Its the age old Friday night predicament . . . (well actually, it is a somewhat new predicament for me–the age old predicament was “which bar do we go to first,” which somehow, always had a right answer. . . ) what can I cook that is fast and friday-night-fun?
I have, I submit, at least one superb solution for you to keep in your back pocket or your bag of tricks, or wherever it is you may want to keep it: the easy-peasy, do-it-yourself, family fun, homemade (well, mostly) pizza pie. And no, its not DiGiorno.
The main ingredient, my friends, is pizza dough from your favorite pizza shop. Most places will sell their dough–and it is much cheaper than buying the actual pizza. I get mine from Lazaro’s (hello, best pizza in Philly) for three dollars per dough ball.
The rest is simple. Oh, and it would be helpful to have some form of tomato sauce or whole tomatoes for the red part of the pizza and some cheese to go on top. I usually have both on hand, so this meal doesn’t take much planning aforethought.
Preheat your oven at around 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, great–put it in before you heat up the oven. If not, then use a pizza pan. If you are using a pizza pan, you can eliminate the pizza stone step described below.
Throw some flour down on your counter and rub in on your rolling pin. Plop your nice round dough ball on the floured counter and roll it out. (At some point in the process I like to let it hang from and stretch itself out–I feel like it keeps the dough from getting too boing-y) Caroline loved this part.
Then place your lovely round dough onto a pizza board (just a pice of plywood I sanded down) dusted with some cornmeal so that you can transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone in the oven. (If you are working with a pizza pan, just transfer to the pizza pan) Make sure to transfer the dough to the dusted board (or pizza pan) before you put any toppings on–otherwise things will get messy.
Next the tomato sauce. I like to start with tomato paste and then top with sliced tomatoes or tomato sauce. Spread it on with a spoon. Not too much sauce, now–you don’t want a goopy pizza.
Add the cheese. Again, you don’t want to add too much cheese, or your pizza will be sloppy.
Toppings!!! Fresh basil is always nice–and anything else you can think of or happen to have on hand works perfectly.
Transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone in the oven. This takes a little finesse –gently slide or wiggle the pizza onto the pizza stone, being careful not to fling toppings around–they will burn and cause your pizza to stick to the stone. The cornmeal is key here because it keeps the pizza from sticking to the board. I didn’t get a picture of this part because I didn’t have enough hands.
Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and crispy. Transfer the pizza back onto the board. If you were careful with your toppings it should slide right back off the stone.
Now that’s good pizza. And it only took about 20 minutes start to finish, even with helpers.