I love pizza. Who doesn’t? I suppose there are some who don’t but I could eat it (almost) every day. There are so many different varieties each seemingly made to fit my different moods. For example when I have had a particularly demanding day, usually at work and am getting home later then expected, I love to get pizza from a local joint we have called Brunos. The crust of this particular pizza is super crisp on the bottom. It has a wonderful crunch with each bite, yet it also is soft and pillowy in the center. The sauce is applied very thin and the cheese is added just after they take it out of the oven. This makes the pizza in my mind a distinctive and delicious combination of crusty, soft, melty, cheesy, and pillowy. I always order it with extra cheese.
We also love to make pizza. This started with my Dad. He is an excellent cook/chef. During my teenage years he did a lot of volunteer work in kitchens cooking for large groups of people. He along with our mom included me and my three siblings in this. We were happy to be included and learned a lot from being with them. I think that is where he started making pizza. He would make 10-15 large pans of pizza at one time. Dad would let and encourage us to help. After he had made the dough we would help spread it out onto the large pans and then use our creative genius when applying the toppings. Everyone there was always so happy and appreciative when we served it up. They also LOVED it. It gave me a sense of pride. At that time he had a giant recipe for the dough. They still have the recipe written on a 3 x 5 index card. On the top is the title Fowler’s Pizza Dough written in pencil. I do not remember who this Fowler is, but my family still uses this recipe when they make pizza at home. It is a real treat when we go over to my parents for pizza night. As each of us grew up my Dad would make pizza and we would invite all our friends over for these nights. I have good memories of these times. Nowadays it is usually my younger brother’s friends that come over as he is the only one still at home, but since I still live nearby I am always included.
This tradition of pizza night has flowed over into my own household. Sometimes it is just Eric and I. But we love the small scale of these nights as well and have been getting more creative with our pizzas, giving them our own pizazz. (More on that later including grilled pizza). I usually use a bread maker for such nights. If you don’t have one and have been considering a purchase then I recommend one with a dough setting. In about an hour and a half you have dough ready for whatever you want to make, including pizza. Of course making the dough by hand is also immensely satisfying. The mixing by hand, kneading, and punching down is wonderfully cathartic. I also suggest going beyond the normal everyday assortment of toppings. Try pesto instead of sauce, aged goat cheese instead of or in addition to mozzarella, and use a variety of vegetables. One of my favorite combinations so far has been pesto, mozzarella, artichokes, red onions, scallions, and feta cheese. We just made it again last friday. It is not only satisfying to the palate but a beautiful composition as well. I hope I have given you your own inspiration! Buon appetito!