The Pizza Stretch

The next cookbook I pulled out from our large collection was Pizzas: Cooking with Style, 1994. Really? Pizzas? Again, one of Dan’s cookbooks. As I opened the cover I found this sweet inscription “Much love on our 2nd Valentine’s Day, 2001, Lisa.”

We don’t remember which came first. Dan’s interest in making pizza from scratch, or the book which sparked his interest. But as I reviewed the recipes, I assume Dan had the interest first. There were very few recipes I would even want to try. On closer inspection, I see that the book was originally published in Australia. Perhaps they have a different view on pizza. (By the way, Dan cooked many a pizza for me so he was rather skeptical when I said I was giving it a whirl).

Here are some recipes from this cookbook that I quickly passed up: Chicken Satay Pizza, Crab and Chili Pizza, Smoked Trout Pizza, Caviar Pizza, and the list goes on. There’s also lots of things Dan won’t eat in the recipes like mushrooms, goat cheese, pesto, olives, and garlic. So I settled on one that looked safe and easy, Italian Cheese Pizza. Oh, and yes a little boring.

Pizza is native to the Italian city of Naples and was considered food for the poor. People who crowded the city often lived in one room with no cooking facilities. They needed cheap food that could be easily eaten and pizza filled the bill. A crust layered with tomatoes, cheese, oil, olives, and anchovies eaten outside on the street.

Italian immigrants from Naples came to America in the late 19th/early 20th century for a better life and began selling their pizzas. The first pizzeria was G. Lombardi’s in New York City which opened in 1905 and is still in business today, but not in the same location.

As Italians moved across America  they brought pizza with them and the dish caught on. It was seen as fast and fun. Check out this cute commercial for pizza that obviously aired at a movie theater.

Date night with pizza

And so with some trepidation I made pizza for the first time tonight – and it was great! Here’s the recipe:

Basic Tomato Sauce (what’s leftover can be kept in fridge for 3 weeks but I’m going to use it on pasta)

  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic (Don’t tell Dan, but I put one clove in!)
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes

Chop the onions and garlic

Saute in olive oil for about 10 minutes until translucent

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the onions

Cook the mixture over a medium heat for 35-40 minutes or until thickened

Makes 4 cups

Cornmeal Pizza Dough (super easy since it doesn’t use yeast)

  • 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c. regular flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. water

Mix the cornmeal with the flour in a bowl

Make a well in the center

Add water and oil

Combine by gradually incorporating the flour into the olive oil and water – (I used my hands)

Once combined kneed the dough on a floured board until smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes

Cooking the pizza

Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven

Preheat the oven to 450

While the oven is heating, on a floured surface press out the pizza dough using your fingertips into an 8″ circle. Alwaya press from the inside of the dough to the outside.

Once the oven is heated carefully remove the pizza stone and place on a heat safe surface

Move the pizza dough onto the stone

Not quite a circle but done!

Top with the sauce, then add 3 1/2 oz. sliced fresh mozzarella cheese and 2 tsp. fresh oregano

Place back into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden and pizza is crisp underneath

Serves 2-4 people

The result was very yummy! The crust had a great crunch because of the yellow cornmeal that nicely complimented the sweet tomato onion mixture. Even Dan gave it a thumbs up.

Next up – despite the cookbook being one of Dan’s spicy and hot cookbooks, I found a gingerbread recipe! Right up my ally.


2 Responses to “The Pizza Stretch”

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  1. Bev Duell-Moore says:

    Looking good, Dan! Save me some to try! I’m proud of you , Lisa for trying something different! It does look good. I’ve never heard of using corn meal for the crust. Some of the examples you mentioned at the beginning sound so gross!

  2. Elaine Monroe says:

    I am so enjoying going through your blog archives. I plan to try this recipe!
    Thanks for sharing.

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