Pizza night

“Wanna get some pizza?” is one of my favorite lines from Seinfeld and a line Pat and I say to each other quite frequently because we love pizza. We used to make it every Friday night, but my waist line started to protest so now we only make it every now and then.

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Pizza Pat! Going into the oven 

In my first year of grad school, my friend Nick would often hold a pizza night where he would provide dough and sauce and everyone else would bring toppings. We’d make a ton of pizzas and have a good time. He was the one that introduced me to a pizza stone, which I had never heard of before. It seriously changes your pizza game. I used to bake pizzas on wax paper on a cookie sheet, but the wax paper would often times get stuck to the pizza and the crust was never as crispy as I’d like. With the stone, it’s easy to transfer in and out of the oven and you end up with the perfect crispy crust. They are not crazy expensive either. Mine was a wedding gift, but it costs only $50 from Sur la Table and is something you’ll have for a long time. Plus you can host pizza nights and be the envy of all your friends!

I also used to buy pizza dough from a pizza shop, which is a very good option if you don’t have time to make your own. If you do have time, making your own is very easy and just as tasty. I bought a pound of yeast on Amazon and keep it in my freezer, which is a much cheaper option. Kneading the dough part is my favorite. I find it very calming.

For sauce and toppings, you can do whatever you like! Red sauce, pesto, white sauce, just olive oil. Mushrooms, olives, spinach, peppers, onions – endless possibilities! We had recently gone to a cheese importer warehouse and bought some “fancy” pepperoni and barrel aged feta cheese and wanted to incorporate those ingredients. They did not disappoint!

To transfer into the oven, spreading your dough out on cornmeal is a must. It makes the transfer much easier and you won’t have part of the pizza sticking to the surface while you’re transfering. I have a pizza peel, but before I had one, I just used a large wooden cutting board and a wooden spoon and would ease the pizza onto the stone, nudging with the spoon. You obviously don’t want to get plastic near a 500 degree oven for it might melt.

I hope this inspires you to have a pizza night soon!

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Ready to eat 

Pizza night

Prep time: 1.5-2.5 hours
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8 

For the dough:

4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
14 grams yeast (or 2 packets)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2-3 tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 can tomato sauce (pureed tomatoes)
Squeeze of honey

Toppings:

Black olives, roughly chopped
Red pepper, diced
Real pepperoni, sliced
Barrel aged feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil, shredded
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Add the warm water to a bowl. It should be between 105-110 degrees to activate the yeast. Add the yeast and the honey, stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until the water starts to bubble and it smells fragrant. Put the olive oil in a larger bowl, add the flour and salt to combine. Stir in the yeast-honey water, combine until it forms a soft dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until the dough springs back after making an indent with your finger. Separate the dough in two, form equal sized balls, and place in an olive oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the sauce and prepare the toppings. Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium high and add the onion. Cook for about 7 minutes or until brown. Add the garlic, cooking for 1 more minute. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Add the can of tomato sauce and some honey. Let simmer on low until the dough is ready.

Prepare your toppings by cutting each into bite sized pieces. Obviously, you can use whatever toppings you like!

Have the oven with a pizza stone inside pre-heated to 500 degrees.

When the dough is ready, put some cornmeal onto a pizza peel or a cutting board for transfer into the oven with the olive oil side face up (and the non-olive oiled side down on the cornmeal). Spread out the dough into a circle or whatever shape you can form it into. Add some sauce, probably about 1/4-1/3 cup, leaving a barrier for a crust. Dot with toppings and cover the top with shredded mozzarella. Transfer onto the pizza stone and bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty and starting to brown and the crust is golden. While this pizza is cooking, I make the other pizza and swap them out when the first one is done.

Let it cool slightly, cut into whatever shape you’d like, top with parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper.

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