Homemade Pizza

Remember the last time you were on a deadline and desperately pressed for time or just way too exhausted from work or life to even remotely consider mustering up the energy to look through the fridge (except to retrieve that last ice-cold beer you saved for yourself behind the carton of milk – oops! sorrry, honey!), let alone make dinner? Remember the last time you picked up your phone just to call your friendly neighborhood pizza place to rescue you rather than calling your significant other to let them know that dinner is ready to be served? I do. In fact, it seems as though it’s all I ever do lately.
I grew up loving pizza. I don’t know anyone who didn’t. It was, in my opinion, a luxurious reward for good behavior. In other words, it was a parent’s laziness or lack of time resulting in a most marvelous treat of a meal for us as kids, and even as adolescents. In most cases, it was the meal succeeding a busy day of fun to which everyone would gather around for a slice or two.

However, instead of having to call for an instant pizza, I can now proudly say that I can make my own – albeit, not quite as conveniently. Pizza is a most wonderful thing. Endlessly versatile, it’s hard for anyone not to love some variation of it. Now, pair that gourmet handmade pizza of yours with a bold glass of wine or better yet, a homemade sangria and this, my friends, is what being a mature adult is all about.
So, why then the reverting to one’s childhood of instant phone order pizzas? You ask. Because…I’ve been swamped. I’ve been preoccupied out of my mind. I’ve temporarily taken on the role of an unprofessionally-trained, 23-year-old Korean version of Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker of desserts. I was approached about a month ago to create and execute a Strawberry-themed dessert spread for a brunch or lunch buffet to be held at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant on Mother’s Day this upcoming Sunday. Yup. No big deal, just 1200 servings of 14 different Strawberry Desserts all made, with love and perpetual underlying contempt joy. No, but really. On a serious note, what an honor! The spread will include items like Fresh Strawberry Tart (Tart aux Fraises), Mascarpone Cheesecake with Balsamic Strawberries, White Chocolate Pound Cake with a Strawberry Coulis, Strawberry Horchata, Strawberry-Peach-Banana Bruschetta with Mint & a Homemade Ricotta, and much much more. Unfortunately, these Mother’s Day-friendly desserts will be posted on my blog post-chaos, post-Mother’s Day.
Therefore, please grab a big glass of wine and accept this as a token resulting in my own grown-up lack of time. It’s far more rewarding than ordering take-out and it does dress-up what could be a simple pizza night into something much more impressive and chic.  That is, until I make a comeback with the most sumptuous strawberry desserts you could ever imagine; ones that could make even your most perfect pizza night (or any night, for that matter) even better.
Really Simple Pizza Dough
Adapted hardly from Smitten Kitchen

Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.
(I would opt for thin crust on the Lemony-Zucchini Pizza and a thicker one for the BBQ Pork Pizza).

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Some cornmeal, for dusting

Preparation:

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (I always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)

Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

 

Lemony Zucchini Pizza with Sour Cream & Parmesan

Ingredients:

1 batch Simple Pizza Dough (above) or a store-bought pizza dough that will yield one small (approx. 11 to 12 inches across), thin pizza
1 lemon
4 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
Few leaves of fresh basil, cut into thin slivers
1/2 medium yellow zucchini, sliced as thinly as you can pull off with a knife or your mandoline (about 1/8 inch would be fine)
1/2 medium green zucchini, sliced as the same as above
Drizzle of olive oil
Freshly-grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll your pizza dough into a thin 12-inch circle and lay it on a tray or stone that has been dusted lightly with cornmeal.

In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream with the juice of half your lemon. Season it with salt and freshly ground pepper, and spread it over your pizza dough. Scatter fresh basil slivers over the cheese.

Arrange your zucchini coins in concentric circles over the sour cream spread, overlapping them slightly. You can alternate their colors, if you’re feeling fancy. Squeeze the juice of the second half of your lemon on top of you zucchini, then drizzle with olive oil and finish with the parmesan and some more salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (your baking time will vary, so please watch carefully), or until the edges of your pizza are golden brown and the zucchini looks roasted and a little curled up at the edges. Serve with a green or even simple tomato salad and have a glass of crisp, white wine or a fragrant sangria.

 

BBQ Pork Pizza with Slivered Red Onions

Ingredients:

1 doubled batch Simple Pizza Dough (above) or a store-bought pizza dough that will yield one small (approx. 11 to 12 inches across), thick pizza
BBQ Sauce (recipe as follows)
8 oz ground pork
1 tbspn oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 oz mozzarella, shredded or sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll your pizza dough into a thin 12-inch circle and lay it on a tray or stone that has been dusted lightly with cornmeal.

In a large pan, heat the oil and add the garlic and pork. Season the pork with salt and pepper, to taste. Once cooked through, turn off heat and set aside.

Spread BBQ sauce over dough and evenly spread the ground pork on top of the sauce. Top if off with the sliced or shredded mozzarella and finish with the slivered red onions.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (your baking time will vary, so please watch carefully), or until the edges of your pizza are golden brown and irresistibly mouth-watering.

 

Homemade BBQ Sauce
Adapted from Down Home with the Neelys

Yields about 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

6 comments

  1. Heather

    why does the prep instructions refer to goat cheese spread ? I do not see goat cheese as part of the ingredients

    thank you
    Heather

  2. Heather

    why does the prep instructions refer to goat cheese spread ? I do not see goat cheese as part of the ingredients

    thank you
    Heather

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>