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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cheese Pizzas

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've picked up on the fact that we eat meatless at least twice a week. One of the things we never do, though, is schedule pizza for those meatless days. It's not that none of us enjoy cheese or vegetarian pizzas, it's just that we tend to like them along with pizzas with meat or as one of the choices among several which include meat pizzas. I think it would depress Rich tremendously to face not being able to have meat on a pizza, though he doesn't always eat them with meat.

Also, we tend to either order pizza from a rather pricy place (very rarely) or make it here, usually grilled. We do not try to make pizza "cheaper," in the sense that we cut huge corners. It does cost us less to make it at home because we take advantage of places like Grocery Outlet and Cash and Carry, neither of which require a paid membership. These are both stores that are only found in the Western US (and evidently part of Mexico), but there may be similar places elsewhere. However, if we want good cheese, high quality pepperoni, good olives, artichoke hearts, etc, we get them, we are able to get them for less because of shopping at these places. We don't skimp on quality, and we aren't stingy on quantities.

Making your own dough and sauce does bring the cost down, and even buying high quality ingredients, it is less expensive the going out to a high end pizzeria or wood fired pizza restaurant. It is more expensive than the frozen pizzas, but really, who wants to eat what goes into those? Every time we buy one, we end up disappointed.

Some of our favorite pizza combinations are herbed tomato sauce, sliced fresh garlic or whole roasted cloves of garlic, mozzarella and parmesan, pepperoni, black olives and fresh tomato, or sauce, garlic, cheese, fresh basil, feta or chevre, kalamata olives, roasted peppers and marinated artichoke hearts. The children and I like something which Rich finds repugnant, sauce, cheese, pepperoni, black olives and pineapple. Rich and I sprinkle red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan on just about all pizzas (even the pineapple one, which perplexes him even more).

We have been grilling pizzas for the last four years and have really enjoyed it. I'll have to get Rich to remind me of the exact technique he uses on the grill, because I am the dough, sauce and prep lady, while he grills them for us. I use a dough recipe from Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine that I've tweaked a little bit. If we feel like it, we add some minced garlic, oregano and thyme to the bread dough. Mostly we don't, though. I make a quickie sauce from canned diced tomatoes, garlic, oregano, thyme and basil.

The sauce I make by using my hand blender and just whirring together the tomatoes, garlic and herbs. The dough recipe is as follows, we double it for our family:

1/4 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup semolina flour
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (we use SAF, that we buy in a pound block at Cash and Carry)

Put ingredients in proper order for your bread machine and process on dough cycle. Conversely, mix by hand or in a stand mixer and let rise about an hour, or until doubled. Roll out and use as you would any other pizza dough.

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mmmm, homemade pizza.

My favorite variation is to use pesto as the sauce instead of something tomato based. Oh-so-good.

Your post made me hungry, btw. :)
I think that I am on Rich's side as to the cheese, pepperoni, olives, and pineapple. The mix of pepperoni and pineapple just sounds odd to me. But not ever having eaten it I will reserve my final judgment.
We used to do pizzas more often, but with all our changes in the past year we've stopped making them. I made pizzas for dinner on Saturday night, and it was a lot of fun. I'm intrigued by the idea of grilling them though, I hope you'll have a chance at some point to post some more details... although I'm sure that won't be anytime too soon!

I hope everything goes well with the baby's birth and that you are able to recover quickly!
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