Making pizza brings the little kid out in me because it’s all about playing with your food. It’s your chance to stick it to your parents for telling you not to play with your food at the table! Kneading, punching, and stretching dough and then sprinkling whatever your imagination desires and your tastebuds (and stomach) can tolerate. To put it simply, making pizza can be an expression of your creativity, your personality, and your deepest soul. Maybe I’m waxing poetic at this point but you get the picture. For this reason, when Nathan and I make pizza we can never make only one. We each have to make our own and it’s pretty easy to tell who’s is who’s when we’re done. Mine usually have a thin crust and are loaded up with veggies…I like to put a little bit of everything and it ends up being a carnival extravaganza of color and flavor. Nathan makes his crust thicker, uses more meat, and focuses on several toppings instead of 12 toppings like me. Normally, my pizza is finished baking in 15 minutes because of the thin crust while Nathan’s is still raw in the center after 45 (Nathan actually let me make both our crusts this time, go figure). If you haven’t tried making your own pizza, give it a try…let yourself go wild!
Pizza is like the perfect outfit (this is an analogy for the ladies) in that it can be dressed up or down according to the toppings you put on it. Depending on those toppings you can pair almost any beer or wine with your pizza. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations!
This is one of the wines that we bought during our VA winery tour. Oddly, the bottle we drank with our pizza tasted totally different than what we remember tasting at the winery. Either our taste buds weren’t in top shape from tasting multiple wines in one sitting or pairing the wine with food made completely different tastes come out. Regardless, this wine was much sweeter than what we remember tasting at Villa Appalachia. The Rustico Reserve had a sweet aroma with deep plum and sugar tastes. A richer, more full bodied red wine would have probably gone better with my pizza. It was still good but I gave it a 7.5 rating instead of the 9 that I would have given it when we had it at the winery.
Head over to our post from last week about Finger Tip Ale for a full review of our most recent beer! This beer is the perfect compliment to something like pizza. The mild flavors of Finger Tip Ale won’t over-power a plain pizza with few toppings but has enough flavor so that it won’t taste like water when eating pizza with a lot of toppings, complex flavors, or spices.
(Makes about 2.5 cups or enough for 2 12-inch pizzas)
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes (preferably not from concentrate)
Fresh basil, dried or fresh oregano, and salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil and saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes, or until sauce reduces to desired thickness. Make sure it’s nice and thick so you don’t end up with a watery pizza! Cool the sauce to room temperature before spreading it on the pizza dough.
(Makes about enough for 2, 12 inch pizzas)
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup bread flower
3 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Stir together 2 tsp. dry yeast and 1/2 cup lukewarm water, add 1/2 cup bread flour, mix well and allow mixture to sit until bubbly (about 30 minutes). Mix together 3 1/4 cups unbleached white flour and 1 tsp. salt in another bowl and then stir into the yeast and flour mixture. Then add 3/4 cup cold water and 1/4 cup olive oil.
Mix thoroughly by hand or in an electric stand mixer. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and elastic. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add more flour (just enough to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.)
Cover the dough in a large bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until is had doubled in size (about 2 hours). Divide the dough into 2 nice smooth balls and allow the dough balls to rest at room temperature, wrapped loosely in plastic, for an hour or so.
Place a baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500˚ F.
Gently stretch the balls of dough into 12 inch diameter discs and place on an un-rimmed baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil and then, leaving a half inch uncovered at the edge of the dough, top with the pizza sauce, mozzarella, and whatever other toppings your heart desires. I used spinach, tomato, olives, mushroom, basil, and feta for my pizza and Nathan had italian sausage, pepperoncino, mushroom, and olives.
Slide the pizza onto the baking stone from the baking sheet and bake until the crust is brown (10-15 minutes)