Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pizza Night

Everyone in our house loves pizza so I try to make it frequently enough so that the temptation to go out for pizza is silenced. It is very inexpensive to make your own, healthy pizzas at home. Tonight was pizza night and once again I tried to photograph it and once again they were made, baked and consumed before I got many pictures. I suppose this is a good thing. It means they really like my pizza, right? Since we are dealing with multiple food allergies, I decided long ago to individualize the pizzas rather than making one that will fulfill all needs but that nobody will like very much. That means two crusts for starters.  A gluten free crust and then my regular, whole wheat crust...

Regular Pizza Crust
1 1/4 cups of warm water
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 T yeast
1 T sucanat or honey
3-4 cups of freshly ground wheat

Pour the water in a large mixing bowl. Add the next 7 ingredients. Allow this to rest until the yeast begins to foam. Add the flour and stir in, mixing well. Using the kneading paddle on your dough or your hands, knead your dough for about 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic with a nice sheen to it. Cover the dough with a moist towel and put in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise until double in size. Punch the dough down and divide into portions that suit your family and pan sizes. Place on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rise again.  The entire process takes about 4 hours, so I usually make the dough when I am making lunch. That way its ready when I want to make dinner.

Ready to make dinner? 
Now you can sprinkle some flour on your clean counter and place one of the dough portions on the flour giving it a good dusting. Working from the center, use your fingertips to gently push the air bubbles out of the dough. Gradually working around from the middle out and gradually increasing the circle size. You can use a rolling pin at this point if you are not comfortable spinning a pizza. Since my father owned a pizza restaurant when I was in college I can toss a pizza pretty comfortably but will use the rolling pin on the rectangle pizza that goes to my son. ;-)
The Gluten-Free Pesto Pizza is ready to put in the oven
Place the prepared pizza crust in an oiled pan of your choice. You can dust the oiled pan with a little cornmeal if you like a crisper crust. I have one round stone(a Pampered Chef stone I found at Goodwill), a round steel pizza pan with holes in it and one rectangular "Medium Bar Pan" from Pampered Chef as well as a flat stone that stays in my oven. My gluten free crust is pre-made and goes right on that stone, so I prepare that pizza on a flexible cutting mat which makes it easy to transfer to the oven.

I allow the pizza crusts to rest in their respective pans about 20-30 minutes while I prepare the toppings. We use goat cheese, raw cheese, grass-fed mozzarella, which is grated into individual bowls. We chop fresh veggies, sometimes I will caramelize the onions and peppers, slice pre-cooked uncured sausage or open a jar of canned pizza sausage and open a jar of our homemade canned pizza sauce and usually pull out some pesto as well. As I mentioned, we eat pizza a lot, so I do can my own pizza sauce and when I can find a good deal on fresh, grass-fed italian sausage, I either can that as well or fry it up and keep it in the freezer. I also store hunks of mozzarella, goat cheese or any other pizza-related items in the freezer in what I call the "Pizza Bag" so I can just pull it from the freezer on pizza-making night. If I open a jar of pizza sauce or pesto, I just put the partially used jar in the Pizza Bag as well. That way, nothing spoils and I am not required to run to the store for ingredients everytime the mood for pizza strikes.

Four custom pizza pies make everyone happy
Once all the ingredients are prepared, it's time to make the pizzas. I preheat the oven to 450 degrees and everyone is free to make their own pizza, but since we do this fairly often, the novelty has worn off, and I usually have a daughter helping me and we make for everyone else.
Each person has different requirements and that's why we all have our own "pans." Once all the pizzas are made, I sprinkle them with some oregano and a little more garlic, brush the edges with a little olive oil, and pop them in the oven. The thicker ones take longer and are softer(for braces) and the little gluten-free pizza made on an Udi's Gluten free crust goes in last because the crust is precooked and it cooks fast.
Usually they take about 20 minutes to cook and I rotate them from top to bottom so they all get evenly cooked. When everything is ready, we sit down and quickly polish off most, if not all of the pizza in one meal. And that is what pizza night looks like at our house.

No comments: