Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Zio Pizza

Tools of the Trade
2 - cookie sheets, 16” x 10”
Rolling pin
Oven

Crust stuff
1 - package Fleischmann’s activated dry yeast
1 - cup lukewarm water
1 - tsp sugar
1 - tsp salt
1 - tbsp cooking oil
3 - cups flour

Topping stuff
12-16 - oz. mozzarella cheese
6-8 - oz. sharp cheddar cheese
some - grated parmesan cheese
1 - jar (14 oz.) Ragu Pizza Quick (do not use spaghetti sauce — it runs like crazy. If store is out of pizza sauce, buy a spaghetti sauce that conspicuously calls itself “Thick and Hearty” or whatever). Also you can mix in Ragu pizza sauce
1/2 - jar Ragu Pizza Sauce
1 – small or medium spanish onion
1 – small or medium green pepper
4 to 6 oz. - green olives or black olives
4 to 6 oz. - kalamata olives
8 - oz. can of mushrooms (do not use dry mushrooms — they burn)
1 - small jar marinated artichokes
3 - links of hot Italian sausage
4 to 6 - oz. sliced pepperoni
2 - small cloves of fresh garlic or the equivalent in a jar of minced garlic
1 - very red tomato
1/2 jar - Wickles Wicked Pepper Rings
8 to 12 - small bits of roasted garlic (if desired)
some spoonfuls - extra virgin olive oil
Other ingredients to taste (e.g. salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, dried basil to add to sauce).

Make the crust
Pour contents of yeast packet into mixing bowl. Add 1 cup lukewarm water.  Stir and let stand 5 minutes.  Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp cooking oil and stir.  Add 1-1/2 cups of flour and stir until consistent and goopy.  Discard stirring spoon, add 1-1/2 cups more flour, mix with hands.  Knead, knead, knead.  Add more flour if needed.  Cut dough in half.  Grease the cookie sheets with Crisco or butter, spread the dough using rolling pin (or wine bottle if no rolling pin).  Store in a warm, moist place.

Prepare the ingredients
Mince the onion.  Cut the green pepper into quarters, then make thin slices, or diced pieces.  Slice tomato thinly, cut up slices as small as possible. Cut olives in half, store in a bowl. Slice artichokes into smaller pieces. Slice Wickles pepper rings in halves. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil and oregano to the pizza sauce (yum!).  Cut up and separate the artichokes.  Mince the garlic into the smallest pieces possible (or simply have the jar of minced garlic ready).  Take out the hot Italian sausage, break up onto a frying pan, and fry the sausage lightly: do not cook it enough to eat, just until there is no red color left in it: turn sausage over periodically so it cooks evenly: put sausage on a plate covered with paper towels.  Open the cans of mushrooms (N.B. Do not buy fresh mushrooms! They burn on the pizza).  Grate the cheese.

Cooking the pizza
In cookie sheets
By now the crusts should have had at least an hour to rise.  Pre-heat oven to 425° F.  Put crusts in oven for 7-8 minutes (unless you like a very chewy crust).  If the crusts start to turn brown, remove them immediately.

Take crusts out.  Spoon a little olive oil on top of the crust and spread with a spoon until it is even. Distribute a small amount of minced garlic onto the crust. Sprinkle some grated cheese lightly on crust. Spread sauce evenly on both crusts. Install tomato on top of sauce. Install small clumps of roasted garlic. Spread the cheese.  Spread the onions and peppers.  Spread the pepperoni.  Spread the mushrooms and olives.  Spread the artichokes.  Spread the sausage.  Put pans into oven, wait 8 to 15 minutes, until the pizza looks cooked.  If the cheese begins to burn, you’ve waited too long. After 6 minutes check the crust frequently with a spatula.

Eating the pizza
Eat the pizza.

Primavera pizza variation
This is a vegan, sauceless variation. First, make one pan of the crust as above. Shred and slice a bunch of Romaine lettuce into fairly small pieces, and get a bag of arugula (Trader Joe's is the best place for that); there should be enough lettuce to cover one pan, and there should be about twice as much arugula as Romaine. Do not cut the arugula.

Dice an onion and a green pepper. Also slice up a jar of marinated artichokes, and open a 4 oz. can of mushrooms and drain it. Take two or three very red tomatoes and slice them thus: cut them in half; take each half and cut out wedges, about as thin as you can get them while staying together. Slice some olives if you want them.

Heat the oven to 425°F and put the pans in. Watch them carefully; in about 5 to 8 minutes, the crusts will begin to brown. When you see this, set a timer for two minutes, and then take them out.

Spoon some extra virgin olive oil lightly onto the pan. Sprinkle some minced garlic onto the pan. Spread the tomato slices evenly onto the pan, then the onions, peppers, artichokes, olives and mushrooms. Put the pan back into the oven for 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and spread the lettuce evenly. Remember that the Romaine is shredded and that the arugula is whole leaves. If feasible, lightly spray some extra virgin olive oil spray over the surface. Cut and serve.

You may want to try different variations of lettuce in future iterations.

Pizza Stone
If you have a pizza stone (I do, and that's a very recent thing — John Mackey goaded me into getting one, and I'm glad I got it), here is what is different. I get parchment paper and rip out two sheets the size of a pizza pan. I put the paper into a cookie sheet and roll the dough on top of the paper such that it covers the entire sheet and is rectangular. I let the dough rise, on the parchment paper, while I prepare the ingredients. Cut the parchment paper so that it doesn't hang over the sides too much.
The dough still should be heated for 5-8 minutes, on the parchment paper, on the stone, in a 425° oven. I try to take the crust out of the oven just before it would start browning, but it is okay if it has started to brown. Then I spread the ingredients as before, and return the pizza to the oven, on the parchment paper, and onto the stone (this is because the sauce and olive oil tend to bleed through the crust, dramatically blackening on the stone).

I can vouch, from personal experience, that the crust tastes better when it is cooked on a pizza stone. Plus, a pizza peel is a good thing to have to put the pizza in and take it out of the oven.

Made on a pizza stone