Fresh Herbs

A fresh and fun recipe catalog by a girl who likes to play in the kitchen the "from scratch" way.

|PIZZA FRIDAY: TOPPINGS| 06/29/2011

Filed under: BASIL,cheese,OREGANO,Pizza,Savory,THYME — |FreshHerbs| @ 8:52 pm

Well now, I’ve gone and given you pizza dough without anything to put on it! {hand slap} But before we get to that, a word about the right equipment. I can’t tell you how many times I spent the wee hours scraping blackened, sticky, gooey “piles of would-be-pizza” off my really lovely W-S pizza stone. Ah, the trials and tribulations of the home chef… My mother has always sworn by a well-oiled stone. Not for me. I always found the more I oiled, the more rancid the smell which permeated the kitchen/oven/other baked goods. [If you know that rancid smell of which I speak, and have a high quality stone, you can actually clean the stone quite well by running it through the self-cleaning oven cycle.  The super high temp bakes the crappies right out of the stone. Looks practically new!]

The best way I’ve found to get pizza on and off the stone is to actually assemble the pizza and cook it on tinfoil. I still get the crispy goodness that pizza crust is capable of without the mess and residue on my stone (plus you can wrap leftovers in the foil). The key is to heat the stone up with the oven. Putting cold dough on a cold stone then putting it in the hot oven just fuses the dough to the stone. THAT’S where I was going wrong all these years. You will need to use a peel (that paddle thing that pizzerias use to slide their pizzas in/out of their pizza ovens) to get your tinfoil/pizza combo onto the stone. I don’t have a peel so I use an air bake cookie sheet. Presto!

So rolling out your dough is key. Liberally flour a clean space on your counter, and dust your dough ball. Flatten the dough by hand into a thick disk (or square if you prefer) and then get out your rolling pin. The dough will have a tendency to shrink back into itself as you roll if it’s too cold, so make sure its close to room temp. Roll the dough out into your desired shape, flipping the dough to roll on both sides. Transfer to your peel lined with enough foil to cover your stone and fit your dough. And now, we top…

If I discover a really good recipe for homemade pizza sauce I’ll share it {mental note to look for one} but I’ve found a favorite store bought sauce that I adore so I keep it simple [remember, it’s PIZZA FRIDAY!]. I’ve experimented will all kinds of pizzas flavor combos and that’s the great thing about having pizza every week- experimentation! I sometimes even smear the dough with pesto before I add the sauce.

I like to sprinkle a little grated parmesan  over the sauce and then on top of the pie before it heads into the oven. Gives it a nice, cheesy depth of flavor. I like experimenting with mozzarella (store bought and from-scratch), pizza cheese combos from the market, and goat cheese. Those are my go toos.

As for toppings beyond the basics, I’m all for |Fresh Herbs| like basil, but I make a dried herb topping that I call “pizza shake” that’s an eyeballed mixture of:

dried oregano
garlic powder
dried basil
dried thyme 

I shake that all over every pizza I make. So grab your sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, pepperoni, leftover chicken, artichokes, caramelized onions, peppers, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers… you get the picture.  Experiment, have fun!

Do I run the risk of eating too much pizza? Of taking the fun out of looking forward to pizza because I know its coming every Friday? Maybe, but I’m willing to take the risk…what are you having for dinner this Friday night? Cook often and eat well!

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