Friday, July 12, 2013

Homemade Pizza

Don’t know if anyone else faces this problem – what to make for dinner.  Coming up with something different day after day, that everyone will eat without complaining, is a daunting task.

Most days, what I make is dictated by what is available in the fridge and pantry on that day.  Sometimes, I am stumped.  My family is of no help.  If I ask my kids what they want for dinner, I get shoulder shrugs – or a comment like “I don’t know” or “not Indian”.  Thanks guys!  That was really helpful!  My husband’s standard response – aloo (potato) curry.

Well, my standard go-to for those days is smothered burritos, enchiladas, or some kind of soup-pasta-bread combo.  Yesterday, I decided to make pizza.
Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza tastes so much better than the standard store-bought pizza.  I am not comparing my pizza to the gourmet pizza places, but to the big chain stores, where the pizza is loaded with cheese and the crust is an inch or more thick.

Speaking of pizza, we had great pizza in London recently.  It was probably the best pizza I have had in a long time.  Our cousin, who lives in Wimbledon, took us for lunch to a neighborhood pizza joint.  The crust was perfect, golden brown and crispy, the toppings worked well together and the whole experience was fantastic.

Anyway, while my pizza is nowhere close to that one, it turned out O.K.


Here is what you need:

For the crust (Emeril Lagasse’s recipe):
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope active yeast (¼ oz.)
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • yellow cornmeal for sprinkling

For the toppings:
  • 3 - 4 tbsp. pasta/pizza sauce
  • 2 tbsp. pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • sprinkling of grated cheese for each pizza (I used a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan)
  • toppings of your choice (I used banana peppers, red and green bell peppers, spinach, and red onions)

Here is how I made it:

(Crust recipe from Emeril Lagasse)

  1. Combine yeast, honey, 1 tbsp oil, and water. Mix well and let it sit for 5 minutes till the yeast bubbles.
  2. Add 1½ cups flour, mixing by hand till blended.
  3. Keep adding flour a little at a time till the dough stops sticking to your hands.
  4. Put dough onto floured surface and knead with both hands for about 5 minutes.
  5. Separate dough into two balls.
  6. Pour rest of the olive oil into two bowls. Place a ball of dough into each bowl and turn to coat the dough with the oil.
  7. Cover and let it rise for about 1½ hours.
  8. Place the pizza stone (if you are using one) in the cold oven.
  9. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  10. When the dough has almost doubled in size, punch it down and make it into a ball again. Do this with the other ball of dough also.
  11. Place the dough on a floured (I use cornmeal) pizza peel.  Stretch the dough with your hands to form a round, flat disc, rotating as you press down.  I like a thin crust on my pizza and so I make the disc thin.  Make sure that the pizza will slide off the peel onto the pizza stone (don’t press so hard that the dough sticks to the peel).
  12. Once your base has the desired thickness, spread the sauce on.  I made one with pesto and one with tomato (store-bought pasta) sauce.
  13. Sprinkle cheese on the sauce and add any toppings that you like.
  14. Slide the pizza gently on to the hot stone.  I sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal on the pizza stone so that the pizza does not stick to it.
  15. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes – till the edges are nicely browned, the cheese is melted and the bottom of the pizza looks crispy and cooked (lift it up gently with a spatula and look at the bottom).
  16. Repeat these steps with the other ball of dough.
  17. Cut it into slices and serve hot.

If you have younger kids, you can have a "make our own pizza" party.  Make smaller pizza bases, set out a variety of pizza toppings and have the kids make their own pizza.  Bake the individual pies and serve.

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