From the Midwest

From The Midwest

From The Midwest
North Carolina,
September 29
Never Give Up! Never Doubt Goodness and that Includes YOU!
Former English teacher-artist from the Midwest and just another statistic of "The Great Recession." Life goes on . . .


APRIL 10, 2012 9:07AM

Basic Pizza--Foodie Tuesday

Rate: 12 Flag




Each time I make pizza, I'm reminded of its total beauty. It's a food we devour with our eyes! I mean, just focus on that photograph. Bubbly, browned cheese with fresh mushrooms peeking up. Pepperoni tinged crisp. And, oh, the peppers. Not the diced, masticated kind from a take-out joint. Real peppers. Baked tender crisp. I like to pick them off and slither them into my opened mouth.



Color, shape, texture--pizza has it all! It's an almost magical dish. We assemble it then watch as it literally melts into deliciousness. Like a painting, it begins with a clean canvas or dough. We brush it with tomato sauce. Add some splotches of mushroom and pepper. Build it up, all Jackson Pollack-like. 


It's a round food. I like round. Doughnuts. Pies. Cakes. Our Planet. And it's easy and quick to prepare.


Three mistakes usually made with pizza? First is the cheese. Never use just mozzarella. Sure, it's a fun cheese...all that goo and stringiness. But it really doesn't pack a ton of taste. Use cheeses that do, such as Parmesan, Gruyere, or buy a blend of Italian cheeses now readily available in the grocery store and already shredded. Lately, I've been using a cheese by Stella simply called Italian. It's a cross between a Parm. and a Cheddar. Or use a good Gouda. Or a smoked mozzarella. It's up to you.


But whatever you do, go easy on the cheese. More cheese doesn't necessarily make a pizza better. But it will make it greasier and soggier. Less is more.


Next, after baking, allow the pizza to rest. You will taste more of the flavors you added to the pizza when it's not piping hot. And there's nothing worse than a tongue burn from scalding, hot melted cheese.




Most grocery stores now carry balls of fresh pizza dough. It's what I use. Pizza dough is not forgiving. It is elastic and snaps back like a sassy mouth. Work with it. I find that stretching it out with the heel of my hand works best. I've never had it stick to the bottom of my pan.


I also use deli pepperoni and have them cut it a bit thicker than normal. I then cut each slice into quarters.


Really, I love pizza because it allows me to clean out my fridge and to use up all those heels of cheese I have packaged away. The other day I made an asparagus pizza using leftover spears, deli ham and goat cheese.




Use toppings you enjoy. Jalapenos is you like it spicy. Fresh tomatoes. Basil. Everyone loves pizza! That's amore!


  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • Pizza Sauce (I use Prego)
  • Onion, red or yellow, sliced thin and/or chopped
  • Garlic, thinly sliced
  • Pepperoni
  • Mushrooms, sliced (keep a bit thick)
  • Peppers, green and/or red, yellow, orange
  • Mozzarella
  • A blend of other cheeses
  • Optional: red pepper flakes, crushed fennel seed


Preheat your oven to 400-425 degrees.


Using about 2/3 of the pizza dough, begin stretching it into a 9 or 10-inch circle. Use the heel of your hand to push dough outward. (My dough does not stick to my pan so I do not oil or spray it.) The edges will be thicker (a good thing) than the center.




Spread sauce evenly over the pizza dough. Less is more. Don't drown it or you will end up with a soggy pizza. (I have pre-baked the pizza dough several minutes to form a crust before adding the sauce, but I really found no real difference.) Scatter the thinly-sliced garlic over the sauce. If using, sprinkle with a bit of crushed fennel seed and/or red pepper flakes.



Yes, I love garlic. Does it show?



Add the onion. Here I used circles, more for visual drama, but I really prefer them cut up.





Now add an even layer of mozzarella and begin layering your veggies.





Sprinkle with your blend of Italian cheeses. Top with pepperoni and then a final grating of cheese.



 OMG! A masterpiece!



Bake for about ten minutes. Carefully slide the pizza off of the pan and directly onto the oven rack. This will ensure a crisp crust. Bake for another ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest on a wire rack. The wire rack will prevent the crust from becoming moist and soggy from steam.


Slice and enjoy!



(Don't judge me, but I love pizza with a glass of Manischewitz over ice. And sometimes I add diet Pepsi to it.)



Thats amore Dean Martin - YouTube




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Mmmm...thanks for sharing your pizzas! I never thought of asparagus, what a good idea. And jalapenos, too. :)
A really good looking and I'm sure fantastic tasting pizza Gary. I make my dough from "scratch", and now have figured out to make it far enough ahead to freeze first (when I make 2 crusts--eat one and freeze the other, the one that was frozen is easier to work and makes a tastier, crisper crust). Plus, something I've done for a while and have seen "luminaries" like Guy Fieri do--I just use an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce that I buy 3 for $1 and add some herbs to it.
You simply cannot get a decent pizza here in NY anymore. To many Italians went and married northern Europeans. Anyone care for some pizza with a haggis topping?

Thanks for the recipe Gary. I will have to give it to my cousins full blooded Italian wife. She can do this!
Clay: You are more than welcome!

Walter: I'm actually surprised how cheap a jar of pizza sauce is. Here's it's 1.57. I think it's better than most marinara sauces that sell for the twice the price! SoI use it on pasta, too!

Jack: My dad was from Long Island. I'll tell you what I miss. REAL NY cheesecake. Does anyone make it anymore? The stuff today is all cream cheese, not at all airy. I'd go with my grandfather to some place on the shore for the cheesecake. It was always exciting. Haven't had smoked eels since then, either. Pizza, like most of the country, got greedy and oversized. Less is more when it comes to pizza. Keep it simple, I say.
I've got a hankering for a slice right now. Looks delicious!
pizza has come a long way in the USA! Enjoy it and if you are ever here enjoy it the italian way
Great post and great looking pizza. /r
From The Midwest,

I cannot decide which I find more shocking--that pizza dough that's clearly not made of matzoh or you posting all of this food porn. :)

Foodie Tuesday is always challenging for me. All day long I'm reminded that I'm starving. :)
I just tossed a dozen asparagus spears that went slimy in the fridge, damnit! Okay you convinced me, I'm gonna start doing pizza as well as quesadillas.
This simply rocks dear.
Makes my mouth water...Off to forage for food in the fridge...
Erica: God, I love that word, "hankering." Thanks!
Roberto: I have an Italian version in the oven right now. Very simple. Cheese. Spinach. Mushrooms....
Christine: Thanks . . . and OMG... recipe for asparagus lasagne is off my charts . . .
Diary: I LOVE your comment. Don't be hungry. Matzoh? Now that's a story in and of itself. Please POST!
jmac: Oh, yea. DAMMIT! LOL.....
Mission: are you sure you are not a poet???? "Off to forage for food in the fridge..." OMG! Pure poetry . . . Thanks!
How can a picture look so delicious? I cannot eat anything this late at night, but I know I'll be dreaming of that pizza.
I have seen Pizza but none rival this one. MMMmmm
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