We have a family tradition of enjoying homemade pizza with my parents once a week – a tradition that began as far back as I can remember, possibly preceding my time, I’m not sure. I’m thankful we have continued this after starting our own family. It provides such quality time for us – what food traditions could you start?
Instead of a bullet point recipe, I am going to share this in a sort of story form – Mom makes our pizzas by starting with the crust recipe listed below. Some recipes call for refrigeration several hours or overnight (this is the case for a stromboli dough I had shared in previous article), but she starts it about an hour and a half before the meal to allow time for the dough to rise. Sometimes I make the pizza and they come our way – I have occasionally made the dough – or the entire pizza – ahead of time, covered with plastic wrap or an airtight lid, and stuck in the freezer (to prevent further rising). I have been known to peel a cheese stick lengthwise and tuck the sections all around the edges of the pan for a cheese filled-crust. After the dough is ready, we spread homemade pizza sauce from the cellar (see canning recipe below). Next is a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (freshly grated is ooey-gooey-er than packaged shredded), browned sausage (can have this portioned out in the freezer to save the step of browning at assembly), pepperonis, diced green pepper (frozen works well, especially in the winter months when produce is higher; I plan to share my freezing methods this summer in the harvest months), and whatever else might be on hand – diced or shredded chicken, parmesan cheese, onion, hamburger, mushrooms etc. Mom then sprinkles another scant layer of cheese (toppings layered too thick can cause a soggy, heavy slice), and sometimes a dash of oregano or Italian seasoning and occasionally garlic salt. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes – use a metal spatula/turner to lift the crust, checking for browning/doneness on the underside. Slice and enjoy! We always serve applesauce as the side.
1 c. warm water
1 T. yeast
1 T. sugar
1 T. oil or melted butter (I use olive oil)
1 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
Stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let set until bubbly. Add remaining ingredients and knead well. Let rise until double and then punch down and roll out. Add toppings of your choice. Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes. Makes one large pizza.
Pizza Sauce to Can
½ bushel tomatoes (or 8 qts. tomato juice)
3 lbs. onions, chopped
¼ c. salt
1 tsp. red pepper
1 T. paprika
1 T. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 T. Italian seasoning
2 T. basil leaves
1 T. oregano
1 c. salad oil
½ c. sugar
4 cans (12 oz.) tomato paste
Wash tomatoes, remove core and quarter. Cook tomatoes and onions until soupy, approximately 3 hours. Sieve. Add the rest of the ingredients, except tomato paste and cook 1 hour. Add tomato paste and stir. Put in jars and process in boiling water 20 minutes or pressure at 5 lbs. for 8 minutes. Yield: 16-18 pints.
A Few Spins on Pizza
This trick I just learned very recently – flip leftover pizza upside down to cool on the pan before storing in the refrigerator to allow the dough to “sweat”, preventing soggy leftovers!
A tip for pizza done over an outdoor grill or campfire – use a baking stone sprinkled with cornmeal to prevent the dough from sticking. This is a delightful twist on regular pizza; the smoke infuses the flavor on another level.
Pizza cutters proficiently double as fresh herb cutters. Sure, they sell another gizmo specific for cutting herbs, but who wants too many gadgets in the drawers?
Don’t have a round pizza pan? How about a cookie sheet? Who said pizzas must be round? Pizzas made in a cookie sheet cut best using food shears instead of a rolling cutter for getting in the corners and to the edges of the pan. Speaking of traditions and pan shapes, have you ever heard the story about the lady who cut the legs off the chicken before roasting? Her daughter asked her why, to which she gave a blank look and “I’m not sure, let me ask my mom”. Upon asking her mom, it was learned that it was because her mom did. Mother and daughter asked Grandma why she cut the legs off the chicken before placing in the pan – “Because it never fit in the pan that I had”.
I hope to write about another “pizza party” later this year because I have at least four more varieties of pizza that I could share!