Mon mari was born and raised in New York City so he has a great love for pizza (and for Chinese food, but that's another story). No pizzeria within a 4000 mile radius of our village meets his high standards, thus I've taken it upon myself to become an expert pizza maker. And I have to admit, I love it!
Pizza is fun. It is versatile. And it allows for endless creativity.
What is your favorite combination of ingredients? Make some pizza dough and use your imagination. It is the perfect blank canvas.
Got a can of plum tomatoes and some leftover cheese? Throw it on.
Maybe you have a bit of pesto, half a container of crème fraîche, a zucchini and an onion...a great combination.
How about some fresh sausage, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes...those make delicious toppings too.
Yesterday I used up a link of smoked sausage, a yellow onion, a ball of fresh mozzarella and half a brick of feta cheese that I scattered over homemade pizza sauce. It was fabulous!
The Dough recipe that I use comes from the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill. It never fails to come out crispy and perfect.
Evelyne Slomon's Perfect Pizza Pie
- 1 cup warm (105 to 110 degrees) water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 to 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pour the water into a mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir gently with a fork until the yeast dissolves and the liquid turns a light beige in color.
- Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt; mix well. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add a second cup of flour. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and begin to form a soft, sticky mass.
- Sprinkle some of the remaining cup of flour over a work surface and your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead in the additional flour a bit at a time, until the dough no longer feels sticky. Push the heel of your hand down into it and hold it there for 10 seconds. If your hand comes up clean, the dough is done; if it sticks, a bit more kneading is necessary.
- Lightly oil a 2-quart bowl with vegetable oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to coat it with the oil. Tightly seal the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place, preferably in a gas oven with a pilot light. For electric ovens, set the thermostat at 200 degrees F for 10 minutes, turn the oven off, and place the bowl inside. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 30-45 minutes.
- Punch down the dough, remove it from the bowl, and knead for about 1 minute. Set aside to rise a second time until doubled in size, 1 hour.
- After the second rising, the dough is ready to be shaped, topped, and baked. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Roll into two 18-inch pies or into four 10-inch individual pies. Add the toppings of choice now. Bake on clay baking tiles for even baking if possible (if not, use a baking sheet) until the crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes for a large pie, 15 to 20 minutes for small pies.
The Sauce is my own creation.
Sautée 2-3 whole, fat cloves of garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized saucepan until light brown.
Crush up a large can of Italian plum tomatoes and add to the browned garlic. Simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) and simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Smash the softened garlic cloves against the side of the pan and mix it into the sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
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