Pizza Party!

If it were 1981 and Black Flag were here they would be really really excited because We`re gonna have a Pizza Party Tonight – Alright! There`s no Black Flag but I can still pretend that Pizza Party and TV Party are the same thing.

Pizza Party can be either super fast or take some time, in this case it is fairly fast. Either way it is way cheaper, way better and way faster (kinda) than ordering up one. And you know there is no corn syrup in the sauce. I hate corn syrup. Even Lombardi`s corn syrups their sauce these days. At least I am convinced the do, it is way too sweet, if it isn’t corn sypup it is pretty sugary. Maybe you like sugary, then just make your sauce sweeter.
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We make our own dough. I can`t suggest buying dough, not ever. If you are going to take the time to have a Pizza Party, just make your own dough. The great thing is that it is inexpensive, tastes better, and you can get all sciencey with your cooking. Besides, you don`t have to make the dough every time you plan to have a Pizza Party, just like once every 4-5 times. If you have Pizza Party once a week, well then that is only once a month (or more) that you make dough. And seriously, it doesn`t take that long to make. It seriously chaps me every time I see a recipe for pizza that says to just buy pre-made dough from Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods. That stuff is expensive and misses the point and who wants to shop at Whole Paycheck anyhow. If you still are not convinced to make your own dough, read http://www.theawl.com/2010/01/half-baked-how-to-make-a-pizza. Now I am not recommending this recipe, I still say read it and hopefully you will reconsider.

So we use the Jamie Oliver recipe, you can find it here.

What I used:
Dough, I go all metric on this since it is baking and get out my kitchen scale and everything.
800 Grams Typo 00 flour – yes, get the 00 flour, it is airier and will make a difference. Seriously, don`t bother doing this with regular AP flour. I am lazy and order mine from Markethallfoods.com – I get the Caputo brand of Italian flour, and no, it is not really any more expensive.
200 Grams Semolina – I guess you don`t have to use this and can use all typo 00, but why?
1 Tablespoon Fleur de Sel/Salt – yes use a real measuring spoon, you are baking!

1 Tablespoon Sugar, real measure again.
14 Grams Dry Yeast, just regular active
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
750 Ml Warm Water.

What I did:
Here the flours and the salt go together and the yeast sugar oil and water go together. I don`t sieve my flours/salt, just stir them around in a big bowl, big enough to base mix the dough up. For the yeast/sugar/liquids just mix it all together and let it sit for 5 min.

I have had no luck mixing it on the counter top without making a huge mess, nether has the husband. I once came home from work and he was making the dough. He was all covered in flour and it was all over the place because he tried to do it all on the counter top and it was a total fail and he was all mad. So yeah, just use a large mixing bowl and save yourself a headache. This works best with 2 people, though one can do it alone (see previous sentence). So one person be the mixer and one the pourer. Mixer: put your clean hand, just one, in the bowl of flour and have the pourer pour the liquid over your hand while you work it in. This I have found produces the least sticking of dough to the hand. Have a plastic bench scraper on the side with your clean hand to scrape your dough hand as needed. You really should not need to do this too much if you just have the liquid poured over your hand. When it is all mixed together turn it out of the bowl using the plastic bench scraper to assist onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough around and add more flour if still sticky untill it is not sticky and clearly a dough. Even if you don`t bake, you know what dough feels like!

Make the dough into a ball and put it in a floured bowl and put a damp towel over it. We have a bread proof setting on our oven so I put it in there on 85 degrees for an hour. You can also just put it in a warm pace or turn your oven to low while you do the dough to get it warm and then turn it off and stick it in there to proof.

After an hour it will double in size. Take it out and put it onto a floured work surface and punch it down to get the air out. If you read The Awl piece I linked to above, the direction is to punch the dough like it is your boss`s face. That makes me Lulzy. Anyhoo, when you have done that a minute, divide it out into 8 portions. Clingwrap the ones you are not going to use and stick them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. Sometimes they rise again and explode in the clingwrap, but no worries, that is why they are in the freezer bag. 1 makes like a 10 inch pizza. We are hungry people and each eat one.

So my dough was already made and I only had to take it out of the freezer and have no picture of the actual doughmaking. Next time:

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Obvs take out and defrost the dough on the counter. It will defrost in an hour. If you want to take it out in the morning or really early and won’t be home, put it in a plastic container to defrost in the fridge – that way it won’t dry out if it rises again and explodes. I just took mine out after we went to the gym, so at like 6 before I started the sauce.

Sauce:
You can also make your sauce in advance, which I like to do so we can have an instant Pizza Party! When you have it all ready – dough, and sauce and all, you can come home from a night out and have your pizza made and eaten quicker than calling for one that does not taste as good. I find that my sauce keeps 2-2 1/2 weeks for sure. In the fall/winter/spring, really, whenever it is cold enough for oven, we have Pizza Party weekly and having it all ready is pretty magic.

That said, I had to make my sauce today.

What I used:
Feel free to double this, I normally do
28oz can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, I used the crushed today. I prefer these to the San Marzano as they have a bit more flavor and are not as sweet. You are eating it, so use what you like.
4 Cloves Garlic, at least
Onion, like a half an onion, I already had some chopped in the fridge and just added that – it was say, a half cup maybe a bit more
Crushed Red Pepper
Hot Smoked Paprika
Salt
Pepper
Fennel Seeds
Bay Leaf
Red Wine
Fresh Basil and/or Oregano

What I did:

Put the crushed red pepper in the dry pan while the heat is on medium. Yes, dry pan. Add the can of tomatoes. Use a garlic press to smash the garlic into the pan. You can chop it, but I think it has more flavor to crush it for this. Besides you are just going to cook it down, why bother chopping? Besides, I got this garlic press as a gift a few years ago and never knew what to so with it, now it has a use. If you did not get one of these unneeded kitchen tools, no worries, just whack the garlic with the base of a knife to crush it and toss it in. Add the onions then all the dry herbs. I like fennel seed in it and use about a tablespoon, I think I got this from my mom – she always put fennel seeds in her thick tomato sauces. I don’t measure and just sprinkle in whatever I think for the rest of the herbs, just taste it and add more if needed. I guess I probably add somewhere between a teaspoon and tablespoon of everything else and only a pinch of salt. I got some red Hawaiian sea salt while in Kauai for xmas and just got it out and added to my salt cellar today so I used that. Add some red wine, a few splashes, whatever. Get some basil or oregano or both from your balcony garden if you have one and just throw in the leaves whole or tear them. No need to chop, they are going to fully cook down. I used both since I have a ton of oregano this year – that grew super well for me. You want the sauce fairly thick for this unless you want as wet pizza, so I turn it down once it comes to a boil and cook it until it is reduced by half. It will take at least an hour or more. This is a good thing to do on an afternoon when you have time to kill as you don`t have to watch it or anything. I still call it somewhat speedy as there is not much active cooking time. I cooked this for about 2.5 hours. I spent all of 5 minutes preparing it.

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While it is cooking get your toppings ready:

What I used:
Videlia/ Sweet Onions chopped – save some time and chop more onions than you need. They keep for at least a week and it will save you some work later on in the week, or if you decide to have another Pizza Party, your onions are already there. In this case I needed onions for something else I am making this week and some celery, so I had the husband chop both. Really he chopped it all. He is the chopper/slicer for the most part and he is always the onion chopper. I get major onion cry and don’t want to be wielding a knife while blinded by burning tears. Admittedly, I also find the chopping boring, so if you have someone else to do it, take advantage.
Kalamata Olives chopped
Crimini mushrooms, sautéed in some olive oil, peppered, no salt – you want to keep them dry. Yes, I used presliced because it saves a step, keep silently judging, I don’t care.
Fresh Salted Mozzarella cheese sliced, I do not like the Buffalo Mozzarella for this, it just has less flavor and melts wetter for some reason. The goal is to keep the pizza dry so it stays crisp all over, this is a thin crust
Sausage – the husband puts sausage on his since he eats the meat, I don`t. I buy bulk Italian sausage and divide it into portions and freeze it. Just take out a portion whenever you want a Pizza Party. Just saute the sausage and place it on paper towels to drain. *Sausage not pictured

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Make the Pizza.

What I did:
Turn up the oven as hot as possible. 550 works. Pizza stone or tiles or whatever you want to do to have a stone. Get one, this is an absolute requirement. I just got a $16 one and always keep in in the oven. You want it on the 2nd shelf for the Pizza Party, not the bottom, not the top. the middle is where it should be.

Heat up the oven for at least 35 min from the time it gets to 550. Set your timer and don`t try cooking it in advance, it needs to be really hot. The apartment will get hot, this is why Pizza Party is not a summertime indoor activity.

Timer is off – get the first pizza ready. Lay a parchment paper down on your work surface and throw some semolina on it. My dough is always a bit sticky/tacky again when I go to use it. I just roll it around in the semolina until it loses the sticky. Ready? Ok, make it into a pizza shape by stretching it out. Do not roll it, do not pat it, stretch it so it keeps and airiness. Really, it will be a rock if you don`t do this. I just take the ball of dough and start to work it flat with my fingers in the air by turning it in circles and drawing it out with my fingertips. I then lay it on the parchment once it get it into a disk. From there I pull it with my fingertips from the underside until it gets all thin – I made the husband take this picture to show what I mean, my arm looks all big and wonky, but hopefully you can see what I mean:

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Mine is usually oblong. I then pull a piece of dough off and make a thin roll the width of the pizza to divide it in half. I only do this to mark my non-meat side.

Take the whole thing and slide it onto a pizza peel and put it parchment and all onto the hot stone. No pizza peel? No worries, just move it using the parchment.

It is now on the hot stone in the oven. Did I miss a step? Nope. We dress the pizza on the hot stone. So working quickly dress the pizza to your liking. It will be really hot in there and the air will burn your hand a bit. Set the timer for 8 min. Watch Carrie cuz it is on, Yay! I love Carrie and her dirty pillows and telekinesis and stuff.

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Timers off, check it, is it done? Mines not all brown yet. In for another 2-3 min. Timers off. Done? Yes.

Plate it and cut it into 4 pieces and serve it with some fresh basil and oregano and so crushed pepper and drizzles of good DOP olive oil.

Marvel at your pizza skills and the fact that even though this looks like it takes forever, really, it only took 30 min if your dough was already made. And Breaking Bad is now on! I guess it is a TV Party Tonight – Alright!

Eat it.

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Just gonna leave you with
and

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One Comment on “Pizza Party!”

  1. […] gonna be a bit different.  It’s just pizza party – follow my recipes for the dough and sauce and cooking and all and go from […]


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