, , , ,

Dinners with Matthew: Homemade pizza night

Thursday, February 10, 2011 Leave a Comment

This is Matthew.

He's been teaching me to cook for years. Always whole, fresh foods. In the summer, he brings things from his garden. In the winter, he grabs vegetables from the Asian and Hispanic markets in his neighborhood.  He also helps me get my kids involved in cooking - and eating foods I would otherwise never get them to eat.

We always love to do homemade pizzas. Matthew always makes his own pizza dough. (I'm a little lazier, and pick up dough from Spinelli's Market in Park Hill.)

I had to give up gluten a year ago. Pizza was so hard for me to give up, we stopped doing homemade pizza night for a while, but now I'm finding gluten-free alternatives - like Udi's g-free pizza crusts. You can find them in the bakery section at our King Soopers. They're really good!

Pat it, and roll it
My boys love to make pizzas. They put on their aprons, roll out the dough, spread the sauce, smother them in pepperoni and cheese  - eating the ingredients the entire time.

This time, Matthew made his red sauce with a secret ingredient - one that packs a ton of flavor, and a ton a nutrients, like healthy fish oil, that I would never be able to get my kids to eat - or my husband: anchcovies.

He just blends them up in the food processor with the sauce.

He also used them in a white sauce.

People ate them up.

How about you? Do you have a special family meal that gets everyone involved? Any special pizza tips you'd like to share?

Matthew's tips for a great pizza:

  • Make sure your oven is hot!  Pizza loves a hot oven (450-500) for a quick perfect cook.   
  • Use a pizza stone. Pizza loves a stone - which has to stay hot in the oven, so you have to have a pizza peel to transport.  After you roll the dough and want to move it to the peel... fold it in half and easily lift and arrange it on the peel.  Typically corn meal is used on the peel as a "lubricant."  I use Chia seeds!  The are very inert and just plain healthy. 
  • Use olive oil on the crust. Rub a little olive oil on the crust to give it good flavor. 
  • Baking times are usually about 10-12 minutes in a 450 degree oven,
    on the middle rack.  It should be obvious when the pizza is done, by the
    look of the crust (turning light brown) and the look of the cheeze (just
    getting those brown cooked spots on it)

Matthew's recipes:

Red Sauce:
1/2 onion diced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tin of anchovies
1 can of whole or cut tomatoes

Saute onions until translucent in oil on medium high... 5 min, add anchovies and garlic for a minute.

Add can of tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

1/2 TBS Oregano
1 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp chili flakes

Add the spices for 5 minutes (I used fresh so I doubled amounts)

Cool and blend with a kitchen "boat motor" (or blender).
White Sauce:

4 heads garlic
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 tin of anchovies

Slice the top 1/3 (pointy is the top) of 4 garlic heads to reveal each clove.  Spread olive oil over each, put in a small Pirex to fit and put 1/2 inch of water.  Put in the oven at 380 for an hour... give or take.  It should be golden brown on top and very soft in the middle.  Let them cool and squeeze into a bowl.  Yup... you just grab the root end and squeeze the whole bulb.  The super soft center "butter" will just ooze out.

Add oil and anchovies and process.  I use a mortar and pestle... you can use food processor.

I always coat the pizza dough with olive oil to give a consistent lovely coat before the sauce.
And now, for the dough.... 
I use Steve's pizza dough recipe, with secret ingredient, (the beauty of the interwebs) reprinted here:
Here's what I've come up with after about a year of experimenting (and a
large number of bad pizzas!)

Steve's Pizza Dough (with secret ingredient)

3 Cups flour.  
1 1/3 Cups water (warm, for the yeast)
1 package quick-rising yeast.
Salt (approx. 1/2 tsp)
Sugar (approx. 1/2 tsp)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approx 1 1/2 tbsp)
....and the secret ingredient is:
Grated Parmesan Cheese (approx 1/4 C)  

    Now, I'm not one to go with exact measurements unless I have to, so
here's my best (and first) attempt to describe the amounts used in this

    Mix yeast with warm water, in seperate measuring cup, not in the
mixing bowl.  You want to do this first so that the yeast has time to
"get going" before you add it to the rest of the ingredients.  

    Put flour, sugar, salt, cheese, and oil in bowl.  There's no need to
stir yet. 

    Get yourself ready to mix, then add water and yeast to bowl.  As
soon as you add the water you want to try to get it well mixed as
quickly as possible.  Mix until all ingredients are blended.  When
ingredients are mixed, dough should be sticky to the touch, but not to
runny.  I then "cut" the dough at least a dozen times, with my mixing
spoon.  This is (I think) what takes the place of kneading the dough.  

    Let dough rise for 30-45 minutes.  Rember that it needs to be both
warm and moist to rise.  What I usually do is turn the oven on bake for
about 3-4 minutes (any temperature will do) then turn it OFF, open the
door for a few seconds (to let it cool down slightly) then cover the
bowl with a wet towel, and place in the oven, door closed.

    After this first rising period, you should take the dough out,
lightly sprinkle it with flour to keep it from sticking to your hands,
and "punch" the dough down.  This amounts to just pressing it a little
bit all around.  Don't remove from bowl. 

    Let rise (same conditions) for another 20-35 minutes.  Total rising
time  should be between 45 minutes and just over an hour.  It's my
opinion that the longer you let the dough rise, the better taste it will
have, but I've let it rise for only 45 minutes and had it come out just
fine.  This is usually done with a 30/15 minute split between the two
rising periods.

    Now, grease your pizza pan using a small amount of olive oil or oil
spray and put the dough on the pan.  Dust dough with flour again (to
keep it from sticking to your hands -- as needed while rolling) and
spread it onto the pan.  As long as you grease the pan, spreading the
dough should be easy.  It will be pretty thin all around.  (I use a
12x24 (?) rectangular pan -- I think that two 12" rounds will work too,
but have never tried it)

    Baking times are usually about 10-12 minutes in a 450 degree oven,
on the middle rack.  It should be obvious when the pizza is done, by the
look of the crust (turning light brown) and the look of the cheeze (just
getting those brown cooked spots on it)

Suggested toppings:
    Motzerella and pepperoni with pizza sauce.
    Thinly sliced tomatoes, cheddar, onion, with a garlic & olive oil sauce.
    Fresh mushrooms, motzerella, and cooked sausage, pizza sauce.

Pizza secrets:
    What about thick crust pizza?  Well, I'm not really fond of thick
crust pizza, but from my experience, this is what I'd have to say:  Use
this recipe on a smaller pan.  Use more pizza sauce, or a pizza sauce
with more water.  This will cause the top layer of the dough to cook
less than the layer touching the pan.  Cook at a lower temperature, with
the pizza pan on a lower rack of the oven.  All of these things will
make your pizza more dough-ey.  Experiment at your own risk!

    What about even crispier crust?  Use a little bit less water (but
still more than 1 Cup water) in the recipe.  This will give you a drier
dough.  Cook the pizza on a lower rack in the oven.  Experiment at your
own risk!

    When rising the dough, make sure that you use a cloth towel, not a
paper towel.  Paper towels just don't hold enough water to stand up to
the dryness of the oven. 

Gluten and Dairy-Free Options

I used Udi's gluten-free pizza crust. Olive oil on the crust helps keep it moist. Hot oven, shorter cooking time.

For the cheese, we grated some goat's milk cheese called "The Drunken Goat." It's not at all like a feta goat's cheese - it's mild and creamy and melts consistently, and doesn't have the protein casein that cow's milk has.


  • WhipZl said:  

    Every thing I have ever eaten that Matthew has made I love!!! and I can be as picky as a kid! Maybe we can have a Mathew in Loveland night sometime!

  • Anonymous said:  

    Very Jerry Seinfeld's wife, to puree anchovies in the sauce.

  • Mama Freemans' cafe' said:  

    Very good posting. Like my brother mathew I have been makeing homemade pizzas nearly every friday night for 35 years! Not for health reasons but because I had 4 hardy eating kids and I could make it cheaper from scratch than buying Pizza Hut. I use to spread anchovy paste over the crust before sauce then got out of the habit. Thanks for the great idea of hiding it in the sauce. I will do that next time.