Friday, March 13, 2009
When the Moon-a hits your eye like-a bigg-a Pizza Pie that's.....gotta hurt!
Pizza. It's the one word that can bring a room full of people arguing over what to have for dinner into immediate and unanimous agreement. Not many people dislike pizza, however once you've decided on pizza the next argument to settle is what toppings. Some like sausage and peppers, some like that classic pepperoni. And then there are those who love those little dead fish on it. I never could understand the allure of anchovies. I don't hate them by any means...in fact I use them in many sauces because the anchovy itself sort of melts away and adds this slightly salty fullness of flavor to other foods without screaming "I am a dead fish!." However, on my pizza? No thank you. Going out for pizza can be quite costly these days and frankly I'm broke. Being broke though does not mean I'm going without. In fact my daughter and I make pizza at home more times than we go out for it. One reason of course is because it's way cheaper. Second reason, I can make it the way I want it and it tastes awesome. Third reason, it's alot of fun for everyone in the family to make. Finally the fourth reason...it's easy! Ok, you can get that "The woman has lost her flippin' mind" look off your face right now. It IS easy. Don't believe me? Ha! I'm going to take great pleasure in showing you just how easy it is.
First of all, you pretty much have everything you need to for pizza right there in your kitchen anyway. I think most people tend to have a bag of some type of shredded cheese in their fridge. As far as sauce goes, you can make your own from tomato paste, water and seasonings or buy a jar of your favorite pizza sauce. Mine happens to be the Ragu Pizza Quick. It's cheap, one jar is enough for two large pizzas and the consistency is exactly what you want. It's not too thick, but it isn't as thin as a spaghetti sauce so it doesn't water down the crust and make it mushy. Speaking of the crust, you have a few options here. You can use the roll out crust that comes in a tube from Pillsbury, however I don't happen to like it. It seems as though they take their basic biscuit recipe and change the shape and call it pizza crust. If you like it, fine. For me? Yuck. Then you have your pre-made crust like Boboli. These will work and actually taste pretty good but for one they can be costly and two, they are a little bready for me. They don't have the soft texture that you normally get in pizza from a pizza joint. Here are the two choices I opt for. I either make my dough in my bread maker (and for this I have THE BEST recipe!) or I'll go to my local pizza shop and buy a couple balls of dough. Our local shop, Garden Pizzeria, sells the dough for $3 a piece so for $6 I can make 2 very large pizzas or 3 medium size ones. Whichever you choose I guarantee you'll love the pizza because you've made it exactly the way you like it and you're not spending an arm and a leg for it. An added bonus is it's really fun to make. Kids LOVE making pizza. They love feeling and stretching the dough and even if they stretch it too much and make a hole, it's easily fixed. They can top it with sauce, cheese and anything else they want and some kids get pretty artistic. In the end they have a great feeling of accomplishment and an awesome dinner at that. *Note - If you are one of those anal retentive, Obsessive Complusive people who don't like any messes at all....don't even think about trying this. Kids make messes. It's one of their God given jobs along with playing and having fun and as a parent you need to know when to allow them to do it and expect a clean up afterwards. This is one of those times. It's a nice trade off though because with pizza making they get to do all three at once. If you like the look of pride on a child's face when they show you how they've colored inside the lines, just wait til they show you their pizza masterpiece. Another great plus is they are getting a great, nutritious meal. Oh....almost forgot....if you have a bread maker sitting on the shelf and have only made one loaf of bread in the past 5 years of owning it, I'm going to show you the great benefits of owning one in the coming weeks. That little piece of machinery is incredible at taking all the work out of making pizza dough and home made pasta. Two things you always thought would be fun to make but were too hard. I'm going to show you how to let your bread maker pull it's weight and make them foolproof. Here are some ideas for pizza's we've made and my dough recipe:
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Sauce - Your favorite BBQ sauce
Toppings - Cheddar cheese, leftover or canned chicken, red or spring onions
Sauce - Basil Pesto Sauce, either home made or from a jar (the stuff keeps forever in the fridge)
Toppings - Feta cheese, black olives, sliced or sun-dried tomatoes
Philly Cheese Steak Pizza
Sauce - Ranch Dressing
Toppings - Chopped leftover steak or Steaks'ums, mozarella cheese, grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers
Sauce - Salsa or Taco Sauce
Toppings - (before the oven) Leftover taco meat, monterey jack Cheese, (after the oven) shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onions, sour cream
My Pizza Dough Recipe
1 C Water
1 Beaten Egg
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Sugar
3 C Bread Flour
3 Tbsp Dry Milk Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Active Yeast
Add ingredients to bread maker just as they are listed. Select Dough setting on the machine. Press the Start/Stop button. When timer reads 0:00 take out the dough and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes covered with a towel. Turn onto a floured surface. Pat it and stretch it by hand into a circle or rectangle if you prefer. *One trick I've learned if you don't own a pizza peel (one of the wooden paddles to make pizza on) and pizza stone to cook it on, use a cookie sheet turned upside down to make the pizza. Just put a little flour or cornmeal on the surface and place your dough on that. Add your toppings and put the pizza into a 450 degree pre-heated oven. Pizza is done when the crust is a nice brown and is no longer soft in the middle, about 10 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven and slide it onto a cutting board (this is why we used the underside of the cookie sheet, it slides easier) and allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Let me know how you and your family like your pizza and I'd love to see pictures too! Email your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put them on a new post in the future. "Mangia Bene, vivi felice!" - Eat well, Live happy!!!