Sunday, April 8, 2012


So I kind of just realized that it has been almost a full year since I have posted anything. It's incredible how much life gets in the way sometimes. So what have I been up to? Well, for starters, I've graduated college and started a "big boy" job at a really awesome company. My mom, who was the reason I started this blog, has officially moved to Texas and I have moved into my dad's house for the time being.

So I guess at this point my posting will no longer be about the things that I've always wanted to learn from my mom. Sadly, they will from now on be about figuring things out on my own, and most likely making some mistakes along the way. I am, however, still armed with my family cookbook. I was fortunate enough to steal one of these when they were being made and now can try all of my families recipes whenever i'd like. And to be fair, questions are always just a phone call away.

So this brings me to today's post - pizza. Something I have always taken for granted as a simple phone call and pickup in 20 minutes kind of thing. I'm not sure if it's a Buffalo thing or an everywhere thing, but we love our pizza. Friends getting together to watch the game? Pizza and wings. Birthday? Pizza and wings - you catch my drift. I had never really made pizza until I went to visit my sister in Richmond last year, and I was turned into a homemade pizza fanatic. I mean, look at the facts: you can put as many toppings or as few, as much cheese, make the crust as thick as you want, anything! Now she makes her pizza dough from scratch and her sauce from scratch so I am going to do the same here. The key to this really is the sauce. The house smells awesome when it's cooking and it all just tastes really fresh.

STEP 1: The Dough

So dough to me was always a pretty intimidating thing. I always felt I could never get it right, but I was always wishing I could figure out how to toss it up in the air to flatten in out. Turns out that making the dough is really simple. The tossing of it up in the air? Not so easy. Either way, here's what you'll need for the dough:

  • 3 cups flour (1/2 all purpose flour, ½ bread flour)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½  teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
First step is to get your one cup of water between 105 and 110 degrees. I use a digital thermometer to check. After it's the right temperature, add in the sugar and dissolve it. After it's dissolved, add in the yeast.

The whole mixture should foam up a bit - that's a good sign that the yeast is working properly. While the yeast is working - get a mixing bowl out. In there put in the flour and sugar and stir it up a bit. Then, add in the oil, and then after the yeast-water mixture has sat for about 5 minutes, add that in too. Stir it up so it all somewhat comes together. If you are mixing with the spoon and notice a lot of loose flour on the bottom, then add in a tablespoon or so of water until all the loose flour gets absorbed. Once all of it is somewhat together, dump it out on a lightly floured counter and knead it. This is what it should look like before you knead:

 After it has a nice dough consistency, put it back in the bowl and lightly coat it in olive oil. Place a towel over it and place it in a warm place to rise for about two hours.

PART 2: Pizza Sauce

The awesome part about this step is that it is just so easy. Here's all you'll need.

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • Pint of tomatoes 
  • Fresh Basil
  • Can of tomato paste
Start off by peeling and finely chopping the garlic. Add that into a saucepan with with the olive oil and turn on the heat. Once this gets cooking pretty good, add in the pint of tomatoes. I used a can from grandmas farm, but alternatively you can get fresh tomatoes and blanch them briefly to remove the skins and then toss them in. After I added the tomatoes I smashed them up just a little bit. I let this simmer as is for a good half hour. 

 After I've let it simmer for a while, I add in the can of tomato paste to thicken it up and let it simmer for about another 15 minutes. Once it has become a nice consistency, I add in freshly copped basil (a good handful) and stir that in. Let it simmer for about another 10 minutes and then you're done with the sauce! 

STEP 3: Assemble the Pizza

Now is where you begin to put your pizza together. Before you do anything you should turn your oven on to about 450 and put your pizza stone in the oven. It really is important that you use a pizza stone. A pan or anything else wont be able to cook the crust evenly before the cheese and everything burns, so it needs to sit on the super hot stone. If you don't own one, stop what you're doing and go buy one. Now that your oven is pre-heating, take the ball of dough that you made and cut it in half. Take one half and set it down on a lightly floured counter. Pat it into a circle and then begin rolling with a rolling pin. You want to make the crust as thin as possible. It may require cutting a little excess away at the end, but figure out what works for you to end up with a good sized circle. Take some olive oil and just lightly coat the crust. 

Clearly you can see it won't always be a perfect circle, and that's ok. At this point, the rest is pretty self explanatory. Lay down as much sauce as you'd like (one thing to point out, go pretty close to the edge of the pizza with the sauce and toppings) and then cheese and toppings. On this one I used fresh mozzarella and pepperoni. Fresh mozzarella with the fresh basil sauce has to be one of the greatest things ever.  

Now, this is where a pizza paddle seriously comes in handy. Oh I didn't tell you to buy one of those back when you got the stone? My bad, go get one now. As you can see from the picture above my ready to cook pizza is on the pizza paddle with parchment paper in between. The parchment paper is key to making sure the dough doesn't stick to the stone. I've been told that once you use your stone a lot and "season it" that you will no longer have to use parchment paper, but for now I do. Just slide in the pizza and set it on the stone. Let it bake for about 10 minutes and check on it - it should pretty much be done. When the cheese is just how you want it, pull it out using your paddle and slide it right on to a cutting board where you can cut, and enjoy.

I'm not sure what's going to be up next, but now that i'm living aline I feel like there will be a lot more time to try out some new recipes. I need to find the right occasion for it but I really need to try raspberry creme cake. Sounds good right about now after the pizza...