Pizza Party


I have tried a few different pizza recipes, but the one I really loves is the Pizza Margherita from Cook's Illustrated. First off, you need a pizza stone (in my opinion it is totally worth it since you can also cook a variety of breads on it). Put pizza stone in oven, and put oven at 500 degrees. For the crust, you just whisk yeast into some room temperature water. Then in a food processor you put flour, sugar, salt and process for about 5 seconds. With the food processor running, add the liquid until a sticky ball forms, for a couple of minutes. Divide the ball in half, make into two smooth balls, place on floured baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and leave them in a warm area of your kitchen for about an hour.

Then, you make the sauce. What I like about this recipe is that you don't have to cook the sauce. This is partially I think because it has you drain the tomatoes of a lot of their juices, and because Pizza Margherita goes well with a tangier tomato sauce. Clean the food processor, process a large can of diced tomatoes (I used Cento), and put them in a mesh strainer over a bowl. Let them drain while you wait for the dough, and stir them tomatoes every so often to get them to release their juices. Then, just before shaping the dough, mix the strained tomatoes with sugar, garlic, basil, and salt.

Dust the dough with flour, transfer the balls to well floured work surface. Then flatten the balls with your palms, starting from the center, and making quarter turns until they are 12 inch circles. Lightly flour your pizza peel, transfer one of the pieces of dough to the your peel, and spread thin layer of tomato sauce with rubber spatula leaving half inch border around the edge. Slide onto stone and bake for 5 minutes. Remove pizza from oven, add one inch chunks of fresh mozzarella.  I used R & G cheese I bought from the Pioneer Market in Troy (the basil and garlic I also got from there and both were really delicious). Return pizza to oven for 5 more minutes.

Transfer to cutting board, sprinkle with basil, salt, olive oil, slice and serve immediately. I love that the crust is crunchy, it doesn't have too many flavors going on, and with the really high quality mozzarella it just tastes so fresh and simply delicious. I have tried it with prosciutto before and that was really good too. I also like it really doesn't use that many dishes, and only takes a little more than an hour. Even for a weeknight it is pretty easy. I made the whole thing while we also watched "The Office" and "Parks and Rec", so that is how little time it took. We also had an Italian red wine with it, and I felt like that really complemented the flavor of the basil.

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