Thursday, January 10, 2008

Homemade Foods - Pizza

I make my pizza similar to a graphics program, in layers. I am a self taught techie. My pizza recipe is modified from a recipe included on page 104 of the cookbook entitled Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D.: 150 Easy, Low-Fat, High-Flavor Recipes published in New York by HarperCollins in 1996.

This is not a political blog. I noticed today that Dr. Ornish dedicates the cookbook to President William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton with this statement, a direct quote:

"May G-d grant you the wisdom, courage, and compassion needed to lead our country during these transformative times."

I honestly did not notice the quote in the book until I decided to include my favorite homemade pizza recipe in this blog. I am not making a political statement. I seem to remember that perhaps Hillary brought Dr. Dean Ornish to the White House kitchen. The Clintons were reported to be eating pizza for dinner during the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night. I wonder if they were eating a modification of this recipe?

The pizza recipe I use for my family is as follows, one recipe makes one large round pizza, I double or quadruple the recipe depending upon the number of pizzas I need.

Please note: if you are interest in studies on pizza you might wish to look at an article from the American Chemical Society (2007, March 27). Chemists Create Healthier Pizza By Boosting Antioxidants In Dough. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 22, 2008, from that mentions nutrient advantages of high heat and a long fermentation process (related to the yeast)in making the most nutritious pizza.

I let the pizza dough rise in separate plastic bowls in a turned off stove, overnight in plastic bags for individual pizzas the next day in the refrigerator or for a party of "make your own individual pizza". I have never made more than 4 times the recipe in my largest green Tupperware bowl as the dough raises more than twice the size in the first rise.

After the first rise, I punch it down, smooth it out in a pizza pan and let it rise for a second time, again until about double the height. I use flour over the dough and around the bowl when it rises the first time and cover the bowl with a clean cloth. For the second rise, I place the pizza pan with dough in a turned off oven without covering the dough on the pizza pan. I always tap the dough to the edges, should it stick too much to my fingers, I add a bit of flour on top of the dough or to my fingers. Wetting the hands also works (some use a bit of oil in their hands but I may not do this per the dietary restrictions in our family).

I pre-bake the dough at 425 F until I have a light brown color on the bottom of the crust (about 10-15 minutes) and if I want to be able to remove the crust from the pan I must always spray the pan with a nonstick cooking spray. The cooking spray step seems to be important no matter what type of pan I use. I spray the pizza pans lightly before placing any dough on them and then proceed to fit the dough to the pan. If I do not lightly spray the pizza pan, the dough will stick to the pan!

After pre-baking the dough I cover it with ingredients that individual members of the family tolerate. I always microwave the vegetable toppings in the microwave and let them cool a bit before placing them on the pre-baked pizza dough. Cheese is not added in the oven but added later in the microwave for those who may eat it. Cheese can be added to the pizza during the last few minutes of the baking process if cheese is permitted in the household.

Many toppings may be added to the baked dough. I often use a can of tomato paste mixed with a bit of water and ketchup but if tomato is not permitted, I add the permitted item directly to the pre-baked dough. Red or green pepper, cooked chicken, hot dogs, or the usual pizza toppings used on a commercial pizza may be added to the pre-baked crust.

To make one large pizza crust I mix the following:

1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1 cup luke warm water

(Reserve about 2 cups of flour total and don't forget a nonstick baking spray)

Let the mixture of yeast, sugar and lukewarm water rest for about 3 minutes. I never use anything metal with my yeast dough. I use cold water from the faucet that I place in the microwave for a few seconds to bring it to lukewarm, if too hot, I add cold water to the microwaved water.

After resting for a few minutes, I notice if bubbles are forming. If I see bubbles, I gently stir the mixture and add half of the new light wheat flour and half unbleached flour, totaling about 1 1/2 cups of flour or a bit more if the mixture is two sticky to handle.

I knead the dough until it is smooth in the bowl, for just a few minutes. After brief kneading, I sprinkle flour under, on top and around the dough in the bowl for easy removal after the first rising. I cover the dough with a cloth. Flouring the areas that the dough will touch during the raising process is an alternative to using oil in my family, as one family member is on as low a fat diet as possible and is a pizza lover.

For my 90 year young mother, I add the richest ingredients to the pizza. Pizza is one food my mother loves to eat. She is a true pizza lover and enjoys all toppings such as vegetables, meats and cheese (I usually use mozzarella cheese).

After the toppings are added to the pre-baked crust, I bake the pizza at 425 F for about 15-20 minutes. When adding cheese to the pizza in the oven, I add it during the last few minutes.

My sister Maria, a contributor to this blog, taught us how to store leftover pieces of pizza. She cuts the pizza in slices and places them faces together on a plate to keep the toppings together, thus keeping them from drying out. Next she covers the entire cooled pizza with plastic wrap and stores it in the refrigerator. Her husband likes to eat it cold as do I sometimes in the summer.

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