In the most extreme sense this is undoubtedly true.
It was when I ate true homemade pizza at my friend Shawna’s when I realized that I had cheated myself the real goodness that pizza can really be. And she bedazzled me [at the time] because I kept on thinking it must have taken her forever that I almost felt guilty when I imagined how she must have slaved over the process of making the dough. So she offered to give me the recipe and at first I was so sure of myself that I declined because [at the time] I knew I would never bother to take the time and make it. A couple of weeks later, I noticed a piece of pink paper on my desk. It was the recipe and it migrated its way over by the hands of Mike [my boyfriend]. If anyone knows him well enough they will know at least one thing about him – pizza is serious business.
My first attempt was a bit sour but “okay”. The dough was a little dry and way thick. The recipe actually makes two pizzas or if you don’t want to make deep dish you can cut it into however many portions and just make a bunch of small regular thin pizzas. Over the past year I must have made this recipe at least twenty times, modifying the dough and the toppings every time. It just keeps getting better.
So there you have it and now I am sharing my favorite food in the entire world with you.
2 tablespoons of quick rise yeast
2 cups of warm water
1 cup of olive oil
1 cup of canola oil
6 cups of flour
Making the dough
Step 1. Dissolve the yeast in the 2 cups of warm water [I warm the water in the microwave – it is much faster and I use a small whisk but a fork will do. This helps dissolve any chunks]. Once the yeast is all dissolved you can begin to add the rest of the ingredient.
Step 2. Add both oils. and stir a couple of times to try to mix as well as possible. [I modified the oils. If you want to make a healthier version of this recipe you can decrease the amounts to 1/2 cup of canola oil and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. BUT trust me it is way better the way I make it.]
Step 3. Start mixing in portions of the flour. Once it begins getting thick – this usually happens after the third cup of flour or so. You will have to start adding smaller increments and folding it into the dough with your hands. You will get the hang of this after you start doing it. I never use a mixer and I think you get better results when you do it by hand. NOTE: You might not need all the flour the recipe calls for. Use your own judgement as you are adding the flour to see what feel right. It should have some elasticity and not stick to your fingers. SECOND NOTE: I dislike the cornmeal and decided to omit it and add an extra 1/2 cup of flour. If you want to try it with cornmeal just decrease the flour by 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup of cornmeal instead. You might even want to try adding more cornmeal to four ratio. I have not tried that yet so that might be a fun experiment.
Step 4. Rest the dough onto the table on a paper towel or clean cloth and let sit for 15 minutes with a larger bowl on top. The dough will rise and after the first 15 minutes take the dough and punch the air out by kneading it a few times. Then let sit for a second 15 minutes, repeat the punching and kneading and then repeat this step one more time.
Step 5. Now you can cut the dough into two equal portions and place into two containers or on a cookie sheet with plastic wrap over it. Make sure you leave enough room for give because it will continue to rise a little more over night. Place in fridge. NOTE: if you do not plan on making both pizzas you can freeze it and use it next time you want to make pizza.
*You can modify or omit most of these ingredients however you’d like. I do suggest keeping the three key ingredients, which are garlic, tomato pure and cheese.
2 cups of crushed tomatoes or tomato pure (I use the Contandina brand)
5 cloves of garlic
1 large brick of Mozzarella cheese [I use the Sorrento brand]
1 green pepper
1/2 of a medium-sized eggplant
1/2 of a zucchini
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 jar of artichokes
1/2 of any kind of onion of your choice [Yellow or red onions are the best]
1 large bushel of fresh basil
1 tablespoon of minced spicy giardiniera [just by it regular – the mincing comes later]
Steps for adding the ingredients
*Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
Step 1. Take your dough after it has been brought down to room temperature [easier to manipulate] and put it into the cast iron pan or pan of your choice [I recommend cast iron because it cooks more evenly]. Knead it out so that you have the edges coming up to the sides of the pan. Make sure the bottom is thicker than the crust sides because it is just better that way – you will see.
Step 2. Once you have gotten the dough prepared in the pan take the two cups of sauce and spread it evenly across.
Step 3. Chop the garlic and then sprinkle it all over the tomato.
Step 4. Slice into small pieces the green pepper, zucchini, onion, mushrooms and eggplant and spread over the garlic/tomato layer.
Step 5. Now chop the basil and add that evenly.
Step 6. Mince the giardiniera. Add the giardiniera and the artichoke.
Step 7. Slice the mozzarella and place evenly over the top. It can rest a bit over the crust.
Step 8. If everything looks good go ahead and place the pan into the oven for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. I usually check it at 25 minutes to make sure because depending on how many ingredients I add sometimes it does not take as long. Say you make a basic recipe with just cheese, garlic and sauce, this will only take about 22 minutes or so.
When the time beeps take the pan out with oven mitts and let sit for a few minutes. Cut into triangles and serve the goodness!
I never thought I would say it but I really want jamon serrano! In Spain it is such a tradition and people eat it almost every day [I also ate it every day]. Meat is typically not a regular part of my diet and is why I exhausted the possibility of eating another piece of jamon serrano after my fourth day in Spain.
I came across a very informative website with information about Spanish cuisine. Orce Serrano Ham is a family run business that specializes in selling jamon serrano. On their website they give an extensive list of traditional tapa recipes. If you are vegetarian or quasi veggie like me you can just change the recipe or go to another section that provides a variety of vegetarian recipes. Orce Serrano Hams also has an informative blog called Top Spanish Tapas.
My post-Thanksgiving plans are now to tackle these three recipes: serrano ham stuffed tomatoes, tuna bonito salad and of course my favorite torilla espanola. When not in Spain, the next best thing is being able to find authentic ingredients elsewhere. Cafe Iberico is one of the few authentic spanish tapas restaurants in Chicago and the only Spanish deli in Chicago! Looks like I am going to have to make a special trip there this week!
Netflix now has streaming options for some of the best cartoons from the 80s including She-Ra. It has been over twenty years since I last watched this cartoon. Actually, it is pretty hilarious because I doubt I caught on to half the dialogue in most cartoons as a kid. Or maybe it is because I am older and a cynical twenty-something. Who knows.
Maybe this one will stick, since I spend a lot of time working on Sixty Inches From Center. I thought I should create a personal blog that highlights other things that I am doing, that I like or find interesting.