July 26, 2013
Posted By: Bozemama
It’s hot; not really cooking weather, if you ask me.
In winter, I love nothing more than nesting in the kitchen and cooking up hearty aromatic stews, sauces and soups, which fill the house with warmth and goodness. But during the dog days of summer, we eat salads, summery pastas and my childhood summer favorite: the tomato-wich (fat slices of fresh, ripe tomato on toasted bread which has cooled slightly and been slathered with mayonnaise). Mmmmm . . .
But there’s one thing that our family digs no matter the season, and that’s homemade pizza. Now, this may sound like a hot and heavy endeavor to you, but – I promise – it’s not that big a deal. Yes, you do need to crank your oven up to about 425, but only for about 15 minutes, and you’ll be having so much fun with your kids that you won’t even notice. Because homemade pizza night isn’t just about saving money, it’s about bonding in the kitchen as a family and making healthy, delicious food together.
Here’s what we do: First, we buy On the Rise pizza dough at Town & Country, Heebs or the Co-op (when I say homemade; I mean semi -homemade, Sandra Lee-style). Of course, you can make your own (here’s a nice recipe from Epicurious ), but I’d rather just sit on the patio and drink beer instead. Then, we buy the sauce. Again, you can make your own, but why bother when it’s sweltering hot and there are so many tasty, inexpensive options available. We grate a massive amount of low-moisture mozzarella (you can use the fresh kind, but it tends to make our pizza soggy – please let me know if you have any suggestions on this front.). Then, we invite friends over, break out a crazy assortment of toppings (mushrooms, sausage, spinach, peppers, anchovies, olives, pepperoni, basil, onions, whatever’s in the crisper from last week’s farmers market) and turn our kitchen into a pizzeria. (Cue Mario Lanza and Rosemary Clooney . . . Hey, Mambo!)
After you’ve left the dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, you can easily manipulate and spread it into either one big pie or a bunch of smaller ones (which allows the kids to each make their own pizza – yay!) If you find that the dough is sticky, you can dab a little bit of olive oil or flour onto your fingertips to make things easier. Jimmy DiTocco, my old neighbor in Connecticut, taught me to gently push the dough out from the center and made me promise never to punch the dough. “Don’t ever let me see you punch the dough!” he would yell.
Some people use a pizza stone; some spread cornmeal under the dough; some spread the dough by throwing it in the air or letting it hang from their hands (I wouldn’t recommend this latter approach for the young ones). I say experiment and do what makes you happy. Personally, we keep it simple with a cookie sheet and a little olive oil.
The best part is watching everyone build their pizza. I’ve noticed that you can tell a lot about a person by what they put on (and leave off) their pie. Hmm . . . Perhaps potential employers should ask job candidates to make a pizza rather than take a personality test. Be a lot more appetizing.
Then, once the pizzas are in the oven, we totally geek out by turning on the oven light and watching the cheese melt and the crust bubble. (It’s like a science experiment you can eat – yay!) Then we make a big yummy salad, light some candles, gather around the table, taste each other’s masterpieces and remark on how awesome we all are. (Now, some people don’t want to share – and that’s OK, we make them share anyway.)
Do yourself and your kids a favor: Next time you’re out buying groceries, pick up some fixings for a homemade pizza night and bring the family together in the kitchen. Then, come back here and tell us all about it. Mambo!