Pizza Perfect – Father’s Day Pie

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(Homemade pizza – recipe in post)

I always used to say, any pizza is good pizza. But then I made my first fresh, homemade, hot out of the oven pie… and I realized just how amazing pizza can be. With all fresh ingredients and homemade dough, I’ve become so spoiled I turn up my nose at the greasy mess served at most restaurants.

When The Dad mentioned he was making his own sausage, homemade pizza instantly came to mind. Needless to say, he was on board! He picked the toppings, and I made the pie.

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Pizza sauce tends to get overlooked – so easy to buy a jar from the store – but it’s one of the most important components. So instead of going with store bought, I opted to make my own.

This is beyond easy to make, and is great to have on hand – store it in the fridge, or freeze it for later use. Perfect for pizzas, but just as great for pasta or casseroles. Not overly fancy on its own, but easy to spruce up with extra herbs or spices… this is my new go-to tomato sauce!

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Despite already having a decent dough recipe, I couldn’t help but try Jamie Oliver’s. After hearing how incredible it was, my expectations were high… but I was not disappointed! This dough is so simple to make, and can easily be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. The full recipe makes plenty to keep on hand, pulling off what you need as you need it. The only change I made to the base recipe was to add a handful of garlic powder, for just a touch more flavor. After experiencing this crust, I can’t imagine going back to any other recipe. It’s crispy, chewy, browns perfectly, and has great flavor. What more could anyone ask for?

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Basic Pizza Sauce
(Makes about 2 – 2.5 cups)

2 TBSP olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large hothouse or heirloom tomatoes, diced (or about 2lbs. other tomato variety – Roma will have less liquid, and are great for sauces)
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

For the pizza:
8-10 oz. pizza dough
3-4 TBSP pizza sauce
cheese and toppings of choice

In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute garlic until golden and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme, sugar, and half of the fresh basil. Adjust heat to simmer, and let cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until reduced by about half. Stir in the rest of the basil, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar or other airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks, or freeze.

For the pizza:
Preheat oven to 500f.
Roll/stretch dough into a 10-12 inch circle. Place it on pizza peel (or cutting board) dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour to keep it from sticking. Brush the outer edge of the crust with olive oil, and sprinkle with more cornmeal or semolina (or sprinkle with garlic, ranch, or cajun seasoning).
Spread a few TBSP of sauce over the dough (not too much, or else it will be soggy) and top as you like. If using fresh mozzarella, be sure to thoroughly drain the liquid.

There are a couple different methods for baking a pizza:
1. If you have a pizza stone, or an air-bake pizza tray, preheat the oven to 500f. with the stone in it at least 20-30 minutes before assembling your pizza. Carefully slide the pizza onto the hot stone, and bake for 7-8 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, and bake for another 1-2 minutes to brown the top.
2. Or, you can use a large cast-iron skillet or griddle. Preheat the oven to 500f., and place the cast iron pan on the stove. Heat the pan over high heat for 6-8 minutes – this time may vary depending on your stove, but be sure not to go any longer as over-heating the pan will cause your crust to burn. Carefully slide the prepared pizza into the hot skillet, and quickly (and carefully, using oven mitts) move the hot pan to the preheated oven. Bake for 6-7 minutes, then turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the top. Remove the pan from the oven, and let it rest for 1-2 minutes before sliding out of the pan.
I’ve found this method works just as well if not better than a pizza stone for getting a crispy bottom crust, but note that it can be very tricky to slide the pizza into a skillet with high sides. You can see my post on making a pizza in this way here: Project Pizza.

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It had been awhile since I made my own pizza, and after some recent disappointments with delivery, this really hit the spot. Topped with fresh mozzarella, onions, peppers, and The Dad’s incredible spiced sausage… I couldn’t get enough. The Dad dubbed it as one of the best pizza’s he’d eaten, which, coming from a Chicago native, is a true mark of success!
Beyond making a delicious meal, this pizza helped to make a perfect Father’s Day. Helped, because the best part was spending time with my dad. It seems that ever since I went and got all grow’d up, I’ve been too busy to just sit down and spend time with my family. Taking the day to talk and catch up was more than a gift to my dad, it was a gift to me too. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

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23 Responses to Pizza Perfect – Father’s Day Pie

  1. Foodie Stuntman June 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I hope your Dad had a great Father’s Day!

  2. Abby June 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    That is the cutest apron! (at least I think it’s an apron) we do homemade pizza too, but alas, we buy the jar sauce – bookmarked for this weeks pizza fest!!

    • Willow June 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      Thanks! It is an apron, and over the pocket it says “Honey comes from bees, apples from trees, but Pancakes come from Heaven” – I couldn’t resist! There will surely be more pictures of it to come.

      Hope you enjoy the sauce! :)

  3. June 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    That IS a cute apron and the pizza looks incredible! I’ve not made pizza for ages! I think you’ve inspired me to do a new recipe this week! I’m going to make a new list of things to cook… I need to actually abide by this one this time…

    • Willow June 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      Thanks! That makes me laugh, because I have so many ‘to cook’ lists, and there just isn’t time for them all! If you do get around to pizza, I look forward to hearing about it.

  4. Elly McCausland June 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    That first photo is just mouthwatering. You look like you’ve got the PERFECT pizza crust there, I suddenly feel very inspired to have a go. I love making pizza but I don’t do it nearly often enough. I really like that photo of kneading the dough too.

    • Willow June 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      Thank you! I really, really enjoyed this crust. I highly recommend the recipe!

  5. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes June 19, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    We can never get enough of homemade pizza, this post brouht back memories of a pizza party i threw for my dad a few years ago for his Birthday!

    I have noticed a trend he amongst my blogger girlfriends – we all cooked for our Dad’s on Fathers Day! I had mine over for a great breakfast and just to hang out for a while in the Garden which we don’t get to do often enough together :)

    Loving the photos as always!

    • Willow June 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      Awesome! And you’re right – but I guess that’s just what we do, as foodies. Whenever a birthday, holiday, or other occasion comes up the first thing I think is “what can I make?” :P

    • Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes June 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      When do we not think about food :)

    • Willow June 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      When we’re thinking about how we should probably get out and exericise more? :P

    • Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes July 1, 2012 at 4:56 am #

      haha – when I’m at the gym I try not to think too much about anything other than working out or else I’ll fall flat on my face or lose my count, balance… but when my mind does wander it goes straight to food :)

  6. June 20, 2012 at 4:33 am #

    my goodness that looks delicious! you’re absolutely right — pizza’s often overlooked, but it’s actually a superstar in its own right!

  7. TheDad June 20, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Thanks, Wil!! The pizza was fabulous and the time together was great! Best Father’s day ever!

    • Willow June 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      :D You’re welcome, Dad!

  8. Jen @JuanitasCocina June 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I love it that your dad comes here to tell you thank you. Just warms my heart.

    My dad will be here next week for a visit and I can’t wait! I haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving and I miss him. And he is the one who taught me how to make pizza!

  9. Kristy June 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Pizza is just the best crowd-pleaser, isn’t it? Yours looks so delish- and that crust! Thank you for the head’s up on Jamie Oliver’s recipe!

    • Willow June 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      No problem – I highly recommend it!

  10. Julia @The Roasted Root June 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Great pizza! I love the homemade pizza sauce and give you kudos for making your own dough. From-scratch pizza is hard to beat! My dad would have loved this on pop’s day!

  11. From Valeries Kitchen June 21, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Oh YUM, this looks so good Willow! Love the detailed instructions on how to bake it. My Mom always made her sauce from scratch and it just made it so much better. Btw, love the new blog design!

    • Willow June 21, 2012 at 3:14 am #

      Thanks, Valerie! It was about time to change things up.

  12. Skin Tightening November 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    OMG I am making this exact recipe for my dad. Thanks for the idea :)

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