Friday Recipe Exchange: Pizza, Pizza

jeffreyw pizza
(photo by JeffreyW)
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From our Food Goddess, TaMara:

I thought with Valentine’s yesterday, we’d keep things simple tonight. I’ve been wanting to highlight all of JeffreyW’s pizza stylings for a while. The man does know how to decorate a crust.

Making your own pizzas can be pretty quick and definitely much cheaper than ordering out as long as you plan ahead a bit. Things to keep on hand for the weekly Friday night pizza: shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, tomato sauce, and some type of crust, which I’ll address below. Then you can top with your favorite things. Let your imagination run wild.

My idea of pizza is a good crust, spicy sauce and cheese. Pepperoni is a plus. Nothing more.

What’s a good crust varies by personal preference. I’m as happy with a Chicago-style flaky crust as I am a thin New York-style.

Pizza seems like a good place to have a lively discussion. I bet everyone has a favorite they’d argue for, what’s yours? Is pizza a treat or a weekly item on the menu?

JeffreyW seems to have one for every occasion. For your viewing pleasure: JeffreyW Pizza Gallery.

Now let’s run through a few ingredients.

Sauce is pretty easy, you can use leftover spaghetti sauce – I always make a double batch and freeze half (recipe here).

Or try some of JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce™ (recipe here)

A simple sauce of one 15-oz can tomato sauce, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic and dried oregano, with a dash of dried basil will deliver a nice pizza. Skip the dried basil if you’re going to use fresh basil as one of your toppings. Always crush the dried spices between your fingers to release the flavor. You can keep a jar of pizza seasoning if that’s easier. Oregano is the key to restaurant style pizza, that’s the signature flavor of a traditional pizza.

So for a quick pizza crust, this one from my Men Who Cook Series works really well:

Todd D’s Pizza Crust
(enough for two large cookie sheets)

2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. white flour
2 c. warm water
2 pkg yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
¼ c olive oil

Mix together and knead. Add enough flour so that it’s not sticky. The dough should be elastic.

Roll out and place on greased cookie sheets. Top with chopped tomatoes, pizza seasoning and parmesan cheese. Then add your favorite toppings and cheeses.

Bake 25 minutes at 400.

Instead of using a baking sheet, how about using a cast iron skillet. It worked great (see here).

Or try JeffreyW’s (photos of the process here):

I’ve been adding stuff to my pizza dough lately. It may be overkill, given that the sauces and toppings are what a pizza is all about, but if I have fun doing it-why not?

Tonight’s dough got thyme, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, and fennel seeds. The candidates for inclusion are limited only by whether they might taste good on a pizza. The dough recipe isn’t anything special or “to die for”. You can find hundreds of “the best dough ever” recipes-just pick one and go with it. I put this one together on the fly, some sourdough starter, perhaps a half cup, then a tablespoon of sugar and one of yeast, about a cup of water, four cups of flour, a half tablespoon of salt, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and the additions mentioned above. Mix in the stand mixer for ten minutes, then a turn in a greased bowl for a first rise. After the first doubling, divide into eight portions, form them roughly into balls, and let them rise again, covered, on a tray.

I roll them out on a plastic mat. Let them rest for a few minutes after a first roll to relax a bit, then finish rolling. I manage to get them to about ten inches in diameter. Poke holes all over with a fork or they may balloon out like pocket bread.

I “par bake” them on a stone in a 375 oven for about two minutes a side. You don’t really want them to brown, they will finish cooking when you use them for a pizza. I let the first one tonight get too brown, I had the oven a bit high, and left it a wee bit too long.

They are ready to use right away-freeze what you don’t use for a quick pizza anytime!

You don’t have to make your own crust, you can do what friends of mine do, and keep frozen, store-bought crust dough in the freezer, or you can use pita bread, which JeffreyW does frequently, use refrigerator tube dough, or make french bread pizzas with loaves from the grocery. Now why would you order out? But if you do, you’ll probably find your best pies with a small, local vendor instead of a chain.

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44 replies
  1. 1
    jharp says:

    Anchovies.

  2. 2
    Mike in NC says:

    Love a white pizza loaded up with anchovies!

    Or a meat lover’s with the works: bacon, ground beef, sausage, pepperoni, etc.

  3. 3
    Mnemosyne says:

    Lots of grocery stores have lumps of refrigerated fresh dough — Trader Joe’s was the first one around here, but now Whole Foods and Vons/Pavilions (aka Safeway) have it, too.

    I’ve shared this before, but Cooking Light has a yummy deep-dish (NOT thick-crust!) pizza recipe. I made it for New Year’s Eve a few years ago and it turned out great.

  4. 4
    Yutsano says:

    FYWP. No really

    Serious Pie. Holy cwap that is some good shit.

    Yeast hate me, so I don’t make my own pizza at home. I do have some naan from Trader Joe’s that I might play around with, but since I’m jetting out of town here tomorrow I’m not cooking for myself for a few days.

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    As a “hideous gluten-free mutant,” I find an egg crust works well. Sorta quich-ish and it’s all about the sauce and toppings to me now.

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    Mmmm, pizza.

    I usually make a simple dough (flour, water, maybe a bit of olive oil, yeast; toss in bread machine and hit the ‘dough’ button), and then work most of the flavorings in by mixing in with the sauce. Red pepper flakes are good.

    I keep meaning to buy a pizza stone/peel. My mom got a stone a while back, and loves it. I just use a round perforated baking sheet (which came in a set with a deep-dish pizza pan).

  7. 7
    Cacti says:

    Nothing I make at home will ever taste as good as what comes out of a brick oven, so I’m content to buy my pizza from places that already have one.

  8. 8
    wasabi gasp says:

    M’lady and I used to make pizza often, but we would buy the dough, rather than make it from scratch. (Dough was very different from store to store. We eventually learned to only buy at one particular place.) The downside of making homemade pizza was that it’s so good, most pizzeria pizza now tastes like crap. Also, I cracked a lot of stones.

  9. 9
    Warren Terra says:

    It sounds a bit disgusting, and the crust isn’t quite as good as buying decent pizza dough and kneading it out, but my easiest “homemade” pizza option by far is to buy a cheap fresh 14″ or so pizza from the SoCal supermarket chain Fresh & Easy, in bulk when they’re $3 each and I have a 10% off coupon, store them in the freezer, and build a pizza like you describe on top of it (spicy sauce, fresh tomatoes, pepperoni, cheese). If i get the “supreme” version, the (frozen) peppers and sausage are a nice addition, and my comparison is to at least $2 worth of often disappointing store-bought pizza dough, plus labor and mess.

    As I say, it sounds fairly disgusting, but it actually works quite well.

  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:

    Yeast hate me, so I don’t make my own pizza at home

    More likely, you are killing your yeast by getting it too hot. Try mixing active dry yeast with your flour and then adding the liquid; that should protect the yeast from getting overheated even if you use water that’s too hot. Next, let the dough rise at room temperature rather than trying to speed it up by heating things. It will take about three times as long- maybe more if you keep your room at a cool Seattle temperature- but it should protect the yeast from overheating. If that’s too slow, you can try putting the dough in the oven and warming it only by turning on the light. If you’re willing to plan ahead, you can try one of the low-yeast, no-knead recipes (about 4:3 flour:water by weight, room temperature water, just a pinch of yeast, 18-24 hour rise at room temperature). Also, too, use purified water rather than tap to protect against chlorine.

    As for pizza, I’m a regular eater and an experimenter. I think that pizza is just a hot, open-faced sandwich that is a bit unusual in that you cook the bread at the same time as the rest of the sandwich. So I think the sky is the limit. I’m a big believer in making sauce that’s specialized for the toppings (e.g. Hawaiian pizza with the pineapple cooked into the sauce, duck pizza with orange sauce, etc.). My biggest success so far is a Chili Verde pizza, where the green chili with pork serves as both the sauce and “topping”, though the cheese goes over it.

  11. 11
    Roger Moore says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    Also, I cracked a lot of stones.

    I cracked a couple, but I found that as long as they’re in good sized pieces, you can still use them by propping them up with ceramic spacers. I used a ceramic chopstick rest. I recently got a pizza steel which is more expensive, but at least I can feel confident it won’t crack. If you stick with a stone, I discovered the interesting trick that you can remove the stains from one by leaving it in the oven when you run the self-cleaning cycle.

  12. 12
    Maude says:

    @Warren Terra:
    Thx. That’s a good idea. I’m going to do that. As soon as the freezer fan is fixed. Should be next week. My landlady came up to get the model number and she has the same fridge at home. It’s a GE from 1981 and it’s a honey.

  13. 13
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Warren Terra: Not at all. This seems like a really good idea. Quick, easy and a notch above, not to mention reasonably priced.

  14. 14
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Yutsano:

    They’re talking about ripping out the interior of our main building at work and redesigning it and the Head Honcho wants them to install a pizza oven on the second floor. They’re not quite sure how they’re supposed to do it, engineering-wise and building-code-wise, but what the Head Honcho wants, he gets.

  15. 15
    andy says:

    i’m told the real stuff is pretty austere, and i think keeping things simple makes for a good pie without a lot of fuss.

    i use your basic no knead bread “recipe” (though i do knead it anyhow)- 2/1 ratio of (bread) flour to water, a good pinch of salt, about a teaspoon of yeast, maybe a pinch of fennel powder or the zest of a citrus fruit, and time. if it’s thursday morning, and you think you’ll want pizza friday night, start it then, adjusting your amounts accordingly. i’m finding 1.5 cups of flour will get you a pizza about 12 inches.

    usually i top it with a smear of sauce- homemade white sauce or red sauce, fresh mozzarella (never the hard kind you can shred on a box grater), and my choice of veggies/greens/meats. i am a bit notorious for cracking an egg onto my pizzas about 5-7 minutes before the pie is done. I tend to leave a cast iron skillet in the oven as a means of evening out the temperature spikes of my oven, and if you are seasoning it anyway why not take advantage of all that thermal mass. Usually i will put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, shape the pie on that, and then just place the cookie sheet on top of the skillet at 500º for 15 minutes or so until it’s done. ovens do vary so you have to make allowances.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4.....456510677/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4.....986966313/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4.....603473717/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4.....177380468/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4.....192510856/

  16. 16
    Roger Moore says:

    @TaMara (BHF):
    Agreed. IMO, the biggest thing about pizza is that it has almost as short a half-life as souffle; it’s only at its best when it’s hot out of the oven and the crust is still a crust. I’ve read that you can prolong its lifespan a bit by putting it on a wire screen instead of a solid surface and cutting it with scissors. Still, the difference between pizza that’s hot out of your oven and pizza you get home any other way is huge.

  17. 17
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The Head Honcho can get what he wants only if he’s willing to settle for gas or electric. SCAQMD says no new wood fired pizza ovens.

  18. 18
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    You forget that I work for a corporation that is both Giant and Evil. They could probably pay a large enough bribe fine to get a variance if they really wanted to.

    But it would probably be gas, which is part of the “second floor” problem.

  19. 19
    catbutler says:

    Whole wheat crust (I’m diabetic and white flour hurts though I love it) tossed till it’s thin with a little olive oil, some gorgonzola, serrano ham and arugula
    Mmmmmmm. That’s living.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You forget that I work for a corporation that is both Giant and Evil.

    Yeah, but SCAQMD is used to dealing with big and evil. Remember, these guys take on car and oil companies on issues at the center of their businesses, and they win more than their fair share. I don’t think shutting down a corporate vanity project is going to be a big deal.

  21. 21
    Steeplejack says:

    @Roger Moore:

    IMO, the biggest thing about pizza is that it has almost as short a half-life as souffle; it’s only at its best when it’s hot out of the oven and the crust is still a crust.

    True dat. I am lucky to have a Neopolitan pizzeria near me with a scorching hot oven (Pupatella), and even though I live only five minutes away there is a big difference between the pizza I eat there and the pizza I bring home.

  22. 22
    Yutsano says:

    @Steeplejack: My friend needs to get her butt moved up here. I’m having a massive Serious Pie craving now. The sausage/egg/kale pizza is totally divine.

  23. 23
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    @WereBear: I am also gluten-intolerant, and have very good luck with the recipes at gluten-free on a shoestring. She has at least 1 pizza crust on her blog, 1 in her first book and 1 in her second book. Her recipes are reliably very good. Before I discovered her, I was using Udi’s crust or Chebe. The Udi’s is very thin and crackery, but acceptable. Oh, and always parbake gf crust. I have recently developed a major tomato allergy (so, so sad- I love tomatoes) so I have been using pesto as a base.

    Regarding yeast- I use my digital thermometer and use water that is between 100-110, and have very good luck.

  24. 24
    Steeplejack says:

    @Yutsano:

    Now I’m jonesin’ for pizza, and I just ate a while ago.

  25. 25
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    @WereBear: here’s the gf pizza crust recipe from her blog. I use Better Batter for my flour blend, but have also had good luck with the one from the woman at The Art of gf Baking. (her pancake and waffle recipes are great)

    http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-pizza-dough/

  26. 26
    andy says:

    Ooo. First comment eated in moderation. It’s *my* turn.

    I like to keep my pizzas on the austere side as i understand that’s the way they like it in Italy. It’s not too hard if I plan ahead- I use your basic no-knead technique, say a cup, cup and a half (bread) flour, half again of flour, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of yeast. Since it’s just a pizza you can start the dough the morning of and it’ll be ready for you come dinnertime.

    i like to shape it on a parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place the sheet on top of a cast iron griddle i keep in the oven at 500º for about 15-20 minutes. I figure it’s as good as a pizza stone for evening out those temp spikes. i generally top my pizza with a smear of red or white sauce (home made) a little fresh mozzarella, and whatever meats/veggies I like. I have been known to crack an egg on my pies as well- like 5 minutes or so before the pie is done.

    http://flic.kr/p/daMhPK

    http://flic.kr/p/bXzuTS

  27. 27
    ruemara says:

    pizzas are an odd specialty of mine. For “300”, I made my group of fans the post movie feast that consisted of squid, garlic, feta and fresh tomatoes. I also make a beer, sausage and fries pizza. Diced potatoes, oven roasted till crispy poufs, a beer based bechamel with cheddar and and havarti, precooked sausage, caramelized onions. I use a garlic and herb TJ’s dough, layer with sauce, onions, potatoes, sausage, more sauce and cheddar shreds. There’s also a decent garlic butter shrimp one that’s pretty simple. One day I will work out my curry pizza, but since I don’t eat carbs, I need people to give it to. Sometimes I just drop a couple off at the shelter.

  28. 28
    PurpleGirl says:

    Pizza is an at least once a week thing for me. (Or as a variation — pepperoni pinwheels.) My favorite is pepperoni and mushroom (or as the Peekskiil IBM gang called it — pig and fungus.) I also like sausage pizza.

    I usually buy it outside cause I only have a slice at a time. (I get a plain slice and add the toppings at home.)

    ETA — I’m getting tired of filling in the name stuff….)

  29. 29
    emma says:

    The best pizza in the Universe is made in Cortona at a little restaurant called Fufluns. Thin crispy crust, fresh tomatoes, veggies in season, and just enough cheese to bind it all together.

  30. 30
    emma says:

    Help. Comment in moderation. Honestly I was just talking about pizza!

  31. 31
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @PurpleGirl: Love that you call it pig and fungus! And ditto on filling in the name stuff. sigh.

  32. 32
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Roger Moore: When I buy the pizza outside, I don’t have them heat it for me — it would only get cold again on the walk home. I bring it home, add my toppings and put it in the oven for a 6 or 7 minutes.

  33. 33
    Joel says:

    After churning through two cheap-o stones that cracked after extended use, we went all in on the Stoughton Baking Steel as recommended by Serious Eats. This thing is awesome. Crispiest crusts, great durability (although it does rust slightly). Releases the pizza really well, too.

  34. 34
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    I have a peel, a stone, a satisfactory dough recipe, and some favorite combinations, but I need some help/advice with a persistent problem: getting the pizza onto the hot stone. I build it on the peel, which I flour lightly and sprinkle with a bit of corn meal or polenta, but often the weight of the pizza with toppings makes it really hard to slide it off the peel and onto the stone. I’ve had a couple of ugly messes. If I flour the stone heavily enough to avoid this problem, the pizza tastes too much of scorched flour. What to do?

  35. 35
    Joel says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: I just cheat and use parchment paper; I slide the pizza (with paper underneath) from my “peel” onto my stone/steel. The pie cooks great and the only negative is that some of the edges of the paper burns a little. But nothing bad. And that’s in a 550-degree oven.

  36. 36
    Linkmeister says:

    @dmsilev: I’m a bread machine dough maker myself. Here’s one of my pizza creations.

    I got a $20 gift card from Macy’s a while back and found a pizza stone for that price.

  37. 37
    Linkmeister says:

    @Roger Moore: Holy crap! Why haven’t I thought of leaving the stone in the oven while the cleaning cycle runs?

    Thank you, thank you. That stone’s an ugly mess.

  38. 38
    c u n d gulag says:

    I love any kind of pizza – and it can be topped with any kind of meat or veggie, and I’ll love it.

    I am more partial, though, to NY pizza – thin and crispy crust – over the Chicago style.

    But it’s ALL good!

    But NO FRUIT!
    Pineapple on a pizza ain’t pizza – it’s a pizza/sandwich/dessert hybrid!

    FRUIT ON A PIZZA IS AN ABOMINATION BEFORE THE BILLION EYES OF THE FSM! ! !

    The FSM will tell you, if you don’t eat it with spaghetti, YOU DON’T PUT IT ON A PIZZA! ! ! ! !

    Thus speaketh the FSM.

  39. 39
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Joel: When you come back to a dead thread, you find out the most amazing things. I’m adding this to my blog today. Thanks, Joel!

  40. 40
    wasabi gasp says:

    @Roger Moore: Thanks for the pointer on the pizza steel.

  41. 41

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:
    Hi Comrade, the launch onto the steel or stone can be tricky. In my experience I have found to lighten up on my toppings. You do need to lubricate the peel with semolina or flour prior to putting your dough on. Here is a good trick I learned. After you place the dough on the peel, be sure to jerk the dough slightly so it doesn’t stick. Continue to jerk the dough as you are making your pizza. When the pizza is done be certain that you can still jerk the dough on the peel and watch out for any sauce that may get stick under the dough. If it doesn’t stick you are ready to launch! Just takes a little practice. Good luck,
    Andris

  42. 42
    Mart says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: Take a long thin steel spatula and carefully work between the peel and dough – twist side to side on countertop (to catch if slides off) to make sure dough is loose on peel – then open the oven door to slide on stone. Decided peel too small so now bake on oiled and cornmeal dusted baking sheet, then slide off onto the stone for the last five minutes for a brown crisp crust. This has avoided the peel disasters – half on stone half on oven door we have experienced.

  43. 43
    mclaren says:

    Worthless, pointless and useless.

    You can’t make decent pizza in a home oven. The crust either turns out soggy or burnt, most likely both in different places. You need a serious heavy-duty industrial pizza oven to make decent pizza. End of story.

  44. 44
    Thatgaljill says:

    I’m seriously into cauliflower crusts while I attempt to trim off some carbs…

    1.5 cups grated raw cauliflower
    1/4 c egg beaters
    1/4 c mozzarella
    2 T parmesan

    preheat the oven to 425°

    mix together and spread on a sprayed silpat or parchment paper

    bake 25-30 minutes, flip and bake 10 more.

    top and broil to melt toppings. makes one healthy serving!

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