Pizza Fridays

One of the things I love about my Brooklyn neighborhood is the sense of community. You'd think living one apartment on top of another in a big city would drown out a sense of camaraderie and love thy neighbor feeling. Luckily, we found not only good friends but one couple in particular has weaved a special way into our lives. Our daughters share the same birthday, albeit one year apart. They have the same middle name. Vania and I have an older sister with the same name, spelled the exact same way (Marissa). And, as time passes—we've now known each other 4 1/2 years, we continue to find more of these similarities. I'm getting to the pizza, so just sit back and enjoy the story.

Until Vania started her medical residency last year (talk about juggle—she has a 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old too!), we used to have pizza fridays. We'd alternate apartments, order a few pies, let the kids play and watch a movie while we relaxed with some wine and chit chat. I miss those days. I miss Vania. They still live next door but life's gotten much busier. Tonight I'm making pizza (the dough's rising as I write), and thinking about the Kaspers. I'll be raising a glass to them as IRP and I curl up to our own ritual when the Mr. is away: mommy/baby movie night. Thankfully, some things never change in a world of constant movement. My girls will always be my babies, even when they have their own, so I'm going to check on that dough and shred some mozzarella now. I've got a date with a cute six-year old tonight. In the meantime, here's a how-to video to get started on your own movie and pizza night memories (it'll take a minute to load, so remember patience is a virtue).

See you in June!

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH


Makes one 16-inch round thin-crust pizza
You can make the dough in the morning and take it out as soon as you get home to begin the rise.  If you have a terracotta baking stone, use it for an extra-crispy crust.  The final amount of flour will vary each time you make the recipe depending on humidity and the temperature in your kitchen.

2 ¾ to 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp yeast
½ tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup warm water
non-stick cooking spray
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
any desired toppings

1. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray a 16-inch round pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray or brush with olive oil and set aside. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat. Coat a glass or ceramic bowl with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.

2. Add two cups of flour, yeast and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds to combine. Mix warm water and olive oil in a measuring cup. Pour liquid mixture into food processor using the feed tube and pulse just until dough comes together in a ball. If dough is still wet or sticky, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time and pulse again briefly to combine.

3. Sprinkle one-half cup of flour on a clean counter or large cutting board and knead dough.  Continue kneading additional flour if necessary, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough holds a fingertip impression. If it immediately pops back into a ball, then you need to add more flour. Place dough into coated glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm, dry place and let rise until doubled in size, about one to one and half hours.

4. Once dough has doubled in size, gently press dough into a circle in the coated pizza pans, being careful not poke any holes in the dough. Bake plain crust for five minutes. (TIP: you can prepare pizza to this step and freeze the prebaked crusts. When you're ready to make just take the frozen crust out and begin at step 5.)

5. Remove from oven and divide tomato sauce and spread on top of each crust. Evenly sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over sauce and add desired toppings and return to oven. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is golden and bubbly. Let sit for a minute or two before cutting. Serve immediately.

dinner, Entertaining, Italian, lunch

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