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The Perfect Pizza Margherita

pizza-margherita

A phone conversation, & a Home Delivery gone wrong…

It’s Friday evening…After pulling thru’ the 5 long weekdays, it’s finally here. Chilled Beer (lemonade for kids) & an evening out with friends in a local pizzeria is one option, the other one being having a quiet family time with a pizza home delivery. So one of these Fridays we opted on having that Oh! so precious (Quiet? no way!) family time & some thought of “custom pizza”.

I put the beer cans in the refrigerator, hubby goes up to pick a movie which we hope we can all enjoy together (mind it we have kids), & I pick up the phone and dial the number while I fish out the Pizza Coupon… here starts the drama-If you are like us ( “Picky Pizza People”) you would know what I am talking about.

“ring… Hello may I have your home phone number please?”
I say it out loud & clear.
“carry out or home delivery?”
Home Delivery Please…
“How can I help you ma’m?”
I have a Coupon.
“Can I have the coupon code please?”
I read it out.
“How would you like your pizza? ma’am?”
I want a Large regular crust…(mind it, this was pre decided among the 4 of us, since we do not need more than a Large & they cannot make half thin & half regular)
“What toppings would u like on it?”

[Now comes the exciting part- for all us want ours custom made. The kids like cheesy, we need ours easy. One kid likes her plain the other one with veggies. I like mine not so spicy, my hubby wants Jalapeno. Are you starting to see the trouble here?]

Well, we want half with a lot of cheese & the other half easy on cheese. [Ok so far]
“ok. & the toppings?”
On the cheesy half, I will have half  kept with no toppings  & the other half will be veggie…& on the less cheese part, we will have veggie with the Jalapeno on only the half of it….
“HUH?”
I repeat again. [ Silence for about 2 minutes...] I say “Hello?”
“Would you please hold for a second?” [ by this time the lady on the other side must be ready to quit her job dealing with freaks like me on a Friday evening].

she dumps my order! Now the manager is one the phone..
& I START ALL OVER AGAIN….

25 minutes on the phone, 3 frustrated people & finally the order is done. 40 mintues later the beer cans are getting there, the movie has been decided on, it’s past dinner time for the kids, the bell finally rings, we run to the door…get the pizza, open it & Walllaaaaaaa every darn thing is in the wrong place.

Our mistake I agree. We should never complicate things for people taking orders, esp. on the phone. We should have ordered 2 pizzas or even 4 ( but I hate the shrivelled up tired looks of leftover pizzas – they don’t perk up when reheated). But for once we wanted everyone happy & a perfect rested evening. It’s upto you to imagine what happened after that:-)

The evening aside, I have been wanting to make pizza from scratch for a long time now.  First comes the baking thrill, then the satisfaction of “yes i did it!”, then of course u can make the desired size with the desired toppings, all demands fulfilled.  But this time, the first time I made this Margherita Pizza with Fresh Basil & Tomatoes. The recipe i followed as is from Food & Wine was indeed a perfect pizza – This time for a perfect evening for even the “Picky Pizza People”.

Now a little bit about the name of the Margherita…

“The popular pizza Margherita owes its name to Italy’s Queen Margherita who in 1889 visited the Pizzeria Brandi in Naples. The Pizzaioli (pizza maker) on duty that day, Rafaele Esposito created a pizza for the Queen that contained the three colors of the new Italian flag. The red of tomato, white of the mozzarella and fresh green basil was a hit with the Queen and the rest of the world. Neapolitan style pizza had now spread throughout Italy and each region started designing their own versions based on the Italian culinary rule of fresh, local ingredients.” ( source: internet article from Life In Italy..) Sending this to Homemade #2- Breads.

pizza-margherita-4

Ingredients:

  1. 1 envelope /2 + 1/4 teaspoon dry Yeast
  2. 2 Cups Warm water
  3. 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  4. 4 Cups All purpose Flour + more for kneading & dusting
  5. 2.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the topping:

  1. 1 can(14 oz) peeled whole San Marzano Tomatoes ( I used regular brand canned tomato)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano crumbled
  3. 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Oilve Oil
  4. Coarse Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
  5. 2 Pounds Buffalo Mozzarella Thinly Sliced
  6. 32 basil leaves torn in pieces.

 

Preparation:

In a large bowl mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water & sugar & let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups of warm water, the 4 cups of flour and the kosher salt and stir until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead, adding flour as necessary until a silky, but soft dough forms. Use a pastry scraper to help knead the dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and brush all over with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface; punch down and divide into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Rub each ball with oil and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.

PREPARE THE TOPPINGS:

Meanwhile, set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°, allowing at least 45 minutes for the stone to heat. (if you are like me who do not own a pizza stone.. here is what I do: Turn over a large baking tray, a circular one would work here & heat that for about 15 minutes in the oven. OR to make it easier take a few layers of aluminium foil, poke a few holes with the fork , generously dust the foil with flour & place the pizza on this. Place this directly over the rack of the oven.. the hot air thru the holes work on the crust:-)  … This is my secret but it works)

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill set over a medium bowl or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in the oregano and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

On a lightly floured surface, stretch one ball of dough into a 13-inch round; transfer to a floured pizza peel, adding flour where the dough sticks.

Brush the  top of the dough some olive oil. Sprinkle some flour over the oil. This will prevent the dough from getting soggy. Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of the edge. Spread one-fourth of the cheese over the pizza and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and slide the pizza onto the stone.

Bake until the bottom is charred and the cheese is melted, about 8-12  minutes. Scatter one-fourth of the basil on top and let stand for 3 minutes before serving. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.

pizza-margherita

All I can say is, we did have a great evening this time, with a perfectly yummilicious pizza & four happy souls! Really it was good. You know.. nothing ever beats the taste of a warm bread or pizza coming to your plate straight baked from the oven – Simple, Delicate, Fresh herbs, lovely crust!

festaitaliana_logo

I am taking my pizza over to the Festa Italiana held by Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita & Maria of  Proud Italian Cook.


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