Pizza is my favorite food. Ok, well, cake is my favorite food, but when I’m asked that question about what food I would chose to eat for the rest of my life if I could only pick one, I always pick pizza. I just never get sick of it. So, when our friends, Mike and Erin, suggested making homemade pizza for lunch this afternoon, I was all about it.
Let me start off by saying that Mike is an amazing cook. He graduated from culinary school and cooked in an upscale restaurant for many years, so he knows a thing or two about really good food. (FYI: He made the delectable cinnamon rolls at our brunch last weekend.)
Typically, when I make pizza, I use a Boboli crust and just slap on some jarred marinara sauce, shredded cheese, and toppings. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this way of making pizza (I love Boboli crusts), but Mike showed us a few easy tricks to make our homemade pizza A LOT better. Here are some of his secrets:
Secret #1: Start with fresh toppings.
When Mal and I arrived at Mike and Erin’s house, we hung out in the kitchen while Mike prepared the toppings. He had already cooked the Italian sausage and chicken breast before we arrived, so it only took him a little while to cut up the veggies (green bell pepper, onions & spinach) and sautÃ©ed them, so they were nice and fresh when we went to top the pizzas.
Sliced mozzarella was the perfect cheese for a homemade pizza. You don’t need a lot of it, so it’s cost-effective and figured-friendly. Usually, I dump almost an entire bag of shredded cheese onto a pizza.
Secret #2: Make your own dough.
I still can’t get over the awesomeness of the dough we used to make the pizzas today. It was amazing””so light, so soft. The recipe that Mike used was from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I’m seriously considering buying this cookbook for myself.
Once the toppings were finished cooking, we formed the dough into pizza crusts.
Mal used the fancy ”˜toss into the air’ method.
I stuck to the basics.
Secret #3: Drizzle extra virgin olive oil onto the dough and spread it around with your fingers.
How did I not think of this!?! It’s so simple! And it adds so much to the pizza. It gives it a wonderful flavor and helps make the crust crispy.
Secret #4: Go simple with the sauce.
After taking my first bite of pizza, I was convinced that Mike made a special homemade sauce from scratch, but it turns out it was just canned Pastene Ground Peeled Tomatoes. My gosh, it was so delicious! It’s the best pizza sauce! Who knew?
Before we added the toppings, we seasoned the crust with salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.
Then, we all took turns selecting toppings for each of the pizzas.
Secret #5: Use a baking (pizza) stone to cook the pizza.
Ok, so, I’ve always wanted a pizza stone, but I never really thought they were worth the money. I mean, it’s not like Mal and I eat pizza every day, but using a baking stone today made such a difference. The crust turned out perfectly: crispy and well-baked, just like you’d see in a restaurant. (I’m probably going to purchase one online tonight!)
Mike taught Mal how to properly put a pizza onto a baking stone in the oven.
Mal was nervous about messing up.
But, he did it like a pro.
**Edited to add: Elizabeth reminded me of something very important that I forgot to mention: corn meal! Mike dusted the pizza peel (the wooden board) with corn meal to prevent the pizza from sticking to it. If he hadn’t, the dough would have stuck like crazy!
Then, it was time to eat.
And, boy, did I eat!
Then, came the food coma. I felt like these guys:
What a way to spend an afternoon: good friends, good times, and good pizza! Thanks for the lesson, Mike!
Off to hang out with M & m. Enjoy the evening, guys!