Thursday, June 4, 2009

Guest Post - A Better Pizza Experience

A lazy woman's blog indeed! I have moved from merely posting videos to just having other people write for me, this is the life! Ok - so not really cuz I'm lazy, but more like I BEGGED CC to write a post about the pizza he made last night because I LOVED IT! And I wanted the recipe for myself, and he was telling me all the different recipes he combined and substitutions and I couldn't keep it straight, so I said - "STOP. Please please please just guest post on my blog so I know everything you did!" And voila, he did it! What a man - he cooks and writes! This pizza, with maple syrup sub and all, was di-vine. It looks pretty complicated to me, but I certainly think it was worth it. (The pics speak for them self really)

Longest introduction ever! Without further delay, here is my second guest blogger, CC! Boyfriend, chef, and blogger extraordinaire:

During college I worked at a local Georgio’s Pizza. I didn’t really like it a lot, but when it was slow, it was always fun to make my own pizza. My favorite was a white pizza with garlic and olive oil, cheese, chicken and black olives. I also realized how easy it was to make a pizza, but was also disappointed on the lack of creativity involved. But I guess this is standard protocol for pizza joints, except for a few here and there. Some of the ‘gourmet’ pizza places get creative in their toppings, but miss on the crust. It is always the same ‘ol crust.

For a while now, I guess since I started really getting into cooking, I’ve gotten to know more spices and herbs and have tried them with different dishes. My favorites lately are some herbs from the Mediterranean store at the West Side Market. (Total deal, you get a lot of herbs/spices for little money.) I paid $1.00 for mixed bag that would have cost 5 or 6 at the grocery store.
Anyways, I’ve been using them on everything, so why not in the crust of a pizza. For my birthday this year, I got a pizza stone. So perfect timing, all I needed was a recipe. I looked a few places, but went with a recipe from Food n Wine.

I made some changes to the recipe, which I’ll note. The main reason is that I know what I like; also if you don’t have the ingredient, you don’t always need it (a little tip from Rachael Ray). This recipe is for making on the grille, but I used the oven. Prior to making pizza heat oven to 500° for at least 45 minutes to heat stone.

Ingredients: (For this recipe, I halved everything.)
2 tablespoons honey (I used pure maple syrup, I don’t have honey.)
3 cups warm water
2 packages dry active yeast
7 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
3 tablespoons kosher salt

To make the dough: In a very large bowl, stir the honey into the water until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until foamy, about 8 minutes. Stir in the flour, the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the salt until blended. (Here I added a few pinches of the Mediterranean spices which consists of: basil, rosemary, fennel) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

On the floured work surface, punch down the dough and cut into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on an oiled baking sheet. Rub the dough balls with oil, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. (I used plastic wrap and it rose out of the wrapping, a plastic container would probably work better)

On a lightly oiled work surface or sheet pan, press 1 dough ball into a thin, roughly shaped, 10-inch round. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. (This is where a wooden pizza peel would be very helpful; I didn’t have one, which made it hard to transfer pizza to stone. Prep peel with cornmeal.
Margherita Topping

For the toppings, I didn’t really measure anything, but here are the ingredients that I used. Also here are the steps that I did; the recipe doesn’t call out how to arrange the toppings.

Tomato sauce: I mixed ½ can tomato paste with ½ can tomato sauce and ½ cup of freshly chopped tomatoes
Mozzarella, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
Fresh Basil Leaves
Sun dried Tomatoes
Sea Salt
Olive Oil
On a lightly oiled work surface or sheet pan, press 1 dough ball into a thin, roughly shaped, 10-inch round. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. (This is where a wooden pizza pan would be very helpful; I didn’t have one, which made it hard to transfer pizza to stone.
Work dough to create a crust. Do what works for you, if you like thin go thin, it you like thick go thick.

Dock the pizza, take a fork and stab pizza many times in the center. This helps remove any possible air or bubbles that may form (learned this from the pizza job.)
Add tomato sauce to your liking. Add cheese, basil, tomatoes. Lightly salt. Add olive oil on toppings and brush crust with olive oil. Place prepared pizza onto stone and cook at 500° for about 8 minutes until cheese is slightly brown.

Once pizza is done, remove from oven and allow cooling. I sprinkled some additional cheese and basil on pizza to give it a fresh look. Enjoy with a glass of wine and a friend.

I made this dinner for Molls and I. I served it with a salad of freshly cut tomatoes, basil, mushroom, sun dried tomatoes and an oil vinegar dressing and a glass of cabernet sauvignon.

Editor's note: I sprinkled a little extra sea salt on mine and dipped the crust in olive oil. Yum!


Sarah said...

This looks awesome! Chis, I don't have a pizza peel either but I do have a rimless baking sheet (I know Molly has one too) and that always works fine for transferring to and from the pizza stone. I sprinkle it with coarse cornmeal first.

The Second Sun's Menu said...

Thanks Sar:) I'll have to try that next time, but first I'll have to pry the pan from Molly...she gets particular with her cooking stuff.

Molls said...

I'm jealous my guest bloggers get all the comments.