The Cokes are pizza lovers; but, because I'm also super conscious about the food we eat (read: Weight Watchers brainwashed me forever...) we don't indulge in pizza very often. Twice a month, always on a Saturday night, we'll make our own deep dish pizza at home.
I like eating out, but I love eating in. I love eating in when it's a meal we've spent time perfecting; when we've created something that we truly do love because it has our favorite spices, flavors, etc. And after a few years of experimenting, we have become the Pizza Masters.
It started off as a basic supreme pizza on a hand-tossed crust, and evolved into the deep dish vegetarian monster we have today. I'm going to share the foundation for our recipe with you, but first, I thought I'd share a funny pizza story. That's what you're really here for anyway, right?
Now, there are two funny pizza stories I could tell you. The first involves Evan making the sauce, and consequently causing all of our taste buds to melt in a Mount Vesuvius frenzy of cracked red pepper. The second involves Evan...well...makin' a pizza. Because I have a few sauce recipes I'll be sharing down the road, I think I'll save the cracked red pepper tale, and go with what's behind door number two (lifetime supply of Turtle Wax!) :)
Evan asked me to marry him in August 2004, and two months later, we went on our first vacation together to Bryson City, NC (a combo engagement-birthday-Kristin is FINALLY 21-trip)...and PS, the "Kristin is FINALLY 21" is also a story to share...maybe I'll do a wine post one of these days.
I digress. In this early-ish stage of our relationship, we weren't living together yet (we became heathens the following year) but we did spend most of our time together, and had started cooking dinner together as well. One of the meals we'd done was, in fact, pizza. We get our pizza dough in the Publix bakery...their fresh dough is fabulous, and waaay easier than making it yourself. Back then, we were still in our "hand-tossed" phase, which meant lots of stretching, pulling, rolling, and yes, tossing the pizza dough into the air.
Back to vacation. We'd arrived at our cabin after a 12 hour drive. We were definitely ready for some R&R. Evan decided to take a shower while I unpacked. I made a few trips to the truck, bringing in bags and cleaning out the remains of our road trip, and each time I came into the bedroom I could hear Evan talking. Now, I talk to myself frequently, so I thought nothing of it to hear Ev in there, scrubbing away and yammering on. I tuned him out.
Finally, I brought the last suitcase to the bedroom, and began putting clothes away in the armoire. My ears perked up as I heard what I thought was a jolly Italian man - in our bathroom. I slowly opened the door, and tiptoed inside. I stood there, staring at the shower curtain, positive the noise I'd heard was coming from that direction. All of a sudden, the washcloth came flying up into the air above the shower, then sailed back down. "Well that's a very strange way to shower", I thought to myself. It happened a couple more times in silence, and then, I heard my jolly Italian man...
"I'M-AH MAKIN-AH PIZZA!" (washcloth up, washcloth down)
Excuse me? Did you say what I think you said?
"I'M-AH MAKIN-AH PIZZA!!!" (washcloth up, washcloth down)
Oh yes, he did. He said exactly what I think he said.
I stood in the bathroom, in awe and disbelief, as my fiancee of two months tossed "pizza dough" into the air while he showered. I was in love!
From that day forward, every single pizza night in our house has started with the phrase, "I'm-ah makin-ah pizza!" It's the kitchen equivalent of, "Gentlemen, start your engines!"
I'm sure my husband will be thrilled to know I've shared this story with you all. Coincidentally, it was shared today in the same manner it's been shared in the past - after two glasses of shiraz. :) And now, because you've been so patient, here's how the Cokes do pizza...
Deeeep Dish Pizza
Pizza dough (no recipe, I'm lazy - go to the Publix bakery)
One jar of Barilla Arrabiata pasta sauce (still lazy - also, sauce story and recipe to follow)
One 16 oz. block of Sorrento whole milk mozzarella
Olive Oil (no measuring) Hint: I am in l-o-v-e with the Crisco Olive Oil spray (like Pam, but better)
Parmesan Cheese (no measuring)
Italian Seasoning (you get the idea...)
Preheat your oven according to the Publix directions. Drizzle or spray your olive oil in a 9x9 pan. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in the bottom of the pan, liberally. Really liberally. Then, when you think you have enough...add more parm. Trust me, the crust will be fab. Work your dough (punch, knead, stretch, whisper sweet nothings) into the pan, and bake for about 10 minutes. While the dough is baking, prepare your toppings and shred the entire block of mozzarella cheese.
Once the dough is out (won't be done, but this helps to ensure it won't be raw in the middle) pour your sauce on top...all over, there's no crust, so we don't need to be polite. Once the dough is sauced (like me - haha!) sprinkle one third of the cheese on top, then add all your toppings, and finish with the remainder of the cheese. Sprinkle some parsley on top, and toss that puppy back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes. You'll know it's done when it's oozing over the side of the pan, sizzling in the bottom of your oven. We always let our pizza rest about five minutes before slicing.
Vegeterian Monster Toppings
We don't do sausage, pepperoni, ham, etc. on our pizza (anymore...sorry, Ev!). We're a veggie-only household now. Our faves? In no particular order...Roma tomatoes, green pepers, Vidalia onion, portabello mushrooms, black olives, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and cauliflower, along with some fresh basil. And sometimes, some spinach. You should see the mess in the bottom of my oven!