Friday Recipe Exchange: Pizza, Pizza

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JeffreyW tempts us with yummy-ness.

I thought with Valentine’s yesterday, we’d keep things simple tonight. I’ve been wanting to highlight all of JeffreyW’s pizza stylings for a while. The man does know how to decorate a crust.

Making your own pizzas can be pretty quick and definitely much cheaper than ordering out as long as you plan ahead a bit. Things to keep on hand for the weekly Friday night pizza: shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, tomato sauce, and some type of crust, which I’ll address below. Then you can top with your favorite things. Let your imagination run wild.

My idea of pizza is a good crust, spicy sauce and cheese. Pepperoni is a plus.  Nothing more.

What’s a good crust varies by personal preference. I’m as happy with a Chicago-style flaky crust as I am a thin New York-style.

Pizza seems like a good place to have a lively discussion. I bet everyone has a favorite they’d argue for, what’s yours? Is pizza a treat or a weekly item on the menu?

JeffreyW seems to have one for every occasion. For your viewing pleasure: JeffreyW Pizza Gallery.

Now let’s run through a few ingredients.

Sauce is pretty easy, you can use leftover spaghetti sauce – I always make a double batch and freeze half (recipe here).

Or try some of JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce™ (recipe here)

A simple sauce of one 15-oz can tomato sauce, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic and dried oregano, with a dash of dried basil will deliver a nice pizza. Skip the dried basil if you’re going to use fresh basil as one of your toppings.  Always crush the dried spices between your fingers to release the flavor. You can keep a jar of pizza seasoning if that’s easier. Oregano is the key to restaurant style pizza, that’s the signature flavor of a traditional pizza.

So for a quick pizza crust, this one from my Men Who Cook Series works really well:

Todd D’s Pizza Crust

(enough for two large cookie sheets)

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. white flour
  • 2 c. warm water
  • 2 pkg yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ c olive oil

Mix together and knead. Add enough flour so that it’s not sticky. The dough should be elastic.

Roll out and place on greased cookie sheets. Top with chopped tomatoes, pizza seasoning and parmesan cheese. Then add your favorite toppings and cheeses.

Bake 25 minutes at 400.

Instead of using a baking sheet, how about using a cast iron skillet. It worked great (see here)

Or try JeffreyW’s (photos of the process here):

I’ve been adding stuff to my pizza dough lately.  It may be overkill, given that the sauces and toppings are what a pizza is all about, but if I have fun doing it-why not?

Tonight’s dough got thyme, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, and fennel seeds.  The candidates for inclusion are limited only by whether they might taste good on a pizza.  The dough recipe isn’t anything special or “to die for”.  You can find hundreds of “the best dough ever” recipes-just pick one and go with it.  I put this one together on the fly, some sourdough starter, perhaps a half cup, then a tablespoon of sugar and one of yeast, about a cup of water, four cups of flour, a half tablespoon of salt, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and the additions mentioned above.  Mix in the stand mixer for ten minutes, then a turn in a greased bowl for a first rise.  After the first doubling, divide into eight portions, form them roughly into balls, and let them rise again, covered, on a tray.

I roll them out on a plastic mat.  Let them rest for a few minutes after a first roll to relax a bit, then finish rolling.  I manage to get them to about ten inches in diameter.  Poke holes all over with a fork or they may balloon out like pocket bread.

I “par bake” them on a stone in a 375 oven for about two minutes a side.  You don’t really want them to brown, they will finish cooking when you use them for a pizza.  I let the first one tonight get too brown, I had the oven a bit high, and left it a wee bit too long.

They are ready to use right away-freeze what you don’t use for a quick pizza anytime!

You don’t have to make your own crust, you can do what friends of  mine do, and keep frozen, store-bought crust dough in the freezer, or you can use pita bread, which JeffreyW does frequently, use refrigerator tube dough, or make french bread pizzas with loaves from the grocery. Now why would you order out? But if you do, you’ll probably find your best pies with a small, local vendor instead of a chain.

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