Cooking Off the Books: Best Homemade Pizza Crust and Sauce

So the original plan was that Cindy and I would re-blog cooking each other’s favourites from the blog over the past year, even making a twist on those favourites.  Alas, I have not really done that.  I cooked a few of her favourites (and mine), but did not document with pics aside from one day, when Cindy came over and helped me make her favourite biscuits (ps, these are even more delish when you add bacon).

Part of that is due to new homeowner exhaustion.  I forget to take pics until I plate and then it’s like…”oh yeah…pictures. Welp.”

Part of this is due to the fact that I have had a lot of dinner guests at my new house and so, I have opted to go for a tried and true meal that I know always satisfies vs something new…I mean, it’s kinda the same thing, right?

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Individual pizzas on the Egg for a fun dinner with friends!

My pizza crust and sauce recipe are simple and don’t require anything fancy and that is probably why they are so good.  The toppings can be as fancy or as simple as you like.  I do have some tips to make you pizza extra delish:

  1. Make sure your oven/grill is piping hot – like 500-525 F!  Your pizza will cook in about 10 minutes if it’s fresh…15 minutes if you are cooking a frozen pizza (give or take based on your oven of course and add more time if you like your pizza extra well done).
  2. Put some cornmeal or semolina flour down on your pan or pizza peel before you put on your toppings.  Not only does it add a nice crunch/mouth feel to you pizza, but it keeps the pizza from sticking to the peel/pizza pan/pizza stone.
  3. Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the top of your crust before you put on any sauce or toppings – it helps ensure you get a lovely, golden brown crust.
  4. If you are grilling your pizza, don’t put on too many toppings – the weight will make it harder to get the pizza off the peel.
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    base level of cheese…proper toppings next!

  5. Consider adding toppings in the following way: sauce, 2/3 of  the amount of cheese you plan to use (acts as a nice sticky, melty base) your toppings like pepperoni, veggies, etc, and then the 1/3  of the cheese…just to seal it all up.  Putting that last little bit of cheese on top still allows for the toppings to cook, vs burying them in all the cheese or having them fall off by putting them on top of the cheese.
  6. If you are freezing your pizza, do it on a pizza pan to start, this ensures it freezes flat and your toppings don’t fall off. Also, it tightly in a few layers of cling wrap when it is finally frozen solid.
  7. This is a bonus tip – if you don’t have instant yeast, use regular yeast, but make sure you proof it first….a smidge of sugar and some warm water…let it sit and get all foamy and you will be good to go.  And if you eff that up, and put in non instant yeast without activating, you can still save it – just put in in a warm spot (i use an oven I have turned on for about 3-5 minutes)…and you will see your dough start to rise.

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Seeing this makes me hungry!

Without further ado, here are my recipes….the dough is from the New York Times.  The sauce is from a Kneading and Knives favourite The Kitchn.

Lisa’s Favourite Pizza Dough
Yield: Enough dough for 1 large, 2 medium, or more smaller pizzas (ps i love doing the small personal sized pizzas when friends come over!).

Ingredients: 
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast, such as SAF-Instant Yeast.
2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil.

  1. If using a food processor, combine flour, yeast and salt in work bowl. Turn machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube. Process 30 seconds, adding up to 1/4 cup more water, a little at a time, until mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. (In unlikely event mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.) To make dough by hand, combine half the flour with the yeast and salt in a bowl and stir to blend. Add 1 cup water and the olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour bit at a time; when mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little remaining flour as possible, just enough to keep dough from being sticky mess. Knead 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut rising time if you are in a hurry, or you can let dough rise more slowly in refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.) Dough can then be used immediately or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for a month. Defrost in covered bowl in refrigerator or at room temperature.
  3. Form risen dough into a ball and divide into two or more pieces; roll each into a ball. Place each on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Oil one or more baking sheets, then press each dough ball into a flat round directly on sheet. Pat out dough as thin as you like, using oiled hands if necessary.
  5. Lift up your crust and throw down some of that semolina/cornmeal. Proceed with any toppings you like.  Pop it into a pre-heated 500 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Lisa’s Favourite Pizza Sauce

Yield:  about 4 cups
Ingredients: 
1 32-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
6 to 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
Salt
Fresh-cracked pepper
Olive oil
Equipment:

Blender or food processor
Muffin tin, if freezing
Freezer bag or container, if freezing

Instructions

  1. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, some black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Use both the tomatoes and their juices, or drain the tomatoes for a slightly thicker and more concentrated sauce.
  2. Puree the sauce: Blend the ingredients until they’re completely pureed. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Give the sauce a taste: Taste your sauce, and add more salt, fresh-cracked pepper, or olive oil to taste. Blend a few more seconds to combine.
  4. Use the pizza sauce: This sauce is ready to be used as is — no cooking required. Just spoon it onto a round of pizza dough and use the back of the spoon to smooth it out. This amount of sauce makes enough for eight medium pizzas, depending on how much sauce you like on your pizza.
  5. Refrigerate unused sauce for up to a week.
  6. Freeze any extra pizza sauce for up to 3 months: Spoon any unused sauce into muffin tins. Freeze until solid, then pop the frozen cubes out of the mold and transfer to a freezer container. Thaw overnight before using on pizza, or microwave the cubes in 30-second bursts until they melt into a sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

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