Welcome to Saturday's Potluck
Main dish for this week is pizza. The worlds most popular fusion food. An evolution of historical Mediterranean flatbreads, adding mozzarella made from a water buffalo herd imported from India in the 7th century and the fruit of a poisonous plant from the Americas. In 1879 a pizza with the three colors of the Italian flat red (tomato), green (basil) and white (mozzarella) was selected by Queen Margherita as her favorite pizza. The classic cheese pizza was born and publicized
The first pizza franchise Shakey's, started in 1954, had an outlet in my hometown. Customers packed together along 3 lengthwise rows of tables with benches, pitchers of beer for the adults and root beer for us kids. When I applied for an after school job in high school the tables had been turned 90 degrees into 5 short rows with chairs. Individual tables would not happen for another decade.
All newbies ended their shift hand washing stacks of pizza pans with baked cheese. Learned to wield a french knife, work in a 500 degree oven with pizza paddle and handling drunks. It was the first job I quit. Arranged with the owner/Boss several weeks in advance to change my schedule to accommodate my obligation of participating in the local fair. On the last day of work before fair the Boss changed his mind and said if I did not show up on Thursday there was no longer a job. Told his I would finish the shift and it would be my last day. Ran into his ex-wife years later, she was still laughing at his surprise.
It turned out fine, I made enough money at the livestock auction and cash payments for winning different competitions to pay the first year of college tuition. Best lesson, do not allow yourself to become financially trapped in a job.
What's on your mind today?
The Weekly Recipe
Primarily bake at home now to avoid chemical additives in dough and toppings.
Basic Bread Machine Pizza Dough (salt and sugar deliberately left out)
Add in this order to bread machine
1 cup water
3 cups flour (often equal portions Bob's Red Mill wheat pastry flour & whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp yeast
opt 1/2 tsp gluten (creates a more flexible crust - more New York Style)
Use dough setting, most machines 1 1/2 hours, will continue to rise if not removed and may make a mess. When I worked at a more normal job, set the machine on delay start for a loaf of bread. If late the worst outcome was fresh baked bread bread for dinner instead of pizza.
Divide the dough into 4 portions. Freeze 3 for another time. If softer crust is desired press into a circular shape on a baking pad. Rolling the dough creates a crisper crust. If adventurous toss the dough for the finished size.
Oven 425 degrees. 10 to 12 minutes on pan, then slide onto ceramic stone kept on the lowest rack in the oven for 4 minutes until cheese bubbly and bottom of the crust browned. Times can vary with size of pizza, crust thickness and volume of toppings.
Use same crust for calzones and stromboli.
Toppings use your imagination and past experience in pizzerias. Favorite cheese is BelGioioso fresh mozzarella, often buy ahead and keep in the freezer.
Contributed last week by on the cusp
I can make a from scratch crust. I can make a from scratch sauce. But why, when I can by imported Italian sauce, and get wonderful, thin crusts from NJ? (Every Italian I have ever known was from NJ!)
Mamma Marie is the NJ crust company's product.
(In Italy, you only get served crusts with basil, other spices, upon request. Order it there, it is thin, and is very plain.)
Now, sauce. Spend all day, or 30 minutes making your own. Or try Rao brand, imported from Italy, using Italian grown tomatoes. Unless you can get tomatoes from Italy, process them, make your sauce recipe, you can't compete on even terms with this sauce.
They make a general pizza sauce, and a Margherita sauce. I prefer the Margherita, although the pizza sauce is good.
Now, fix it up with whatever you like, and bake it on a Presto Pizzazz.
Guess where I found this stuff? The sauce, the crust, and the Pizazz?
This is the closest I can come to what I enjoyed in Italy, Croatia, or anywhere in the world.
I take credit for the accidental find of the crust and sauce. I give my fiance full credit for the Pizazz.
The last thing I can say about pizzas is that they are served everywhere. Africa, Central and S. America, Asia, Europe. Nothing says goofy American Tourist like ordering a pizza for lunch. It a dinner meal, meant to strike up conversations, and be a time when the food preparer doesn't have to go back and forth from the kitchen for more of this or that.
Everyone I have suggested the Rao to has become addicted.
There ya go!