Cut Marks

When I was a kid, we had pizza every Sunday night. Tradition on Sunday was: Eggs for breakfast, then a mid-day dinner invariably including macaroni with red (tomato) meat sauce, often with Italian sausage or meatballs or eggplant parmigiana and a tossed salad on the side. This was a more formal meal than during the week, thus Sunday night being Mom’s night off from having to cook.

If we got a couple of pies at the local pizzeria, my dad asked for them uncut. He would slide them out of the box and into our preheated oven, straight onto the rack. In this way he attained optimal crispness (to his own point of perfection), a thin, crispy crust being a requirement. Plus, he always wanted his food hot (not warm, hot). If we didn’t order out, he would make pizza from scratch with purchased frozen bread dough that we let thaw and he then rolled out himself. And even though we only ever had cheese on pizza – freshly grated of course, and heaven forbid we spoil it with pepperoni or any veggies – it was of course delicious.

Maybe I learned to love pizza then, maybe I would love it anyway. No matter, it’s an all-time favorite for sure. I’ve made it more times than I can count. When my kids were growing up, I often made it for lunch, once a week at least I’d say. All three of my pans look like this, confirming way more than a few uses.

my pan centered.jpg

While my friend Fred was here last week, we made pizza one night because he wanted to practice making the dough himself. When I pulled the pans from their storage place alongside the cutting boards, I offhandedly called attention to the many, many cut marks as evidence of the many, many pizzas having been made on them over time.

You know how it is with offhand remarks. You forget you even said anything. I never gave it a second thought.

When he returned home to Kentucky, he wanted to make pizza. He made the dough himself and was super pleased with how it came out. Bravo, Fred!

Fred's pizza cropped.jpg

Our little pizza lesson paid off, I thought, and now he can make his own whenever he wants, and perfect his dough and play with toppings (using my recently developed pizza pile method of course!). Good for Fred! Good for his family!

Then he sent me a photo of his two slices on a plate, and later a photo of his cat licking the drippings off it. Clearly this is a man who enjoyed his pizza!

Hours later I got this photo.

Fred's pan.jpeg

Yes, that’s a pizza pan. When I saw the holes I thought he was going to tell me about whether the crust was crispy or not on account of those holes, or maybe how they affected the slide-off onto the oven rack. I was not expecting thoughts on the cut marks. He said:

My first cut marks.
I didn’t have a pizza baking pan so I bought this one today. After using it and cleaning it my first thought was that I shouldn’t cut pizza on it as it leaves cut marks. Then I thought of how you proudly reminisce of the cut marks on your pans. Sometimes we leave marks where we have been, better than shiny things with no history or attachment. 

Amen. Leaving marks where we have been is a thing to ponder. Cut marks are perhaps not the best analogy, but if you can get past the sharp-object implications and onto the idea that the blade connected with the pan in such a way as to leave a permanent reminder of that connection, then maybe we are onto something.

First of all, yes, better to connect and be left with a mark than to stand alone – perhaps even shiny! – but still lonely, untouched. So what if we look perfect or have a perfect job or eat a perfect diet but have no meaningful relationships. The marks we gain through valuable personal interactions, through caring for someone besides ourselves, make us only more attractive – especially and most importantly to eyes that can see beyond the surface.

But, pizza-pan-cut-marks analogy aside, the marks that matter are often not visible.

I’m thinking about the people I know and the marks they have left on me, more than I can possibly list, but for starters: those who don’t just wait for me to finish speaking so they can say their bit, but instead really listen (how many people really listen?), those who brought (and continually bring) laughter into my world, those who taught me to get outside of my own little box and consider the needs around me, who encouraged me to think a little more (and not just swallow the party line), to slow down and look at the stars on a clear night or listen to the soft rain pattering, to find something nice to say to someone because maybe it’s the only nice thing that person hears all day.

I am the grateful student of those who taught these things, encouraged these things, modeled these things and much more. Their shining examples, their admirable character, left permanent impressions on me. I want to be like them when I grow up. They have countered and helped push away the prevalent me-first stand of so many others who also tried to leave marks.

They say you become like the company you keep. We keep company in lots of ways these days – not only in person but also through our computers and phones. Perhaps we should be more mindful of the marks we subject ourselves to and concentrate our people-time with those who are likely to leave good marks. Likewise, what about the marks we ourselves leave – now there’s a sobering thought…

Playing with Food: Onion Cream Pizza!

If you are making whole wheat bread for the first time (or, name it: potato pancakes, chicken piccata, broccoli salad, oatmeal cookies…), you are likely to follow the recipe to a T. You walk consciously through the steps: Do I have everything on the list? Oh dear, I don’t have that kind of pan. How small should I cut this up? Is this the right consistency? What do they mean by “firm”?

But if you cook or bake a thing frequently, after a while you don’t need the recipe anymore. The ingredients, quantities, sequence, timing, temperature, variances and all other factors associated with making it have pretty well lodged in your head. You know what it looks like when it’s done right, what it feels like, what it smells like. You know what will affect it adversely, what doesn’t matter and what might enhance it. When you do a thing often, you get a sense for it. That’s when you can play with it.

For example, I made potato pancakes on Friday night: shredded potatoes, flour, egg, salt and pepper (and ideally a little chopped onion and parsley) mixed up in a bowl and plopped in hot oil until brown on one side, then flipped and browned on the other. In this case

  1. I forgot the flour (helps bind it a bit, oops, but somehow these were fine).
  2. A small red onion spoke to me from the pantry like Dory with the sharks in Finding Nemo – “Pick me! Pick me!” I don’t always have red onion in the house and I think it’s nicer than white.
  3. I was not feeling quite energetic enough to make a salad as well, but my good sense tells me “green is important!” so I chopped up some spinach and added it to the potato pancake mixture.
  4. I didn’t want to use two pans but I had a bit too much mixture for normal size potato pancakes. You can’t tell so much from the photo, but these are fat and thick, which meant a lower flame and a longer cooking time to make sure all of the potato got cooked through.

with spinach.jpg

This recipe works well with sweet potatoes too. Hmm, how would half sweet potato and half white potato be? What about shallots instead of red onion? What if I added a bit of bacon or ham next time, cooked to crispy and chopped up fine?

The potato pancakes were a side dish to pork chops (though sometimes they are a meal in themselves). I took some applesauce out of the freezer (that I made last fall) because applesauce goes beautifully with potato pancakes and pork chops. I had some apples in the fridge this past week that needed to be used, so I had cut them up small, with skins on, and cooked them till soft. I call this “stewed apples” rather than applesauce, though the difference is technical. Anyway there was a little of this left (not enough for dinner) but the two mixed together became applesauce with a bit more texture than usual. Why not?

I like playing with food. You can play even if you are not the one preparing the dish. Let’s say you like salad and you like quinoa. You go to a restaurant and they have one with a combination of ingredients you would not have thought to put together. Mine this past week at Burton’s Grill  came with dried cranberries, finely julienned veggies, roasted beets, candied pecans, shredded cheddar and maple dijonnaise. You know I don’t eat nuts, so they left those off, and once, maybe ten years ago, I had a great quinoa salad with a lemon dressing. One of the other salads on Burton’s menu had a lemon vinaigrette, so I asked if they could use their lemon dressing on the quinoa salad for me. Sure, our server said. It was fabulous!

But prize this week for playing with food goes to last night’s pizza. I have a wonderful book called Pizza Napoletana!* I used it for what Claudia calls “inspirational value.” I would not ordinarily be drawn to a recipe called Pizza Boscaiola all’ Lombardi (Mushroom Pizza). Nor did the intro grab my attention: “In the fall, the forests of Italy are dotted with mushroom hunters. Porcini is on everyone’s mind. Other wild mushrooms, such as shiitakes or morels, may be substituted.”

I assure you, mushrooms are not on my mind in the fall or at any other time of year. They are a bit too earthy for my taste. Like my aversion to nuts, it would be easier to be able to say “sorry, I’m allergic.” I’m not. I just don’t like them. I avoid them routinely.

What caught my eye were two words in the ingredient list: heavy cream. In a pizza recipe??? Mmmm! Oh, yeah! Those two words jumped at me. They were all I needed.

recipe2 cropped_LI.jpg

I did not actually have heavy cream in the house, seldom do, but Saturday night’s Airbnb cottage guests (bless them) left an unopened pint of light cream in the fridge. That works, I said to myself. I glanced over the recipe, seemed pretty straightforward. It wants me to sauté the onion in olive oil, add the mushrooms, cook till tender, add the cream, stir in the parsley and thyme, spread on rolled-out dough, sprinkle with cheeses and bake. I didn’t do it that way.

First there was the mushroom problem. What about some other vegetable? Samuel said. Peppers! I had a red pepper. That works. See? My aversion to some foods comes in handy — it forces me to play 😊.

I cut up the equivalent of three medium onions and one red pepper, got them going in the pan with half a stick (4 Tablespoons) butter – yes, the recipe said olive oil, which normally I love, but dairy was calling my name, so butter won that toss-up. There is nothing quite like the smell of onion sautéing in butter.


Then I thought, hey, what about garlic? I finely diced three cloves and added them to the onion and pepper.

Not having heavy cream, which would be heavy enough in and of itself, I decided to make a roux, or white sauce, to ensure a degree of thickness that wouldn’t be runny on a pizza. When the onions were soft and transparent, I added half a cup of flour (in retrospect, this might have been slightly too much) and then the pint of light cream a little at a time. Samuel ground some fresh pepper into it.

creamed onion.jpg

In the meantime I rolled out the perfect dough that Samuel had made (there is something about his dough that’s different than mine – better! – and I will figure it out someday!). Having used the recipe only for inspiration, in other words not referring to it as often as perhaps I should have, I then spread the creamy onion mixture on the dough and sprinkled salt and the cheeses on top.

I had parmesan cheese, but not the best kind, and this pizza was going to be good so I wanted to go with superior products. It came into my mind that I had had such luck with the asiago cheese on my pizza last week. So for cheeses I shredded a pound of mozzarella and a chunk of asiago that takes up as much space in your grip as a tennis ball, about 3x2x2”.

After the cheeses were on, I remembered (oops again) there were herbs called for as well. They should have been mixed into the onions and cream. Ah, well, on top they go.


I cannot imagine that mixing the herbs in would have made this pizza better because it was already quite amazing. But I’ll play around with this idea again – get the good, imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese maybe, or in the summertime use fresh parsley and thyme out of the garden, or see how heavy cream instead of a thickened light cream compares. In any case, this one’s a keeper!



Pizza Napoletana! By Pamela Shelton Johns, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California, 1999.

Water, Yeast, Flour, Salt

When I am out and about and find myself in a shop with freshly baked breads, I am sorely tempted every time. There’s something downright magical about baked things for me. They go from a gooey, sticky mess in a bowl to a delicious, not-dry but not-sticky-anymore, holding-its-shape wonder that always begs for my attention (and my purchase!). I often give in. Yesterday at MarieBette in Charlottesville, I was mesmerized by the olive baguettes, apple galettes and salted pretzel croissants (!). Heavenly, all of it! A baguette and a croissant came home with me. You don’t get texture like this everywhere. Oh, and the taste, the consistency, the crust…!


One day last week I woke up saying to myself It’s not that hard. Water, yeast, flour, salt. Other ingredients optional. So I got out a bowl and started in. That day I made rolls instead of bread; they did not last long. On Monday of this week I got the bug again and made two braids. This is just before baking them.


They came out delicious! I will not say my bread is on par with MarieBette’s, but it is respectable and yummy. Dare I ask for more?

Then Fred said, “I find baking and bread making to be a bit more challenging than some other cooking. It’s so much more than looking at a recipe and measuring accurately. The technique and order of adding ingredients is critical to the outcome. I’m still learning how to properly knead bread dough and what it should look like when it’s ready.”

Besides Fred recognizing that some things are not as simple as others and that skill and experience do come into play and affect the outcome, besides his very admirable acknowledgement that he has things to learn (don’t we all!), his statements are so true! Technique and order are important – e.g. if you add the salt too soon you will kill the yeast – and properly kneading dough is a thing to practice.

Yesterday as I made another batch, I thought about the challenge of giving instructions in written form. To knead bread, you push the wad of dough away from yourself with the heel(s) of your hand(s) and pull it back with your whole hand(s) in a grasp – forward and back, forward and back – all while moving it around on your floured surface in such a way as to pick up (and work into the dough) the flour that is on the surface. I am not sure if that makes sense in words, but it’s what I do.

Let’s start at the beginning. Water, yeast, flour and salt are the main ingredients, but recipes often call for other things. Milk or butter added in will make the dough (and subsequent bread) softer. Eggs will make it richer. Sugar will make it sweeter. Whole grains will make a different texture.

Yesterday I decided on a simple wheat dough and planned to make half of it a loaf of bread and half of it the base for a pizza. Rule of thumb: for every cup of liquid that you start with, you get about a loaf of bread or one pizza crust, so I needed two cups of liquid. I like my wheat dough a little softer, so I put about 2/3 cup on milk in my glass two-cup measure, and the rest water.

There is nothing magical about this proportion (it could as easily have been half milk and half water); it’s just what I did. The fact is that the more butterfat in the dough, the softer it will be.

Making bread has been happening for a very long time, way before exact measurements. But I’ll do my best. In the microwave this water/milk went for one minute 45 seconds, which showed just over 100F on my thermometer, which based on my results clearly was enough. The ideal temp is between 105 and 110. Yeast can multiply at 95F but a little warmer is needed to dissolve the yeast and help it “proof” or become active.

Proof the yeast? Watch. Here is my bowl of warmed water/milk combined with 2 tablespoons yeast and two cups wheat flour. In about 15 minutes, the mixture has grown. See the level in the bowl? How high up on the spoon it comes?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love this part. I love how it grows! Look at that – it’s just three ingredients, and it grows!

After I admire it and smile, I keep going. I’ve made the mistake of adding the salt too soon (and the dough won’t rise because the yeast is dead) and forgetting the salt altogether (and the dough/bread is seriously lacking in flavor), so I try to time the salt about midway through adding the rest of the flour. I added two cups of regular flour (by which I mean unbleached white flour) to my proofed mixture,


which makes a gooky mess that’s not yet too hard to stir (though make sure you have a strong spoon). Then I added 1 ½ teaspoons salt (measured in my hand, so again, approximately), which is (another rule of thumb for me) about ¾ teaspoon per cup of liquid or per loaf. With four cups of flour total stirred into the water/milk/yeast proof, it begins to pull from the side of the bowl.


Then another cup of flour (that’s five cups total for the two cups of liquid), till it looks something like this.


That’s when you “turn it out” onto a floured surface. I don’t like to waste any bits of the dough that have stuck to the bowl, plus I want to make clean-up as easy as possible, so I use this great scraper.


Make sure your hands are clean, and it’s best to take off rings for this next part. It’s easier to watch someone knead dough than try to follow written instructions. This video might help. Keep kneading until your dough is smooth and elastic. I added about another half cup of flour to the dough before I felt it was ready. The ten minutes it takes, the exertion of energy it takes, is good for you! Using your body maintains its good health in so many ways and makes you hungry for that slice of wonderful bread that will result from your labor.smooth and elastic.jpg

The next part is again magic, similar to the proofing of the yeast earlier. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, you let it rest. You put a little flour under it and on it, like this, then cover it with a towel and wait. All it would really need before the next stage is about 20 minutes, but a full rise is okay too. These photos were taken at 15 minutes, at 45 minutes and at one hour and 15 minutes. Look at how it grows!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What a transformation! The next set of photos show the dough at the beginning and at the end, followed by one of the most satisfying things known to humankind – punching it down!

Before rising, after rising, punch down, before rising, after rising, punch down…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now you make the shape you want for your bread. A standard (greased) loaf pan works fine, or you can make rolls or a braid and put it down on a silicone mat sprinkled with corn meal.

braid not yet baked.jpg

This needs to rise again in a warm (not hot) place. I turned the oven on for one minute, then turned it off, then put the pan in. This is guessing (as to temperature), I know, but it works. Once it has risen (about doubled in bulk), bake it at 375F until it’s light brown and “sounds hollow” when you tap on it.

braid baked.jpg

The other half of my dough I had put in a greased bowl (as they show in the video), sprinkled with flour, covered with a towel and put in the fridge. I knew I didn’t want pizza till later.

pizza later.jpg

Later, I took the bowl out of the fridge and let it sit half an hour before rolling the dough out to fit my (oiled with olive oil) pizza pan. I then did a new thing! I sprinkled olive oil on top of the rolled-out dough, spread it around and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. In my cast iron pan I sautéed three medium size onions till they were softened (but not mush), set that aside. I grated three chunks of asiago cheese, each of which was a chunk as big as I could fit my fingers around, and mixed that in a bowl with some chopped spinach, 10 or so slices of hard salami cut up, and a red pepper thinly sliced. I dumped the cheese mixture on the oiled dough, spread it out, then scattered the onions on top. I baked it at 425F till it looked melty on top, then slid it off the pan to crisp the bottom. Oh yum!


Water, Yeast, Flour, Salt — the base for uncountable varieties of goodness!!





Lasagna Pizza Galette

Oh, look, ricotta. What can I do with that?

I came home from being away for a few days and opened the fridge to see what might be possible for dinner, and there was a container of ricotta, front and center, staring at me, practically begging. You know you want to use me. I did, not only because I had an idea brewing, but because it had been in there almost too long.

Two experiences contributed to the new concoction I made tonight. New for me anyway.

  1. While in D.C. this past weekend, we stopped for a bite to eat at a pizza place and were intrigued with the one that had pickles on it! That’s right, pickles along with ham, pulled pork, feta cheese and a bit of mustard. They call this a pizza, and I’ll play along. It has a crust like a pizza, is round like a pizza, and has creamy, melted cheese on it like a pizza. The rest is a stretch, but it didn’t matter because it was totally delicious. The server described it as an “open sandwich.” Put whatever you want on a pizza crust. Hmmm.
  2. Claudia and I had a conversation about pie vs. galette. I think of galette as the free form version of pie, I said. To me pie has more fruit than galette, she said. Deeper maybe, ok, fair, I said. Look at us, she said. 🙂 Claudia made a plum pie. The sticky dough made with gobs of butter was hard to work with, hard to make pretty, but oh how amazing it must have tasted. I could only dream about it because she lives in Germany. I’m sure it’s long gone.

Claudia's plum galette.jpg

So here I was thinking free form and wanting to do something with my must-be-used ricotta when I saw it in the fridge. That’s all there was at first.

Okay. Start with a pizza dough, which we have discussed in my pizza pile post While the dough was resting I gathered basil and oregano from the garden (oh, how glorious basil and oregano are in August!!) and cut it up, took out the ricotta, looked for mozzarella but didn’t happen to have any so settled on a small chunk of asiago (it’s a stronger cheese – don’t need too much, but the flavor works), grated that, chopped up a red pepper and a couple handfuls of spinach, defrosted the half a can of Don Pepino pizza sauce I had put in a jar the last time we made pizza, and took out the jar of grated parmesan that I keep ready to go in the fridge. I oiled the pan with olive oil and sprinkled cornmeal on it. I’m hungry, worked fast.

Ready. I rolled out the rested dough bigger than my pizza pan by about 4” all around. Truth be told, that’s just how big it rolled out. Looked good to me. Not overly picky when I am hungry. I set the pan on the first thing that caught my eye on the counter that would raise it up high enough for the dough to hang down, which happened to be my teapot without its lid waiting by the sink to be rinsed, which you cannot see in this photo, but trust me, the teapot is under the pan and the dough is hanging down the sides.

True confession: I was just making dinner for me and Samuel. That’s all. This is the point where I realized the idea might work and it might be yummy and I ought to be taking some pictures so I could share it!

Here it is with the pizza sauce, then the spinach, basil and oregano, then the red pepper, then small blobs of ricotta.


Next came the salt and pepper and parmesan.


Then the grated asiago. I began flipping the sides up. This is the part that reminds me of a galette. Wherever it lands, it lands. After it’s done, the whole thing is fabulous, but the part encased in the dough all around the edges is extra fabulous. But I am getting ahead of myself. And I know I’m being terribly UN-EXACT this time. So sorry. Been away. Hungry. Slacker!


When all the sides are flipped up, it looked like this.


And when it has cooked until it’s almost done, it looks like this.

cooked 1.jpg

I like mine a little darker and the bottom crust a little crisper, so I slid it off the pan right onto the oven rack and in five more minutes ended up with this.

cooked 2.jpg

Seems to be a combination of pizza, Stromboli, calzone, lasagna and galette.

  • Round, thin crust, creamy cheese on top like a pizza.
  • Crust enveloping cheese like a Stromboli or calzone.
  • Ricotta to remind me of lasagna or calzone.
  • All in a free form that still reminds me of a galette.

I have no idea what to call this! But it was divine. Note past tense verb was.

piece on a plate.jpg

Pizza Pile

The title does not contain a typo. It is not supposed to say Pizza Pie. I said Pile and I mean Pile. You’ll see.

One day last week – I don’t remember which day except it was the day that included Dog-opoly – Kaileena and I wanted to make pizza. She is ten and so eager about learning to make good food. During the earlier part of the week that she was with me, we had made yeast dough twice, once for cinnamon-swirl bread and once for calzones. Now we would make it for pizza.

Until very recently, I have been making pizza the same way for my entire adult life.

  • Make dough. Let rest.
  • Roll out dough and put on prepared pan.
  • Spread tomato sauce on dough.
  • Sprinkle basil, oregano and garlic powder (one at a time) on sauce. Back in the day all of these came in little jars, dried and broken into very small pieces. Thus the sprinkling. Fresh is much better if you can manage it.
  • Top with grated mozzarella, parmesan and possibly asiago (one at a time).
  • Top with whatever else: spinach, salami, peppers, pepperoni (one at a time).
  • Bake in a hot oven.

In all these years it never once occurred to me to combine ingredients. Here is the way Kaileena and I made a pizza pile together.

First you gather all the ingredients for your pizza other than the crust, which is separate for obvious reasons. We decided to make our pizza with just two cheeses, mozz and parm, and also to use salami, spinach and a half of a yellow pepper that we found in the fridge. Of course you can put whatever you want on your pizza.

pizza ingredients

You see two cheeses (mozz wrapped in plastic and parm in a jar), spinach between them, a few slices of salami next to fresh basil and garlic cloves (we used just one clove), fresh oregano next to the garlic, and a piece of yellow pepper next to the can of all-important Don Pepino pizza sauce.

Kaileena grated the mozzarella while I cut up the rest.

pizza ingredients 2

We are getting closer to the pile. All of this stuff, except the sauce, goes in a bowl. Don’t forget a little salt and pepper. I would say not quite a teaspoon of salt for a pizza this size. But the amount is up to you.

pizza ingredients in bowl

Then you mix it up and either use it right away or put a plate on it and put it in the fridge until later when you want to make the pizza.

pizza ingredients mixed in bowl

Easy peasy.

Normally I would make the dough first, then grate the cheese, cut up the rest and mix it in a bowl while the dough is resting. But we knew we had to go get my mom and had only a little time, so we reversed the normal order. When we came back home with Mom, we made the dough.

First put one cup lukewarm water in a bowl along with a tablespoon of yeast. Stir. Add a cup of flour and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir. It will look like this.


Add another cup of flour and a teaspoon of salt. Add flour about a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl (about 4-5 cups total I think). Transfer to your countertop and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Kaileena got pretty good at this. In the kneading, you push with the heels of your hands, then pull the dough back toward you. Put some umpf into it. You’ll get a better dough and strengthen your arms at the same time. Who needs a gym when you can knead yeast dough like this?


After your dough is smooth, let it rest about 20 minutes before you roll it out. Just put a little flour on the counter and let the dough sit there.

dough resting

I swear we did not try to make a smiley face in the dough!

After 20 minutes or so, roll out the dough. Kaileena did this without help of any kind.

dough rolled out

We let that sit while we prepared the pan. Can you tell I’ve used a pizza cutter on that pan a gazillion times? I poured a bit of olive oil on it.

pizza pan oil1

Kaileena spread it around with her hands, not worrying about getting them oily because she was going right back to the dough, and that won’t hurt a thing.

pizza pan oil spread

I then sprinkled a few tablespoons of cornmeal on the pan. It’s not necessary. I just like the added texture.

pizza pan cornmeal

By the way, my oven takes 15 minutes to heat to 425 degrees, so I would turn it on about now.

Kaileena folded the dough in half and lifted it carefully to place it on the pan.

dough on pan in half

She unfolded it to cover the pan and curled up the edges that hung over the sides.

dough on pan opening up

Then we put half of that can of Don Pepino pizza sauce on the dough. I used to use the little 8-oz cans of tomato sauce, but one time last year we went to make pizza and had none of that in the house. Mom was here at that time, in transition from one house to another, and had stored a few bags of groceries in my basement. “I think there’s a can of pizza sauce in one of those bags,” she said. She had Don Pepino. Samuel deemed it the ingredient that moved homemade pizza to another level. I agree it was an enormous difference. We ordered a case from amazon.

pizza pan sauce

Kaileena spread the sauce. If you have the least bit of an artistic bent in you, this part is quite fun. A little like fingerpainting, only you do it with the back of a spoon.

pizza pan sauce spread2

Out from the fridge came the bowl of mixed-up cheeses, herbs and toppings. When you unload the bowl onto the pizza dough and sauce, you are looking at a PILE. You knew I would show you: Pizza Pile, get it? 🙂

pizza pile

None of this “first the basil, then the oregano, then the …..” Just empty the bowl on top and spread it out. Done! Oven ready in no time!

pizza pie oven ready

To get a good bottom crust, I slide the pizza right onto the bottom oven rack when it is set but not yet brown. This crisps it up and in five minutes or so I can slide it right back onto the pan. A spatula helps.


pizza pie done