Tag Archives: pizza

Deliciousness (ie: home made pizza)

I love pizza!

REALLY!!

LOTS!!!

When I was at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving they made pizza.

Delicious, awesome crust, could have come from a restaurant, pizza.

And I HAD to know how they did it!

Pizza stone was the answer – but pizza stones are expensive and break – & then cost a fortune to replace. So, they had learned online that they could make their own pizza stone. They told me how and I’ve been having AMAZING home made pizza ever since.

What you need is:

unglazed quarry tile – 1/2 thick at least. The unglazed part is the most important.  I could only find 6×6 tiles (my brother somehow found some 8×8 tiles – they don’t sell those in my area). I had to do a bunch of calling and finally found them at Manards. They cost about 50 cents a piece. So, $3 later I had enough tiles to fit in my oven and bake on. – 2 rows of 3 is what usually works when using 6×6 tiles. (I actually bought 10 so I’d have replacements if some broke).

When you get your tiles home rinse them of and let them dry thoroughly before using. If there is still moisture on them, they’ll break. About an hour before you want to make pizza, put them in your oven on the wire rack – I like having my rack either in the center or one step down towards the bottom. Set your oven as hot as it will go – usually between 500 – 550 for conventional ovens. It will take about 30 minutes to preheat and then you want it to heat for another 20 -30 minutes so those stones get good and hot.

Now, you can’t have good pizza without a good crust recipe – and I searched around a bit looking for one I liked. I found one, but the crust was too thin (I like thick crusts), so I doubled it and tweaked it slightly & it made the yummiest crust! So, here’s the recipe (if you want a thinner crust, half it)

Makes 4 10-12 inch pieces (or bigger/more if you want thinner)

10 C flour (I prefer Bread flour)

3 Tbs Sugar

4 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

5 Tbs olive oil

4 cups water (may need to add a bit more – I think I did, but I don’t remember how much)

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (or mixer – mixer is way easier) and stir vigorously . After all the ingredients are combined, let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again adding flour or water if needed. You want your pizza dough to be a little wetter and stickier than your typical bread dough. It should be dry enough it holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl when you mix it, but it doesn’t need to be dry enough to knead by hand.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and place each one into an oiled freezer bag. (I use olive oil to oil the bags – I put it on my hands and then rub the inside of the bag – that way the dough won’t stick to my hands either.

At this point, if you aren’t going to use all the dough today you can throw a couple of them into the freezer – they’ll be good for at least  a month and the evening before you use them, put the dough balls in the refrigerator to thaw.

The best thing for a tasty pizza crust is a slow rise – so I make my dough early in the day and let it rise for a few hours in the fridge. It’s fine though if you are short on time and can only let it rise an hour on the counter. From what I read online, flavor improves with longer slower rises at reduced temperature. The first time I made the crust I didn’t have time to let it rise long and did a counter rise – it tasted great – but the second time I did it, I did the long rise and it was SO much yummier!

So, now you made your dough and it’s rising! Yay! When your ready, just roll it out to the size and shape you need/want. I like flinging mine in the air and pretending like I know what I’m doing. So far it’s fallen on the floor, counter, my face…. but the kids think it’s funny (and fun)

So, the next awesome thing you need is a great pizza sauce.

I thought I could take some sauce and paste and throw seasonings in it and it’d be great. I was wrong – I could never get it right, so I searched the internet and found this gem for the Ultimate Pizza sauce on food.com. It take a little effort – but it is SO worth it. I’m changing it here to fit your 4 pizzas – if you have left over it’s good in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it.

4 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

1 C finely chopped onion

1/2 C finely chopped celery

2 garlic cloves minced (or if you’re like me and always forget to buy garlic cloves – garlic powder works too – use 1 tsp)

2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce

2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste

4 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 small bay leaves

2 tsp fennel seeds (fennel seeds are the MOST IMPORTANT part of any pizza sauce – really – it’s the difference between good and WOWZA!!!)

In a skillet, melt but with oil and sautee the onion, garlic, & celery until soft and transparent – some of you will be worried it will make the sauce to chunkly, it won’t as long as you dice it small and cook it well – the flavor it adds is wonderful.  Add the tomato sauce & tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer. You can simmer for 30-60 minutes for full flavor, or you can use sooner if you’re short on time. Take out the bay leaves and spread the sauce on your prepared dough. (you do not need to cook your crust ahead of time). It makes a nice thick sauce and it’s REALLY yummy.

Then, top your pizza with whatever you want.

A couple more tips:

You’ll want a pizza peel – wood or metal (I have wood, my brother has metal).

spread cornmeal liberally on your pizza peel before you put the crust on it – this will help the pizza to slide off after you have it assembled.

Bake you pizzas directly on the stones (the stones, 0r tiles, absorbed the moisture and give the awesome crisper crust on the bottom).

For thinner crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 7 minutes – for thicker crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 8 minutes.

When you pull them from the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes on a wire wrack to keep the bottoms from turning soggy.

It’s not really as much work as it sounds like & it’s well worth it for pizzas that taste as good as the restaurant kind at a fraction of the cost. 🙂

Here are a couple of pictures from our last pizza night (New Year’s Eve)

IMG_2675

IMG_2676

Feel free to ask me questions –

I’m not an expert, but I might be able to make up an answer that sounds convincing! 😀

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Filed under Every Day Life

O is for Oven

Encyclopedia of Me Meme

 I’m not sure how wide spread Papa Murphy’s Pizza is, but it is our favorite pizza ever. They do take and bake pizzas and they are amazing. I think the thing I like best is that I can yank it out fresh and hot from the oven and just serve it up and eat it right then. No waiting involved – other than cook time that is. 🙂  Our favorite is a Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza – it has a bottom crust then loads of suasage, peperoni, cheese, olives, you name it – yummy stuff, then a top crust, and finally topped off with a thin layer of sauce, a bit of cheese and green onions sprinkle on top.  It is GOOD.

On Tuesday I recieved a phone call from a good friend. She needed to take her teenage son in for stitches in his leg. She had three day care kids in her home and asked if I could bring my crew over to keep an eye on them for half an hour or so until they were picked up.  I knew them and I knew their parents – so the parents were fine with my coming to watch them.  I agreed, but the only problem was dinner. It was nearly five and I had just finished teaching piano and was about to start on dinner. Now I would have no time to do dinner – and Paul and I had our dance class at 7:30.

So we did what everyone pizza loving family would do and ordered a Chicago style pizza.  By the time I was done watching the extra kids Paul had arrived home, picked up the pizza and popped it in the oven to cook.  So when the kids and I all arrived home we were greeted with the delicious smell of baking pizza.

The timer beeped and I took our pizza board and went to slide it under the pizza to lift it from the baking tray – we like to take it off the tray and crisp the crust just a bit before eating it.  My pizza board, however, met with some opposition as I looked with surprise and saw that the bottom crust wasn’t quite cooked.  I was quite surprised and rationalized that Paul must not have let the oven pre-heat all the way.  I cooked the pizza for another five minutes – but the damage was done as it appeared that the bottom was falling out of the pizza. 

We decided to leave it as is – as the top of the pizza was nearly over done, there was no way the bottom wouldn’t be – I must have accidently broken the crust with board and caused it to fall out a bit.  I plopped it on the table as all the kids scrambled around – drooling over this treasured treat.  Honestly, I was drooling too. 🙂  I cut the pizza and began to serve the  first few pieces. As I pulled a pizza out from the whole pizza the bottom crust would string itself out like cheese.

“Paul, look at this – it looks like the bottom is almost raw still!” (We had cooked the pizza for close to 30 minutes now – stuffed pizzas take a bit longer to cook than regular ones)

Paul looked at me rather perplexed and walked over to our oven.  He let his hand hover over the top element which felt blazing hot. Then he let his hand hover over the bottom element – then he touched the bottom element.  There-in lay the problem, the baking element of the oven was out. No wonder we only had a half-baked pizza.

It was now nearly time for me to pick up our sitter and for us to go to our dance class.  We instructed the kids just to eat the top of the pizza and not the bottom crust.  Paul and I took off half starving and mourning over our sad pizza.  At dance we had a brilliant idea.

When we arrived home Paul flipped the remainder of the pizza over and popped it back in the oven.  With the bottom side up the broiler element did it’s job and cooked it nicely.  Now that is what I call a crispy crusted pizza. 🙂

So, now we have a new element, but one of the wires it attaches to looks a bit blackened, so I am still ovenless until Paul has a chance to ask our electrician friend if it is safe or not.  I sure hope so – there is no way we can buy a new oven now.  You never realize how much you use your oven until you have to live without it for a few days. *Sigh*

But now we can really say that we are only half baked in our house.  hee hee 🙂

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Filed under Every Day Life, Humor