A Glutton With Brains

"A gourmet is just a glutton with brains." Philip W. Haberman Jr.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


I grew up in a small town in Montana where good pizza was hard to come by. So I had to learn to make my own. When I went off to college I borrowed my parents pizza stone and started practicing with different dough recipes. There are hundreds of recipes out there for dough, many using fancy ingredients like honey and wine. I've tried those recipes and I feel like it's just creating extra work for no real reason except to be fancy. This is a very simple recipe with simple ingredients. The only thing you might not have already is the yeast. I recommend you use a pizza stone but if you don't have one already, a baking sheet will work just fine. The reason I use a pizza stone is that I think it makes for a better, crispier crust.

When I moved to NY many things were left behind, including the pizza stone. It was just too heavy to pack so I had to return it to my parent's kitchen. J loves pizza. He can go on and on for hours about why he loves pizza. He suggested we get a coal oven but I think our landlords, not to mention our renters insurance company, would have a problem with us bringing a coal oven into the apartment. So we bought a pizza stone instead. It has been sitting sadly in it's box for a few weeks now so I decided to finally use it.

I assure you that this pizza will be better than any you order from Pizza Hut, Domino's or whatever mega chain you order from. I like a simple pizza, just sauce, cheese and some basil. Pizza is very easy to personalize though so feel free to add toppings of your choice.

Yeast can be a little tricky and intimidating. One of the best things about this recipe is: It's hard to mess up. The recipe calls for warm water which you will mix with the yeast. I used a meat thermometer but if you don't have one, it's ok. The water should be warm to the touch but not scalding. Think a little warmer than a hot tub but it shouldn't be so warm that you can't stick your finger in the water. You need the water to be warm enough to dissolve the yeast but if it's too hot the yeast will die and your dough will not rise. This is why you have to let your dough sit and rise. As a yeast dough bakes, at a high temperature, all of the cells in the yeast die.

Pizza Dough
from Giada DeLaurentiis

  • 3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 cups (or more) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Pour 3/4 warm water into a small bowl, stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

2. Brush a large bowl (preferably metal or glass) lightly with olive oil.
3. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add yeast mixture and 3 TBS olive oil. Mix until dough forms a sticky ball.

4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, add flour by tablespoonful if too sticky. Continue kneading for about 1 minute.

5. Place dough in oiled bowl. Turn dough once or twice to cover with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft free area until doubled in volume. You should be able to poke the dough with two fingers and the holes should not fill back up, this means the yeast has risen completely.

6. Punch dough down and roll into a ball.

You can either proceed with making pizza or you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. You can also wrap and freeze the dough.

Pizza a la Jessie

1 pizza dough

Small ball of fresh mozzarella (about 8 oz) cut up into chunks.

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1/4-1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Fresh Basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 450. If using a pizza stone place the stone in the oven while preheating.

2. Roll out pizza dough. You can use your hands to stretch it out or use a rolling pin.

3. Fold the rolled out dough over your forearm and place onto the pizza stone. Bake for about 10 minutes.

4. Remove the pizza dough. Use a spatula to pull it onto a rimless baking sheet or an upside down baking sheet.

5. Top with mozzarella chunks first

6. Using a spoon, fill in empty space with sauce. Top with grated pecorino or parmesan.

7. Use the baking sheet to slide it back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes depending how dark you like your crust.

8. Top with basil leaves and serve.

P.S. Commenting should now work. When you click on comments you can use the drop down menu to use an existing account or your name to leave your comment. I'm still working on the follow button, still not sure why that's not working. Thank you for reading!

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