Pizza Pizza Pizza!
I returned home yesterday after visiting my in-laws and my mom. My brother was there too! What a treat! To commemorate our last evening together we made a total mess of the kitchen making pizza. One obstacle regarding the pizza crust was a lack of a recipe. The one I have relied on for years was at home (what I get for having not yet scanned all my old recipes), and the one my brother usually used was not at mom’s place either, so my brother dug around online and found this one, which worked great. Mom’s pizza stone got a good workout making FIVE pizzas and Grandma Heflin’s 80 year old cedar rolling pin did a darned good job on rolling out the dough. When the dough was ready and the toppings prepared we stuck Little B on a stool and had her help us with topping the pizzas. She loved throwing, er, placing the vegetables and pepperoni all over the place, especially in big piles. We had to make a couple of adjustments before they went in the oven, like reducing the pile of five cheese slices, but we all had blast. My brother was the work horse for the evening, watching the baking times, transferring the pizzas from the stone, and making sure everyone got what they wanted, or didn’t want, on the pizzas. Here is what we did. These things are fun and fun is good, to quote Dr. Seuss.
2 batches pizza dough (makes about five 12-inch pizzas)
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 Tbsp plus ½ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 bell peppers, cut into strips
10 baby portabello mushrooms, sliced about ½ cm thick
1 bunch basil, washed with stems removed
1 large can black olives, sliced into rings
½ large white onion, sliced thin julienne
5 ounces turkey pepperoni (or the fatty kind if you are not trying as hard as I am to justify eating pizza)
2 pounds buffalo mozzarella, sliced about ½ cm thick
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
Place pizza stone in cold oven. Turn oven on to 450-475F, depending on your oven. In a bowl mix together diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Smush some of the tomatoes, but leave some chunky. Roll out on floured surface 1/5 the dough into a 12 inch round. Transfer the round to a pizza peel (or the back of a cookie sheet) that has been sprinkled with corn meal. Spread a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 Tbsp) on the crust. Add about 1/5 of the tomato sauce*. Layer other toppings (mushrooms, pepperoni, olives, onions, basil) as desired, topping with 1/5 of the cheese. When oven and stone are hot, sprinkle the stone with corn meal then slide the pizza on to stone and cook for 14-16 minutes. If the first pizza does not brown on top you may need to raise the oven temperature.
While the first pizza is cooking, make sure you have transition stations set up (this is where the dishes and clean up time increased exponentially) – one platter for setting on the table, one surface for receiving a pizza just out of the oven, and one for a prepared pizza ready to go in the oven. If you have a pizza peel the pizza transfer from oven to cutting board is a breeze. If you don’t have a peel (like us), make sure you have the thickest oven mitts you can find, or check your grilling/fire pit supplies to see if you have at least one high temperature glove to help handle the stone. We had to remove it from the oven to slide it onto the cutting surface. It is really hot! If you don’t have a pizza stone the whole cooking time and transfer issue is completely different than what is described here, and I have faith you can figure it out. Good luck!
This baking method and timing melts the cheese, browns the surface a bit and cooks the crust, but it does not completely cook the vegetables until limp. We like ours a bit crispy. If you want your vegetables cooked a little more it may help to blanch or saute them before you start making the pizzas.
*On one of the pizzas we used a wonderful pesto instead of the tomato sauce. It was from Humble House Foods who sell at the Pearl Farmers Market. Amazing pizza results and the most delicious pesto ever!