June 18, 2010

homemade pizza

I have to begin this post with something else (and then will get to the pizza.   My grandmother (we call her Nanny- Hi Nanny!) came to visit a few months ago and when she did  - she planted some things (as always seems to happen) but the things she planted this time were herbs, tomatoes, & bell peppers.
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I must say i’m ADDICTED – mostly to having an endless supply of basil around.  This addiction led to lots of recipes that included basil, tomatoes, & fresh mozzarella.  In the beginning, I didn’t know what to do with the overflow of basil..so I made pesto:
1/4 c walnuts
1/4 c pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 c fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 c olive oil
1 c freshly grated parmesan
Put walnuts, pine nuts, garlic in food processor for 30 seconds.  Add basil, salt, pepper while running slowly.  Pour in olive oil and process until finely pureed.  Add parmesan and puree.                                                                                                
  i can’t remember where this recipe came from but it’s a good one!
I poured the pesto into ice cube trays stuck them in the freezer, pulled them out the next day and dumped my perfect little serving size pestos into a freezer bag.  
So onto my search for more things to do with my herbs…I came across this amazing blog.  Dinner: A Love Story (via Raising Foodies) and i am in love.  This post got me hooked.  And that post led me to the Jim Lahey’s pizza crust post and I by then, I was ready for them to take me home to live with them!  I’ll lay it all out here – the only change I made is using a pizza stone for a crispier crust.
Step 1: Make the dough.
Jim Lahey’s Pizza Crust
3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water
stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough will be stiff, not wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two and shape each into flattened balls. Freeze individually. (i wrapped mine in plastic wrap, then put in a freezer bag – also, make sure you use room temp water and don’t let it rise under fans – thanks sarah ;))
I love this because you can pull it out anytime to use for pizza and it’s all ingredients you have on hand (mostly).
Step 2: Make the pizza (if you don’t have a pizza stone – check out Dinner: A Love Story’s post on how to make using a cookie sheet)
  • Let your pizza dough defrost on the counter (takes a few hours at least) or overnight in the fridge)
  • Put the pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 475.  you need to let the stone heat up with the oven.
  • Prepare your surface: some people suggest a pizza peel but all I have is a kid’s placemat and it works wonderfully!  Sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on the surface
  • Take your ball of defrosted pizza dough and let gravity do the work (this is just how i do it…i tried throwing it in the air but the results were less than positive!) by holding the dough up and letting it “stretch” itself out.
if you get little holes in the dough, just pinch it back together
  • Start with your toppings!  Put a base of spaghetti sauce (or yummy homemade pesto).  Add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese.  Jim & MJ are big meat eaters so I add ground beef to their side / whatever extra white cheeses i have in the fridge to my side ..and I usually add tomato, basil, & fresh mozarella. 
  • Brush the edges of the crust with olive oil
  • Once the oven is preheated – carefully add some cornmeal to your pizza stone
  • Slide your pizza (this can get tricky) onto the stone
for the pictures i was in a hurry and i settled with sharing the cheese side with molly & mills
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes
  • Voila!  The best pizza ever :) 
Don’t forget the dipping sauce: 1 cube of homemade pesto, mixed with 2 T olive oil.  YUM…Jim dips his crust and dip my whole pizza slice :) 
It took me about 10 minutes to throw it all together while taking pics, kids were hungry and tired..so thankfully, mills put herself in the older girls’ time out spot and pretended to cry for the entire 10 minutes…it was funny and helpful at the same time :)
Oh and if you are having company over and want to pretend like you always eat vegetables with your meals – add Barefoot Contessa’s Pesto Pea Salad.  (using your homemade pesto of course).


  1. you must have a green thumb...or either water your plants on a regular basis. my tomoato plant got a disease and i ripped it out and i've only gotten 1 bell pepper. i've killed both cilantro and thyme and my basil is ok, but not flourishing. what's your secret? water? : )

  2. haaa shanna! my secret is to make it really easy to water, right by the back door - so yes - water...and nanny got the girls watering cans so they love to water them too.

  3. Hey! Thanks for sharing this post
    I think this info is going to be very usefull for me, bacause I'm planning to move to a short term apartment and I think pizza will be the best option for almost everynight! So I must learn how to cook a good one, don't you think so?
    thanks angain


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