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Cooking Basics: Making Your Own Pizza Sauce and Crust

There are some foods that are as close to an adult’s heart as a scruffy-soft teddy bear is to a three-year-old’s.  These are foods that we love so much we’ll eat them cold or hot, morning or night, homemade or chef-prepared.  These  are not necessarily “health foods” for most of us; they’re often very high in carbs, smothered in cheese,  spread with icing, or flooded with gravy.  Obviously, most of us  enjoy a grilled chicken salad at times, but there are other times when we  just have a craving.

You know what it feels like; standing in front of the refrigerator, looking at its unsatisfactory contents, with a hole in your soul that cold lettuce can’t fill.   A must-have-it-can’t-find-it-where-is-it craving!

Nope.

When I have such a craving, it is not really for a salad; it’s usually for something decadent. Saturday night, I had such a craving: I required hot, steamy, deep-dish homemade pizza.  Required. I decided to turn to Bobby Flay, he of grilling expertise on the Food Network.  He also makes a mean pizza dough!

Here’s his recipe:

Bobby Flay’s Pizza Dough

Bread flour will give you a crispier crust. If you prefer a chewy crust, as I do, use plain flour.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more if needed
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110º)
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil

Servings: Yields enough dough for 2 14-inch pizzas

Active Time: 10 min.

Total Time: 1 hour 20 min.

Directions:

1. Combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour and sugar, yeast, and salt in a food processor; pulse to combine. (note: I didn’t want to drag out my food processor, so I used my stand mixer. When the dough began to form a ball, I switched from the paddle attachment to the dough hook.)  While processing, add the water and 2 Tbsp of the oil until dough forms a ball. If the dough is sticky, add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time and continue processing until it comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add 1 Tbsp of water at a time. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until smooth. Form into a smooth ball.
2. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil, add dough, cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm area, and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces; cover each with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the warm, fragrant dough was rising,  I made the pizza sauce.  It’s quite simple to do, and I love the ability to adjust the flavors to my own preference.

Easy Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small Spanish onion, finely diced (I used a small yellow onion; any kind will do)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of red chili flakes (or more if you prefer more heat)
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes with juices, pureed  (I used cans of pureed tomatoes to cut out a step)
2 TBS fresh basil, chopped (dried basil is ok, as well as other spices you may enjoy, such as oregano)
Salt and black pepper

At a glance:

Servings: Yields enough for 2 14-inch pizzas

Active Time: 10 min.

Total Time: 35 min.

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 20 minutes. Stir in basil; season with salt and pepper to taste.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:

Yields enough for 2 14-inch pizzas. Per serving: 60 calories, 5g carbs, 1g protein, no cholesterol, and 3.5g fat.

Next, I brought out some things we could use for toppings: mozzarella, of course, and parmigiano-reggiano (which I haven’t found  in Tyler, but found and bought a large chunk of  at Central Market in Plano recently).  We also used sliced jalapenos, diced onions,  Canadian bacon, pineapple chunks, and sliced mushrooms.  I can’t be any more creative than these things, or my dear family will turn up their noses at it. 😉

They turned out beautifully, (after having baked about 25 minutes at 350 degrees), and everyone in my home ate two platefuls of the steamy, chewy slices.  I hope when your homemade-pizza craving pounces upon you, you’ll remember this post, try it out for yourself, and let me know what you think.  I love your feedback!


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