Thank you for the nice emails about the new column.
OK, it’s true, and without getting overly specific time wise, the photo may not be super current. Enough of that topic.
In an effort to provide continuity, I asked in the last issue for you to try and get your hands on a pizza pan. Yes, a cookie sheet can work, but the lip makes it hard to slide the pizza out. I also suggested a can of whole tomatoes. So pizza at home it is.
• 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste or a 28 oz.- can of whole tomatoes.
• olive oil
• pizza dough you buy or prepare (see below)
• 8 oz. mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced on the thin side)
• salt and pepper
• fresh garlic, oregano and desired toppings
This could be a volume; instead, it is a place to start. If it were a foundation, we would need to make everything from scratch. A cooking class in Idyllwild would be fun, maybe when the community center is built. But alas, if you want to make dough, then “You Tube” can get you through it. It can be as simple or as tough as you wish.
Your choice, a stand up mixer or by hand. It will be fresh and likely terrific. Or better yet, you can grab a few of the pre-made refrigerated dough balls. For $1.19 each, you get a fresh dough ball. This dough is ready to stretch, sauce and cover with whatever you choose. There’s even herb flavored, but I am a purist.
No need to buy pizza sauce. It’s a waste of money. You can mix a 6-ounce can of tomato paste (89 cents) and a can of water, add salt and pepper, a little olive oil (1 tbsp. per half can) and maybe some cayenne pepper if you like it hot. Add some oregano and/or garlic, and make a killer pizza.
Note: Any remaining sauce can be added to a different sauce or to make a second pizza. There will be enough for two pizzas.
Seriously, the tomato part of the pizza needs to be simple. If you want to use that can of whole tomatoes you bought, that’s great. Put them in a bowl and cut and mash them. Better yet, wash your hands and get in there and squish them into the consistency you think you will like on your pizza. Bear in mind that the liquid will decrease as it cooks.
Warning: Just don’t use too much sauce or your pie will be hard to cook and mushy.
Regarding cheese, most pizzas require mozzarella. I sometimes like to shred a little Parmesan or provolone in there, too, but don’t use the stuff that shakes out. Use real cheese, or just stick with the mozzarella.
Buy bulk shredded mozzarella. You can divide it, put it in baggies and freeze it. This cheese does well after frozen. Just don’t try to defrost it in a microwave or you will be so sorry.
The dough balls freeze well, too. If you toss them both in the fridge the night before, they will be ready the next day.
Let the dough sit out until it reaches room temperature so it will be easy to stretch. Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Oil the pan and your clean hands. Spread the dough on the pan, trying to maintain evenness. If you make holes, fix them. Use the heel of your hand to spread and stretch. It’s fun. Re-oil hands as necessary.
Using a 16-inch pan, I try to get the dough to cover as much territory as I can. If you are good, you can get close to the edge.
Then spread the sauce almost to the edge. Don’t go overboard.
Next, add the ingredients that could burn, such as mushrooms or onion. Anything can go under the cheese. Also, pepperoni could go under, but some like it on top. You’re driving this bus. Spread about 8 ounces or less of cheese on the pie. If the dough didn’t spread out large, don’t use all the cheese. That amount of cheese is for a 14-plus-inch pizza.
Add other toppings as desired, but not raw sausage; raw meat must be pre-cooked until almost done. Before popping in the oven, drizzle more olive oil on the pizza.
Put pan in center of oven and take a (very quick) peek at 8 minutes. Then check it every couple of minutes until cheese starts to turn golden all over; not dark brown or you’re burning it.
If you can slide a spatula under it the last few minutes and it breaks loose, you can leave it right on the rack for a crisper crust. If only half looks cooked, rotate it.
Use gloves and be careful. If it doesn’t slide easily, then forget it and use more oil next time. When it looks nice and the bottom seems firm, pull it out and let it sit for a minute. Then cut it: scissors, knife or pizza cutter all work.
If you’re wondering why you should do all this when you can get a frozen pizza, just read the ingredients on a frozen pizza.
Let me know how you did. By the way, Kate and I eat the whole thing with a salad.
Oh, and start hunting around for a wok.