Tip of the Week

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pizza Night!

Any night can be a pizza night and if you are like me you make your own pizza.  I admit I used to order pizza, but now I only make my own pizza.  Why you ask?  Well that's because I can control the ingredients from the flour in the crust to the toppings. 

What I avoid when selecting my ingredients:
-Sodium Nitrate
-Sodium Nitrite
-GMO foods/wheat
-non-organic vegetables and sauces
-non-organic diary products
-canned foods

There are plenty of reasons and research to support an organic lifestyle, but you can pick and choose what you want to buy organic.  I even use organic, non-bleached all purpose flour.

Other kitchen products you will need:
-Pizza store or Pizza baking pan
-Pizza cutter or good knife

Now let's get started.. . . Making pizza dough.  Any recipe for dough, regular, thick-crust, whole wheat, etc.  I use Guy Fieri's recipe from his cookbook, but there are many even on Foodnetwork's website.  Through trial and error you will find what works for you.  I keep my bag of yeast in the refrigerator which keeps the yeast inactive until I'm ready to use them.  The water used to dissolve the yeast shouldn't be too hot, just warm/lukewarm.  I have also found that adding the salt (if you choose to) is best at the end of mixing all the flour, this gives the dough the best chance to rise properly.  Personally I love using a stand mixer with a dough hook, but you can mix by hand (it's just more work).

After the dough rises, you will have to knead it by hand a little bit before you can stretch it out.  Using your hands work best in stretching the dough, but I have also used a rolling pin to make the process faster or in combination with hand-stretching. 

Pizza dough after kneading

Now for the really fun part . . . assembling the pizza.   You can use plain tomato paste and add herbs, or store bought (in a jar) pizza sauce, or store bought pasta sauce (in a jar).  Typically I use an Italian herb pasta sauce (like Organicville or Muir Glen), it's really up to you and your own preference.  That's what pizza night is all about.  Same goes for cheeses, though mozzarella, Parmesan, goat cheese, feta cheese or some mixture tend to be my favorites.  You can even splurge for the Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery to make Guy's BBQ Chicken pizza.  And the BBQ sauce is AMAZING!  Better than any bottled stuff I've tried, it's worth checking out the recipe if you love BBQ sauce (you can freeze it for later too!).  Recipe is here.

Finally to add the toppings, anything from meat to veggies.  And put it in the oven to bake.  I love my pizza stone, it really gives the best crispy crust.  The pizza baking sheets, which are usually rounds work well, but not quite as crispy as the pizza stone.  Regular baking sheets are okay, but really don't produce crispy crusts.  You can also buy deep-dish pizza pans and those are great if you are a deep-dish pizza lover.

Here's a sampling of my pizza's:

BBQ Chicken

Mushroom and red onion

Yum!  It may be a lot of work to make pizza, but get the family involved in it!  Or have some friends over and make it a pizza night!  It's really fun and you will be happy with the results!  No more take out or frozen pizzas in my house.

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