Pizza Night: mushroom pizza, tomato pizza
I love making pizzas, and sometimes they work better than others, depending on many variables. Pizza is really about the dough. The dough needs time to ferment and develop flavour. The best pizzas are from dough I make a day in advance and let it rise in the fridge overnight, but this takes pre-planning and is not always possible. I often make a quick pizza dough and that works fine as well, but if you can let it rest it’s better. If you make your own dough and want to get serious about it, I recommend two excellent pizza books: Jim Lahey’s My Pizza and Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s apprentice.
Then comes the question of thick or thin. This question is apparently settled because it seems you only get thin crusted pizzas everywhere. I agree, kind of. I like a thin crust but not too thin, some chewiness along the edges is good, and of course it has to be crispy under the topping. Nothing worse than a pizza that is soggy in the middle. When ordering pizza at a restaurant I find it frustrating when they serve a giant round of pizza as an “individual pizza” for one. Really? They say they I can have the leftover packed to take home. Thank you, cold old pizza? I don’t think so. With an oversized pizza the eyes get full before you have taken a single bite. Is this resonating with anyone or is just me? I generally make smaller pizzas rather than one large one. It’s easier to handle, easier to eat and you can make it with two different toppings.
When it comes to topping the pizza my idea is KISS (keep it simple ssss….weetie). A little sauce on the bottom, one or two things on top and then a scattering of cheese is all you need. Too much topping is difficult to cut through and eat and loses its appeal (I think).
You can make pizzas in the oven, under the broiler or on a grill. I made these pizzas in a very hot oven and used a new Emile Henry glazed pizza stone. I bought it to use on the outdoor grill but thought I’d break it in inside. My “system” for doing that is to place the round of dough on parchment paper, top it and then slide it, paper and all, onto the baking stone. A few minutes or so later I open the oven briefly and carefully pull out the paper to allow the pizza to finish cooking directly on the stone. Works for me. If you are good at it, slide the pizza onto the hot stone directly from the pizza peel.
These are two simple pizzas, one with sautéed mushrooms, shallots and goat cheese and the other with fresh tomatoes.
For pizza dough recipe see here or buy pizza dough from a good source.
1 shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups mixed mushrooms
A handful of herbs (thyme, oregano), chopped
1/2 cup goat cheese
Roll out the dough into an 8 inch circle and brush with olive oil all the way to the outer edges. Let dough rest while you cook the mushrooms.
Heat olive oil in a skillet, add shallots and cook until softened and fragrant.
Add mushrooms and cook until they are nicely roasted. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and finish the cooking.
Let cool a little before topping the pizza with the mushrooms.
Scatter goat cheese onto an a few herbs.
Roast the pizza in 500F oven (or your highest oven setting) until the edges are puffed and golden and the cheese melts. Be careful not to burn it.
1 large tomato or a couple of smaller ones, excess juice squeezed out and then thinly sliced.
1/3 cup tomato based pizza sauce (Williams Sonoma has a good sauce)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
A few basil leaves
Roll out the dough into an 8 inch circle and brush with olive oil all the way to the edges.
Top with 1/3 cup pizza sauce and then with the tomato slices.
Crumble goat cheese over.
Bake in a 500F oven (or your highest oven setting) until edges are puffed up and the cheese begins to melt.