Pizza, pizza! Delicious, fun food for your games or binge-watching.

Photo May 13, 7 09 42 PM.jpg

Game night pizza bar!

Here's a clever way to get flavor on a plate fast and simple. If it's a game you're planning for, or a binge-session with Lost in Space, this is fun -- and everyone can play!

And here’s why: My kids eat most everything and by everything I mean most things. That includes All. The. Vegetables. (Well, sort of:  one wouldn’t cross the street for mushrooms and the other won’t do bitter greens.) Among the three of us, our food umbrella is huge. 

Let's get the party started. Right here. 

Let's get the party started. Right here. 

That's what makes it so much fun to see how things get put together onto the blank canvas of pizza dough. 

Everyone wins in these match-ups:

  • Whole wheat crust v. White flour v. Double herb!
  • Shredded mozzarella v. Coglioni! (Yeah, look it up)
  • Veggie v. Meat lovers!
  • Sauce v. No sauce!

It’s like a little edible Rorschach test. 

Getting organized

Personal pan pizza, please. More variety, more fun.

Personal pan pizza, please. More variety, more fun.

The pizza dough is the easiest part. (Although you do have the choice of making a tiny or a big pizza.) 

It's the toppings that require a strategy. So, here are ideas! Print this out and drop in front of your decision-makers -- including yourself. And expect to get hungry as you giggle and puzzle through the possibilities.  And get inspired from the photos!

Vegetables

Roasted in the EuroCAST grill pan or the top of the double-roaster:

  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Summer squash

Split the above or sliced diagonally, drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender. Set aside.

Photo May 13, 5 36 56 PM.jpg
  • Sliced radicchio
  • Arugula
  • Halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Sliced Roma tomatoes
  • Sliced and cleaned bell peppers
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Serrano peppers
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Sliced red onion slivers
  • Fresh, finely-minced garlic
Here's an earthy one. Layer prosciutto. Then add small portobellos. 

Here's an earthy one. Layer prosciutto. Then add small portobellos. 

And the earthy taste continues with mushrooms -- which means one of my offspring will look the other way. It's OK. More for me. 

And the earthy taste continues with mushrooms -- which means one of my offspring will look the other way. It's OK. More for me. 

Proteins

  • Crumbled, fried hot italian sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Anchovies. People, truly, if you don't love these, learn to. They are my favorite. 
  • Prosciutto
  • Fried and crumbled bacon
Photo May 13, 5 36 49 PM.jpg

Herbs

All fresh, all cleaned and ready to tear and snip:

  • Sage
  • Chives
  • Basil (torn!)
  • Flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
  • Oregano
  • Thyme (pull off the tiny leaves by running your closed fist along the stem against the growth - bam, so easy!)

Cheese

Why do cheese and tomatoes go so well together? Acid and fat, baby. The combination is exquisite. 

Why do cheese and tomatoes go so well together? Acid and fat, baby. The combination is exquisite. 

  • Shredded mozarella
  • Coglioni
  • Grated Parmesan
  • St. Agar Blue, or Gorgonzola
  • Whole milk ricotta
Photo May 13, 5 27 46 PM.jpg

Sauce

Here’s a trick I like to use. Because we all like tricks, right, silly rabbit? (Gratuitous reference to a cereal brand I grew up with. Never ate it. Laughed at the commercials.)

  • Excellent quality tomato paste with a good scattering of herbs

Yes, truly, that's it. And I really don’t want any more than that.

You might, on the other hand, want a little more sauce to your sauce. If so, find an excellent quality ready-made pizza sauces. New, fantastic ones come out every month. Check out your grocer's refrigerated section.

Or, save time and trouble. Get a can of tomato paste. Stick your spatula right into it and spread it. That's full disclosure, my people.

Getting it going

Have on hand:

  • Flour to roll out the dough once its rested.
  • Flour for the pizza shovel—-forget this and no amount of shoving will get that pizza onto that pizza stone. Fold it and make a calzone!!!
  • Salt and pepper
  • Aleppo flakes for topping at the end...please!
  • Olive oil to brush the sides and the perimeter of the pizza.
  • Lots of imagination and mouths.

Eat.

Pizza dough

Photo May 13, 5 22 24 PM.jpg

Mark Bittman is awesome. Here is his equally awesome pizza dough

Time

2 to 3 hours mostly unattended, or less in a pinch.

Yield

2 pies, 4 to 6 servings. Or, if you serve salad with your pizza, you can stretch this.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, or more as needed, plus more for kneading
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as necessary
  • Rosemary, optional.

PROCEDURE

  1. Put the 3 cups flour, yeast, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water through the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a slightly sticky ball, about 30 seconds. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and process for 5 to 10 seconds after each addition. If the mixture refuses to come together, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time and process until it does.
  2. Rub a little olive oil or sprinkle a little flour onto your hands and shape the dough into a ball; wrap in plastic. Let rest at room temperature until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. Or, if time is tight, let it rest at least 20 minutes before proceeding. Or refrigerate for several hours, deflating if necessary if it threatens to burst the plastic. (Or divide in half, wrap each ball in plastic, slip into a plastic bag and freeze.) Let it return to room temperature before proceeding.
  3. Reshape the dough into a ball and cut in half, forming 2 balls. (From here on, use olive oil if you're cooking on baking sheets, flour if on a pizza stone.) Put them on a lightly floured surface (a pizza peel is ideal), sprinkle with flour and cover with plastic wrap; or brush then with a bit of oil and place on a lightly oiled sheet. Let rest for about 20 minutes, while you heat the oven to 500 degrees.
  4. Press a dough ball into a 1/2-inch-thick flat round, adding flour or oil to the work surface as necessary. Press or roll the dough until it's as thin as you can make it; let it rest a bit if it becomes too elastic. (Patience is your friend here.) You can do two baking sheets at once, or one after another, as you'll have to if using a peel. If doing the latter, slide the dough from the peel onto the stone.
  5. Sprinkle the pizzas with olive oil (just a little), salt and rosemary. Bake for at least 10 minutes, perhaps rotating once, until the crust is crisp. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Now (and this is Lisa talking), I've got a clever way to do mini-pizzas on your stovetop, but you'll have to wait for my Great Food, Fast video on that. Click on the bold text to head over to YouTube and subscribe to be notified on that day. And a fine day it will be. 

Photo May 13, 7 08 14 PM.jpg

 

 

Paul WardComment