Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mario Batali's Pizza Margherita with Homemade Mozzarella

After failing four times, I've made mozzarella.  Thank god.  I was beginning to get pretty sick of blaring Beyonce's "Broken-Hearted Girl" while subjecting my sister and boyfriend to my sulky verbal abuse.

Don't judge me.

Losing a mozzarella baby is the single greatest loss a man can feel.  By the same logic, birthing a mozzarella baby is a pretty euphoric experience.  (My life isn't sad.)  I felt like friggin' Tom Hanks when he creates fire in Castaway.  To celebrate my laureate success, I feasted on my mozzarella in its most glorious manifestation - pizza.

Maybe I've been watching too much Iron Chef, but I chose Mario Batali's Pizza Margherita recipe.  It's simple and relatively easy to follow.  My only problem was that I don't have a pizza stone or passata.  Pizza stone = baking sheet for me, but what the eff is passata?!  I don't know.  Google says it's a puree of ripe tomatoes.  I'm confident I can come up with a decent substitute which led me to a recipe for pizza sauce that is the most amazing tomato-y, garlic-y filth I've ever spread on my pizza.

Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water  (I used leftover whey from making the mozzarella.)
1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

Stir together the water, yeast and sugar until it's all dissolved.  Stir in salt and one cup of flour.  Then work in two cups of flour with a wooden spoon.

The dough should come together after about 2 minutes of stirring.  Try to work in as much flour as possible to get a pretty stiff dough.  Then roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes until you have a firm, smooth dough.  Place in an oiled bowl for 45 minutes to rise until doubled in size.  While you're waiting for the dough to rise, make the pizza sauce.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces.  Knead each piece into a ball.  Cover and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Pizza Sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I probably used 5 times this amount, and it was gorgeous.  Scale to taste)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients.  Let it sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature so the flavors can develop.

Pizza Assembly

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

While the pizza sauce is "developing", start rolling out the pizza dough.  Roll flat with a rolling pin and toss it around.  Here's how not to throw pizza dough.

Make the crust by pinching and folding over the dough.

In addition to the pizza dough and sauce you've made, you'll need the following:
8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced thinly
8 leaves of basil, ripped up or chopped

We added in white button mushrooms and fresh tomatoes as toppings as well as a ricotta sauce I had leftover from the last time I failed in making mozzarella (failed mozzarella can be salvaged into ricotta).

Spread the pizza sauce.

Top with the cheese and toppings.

Try different shapes.

Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the cheese is all bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

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