Friday, August 22, 2008

Homemade Pizza - YUM!

Last night we made one of our favorite comfort meals - homemade pizza - with the added bonus of our own garden fresh produce! It is so easy to make pizza from scratch and so we really never order in pizza anymore. We use a very basic yeast pizza crust recipe from a great all purpose cookbook - How it all Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. Yes, it is a vegan cookbook (and we are not vegan), but there are lots of great recipes for everyone in this book - and the girls are sassy and fun!

Yeast Pizza Crust Recipe:
1 1/2 cups tepid (lukewarm) water
1/4 oz packet yeast (= 2 1/4 tsp yeast)
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour

You can use whatever flours you prefer. We use 1 cup unbleached white, 1 cup wheat and 1 cup cornmeal. (Sometimes we add dried herbs such as oregano or basil to the crust. We did not do this last night, but highly recommend it.) Gather all your crust ingredients together first.

Whisk together the yeast and tepid water in a medium bowl. Once the yeast is dissolved, add the salt and whisk again.

Stir in the flour and mix together with a wooden spoon until well mixed. The recipe says to knead the dough for 3 minutes, but we find our spoon beating works just fine.

Now it's time for the first rising period. Find a warm, draft-free place for your bowl of dough, cover it with a damp towel and let it rise for 20 minutes. Our house was fairly cool last night so I turned on the oven for 1 minute, turned it off and put the dough inside the oven to rise. If you choose to let you dough rise in the oven, make sure you do not leave the oven on for much longer than a minute or it will be too hot and may kill your yeast. That would be a sad thing for your very hungry belly.

After 20 minutes, take your rising dough, beat it down with the wooden spoon and let it rise again for 10-20 minutes. (If it seems incredibly sticky, add a little more flour.) At this rising, I preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let the dough rise (covered) on top of the oven.

Now comes the super fun part...picking out your toppings! We are enjoying the gifts of our garden right now and so chose to make this pizza with homegrown tomatoes, zucchini, basil and a store bought Vidalia onion. You can use whatever toppings suit your fancy because the yeast crust works with anything.

We are in love with green chiles and unfortunately do not have any fresh right now, but our canned green chiles make do. (We add green chiles to many many meals here in our house.)

After your second dough rising, beat down the dough again with your wooden spoon and dump the dough onto a greased or oiled cookie sheet. Spread the dough out with your hands (it's usually a little sticky, but not overly so) and prick it all over with a fork.

We like to bake the dough for 5-10 minutes before adding any sauce, cheese or toppings to ensure we don't end with a soggy crust. This step is optional though. If you wish you not do this step, just jump on ahead!

Add your pizza sauce - yes ours is from a can, but you can make your own if you so desire.

Add your cheese - we used a little less than a quarter block of mozzarella cheese. We like a light layer of cheese and so this amount works well for us. You can add as much cheese as you like and as many kinds as you want!

Now add all your toppings...

Now how good does this look?

Bake your pizza for 30 - 40 minutes and then enjoy!

Yep - the pizza tasted just as good as it looks. :)

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