Urgh - I was 90% finished with my entry when my little prince decides to push the on/off button on the computer! My lengthy post was lost. So here goes attempt number 2.
This past summer, my kids were really into a series of DVDs that we borrowed from the library, Signing Time. The series, created by a mother of 2 young children (one deaf, one hearing), utilizes music and clever graphics to teach children of all ages how to communicate with American Sign Language. The songs are very catchy. One of our favorite songs came from Vol 12 - Time to Eat. The children learn a variety of words associated with common foods (tomatoes, cheese, salad, spaghetti, soup, sandwich, etc.) and they then utilize all the words they've learned to build a crazy pizza. I'll have to find the lyrics for ya'll. :)
Nearly a year ago, we were in the big city for a concert (Bon Jovi!). For dinner, Amalia and Bar treated us to a homemade pizza night. The pizzas were amazingly delicious. Months later, while Bef, BuD (DH) and I were in Hawaii, we took an informal poll and all agreed that Amalia's pizzas were THE best pizzas we've ever tasted. :)
When I returned home, I was on a quest to find the book Amalia had recommended, American Pie by Peter Reinhart, and start my own tradition of a weekly pizza night. I already had a few of the tools (pizza stone, rotary cutter) described in the book and thought I would give it a go. Unfortunately, the first few pizzas I made back then were more akin to a calzone than to a pizza pie. The pizza would always flop over onto intself in a heap of dough, cheese and toppings... most of which ended up on the bottom of the 500 degree oven.
When Amalia gave me a pizza stone, a peel, pastry knife, flour wand, and Semolina flour for Christmas, I was overjoyed! The stars were aligned last night, allowing me to begin my pizza endeavors anew! I purchased the ingredients (onion, pear, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella cheese, parmasean cheese, basil, and cherry tomatoes) and looked forward to a wonderful meal.
I made the dough early in the morning and went for an awesome run as the dough was left to rise on the counter. Later that evening, as I began to make the sauce, I realized that I had neglected to buy a can of crushed tomatoes. The recipe stated I could substitute canned whole tomatoes... so I did just that, crushing them by hand as suggested. Unfortunately, I also neglected to drain them sufficiently beforehand, so the sauce was rather runny. I added a small can of tomato paste (helped a little) and heated the sauce on the stove top (as Amalia suggested - this also helped a little).
DH invited a friend from work over for dinner (they had business to discuss)... the perfect opportunity to try out my new skill. The first pizza I made was one of my own creation, caramelized onion and pear (pictured below). I also made several suggested by the book: Margherita (sauce, basil leaves, mozz. & parm. cheeses), con Rucola (cherry tomatoes, arugula, mozz. & parm. cheeses), and con Rucolo w/Prosciutto. The sauce was a little runny yet, which made for a bit of mess (particular for the kids) but everything tasted great!
The kids and I had a great time making the pizzas... all the while singing the pizza song from Signing Time (albeit with the lyrics altered slightly to suit our ingredients).
The guys voted and the clear winner for the evening was caramelized onion & pear! Yippee! :) I've posted the toppings for those who care to try it for themselves. I've topped a pre-made thin pizza crust (such as Boboli) in the past and it turns it well but, the Napoletana dough in the book far exceeds this method.
Sliced, caramelized red onions
One sliced Bartlett pear
Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
I don't know the exact amounts... I just play and go with what looks right. You can vary it according to your own tastes. :)