We’ve got tomatoes ripening…and plenty of basil. I decided to make a batch of mozzarella, too. And I used some of the tomatoes to make a sauce. And we had some gorgeous eggplant that needed to be picked.
The time was ripe for pizza.
When I told the kids I was going to be making pizza, Alex put in a request. He asked me – very hesitantly – if I could, maybe, possibly, use a different recipe. And then he winced, and then his eyes went wide and he assured me that he LOVES the pizzas I make. But still. He wanted something…more.
I had to ask him some questions to find out exactly what he was looking for, and we came up with this: that I would add seasonings of some yummy kind to the dough, and that I would put cheese in the outer crust. No problem. I started playing with flavors in my head.
Well, pizza night was originally supposed to be on a Friday. And then it was too humid, so we changed that to Saturday. But then Bill wanted to cook that night, so we moved the pizzas to Sunday.
I did a bit of prep work each day, just because each day I thought it was going to turn into pizza night, and so by the time Sunday arrived, everything was ready, pretty much, except the dough. And the dough recipe I use is a quick and easy one that I didn’t need to bother with until an hour or so before baking.
I made quite a bit of pizza dough. Two versions. The first batch was just a double-sized batch of the dough I liked to above. The second batch was the same doubled recipe, with the following additions:
3 t dried basil
2 t dried thyme
2 t garlic powder
2 small ice-cube-sized portions of roasted garlic paste from the freezer (easy to do: roast whole garlic drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in foil, squeeze garlic out of heads, puree, freeze)
a dash or two of ground red pepper
My goodness, that smelled good.
Anyway, when the plain dough was ready to use, I started putting pizzas together.
I didn’t take any process pictures because I needed both hands to make the pizzas, and because I had started the doughs later than planned, and because we had friends coming over for dinner as well, and because I forgot.
But I did remember to take pictures of the finished pizzas. So I’ll show you the pictures and then tell you what’s in/on each pizza. I’m saving Alex’s pizza (as it will henceforth be called) for last.
Thick crust cheese pizza. Just your basic soft, filling, child-friendly pizza here. Enough dough to cover the sheet pan I used, then a few ladlefuls (I thought it was ladlesful but my spell check thing says otherwise) of the sauce I made, and a generous sprinkling of (store bought) shredded mozzarella cheese. I baked that one in a 350 F oven for…half an hour, maybe. I checked it at 20 and kept baking it until the cheese had started to brown and the sauce was bubbling excitedly.
The platter in the back has cut pieces of the thick crust cheese pizza I described above.
Next platter, L to R: (1) red sauce, grilled eggplant, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and feta…(2) olive oil, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella…(3) red sauce, eggplant again, sauteed onion, chèvre.
I think these two were my favorites. On the left: a mixture of 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt and about 2 T cream cheese (all I had left), smeared on the dough and topped with bits of smoked bluefish. (Bill and Alex caught the fish the day before.) And on the right: A white pizza, consisting of roasted garlic puree and olive oil, blended and smeared on the dough, topped with fresh mozzarella, a sliced White Tomasol tomato, and some crumbled feta.
And finally…Alex’s pizza.
Here’s the before:
I used 1/4 of the seasoned dough in a parchment-lined 14” cake pan. I pressed the dough out to the edges of the pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan a bit as I went. Then I sprinkled a ring of shredded (store bought) mozzarella around the perimeter, about half an inch or in from the edge. I used a fair amount of cheese for this – not enough so it would seep out into the pizza, but enough so I definitely had to wrap the outer dough up and over the cheese in order to seal it in. Which I did. Then, in the center (think of it like a pie), I poured some sauce, then a crowded layer of sliced pepperoni, then a sprinkling of more shredded mozzarella, then a less crowded layer of pepperoni, and finally, a little drizzle of olive oil over the outer crust and a bit over the middle. The middle, of course, didn’t need any more oily stuff, but I was in an olive oil drizzling fugue state, and I couldn’t stop myself.
Anyway, into a 375 F oven it went, and it probably baked for about 35-40 minutes. The center was bubbling away, and the cheese was golden brown, so I took the pizza out and let it cool for a bit. Then I loosened the crust and slid a spatula underneath a bit and somehow – so fast, even I didn’t see how it was done – got it out of the pan and onto our thick round cutting board without ruining the look of it.
And oh, did it smell good.
Alex came in the house not long after I took the pizza out, and he was overjoyed at the sight. Really. He gets like that. He got his camera and took about ten pictures – from different angles, zooming in, zooming out – until I finally sent him out of the room so I could slice it. I cut the pizza into 12 wedges. Cheese didn’t ooze out of the crust, but that was okay.
Alex had 3 pieces. Bill had one or two. My friend’s husband had a few as well. Bill might have had a piece later that night, too. He liked it very much. In fact, he told me “You’ve made some damn good pizzas, Jayne. But this is F***ing GOOD pizza.” What higher praise could I ask for than a blissed-uot pizza paparazzi son and a husband reduced to expletives?
There were a few slices of Alex’s Pizza left over the next morning.
Here’s one of them:
And here’s a close-up of the cheese tunnel in the outer crust:
Anyway, that’s the piece I got to sample, and I will agree with Alex and Bill and our friends – this is a pretty gosh-darn yummy pizza.
I’ll be making it again. Soon.
With possible variations.
Oh, the possibilities….