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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pizza Cooking Show

We filmed another episode of the cooking show last week.


My friend,  Jay, cooked with me.

I had all sorts of toppings & cheeses ready, and we prepared fresh pesto and a simple red sauce.

For the simple red sauce: 

Sauté 1 small chopped onion and 2 cloves of crushed garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until soft and just beginning to caramelize.  

Add one 14-oz can of tomato sauce (your choice, I prefer a thin, runny sauce--which thickens up as the sauce simmers--but if you like a thick or chunky pizza sauce use canned diced tomatoes or tomato puree).  

When the sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken while you prepare your pizza dough.

We made two types of pizza dough.  

A quick dough which requires no yeast (and thus no rise time).  Mix it, knead it, bake it.  

Jay declared it "a game changer."

Here's the pizza he made with the quick dough.  He called it a "Grilled Cheese and Tomato" pizza, very simply topped with shredded mozzarella and diced plum tomatoes.

The rest of our pizzas were made with my favorite homemade pizza dough.

I put together a Chicken/Pesto pizza with mushrooms.  I spread some pesto on the crust, then added some chicken.  I covered it all with shredded fontina and a little bit of Parmesan.  And mushrooms.

My favorite corner, with the mushrooms.

Jay created a Meatlover's Pizza, topped with pepperoni and sliced meatballs.

I decided to go half and half with this pizza:  pepperoni and shredded mozzarella on one half, and sliced fresh mozzarella on the other half.

Jay also made a "little bit of everything" pizza which I neglected to get a close-up picture of.  I think it had chicken and chopped tomatoes on one half and meatballs and fresh mozzarella on the other half.  And shredded mozzarella, fontina and Parmesan sprinkled on top.

You can click on the highlighted links above for the pesto and quick crust recipes, and here is the recipe for my favorite pizza dough:

Pizza Dough (makes enough dough for 2 pizzas)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons fast-rising instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 degrees Fahrenheit) water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for coating the bowl)

Gather your ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Place the bread flour in the bowl of your mixer (you may use all-purpose flour if you don't have bread flour; however, I prefer bread flour because its higher gluten content gives you a crunchier, chewier crust).  Add the sugar...


and salt.  Mix to combine.

When the dry ingredients are combined, drizzle in the olive oil while the mixer is running (on a low speed, so that the flour doesn't start flying).

Pour in the warm water, and once it is incorporated slowly increase the speed.

The dough will begin to form a ball.  

I used a dough hook with my mixer this time, but I have also made this dough with the paddle attachment and it combines just fine.

The dough is ready to remove when it forms a solid ball.  

I always start out with 3 1/2 cups of flour, and most of the time it's the perfect amount.  Sometimes, however, depending upon the temperature or humidity in the air, the dough does not come together as it should.  

If it's too sticky, add flour; if it's too dry, add water.  If you do need to add more flour or water, add about a tablespoon at a time until the dough reaches the right consistency.

Remove the dough from your mixer onto a floured surface.  

Knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth.

Brush the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough into the bowl.

Flip the dough so that all surfaces are covered with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep it in a warm area until it is doubled in size.

Average time to double in size is about an hour, but during the winter I always make the dough 2 hours in advance because it doesn't rise as quickly.

And here's a picture of dough that I made on a 90-degree day in the middle of the summer.  I think it only took about 1/2 hour before it was overflowing the bowl!

Once the dough rises, punch it down. Remove it from the bowl and divide it into two pieces.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes, then spread (or roll) it into your pizza pan.  I usually sprinkle a bit of ground corn meal into the bottom of my pizza pan, not only to prevent the pizza from sticking but it also gives the crust a nice crunch.

Add your favorite toppings and bake in your preheated 450-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust has browned nicely and your cheese has melted.

Here's another look at my favorite chicken/pesto pizza with fontina and mushrooms.



  1. I so love your cooking posts. ALL of these pizzas look amazing, Thanks for the corn meal tip, I will definitely try that. I like the King Arthur flour also, such good crust.

    Well, it is early morning and I might be craving pizza already! ;) Loving this post Fran, keep on cooking.

  2. Oops, forgot to add: YAY PATS...Congrats!


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