Saturday, August 25, 2012

Project Food Challenge: Margherita Pizza

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Off The Menu is very proud to present to you, our very finest culinary creation to date! The pizza pictured above is not any ordinary pizza, it's a very sastifying to the tenth degree Marghertia Pizza. Some of you may have adventured to try a Margherita Pizza and know that the texture and indgredients can surpass an ordinary pizza, no matter how good that pie may be. To be honest with you, we did not know if our special recipe would accomplish that but now it's safe to say, that it went above and beyond in doing that. It's definitely on our lunch or dinner menu for good and we feel like it will be on yours too. With that being said, we at Off The Menu would like to outline step by step and ingredient for ingredient, how you can make this exceptional Margherita pizza at home.

We've got a bonus for you, this is actually a tale of two pizzas. One is a basic Margherita Pizza  (as pictured above) with just Roma tomatoes and basil for the toppings and the 2nd is the beautiful creation at the top that we consider a Margherita Pizza with a twist. Who says you can't have a little fun with the toppings? Nobody! Go ahead have yourself a little fun because that's one of the best parts of making a pizza. However, before you begin, you're going to need to go out and purchase a pizza stone if you don't already have one. This is to truly make a genuine Margherita Pizza because if you use just a regular pizza pan, it won't necessarily cook the same therefore it won't taste the same as a Margherita Pizza.

The Ingredients for making 2 pizza crusts:
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (this amount is equal to 2 packages of yeast)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

The Ingredients for sauce:
  • 6 Roma tomatoes 
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic from a jar (this is equal to four cloves)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

The Ingredients for toppings: 
  • 1 lb or 16 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced into 1/4" thick slices (we prefer Mozzarella Fresca that you can find in a l lb package at Kroger in the gourmet cheese section
  • 4 sliced Roma tomatoes 
  • black olives
  • pepperoni
  • sausage cooked and crumbled
  • mushrooms
Extra Useful Ingredient:
Corn Meal (to keep pizza from sticking to the pizza stone as it's cooking) 

Step 1:

Mix together 4 1/2 teaspoons (or 2 packages of yeast) with 1/2 cup of warm together in mixing or large bowl

Let the mixture sit until it appears creamy, (as pictured above) usually about 20 minutes

Step 2:

Add 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose, 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning to now ready yeast mixture (as pictured above)

Step 3:

Stir the ingredients using a wooden spoon or electric mixer until it becomes smooth ball (as pictured above) where it doesn't stick to the side of the bowl. 

Step 4:

Cover the bowl that has the dough with a kitchen towel and let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature

Now that you're waiting for the dough to rise, it's a good time to start on the sauce.

Step 5:

Put 6 Roma Tomatoes in a blender and pulse until it's a chunky puree (as pictured on the right)

Step 6:

Put at least 2 tablespoons of Canola oil in saucepan on medium to low heat and add garlic (again we did this with ready to use minced garlic in jar)

Step 7:

After heating garlic and oil together for 2 minutes, add the blended tomato puree to the saucepan, with sugar, little pieces of basil leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and simmer sauce for 35 minutes uncovered and stir periodically until thick

When done with this step, it's probably a good time to get your cooking stone ready by putting it in a oven and preheating it at 450F for at least 20 minutes.

The Tale Of Two Margherita Pzzas

Step 8:

While you're preheating your pizza stone, it's time to get your pizza dough ready by dividing the dough ball evenly to make 2 pizzas (just visually divide it or if you really want to get technical you can always use a kitchen scale)

Step 9:

Shape evenly separated dough balls on a lightly floured cutting board using a roller (or for more of a challenge you can always use your hands) and the dough should come out looking as the picture above 

Step 10:

While you still might be waiting for that sauce to be ready, it's a great time to get your topping ready.

Cut the 4 Roma tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices (left) and cut the mozzarella cheese into the same size slices (bottom)

Beautiful slices of fresh mozzarella  

Step 11:

Remove your pizza stone from the oven, watch out, and be very careful as it will be burning hot! 

Carefully, using 2 spatulas or however you see fit to do it, slide flattened pizza crusts onto the pizza stone that has plenty corn meal on it to keep it from sticking as it is cooking .

Step 12:

That pizza sauce has to be cooked by now so it's time to spread the sauce 
To do this evenly around each pizza, eyeball it to split the cooked sauce between the 2 pizza crusts but...

A tip for you first... It's very important to wait until 1 pizza is completely finished, to put the rest of the sauce on 2nd pizza because it needs to be done when it's on the preheated pizza stone or guaranteed your sauce will slide off. To save time and a lot of trouble you can always buy 2 pizza stones and preheat them at the same time. That way you can be ready to put ingredients on the 2nd pizza while the first is cooking or if you're lucky enough to have a double oven, they can cook them at the same time so if you're feeding a larger family there'll be enough pizza to go around right when these delicious pies come out of the oven. 

Step 13: 

Your finally on the fun part and the home stretch, which is you evenly spreading out the sliced mozzarella cheese on your pizza. The only tip I can give you here, is not to overlap the cheese slices just spread them out with only small gaps between each slice until it covers the entire pizza except the very edge (as pictured above). If you do it evenly like this, you should have plenty of cheese slices for each pizza. If you're doing a 2nd pizza with a bunch of different topping as we did, then it's the easiest part of making this pizza to put whatever ingredients you see fit on you're pizza and spread it out evenly. However, it's highly recommended that you use sliced Roma tomatoes for toppings on both pizza as it really adds a lot of flavor to each pizza. 

Step 14:

Congrats, you made it to the last the step besides eating the pizza of course, so put your pizza on the bottom rack in your oven which should be very preheated at 450F by now. 

Cook pizza for 20 minutes or until it looks ready as cooking times may vary for different ovens.

If your pizza stone came with a wire rack, leave it ready on the kitchen counter to protect your counter tops from damage when you take the pizza out out of the oven. Slice that pizza right when it comes out of the oven as it will be easier to slice at that time. 

Your done! This pizza may look like quite a process to complete but it's well worth it in every regard. Plus, as you see how delicious this was the first time around, you'll want to make this pizza again. With each time you'll probably find that it becomes easier and easier, and consumes less time, leaving you more of it to enjoy these one of a kind Margherita pizzas to the very last piece. 

Bon Appetite!
                     Chef Matt

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