Homemade Pizza – One of my favorite things…

See, here’s the deal about my pizza…..it’s good, I would go as far as REALLY good, and it is probably one of my favorite things to make at home.  I like pizza to have lots of toppings, cheese being the most important, but I like to clean out the fridge and use whatever I find.

I definitely have to have a few hours to cook when I’m making pizza.  I make the crust and marinara for the pizza because I like all the different aromas going on in the kitchen. I always start with the dough for the crust so that I can let it rest for a while before putting it in the pan.

This is all you need for your crust:

ingredients

1 cup of warm water (around 110*F)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

2 1/4 cups of flour

In the bowl of a mixer that has a dough hook, add the sugar and yeast to the warm water

yeast and water

Give it a little stir and wait about 5 minutes. The yeast will start to foam up, or “bloom”.

yeast bloomed

Next, add the olive oil and salt. Give another little stir

yeast with olive oil (2)

Now, add the flour

add flour

Stir the flour with a wooden spoon until the dough just starts to stick together. Then turn on the dough hook and mix until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Do not over mix. Once it is done, just let the dough sit and rest while you get everything else ready.

flour mixed

So, now that I have that great yeasty scent going on in the kitchen, it’s time to start the sauce simmering.

I like marinara on pizza to be a thick sauce.  If it is too thin, it’s just spaghetti sauce and I think it makes the crust soggy.  Also, I do not par bake my crust, so the soggy crust thing is kind of important.

These are the basic ingredients for a marinara:

sauce ingredients

small can of tomato sauce

small can of tomato paste

italian seasoning

garlic powder

You can add onion, pepper, fresh garlic, even a little meat if you want, because the more aromatics that you add the better it is going to smell.  The above ingredients are just a base, and on this particular day it is all I had to work with. If you do add any aromatics, first cook them for a few minutes in some butter, otherwise you are just going to dump everything in a sauce pan…..

sauce ingredients in the pan

Stir it up and let it simmer while you are doing the rest of your prep.

sauce warmed

Pizza toppings can be pretty much whatever you want.  I like to have lots of different toppings, I just have to remind myself not to put too much of any one ingredient.  Ultimately, all pizza toppings fall into 2 categories:

1) Stuff that needs to be cooked first

cooked toppings

2) Stuff that doesn’t need to be cooked, but still might involve some prep

cold ingredients

Go ahead and start the meat first, because you want it to be partially done before you put the peppers in the pan.

starting meat

The only prep on the cold toppings is chopping the olives and fresh basil and chives

cold stuff chopped

When the meat is almost done go ahead and throw the peppers in and let them cook until the meat is completely cooked.  Take the pan off the burner and clear off a space to start putting everything together

meat with peppers

With a little bit of olive oil on your hands, press the dough out to the edges of a pizza pan or stone. Then, put roughly 1 cup of marinara in the middle of the crust

1 cup sauce

Spread the sauce out to the edge of the crust, adding more sauce if you want

sauce spread

As I mentioned earlier, cheese is one of the most important ingredients to me on a pizza.  The next layer is an Italian blend of cheese, you know, one of the bagged grated cheeses. Yes, I use the whole bag, which is the equivalent to 2 cups.  I find that this layer of cheese is what holds the other toppings on to the crust, so I want to make sure there is plenty there.

layer of italian mix

The next step is the meat and peppers. They should still be warm enough to start melting the bottom layer of cheese

meat and peppers

Next is the layer of olives and herbs that you just chopped up

layer of chopped cold stuff

I like using the mozzarella balls that come packed in olive oil.  That is where you get the long strings of cheese when you take a bite.

layer of mozz

And finally, the Parmesan. Lots of fresh, grated Parmesan.

layer of parm

It  is ready for the oven.  The oven should be preheated to 425*, I use the top rack and leave it in for about 20 minutes.  You will smell when it is done…..

And when you take it out, this is what you will have:

out of oven

It’s a good idea to let it sit for about 10 minutes before you cut the pizza.  I know this is going to be hard, but trust me, it is worth the wait when you end up with this for dinner…

pizza plated

I am not going to try and tell you that this is healthy meal, but it is healthier and tastes better than take out or frozen pizzas.  Not to mention, it is a lot of fun to make!

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