Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dinner: Homemade Pizza

Last night one of our best friends, Babs, joined us for a classic Friday night dinner: pizza, salad with local lettuce, spinach, carrots, and cukes, and popsicles for dessert.

The pizza is homemade crust with shredded mozz, fresh tomato, onion, and local ground lamb--leftover from an earlier meal this week. One minute before the pizza is done cooking we added fresh rosemary and oregano.

Simple meals like this remind me of how food brings us together, lets us connect with one another, and share our lives with one another around the table.

In fact, the homemade crust recipe comes from another dear friend, Ray Ray. If not for her recipe, we would have never realized that homemade pizza is WAY better than any take-out.

Friends and Food: two of my favorite things.

Ray Ray's Homemade Pizza Dough (with a few revisions)

This recipe makes enough for one large (16 inch) thin crust pizza. It can be doubled for more 'zas or thick crust.

3/4 Cup warm water
1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Tbl sugar
1.25 tsp yeast (like a teaspoon and a pinch, a little more or less won't hurt anything--it does affect the rising time: more yeast, faster rise)
2 Cups Flour
salt (or garlic salt, optional)
dried basil (optional)

Put the water in the bowl you'll be mixing the dough in, and add the yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add oil. Add flour (and salt and dried basil, if you choose) and mix until doughy-ish. At this point you can either put the dough in a greased bowl to rise, or you flop the dough around while you spray the bowl you just mixed up the dough in with cooking spray. This makes fewer dirty dishes. Cover (tight seal like a tupperwear top) and let rise in a warm place. This "warm place" could be a couple of different places depending on how long you want the dough to rise. The fastest rise is to turn your oven on its lowest for two minutes, then off again. With this technique, your dough will be ready in 45 minutes. If you turn the microwave on for 30 seconds with nothing in it, then stick in the dough and shut the door, you will have to wait 1 hour for it to rise. Or if it's just hot in your house, you can put it on the counter.

(Revision: we've been making our dough the night before and putting it in the fridge. As long as it has about 24 hours to rise, it's perfect. Just be sure to let the dough come to room temperature before you begin working with it.)

Preheat oven to 475 frickin degrees. Booya!

When the dough is finished rising, it will be kind of wet. I roll it out on a piece of foil sprayed with cooking spray. That way you can set the pizza pan on top of the rolled out dough, flip the whole thing over, and peel off the foil. I use the foil again if I'm making more than one pizza that night, then toss it in the recycle bin. The heavy duty thicker foil works better than regular since dough is heavy.

I have started putting the dough in by itself for 4-5 minutes (this step is IMPORTANT--don't forget it!), taking it out and adding toppings, then putting it back for 9-10 more. This keeps the center of the dough from being gooey.

This might be the longest pizza dough recipe ever. Another thing to remember is that using too much sauce will also keep the dough from cooking, so use a little less than you think you might. Making za is so totally worth it!

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