I've received a lot of questions on Instagram and Facebook about the ingredients, toppings, pizza bases, and everything you can think of regarding the various homemade pizzas I make. I mean, when they look as good as they do (and taste even better) I don't fault anyone for wanting to know! Something that I've wised up on in the past few years is reading labels. I do my best to not buy overly processed foods (definitely no more frozen pizzas!), and to make sure I can read/pronounce the main ingredients. I'm not perfect, and neither is our food industry, but we can all do something for ourselves by just becoming more knowledgeable about what we're putting in our bodies!
Okay, back to pizza. Since we've been in New Zealand (mainly in the last 9 months or so) I've been getting purty creative in the kitchen. And that didn't stop with pizza. At first I started off super basic and pretty boring with just pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers/onions... you know like a combination at Papa Murphy's. The next one was a little more creative: Pesto/EVOO sauce, chicken, cheese, mushrooms (always), bacon (because who doesn't love bacon?), onion, etc. This one probably shows up the most because I love pesto! Then, I ventured into breakfast pizzas. By the way, I think breakfast pizzas are severely under-utilized on brunch menus. I did a little Pinterest research and got a few ideas for ingredients and tips. I'm not a chef and don't know how all food should be cooked, so it takes some research and patience - remember that when you're making kitchen creations! Breakfast pizzas have mainly been pretty similar from one to the next, but basically, EVOO sauce, cheese, sauteed seasoned potatoes and bell peppers, mushrooms, bacon or sausage and then raw egg(s) on top. Finally, my favorite genre of pizza so far: Roasted veggie! This one has changed a lot depending on what vegetables we have in the fridge, but I've done regular or pesto as the sauce, pepperoni or chicken or bacon, and then veggies galore! I tend to get a little over zealous with wanting to pile on a ton of ingredients. I need to remember I only have so much space available.
So, what's my secret? Practice! I'm lucky to have a very gracious helper that doesn't mind trying different types of pizza. (Really though, what man doesn't like pizza?) I often need to make a salad to go along with it because if I'm not careful I would easily eat the whole thing myself (and so would Heath).
Okay, so some basics to get you creative your own pizza pie:
- Try out different crust recipes, or look in the grocery store for the best alternative. I was making gluten free crusts for a while but there was a strange "filmy" aftertaste, so I tried another type and it wasn't quite right. Then, I found a pre-made, preservative-free flat bread (non-frozen) that came in packages of 3. I haven't looked back since! P.S. I want to keep trying homemade bases, but that will come down to much time and effort I want to put in. :)
- Find a minimally processed tomato paste for your base. I found a great organic brand and it comes in a little jar that when refrigerated, lasts at least 4-6 pizzas. If you do pesto, go by the same standards as the paste! Or, even better... make your own!
- Meats: For chicken, be sure to cook and season FIRST! Bacon, cook 3/4 the way through since they will continue to cook when baking the pizza. Sausage, also cook up first. No raw meat on the pizzas ever!
- Find a cheese you like. No need to get fancy and buy 3-4 different types. Cheese just helps hold it together, the flavor of the pizza will really come from the other ingredients. I'll use a mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese. Sometimes Parmesan on top, but not lately.
- Toppings: This one is up to you! Need some inspiration? Try what I listed above, then try your own!
All pizzas that cook are baked at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, for 10-14 minutes. I'll typically go the 14-ish minutes when i have the veggies on top because I wanted them roasted well, but most others are pretty good with 10 mins. Now, this goes for a standard "dinner-plate" sized pizza, if you have a larger one or smaller one, adjust accordingly and keep an eye on it.
Finally, enjoy! I love to photograph my creations because I really am proud of them, and you should be too. Cooking doesn't have to be monotonous and boring, have some fun with it and then share the love.