Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Abby's Makin Pizza

In my previous blog, I shared our family's sacred Chicken wing recipe. It is one that my dad lovingly crafted over 20 years and graciously placed in my hands. He was trusting me to carry on his legacy of phenomenal wings. Likewise, my friend Joe, master pizza maker, has crafted his own pizza recipe and has placed this recipe in the palm of my hands allowing me to share the magic of his favorite pizza we call, The Pizza of the Gods.

How could we go through Superbowl or really anything in life without pizza! It is the perfect food and a lot healthier than you think! Let's see; there's fresh baked bread, tomato sauce, and fresh vegetables. Okay, so there is a little cheese, but really the cheese adds to our calcium intake. Joe happens to live right down the street and is really concerned about me ruining his reputation on the internet, never the less he agreed to let me publish his recipe.

Just last week, we were cross country skiing and I was telling him about an old friend of mine who was my "if we aren't married by thirty-whatever" we would marry each other. Well, that dude is married with a kid, so basically I am screwed. I was dismayed and asking Joe for his advice. Did Joe have any? Not really. He actually suggested that I set up something with my current boyfriend. Like say to my new man, "Hey honey, if we don't marry someone better in the next few years, why don't we make it happen with us?" Really romantic right? And the perfect way to get a relationship headed in the right direction. Maybe this is why Joe is single. Hard to say.

When we get back to the house and start making pizza, I start pumping him for information about his former relationships. Did he give flowers? Say I love you? You know the typical stuff. I won't reveal his answers, but these are the kinds of conversations you can get into  when you are cooking with someone. You share, open up, and tell things that you might not if your mind wasn't busy concentrating on other things. Cooking with someone is an intimate experience. It is one of those raw moments where you are wearing a ridiculous apron and your hands are busy slicing, mixing, and dicing. When someone asks you something personal, your guard is let down and you speak the truth. I have gotten to share the kitchen with so many of my friends and relatives and I have always come away feeling closer to them somehow. The kitchen is a great place to get to know someone, hear about a loved ones worries, or just catch up.

I have learned a lot about relationships that were meant to last and ones that weren't from cooking side by side. If you can cook beside someone you can do almost anything. Not to mention if you can laugh over burned souffle, or apple pie where you forgot to add cinnamon (go ahead and ask me about this one - it's a funny story); it's a pretty good sign.

I encourage you to get into the kitchen and start talking. If you don't know what to ask, start sharing a story of your own. Maybe a funny story about cooking with someone else, or a disaster that lead to an emergency call to the pizza delivery guy. Grab your kids, grandparents, friends, strangers, and loved ones and cook these fabulous pizzas. Not only will you get to eat them once it's over, you will have built a stronger relationship. I know you will feel closer together after this experience of creating!

If you find toppings that you really love, feel free to share with us and comment so we can all share new and creative ideas!

Makin' Dough

1 cup hot water
1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups flour

Combine hot water and yeast and stir. The yeast should bubble slightly. Add sugar, salt, olive oil, and flour. Caot your hands with olive oil and kneed all ingredients together until well incorporated. The dough shouldn't stick to your hands. Continue kneeding the dough for 5 minutes. Put an additional tsp. of olive oil in the bottom of the bowl and roll the ball of dough in the olive oil coating it completely. Cover the dough and let rise for one hour.

This will make 1 medium crust, or two small thin crusts. We prefer to make this into two thin crusts.

Once it has risen for an hour, make into 2 equal sized balls and roll out flat. The shape doesn't have to be perfect and actually the least perfect the more rustic and real the experience feels! Place the rolled dough on a cookie sheet and now you are ready to top with the sauce. The recipe is below!

Gettin' Saucey

1 can stewed Italian style tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all of the ingredients listed above in a small sauce pan for 5-7 minutes or until hot and bubbly!

Once the dough and sauce are ready you are now ready to create the pizza of your dreams. The world is your pizzeria! The varieties are limited only by your own imagination. You can do anything with the toppings that you want. I have listed a few  below that are our personal favorites!

Sappy Southern Italian Pizza

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes; diced
1 can artichoke hearts; diced (14.5 oz.)
1/2 cup green olives; diced
1 cup mozzarella cheese; shredded

Add the ingredients listed above, placing the cheese down first, to the rolled out pizza dough that has been covered in the Smyers' Sassy Sauce! Layer the sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, and green olives on top of the sauce and cheese.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. The pizza will come out bubbly and perfect!

Pizza of the God's (or so Joe claims)

1/2 orange pepper; diced
1/2 cup green olives; diced
pepperoni (as much as you want!)
1 cup mozzarella cheese; shredded

Lay the pizza dough down on a cookie sheet, spread Smyers' sauce over the top, add the cheese, then sprinkle the rest of the ingredients listed above on top!

Bake in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes and you will have perfection!

Big Daddy's Pizza

1 lb. italian sausage
3 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 cup black olives; diced
1 bunch fresh basil; chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese; shredded

Brown the italian sausage and garlic in a medium skillet until the sausage is cooked through; should be 4-7 minutes. Repeat the same process as I have described above and on top of the crust, sauce, and cheese add the browned italian sausage, black olives, and basil.

Bake in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and devouring!

Mental Health Tip: Pizza is one of those magical things that almost everyone loves and you can put anything you want on top. You can make it mexican with jalapenos, corn, and avocados. You can also add a carribean theme and make it with diced chicken, cilantro, and pineapple. When you tranform your kitchen into a pizzeria everyone wants to get involved. It is a great way to get kids, husbands, and wives all in the kitchen together! Just don't forget the aprons. This can get messy folks, but nothing worthwhile isn't messy!

Peace and Love from our pizzeria to yours!

~"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

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