Use the best cheese you can afford, fresh veggies and anything else you love. Always, always lightly bake the crust for about five minutes in a very hot oven before you top the pizza, that's the secret to getting a homemade crust that you can pick up in your fingers without it wilting. (If you have a brick oven, you can forget that step, but most of us are stuck with the usual electric or gas range.)
Before you sit down eat your pizza, don't forget to thank Saint Anthony, the Abbot, patron saint of Naples, and the original pizza, which originated there! Saint Anthony is pictured at the left, preparing a fire on which make a pizza al fresco. The barnyard animals are encouraging him to make it vegetarian style.
Though I admire his campfire skills, I won't be making an altar to San Antonio any time soon. I will be making my own delicious pizza and eating it while I watch a DVD from the good old Multnomah County Public Library! Dinner and a Movie on the cheap! Monday I begin a whole series of altars to the wise women. Maybe you're becoming wiser when you try this new recipe.
Clarita's Pizza Recipe:
4 cups unbleached flour
(or you can mix 1 cup semolina flour, or half whole wheat - half unbleached, but I suggest that it's best if there's some unbleached for good texture)
3 Tablespoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 large can good quality canned petite diced or crused tomatoes (drain diced tomatoes, not necessary to drain crushed.)
fresh or dry basil
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
Toppings: your call!
- In large bowl measure flour, make a nice little crater in the middle, add yeast and 1/2 cup warm water.
- Let yeast dissolve for a few minutes, then gently mix into dough with salt and olive oil.
- Add 1 cup warm water.
- Stir until well mixed.
- Knead till smooth on floured board. (Kneading involves folding the dough and pushing down on the mouth of the fold. After each knead, turn dough and repeat fold and push-press, until dough is smooth and elastic, about ten minutes of good arm exercise. Scrape the bowl clean with a strong rubber spatula and add all those little crumples to the dough as part of the kneading process.)
- Oil the mixing bowl with olive oil and roll ball of dough in bowl and cover with clean towel. Leave dough in warm but not hot place to rise until doubled. This might take 45 minutes to an hour.
- Flour your hands, punch dough down and remove it from bowl.
- Oil your pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Stretch the dough gently by hand onto large pizza pan, or two, depending on size and thickness preferred. You use more dough per pan for thick pizza, use rolling pin if you like the crust cracker thin.
- Brush the crust with a tiny bit of olive oil in which you have crushed a clove of fresh garlic.
- In very hot oven (450-500 degrees) pre-bake pizza crust for five minutes until lightly golden.
- Drain some lovely petite diced tomatoes and spread thinly on crust, along with fresh or dried basil and lovely grated or thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. If you have the $$ for other stretchy Italian cheeses, such as Provolone, or accent cheeses, such as Romano, Parmesan and Asiago, sprinkle to your heart's content. Save a little to sprinkle lightly over your topping veggies .
- Top with whatever else your little heart desires. I love marinated and broiled eggplant, olives, mushrooms and artichoke hearts.
- Bake for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees until cheese is bubbly and golden. Let cool a bit before slicing: maybe 5-10 minutes. ENJOY.