Sunday, February 20, 2011

In the mood for Pizza

I have a hard time finding good pizza for take out.  For the last 2 years I have been mostly eating frozen pizza's from Trader Joe's (which, by the way, are really good for frozen grocery pizza).  But seeing as there is no Trader Joe's nearby anymore (very sad), I decided this was the night to make my own.  It's been some time since I ventured into pizza dough, sauces and toppings on my own, but it's quite an easy task if you have a little time.  To me there is nothing more satisfying than making your own dough; the smell of the yeast marrying itself into the water and flour; the excitement of seeing the dough rise after an hour of two of anxiously waiting, trying not to peak; and the smell of freshly baked bread emanating through the house. 

So on to the pizza - there are all kinds of recipes out there for pizza dough.  I like the following recipe as it has a little diversity with the wheat and flax added in.  Try it out and see what you think.. or substitute for all bread flour if you're not feeling too adventurous.

Note on cookware:  I highly recommend investing in a good quality pizza stone if you don't have one - it offers a nice crispy crust, and the stone should last a lifetime.  I also like the circular steel pans with the holes in them - i have one passed down from my grandma that works great - just give it a little oil rub before putting the dough down.

Dough:  Yields one pizza (~12" round - fairly thin crust)
  • 1 1/3 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 Tbls. yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
Mix together the flour, wheat germ, flax meal, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the mix, and add the oil and water, gradually working into a soft dough.  After the dough is mixed to a fairly pliable and smooth texture, transfer it onto a floured surface (a clean counter top works well) and knead for about 8 minutes until it is elastic and smooth.
Rub some oil over the surface of the dough and return to the bowl.  Cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap, place in a warm area (I find a kitchen cupboard works well), and leave to rise for about 1-2 hours.  The dough should be doubled in size.
Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes, knocking out the excess air.  Roll the dough out (using a rolling pin works best, but also stretching a bit with your hands too) into the desired shape of your pan. 
On to the sauce... I usually like to make a big batch of sauce and freeze some.  But tonight I had few ingredients and little time so here is a quick and easy sauce.
  • 1 14oz can of good quality chopped tomatoes (muir glen is a good option)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • few sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano)- if you don't have on hand, try some dried herbs
  • 1/2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
Saute the garlic for a few minutes until soft.  Add the remaining ingredients together (chop the herbs if you want them to remain in the sauce - otherwise remove after cooking).  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30minutes until it has thickened and reduced.  Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Toppings :  your choice of course.  Diced jalapenos, sun dried tomatoes (thinly sliced), andouille sausage, fresh mozzarella and cheddar where my choices of the night.

Top your pizza dough with the sauce, toppings and cheese.  Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.  Remove the pizza and let it rest for a few minutes.  Bon app!

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