Food

Super Bowl Pizza

January 29, 2014

pizzaThere are certain truths about the Super Bowl. There will be a winner, a looser and food. All the rest is commentary.

While submarine sandwiches are great, chili is excellent and hot dogs are just super for my money, pizza is the way to go when you’re watching grown men pounding each other for bragging rights, a ring and of course, really really good (and bad) commercials. I am not, of course, suggesting you order a triple cheese and pineapple special or pop a frozen facsimile in the oven.  I’m saying, make it yourself and then you’ll really have something to cheer about.

Pizza is a world famous, uber popular dish invented in Italy. You start with a bread like crust (thick or thin, your choice) and top it with tomato sauce, cheese and whatever other combination of veggies your heart desires. It is the perfect blank canvas for creating your own culinary masterpiece.

There are, of course, always variations in a theme when it comes to pizza. You can buy one from a chain, a local restaurant, buy a frozen one, buy the dough or even use pita bread or, if you’re really in a creative mood, make your own. For fun and fabulous flavor, I vote for making your own.

When making your own pizza, you first have to determine if you want a deep dish, thin crust or super super cracker bread thin crust. I suggest you use all-purpose flour for a deep dish and bread flour for thinner crusts. Using moist dough makes the pizza crust really soft and tender. If you want a thick crust, roll out the dough and let it rise as opposed to rolling it out, topping and cooking it right away. If a crispy crust is what you want, I suggest using a pizza stone.

Tomato based sauces are the most popular beginnings for pizza. You can buy the readymade kind or make your own. It takes a bit of time to get the sauce done but you can make up a big batch, freeze it and take it out anytime you feel like whipping up a batch of dough. If tomatoes are not your thing, try using olive oil, minced garlic, lots of onions, meat, veggies and herbs instead of a sauce.

A few suggestions about toppings- anything out of a can other than olives and artichoke hearts is probably a no no. Use fresh food when possible. Mushrooms, onions, veggies and the like all need to be as fresh as possible to provide the freshest flavor. Dried herbs are OK but using fresh herbs is even better. Fresh oregano, basil and even chives bring out a subtle flavor in the vegetables which is something no franchise or frozen pizza can ever hope to emulate.

Before we get to the recipes, I gotta tell you that the cheese is, if not the most important ingredient, pretty close to it. Kosher certification may make your choice for you if you can’t find the kind you really want.  You can use mozzarella, feta, Fontana, Monterey jack, pepper jack, provolone or any combination of these or whatever you like. I tend to overload on the cheese and most recipes just offer, in my opinion, suggestions as to how much you should use. Don’t forget to allow the pizza to cool for 4 to 5 minutes after it comes out of the oven so that the cheese sets and doesn’t burn the roof of your mouth. Don’t leave the pizza to cool in the pan you cooked it in or on because it could become soggy.

PIZZA DOUGH 1 (for a thin pizza) (pareve)

3/4 cups lukewarm water

1 teaspoon active-dry or instant yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast and stir to dissolve the yeast.  Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix until you’ve formed loose dough.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface (along with any extra flour from the bowl). Knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough should be slightly moist and slightly sticky to touch. However, if it’s glued to your hands and counter-top like rubber cement, add in a bit more flour one tablespoon at a time until it is smooth.  Let it sit for at least 10- 15 minutes at this point.  You can let the dough rise some more (no more than 45 min) or use it right away.

Preheat oven to 475. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands. Press outward from the middle of the dough. Use the heel of your hand and push the dough until it’s about 1/3 to 1/4 of an inch thick. For a really really thin crust, your best bet is to roll it with a rolling pin. Just remember, the dough may shrink (pull back a bit). If this happens, let the dough sit for a few minutes then start rolling again. Carefully place it on a cookie sheet if that’s how you’re cooking it. Spread the sauce over the top of the dough, stopping about 1/2 inch from the edge. Try not to put too much sauce on as it can make the crust soggy. Add your toppings, cheese and if you’re using a pizza stone place the pizza on the stone.

Bake for about 5 minutes and then rotate the pizza. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese looks bubbly and golden. Remove the pizza from oven place the pizza on a wire cooling rack. Repeat the process with second piece of dough. Makes 2 pizzas

My file, source unknown

PIZZA DOUGH 2 (for a slightly thicker pizza) (pareve)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing bowl, dough ball and crust

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting your work surface

1 cup slightly warm water

In the bowl of a mixer (with a dough hook), combine the warm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, oil, and salt into yeast mixture and mix slightly. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and mix until a dough ball forms. Lightly oil a large bowl with the extra olive oil. Place the dough into the oiled bowl and  coat the top of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place the bowl in a warm area for about an hour. The dough should approximately double in size. Cut the dough in half. Flour the work surface and roll both pieces of dough into approximately 12 inches round. Just remember, the dough may shrink (pull back a bit). If this happens, let the dough sit for a few minutes then start rolling again. Carefully place it on a cookie sheet if that’s how you’re cooking it. Spread the sauce over the top of the dough, stopping about 1/2 inch from the edge. Try not to put too much sauce on as it can make the crust soggy. Add your toppings, cheese and if you’re using a pizza stone place the pizza on the stone.

Bake for about 5 minutes and then rotate the pizza. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese looks bubbly and golden. Remove the pizza from oven place the pizza on a wire cooling rack. Repeat the process with second piece of dough. Makes 2 pizzas

Modified from yummly.com

EXTRA SPECIAL PIZZA SAUCE (dairy or pareve)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter (or just use 3 tablespoons olive oil)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 to 2 teaspoon minced garlic, minced

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 small bay leaf

1 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)

In a large skillet, sauté the onion, celery and garlic in the oil and butter until soft. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir to combine Add the parmesan, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, pepper, bay leaf and fennel if using. Slowly simmer for about 25- 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf and cool if not using immediately. This can be made 5 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator or frozen for 3 months. When ready to use, spread the sauce on your prepared pizza dough. Enough to cover four 12 inch pizzas.

Modified from epicurious.com

 ARTICHOKE AND SPINACH PIZZA (dairy)

1 pizza crust recipe

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 shallot, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 (6 ounce) bag of fresh spinach

1 (14 ounce) can of artichoke hearts (5-7 count)

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

8 ounces freshly grated mozzarella cheese

4 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Drain artichokes and press with a paper towel to reduce some of the moisture. Roughly chop, pressing with a towel again, then place in a bowl. Add ricotta cheese.

Heat a large skillet over medium low heat and add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add in shallots with a pinch of salt and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and spinach, tossing to coat and cooking until spinach is wilted. Transfer spinach mixture to the bowl with artichokes and ricotta, and then add salt, pepper, 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine.

Drizzle pizza dough with 1 teaspoon olive oil and brush to coat. Sprinkle a bit of mozzarella cheese over top of the dough, then spread spinach ricotta mixture evenly over top. Cover with remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Modified from about.com

POTATO PIZZA (dairy)

I love love love this recipe, not your typical pizza but oh so delicious!!

1 recipe pizza dough

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 medium, waxy potatoes (about 14 ounces), peeled, cooked, and thinly sliced into rounds

1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the dough and let it rise until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour. Dust a baking sheet with semolina flour. Roll out the dough to an 18 x 12 inch rectangle and fit it onto the baking sheet. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425.  Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and then sprinkle it with the garlic slices. Cover it with the potato slices, and then drizzle those with the remaining olive oil and the cream. Sprinkle it with the fresh thyme leaves, crushing them as you sprinkle, and season it liberally with pepper and lightly with salt.  Bake in the center of the oven until the dough is golden at the edges and the cream is bubbling gently, about 35 minutes. Remove, let sit for 5 minutes, then cut and serve.

Epicurious January 2001

© Eileen Goltz pizza 14a