WHO DOESN'T LOVE PIZZA? Here is a recipe for homemade crust. Once you have your crust, all you have to do is gather toppings and, voilà, everyone gets his favorite pizza - no squabbling about someone's pepperoni crossing over the middle or how the mushroom flavor is polluting the whole pie. This is a great meal that the whole family can help to make (and clean up!), and leftover slices are great in lunch bags the next day. This recipe makes about four 12-14" pizza crusts. You can divide the dough into smaller portions or easily cut the recipe in half if you need less. Individual crusts can be made the day before and then stored after they have cooled - great for pizza parties with lots of friends the next day!
2 envelopes quick rising yeast (or about 4 tsp)
2 c warm water
4 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
7-8 c flour + a little extra for rolling out the crusts
(If you need gluten-free, I prefer the Gluten Free Pantry French Bread/Pizza Dough mix to the others I have tried. Just follow the package directions.)
Preheat the oven to 425F
In a mixing bowl, pour the warm water (pleasantly warm to your fingers but not hot) and add the yeast. Stir gently to get the yeast into the water and allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast has woken up. Add the olive oil and salt and stir. Begin adding the flour about 1/2 cup at a time mixing thoroughly with each addition. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, I highly recommend using it. By the 6th or 7th cup of flour, the dough gets quite tough to mix, and if you are doing it by hand, you will get a good upper body workout or you could recruit some mixing help from the pizza eaters in your house. When you have added enough flour, the dough will not be very sticky to the touch and it will gather in a big clump on the the spoon or dough hook.
Extract your mixing implement, then cover the bowl loosely with a clean towel and put it in a warm place (not hot) and let the dough rise for about an hour. When it has risen - at least doubling if not tripling in size - punch it down and separate it into 4 equally-sized balls. Cover a clean surface with a thin layer of flour and place one of the balls on it.
Press the ball into a disc and sprinkle it with more flour. You may need to add more sprinkles of flour as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll it out to about 12-14" in diameter, and carefully picking it up by draping it over the rolling pin, place it onto a pizza or other flat baking pan. Dock it (poke some holes in it with a knife point or fork tines) and put it into the hot oven to pre-bake for about 10 minutes or until it is just beginning to get a bit golden. Once it has come out and cooled for a couple of minutes, spread the sauce, sprinkle the toppings and put it back into the oven until the cheese is melty and delicious (about 5-10 min).
The time in the oven for the whole pizza may not be enough time to cook meats or other items, so make sure those kinds of items are pre-cooked. Allow the pizza to cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!
SUNDAY MORNING BREAKFAST - that was my favorite meal of the whole week when I was growing up. I would wake up to the smell of bacon frying and go into the kitchen to find my mom, still in her PJ's, cooking up a big country breakfast. Now that I'm the PJ-wearing cook, I like to wake my family up with the delightful smell of home-made biscuits hot from the oven. With all the berries recently in, what could be better than a warm biscuit smothered in jam? They're wonderful on a lazy Sunday morning, and they freeze well, too. I often make a double batch, so I stash a few to re-heat for those not-so-leisurely school morning breakfasts.
2 c flour (Pamela's or Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose bake mixes can be substituted)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick of butter
about 1/2 cup of buttermilk (start with less and keep adding until you get a really thick pasty consistency for the dough)
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix gently but thoroughly. Cut the butter into 1/2" cubes and put in the flour mixture. If you have a food processor, you can put the ingredients into it and give a few bursts to mix the butter evenly into the flour, but if your goal is to wake your family with delicious smells and not noise, you may prefer the alternate method of mixing. If you don't have a food processor or prefer a quiet cooking experience, don't worry, there is a much more fun way to do the mixing. Using your finger tips, crush the butter into the flour until it is evenly distributed. You don't want chunks of butter left in the mixture because they will melt in the oven and make little greasy-biscuit-crisps instead of fluffy-jam-holders. Try to do this quickly so that the butter stays cool. If you have really warm hands, put the mixture in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the butter can cool.
Adding the buttermilk is the trickiest part. Pour about a quarter of a cup into the mixture to begin with and stir. Keep adding a little more (about a tablespoon at a time) until you get a thick paste. Cut parchment paper to fit a large cookie sheet and, using a soup spoon, scoop the mixture from the bowl in approximately 1/8 cup sized dollops. Use your finger to shove the dough off the spoon onto the parchment paper, allowing it to drop. Place the biscuits into a hot oven and bake for about 8 minutes. I usually start checking them around 6 minutes. You will know they are done when they are a little golden on top.
Serve with jam, honey, gravy, eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes and butter. Well, one or two of those. We can't all be like my mom.
Brandy Steinhilber grew up in Kentucky as a member of a cooking family. Breakfast, dinner and larger family gatherings always meant sitting together around a table full of good home-cooked food, and she has carried that tradition into her home with her own family. She is a firm believer in the importance of family meals as a time to be together and listen to each other. Brandy works as an elementary school teacher at the Anchorage Waldorf School, and her hobbies include, knitting, sewing, camping, cycling, skiing, hiking and cooking.