Let the Weekend Begin

Pizza is Ready
I love the beginning of the weekend. It starts for me when school is out on Friday afternoon.

This Friday, we had another family join us for dinner and pizza making. I thought that I’d try grilled pizza, but I couldn’t pull the trigger. I don’t know why. So, instead of trying a new recipe, I made my own, usual dough (double recipe) during the day. Made the quick and easy sauce. Picked up some toppings: mozzarella, gorgonzola (which we didn’t use), pancetta, pepperoni, red peppers, mushrooms, fresh basil.

Cutting DoughRolling DoughReady for the OvenPre-cooked Pizza
Our friends brought a great spinach salad.

And, I made pineapple upside down cake for dessert using a recipe from Everyday Food Magazine. I seem to be on a roll with that magazine lately. My mom used to make pineapple upside down cake and I haven’t had it in years. I love all things carmelized. Pineapple cooked in caramelized sugar and butter is an phenominal combination. In fact, it made me think that I could substitute apples in the recipe and try making a tarte tatin cake. Next time, maybe. The recipe didn’t have maraschino cherries in it, but the cake would have looked so blah and naked with out them. And, I like maraschino cherries, especially when I don’t have to fight L & J for them.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I made a couple of changes to the recipe other than the addition of cherries. First, I used 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup lowfat milk for the liquid. I thought that would make the cake a little more tender. Since I was using a more acid liquid, I added about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda with the dry ingredients. Second, I used canned pineapple (in juice, not syrup). It was just much easier and I haven’t seen any stellar pineapples at the market. Last, I found the baking time to be excessively long in the recipe – my cake was ready in about 35 minutes. I’m not sure why the baking time was so much less – maybe because my cast iron pan was still hot from cooking the caramel for the pineapples. Go figure.

Pineapple Upside Down Slice

I think the evening was a success. The pizzas came out well – crisp, tasty crust, flavorful sauce, toppings of everyone’s choice. The only problem with make your own pizza is that the pizzas don’t come out all at once. Everytime I do this dinner, I think, “I should par bake the crusts and have everyone make the pizzas on them – it would be quicker and more pizzas could go in the oven at once.” Then, I forget to do that because it seems like, especially for the kids, rolling the dough is part of the fun. Oh, well. I have 3 par baked crusts in the freezer from the leftover dough and can use those at a later date.

My other question of the evening was: is it rude to photograph your plate when friends are at your house for dinner?!

Pizza Sauce

This is my recipe for an easy pizza sauce. It is important for the sauce to have a lot of flavor because it is spread thinly on top of the crust, covered with cheese and potentially other toppings. In order to be tasted, it has to have some boldness.

1 can (14 oz.) organic tomato sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thickly
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp. dried hot chili flakes
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic slices and saute until starting to become light brown. Take the garlic slices out with a spoon and reserve for use as a pizza topping, if desired (otherwise, discard). Remove the oil from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, pour the tomato sauce into the oil. Be careful as the sauce will splatter if the oil is still very hot. Return the pot to the heat and stir in the oregano (rub it between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the sauce), the salt, pepper and chili flakes. Bring the sauce to a simmer and simmer it, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Cool before using it to top pizzas.

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