Broccoli was not happening tonight.
I needed a go-to. A dinner for everyone. One that could be manipulated to one’s choosing. One where the kids could be involved with joy. One where the end result was a table of people all incredibly satisfied.
Pizza. My version. His version. Their version. Suddenly dinnertime became about our day and not about what we don’t like.
I’ve learned a lot about pizza in the last few years. My biggest tips came from attending a bread class at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC. The few pointers I got from them changed the way I make pizza. I’d love to be able to share them with you:
- Turn your oven to the highest temperature it can go. For me, that’s 500 degrees. If yours can go higher, pump it up.
- Parchment paper!! Ok, this little tidbit is a gem. If you have made your own pizza in the past, using cornmeal underneath and then sliding it onto a hot pizza stone with a peel, you know the anxiety that I have felt. You have a pizza dough covered in toppings. Then, you are supposed to gracefully slide that sucker into a 500 degree oven without any of the toppings falling off or the pizza looking like it tripped and hit a bump. Instead, rip a piece of parchment the size of your pizza. Cut it into a rough circle, just bigger than what your pizza will be. Roll your dough onto the parchment- top with your favorite toppings. Now slide your peel underneath the parchment. That baby will slide right off, all toppings intact and your dough still in the shape of a pizza. Amazing.
- I’ve never been a fan of the pizza cutter. A good pair of kitchen sheers are the way to go.
Oh, and can we talk about caramelized onions for a moment? The magic they bring to a dish? Make a double batch of these and save some for the next dinner. I promise you’ll find a use for them. Caramelized onions, I love you.
Pizzas for Everyone
Your Basic Cheese
2 pizza doughs (you can make your own. (I like this version here.) I used whole wheat frozen dough from Whole Foods
small block of mozzarella cheese
drained diced tomatoes, or small can tomato sauce
*for the more adventurous: Pizza with Mushrooms, Caramelized onions, Blue cheese and Walnuts
crimini mushrooms, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic
1 T sugar
1/4 cup of white wine or broth
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Roll both doughs onto each piece of parchment paper. Rub with a little olive oil. Have the kids spoon on some sauce (or diced tomatoes) and break off little bits of cheese and spread it around. Now have them go and do something else while you pour yourself a glass of wine and get busy in the kitchen. Spongebob, anyone?
Put on some music. Have a sip of wine. Feeling better already, right? Now, slice your onions. Warm some butter or oil in a medium pan. Add onions and sugar. Saute on low for about 20 minutes, mixing every so often.
While that’s going, saute a few cloves of minced garlic in oil in a separate pan for 30 seconds. Add a few handfuls of spinach. When wilted, remove. Now saute your sliced mushrooms in the same garlicky pan until slightly browned.
Check your onions- they should browning slightly, but not burning. When they all look a touch brown, add a 1/4 cup wine or broth and simmer until absorbed. Take off the heat and add vinegar, mixing until all onions have a nice syrupy coating.
Spread onions on your pizza. Top with mushrooms and spinach, little crumbled bits of blue cheese and walnuts.
Heat in a 500 degree oven for about 14 minutes.