Pizza Pie

A good homemade pizza pie is a wonderful thing. This is not Viktor’s Special, but it’s my special version and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

1 ¾ to 2 C. bread flour (plus more for kneading)

¾ C. Warm water (110 degrees)

¼ C. Olive oil

1 Tsp Rapid rise yeast

1 Tbs Honey or sugar

1 Tsp Salt

Add yeast to the warm water, add the sugar/honey. Give it a stir and let it stand for a couple minutes. It should be foamy and opaque after a few minutes. Mix the flour and salt together and set aside. (All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour.)

Create a well in the bottom of the bowl with the flour. Add the water mixture and oil. Mix together until the dough comes together. Add more flour if needed. Tonight I started with 1 ¾ flour but added ½ cup more because it was a really humid day here and my dough was too sticky otherwise.

Turn it out and knead for a few minutes. Pizza dough should be on the wet and sticky side.

Form into a ball and grease bowl well with more olive oil. Toss the dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Put the dough in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. I like to heat my oven up to about 150 degrees, then turn it off to let it start to cool, then I put the dough in to rise.

After it has risen, punch down and add a tablespoon or so of flour to the dough and knead lightly for a few turns inside the bowl. Get your oven going again by preheating it to 475 degrees. (note that my pizza stone is already in the oven here). if you don’t have a pizza stone, no problem. You can bake your pizza on a cookie sheet or pizza pan instead.

Pull out onto a large piece of cling wrap (I stitch two pieces together with the seam in the middle). Dust the top of the dough with flour. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and flip to the parchment side—cling-wrap side up. Add a little more flour if needed. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch round or larger. When you are happy with the shape and thickness of the pizza crust, leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes.

This pizza pan has been through it all. I bought this when I was in college and moved into an apartment for the first time. I didn’t have anything that resembled a cookie sheet or pizza pan. I couldn’t afford both so I got this so it could do double duty. It has been one of the cheapest and handiest of kitchen utilities. 20 years later I’m still using it almost daily to make everything from cinnamon toast to biscuits. I’m about to use it in place of a pizza peel (that’s one of those wooden paddle-looking-things with a long handle – the pizza bakers slide pies in and out of the wood burning ovens with the peel.)

Slide the pan (or cookie sheet) under the dough and beneath the parchment. This is how we’re getting the dough onto the pizza stone. Remember pizza dough is sticky and once the pie is loaded up, it’s heavy. After you get it on the pan, take the cling wrap off. Ta-dah.

Now we’re ready to put on the toppings. Use your favorite bottled sauce or you can make a quickie sauce. Spread the sauce around. Add the meat of choice (or not). Here I’m using pepperoni and sausage. No need to brown the sausage prior, it will thoroughly cook in the overall process. Add your veggies. In this pie, I’m adding green and black olives with orange bell pepper. It’s really about what you like at this point. If you want to skip the whole thing you can. Top with mozzarella cheese.


Slide the pizza onto the stone inside the oven. The parchment can go right on top of the pizza stone.  (I only have 2 hands so, that was impossible to capture in photos. Sorry, y’all)

Look, Elvis Parsley is watching the pizza cook.

OMG! I have died and gone to pizza heaven. And, Yes! It is worth it to make your very own homemade pizza pie.

Pizza heaven!

Trav’s Corner: Blog Lasagna

11:30 Decide to make lasagna for dinner. Do a quick inventory and realize I no longer have a good pan for lasagna. This will need to be purchased. I can make the sauce now, but lunch first: pinto beans over spring greens with chopped roma tomatoes and hot sauce.

12:22 Assemble ingredients for sauce: 1 lb ground beef, 1 pkg Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausage (removed from casing), 1 onion (chopped), 8 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped), dried basil, & oregano, ½ a bottle of 2003 Terrazas Malbec Reserva, V-8 low sodium, 1 regular size can of diced tomatoes, 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes. Grabbed a small stockpot.

12:29 Heated up pan over high heat with a little olive oil. Threw in ground beef and sausage. Stirred it around with a wooden spoon, breaking up meat until finely crumbled. Threw in 2 tbsp basil and one tbsp oregano. Let the water cook off, then stirred occasionally, letting the meat brown and caramelization develop on the bottom of the pan. Poured off some of the grease, and then threw in the onions. Sweated the onions some, threw in the garlic and stirred for about a minute. Poured in the red wine and brought to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Added about 1 ½ cups of V-8, brought back to a boil. Added all the tomatoes, brought back to a boil, tasted and added 1/2 cup of sugar. Covered and set aside to cool. Done at 1:10.

3:59 Purchased 9 x 11 Pyrex pan w/silicone lid. However, realizing that I have a lot of sauce, also purchase two “deep lasagna pan” foil containers. 

4:52 Begin assembly. Preheated oven to 350. In each pan, put the following layers, bottom to top: sauce, uncooked noodles (4 across, then one broken noodle going sideways (alternate sides of sideways noodle)), sauce, mozz, noodles, sauce, mozz, a 24 oz container of small curd cottage cheese mixed with an egg, noodles, sauce, mozz, noodles, sauce mozz. I regret not getting parm to mix with the mozz. I have to open a 26 oz can of Del Monte “Traditional” spaghetti sauce to finish the last layer and a half of the second lasagna. Covered with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Thought about how every time I tell someone about this, they ask “won’t it melt?” To which I have always bit my tongue and said “no, it won’t. Seriously.” Put the lasagnas in the oven at 5:27. Set timer for 1 hour and twenty minutes. 

6:47 Looked at lasagnas. Noting that there was no overspill from the pans, decided on another 15 minutes. 

7:01 Took off covers and set timer for 30 minutes. 

7:30 Took out of oven to rest and cool. 

7:40 Couldn’t wait any longer. Cut a piece. Mmm…

 

Pizzagaina – My Most Favorite Dish in the Whole World

(Originally posted on AggieYell.com)

I’ve hesitated to post this because it’s a bit of a personal recipe plus it can be difficult to make. However, I made it recently and remembered how delicious it is, so I wanted to share it with my Aggie brethren.

This is an Italian dish called “Pizzagaina”. If you are paisan, then you’d pronounce it just like it looks…peets-uh-JAIN-uh, or peets-uh-CHAIN-uh. However, up in the northeast US where this is popular, they swallow their vowels and soften their consonants, so it sounds like “beach-uh-GAIN”. When I was a kid, when we had pizza, this is what we had. It’s also called “Easter Pie” and is served a bit differently than my recipe as it has a crust on top like a pie. However, the Arcadian version is loaded up with all kinds of stuff, so there’s no room or reason to have the top. I’ve been told by the few people that I’ve cooked this for that it’s the best food they’ve ever had, especially when it’s a day old. That might be up for debate, but it’s definitely my favorite dish to cook and probably to eat when I get right down to it.

I love Italian food…the process is slow and you don’t have to rush or balance like you do in asian cooking. If you mess up, you can always add more of something else to fix it. Plus, for some reason most Italian dishes are better as leftovers after the noodles or bread has time to soak up all the flavors. If I ever own a restaurant, one of the menu items will be “Yesterday’s Spaghetti”. Please don’t steal my idea, though…that’s not Aggie-like.

The ingredients are plentiful and the method is long, so if you have any questions let me know.

You’ll start out with one of those Chef Boyardee Pizza in a box mixes. I know it sounds crazy, but after all the years of doing this I like that crust the best of all the others I’ve tried. The contents include two bags of crust mix, a sack of cheap-ass parm cheese, and a can of pizza sauce. Step one: throw away the can of pizza sauce. It’s awful stuff. Make the dough just like the box says and put the parm over to the side for later. It will actually come in handy in a bit.


Cover that with plastic wrap and set it aside. The longer it sits the better.

Now, let’s make the ragu. That’s the sauce we’ll use for the pizza, but it’s actually stewed for a bit with all sorts of good stuff. Dice a yellow onion (I like the sweetness of the yellow over the white). There’s an easy way to do this, by the way. Cut the onion in half and then cut it almost all the way thru the end four or five times horizontally.

Then cut it vertically.

Then against the grain to make the dice cuts.

In a pot, get some olive oil going and dump the diced onion in. Add some ks and stir. You want to be on med heat for this. Then get a shallot and do the same thing.

Then some garlic. I go with 4-5 cloves, but then again I like garlic. This needs to cook for a few minutes. We need the onions to be translucent, but you have to watch the garlic or it will burn. While that’s going, open up a package of sweet italian sausage links.

The “sweet” part just means that it has basil in the sausage mixture. Cut each casing down the middle and remove, then with your fingers pull chunks of the meat apart and drop it into the ragu.

Do that will all the links (five is good). You are looking for the sausage to be cooked so stir it regularly. When it’s close to being cooked, add three tomatoes, diced.

I used romas here, only because tomatoes are out of season right now and they were the only ones that looked good. Add a bit more salt and stir.

We need the tomatoes to cook down quite a bit, but we can go ahead and add some seasoning to this. Since we already have basil in the sausage, go easy on that. However, you can go with the usual suspects of italian herbs…oregano, thyme, parsley, and add some freshly cracked black pepper. Taste it…it should have a nice, savory italian flavor.

After the toms have reduced, it’s time to add the sauce. I like Del Monte spaghetti sauce…it’s cheap and easy, and it tastes prety good. You pick the flavor…I just so happened to have this one in my cabinet.

Pour in about half the can to start out and stir. Go ahead and crank the heat up a bit…we need this to stew and reduce down some of the moisture. We won’t use the whole can, and we need to add a little at a time. This is what we are looking at:
Before tomatoes:

After tomatoes:

At this stage, throw in all the goodies that you like on your pizza that need to be stewed, i.e. olives (I like black olives, but you can use green if you like them better on your pizza), mushrooms (canned or fresh, I like canned in this dish b/c of the texture). Make sure you drain the cans. As well, I like to add some sugar to add a bit more sweetness and cut the acidity. Stir it up and let it stew with the cover OFF (we need to reduce moisture).

We are looking for a moist, thick ragu. Not soupy, but enough sauce to cover the dough. I go with just about the entire can except for just a bit in the bottom. Add the rest of the sauce (to your desired amount) and let it cook. You can see how much it’s reduced by looking at the side of the pan.


Back to the dough…it should be nice and fluffy by now in the bowl.

In a 13X9 or a 14X10 UNGREASED pyrex casserole dish (there’s enough oil on the dough already) plop the dough out and spread it evenly on the bottom.

Then, with your thumbs using quick strokes, pull the dough up the sides of the pan all the way around to seal up the bottom.

Pour out the hot ragu onto the dough and spread it evenly.


The rest of our ingredient list looks like this:

16oz of shredded mozz, 8oz of sliced swiss (aged if possible), a package of sliced pepperoni, and a packaged of sliced canadian bacon. We’re going to layer these starting with the pepperoni, then the swiss, then the candian bacon, then the mozz.



Make sure you get every layer even.

Now is a good time to put down anchovies if you like them on your pizza. My dad won’t eat a pizza w/o them.

Last but not least, take that cheap ass parm cheese packet that was in the pizza dough and spread it all around.

In a preheated oven at 425deg it goes for 20 minutes. Keep your eye on the cheese, though…we don’t want it to burn. However, what we are looking for is the crust to turn a blondish-brown color. That’s when it will be done.

After 20 minutes, check it to see how it’s doing. It will probably need another 15-25 minutes to finish, however if your cheese starts to brown…

…then you need to LOOSELY put foil on the top of the pizza to keep it from burning.

When it’s finished, it should look like this:

And look at this greasy goodness creeping down into the crust…Mama Lucien, that’s good stuff:

It needs to cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut it. When you go to cutting, use a coarse serated knife to cut thru the top, then go right over the same cut to slice thru the bottom crust. The crust may stick a little and the first piece is hard to get out, but I like to cut a small piece in the middle and take it out. It helps that I have a three year old to feed.

Served it on a plate and sprinkle it with freshly grated parm-reg.

With the ingredients laid out…

Ladies and Gentlemen…Pizzagaina, my favorite dish in the world.