6 Varieties of Homemade Pizza

11 Oct

If you looked at my list of text messages, 95% of them are questions people ask me related to food. Here are three of my favorites from this year.

1. I just had a medium rare burger at 9pm, I feel dizzy – do I have E Coli? If so, how long until I die?

2. I have breakfast sausage, Craisins and tofu in the house, what should I make?

3. How do I deep-fry a turkey?

Number three, you know who you are, do you really expect me to answer that via text message??? I feel honored to be on the top of so many people’s food question call list, but the funny thing is, most of the people in my life, friends, family and co-workers alike, are amazing cooks who don’t really need my advice. I understand their reasoning though, I question myself just as much.  The two people on my call list are my cousin Paul, who is an amazing professional chef and the other is my Mom, because Moms know everything, like how to tell if you have a fever by kissing your forehead.

This coming week I will be teaching an adult education course on homemade pizzas. I have been making homemade pizza for years, throwing it on the grill at BBQs, roasting it over a campfire, throwing  it onto my fancy pizza stone in the oven…with one exception… I was buying the dough. Every year I have a big pizza competition with my students at school and we make hundreds of fresh yeast doughs from scratch, so I am very familiar with it. I love working with yeast and I was whipping up baguettes and sourdough left and right, just not pizza dough. I guess I felt it was just as good to use a refrigerated dough from the bakery section of the supermarket because they were making it the same way I would.

But then I started to feel the guilt. It all started a few years back when my friends Chris and Christina returned from their honeymoon in Italy and they made us a delicious pizza with homemade crust. Christina has sent me a few food question texts over the years, which always surprises me because she has prepared some of the most amazing meals I’ve ever eaten. This pizza was no exception. It should have been enough to convert me to the homemade stuff, but I guess old habits die hard. This summer, I had another batch of this ridiculously good homemade pizza dough, this time prepared by her husband’s Uncle Eddie.

Enough was enough. How could I teach this to my students every year if I didn’t do the same thing at home? How could I maintain the right to receive and answer food text questions if I was secretly purchasing prepared pizza dough? I was living a lie. The madness had to end.

I went through a few recipes until I found one that matched the flavor of Christina’s and Eddie’s. I am kicking myself for all the years I have taken the time to make a homemade pizza but robbed myself of the opportunity to enjoy this truly superb dough. The really sad thing is, this comes together in less time than it took my other other dough to defrost or warm up. One try and you’ll see how stupid easy it is. One taste and you’ll see there is no comparison in flavor and texture.

Below are pictures of the varieties I have been making weekly, with all the tomatoes I still have in the garden. The other 4 are the recipes for this week’s class. I have been making them for years with the prepared dough and they were great then, so I can only imagine how good they are going to be this week with the REAL dough.

This dough is incredibly airy and light and very easy to roll out.

Basic Pizza Dough Adapted from Everyday Food, March 2010

Makes enough for 2 small round or 1 large rectangular pie

Ingredients

  • 2 packets (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water ( 105 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface

Directions

  1. Pour warm water into a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk sugar and oil into yeast mixture. Mix salt into flour thoroughly in a bowl. Stir flour mixture into yeast mixture until a sticky dough forms. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and brush top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. The top of an oven on a low setting works well in cold weather. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 1 or 2 times before using.

Cook’s Note: To freeze, you can wrap the dough in plastic and freeze it in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Pizza with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Garden Tomato and Herb Sauce - http://www.lessonsinfood.wordpress.com

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 7-10 Garden Tomatoes, chopped
  • Assorted fresh herbs, 2-3 sprigs rosemary, 1 spring oregano, 1 sprig thyme, 5 springs parsley, 10 sprigs basil – finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 batch of basic pizza dough
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a heavy bottom saucepan saute onions and garlic in olive oil and butter until softened. Add tomatoes and cook 15 minutes.

Add herbs and season with salt and pepper. Puree with immersion blender.

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Roll out pizza dough and transfer to a greased large baking sheet pan. Push up the sides of the dough to form a crust. Spread sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella. Dollop the ricotta cheese randomly across pizza.

Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Pizza with Chopped Fresh Tomato Salsa - http://www.lessonsinfood.wordpress.com

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 15 large multicolor garden tomatoes, chopped
  •  leaves from 10 sprigs basil – finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 batch of basic pizza dough
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In a heavy bottom saucepan saute onions and garlic in 2 Tbsps of olive oil and butter until softened. Add 3/4 of the chopped tomatoes and cook 15 minutes. Add the leaves from 5 sprigs of basil and season with salt and pepper. Puree with immersion blender.

Combine remaining tomatoes and basil in small bowl. Add  remaining olive oil and balsamic. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Roll out pizza dough and transfer to a greased large baking sheet pan. Push up the sides of the dough to form a crust. Spread sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella.

Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Top with fresh tomato mixture before serving.

Grilled Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza Everyday Food, July/August 2010

“Tender grilled asparagus and soft ricotta cheese top this grilled pizza. No grill? No problem. Cook this dough in a cast-iron skillet over high heat, or on a preheated sheet pan or pizza stone in a 500-degree oven.”

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat it up: Set up a grill with heat source, coals or gas, on one side over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill.
  2. Stretch it: On a lightly floured work surface, stretch or roll 1 piece basic grilled pizza dough or 4 ounces store-bought dough into a 10-inch-long oval or other desired shape. Brush one side lightly with herb oil or olive oil and season with coarse salt and ground pepper.
  3. Grill it: Using your hands, place dough, oiled side down, directly over heat source. Brush dough with herb oil or olive oil and cook until underside is lightly charred and bubbles form all over top, 1 to 2 minutes. With tongs, flip dough and cook until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide dough to cooler side of grill.
  4. Top it: Top with desired cheese and toppings; cover grill. Cook until cheese melts and toppings are heated through, 2 to 5 minutes.

Herb Oil

  • 1 sliced garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small saucepan, bring sliced garlic clove, minced fresh rosemary leaves, and extra-virgin olive oil to a simmer over medium and cook 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature in a small bowl.            

 Roasted Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pizza

Ingredients

  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 8oz ball of fresh mozzarella, torn into 10-15 pieces
  • ½ bunch basil, cut into chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 prepared pizza dough

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize.

Prepare pizza dough on a greased round baking pizza pan or alternately on a cookie sheet. Arrange roasted tomatoes on pizza dough. Top with mozzarella pieces and sliced basil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Bake at 450 degrees until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Barbecued Chicken, Roasted Corn, Fresh Salsa and Four Cheese Pizza from http://www.lessonsinfood.wordpress.com

Ingredients

  • 2 bone –in chicken breast, cooked ( preferably grilled)  and shredded
  • ¼ cup barbeque sauce
  • 2 ears of corn, roasted on the grill or in the oven and then shucked
  • 1 ½ cups of shredded mixed cheese ( Monterey jack, Colby, Cheddar and Mozzarella)
  • 1 prepared pizza dough
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

For salsa:

  • 3 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • ½ lime, juiced and zested
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white onion, fine dice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Prepare all ingredients as directed.

If grilling pizza, set up a grill with heat source, coals or gas, on one side over medium-high, clean and lightly oil hot grill. Otherwise preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare pizza dough on a greased round baking pizza pan or alternately on a cookie sheet.

Toss shredded chicken with barbeque sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of cheese mixture on top of pizza dough. Evenly distribute shredded chicken on top of cheese layer. Sprinkle shucked corn and remaining cheese on top of chicken layer. Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa by combining all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Adjust lime juice and olive oil is necessary.When pizza is finished cooking, top with salsa and serve.

Apricot and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula and Goat Cheese adapted from Cooking Light MAY 2010

Look for apricots that are slightly underripe so they’ll stand up to the heat, or you can substitute two medium peaches. We like the smooth texture and intense flavor of imported Parma prosciutto in this dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 apricots, each pitted and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 ounce shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation

  • Roll dough out to a thin 12-inch circle on a lightly floured baking sheet. Crimp edges to form a 1/2-inch border. Pierce dough several times with a fork.
  •  Position an oven rack in the lowest setting. Place a pizza stone on lowest rack. Preheat oven to 550°. Preheat the pizza stone for 30 minutes before baking dough.
  •  Combine 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, pepper, apricots, shallots, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss gently. Slide dough onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide. Bake at 550° for 4 minutes. Top dough with goat cheese and apricot mixture. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cut pizza into 10 slices; sprinkle with parsley and chives. Toss arugula with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; arrange arugula over apricot mixture. Top with prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cut into 10 wedges.

7 Responses to “6 Varieties of Homemade Pizza”

  1. Elsie October 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Hi,
    In the pizza dough recipe, it says 2 teaspoons….. of what? Thanks and can’t wait to try it,
    Elsie

    • lemreg October 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

      Salt, thanks for catching that!

  2. mywanderingspoon October 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Love the post, interesting pizza choices….I love pizza with ricotta cheese:)

    http://mywanderingspoon.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-amazing-sandwich-my-way/

    • lemreg October 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      Me too! It melts into the most delicious mixture in the sauce!

  3. paula January 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    another thought for b-que pizza topping…… bottled or homeade b-que sauce,sauted sliced spanish onions, and chopped granny smith apples, top with shredded cheddar.

    • lemreg January 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

      Paula you are always coming up with great and unique flavors – the idea of granny smith sounds amazing!

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