“Now, my dears,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.” – from The Tale of Peter Rabbit
We must apologize for the delay in our publishing of our Pizza Pi. It seems that life has gotten more complicated and busy lately. We were traveling in Ohio with my cousins two weekends ago and then we didn’t make pizza on Sunday. The time has gotten away from us.
This episode of our blog takes us to the garden. I had the conversation with my husband that I really had no inspiration or theme for the post this time. We decide to go with a more traditional pizza and it didn’t seem exotic. What would I do with that? Then he reminded me that we did, indeed, have a theme. Our garden provided the ingredients for the toppings.
I learned to make homemade spaghetti sauce with my best friend, Kristy, about ten years ago. She taught me the ancient art of canning.
Kristy and have been friends since she approached me in high school when she heard me say that I had a horse at the Hancock County Fair in 1986. I used to show horses in in 4-H, and we’ve been best friends ever since. She taught me how to can and shared the spaghetti sauce recipe I have been using since 2001. It’s a fantastic recipe that has consumed my extra garden grown heirloom tomatoes. I use all of the extra tomatoes I have, onion, green pepper and tons of garlic. It has a smidge of olive oil and tomato paste. I usually add whatever extra vegetables I have into it too. I’ve added zucchini and carrots. Mushrooms and the like are a natural fit as well. It’s a good way to slip in more veggies and add bulk. I cook it all down and the purée it in the Blender.
So anyway, back to pizza. We decided to make pepperoni pizza with peppers from the garden. I used homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer (note, freezing sauce takes up a lot less space). We used the old tried and true Walmart brand crust mix, in interest of saving time.
Bacon and pepperoni were the stars of the Pi.
Bacon and pepperoni are almost always in the Hunt household. Unfortunately, for our arteries, we love the stuff.
Dave continued with the toppings. Red onion, mushrooms and several cheeses made a hearty appearance.
The fresh mozzarella and basil is a particular favorite of mine. I grow basil and oregano and various other herbs to flavor my recipes. Dave doesn’t seem to like it as much as I do. Give him the meat!
This same jellyroll pan seems to make an appearance in this blog. We only one one wooden pizza peel.
So in the end, we did have a theme. I was thinking of the garden and ol’ Peter Rabbit niggled away in my memory. We do t have many rabbits in my neighborhood, but somehow I am grateful for the chance to have the little garden I do have and make my own homemade sauce and tomatoes and herbs to cook with.
potato and someone to share it with” -Oprah Winfrey
Summer is quickly winding down for us. School started this last week, and it seems that we are quickly realizing that the warm, summer, lazy days are coming to an end. We have had a busy summer, but one thing that we have not done a lot of is ride the jet ski. David really loves it, I don’t so much, but we haven’t gone much so we went out yesterday.
Unfortunately, it did not go very well as we were leisurely cruising along, we did not realize that the water was shallow. We ran aground and cut our ride short until we can get it fixed. David spent a couple hours digging rocks out of the jet drive, and we decided to head to Alum Creek to drop it back into the water. Unfortunately, it did not solve the issue of no power. We had it in the lake about 5 minutes, then pulled it out and went back home. This drive time, however, gave us an opportunity to flesh out our ideas for the pizza pi this week. David had thought of the idea of a baked potato pizza, and I did some research on Pinterest while riding home.
I found several recipes for potato pizza, but none were quite like we had envisioned. We wanted a sauce (white) and thin potatoes (think more of an a gratin type). So I cobbled together a conglomeration of what we thought would be yummy.
The first step was to make the crust. Truthfully, I had considered the old go to, Walmart crust mix, but decided that I didn’t want to do it. I am so very pleased that I did not! I think I found THE recipe for crust! I modified it slightly. as it needed more flour than it called for, and I added a half a teaspoon of baking powder. I am not sure why it needed so much more flour other than that it was really humid today and that sometimes makes a difference.
I want to talk about making the dough a little more. I have not really spoke of the technique of making a yeast dough. Typically you need to proof your yeast first. Then you can add the rest of the ingredients in. Proofing is basically the soak of dry yeast in warm water to ‘wake it up’. Yeast is what makes bread rise, and makes dough poofy.
This recipe was fairly straight forward:
2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
1 cup of warm water *NOT HOT…it will kill the yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
*mix together and let sit for about 5 minutes. Then add:
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
Once the dry ingredients have been mixed in, you need to knead it. Kneading helps to activate the gluten and makes the bread become more stretchy. You can do this with a stand mixer, like a Kitchen Aide, or by hand. This dough, even with more flour, is very soft and somewhat sticky, so I did it by hand. This also let me feel if I had to add more flour to it.
While the dough was resting, I decided to tackle the rest of the ingredients. I cut up some bacon and fried it. A good tip, use your kitchen shears if you have any, to cut the bacon easily.
Then I diced up green onions, and sliced potatoes with the mandolin.
The potatoes were tossed with a bit of oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder. The crust was then stretched and topped with a white sauce. Aldi brand came to the rescue again. The base of cheese was placed.
It had cheddar, gouda and mozzarella. The pepperoni snuck into the photo, but it was not on the potato pizza. I sprinkled more garlic powder on it rather liberally. Do NOT use garlic salt, it will be too salty.
Next, I layered on the potatoes. It reminded me of making a-gratin potatoes. I slightly over lapped them. Remember that potatoes were sliced very thinly. Bacon, and green onions went on last.
The next pizza was more straightforward. It was pepperoni and veggies. I used the same crust, and then left over tomato sauce from last week. (“Salagadoola mechicka boola Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” – Cinderella ). I loaded up on the pepperoni on one side, and then mushrooms, red onions, green peppers and the left over green onions on the other half.
This pizza was stretched more thin, and in a square. I think that we really need another pizza stone, as we have been making two a week. This poor old jelly roll pan isn’t quite up to snuff.
The pies baked for about a half an hour at 450 degrees. The potato pizza browned up much nicer on the cast iron stone. The other pizza baked at the same time.
As you can see, the potato pizza worked nicely. The potatoes cooked perfectly and the edges of the crust got nice and crisp. The bottom browned up as well.
Once we had taken the potato pizza off the stone, I did top it with dollops of sour cream and some finely diced cilantro. Cilantro is one of those things you love or hate, and both David and I LOVE it. It added a nice earthy touch to the pizza.
Seriously, this pizza stroked all of the right spots for me this week. David was not quite as convinced. Maybe it is because I am trying to diet again, and this was a treat. I really, REALLY liked the potato pizza. It was slightly garlicy and the green onions were almost sweet once they were baked. The other pie was quite good. I LOVED the crust. This is THE CRUST, I think. We will have to make it again, and be sure that holds up to the test. The crust on the stone was crisper. The one on the jelly roll pan, while it looked brown, did not stay as crisp.
So, we made it home from our day of adventuring and the culinary escapade keeps us guessing. We don’t have any real direction as to what is next in the journey, so please feel free to make suggestions! Cheers until next week!
This week has been a BUSY one! I spent time doing things around the house this week in my last week of freedom before school starts again next week (I am an intervention specialist at a local county school) and on Friday night went to an informal class reunion (David’s 35th!)
On Saturday, I spent better than half a day photographing riders at my local equestrian therapy program fun horse show. The Equestrian Therapy Program is a charitable corporation organized to improve the quality of life for the disabled by providing equine-facilitated activities and therapies in Lima and the surrounding eleven-county area of Northwest Ohio. I have been a volunteer there as an able-bodied rider, photographer and jack of all trades for the last three years.
The last part of our Saturday was spent going out to see a local rock show in Toledo, Ohio. Five Horse Johnson is a favorite of ours, and are hometown heroes that we rarely like to miss, even when we have to drive an hour away. (I have added link to a favorite song of mine if you wish to hear it).
Getting home after midnight both nights and up early took it’s toll, and we were pooped. We thought about going jet skiing today, but in the end we just did not have the will to muster the ambition to go. So, we started discussing our pizza pie for the week.
This week, for the sake of simplicity, we decided to try Boboli Crusts. Boboli… say it aloud… its FUN! It reminds me of Cinderella’s fairy god mother!
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo… pizza fast!
But I digress.. we had talked about wanting to use some in the past, and this was a prime opportunity to do it. I got a thin version and an original crust. We also decided to make our own sauce, with canned tomatoes (a take off of a former sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes).
I wanted to try to see if there really was a difference in the flavor of the expansive Italian ones and just regular American ones.
I think that the sauce was pretty good. I did notice one difference was that the cheaper tomatoes seemed to not be as ‘meaty’ and it was a more liquid consistency than the Italian ones. If I were to do it again, I would drain a bit of the liquid off of them first.
We decided to do a white sauce “meatless” pizza along with the traditional pepperoni.
David assembled the pizzas, and on the white pizza, he used a jarred white sauce, baby portabella mushrooms, red onion, New York white cheddar, fresh mozzarella cheese and a bagged, pre shredded cheese that was an Italian blend of mozzarella and Romano cheeses. He also liberally added red onions, garlic, and Asiago cheese.
The other pizza was the homemade tomato sauce, pepperoni, sweet Hungarian peppers, white onion, jalapeño, garlic and the Italian cheeses. There was also a mystery red pepper given to us from their garden. We did not remember what it was, however, it was not a hot pepper.
The pizzas then went into the oven at 450 degrees for their bake.
One mistake we made, as you can see, is that we did not move the shelves in the oven far enough apart. The bottom pizza (pepperoni) got a crisp charred bottom, and the white pizza stayed more underdone. The cheese dripped off, and the whole house smelled like Myles Pizza used to with that burnt, cheese pizza smell. HEAVEN! Both looked great from the top.
The edges were nice and toasty, and it was pretty fast to create the pizzas when the crust was already mostly done. To not fiddle with a dough, flopping it and then the time invested in perhaps a pre bake a crust was nice.
The pizzas were tasty, but not perfect for the reasons mentioned above. The white pizza needed more time to crisp up the crust, and the pepperoni needed less time and not to be positioned so closely to the bottom of the oven. Both had a great flavor, and we did like the Boboli crusts, but they just fell slightly short of the mark. I think that if you were in a hurry, they are more than adequate to do the job.
Easy peasy, and you don’t even need a fairy god mother!
Last weekend David and I went to a tap take over in Michigan. They had over 50 taps from Shorts Brewing, which is a favorite of ours. The establishment also has some pretty killer food. I had a burger, and David ordered a steak lollipop, which was a rolled flank steak with chimichurri sauce. It was pretty great, and he had it on his mind for the last week. He did some research and came up with the idea of a chimichurri pizza. Challenge ON!
In the search, David found this recipe. He had seen several chimichurri options, and went with this one. They all were pretty much the same variation of ingredients.
Combine the ingredients and then add your meat. If you are unaware of what a shallot is, it is a type of small onion. Then we needed beef, we used a round steak. The original recipe that David saw had flank steak. We went that route since it was fairly economical. It had a bath in the marinade for about 3 hours.
After that was done, I did a brief sear on the steak. I didn’t want to really cook it done, as I was afraid it would be over done in the oven after the bake on the pizza.
For the crust, we decided to go the easy route again in our quest for crust. We picked another box mix…. this time, the good ol’ Jiffy box. Yes, THAT Jiffy box. I had not had one in years.
David was in charge of making the crust and execution of the pizza, so he got to work. This box was easy, however, the first bowl of dough was EXTREMELY wet and sticky. I would estimate that we put about 1/4 cup more of flour into it.
He got to work on it after it had a chance to rest, and, per our usual, got to work with the cast iron stone. David flopped the pie, and pre-baked the first crust.
The chimichurri pizza was the sauce, mozzarella cheese, steak strips. Simple, easy….
This one was popped into the oven, and the second was begun. It was almost always prerequisite pepperoni. We used up what was left of the tomato cream sauce from last week, pepperoni, mushroom, onion, fresh oregano, mozzarella and Asiago cheese. David also had jalapeños and olives on his half.
The pizzas were baked 425 degrees, with the steak pie in for about 13 minutes. The pepperoni one was not on a pre-baked crust, and it was in for about 20. The steak pizza was placed directly on the rack in the oven, as you can see above. I will say, the texture of the pre-baked one was just about spot on for the type of cracker pizza crust we like.
We removed the steak pizza and started to dig in. I have to say, for all of my snobbish tendencies, this pizza was A-MAAA-ZING! It was a crisp crust, it and the chimichurri sauce was just right. It is garlicy, and spicy and slightly hot with the dried red pepper flakes in it. In a word, it hit the right spot for this beef loving human.
The second pizza turned out pretty good too, however, the crust was a little different. It was not as crisp and was less dense. This was the second crust made, and it was not as wet and sticky as the first box, so it didn’t have the extra flour added. That may have made the difference. It was still pretty good.
In the end, we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of pie that a Jiffy box mix can create. The addition of good toppings can really add to the blank slate. The idea of a pizza with no traditional sauce, and an adventurous STEAK sauce as a base was a stretch. I can honestly say that David and I agree that it was the best experimental pizza we have made yet. It will stay in the recipe arsenal, and will be trotted out again. We may change up which crust we choose for a base, but the pie itself was stellar. Maybe Mary had it right afterall, isn’t pizza a good time?
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!?” -Mary Poppins
Our latest Pi installment brings us to some familiar places. We have decided that we would invite our in-laws over for dinner and share the SundayPi love, however, due to circumstances we made it on Monday instead.
The quote above comes from the Simpsons, if you did not recognize it. We have been fans for many years, and there are often Simpsons quotes in our everyday life. This one is always a favorite. Lisa is not happy that family wants to host a BBQ. Please feel free to watch here for the inspiration clip!
This latest recipe is another attempt to improve upon that quest of thin crust pizza pie. It also includes MEAT! We have tried several recipes, but haven’t quite hit it right. Dave insists that the Walmart brand mix mentioned several posts back is the best, and honestly, it is quite good. I still search, however, so here is the latest attempt.
This dough recipe did not have anything that was particularly different about it. It had the following:
4 1/2 cups flour.
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs. yeast dissolved in
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/4 olive oil (plus more for pans)
I found the recipe on this site on Pinterest. When reading it, it called for the dough to be made in a fairly straightforward manner, allowed to rise and then rolled thin. I did all of the following. This dough was VERY sticky and I had to add more flour to it in order to make it not so sticky. I cut it into three equalish (thats a word, right?) pieces and set it to rest. Once it had a chance to rise, it was more pliable.
I decided to pre-bake the crusts and the first one, as you can see above, was hand stretched. I won’t say I tossed it, as it would have ripped. I did stretch it as thin as I could, as you see in the holes that formed.
For the toppings we used some leftover breakfast sausage. It was Bob Evans, Maple variety. I really like it. I typically don’t like breakfast sausage, as I am more of a kielbasa or smoked sausage fan. But, at any rate, I did have some left over and I roughly chopped it up and pre cooked it.
This one also had red onion, fresh mozzarella, yellow and red peppers and mushrooms.
At this point, I want to insert that a SHARP GOOD KNIFE is a MUST in my kitchen…
The sauce as a little different from the norm, as I had a bottle of pre-made sauce that sounded like a change.
The other two crusts were rolled out with the rolling-pin to try to get it more even. David topped them.
The one he had made had red onion, jalapeños, feta, extra pepperoni, peppers and grated Asiago cheese. I neglected to get a photo that was good quality before it was put into the oven… sorry. We baked the pizzas at 525 degrees in our oven.
Here is a shot when it came out of the oven. It is sitting on his new pizza flipper I got him for his birthday. I found this GIANT spatula flipper for sale at Aldi grocery and thought it would be PERFECT for removing a pizza from the oven. It worked great! (If you have never been to Aldi, you really should visit one. It is a German grocery that is no frills, but they have great quality things for very reasonable prices. I love to get their ethnic food items there.)
The sausage pizza came out and looked great, other than the sausage was pretty well done. In hind site, I should have maybe put it on raw. David had worked at Dominos pizza as a kid, and that is how they did it there. I topped it with fresh oregano and basil.
The other pizzas did have a thinner crust than the hand formed pizza. The last pizza that David made was double pepperoni, double cheese, feta, onion and jalapeño.
David’s parents arrived and we dug into the pizza. I liked the crust on the first one, but David thought it was still too thick. As mentioned, I overcooked the sausage, so be sure to NOT cook it as long first. The cream sauce was not tomatoey as desired either. Patrick Hunt liked the second pizza, without the double toppings, the best. They also admitted that they typically like a thick crust pizza, but his Mother makes Digiorno Frozen Pizza or they order out from a chain. All in all, it was not bad, but still had lots of room for improvements.
*disclaimer… I do not get ANY compensation at all for any product mentioned in this blog.
Yeah, yeah, this is a pizza blog, but we decided to change it up this week, and went MEXICAN! If we don’t have pizza, or chicken wings, my husband’s other favorite would be Mexican. We went with an easy packaged crust for convenience. The preferred brand was out of stock, so this is what we had to work with. As mentioned, it is convenient. You add water and a bit of oil, and let it sit for five minutes. Voila! Pizza crust.
I did let the mix sit longer than five minutes. I found, too, that the mix is pretty precise. Too much water makes it very sticky and too little is dry. Measuring is important.
I did take the time to pre-bake the crusts for about five minutes. This made them somewhat more sturdy. This particular packaged dough was not very stiff. It was extremely soft and flexible, so the usual flop of dough was impossible.
We decided to be adventurous and went with a taco pizza. We both did look at Pinterest, but in the end, we did not follow a recipe. I cooked up a pound of hamburger and seasoned it.
We also included refried beans, a layer of salsa, onion, queso fresco, beef, sauce and half black olives (I detest them).
Dave also added a bit of cheddar on top.
You can see that the edges of the pizza was already browned nicely. This allowed for the pizza pie to be finished quickly.
The other pizza was pretty straight forward pepperoni.
Even distribution of toppings helps!
The pizzas were both put in the oven. We went with 525 degrees. The taco one stayed on the stone longer. The pepperoni was pretty thin, and went directly on the rack in the oven.
Once removed, we added the traditional taco toppings to the taco pizza.
Notice that there are toothpicks in the pizza. Those were placed there by my hubby so we could tell which side of the pizza had olives and which did not. That’s the kind of guy my David is. He is always pretty thoughtful.
In the end, we decided that the pizzas were not too bad, however, if using a pre-made mix, the other brand is our favorite. The taco one was a hit, and we added the sauces with appropriate amounts of heat for our tastes. I think the taco theme is a keeper!
One thing of note is that the taco pizza would probably not keep and warm up too well due to be layered with the beans and salsa. On the other hand, a piece of pepperoni pizza was consumed cold the next day and was yummy.
I apologize for plagiarizing the title today, but after a week of my hometown flooding, it just seemed to be pertinent. It started to rain early in the week, and the water just did not have any place to go. This spells trouble in Findlay, Ohio.
The whole town was divided in half when Main Street floods. Many people were impacted and flooded out. There were water rescues and multiple streets were closed due to high water. We even made CBS national news.
Being home meant it was time to make PIE! It seems that the globe-trotting has stopped long enough to think about it and make some home-made pizza. (We traveled out-of-state and country to Upper Michigan and Sault Sainte Marie, Canada last week).
Yesterday Dave and I were discussing what we wanted to try to do this week. We thought we would retry a crust that we liked in the past, with a different application. We had used this make ahead NY style crust on our grilled pizza a couple of weeks ago. It did not work there, but we liked the crust and wanted to try it again….so we did!
This crust is terrific in that it is put together quickly and has a nice rise in the fridge. It is different in that it only has a half a teaspoon of yeast, and it is not proofed before being added. The dough is not allowed to rise before being put into the fridge either.
But then overnight, it transforms into this wonderful consistency. If I were a child, I would want to play with it instead of playdoh. It is soft and stretchy and just unctious.
We decided to veer off course of the typical pepperoni and decided to try a meatball pizza and a buffalo chicken style pizza. The buffalo style was started with a white sauce. I made my own homemade. I went with a basic roux (butter and flour cooked together, and milk added slowly to make a sauce) like you would for macaroni and cheese, but I kept it white with just some salt, pepper, rosemary and a handful of blue cheese added.
Then we added red onion, diced chicken breast that was cooked with a wing sauce we picked up in St. Ignace, Michigan this week. Its tangy, slightly spicy and quite good. Apparently the bartender of a restaurant we went to created it.
Then I piled on the chicken, cheese and red onion.
The next pizza had the same crust, but was made with left over meatballs. It had a red sauce and white onion, green pepper and fresh mozzarella and shredded mozzarella cheeses.
Both pizzas were put in a screaming hot oven. I cranked it up as high as I could, which for our oven was 525 degrees. The white pizza was put on the pizza stone cold, and then removed to the rack. The second pizza was then immediately put on the hot stone and baked.
The dough was very nice. I did make an effort to stretch it as thin as I could without a rolling-pin. It still did rise quite a bit.
The verdict was that we liked the pizzas. I liked the white one the best. The crust was still someone flexible and floppy, while being more thick at the ends. We added a bit of the Yooper sauce to it (a Yooper is a term of endearment for a person from Upper Michigan). I think that having it on the cold stone first allowed it to remain more of a floppy NY style versus the crisp pizza.
The meatball one was more crisp.
and another view….
The meatball pizza seemed to be missing a bit of something. I think that perhaps the sauce was not quite right and needed to be more tomato tangy. Both were good, and I liked the dough enough to be sure to keep it. Perhaps I will roll it thinner with a rolling pin next time.
If you were wondering, as I am typing this, the Blanchard River has fallen back below flood stage and all of the roads have reopened. Most of us are getting dried out and there no more flooding forecasted. We even had some sun earlier.