Pizza. I don’t know about how you all feel about pizza but being from New York pizza needs to meet certain criteria. My husband an I have been seeing changes in several of the local pizzerias in our area. Tough crust, minimal toppings and too little sauce to the point where the pizza was dry. As a girl born and raised in Brooklyn, NY I can tell you Brooklyn has some of the best pizza in NY. Growing up I watched my mom make pizza at home from the usual cheese pizza with red sauce to the White pizza topped with spinach and cheese. I remembered those days and learned to make pizza myself not so much on the fly but when I would work it into one of my weekly menus.
Needless to say the pizza we ordered for our guest was marginal and disappointing. Tough crust, very little sauce on one of the pies. So our hunt goes on for a better local pizzeria, but until then I think I will go back to making my own pizza once again like when the kids were growing up.
As a home cook I am the first to admit my pizza’s aren’t the most beautiful pies you have ever seen but they are pretty tasty. Here are a few of my favorite recipes I like to use.
My favorite recipe for making homemade pizza crust is adapted from the cookbook Laura in the Kitchen by Laura Vitale.
This recipe will make two 10 inch pizza pies or one large size Sicilian Pie.
For the Dough:
3 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour or Italian 00 flour if you can find it.
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/3 cups of Warm Water, 110 degrees (check with a thermometer if you have one , if your water is too hot it will kill the yeast)
1 Envelope of Yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons if you buy your yeast in a bulk package like I do)
To make the dough:
1) Add the yeast to warm water and set it aside for about 3 minutes.
2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a dough attachment, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil. Stir the yeast in the water to make sure it’s all dissolved and add it to the flour mixture.
3) With the speed on medium, mix until everything is combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix for 10 minutes.
4) Oil 2 bowls with olive oil and set aside. Divide the dough in two pieces and roll into a ball. Place each ball of dough into the oiled bowls, seam side down and brush the tops of the dough with a little oil to stop them from drying out.
Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until it doubles about 1 1/2 hours.
6) To make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it for 20 minutes. (if you don’t have a pizza stone you can use a large baking sheet just place it in the oven upside down so there are no edges)
7) Sprinkle some flour onto your counter, take 1 ball of dough and dredge it in the flour on all sides. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10 inch circle.
8) Using a pizza peel (or a baking sheet upside down so that there are no edges) place the rolled out pizza dough on it and start topping it.
To make a red sauce pizza: Use a ladle and add your favorite pizza sauce then using the back of the ladle swirl it all over the top of the dough spreading out the sauce, not too much but not too little.
Top it with the shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese and any preferred toppings you like mushrooms, cooked sausage, veggies etc. using the pizza peel slide it onto the pizza stone.
Cook for 20 minutes, rotating half way through to insure even cooking.
A cooking Tip – If you think the dough will not slide easily off the peel because the toppings are too heavy you can do one of two things. 1) lightly dust the peel with cornmeal. or 2) what I usually do is put a piece of parchment paper between the peel and the dough when I first set the dough on the peel this way it will easily slide onto the pizza stone. Cook it right on the parchment paper and it will still be a crispy crust.
For a quick No cook Pizza Sauce:
1 1/2 cups of Tomato Puree or use and immersion blender and crush a can of San Marzano tomatoes and use 1 1/2 cups of that.
Dried Oregano, to taste
Dried Basil, to taste
Granulated Garlic, to taste
Granulated Onion, to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of Sugar
To make the sauce simply mix together all of the sauce ingredients and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Set aside. No need to cook the sauce a head of time as the tomatoes are already cooked and the sauce will heat through while baking.