An Affair to Remember


It’s a love affair that I am not ashamed to admit.

I love everything about pizza.  I love it’s ooey gooey cheesiness.  I love it saucy.  I love it piled with pepperoni.  I love it with the season’s freshest veggies (give me more mushrooms!).  I love the smell and feel of yeasty, spongy pizza dough.  I love it unconventional.  I love it traditional.  I will shout it from the rooftops!  I LOVE PIZZA! 

I’m sure there are some pizza purists out there that are going to yell at me for saying this but PIZZA IS MADE FOR RULE BREAKING!  I appreciate it’s simple origins and I often crave a humble slice of pepperoni pie but most of all I crave the unexpected.  Take a chance.  Try something new.  Break out of the box.  What have you got to lose?!

Live a little, throw the rule book out the window and let’s make some PIZZA!!!

Okay, okay, fine.  First things first, for all you traditionalists out there:

Pizza Margherita

Pizza dough, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)

Flour, for dusting

Olive oil

1 can San Marzano tomatoes (pureed in a food processor until slightly chunky)

2 garlic cloves

Red pepper flakes

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

2/3 pound fresh mozzarella shredded

1 tsp dried oregano

Preheat a pizza stone or large cookie sheet in the oven at 450º.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking, add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and simmer, uncovered for about 25 minutes or until slightly thickened.

While the sauce is cooking, blend basil and 1/4 cup olive oil in a food processor.  Stir one tablesp0on of the basil oil into the tomato sauce along with a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes (to your desired taste).

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 8 to 10-inch round and 1/4-inch thick.  Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of sauce over dough leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Bake for 6-7 minutes until the crust looks dry but not browned.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle on 1/2 cup of mozzarella then a generous pinch of oregano.  Return to the oven and cook for another 4-5 minutes until brown and bubbly.  Transfer pizza to a cutting board and drizzle with reserved basil oil.  Slice into wedges and serve.

For all you adventurous types:

Lobster Goat Cheese Pizza

Pizza dough, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)

Flour, for dusting

Garlic flavored olive oil

½ cup goat cheese, crumbled

2 lobster tails, roasted, meat removed and chopped*

4 oz. pancetta or proscuitto, cooked

¼ cup grape tomatoes chopped

Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat a pizza stone or large cookie sheet in the oven at 450º.

Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface into approximately an 8 to 10-inch round and ¼-inch thick.  Brush olive oil over pizza dough and bake on preheated stone for about 5-6 minutes.

Remove dough from the oven and top with goat cheese, lobster, pancetta and tomatoes.  Place back in the oven and bake until the cheese starts to melt.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

*To roast lobster tails: With kitchen scissors, cut the shells to expose the meat.  Carefully pull the shell away from the meat.  Place lobster tails on an oiled cookie sheet, season with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook in a 350º oven for about 8 minutes (depending on size) or until the shells turn bright red.

This is probably my only rule when it comes to pizza: make your own dough.  You can use store bought pizza dough in a pinch but nothing replaces (and is more satisfying) than homemade pizza dough.  My other suggestion if you don’t have time to make dough from scratch is become BFFs with your local pizzeria.  Chances are you can buy the dough from them and save yourself a little time.  Who knows, maybe you’ll even pick up a fancy trick or two to impress your friends.

Pizza dough (makes 3 skins)

1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm water

½ tablespoon kosher salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water; stir gently to dissolve.  Let mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated.  When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook.  Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a small amount together: if it’s crumbly, add more water; if it’s sticky, add more flour – 1 tablespoon at a time.  Mix until the dough forms a ball, this should take about 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it’s smooth and elastic.  Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Once the dough as risen and become spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.  Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll.

At this point the dough can be wrapped in oiled plastic wrap and stored in a Ziploc bag or air tight container for up to 2 days.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Bobbi Miller says:

    Wow Amanda…they look absolutely amazing! You have me itching to make my home made pizza now. And, I agree….must make dough from scratch! I only wish I had a wood fired pizza oven. (I will someday!).

    You are so talented!

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