Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pizza, Pizza

I love pizza. I've loved it since I was a kid, and I've used it for feeding guests as well as breakfast (yes, COLD!), lunch (slightly reheated on a paper towel in the microwave) and dinner (fresh out of the oven).

I've given my daughter the addiction too....sorry kid!!

When we lived in California the place we usually ordered from had a slick system. They had caller ID on their phone system and a computerized list of what folks had ordered before. So ordering a pizza was a conversation sort of like this:

As soon as I dialed the number I'd hear: "Mountain Mike's Pizza"
ME: Hi, I'd like to order a pizza
MOUNTAIN MIKE: You want the medium half and half with mushrooms and sausage on one side and pepperoni and black olives on the other?
ME: Yup
MOUNTAIN MIKE: That'll be $14.95 and it'll be there in about 40 minutes
ME: Sounds good
MOUNTAIN MIKE: Thanks for calling, enjoy your pizza
ME: Thanks, we will
and usually in less time than they said, the pizza delivery guy would be at the door and we'd give the fellow a $20 and go off to eat our pizza (I think the delivery guys used to fight over who delivered to our house!)

Here in our new abode, we haven't ever found any place with pizza as good as we got there, so when we have pizza, we usually make it at home. I use some shortcuts along the way, but it is pretty good.

1 loaf frozen bread dough
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (or more if you want extra cheese)
1/4 cup pasta sauce (or more if you like really saucy pizza)
2 tbls corn meal
1 tsp olive oil
toppings (see listing below)

on the morning of the day you want to have pizza, take the frozen bread dough out of the freezer and put it in a pan to defrost (be sure to oil everything so it doesn't stick and cover it with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out)

in the evening:
Organize all of your toppings. If something needs to be precooked (like hamburger or sausage), do it first. Once you start messing with the dough, you need to be ready to put this all together.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees
Prepare a large pan to bake pizza on (I use a jelly roll pan), use the olive oil over the entire surface of the pan, then sprinkle with the cornmeal

In the prepared pan, spread the bread dough to make a crust the thickness you like. Be careful not to put holes in it. Use a fork to prick the dough (otherwise it will make big bubbles as it cooks).

Bake dough for 4 minutes -- this gives it a chance to start forming a crust so the toppings won't make it soggy

Remove dough from oven. If any air bubbles have formed, use the fork again to poke holes in them.

Using a pastry brush, spread the pizza sauce evenly over the dough. Arrange toppings over the entire surface of the pizza. Finally put an even layer of shredded cheese over everything.

Bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes (time depends on your oven, how much stuff you piled on, and how brown you like your finished product).

Cool for about 5 minutes before cutting.

Eat with caution -- that first bite will still be HOT!

Suggested toppings:
bulk italian sausage, "scramble fried" and drained
hamburger, "scramble fried" and drained
pepperoni slices
canadian bacon
thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
sliced black olives
thin slices of green pepper (or any other color you like)
sliced water chestnuts
pineapple (goes with the canadian bacon)

For toppings just put on whatever YOU like!

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