Monday, July 19, 2010

Basic Pizza Dough and Two Pizza Sauces

At left: Pizza Margherita

First of all, I'm back from a very warranted vacation to Portland, and since I've finished with school, I've been cooking and baking up a storm. Life is just simply better when I have time to play in my kitchen, so in addition to the obligatory vacation eats post (coming soon), I'll be posting recipes and pictures from my forays into simple, tasty French bread and homemade ketchup.

That being said, my very favorite thing to do recently is to make pizza dough. I know most people find store-bought crusts most convenient, but there's nothing like making your own. Fresh and full of love, homemade crust is easy to make and isn't inconvenient if you're like me and plan out all your meals ahead of time. Just one hour guarantees enough rising time for your dough to morph into a fantastic thin crust (my favorite kind).

Pizza sauce is another one of those ingredients most people prefer to buy already made, but I like to make large batches myself and freeze in individual containers. It's economical and simple enough to make, and there is no greater time to start stocking up on freezer sauces than when the farmers markets are full of excellent produce.

My first love is tomato-based pizza sauce, although I've been known to blend in a bit of my second love, roasted red pepper pizza sauce. Brimming with fresh herbs from the farmers market, nothing beats a flavorful sauce on a homemade crust. It may sound daunting to do all of this in one day, so I would encourage doing it in steps (roast a head of garlic one day, blend with roasted red peppers the next day, etc.)

Basic Pizza Dough

1/2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup warm water, plus more as needed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Handful of cornmeal

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Place flour and salt in food processor and pulse a couple of times. With processor running, add yeast and water mixture. Add more warm water, a tablespoon at a time, to dough until a ball forms in processor.

2. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead five times. Shape into a ball and place dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil or olive oil cooking spray. Let rise in a warm place for at least one hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once risen, turn dough out onto floured surface and roll out to an 8-inch crust. Place crust on a pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal and brush with olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.

4. Top crust with 2-3 tablespoons of tomato or red pepper pizza sauce, and add other toppings.* Bake in oven until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.

* I prefer Pizza Margherita with fresh mozzarella (rather than the dry, shredded kind) and a sprinkling of chiffonade cut basil once the pizza is removed from the oven. Chicken sausage is also a great addition, particularly if you are using roasted red pepper sauce.

Classic Tomato Herb Pizza Sauce

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce (preferably Muir Glen Organic)
1 15 oz. can tomato paste (again, preferably Muir Glen)
1 tsp. turbinado sugar
4 tbsp. mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, marjoram, oregano
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Saute garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. If using dried herbs, add to onion and garlic.

2. Pour in tomato sauce and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Once heated through, add sugar, turn heat down to low and cover. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

3. Stir in fresh herbs, salt (you might not need salt if you are using non-organic sauce and paste--check the label), and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cool, and pour into serving sized ziplock bags. Label and freeze up to six months.

Roasted Red Pepper Pizza Sauce From Emeril's recipe on Planet Green

6 red bell peppers
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 head Roasted Garlic, recipe follows
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the sides of the bell peppers off and discard the stems and seeds. Cover a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Spread the bell pepper sections onto the baking sheet and brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil. Season both sides with 1 teaspoon of salt. Transfer to the oven and cook until tender and well caramelized, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Puree the bell peppers with the Roasted Garlic, chicken stock and extra virgin olive oil, in batches if necessary. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, oregano, basil and vinegar. Use as a sauce for pizzas or pasta.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with Chicken Sausage and Basil

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