Tidewater Kitchen - January 2011

 

Homemade Pizzas
by
Pamela Meredith-Doyle

 

Everyone thinks of kids when they think of pizza. But let’s be honest, I think we are all kids at heart! It seems to have become our national comfort food. It is not only a super fast and easy meal, but you can also use leftover cooked meats and vegetable as toppings. Friday night is my family’s pizza-making night, and I love to make this simple “whatever’s-in-the-fridge” pizza, being creative with the vegetables I have on hand.
To set the mood for the Pizza Fest, take old wine bottles and place different colored candles in each. Light the candles and lightly blow the wax so that it melts and falls down the sides of the bottles. Repeat until each color has been used on each bottle. Now you have the ambiance of a little Italian restaurant.

HOMEMADE PIZZA DOUGH
1 pkg. active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
1-1/3 cups warm (not hot) water
1 T. honey or sugar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. Italian sea salt or kosher salt
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

I always use a stand mixer to make my dough, but it can certainly be done by hand. Just make sure the dough is mixed well.
Place the yeast, water and honey or sugar in a large mixing bowl and allow it to sit for 5 minutes until it is frothy.
Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to add either more flour or water.
Allow the dough to be worked in the mixer for 5 minutes or kneaded by hand for 10 minutes until smooth. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in the refrigerator for 8 hours to 3 days. Make sure you punch down the dough when it rises.
When you are ready to use the dough, cut off a chunk and allow it to warm to room temperature for about 20 minutes. Roll out the dough and make your pizza. If the dough gets out of shape, pat it back into a circle with your hands. Turn the edges up a bit around the rim to make it neat.
Blind bake the pizza for 10 minutes at 450° without any toppings. Check the edges of the pizza and if the edges are pale, bake another 3 to 4 minutes. When the crust is golden, it’s done.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on the cool stove top. Spread the pizza sauce, cheese and other toppings evenly all over the top. Put the pizza back in the oven to bake until the cheese melts – about 7 to 10 minutes.

Pizza made at home is surprisingly easy. Just make sure your oven is HOT!! Unused dough can be frozen and brought back to room temperature before baking. This dough will make enough for 2 large, relatively thin-crust pizzas, or 4 small ones. While making the dough by hand may seem to be more than you want to do on a weeknight, the end result will be very satisfying. You may want to reserve this project for a Friday night, or you can use purchased unbaked pizza crusts or ready-made rounds such as Boboli when you’re in a rush.

SEAFOOD PIZZA with TWO CHEESES
When buying shrimp, avoid those that have loose-fitting shells. Loose shells are an indication of staleness.
Preheat a pizza stone in the oven at 500° for 30 minutes.

1 homemade pizza crust recipe or
1 purchased unbaked pizza crust
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups freshly grated Swiss cheese
8 oz. small scallops
8 oz. small shrimp, peeled
and deveined
6 oz. crab meat
4 green onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. lemon zest, freshly grated
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh herbs for garnish (chives, dill, basil, parsley or oregano)

Make the pizza dough. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Place the round on a flat rimless cookie sheet. Brush the pizza crust lightly with olive oil and top with Swiss cheese, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle again with oil. Bake pizza for 6 minutes.
Remove the pizza from the oven, transfer it from the cookie sheet to the preheated pizza stone and top with seafood. Sprinkle with green onions, garlic, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 11 minutes or until the seafood is cooked and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and garnish with herbs. Slice and serve immediately.

Tip: Baking a pizza on a pizza stone is the best way to recreate the taste of pizza cooked in the brick ovens of Italy. They are made of porous stone and MUST be preheated up to 30 minutes. The topped pizza dough is then slid directly onto the stone. Never wash a stone with soap as it will retain that flavor. Always scrape the stone and rinse with clear water and allow to dry before using again.

HOMEMADE PIZZA SAUCE
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T. fresh basil, minced
2 T. fresh oregano, minced
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
2 t. sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. tomato paste
28 oz. crushed tomatoes

Heat olive oil over moderate heat in a medium skillet. Add onion, basil, oregano, parsley, sugar and garlic cloves. Cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Simmer sauce for 1 hour or until very thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This sauce can be made 1 week in advance or frozen for up to a month.

VEGGIE PIZZA
Feel free to brush the dough with flavored oil before building the pizza to add deeper flavor. This is a great dinner for kids, especially if you put the assorted toppings in dishes on the counter and let them build their own.

1 homemade pizza crust recipe or
1 purchased unbaked pizza crust
3/4 cup tomato sauce (your own or ready-made)
Optional Pizza Toppings:
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise, seeded and sliced
1-2 Portobello mushrooms, stem-med, dark gills removed and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup flavored oil (garlic, chili, etc.)
2 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 12 oz.)
Chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, dill, oregano or chives)

Preheat a pizza stone in a 500° oven for 30 minutes. Make the pizza dough and roll out to a 12-inch round on a flat, rimless cookie sheet. Brush dough with flavored oil and tomato sauce. Arrange your toppings over the sauce and sprinkle with cheese and herbs. Drizzle with more oil if you like. Transfer the pizza from the cookie sheet to the preheated pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and browned and the cheese has melted. Slice and serve immediately.

FETA, ROMA and ONION PIZZA
When making a pizza I use fresh mozzarella, which is available packed in brine in the supermarket fancy cheese section. It will not grate the same, but can be sliced or diced and sprinkled over the pizza.

Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 T. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until mixture becomes smooth and thick. Makes 1-1/4 cups (the extra dressing is great over salads)

Pizza:
1 homemade pizza dough crust or
1 purchased unbaked pizza crust
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 t. capers
1/2 cup red onions, diced
4 leaves spinach, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, sliced or diced and sprinkled over pizza
1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the Roma tomatoes, capers, red onions and chopped spinach with 1/4 cup of the dressing in a medium bowl.
Preheat a pizza stone in a 500° oven for 30 minutes. Make the pizza dough, then roll it into a 12-inch round on a flat rimless cookie sheet.
Brush the pizza crust lightly with olive oil. Top with mozzarella cheese, Feta cheese and Roma tomato mixture. Transfer the pizza from the cookie sheet to the preheated pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and browned and the cheese has melted.

BARBECUE CHICKEN PIZZA
This will remind you of barbecued chicken ... just pick your favorite barbecue sauce to put on the pizza crust.

1 homemade pizza dough crust or
1 purchased unbaked pizza crust
2 large boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 cups smoked Gouda cheese, shredded (about 16 oz.)
1 small red onion, finely chopped

Preheat a grill over medium-high heat and grill the chicken breasts, brushing several times with the olive oil and turning occasionally. When the chicken reaches 160° on an instant-read thermometer, it is ready to be shredded.
Using two forks, pull the meat into shreds. Combine the shredded chicken with 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce in a small bowl.
Preheat a pizza stone in a 500° oven for 30 minutes. Make the pizza dough, then roll it into a 12-inch round on a flat rimless cookie sheet.
Spread the pizza crust lightly with barbecue sauce, then top with 1 cup of cheese. Arrange the chicken over the crust. Sprinkle the red onion over the chicken and drizzle with a little more barbecue sauce. Top with remaining cheese.
Transfer the pizza from the cookie sheet to the preheated pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and browned and the cheese has melted.

SMOKED SALMON and GOAT CHEESE PIZZA
Make this with a pre-made crust or with handmade dough. Serve with a fresh green salad to make a delicious and quick meal.

1 homemade pizza dough crust or
1 purchased unbaked pizza crust
1 T. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
6 oz. fresh soft goat cheese at room temperature
2 T. red onion, chopped
4 to 6 oz. smoked salmon, diced

Preheat a pizza stone in a 500° oven for 30 minutes. Make the pizza dough, then roll it into a 12-inch round on a flat rimless cookie sheet.
Brush the dough lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the crust with the dill, and then crumble the goat cheese over it. Top with the onion and then the smoked salmon.
Transfer the pizza from the cookie sheet to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the crust is golden brown and the goat cheese is soft and creamy – about 15 minutes.

BUTTERSCOTCH CRISPS
3 dozen
These are a sweet treat after your pizza.

1 stick butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a cookie sheet. Beat the butter, sugar and egg until creamy. Add the vanilla. Stir in the flour until well blended. Stir in the cereal and butterscotch chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for about a minute before removing from cookie sheet.