Saturday, March 17, 2012

LENT - Two Kinds of Homemade Pizza

Pizza is always a favorite in our home. But after a while, the plain old cheese pizza is not something anyone looks forward to eating. Pepperoni also gets to be a little lacking in imagination topping-wise, so I decided to try something new. I made a Margharita pizza with fresh basil from the garden AND a caramelized onion, Shittake mushroom cheese pizza!

The first hurdle was to find a good New Jersey (and at this point I would settle for a New York style) pizza dough recipe. I found a recipe here. It was a pretty good recipe and although it isn't exactly what I had hoped for, it did not disappoint. The website also gives good tips on making a decent pizza. So be sure to check it out.  If you follow their recipe you can get enough for two medium sized pizzas

Margherita Pizza

Marinara sauce (recipe below)
1 large vine ripened tomato (or any good fresh ripe tomato), sliced very thinly
1 small bunch fresh sweet basil, remove stems
4 large sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
Fresh mozzarella, sliced (use as much as you like. I used half a large Costco size loaf for each pizza)

Before going into oven

Straight out of a hot oven

Marinara Sauce:

1 large can of good quality tomato sauce. You can use whole plum tomatoes if you prefer.
Fresh basil and oregano
1 onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced.

Heat a saucepan. Add extra virgin olive oil to coat bottom of saucepan. Add the garlic and brown lightly. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low. Simmer one hour.

Make sure the oven has been pre-heated to 425 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, make sure that you have pre-heated the stone in a 500 degree oven for at least 15 minutes. The longer the better. I heated it for 25 minutes or so.

After you have floured and stretched out the dough (for this pizza I had to use a pizza pan), place in the pan. Add a ladle full or so of the marinara sauce. Add the cheese. Top with the thin slices of tomatoes, the the basil leaves and sprinkle on the julienned slices of sun-dried tomato.

Bake in the hot oven for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown and the cheese has melted.

Caramelized Onions, Shittake Mushrooms and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza
Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Shittake Mushrooms and Fresh Mozzarella

1 large sweet onion (like Ewa Sweet), sliced very thinly
8 oz or so of fresh Shittake mushrooms, sliced thinly (if fresh Shittake mushrooms are not available, try using Portobello, Crimini, or even white mushrooms). Place in a bowl and coat with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Preheat a skillet and add approximately 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add the thinly sliced onions and sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Saute the onions over medium high heat for a couple of minutes or so. Then lower the heat to medium low and continue to cook onions until the brown or caramelize. Remove from pan into a bowl and let cool.

I baked this one on a pizza stone so I will share that version here.

Pre-heat the pizza stone as directed above. Prepare the pizza dough like the instructions for the Margharita Pizza above. If you flour the dough enough there is no to use cornmeal. But I did just in case... This is to keep the pizza from sticking when sliding it from the pizza peel onto the pizza stone.

I don't have a pizza peel so I used a large tile (heavy too! My husband had to help me with this part).

Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza peel. Place the prepared pizza dough on the peel. Distribute the caramelized onions on top of the dough. Then add the layer of sliced Shittake mushroom. Top with the fresh mozzarella cheese.

Slide the pizza on to the stone and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.

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