One of the first things I can remember really wanting to learn how to cook from scratch was pizza. As a fat teenager I lived off the greasy, delivered to your door variety of the stuff. I could easily take down a large or more in a single sitting so suffice to say that I am a huge fan. Maybe it is the tie in to special occasions in my household growing up. Birthday parties, visits from long lost relatives seemed to always be commemorated with a phone call and a thirty minute wait. I must also say thank you to pizza for introducing me to one of my favourite foods in life, pineapple. Yep the Hawaiian special, now that I think about it, seems fairly pedestrian now but as a little kid I think it communicated to me that you could play with your food. I mean fruit on a savoury dish? This was new territory in my pot roast and roasted root vegetables for dinner world. The other thing that I love about pizza is the passion it stirs in seemingly everyone. Everyone has an opinion about what makes great pizza. Thick vs. thin crust, the number of toppings that should go on top, what those toppings are and even the amount of sauce used will spark furious debate amongst foodies and those who eat for sustenance alike. So here we go, let’s give pizza a go.
The first thing we have to deal with is the crust. I favour a thin and crispy crust when I make this at home but roll it out to your liking. Here is a fairly quick and easy pizza dough recipe that has never steered me wrong.
1 envelope of yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups, give or take, flour
-mix 4 tbsp of water, the yeast and the sugar in a bowl and set aside in a warm place for about 15 minutes or until it starts to foam up.
-mix the salt and the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add in the oil and the yeast goo. Slowly add in the rest of the flour and mix until the dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a clean floured work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth, about 4-5 minutes.
-stick the dough into a bowl, cover, and let it rise until it is doubled in size. About 30 minutes
-turn the dough out again and knead for another 2 minutes or so and then stretch it and roll it out to you desired thickness. It will rise in the oven so there is your warning.
You can freeze what you don’t need to use at a later date. If you don’t want to make the dough from scratch you can always just buy it. I do recommend that you aim for a joint that makes the dough fresh every day. Delis and bakeries that sell pizza as part of their menus will generally be willing to sell you a hunk of raw dough but you may need to ask.
You know have the base for your pizza the toppings are up to you. Here are a couple of my favourites. The first was inspired by a joint that served tapas and is sort of a take on a Waldorf salad. I served it at a tapas night that I hosted and it seemed to be a hit. This is for all of your veggie friends. The second is something that I made for my mom and she fell in love with it.
The Waldorf Pizza to the tune of Babylon by David Gray
2 Green apples sliced
½ cup walnuts
1 tbsp ish honey
2-3 oz of goat cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup of cheese sauce you can grab my recipe for this from the Mac and Cheese post
1 ball of pizza dough
-in a frying pan dry toast your walnuts, add your honey and let the little devils candy up. Let them cool completely.
-Roll out your dough and then top with the sauce, then the apples, then the cheeses then the candied walnuts.
-Bake in a 400 degree oven until cheese is melty and the crust is crisp. And you’re done.
Mom’s Chicken Margarita Pizza, like the drink, to the tune of Dreamboat Annie by Heart, one of my Mom’s favourite tunes.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless chicken thighs cubed
4 oz decent tequila
Juice of 3 limes
1 small onion thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 ball of pizza dough
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
-In a frying pan heat oil and add your chicken. Sauté until the chicken is browned and close to cooked through. Add your tequila and lime juice to the pan and reduce until your chicken is coated with a nice syrupy sauce.
-Build your pizza, dough, sauce, onions, chicken, peppers, and cheese.
-Bake in a 400 degree oven until cheese is melty and the crust is crisp.
Play around with what you want to use for toppings and I am sure that you find something different and awesome. Feel free to share any of those awesome discoveries. A special thanks to my friend Amanda "The Hamster" Strand for taking and sharing the pics. Have fun and be brave.