Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day One - Pizza Party

There is no better way to spend a friday evening than with friends, wine and pizza, and with our friend Cathy back in town for the weekend this seemed like the perfect reason to whip up some fresh dough and top it with a simple homemade sauce and whatever we had on hand at the moment. What's nice about pizza is once you have the basics (dough, some sort of sauce) you can use pretty much whatever you have at home. Making it yourself, instead of ordering, lets you choose exactly what to include instead of being forced to choose from the few greasy choices offered at your neighborhood places. Binghamton isn't exactly Little Italy and let's just say the local pizza leaves you with a light nausea and a longing for something better.

With a few too many text messages I spread the invites and Max and I took a look in the fridge to choose toppings. We decided to make four different pies and since I already had some homemade sauce jarred and frozen from my last little pizza gathering, three would have tomato sauce and one would have a fresh pesto for a change of pace. The pizza came out awesome!

Combo 1
-Pesto (see below for recipe)
-Caramelized onions
-Goat Cheese

Combo 2
-Tomato Sauce
-Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
-Poultry Sausage (casings removed and lightly browned)

Combo 3
-Tomato Sauce
-Yellow and Orange Peppers
-Fresh mozzarella shredded

Combo 4
The original plan for this was a simple Margherita but we had some toppings left from the other so we just threw everything on there ending up with
-Tomato Sauce
-Fresh Mozzarella

I went with a simple 25/75 whole wheat/white whole wheat dough. An adaption I created based on a recipe from Nicole over at Pinch My Salt.

Fresh Pesto
Makes enough to top 1 pizza

2 Bunches fresh Basil
1 Tbls extra virgin olive
couple cloves of garlic peeled
grind everything in a mini-chop food processor until combined into a paste

Simple Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (adapted from Pinch My Salt's Whole Wheat Rosemary Dough. Click here for the original recipe)
makes 2 pizzas, each pizza serves 2 people

1 1/2 C. warm water
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. honey
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 package active dry yeast
3 C. white whole wheat flour plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 t. salt

In a medium bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, yeast, water, oil, and honey. Add white whole wheat flour, and salt, until dough starts to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter

lightly flour your hands, and knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly tacky rather than sticky, about 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn ball in the bowl to coat both sides with oil then cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Set bowl in a warm place and let dough rise until doubled (about 45 minutes to an hour).

After dough has been rising for 15 minutes, prepare your oven. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack and preheat oven and stone to 500 degrees It is best to let oven preheat for a full hour.

When dough has doubled, lightly oil a countertop and turn dough out onto it. With oiled hands, gently deflate the dough. Using a knife or dough scraper, divide dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball then cover pieces with a towel or lightly greased plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 minutes. At this point, you can put each ball of dough in a container and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and proceed with the next step.

Take one ball of dough out and working on the oiled surface, flatten it slightly with the heel of your palm. Then start pushing the dough out from the center using the side of your hand and working in a circle. When the circle is about 5 inches wide, pick it up and transfer it to a large flat baking sheet (make sure to generously sprinkle pan and pizza stone with cornmeal so to prevent sticking). Continue working the dough into a circle, pushing outward with the palm of your hand until the crust is about 10 inches wide. You should end up with a small lip all the way around. Cover crust and let rest for 10 minutes. While the first crust is resting, start forming a second one. After the first crust has rested for 10 minutes, add your toppings.

Gently slide pizza directly onto your preheated pizza stone (it helps to have someone hold the pan up at angle so you can use both hands. Check pizza after 8 minutes. When crust is golden, remove pizza using a peel or slide pizza back onto baking sheet using a large metal spatula.

1 comment:

  1. We like to make pizza and will consider these recommendations. nice work.


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