Pizza – All about the Pan

 

So, back in the day, my family owned a pizzeria in Orange, NJ.

It’s still there – Toast of the Town- but it’s not in the family any longer.

My mom worked there with her aunt Mary back when mom and dad first got married. She ripped the tops off her gym socks to make a sweatband on hot nights while Aunt Mary screamed out number 69.

Welcome to my Family.

So, while we no longer have the pizzeria, we do still have… drum roll… the pizza pans!

Mom has one and grandma has one. I’ve been jonesing for one.

And now, finally, this beauty is mine.

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Do you see the perfectly seasoned pan? Do you understand that no matter what I did my pizza would not taste the same as my mom’s or grandma’s because no matter how i seasoned or topped it, it was not baked on this pan.

Until now.

My grandfather recently passed away and we are cleaning out my grandparents’ house and moving grandma into a cute little apartment. She no longer cooks for herself, so when mom asked what I wanted from the house, I asked for the pan.

Now, my Friday night pizza tastes just like mom’s.

Pizza night is such a great family tradition that we’ve been doing as long as I can remember. All you have to do is buy good dough (our grocery store has great frozen dough), defrost it in the morning and then stretch it, top it and bake it when you get home.

Drizzle some olive oil on the pan so the dough doesn’t stick and place your stretched dough on the pan.

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Add canned pizza sauce

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Shredded mozzarella

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Slice pepperoni (because dad says you can’t have pizza without pepperoni)

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And bake at 425 for about 15 minutes.

 

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Slice

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And mangia!

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Barbecue Chicken Pizza

I saw this recipe over at Sally’s Baking Addiction and immediately started drooling.

I sent it over to the fiance and asked what he thought of it.

I don’t know why I even wasted time asking!

I made it last night figuring it’d be good hockey food. And it’s totally great for watching Stanley Cup playoffs and will definitely be in the rotation once football season starts. The only slight problem is it’s so good and we ate so much of it that we kind of hit food coma and may have missed the overtime period for Kings vs Blackhawks.

But, hey, there’s always the highlights!

So this pizza combines a few simple ingredients for a taste that is out of this world.

You will need

  • pizza dough (frozen dough that’s been thawed is fine)
  • shredded mozzarella
  • shredded smoked gouda
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 chicken breast, shredded
  • barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the chicken and a tablespoon of barbecue sauce.

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Stretch your dough and place on a pizza pan. A cookie sheet flipped over works too. Drizzle the dough with barbecue sauce.

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Layer on the mozzarella and the smoked gouda.

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next add your barbecue sauce tossed chicken.

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Last, top with your red onion slices

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Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden.

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Slice, and enjoy.

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Kalamata Olive, Feta, Arugula Pizza

 

 

Friday night in my house has always been pizza night.

Which is very convenient during Lent when you need meat free dinners on Friday nights!

Now, pizza every Friday can sound a little boring.

But the thing about pizza is the possibilities are endless.

Mushroom ricotta, tomato basil, broccoli mozzarella…

Or, for something a little different, how about a Greek pizza?

Kalamata olives, feta and arugula.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Stretch out your dough and sprinkle with feta.

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Add some pitted and chopped Kalamata olives

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And then toss into the oven for about 10 minutes. We want to cook most of the way.

Then we’re going to remove form the oven, and sprinkle with arugula and add a drizzle of olive oil.

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Back in the oven for another 4 minutes or so to wilt the arugula.

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Then slice and enjoy.

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A blend of Greece and Italy.

Hey, just like me and my fiance!

Crab Pesto Pizza

Dreaming of beaches over here still even though the temperatures are below zero.

So I’m still combating the cold by cooking some of our warm weather favorites.

One of our favorite places in the world is the town where my parents have their shore house. It’s where I spent my summers. It’s where I feel most relaxed. It’s where I threw my first kegger, had my first crush and my first hangover.

It’s also where my fiance proposed to me.

Fenwick Island. I just think of it and am happy.

The DelMarVa peninsula is known for a few things, fresh crabs being one of the top.

There’s an Italian restaurant in the area that takes advantage of the fresh, local seafood, and merges it with Italian classics.

Their best dish? Pesto crab pizza.

It’s amazing.

And while it sounds complicated, it really couldn’t be easier.

To bring the Delaware shore to your home, you will need

  • Frozen pizza dough, thawed
  • pesto (store bought or homemade – my recipe here)
  • mozzarella
  • 1/2 a pound fresh jumbo lump crab meat

See my previous post about Jersey Tomato Pizza for tips on stretching out the dough.

Once the dough is stretched, it’s just a matter of layering pesto, crab and some mozzarella on the dough and baking at 425 for about 10 minutes.

I got so excited about making this that I forgot to take pictures along the way.

That’s how good this is.

We actually ate all but two pieces before we remembered we needed shots for the blog.

Oops.

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Not that I’m counting, but 163 days ’til summer and ’til we’re eating this pizza at the beach!

Jersey Tomato Pizza

If you’re not from Jersey, your first thoughts about the state likely involve fist-pumping guidos, swamp lands and a weird chemical smell.

If you are from Jersey, you know what the real Jersey Shore is like, and that in the summer there is no place like it. You also know that, despite the view of the state you get when you first enter it from Manhattan, Jersey is the Garden State, and in the summer there is nothing like a Jersey tomato.

Summer means many things to me: lazy beach days, cold beers on the roof after work, sundresses, sandals, watermelon, lemonade. But one thing it really means is tomatoes.

I don’t know what it is about Jersey tomatoes, but if you’ve had one, you know. They’re the best. Juicy, fresh, vibrant.

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My mouth waters.

One of my favorite things on a hot day is a tomato sandwich – thick slices of tomato with American cheese between two pieces of toast. Not fancy, but so good.

Tropical storm Andrea is blowing through right now, though, and she’s blown the heat away. It’s humid out, but kind of chilly too and it’s raining. Hard.

Tomato sandwich isn’t the way to go tonight.

But a hot and crispy tomato pizza? That’s just what the doctor ordered!

What? Your doctor doesn’t order you to eat pizza? You need a new doctor. Ey. Forgetaboutit!

(That was my inner Jersey coming out. You can take the Jersey girl to New York, but that don’t make her a City girl. Not completely.)

This is a great Friday night dinner (I think I told you before, my mom’s family owned a pizzeria and growing up Friday night was always pizza night).

Pizza sounds daunting.

People think you need all sorts of special equipment like pizza stones or special pans, and that making pizza involves making the dough.

Reality check. I don’t have the room to make my own dough. I don’t have the time either.

And like the raviolis the other night, frozen is totally acceptable. There’s a lot of good frozen pizza dough to be had out there.

I asked my mom once for the pizzeria’s dough recipe. It started with 100 pounds of flour.

Yea. No.

Besides, mom and grandma used frozen dough when I was a kid. And you know what I say, if they did it, it can’t be wrong.

Now back to the pan.

Yes, you can use a pizza pan. I find lots of uses for mine, so I do recommend it. I tend to cover it in foil and use it any time a baking pan is called for. Sometimes I don’t even cover it because mine is just super easy to clean.

Here’s the pan that I have. I’m a big fan. Easy clean up. Light and easy to store (It gets stashed in the drawer under the oven) and the little ridges let air circulate under the dough so you get a crispy crust.

Here’s mom’s pizza pan, which she took from the pizzeria when the family sold it.

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If you don’t have a pizza pan, you can flip over a cookie sheet and use the bottom. Just make sure it’s cleaned really well.

And pizza stones? Never used one. A 425 degree oven does the trick.

So pizza.

In the morning, take the dough out of the freezer and place it onto a floured plate.

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Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and cover with a kitchen towel.

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Why a kitchen towel and not a paper towel? Shrug. Mom did it this way.

It probably has something to do with keeping the dough warm and moist, but really I don’t know. I just know hat you could always tell when it was pizza night at mom or grandma’s by the dough resting under its towel on the counter.

When you get home from work, the dough will be defrosted.

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Turn the oven to 425.

Drizzle a little olive oil onto your pizza pan.

While the oven preheats, stretch out your dough. Shake off any excess flour.

There are different dough stretching schools of thought. Some people flour the counter and roll out the dough with a rolling pin. I don’t have much counter space, so I go with the stretching in your hand method. This always makes way less of a mess.

Pick up the dough and, over the pizza pan (it will catch the flour that falls) start working the dough outwards with your hands.

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Keep rotating the dough and stretching so it stays round (ish) until it’s the size of your pizza pan.

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Lay the dough on the pan. It will shrink a little bit. That’s fine. No worries.

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Chop up some garlic and slice your tomatoes up into a big thick slices.

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Layer the tomatoes over the crust, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic and some black pepper.

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Pop in the oven. The cheese is coming, but I want the tomatoes to roast on their own and for the crust to start to crisp up. This is a sauceless pizza, so it’s really about bringing out the flavors of the tomato. Letting them cook for a bit before adding the cheese will give the pizza that real rich, intense tomato flavor.

While the pizza starts to cook, grate up the mozzarella cheese.

I’m going lighter on the cheese than usual because I want this to be about the tomato. But feel free to ┬ápile it on. Pizza is totally personal, so adjust to your tastes. If you want to try a twist on the typical Italian pizza, try cheddar instead of mozzarella, or maybe ricotta, or go Greek with some feta. Tomato and feta? Mmm.

When the tomatoes are cooked some and the crust has started to be less doughy, pull out the pan and sprinkle on the cheese.

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Throw it back in the oven until the cheese melts and the crust is cooked through.

I’d say it’s about 15 minutes total cook time. Maybe 8 or 9 with just the tomatoes and another 7 or 8 with the cheese added.

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This will vary by your oven and by your taste in pizza. If you like the crust a little on the doughy side, cook a little less, a little more crispy, leave it in a little longer.

The tomato almost melts into the crust and the cheese protects the tomatoes from getting too scorched by the oven. You bite into a slice and you get the chew of the crust, the melty cheese and the burst of freshness from the tomato.

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It’s summer in Jersey in one bite.

By the way, since Friday night is always pizza night, mom was making pizza too. Here’s hers.

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She takes the traditional approach. Crust, sauce cheese.

And hers always comes out better than mine.

1. because of the pan and 2. because, well, she’s mom.

Happy pizza making!!