Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pizza, Pizza!

Being born to two die hard New Yorkers in Brooklyn, and then moving to the suburbs of Philadelphia when I was 8 meant that my parent's spent years, YEARS trying to find good New York style pizza. I grew up loving the huge pies, with paper thin crusts; to me, that is pizza. Seven years ago I moved to Chicago, and while Chicago is known for it's stuffed pizza, it's just not the same. And quite frankly, I don't think as good. I know I've lost some of you there, but I can't lie. I'm not saying stuffed pizza isn't good, I'm just saying there's better out there. There's something very satisfying about picking up a slice of pizza, folding it in half, turned your head to the side and taking a bite. The idea of cutting my pizza into pieces so I can eat it is seemingly sacrilegious.

Growing up, my dad used to make pizza from scratch. I distinctly remember him coming into my first grade class and making french bread pizza. The class and the parent's loved it so much, they asked him where his pizza place was. He informed them he didn't have one, as he was a doctor. No one believed him. I always loved making pizza with him. The anticipation of waiting for the dough to rise, spinning it in the air like a champion pizza maker, the smell of pizza in the oven, it's a reminder of childhood.

So, when I moved to Chicago and couldn't find pizza that I liked, I decided to start making my own. Now I should add, since I've been here I've found some pretty amazing places (Piece, BoilerRoom, Santullos). I have a hard time buying pizza that I know I can make, so these places give me things that I can't, like the BoilerRoom at the BoilerRoom. Meatballs soaked in PBR and a spicy giardiniera. But I digress.

So, home made pizza! It's not that hard and it tastes so darn good!

If you become committed to the homemade pizza cause, I would recommend going to Bed Bath and Beyond and buying a pizza stone. You can get them for $25 or $30 and they do make a difference. They're also great for baking cookies. If you want to spend a little more money and have a lifetime guarantee, Williams Sonoma has one for $50. We have it and love it.

The important thing here is to have fun with it! Put on as much or as little of every ingredient as you'd like. Add pepperoni, add sausage and peppers, go CRAAAZZY!


3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 packet Quick Rise Yeast
1 TBS Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Hot water

Quick Sauce
Can of Crushed Tomatos
2 garlic cloves minced
1 pinch of sugar
1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper
1 TBS Italian Seasoning

2 TSP Garlic Powder
2 TBS fresh Basil, chopped

2-4 Cups Shredded Mozerella Cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)

Crushed Red Pepper
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder

You can do this by hand or with a mixer. If you use a mixer, use the dough hook. Combine flour , olive oil and salt in a bowl, mix well and then add yeast. Mix in ONE cup of the hot water. Dough should be soft and smooth, without being sticky and all of the flour is included. If it isn't, add water one teaspoon at a time until it is. Once dough is fully mixed, cover with a dish towel and let sit for 45 minutes.

If you're not in the mood to make a sauce, I recommend getting the Barilla Tomato Sauce. Their Roasted Garlic and Tomato and Basil are actually rather good and it saves you some time.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and heat until warm. See, I told you it was quick!

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 400. You want it hot so the crust gets crispy.

On a well floured surface, roll out dough. If you want to play pizza maker, throw it in the air (just be aware flour will rain down on you!). Once dough is thin and is laid out and fits to the edges of the pan, stone ect, sprinkle the crust with some olive oil and then seasonings. As much or as little as you like. I like it a little spicy, so I add probably 1TSP of crushed red pepper, but you can just add a pinch. A few shakes of garlic powder, and a few shakes of seasoning.

From there add the sauce. Make sure to cover all of the pie, save the area closest to the edges. You want some crust! Cover with as much cheese as you'd like and then sprinkle some more seasoning on top.

Throw it in the oven for 20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure that the crust isn't burning. After 20 minutes the crust should be a shade of golden brown. If it isn't put it in for another 5. Keep checking until the crust is golden.

Take it out of the oven, let it cook for 5-10 minutes, that cheese is REALLY hot! Slice and enjoy!
I like my pizza really saucy and cheesy....but that's just me.

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