Monday, June 20, 2016

Perfect Pizza

 Finally!  The Perfect Pizza!

Raising 4 kids, 3 of which worked in pizza restaurants (back in the day) brought some great pizzas into our home!  Not to mention the pizza making techniques that were shared through time.  We even started having a "make our own" pizza night on Christmas Eve!  That is when I was informed that I was doing it all wrong!
pizza, vegtables, dough, cheese, sauce 
Throw in the fact that, due to health reasons, low sodium meals are a must at our house.  We keep the salt shaker out for guests and advise that all of the meals are cooked without salt.  That is the easy part.  Reading labels and picking and choosing ingredients that are not salt laden is the hard part.  I have had many years of practice!

The word perfect is just my "for now" word.  If this recipe were truly perfect, then you would make, and can your own pizza sauce from the bounty of your vegetable garden! And you would use homemade Mozzarella cheese!

 But here is how I do it NOW!

For the dough:
4 cups unbleached flour (bread flour works best)
1 3/4 cups warm water (divided)
3 tablespoons olive oil (more to coat the proofing bowl)
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast (in the jar or 1 packet will be fine)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Turn oven on to 175 degrees.
Measure 3/4 cup of warm water (you will add the other cup of warm water later) and add the yeast and the sugar - dissolve, let sit 5 minutes until if foams.  Now turn off the oven. assemble all the other ingredients in a bowl, then add the foamy yeast stuff and stir it all with a spoon.

Now if you decide to just dump everything together and skip dissolving the yeast first, it still will turn out fine - I am telling you the way I learned to get the dough just perfect!

I use a dough hook on a mixer for about 3 or 4 minutes for the kneading, then I take half of the dough and place it in an oiled storage bag, it goes in the fridge for another pizza in about 5 days or so. I place the other half in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball of dough, and place in that preheated but previously turned off oven for no more than 45 minutes. (Do NOT over proof the dough, or you will not know how perfect it could have been!)  You now have enough time to get the rest of the ingredients prepared......

As I said, I do not can my own pizza sauce, and there brands lower sodium then Trader Joe's brand, but they just do not taste that good, so this is what I use.  About 1/3 jar is what you need for one pizza.  It's 350 mg. of sodium per 1/4 cup - this (and the cheese) is where I choose to budget the sodium content.

Thinly slice: 
Red Onion, Green Onion, (or both)
Colored Bell Peppers (your choice)
Black Olives
Fresh Mushrooms

Put the slices on a dinner plate, each ingredient should take up the space of about 1/4 of the plate.  Too much of the toppings can make the pizza soggy, you don't want that!

Grate 1/2 lb. of Mozzarella Cheese - a little more is ok, we are trying to watch the sodium at our house. We tried substituting for a lower sodium cheese, like Swiss, but it tasted like a combination quiche-pizza!  A different animal.  Got to have the Mozzarella!

I find a cheese at Costco that we use as a Parmesan replacement, I use a fine grate to process it and I only add a tiny bit to this pizza.  It is called Lake Country Asiago Cheese and bears the Kirkland Brand.

OK, now on with it - take out the dough and a rolling pin and a floured bread board. 
Preheat your oven - I use "convect roast" at 425 degrees, but you might have to use 450 degrees if you do not have convect options on your oven.

Roll out the dough, place on a pizza stone (important) and heap up the edges of dough a little, spoon on and spread the sauce, sprinkle all but a  handful of Mozzarella Cheese, decorate with your veggie slices, sprinkle remainder of cheese and a light sprinkle of the finely grated Asiago cheese at the end - THEN a light sprinkle (about a teaspoon) of crushed red pepper flakes (optional) before it goes it goes into that hot oven!

25 minutes!
(But check in 15 or 20, you might get a different time depending on the performance of your oven.)

Let me know if you make a perfect pizza!  Enjoy!

footnote:  You can find some truly unique and delicious cooking ideas by following my daughter's blog: McMillen Kitchen.  You are welcome!  ;)

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