Food For Football Games: Pizza!

My good friend Jason is constantly badgering me to make pizzas. I actually find post-it notes on my desk taunting me. Now, don't get me wrong, I do love making pizza, but I have sooo many other things to make, too! But every time I finally dig my hands into the dough and set it out to rest for a few hours, I am reminded why making pizza from scratch is so supremely satisfying. 

It takes a while to find your perfect dough, and it has to be your dough. Everyone has a favorite type of pizza dough, and there are a million recipes out there for every style, thickness and flavor. My recipe is constantly evolving where I modify resting time, amount of yeast, amount and temperature of water, etc. I am partial to a thin, almost crunchy crust, and this recipe below is so awesome. It's very similar to the dough recipe I posted before, but it is a small evolution with a lot of added greatness.

Pizza is one of the best things to serve when you're having a few people over for dinner. It's (relatively) cheap to make, you can prep a majority of the ingredients before everyone gets there, and you can make all sorts to satisfy the crowd of differing taste buds. Now that football season is here, everyone is crowding around tables to eat, drink and watch the games.Having a few weapons up your sleeve to keep your friends' bellies full and satisfied is not to be forgotten.

Traditional Margherita Pizza

For the dough (takes 3 hours):
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 packet active yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp granulated sugar

For the sauce and toppings:
2 large yellow heirloom tomatoes (cubed)
1 small onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
olive oil
salt and pepper
10-15 slices mozzarella cheese (1/4 inch)
8-10 slices fresh basil (cut into thin strips)

For the pizza dough:

In a measuring cup, add the yeast to the warm water and stir until dissolved. 

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt, sugar and garlic powder together. Add the water and yeast and stir with a metal spoon until a dough forms. If the dough seems too dry (excess flour at the bottom of the bowl) add a tablespoon of warm water at a time. If the dough seems too wet, add a little flour. I usually end up adding a tablespoon or two of water to get the right texture.

Once the dough is in a nice ball, flour the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough for 10- 15 minutes, adding flour as needed. You don't want the dough to get sticky. Once the dough feels nice and elastic, you're done!

Add some olive oil to a clean mixing bowl and put the dough in. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit on the counter for 3 hours. If all goes well, the dough should double in size, or at least rise up quite a bit. Make sure it's resting in a warm area without any drafts

After 3 hours and all the other ingredients are prepped, the pizza dough should be ready to roll out. Look at the dough to make sure it has doubled in size.

Split the dough in half and start working with it to turn it into a pizza crust. If the dough sat for long enough, it should be fairly easy to roll out. Kneed out dough, on a floured surface, into a big circle and place it onto parchment paper or a a pizza peel. Top the dough with the ingredients (tomato sauce (below), sliced mozzarella and basil) and put parchment and pizza directly on pizza stone and put in the oven for about 12 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

For the tomato sauce:

In a sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp olive over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the fresh tomato, salt and pepper and dried Italian herbs. Cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Pizza #2: White Pizza with Roasted Zucchini Slices, Goat Cheese and Bacon

For the pizza:
1/2 cup olive oil sauce (below)
2 cups shredded Italian cheese (I used Parmesan and Romano)
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup roasted zucchini slices (coat in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on baking sheet for 10 minutes)
bacon pieces (from below)

Roll out the dough. Slather with the white sauce. Layer the pizza with the shredded cheese, goat cheese, zucchini and bacon. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the top and pop in the oven for 12 minutes.

For the olive oil sauce:

4 slices bacon (cut into small pieces)
2 tbsp good olive oil
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt

Cook bacon in sauce pan until fat has rendered and bacon is crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate and save for pizza topping. Discard most of the grease, leaving about 2 tbsp. Lower heat to low and add olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and sea salt to the bacon grease. Let cook for about 10 minutes so that the flavors all infuse.

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