Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Homemade Pizza with Fresh Basil - YUM!!

WOW - I've come a long way since my earliest pizza making days! The days of pizza that slid off of the pizza stone, doughy messes, and yes even smoke detectors going off! Well if you live in NJ, home to some of the world's best pizza (i.e. DeLorenzo's), and claim to have decent culinary abilities - shouldn't you be able to master a basic pizza dough? Hey it's mostly flour and water! Now I make homemade pizza all of the time without incident and it's definitely a favorite. It is actually about the simplest dinner that I make. Minutes to throw the ingredients together. We rarely ever eat pizza out since yes they actually prefer mine. Although my daughters occasionally get a craving for (gasp) Domino's. Who would have thought! I guess my sticktoittiveness (I think that I made that word up) really paid off! Give it a try!

Fresh basil courtesy of Samaha's in Aberdeen (I love that place!) I am so glad that I pass right by there on my way home from work. I got a whole bag of zucchinis for $2. Hmmm what will I make?

Pizza Dough (adapted from Rao's recipe)
Makes dough for 2 pizzas

4 cups unbleached flour (I prefer Hecker's)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. white sugar
2 scant tsp. instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (I microwave for 30 seconds)
2 tbs. quality olive oil

If you don't have a KitchenAid stand mixer be nice to yourself and buy one - they are awesome and so worth the money. It will pay for itself with all of the homemade pizza you can make! Check out Amazon.

Into the bowl of the mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. With the mixer on low (speed 2), slowly add the warm water followed by the olive oil. The dough will form a ball and should not stick to the bottom or sides. If the dough is sticky add a little more flour and continue to let the mixer knead the dough. The dough should be very smooth and not sticky. If you do not have a stand mixer you can knead the dough by hand - a little bit of a workout...

Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with good olive oil. When the dough is done being kneaded, place it in the bowl and turn it to coat with the olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the bowl for about an hour (until it has doubled in size) in a warm place. (I put the bowl on top of the stove and set the oven to warm)

After the dough has risen, punch it down gently. Divide the dough evenly into two balls. The dough can then be rolled out and pressed into a pizza pan or baked on a pizza stone.

I love this pizza pan :) Nothing sticks!


Top the pizza with your favorite sauce and toppings. Bake at 450. Careful if you are using a pizza stone - check to see the max. temp. they can withstand (usually 400).

My favorite pizzas are:
  • Classic Margarita - when we can get Jersey tomatoes and fresh basil - Oh my!
  • White pizza (homemade ricotta, fresh mozzarella and garlic) with broccoli rabe - yum!

  • Sausage and Pepper (my husband's favorite)
Happy Pizza Eating!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

The world's best blueberries are in season in NJ! Emery's Berry Patch in New Egypt is a great place to pick delicious, organic blueberries. For other blueberry farms in NJ: http://www.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/agriculture/jerseyfresh/search.pl

This is my family's favorite blueberry pancake recipe. Light, delicious, golden and bursting with berries. In season, fresh NJ blueberries make them perfect - Oh my!

Blueberry Pancakes
Recipe courtesy of Diana Rattray (about.com)

2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teasooon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup fresh or frozen thawed blueberries, rinsed

Preparation:In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Beat egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl; add milk and melted butter. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients; mix until batter is smooth and stir in blueberries. Fold in beaten egg whites. Bake on hot greased griddle.Makes 12 pancakes.