Wednesday, February 15, 2012


So this week was my week to host the cooking club (which means I include a recipe, pics, and post on Wednesday I suppose). I have had a crazy week (as usual, I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I'm not as organized as I think). First, I had to make my challah bread and a cheesecake (special request from someone for the lemon cheesecake!), next, on Sunday we had our annual Valentine's Day Dinner. This is really such a fun and fab event my mom hosts every year. We all get together and eat, then pass out Valentine's (so all of Saturday I was running around making mine up, and of course I would forget to take them to the dinner on Sunday...) It was hysterical watching all the kiddies hand out their valentines-my nieces and nephews cannot tell L, EP, and me apart, despite the fact that we look absolutely nothing whatsoever alike and we see them weekly :).  They were so intent on the business of getting their cards around to everyone else that when someone handed them one they would hand that off as well. Of course the adults enjoyed passing out some valentines-just bc you are out of elementary school does not mean you are done making cute crafty treats! I'll have to take some pics and post them, they were all so marvie.

On Monday E brought home her new baby so of course I zipped right up. He is just delightful!
Isn't he cute! (And E you are now obligated to leave a comment :)   )

Tuesday was Valentine's which I'll post about later.
Today I have become an unwilling participant in a strange dramatic reenactment of some events in the 1800s (I think) and so while trying to get my pizza made to get to that, L typed up the recipe on this post for me. She is a wizard on the keyboard :)

So-for my week I chose my fav pizza recipe ever bc I wanted to make sure everyone tried it. I love love love pizza, eat it several times a week to my mother's horror, have applied to work on the Dominos on the moon, and this is the best homemade version I have tried yet!
Several people in the group were not too impressed with this pizza so I feel I had better add a few disclaimers right at the beginning:
1: you must add sugar to the pizza sauce, it is essential!
2: you must have a pizza stone for this crust recipe.
3: throw the crust onto the hot stone, then add the sauce, cheese, and toppings. It is hard to transfer once you have everything on it.
4: It really comes together quickly. I spend 5-10 minutes mixing the crust together and getting it into the bowl to rise. Then I let it rise for about 40 min. I spend about 5 minutes on the sauce and then let it simmer while I roll out the crust and start assembling the pizza-total time, 30 minutes max plus the 40 minutes of rising time.

Awesome Pizza Dough
4-4 1/4 cups bread flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 t) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)

1. Pulse 4 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt together in a food processor (fitted with a dough blade if possible) to combine. With the processor running, pour the oil, then water through the feed tube and process until a rough ball forms, 30-40 seconds. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer. If after 30 seconds the dough is sticky and clings to the blade, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.

I never add the extra flour.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and form it into a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, before using.

I usually let my dough rise in a slightly warm oven (preheat to 200, then turn it off) to speed things up.

Perfect Pizza Sauce
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Several Tbsp Sugar
A healthy heap of red pepper flakes

Cook the oil and garlic together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sizzling and fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and red pepper, and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (The sauce can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 4 days.)

I love the jars of garlic, so fast and easy and I think it tastes just as good!

 I hate tomatoes and tomato sauce! I always order light sauce on pizza. what makes this sauce better than bearable is the sugar (majorly important!!!!) the crushed red pepper (the more the merrier!) and finally, getting rid of the chunks. I always use my little stick blender (one of my fav tools) to blend it up.

Cheese Pizza
Serves: 4-6

2 pounds pizza dough (see above)
Olive oil, for brushing
2 cups pizza sauce (see above)
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (3 cups) (grate your own!!!!!!!)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I never use this, I always forget about it)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Let the baking stone heat for at least 30 minutes (but no longer than 1 hour). Line a rimless (or inverted) baking sheet with parchment paper. (you don't actually need the parchment paper for this recipe)

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, divide it into 2 equal pieces, and cover with greased plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the other piece covered), press and roll the dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured counter. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet and reshape as needed.

I have a rolling pin but I always use a glass, it is easier to work with.

3. Lightly brush the outer 1/2-inch edge of the dough with oil. Spread 1 cup of the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 2 T of the Parmesan.

go light on the sauce, you will not regret it. Also-I was out of parchment but for this recipe it does not matter, the crust does not stick or anything.

Never (unless you absolutely have no choice) use pre-grated cheese for pizza-it does not melt as well!

4. Slide the parchment paper and pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake the pizza until the edges are brown and the cheese is golden in spots, 8 to 13 minutes. (Prepare the second pizza while the first bakes.)
 ****a stone is essential for good pizza crust!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(my mom is continuously giving away her pizza stone (to me). I always just put it in my old bedroom upstairs so that when I am there to cook I have it on hand. Then, a few months later, she finds it in the kitchen and tries to give it away again. Seriously, I cannot live without my stone! It is essential for most breads and pizza!

5. Remove the pizza from the oven by sliding the parchment paper back onto the baking sheet. Discard the parchment paper and slide the pizza onto a cutting board. Let the stone reheat for 5 minutes before baking the second pizza. Serve hot.
my cute pizza plates that Jesse brought me back from Disneyland!

Well, there you have it, the best homemade pizza ever!!!
I tried sticking to just the pizza in this post but I'll have to soon record my thoughts on the strangest dramatic reading that I was involved in tonight.
till later then,


Amanda said...

Okay, I am really starting to think this was some kind of user-error on my part. I love the idea of the crushed red pepper and I am totally with you on adding sugar to tomato stuff! Thanks for hosting this week.

Linnae said...

Have you ever tried adding whole wheat flour to the crust? I have yet to find a good WW crust recipe. I think I would make pizza a lot more often if I could find one!

krista said...

I have always loved your pizza and will have to try making it this week!