Overall, I don’t think I can comment on my own fashion sense. I’m certainly not an objective party. But, I can say that what I secretly (or not so secretly, really) aspire to, and the way I actually decorate and dress are pretty different. I kind of wish I could attain that sleek, minimalistic Scandinavian style décor, and dress in a simple classic way. But I can’t. Heaven knows I’ve tried, but I somehow always come out with bright colors and bold patterns, and just a teensy bit of friendly clutter. It turns out that’s just what I like.
And, just last week, I came to the realization that the same goes for me and pizza! I know it’s all chic and gourmet to like pizzas with a few perfect and sparsely scattered toppings on a delicate crust. But I like piles of toppings. Big, gratuitously stacked, piles, I say! A pizza, to me, is a chance to put a whole bunch of vegetables and cheeses and meats I like in various combinations together in one perfect delivery vehicle. But, that’s just me. I won’t force my topping opinions on anyone. On the other hand, I do want to graciously bestow my pizza dough recipe upon everyone. Because everyone deserves to have a wonderful, wonderful crust to put their favorite toppings on – without having to pay $0.50-$3 something for each additional topping, or tipping the delivery person!
I find it well nigh impossible to imagine not liking pizza. I can easily imagine not liking a particular pizza, but not pizza as a category. Because really, you can put anything you pleas on a pizza. So, not liking pizza, is essentially equivalent to not liking food! If you want Indian food you could top your pizza with sautéed onions, tandoori-spiced chicken and dollops of chutney, or with spiced, sauteed spinach and chunks of paneer cheese. If you wanted Greek food you could use tomatoes, oregano, Greek lamb sausage or spiced lamb, olives, and feta. If you wanted to get all Norwegian nationalistic about it (though I can’t think of any Norwegians who are excessively nationalistic 😉 ) you could use caramelized onions, Jarlesberg, and slices of roast potato, or maybe crème fraiche with dill and pieces of smoked salmon. If you are in the mood for Italian…well that’s easy.
The trick with topping a pizza is just to give a little thought about what you want to use by way of sauce – if you want to use sauce at all – and then think about what foods taste good with that sauce (and together). And then, of course, not let that deter you when you want to really think outside the box…or wood fired brick oven, as the case may be (gosh, I wish I had one of those!).
Okay, and I know I originally intended this post to be more about awesome pizza dough (because it is!), than about toppings,but I can’t help it, I’m first going to share just a couple of my favorite pizza topping combos:
- Tomato sauce, caramelized onions, roasted broccoli pieces, slices of roasted sweet potato, black olives, dollops of ricotta, and shredded mozzarella
- Pesto sauce, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and/or sautéed zucchini, sliced or sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, small pieces of roast chicken or Italian sausage, shredded mozzarella and parmesan
- Roasted pureed butternut squash, caramelized onions, spinach, blue cheese, and mozzarella
- Tomato sauce, caramelized onions, sweet Italian sausage, roasted fennel, sundried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella, parmesan, and a sprinkling of basil and oregano
Yeah, I know, kind of excessive, right? And in writing that it just became abundantly evident that I may be mildly addicted to the caramelization and subsequent consumption of all forms of onions. But anyway, without further ado, let’s turn to the pizza dough. This dough requires a slow rise in the refrigerator, so you have to think ahead and make it ahead of time. However, the dough comes together pretty darn fast, so you can throw it together before work, stick it in the fridge, and then by the time you get back from work in the evening, it will be ready to stretch out and bake! The olive oil, and the slow, cold rise make it incredibly easy to handle and also give it great flavor. Have fun!
Slow rise pizza dough (makes enough for 2 medium pizzas, or 4 individual pizzas)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, until the yeast is foamy. Then stir in the salt and olive oil.
- Add in 2 cups of the flour and stir well. Then add the rest of the flour bit by bit, stirring vigorously, until the dough forms into a shaggy ball. You may not wind up using all of the flour.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and satiny, about 6 minutes. Then place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turn to coat, cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator. Allow to rise in the fridge until doubled in size, 8-12 hours.
- When ready to use, divide in half (or fourths) and on a lightly floured surface stretch, roll, and push the dough out to the thickness you want (I’d say about ¼ inch or so). Transfer to a baking pan that has been lightly greased and sprinkled with cornmeal (the cornmeal is optional – it helps, but I often don’t use it.) Preheat your oven to 500F. Spread your toppings on your pizza dough, leaving a little room around the edge. Brush the untopped dough with a little olive oil (I always wind up doing this with my fingers because I have no pastry brush). Bake one pizza at a time (or two, if two fit on one pan) in the hot oven until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. This usually takes 15-20 minutes, but it depends on the size of your pizza and your toppings.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Slice and serve.