[post updated: Saturday 6 February 2016]
Posted by: Will Pollock [this post has updates]
Yes, that headline is click bait… simmer down! I want to save you from Domino’s.
That’s all awesome, right? For this week leading up to Super Bowl 50, we’re setting PFG’s core mission aside to help you make pizza for the Football Masses without feeding the Corporate Pizza Machine. The top three pizza companies make more than $25 billion annually, so they’ll be fine if just this once you “seize the pie” and DIY.
Rather than do seven different posts, I’m going to add everything at this link so you can check back. Each day leading up to the Super Bowl, I’ll post new tips and tricks that will unchain you from the priz of For-profit Pizza. I’m both a pizza cook and a football fan, so you’re in good hands.
Each day before Super Bowl 50, I’ll post new tips and tricks that will unchain you from the prison of for-profit Pizza.
Put down the phone. Warm up the oven. Put your apron on. Let’s get to work!
Tip One: The Dough Warriors
Tips Two & Three: Toppings & Creativity
Tip Four: Shop Smart
Tips Five & Six: Backstories & Titles
Tip Seven: Two Bonus Tips
If you don’t believe me, let Rocco DiSpirito explain the benefits of cooking at home:
TIP ONE: The Dough Warriors
posted on: Monday 1 Feb. 2016
As outlined within the pages of Pizza for Good, you have myriad options when it comes to dough. Let’s go through them step-by-step, starting from easy to hard—along with upsides and downsides for each.
- Buy at the store. Many major grocery outfits sell dough right off the shelf. And a lot of it is actually quite decent: Trader Joe’s, some Whole Foods locations, Publix and others. You may have to ask someone in the bakery department for help finding it, because dough rounds are easy to miss. (Upsides: easy, affordable, fast. Downsides: more preservatives, less fresh.)
- Buy from a pizzeria or Italian restaurant. In years past for our charity events, we’ve been able to get dough-nations from places like Baraonda in Atlanta and Famous Pizza in Bethel, Conn. But that was when we were focused on fundraising, not feeding the masses. Still, your favorite joint will sell you dough from their kitchen and you’ll get fast, authentic dough for your peeps. (Upsides: easy, fresh. Downsides: can end up being a bit more expensive.)
- Make at home. I spent a number of years slaving away on house-made pizza dough for my party—before we had it donated. If you have a bread machine, you’re already four steps ahead of the game. If not, follow this recipe from The Kitchn for thin-crust pizza dough.
- Go gluten-free. Some joints’ GF dough tastes like a warmed-over sponge. Fret not: I developed an original, delicious method for gluten-free dough (buy the book either digitally or in print to grab it); Red Mill has a great recipe as well. Ordering GF from a pizzeria is usually not a winning choice, but you can click to the Minimalist Baker for a great option, too. (Upsides: healthy, you control ingredients. Downsides: more time-intensive, taste/consistency not for everyone.)
You just got your awesome cheat sheet for dough. Show some love and go buy Pizza for Good! Support indie authors and artists whenever you can.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Tips Two & Three: Toppings & Buying Smart. Make sure to tune in!
TIPS TWO & THREE: Toppings & Creativity (Bonus Recipe!)
posted on: Tuesday 2 Feb. 2016
When it comes to toppings, in short: think outside the (pizza) box.
Pizza for Good‘s unofficial subtitle is “Instinct in the Round” because your options to create awesome pizza is limitless. In other words, you can service a homemade pepperoni pizza and call it a day—even in that down-the-middle choice, you can innovate greatly with your own flourishes:
- homemade pizza sauce
- high-end pepperoni that you slice thin yourself
- make ricotta at home and dollop it on your pie
- sprinkle on some sauteed, chopped garlic
- finish your pie with mozzarella and sharp cheddar for an extra bite
Any and all of those little tweaks would turn an average pie that Domino’s might serve into a custom creation that will WOW your Super Bowl guests.
The book blog offers one free recipe called “Pesto Perfect,” which includes my secret way to make basil pesto. Take it, change it, make it yours.
Within the pages of Pizza for Good, I take Chick-fil-A ingredients and turn it into a pizza; there’s a sweet-and-savory pie with a cherry glaze called “Pi”; and an a French twist to Chicken Piccata that makes for an awesome bite. As pictured above, I turned whole garlic cloves and make it in to a pizza that would ward off any of the angriest vampires. (All these recipes are in the book, including many others, along with their backstories.)
As a bonus to you—and to give you another trick in your arsenal—I’m posting a second recipe, entitled “Lextstacy.” Courtesy of musician, artist and great friend Alexis Vear, she even recorded an exclusive performance of her song of the same name.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 16-ounce container mascarpone cheese
- 1 16-ounce container ricotta cheese
- 1 8-ounce wedge Parmesan cheese
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more to taste
- 1 9-inch pizza dough round (see Needing Dough? Make It Easy on Yourself for more information)
- In a large saucepan, combine the mascarpone, ricotta, Parmesan, and garlic. Cook on medium heat, and remember to kick your personal instinct into high gear, because the mixture ought to be to your liking. I recommend adding an equal balance of the ingredients and then adding more of what you prefer. When satisfied with the taste and consistency, continue cooking over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture is bubbling, between 5 and 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the jalapeño to your preference.
- Remove the cheese mixture from the heat and, using a ladle, spread it directly onto the dough. Add a light covering of shredded mozzarella, then top with the jalapeños. Bake until bubbling and serve immediately (see Dough-nated for baking instructions).
Creativity ain’t just for artists
Perhaps pizza is too predictable for your party… or you’re in the mood to try something new? Either way, I got you covered. Here are two ideas that are bound to be caught in the end zone for a touchdown.
“Gorgeous Gougères (Only Child II): an homage to Julia Child”
Gougères are traditionally a French pastry, but I turned it into a pizza-ish bite. Have a look, and follow the recipe I posted about two years ago. The filling for your gougères is, just like a pie, up to you!
The finished product:
Your second out-of-the-pizza-box possibility is “New York Delhi,” my version of naan pizza. Follow this recipe to the letter, and have a look at the video I created with my bestie (and co-collaborator on PFG in Bethel) Rachel “Mama Ditchie” Brown:
Check out these other ideas: Pizza Poppers on The Kitchn | Pizza Waffles on Will it Waffle?
Pizza Cones from Pillsbury | Stuffed Pizza Pretzels on What2Cook
You’re all caught up! Take these ideas for toppings and creativity and be wild and free with your choices for Sunday.
Tomorrow, Tip Four: Shopping Smart.
TIP FOUR: Shop Smart
posted on: Wednesday 3 Feb. 2016
However, Whole Foods can—if you squint carefully and avoid the $22 artisan dog biscuits—offer some good deals on fresh stuff that can help you make your Super Bowl soiree sing. WF’s in-house brandis often on-par with standard grocery store prices. With that in mind, here are a few quick things to keep in mind when shopping for Sunday:
- Splurge in strategic places. You’ll be using a shit-ton of mozzarella. Given that, you could buy that in bulk (see the Farmer’s Market bullet), save some scratch and apply that to a higher-quality meat selection. Also, organic pizza sauce is not very much more, and you can brag to your guests how hippie-fabulous you are by serving pizza with organic sauce. From a can, sure, but I’ll be the first to tell you: Muir Glen organic pizza sauce kicks ass.
- Store brands are your friend. As mentioned, some store brands are actually quite good. Food Hole’s 365 EVOO, for example, is a decent and inexpensive way to stock up on olive oil. (But don’t forget the ongoing olive oil scandal plaguing the industry right now; odds are the oil in your pantry comes from an old well in Texas. Do your research and choose wisely.) Publix has GreenWise and Kroger has SimpleTruth—the latter having a bit of a scandal of its own to deal with. Read labels and weigh the cost against what sort of pizza and flavor profile you’re going for.
- Farmer’s Markets love you. There are many dedicated search engines ready to point you toward your closest CSA (community-supported agriculture), Farmer’s Market and other dirt-to-table evangelists. These locations offer fresh, local alternatives to mass-produced foods that most Americans are used to by now. Whenever I throw my NYE Gourmet Pizza Extravaganza, I shop at Dekalb Farmers Market because the prices are great, selection is wide and stuff is fresh. I highly recommend you do the bulk of your shopping at a location like that and fill in with a mainstream grocery story.
- Call to compare. Finally, be creative on how you source your dough. Call a local pizzeria or Italian restaurant and see what the cost would be for 10 dough rounds vs. what you’d pay for store bought. The prices may surprise you. If you dare to be on hold for a bit, call ahead to markets if you’re unsure if a location has a specific item. That’ll save you from searching and driving too much.
In summary: be discerning, query all food labels and pinch your pennies where you can. This party doesn’t have to break the bank.
Coming tomorrow, Tips Five & Six: Backstories & Titles
TIP FIVE & SIX: Backstories & Titles
posted on: Thursday 4 Feb. 2016
Every good movie character has a backstory, and every good film has a strong title (with the exception of The Shawshank Redemption).
In my certifiable mind, the same goes for the pizzas I create. And if I ever own a restaurant, you better believe I’ll slap all of them on a menu in like two seconds.
When you’re creating your pizza menu (for the Super Bowl or any other time), what stories do you want to tell? Is there someone you want to honor, or perhaps a chef you love?
Just like with toppings, the possibilities are limitless. I created one of my most favorite pizzas, and the title actually came before the backstory. Let me explain.
The pizza is a sweet-and-savory concoction that confounds the taster—in a good way. It has limitless complexity, as does its title, “Pi.” When I was writing Pizza for Good, this chapter came up and I had to figure out what to say. Then I remember that Rachel Brown’s son, Ethan, is a math whiz and an expert on both Pi and mental-math calculations. He’s even used it for charitable purposes in the past.
So, with a bit of dot-connecting, PFG offers Chapter 3: Pi, starring Ethan Brown. The only way I’ll share that proprietary recipe is in the book, so go and buy it now. The header image of this post is us making that very same pie in Bethel, Conn.
Next: Your Final Tip—Shhh… it’s a secret.
TIP SEVEN: Two Bonus Tips
posted on: Saturday 6 Feb. 2016
With all the tips I gave you this week, you’re ready to go forth and kick ass with gourmet pizza treats for your Super Bowl party. You’ve got dough ideas, strategies for good ingredients—and where to buy them—not to mention the ways you can really amp up the party with titles and backstories.
On that last point: still, to this day, “Closed on Sundays” is the most popular pizza I’ve ever offered. I once told folks “meh, I might not make it this year.” and a party-goer said, “if you do, I’ll have to kill you.”
Pizza for Good has all the deets on how to make Chick-fil-A chicken breasts at home, and it’s actually quite good. But it is time-intensive… so, since it’s Saturday, you can go out and buy some (or any other chicken tenders for that matter), dice it up, add some honey mustard as the base, cover with cheese, and BOOM. you’ve got the best pizza in the history of man. Your guests will be blown away.
Second bonus point: I have a recipe for cauliflower-based dough that’s gluten-free. I haven’t made it myself, but as soon as I have a full-fledged kitchen back I’m going to. This recipe comes from my god-daughter Samantha “Sammie Flo” Clemmey. Here goes:
The Sammie CauliFLOwer Dough Bonanza
- 2 cups of riced cauliflower (about 1 large head of cauliflower)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cups of mozzarella or Mexican blend cheese (for mixing)
- 1.5 tsp oregano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 cups mozzarella or Mexican blend cheese (for topping)
You guys are all caught up! Use the above plan for the Super Bowl, or any other event where you want pizza to knock your guests’ socks off. And remember to buy Pizza for Good—the recipes are killer even if you don’t use it to raise money. But you should do that, too. Because it works. ~ WP