Thursday, January 24, 2008

La cucina di Nicola: Easy Pizza

Today's installment of "La cucina di Nicola" brings us the easiest pizza ever! I know that we now live in the land of pizza, and I know that there are better ways to make pizza. I also know that I am not Italian and that Nicolas is just a beginner, so I chose accordingly a really easy but tasty pizza recipe.
This particular recipe comes from "Cooking with kids" by Linda Collister.

Makes 4 medium pizzas

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme (we omitted these)
1.1/2 cups buttermilk or 3/4 cup plain yogurt plus 3/4 cup milk. (we used the yogurt-milk mixture)
Butter, for greasing

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease 2 large baking sheets with a little soft butter on a paper towel.

Sift the flour onto a big bowl and mix with the sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry herbs (if using them.)

Make a hollow in the middle of the flour and pour in the buttermilk or the yougurt and milk mixture. Mix with your hand (Nicolas loved getting his hands all sticky) working all the flour into the dough to make a soft and slightly sticky mixture. Our dough was really sticky and wet, we added more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. (on the other hand if the dough is hard to work with, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time.)

When the dough comes together in a ball, take it out to a work surface lightly sprinkled with flour. Knead the dough for 1 minute until smooth.

Divide the ball into 4 equal pieces (for medium pizzas.) Shape each piece into a ball. Flour your hands and pat down each piece to a round of about 7 inches. Set them slightly apart on the baking sheets.

For the toppings we decided to make our own tomato sauce and selected a range of toppings from what we had at hand. For the sauce we used tomato "pulp" which is a fantastic canned product found in Italy. I would think you can get a similar consistency by blending a can of peeled tomatos in a food processor of blender. We mixed the tomato pulp (14 oz) with 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 clove of garlic minced and a pinch of salt.

Our toppings included: fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, black pitted olives, sliced salami, mushrooms, and anchovies.

Spread the tomato mixture over the base leaving a 1-inch border or uncovered dough all around the edge. Arrange the sliced mozzarella on top of the pizza. Finally, top with any extras as you like.

Bake the pizzas until they are a light golden brown and bubbling (15 to18 minutes in the preheated oven.) Let cool the pizzas for a couple minutes as the melted cheese can burn your mouth. Enjoy!

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