Some of my favorite recipes, the ones I make again and again, were clipped from newspapers and magazines. My favorite magazine for food is Sunset, but I’ve found some fantastic recipes in the unlikeliest places, like In Style (Greek salad) and even Redbook (Skinny Bitches pad Thai and French lentil salad.)
A few years ago I became obsessed with making delicious pizza at home. My imaginary dream house will have the following things:
- a sun room with bay window
- a butterfly garden
- a hummingbird garden
- a dry-heat sauna
- a wood-burning pizza oven
Until I get my pizza oven (and dream house to go with it!), my research led me to discover a pretty darned good home substitute: a pizza stone. This works best with a gas oven set on the highest heat (mine goes up to 500, and this recipe calls for 450 but I find that 500 works better.)
You can buy a pizza stone at a housewares store. My friend Peggy informs me that an unglazed quarry tile from Home Depot works just as well, but reports from a couple of years ago of radioactive kitchen countertops scared me off.
I also recommend a pizza peel, which is the wooden paddle you see pizza chefs use to take the pie out of the oven.
Finally, this recipe doesn’t call for it, but a little bit of cornmeal sprinkled on the bottom of the peel helps give some traction for that crucial moment when you take it out of the oven.
There are a lot of great pizza dough recipes out there. I really like the one from Chris Bianco (of Phoenix’s famous Pizzeria Bianco), which is in the Gourmet Cookbook.
But this recipe, printed in Vogue a few years ago, is the one I keep going back to. It’s a “belt and suspenders” recipe because it uses several different ways to ensure that the yeast thrives.
I love that this recipe appeared in an article about health! The article examined the “Italian paradox,” whereby Italians eat pizza several times a week yet are very slim and healthy. They theorized that Italian pizza has good, high quality ingredients, including olive oil and lycopene-rich tomato sauce, and not a lot of cheese. This recipe was by chef Zach Allen of the restaurant Otto.
Pizza Margherita (serves 4)
- 1/4 c white wine
- 3/4 c warm water
- 1 pkt active dry yeast (make sure it is FRESH)
- 1 T honey
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 3 c all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 c tomato sauce
- 10 oz bufala mozzarella (I use regular because that’s what my family prefers)
- to taste: sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves
1. Combine wine, water, and yeast in a large bowl. Stir until dissolved. Add honey, salt, and olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Add 1 c flour and make a wet paste. Add remaining flour.
2. Knead dough on a lightly floured board for 2-3 minutes.
3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for 45 minutes.
4. Form dough into 4 1/4″ thick discs, 11″ in diameter. Layer tomato sauce and mozzarella.
5. Bake at 450 on a pizza stone for 10-15 minutes, until dough is lightly browned. (I bake at 500 for 10 minutes only.)
6. Sprinkle with sea salt, olive oil, and basil to taste.