I LOVE PIZZA! And I don’t really trust people who don’t like pizza – I mean, what’s not to like? Bread, tomatoes, cheese….mmmmmmm! I know there are people who can’t eat pizza for health reasons and they are exempt from my mistrust – mainly because if they could eat it, they would.
I like pizza shop pizza (particularly JoJo’s Pizza and Al’s of Hampden (they also offer a great selection of craft beers)) and frozen pizza – SOME frozen pizza; but I especially love pizza we make at home. I usually call it “Jeff’s pizza,” but the truth is we collaborate. The dough is all him! Over many years he has finessed a recipe he received from a good friend of ours – I didn’t even ask him if I could share it because I’m fairly certain the answer would be “no.”
The toppings are where the collaboration happens. Typically the ingredients we have in the house dictate the kind of pizza we end up making. We’ve made conventional pizza with just sauce, mozzarella and traditional toppings; and we’ve made many unconventional pizzas – including some ideas we’ve gotten from recipe books and some made from our creative energies, such as:
- Coney Island – chili instead of sauce, cheddar cheese and sliced hot dogs topped after cooking with yellow mustard and chopped onions
- White pizza – sometimes with ricotta and sometimes without it, some creamy and others on the drier side
- Chopped salad topped pizza (without sauce)
- White sauce, asparagus, pancetta and fried egg
- Caramelized onion with all kinds of different cheeses and chopped nuts
Last night we went conventional and unconventional. We made a pepperoni pizza and a caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza. The following is a photographic walk through the process:
Pizza dough just after being punched down. Look at the air bubbles. The dough may look like it’s too wet, but it is actually just right!
Shaping the Pizza. We don’t worry if the pizzas don’t come out perfectly round. They taste great no matter the shape!
Topping the Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza. The toppings included a brush of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the dough, a tiny bit of mozzarella cheese to help the ingredients stick to the pizza, caramelized onions, chopped prosciutto, goat cheese and a tiny bit of mozzarella on the top to hold everything together! Jeff wanted a few pepperoncini rings and I didn’t so we put them on half!
Topping the Pepperoni Pizza. The toppings included Don Pepino Pizza Sauce (a good choice if you don’t have the time to make your own), pepperoni (as you can see Jeff had a serious hankerin’ for pepperoni), mozzarella, and dried oregano.
The Finished Products!
Not all our creations are delicious – sometimes we flop; but we always have fun when we make pizza. It’s a chance to create together and to enjoy our labor of love. One day we’ll have a brick oven for our pizza and will be able to make more than one at a time – that will make it easier when we make pizza for company.
My remaining pizza challenge is to recreate a white pizza my grandmother used to make. It was an incredibly tasty dough topped very simply with olive oil, cracked black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The pizza was not thin crust, but it was not as thick as a Sicilian style. I have my mom on the lookout for the recipe……once I master it, I’ll definitely let you know!
In the meantime, let me know your favorite pizza toppings! I always love to hear what other people like to eat.