Cheese and Herb Pizza Recipe – My Favorite Pie

When Ryan asked me to collaborate on his pizza website I knew this was a great opportunity to share my trials and tribulations on pizza making. It was also a great opportunity to find that passion I once had in “Finding the Perfect Pie!”  When Ryan began his pizza quest I hopped on his pizza wheel, on the East Coast, and began my journey of tossing the perfect dough. While I haven’t gotten my recipe 100% perfect it’s pretty darn close. Recently, I had been fighting with a soggy-ish crust, which lead me to post a question on his blog.  After answering my question he then asked me to be a co-author. How exciting!

Now that pizza making is second nature to me it’s found it’s way into the weekly rotation of dinners.  It’s become a bit hum drum to say the least. When I first started out I experimented constantly with different toppings and tried recreating pizzas we had in restaurants. One in particular is from a restaurant here in NH, Nonni’s (http://www.nonnisitalianeatery.com).  Their cheese and herb pizza was unique. Sweet and salty, my two favorite combinations.  Once home, I was able to recreate the honey and roasted garlic paste used as the sauce and the rest is history.  I have never actually measured any of these ingredients.  These amounts are not exact.  You made need two heads of roasted garlic to make the sauce depending on how big your pizza is.

Cheese and Herb Pizza a la Aimee

Honey and Tyme Paste-

1 Head Roasted Garlic

1-2 Tbsp Honey

1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme

3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil

Salt to taste

Fresh Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut 1/3 off the top of a head of garlic to expose all the cloves.  Place on a sheet of foil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of olive oil and a bit of salt.  Wrap the foil to around the garlic to create a pouch. Roast for 45 min. Uncover and roast for 15 min more or until the garlic is a deep golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  In a small bowl squeeze out all the garlic.  Add the honey, thyme and olive oil and mix well. All the flavors should be balanced and you should be able to taste them all. Add enough olive oil to make a spreadable paste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

On your dough spread s substantial amount of paste  add your mozz and bake until bubbly and brown.

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Guy’s Crispy Deep-Fried Pizza

Guy Fieri of the Food Network brings us todays video in the form of do-it-yourself fair food: Deep-Fried Pizza! Now I know what you’re thinking, or at least I think I know, and just give it a chance. Check out this three minute video and look at what that final product looks like. It’s actually pretty tasty looking!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Canola oil, for frying (amount determined by vessel used)
  • 1 recipe Perfect Pizza Dough, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 ounces whole pepperoni
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oil to 365 degrees F. A deep-fryer is best, but if using a stove top method, fill a cast iron Dutch oven or heavy chicken fryer with oil about 4 inches deep.

Roll dough out and cut it in half. Stir the oregano and basil into the pizza sauce. Slice the pepperoni. Spread half of the pizza sauce on half of each side, of the dough, add the cheese and pepperoni, distributing evenly. Apply a thin line of the water to the edge of the dough and fold each over onto itself and press to seal.

Check the oil temperature and carefully add the pizza pockets. Cook for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Transfer the pizza to serving plates and garnish with remaining pizza sauce, Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

Perfect Pizza Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)

Combine all the dry ingredients in bowl of food processor or stand mixer. Or if by hand, combine in a medium bowl. Add the warm water to small glass bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Add oil and yeast mixture to dry ingredients and depending on method using, combine until a dough ball forms. For food processor, pulse on dough setting until dough is smooth and elastic. For stand mixer, slow speed until dough is smooth and elastic. For hand method, knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough ball to it, cover tightly with plastic wrap or a well-floured tea towel, and set in a warm place or a 100 degree F oven until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down, and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half for 2 large pizzas or into 4 equal pieces for calzones or small individual pizzas. Roll the dough into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Cooks Note: Can be made ahead and also freezes well.

Yield: 2 large or 4 small pizzas or calzones

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 1 to 2 hours

Ease of preparation: Easy

White Pizza from the New York Times

Winter Squash, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza (from the NY Times)

This flavorful autumnal pie uses winter squash purée as the pizza topping; the purée is spread like a sauce on the crust. You can find puréed winter squash (sometimes labeled as “puréed acorn squash” or “puréed butternut squash”) in the freezer section of most markets — thaw according to the package instructions before using.

  • Yellow cornmeal to dust the pizza stone (or nonstick spray to grease the baking sheet)
  • 1 pound fresh dough (from a pizza shop) or a frozen dough, thawed; or prebaked pizza crust – Or even better, try making your own dough!
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved through the stem, then thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup frozen winter squash purée, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano or pecorino, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts

1. Preheat pizza stone or oven. If using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes; if using a pizza tray or a large baking sheet, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Prepare the crust. If you’re using fresh dough on a pizza stone, dust a pizza peel lightly with cornmeal. Add the dough and form it into a large circle by dimpling it with your fingertips. Pick it up and shape it by slowly turning it by its edge, stretching that edge all the while, until the circle is about 14 inches in diameter. Set it cornmeal side down on the peel.

To use fresh dough on a pizza tray or a large baking sheet, grease the tray or baking sheet lightly with nonstick spray. Lay the dough on the baking sheet and dimple it with your fingertips — then pull and press it until it forms a circle about 14 inches in diameter on the pizza tray or a 12-by-7-inch, somewhat irregular rectangle on the baking sheet. If you’re using a prebaked crust, place it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or on a greased pizza tray or a large baking sheet.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the onion slices, reduce the heat to very low, and cook, stirring often, until soft, golden and very sweet, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, stir the squash purée, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until uniform. Spread this mixture evenly over the prepared crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border at its edge.

5. Top with the caramelized onions, then sprinkle the finely grated cheese and pine nuts over the pie. Slide the pizza from the peel to the very hot stone, or place the pie on its tray or baking sheet with the pie either in the oven or on the section of the grill grate that’s not right over the heat source.

6. Bake or grill with the lid closed until the crust is golden and somewhat firm to the touch, perhaps even a little darkened on its bottom, 16 to 18 minutes. Check fresh dough occasionally to prick any air bubbles that may arise so you’ll have an even crust on the pie. Slip the peel back under the pie to get it off the stone, or set the pie on its tray or baking sheet with its pie on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing. If you want to make sure the crust stays crunchy, consider transferring the pie directly to the wire rack after a minute or so.

A Great Pizza Read – Recipes from a Pro

Recently I’ve purchased Peter Reinhart’s fabulous pizza book, American Pie, and let me tell you: best – pizza – book – ever! The book details Peter’s travels through Italy, New York, California, Chicago and other locations in search of his most favorite pizza in the whole world. The first half of the book is his tales of pizza travel. The second half of the book, however, is a giant pizza resource center wherein Peter tries to re-create all of the various pizzas he had across the world and shares his recipes and findings with you. This would be cool enough for me to pick up a copy, but then you consider that Peter is a professional baker AND recipe product developer and suddenly his collection of dough, sauce and toppings recipes seem like the Lost Arc of the Pizzanant! I guess what I’m trying to say is that Peter’s book was not only a mouthwatering good read, but also has become my #1 go-to guide for new dough and sauce recipes.

I wanted to share with you a recent recipe I made from his book, as well as some photos of the results. This dough was much different to work with than my dough that I usually make, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the flavors and texture (not to mention the great big bubbles that formed out on the crown of the pizza) were well worth the learning curve. I would highly recommend you go spend $15 and pick up this great resource!

Peter Reinhart’s Neo-Neapolitan Dough

The dough to use for making New-Haven-style pizza and/or pizzas in the style of Lombardi’s, Totonno’s, or Grimaldi’s. Makes a “thin, crisp crust with airy pockets in the crown”. Slightly sticky and may be tricky to work with. Requires high-gluten flour.

Makes 4 10 ounce dough balls ( but I like to make 13.3 ounce balls)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. With a big metal spoon, stir together all the ingredients in a 4-quart bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer until combined.
  2. Fit mixer with dough hook; mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until all the flour gathers to form a coarse ball.
  3. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix again on med-low speed for 2 more minutes, or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks just a little to the bottom.
  4. *If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful.
  5. The dough should pass the windowpane test—snip off a piece of dough and gently tugging and turning it, stretching it out until it forms a paper-thin, translucent membrane somewhere near the center; if dough does not form this membrane, it probably needs another minute or two of mixing).
  6. Immediately divided the dough into 4-equal portions; round each piece into a ball and brush or rub each ball with olive oil.
  7. Place each ball inside its own zip-lock freezer bag; let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator overnight or freeze any pieces you will not be using the next day.
  8. The next day, remove the balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll them out to take the chill off.

Results

Thai Peanut Pizza from Ryan (W)

My buddy Ryan was over the other night and introduced this awesome Thai Peanut Pizza. Here is his recipe and a few photos from the evening.

Ingredients:

  • mozzarella cheese
  • Goat Cheese
  • Thai Peanut sauce (I use San-J brand, but you can use any you like, or heck even get adventurous and make your own)
  • Spinach or Arugula
  • Carmelized Red Onions with Balsamic Vinegar
  • Peanuts
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Cilantro

Directions:

  • Carmelize the red onions with olive oil on low heat. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until translucent. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let cook into the onions.
  • Roll out pizza dough and spread a thin layer of the peanut sauce.
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of the mozzarella cheese. You will want to be able to see plenty of the sauce through the cheese.
  • Place the spinach or arugula leaves
  • Sprinkle red bell pepper slices
  • Place the carmelized red onions
  • Sprinkle peanuts
  • Place the cilantro
  • Hand pull pieces of the goat cheese and distribute over the top of the pizza.

Wood-Fired Marinara Sauce Recipe

Here is Chef Gerard again, this time to demonstrate a nice wood-fired marinara recipe. Enjoy!

Breakfast Pizza – Why Not?

This was a tasty little idea from Sandra Lee over at the food network. It’s a great solution if you’ve mixed up a bit more dough than your dinner guests could handle – instead of making a bunch of instantly left-over piza, how about saving that last dough ball and making breakfast pizza?? I like it!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 (8-inch) pizza crusts (recommended: Boboli)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded jack cheese blend (recommended: Colby)
  • 4 fully cooked sausage patties, crumbled (recommended: Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions

Set up grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Oil grate when ready to start cooking.

In a medium pan over medium heat, scramble eggs in butter; set aside.

Lay out pizza crusts and brush each with oil. Top with eggs, cheese, crumbled sausage, Parmesan, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.

Slide onto hot oiled grill and cook, covered, 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and begins to bubble.

Serve hot, cut into wedges.

INDOOR: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare pizza as directed. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and begins to bubble.

The original posting of this recipe can be found here.

Yeast-Free Pizza Dough – Pizza for Restricted Diets

I’ve recently found it necessary to explore yeast-free pizza dough and so I’d like to offer this recipe up as a jumping off point for those celiac disease or are taking Isoniazid. I would suggest using double-acting baking powder as all the chemical leavening may just leave this dough is you let it rest for any amount of time. If you use double-acting baking powder, you’ll get an initial boost of CO2 when the powder is first incorporated into the dough, but you’ll also get a second burst of gas when you apply the heat a couple days later.

  • 2 c. bread flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or your stand mixer. Mix until everything has come together and looks like a rough dough. Then stop, cover the bowl with some plastic, and let sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, start that stand mixer a-mixin again and mix for 5-8 minutes. Then, you guessed it, stop the mixer and re-cover it – let it rest for another 20 minutes. Lastly, place the dough in the fridge and let sit for a day or so – pull it out an hour before baking and let the dough return to room temp. Make a pizza and place it in a 550+ oven for a short amount of time.

The only thing I’m unsure about here is the rest in the fridge. Normally this would give the yeast time to develop flavor and begin to convert the dough into yeast by-product (CO2) but in this case that won’t be happening. My theory is that a day-long rest in the fridge might still be nice for the overall texture of your dough, and if it went into the fridge as a tight, tough ball of dough, the rest should give the gluten network that has formed time to relax and slacken so you can spread/toss your dough more easily. I’ll report on my findings here.

Good luck – and good eats!

-Ryan

I found the proportions for the ingredients listed in this recipe here. Thanks!

The Number One (#1) Secret Ingredient in Pizza Dough – You May Not Like The Answer

For a long time, I was an impatient pizza chef. After all, a recipe that required almost a week to prepare sounded ludicrous! Who could plan their eating habits that far in advance, I wondered? Well my friends, you and I have to become those exact people if we are ever to reach our lofty pizzaiolo goals. Time, after all, is the number one secret ingredient in pizza dough.

There is no one bigger ingredient in a dough recipe that will affect the flavor and depth of your dough. Brand of flour, oil or no, salt or no… all of these options are minuscule compared to the choice you make when you prepare a dough half  an hour before you bake it.

I have found this one rule to be true for almost all home pizza making: If the recipe calls for two hours of rise time in between mixing and baking, place your dough in a covered bowl, place the bowl in the fridge, and leave it there for three to five days. If the recipe calls for twelve hours of rise time, place your dough in a covered bowl, place the bowl in the fridge, and leave it there for three to five days. A long, slow, cold rise time will do wonderful things to your dough. In fact, about a day or so into the rise, pull the dough and and punch it down – then place it back in the fridge of course. This will further develop the flavor and texture (not to mention redistribute the bubbles which have formed in your dough).

So there you have it. I know, it’s kind of a bummer. As you read this article, the spark went off in your head “How about pizza tonight!” But what you need to retrain yourself to think is this, “How about pizza five days from now??”

It’s time to start paying attention to time, the secret ingredient in all pizza dough.

You People Love Your White Pizza – What the Food Network Has to Offer

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few months of writing this blog and it is this: you people LOVE your white pizza! The top ten most searched terms on the blog, as well as search engine hits, all have “white pizza” somewhere in the search string. So what is up? What’s with the white pizza obsession? Are you purists who would rather eat pizza in its original state before tomatoes arrived in Italy? Are you all on some kooky new diet where you can’t eat any fruits or vegetables and instead are only eating carbs and dairy? Or is white pizza America’s hidden secret favorite pizza and I’m only just now arriving at the white pizza party? I’d love to hear what your reasons for loving white pizza are!

Anyhow, I thought since you are SO into white pizza, I’d start creating a few white pizza posts specifically for you. Here are a few of the “celebrity” chefs’ takes on white pizza. Many of these preparations call for “pizza dough” without really giving you any specifics. I’d like to humbly point you to this post which I believe is the best dough recipe I’ve tried so far. Enjoy the recipes, and as always, leave me some comments and let me know what you’d like to see next from In Search of the Perfect Pie.

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe Traditional White Pizza

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe Roasted Garlic White Pizza with Garlic Sauce

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe White Pizzas with Arugula

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe White Pizza with Alfredo Sauce

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe Pizza Bianca