Pizza Craze Part 2

There is something about homemade pizza that just isn’t as satisfying as the stuff they serve at your local pizzeria. Maybe its the oven, you just can’t get the same effect at home. Nonetheless, I continue to search for the best sauce and crust recipe. To date, I have found neither.

When making pizza at home I always make my own crust. You know when you get the stomach flu, whatever you ate before that sounds like the most disgusting food in the world for the rest of your life? Even if what you ate had nothing to do with you getting sick? For me, that is store bought pizza crust, like Boboli. I think I was 9 and have never even been able to look at them without a little wave of nausea since then. So all pizza crust has to be made from scratch.

Previously I posted this crust recipe. Its a decent recipe but a little thicker than my preference and a little bland. So I continue to search. I have two other recipes I’ve tested to share for crust, both decent, one thick, one thin, but again a little bland and not ‘the one.’ I also have a sauce recipe that came with hundreds of 5 star reviews from but if I’m being honest, I did not like it at all, neither did my kids. My husband ate it but he’ll eat anything. The sauce was too sweet and too spicy. Too many ingredients I think. To date my favorite pizza sauce for homemade pizza is a can of  this stuff but I am trying to find a good recipe from scratch. Anyway, as I continue to test more recipes for sauces and crusts in search of the perfect one, I’ll post them here. If you have a tried and true, perfect recipe for either, I would love to hear it!

For the sauce I did not love, but maybe you will:

“Exquisite Pizza Sauce”

  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 6 oz warm water
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste

In a small bowl, mix together. Allow to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Spread on pizza crust.

Thick Crust 2:

  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water, allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in salt and oil. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour. Turn dough onto a well floured surface and knead more flour in until no longer sticky. Place dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with a cloth, let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, form a tight ball. Let relax a minute then roll out onto a lightly oiled pan. Top with your ingredients and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

For a thinner crust: (my favorite to date, sorry, I don’t have a picture!)

  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in hot water.  Let sit for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour and salt.

Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well. Turn onto a well floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Spread onto a greased pan, top with your favorite ingredients, bake at 500 for 8-10 minutes.

Grilled Balsamic Portabello Mushroom Burgers

I really am not a huge mushroom fan so for years I have avoided any sort of burger with a giant mushroom in place of the meat. But when one of my sisters made a delicious marinade for mushrooms and grilled them, and they were really, really good, I thought maybe it was time to try a portabello (is it portabello or portabella?) burger. I used her marinade, another sister’s hamburger recipe, and a complete stranger’s bun recipe to make this.

If you are at all concerned about having to eat an enormous vegetable when what you really want is beef, please trust me, you will love it. It doesn’t feel like its missing meat, its not a chore to eat for you non veggie lovers. Its delicious. It is so juicy and wonderful, I could honestly eat these every day.

One important tip, when it comes to cleaning the mushrooms, do not just rinse them in water before attempting to remove the gills. I did this on my first try, the mushroom soaked up all the water and turned to mush in my hands as I tried to scrape off the gills. Instead, remove the gills with a spoon before washing them. To wash them, I used a wet paper towel and gently wiped them clean to keep the mushrooms from acting like a sponge and soaking up a ton of water.

Despite these tips, I still hate cleaning the mushrooms. I feel clumsy and like I am mutilating it. The gills are edible but will give the finished burger an ugly color. If there is a better way to clean and remove the gills, I would love to hear! But in the very end, after marinading in a dark marinade and then being grilled, they really don’t look like I did a terrible job cleaning them. But still, I am unhappy with how they look before they go in the ziplock bag, so I’d really love to hear from you if I am doing it wrong.

For the marinade:

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1/3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/3 tsp. pepper
  • 4 portabello mushrooms, cleaned and gills removed

Note my clumsy, half destroyed looking “cleaned” mushroom:

In a ziplock bag add all marinade ingredients. Shake to mix, add mushrooms, toss to coat, refrigerate for 4+ hours (can be marinated overnight.)

Heat grill and prepare toppings. For my burgers went with tomato, onion, asiago cheese, fresh basil, arugula, this aioli, and these buns.

Grill for about 8-10 minutes, 4-5 on each side. Don’t worry if it looks like it may be burned, it isn’t, the balsamic is very dark and the mushrooms has just absorbed all the color. Just don’t burn them for real and make a liar out of me!

Ready to go on the grill!

And the cheese getting all melty and perfect: