Friday, February 25, 2011

P is for Passion, and Pizza!

Friday night is Pizza Night. I've been making pizza for years, all the while perfecting my technique for stretching dough, topping dough, transferring said dough to a hot stone in the oven, and mastering the time and temperature needed for near perfect pizzas. Not every pizza I've made is a masterpiece and since I buy my dough from a store not every dough ball is the same out of the bag, but I'm getting ready for that day in the not too distant future when I build a wood fired pizza oven in my back yard. Until that time I'll continue to make the best pizzas I can taking inspiration from local pizzerias like Emma's Pizza and Za Restaurant as well as blogs like The Wednesday Chef and Slice.

I always try to use the best ingredients possible, almost always making my own sauce and buying fresh and sometimes organic toppings when possible and reasonable. I do still buy my dough from either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods even though I have a bag of Tipo 00 flour in my pantry. Tipo 00 flour is an Italian flour that is higher in gluten (protein) than all-purpose flour and is also milled more finely. These properties allow for easier dough stretching and help create a chewier, crispier crust than doughs made with all purpose flour. The doughs from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods also have very different properties. The Trader Joe's dough is more prone to tears while I'm stretching it but it is much easier to stretch into a really thin crust. I primarily use Trader Joe's dough and have gotten quite good at stretching it without tearing. The Whole Foods dough is much more elastic and much less likely to tear while stretching but it is also much more difficult to stretch it really thin, if you like doughy pizza, try the Whole Foods dough. The Whole Foods dough is also much more prone to bubbling while it bakes. I prefer the Trader Joe's dough, do you have a favorite? Do you make your own dough?

To cook my pizzas, I place a pizza stone in the bottom third of my oven and crank the heat up around 500 degrees. The stone I have now is from Williams-Sonoma and is my third; it's by far the best I've had, going on six years. It's very important to put the stone in a cold oven and allow it come up to temperature with the oven. Putting a cold stone in a hot oven will inevitably lead to it's demise, sometimes in spectacular fashion with it cracking into dozens of pieces. Experimenting with different locations has led me to believe that in my oven, the lower third produces the crispiest crusts, which is what I'm after. Placing the stone higher in the oven will cook the top faster leaving a chewier, sometimes limp dough depending on what's on top of it. Experiment for yourself to find the ideal location for your pizza stone. My pizzas almost always take between 8 and 10 minutes to cook, again, depending on what toppings are on the pizza. For transferring the dough to the oven, I dust a wooden pizza peel (paddle) with corn meal.

Maybe someday I'll open a pizza place of my own, one can dream, can't he? Until then, I'll make pizzas in my oven, and soon, I hope, in my very own backyard, wood-fired, pizza oven. To see my next pizza creation, follow me on Twitter but until then, enjoy some of the pizzas from my very own Pizza Hall of Fame.

Bacon, Yukon Gold, Manchego, Cilantro, Basic Tomato Sauce, Truffle Oil
Bacon and Potato Pizza with Truffle Oil

Smoked mozzarella, Cured Black Olives, Rosemary Sauce
Smoked Mozzarella and Cured Black Olive Pizza 

Applegate Farms Pepperoni, Provolone, Basic Tomato Sauce
Pepperoni and Provolone Pizza

Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, Baby Spinach, Buffalo Mozzarella, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Basic Tomato Sauce
Valentine's Day Pizza

Apple, Pear, Caramelized Onion, Honey, Goat Brie, Walnuts, Olive Oil
Apple, Pear, Caramelized Onion, Honey, Brie and Walnut Pizza

Shredded Buffalo Chicken, Red Onion, Scallion, Manchego, Basic Tomato Sauce
Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Shredded BBQ Rotisserie Chicken, Red Onion, Scallion, Manchego, Barbecue Sauce
Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Caramelized Onion, Arugula, Brown Turkey Figs, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Olive Oil, Aged Balsamic
Fig Pizza

Melted Leeks, Thyme Roasted Cremini, Buffalo Mozzarella, Pecorino, Rosemary Sauce
Leek, mushroom and buffalo mozzarella Pizza

Goat Gouda, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Cracked Black Pepper, Rosemary Sauce
Goat Gouda and Crumbled Chevre Pizza

Lemon-Garlic Green Olives, Sheep Feta, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Cracked Black Pepper, Garlic Olive Oil
Garlicky Green Olive Pizza

Truffled Shitake Mushroom, Buffalo Mozzarella, Fresh Sage, Olive Oil, Truffle Oil
Truffled Shitake Mushroom Pizza

Pepperoni, Manchego, Pecorino, Oregano, Basic Tomato Sauce
Pepperoni Pizza with Manchego

Do you have a favorite pizza? Please leave a comment a share your passion for pizza!


  1. These look fantastic! BBQ chicken has a special place in my heart- reminds me of college!

  2. I think I smell a pizza party. These look great! Definitely worthy of your own pizza shop. And I like Trader Joe's pizza dough the best too.

  3. Hi Betsy, thank you! The BBQ chicken pizza was great, but I really loved the buffalo chicken pizza! The smoked mozzarella and cured olives might be my favorite. But really, they've all be great!

    Hi Melissa, thanks! It's Friday which means Pizza Night! A pizza party would be so much easier with a pizza oven in my backyard, or a couple more ovens in my kitchen. I wonder how the pizzas would cook if I bought a second stone and cooked two pizzas at once in my oven. [Lightbulb!]

  4. Your pizzas look awesome! Your Caramelized Onion, Arugula, Fig, Goat Cheese sounds right up my alley as does the Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Buffalo Mozzarella, Crumbled Goat Cheese, and Tomato Sauce. That one reminds me of a pizza that Veggie Planet makes: butternut squash, goat cheese, caramelized onion and sage. The sage really adds a nice depth of flavor. I started making that one on my own a few years ago. A blogger pizza party or pizza swap could be fun!

  5. Nice pies ... we use terra cotta tiles from Home Depot as our "pizza stone." They are dirt cheap and work great.


  6. Not a single one I wouldn't love to taste. Great pizza round-up!

  7. Hi Elizabeth, thank you! The fig pizza is one of our favorites. SAme with the sweet potato pizza. Thanks for the butternut squash/sage idea, I'm going to try that soon!

    Hi NP36, thank you. Thanks for the terra cotta tiles tip.

    Hi Lydia, thank you!

  8. Yum! I'm going to show my husband your creations! We recently bought a pizza stone and my husband has been making pizzas every Sunday. We haven't been too creative yet. Usually we buy dough, sauce and cheese from Whole Foods. But maybe next time we'll try the dough from TJ's.

  9. Hi Tina, thanks! It's time to start thinking outside the pizza box with your pizzas. Look to pizzerias in your area for inspiration, that's what I do!

  10. you're making me hungry! Whole Foods has a great whole grain pizza dough. I like using that for my clam pizza. I use canned tomatoes, fresh mozz, fresh basil and parsley and whole freshly shucked little necks - top with lemon juice, a few splashes of red hot and salt and pepper. try it on the grill

    Kristen Houlker

  11. Hey KJ, thanks for commenting! I've never been a fan of how whole grain pizza dough stretches or bakes but your clam pizza sure does sound tasty!

  12. oh my gosh, u made ALL?! of these? i'll take a slice of each, please :-)

  13. I have seen the future of pizza! Tantalizing.

  14. Hi Craftiness, Yes, I did make all of these! My inspiration came from many places but my hands formed each of these pies!

    Hi PigTrip, thanks! I just need to start making my own down - store bought can be so inconsistent.

  15. That first one had me drooling, until I saw the pizza with goat gouda. Yummm. I do love pizza but admittedly never made it at home. But, I am going to a pizza party soon where we have to make our own pizza and I am getting pretty inspired by your creations!

  16. Hi Bianca, making pizza at home is surprisingly easy! With a few high quality ingredients you'll be eating your very own pizza! Store bought doughs can be pretty good, and everything else can be bought prepped and ready to go - pizza sauce, shredded cheese, and your imagination! Have fun at the pizza party! I'm sure I'll read about it soon :)

  17. I must try to recreate all of those pizzas -- especially the pear/brie/walnut one! Now that's the stuff dreams are made of!

  18. Hi Vanessa! It's hard for me to pick one favorite, but the arugula, fig and goat cheese one is one of my original favorites. Easy to make, go for it!

  19. Hi ! I just found your blog though Dylan's ( and am making my way through the archives. Your pizzas are inspiring me to try and make my own this weekend.

    I see you have a lot of restaurants in Boston; I went to Union Oyster House a year ago and discovered steamers. Omg so good.

  20. Hi Eleana, did you make your own pizzas last weekend? I certainly hope so!

    As for steamers, they might be my least favorite food, one that I will probably never eat again. I just don't like them!

  21. dude.....seriously...sick pizzas.

    apple pear pizza.



    i love trying new fresh ingredients out on things that the masses wouldn't normally think would go together.

    just got into this food blogging thing. will follow!

  22. Hey Kish, thank you! The apple pear pizza really is great. Brie on a pizza is outstanding. Thanks for reading.