April 13, 2010

Pizza Pizza

When I was a kid and we used to go on long car trips, my mother had these harness-type seatbelts that she would strap us into that allowed us to stand and move around a little bit in the back seat. While I'm sure these seatbelts are exceedingly unsafe and no one would use them today (except my mother, who was always begging me to take the wee Soccer Monster out of his car seat and nurse him when he cried--she's old school, is my mom), they were great fun. The only problem with them was that they allowed my brother and I to move around enough to touch and bug each other constantly. (Now that I ponder it, what was she thinking?) So eventually, we would have to create that inviolable divide between us, an imaginary line down the middle of the back seat that neither one of us was allowed to cross. I had my side and he had his, and that was that. (For at least five minutes.)

What does all this have to do with pizza, you might ask? Well, if you live in the kind of household I do, in which one of your children eats no meat and the other essentially eats no vegetables (unless olives count), making a pizza that everyone enjoys can be a little tricky. That's when I invoke the spirit of my youth and create a line down the middle of the pie, with sausage on one side and none on the other. Bliss for everyone. Except for the caramelized onions, which I snuck in and which they both pulled off their slices while making extreme yuck faces. Ah, solidarity!

But really, what I want to post about is the pizza. It couldn't be easier. Make this.

I gave up on trying to make real pizza a long time ago, because it seems silly living in New York. My oven is not going to get to 800 degrees and I don't have a coal or wood burning hod, so that kind of pizza is out of my reach. But easy focaccia-style pizza? Why not? It only takes a few minutes of hands-on time. Seriously.

First you make a batch of no-knead bread dough. Then, sometime after its first rise (and it could be days later), you preheat the oven to 450, split it in half and stretch one half out in a well-oiled cast iron frying pan. Leave for 20-30 minutes, Top with whatever you like (mine had caramelized onions, whole canned tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, thyme, and sausage on one half), bake for 20 minutes, and voila!—it's a pizza.

For the dough:
3 cups white flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 tbsp salt
1 and 1/2 cups tepid water
mix dry ingredients together and then add water, mixing until shaggy dough forms. Cover loosely and leave in warm place for about 18 hours, or until doubled in size and surface is riddled with bubbles. At this point you can use it or put it in the fridge for a couple of days. It will actually taste better if you leave it in the fridge for a day.
To make the pizza:
Preheat oven to 450. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in half. Put half back in fridge for another time. Oil a 9 or 10-inch cast-iron pan (or other heavy frying pan or baking pan) liberally with olive oil. Oil your hands. Take the dough and stretch and press it into pan. If it keeps springing back, stretch as much as you can, leave it for five minutes, and then come back and stretch some more.
Now top it. You can use sauce or just good quality whole peeled canned tomatoes straight from the can. Use a light hand with the topping. After all your toppings are on, drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with salt if your toppings weren't too salty. 
Slide pan directly onto floor of oven for 10 minutes (to brown the bottom) then move to center rack for another 10, until crust is golden and toppings are bubbling or browned.
Cool for a few minutes, slice, and eat.


Anonymous said...

Mmmm, that does look kinda good! But are those black olives out of a can?

Missmasala said...

yes anon,

those are black olives out of a can—my kids prefer the canned olives.

but I did make a nice pizza the other day with caramelized onions, fig jam, feta cheese and nicoise olives for some grown-ups.

Unknown said...

Incredible what grown-ups remember about their childhood!

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