Make your own pizza at home!

I thought about it a little bit, but not a lot. A friend of mine that used to work at a pizza place told me that your home oven is just not hot enough. That’s not exactly true. I started to do it only because a different friend of mine did it first. He made it and his pizza to me, tasted like pizza that you would get in an elementary school cafeteria. Well, I thought maybe I could do better. Since we are in a lock-down anyway, I thought I would give it a shot. I’m very glad that I did. It’s very easy and well worth it.

I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and since I have a cast iron pan and no pizza stone, I started with that. My pizza dough has about 50% hydration.

The dough recipe is as follows:
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

I just take a spoon or fork or spatula or chopstick or whatever I have close by and mix it. Mix it until it comes together and you see no more water and you can either knead it or just leave it. Then you let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry, you can proof it in the oven by turning the oven on to the lowest temperature possible (mine is 150F) and then opening the door. Leave the door open for a couple of minutes so that the temperature comes down to under 100F. Then, quickly setting it next to a cup of boiling hot water and shutting the door. (Don’t let the water touch the dough.) When the dough doubles in size, it’s ready to be stretched out and go into the pan. I’ll salt and put some Italian seasoning on the pan just prior to putting the dough into the pan because I want to get some flavor on the bottom of the pizza. If you’re lazy like me, you can just drop the ball into the pan and stretch/flatten it out there. If the dough pulls back too much, just leave it and let it sit for about 5 minutes and try again.

I don’t have any portion sizing for the sauce/toppings. All I can say is don’t put too much. From one of the YouTube videos I watched, the guy says, if it feels like it’s just short, it’s probably perfect.

I’ve used this recipe for my sauce:
8 tomatoes
5-6 basil leaves
garlic salt/pepper
a couple of garlic cloves
a little bit of Parmesan cheese

Then you can basically just cook the sauce out until it’s reduced to very little water. I might’ve put too much Parmesan – the sauce came out orange, but tasted fine. I cooked it along with the mushrooms also so that the mushrooms wouldn’t release too much water into the pizza.

In the picture, I’m using store bought Classico pizza sauce. Just take a ladle of store bought pizza sauce or the sauce you made and spoon it around the dough on the pan. When you feel like you’re just short, it’s probably enough. Don’t put too much or the dough will stay wet. If you would prefer the dough to be dry, you can put a layer of cheese down on top of the dough first. You might get a wetter pizza though. Then just lay the toppings on. I don’t buy shredded cheese, ever. I’m not a fan of the anti-caking agents that they come with and it also goes bad very quickly. I prefer to buy blocks of my own cheese and grate or slice or cut it myself. In the picture, I’ve sliced my cheese thinly and layered on top and the bottom. I mix mozzarella and parmesan. You can see raw mushrooms in the picture, but I won’t put raw mushrooms on a picture anymore. I’ll just par-cooked if not cooked because mushrooms release too much water. I would recommend cooking any vegetables prior to putting them onto the pizza just to release the water.

When you’re done topping the pizza, fire up the stove onto medium high heat and let it cook for about 5 minutes or so. Then put it into the broiler at low heat for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. I then go and check the bottom of the pizza with the spatula and adjust the heat until I see the desired color. For me, it’s golden brown.

This is what the pizza looked like before baking.
This is what the pizza looked like after baking.

Enjoy your pizza! I’d love any feedback! Questions or comments welcome.

Making Bob’s Red mill pancakes palatable

I normally love Bob’s red mill products. I enjoy their organic soy beans, organic oatmeal, flax seeds, beans, you name it. That said, their multigrain pancake and waffle mix is just plain disgusting. I’ve followed their instructions on the package and it just comes out gross. Both, the pancakes and the waffles.

If you got some however, please don’t throw them out. Here’s how to make them taste better. I was watching an episode of Diner Revival where Amanda Freitag show someone how to make a gluten free pancake and used a banana. That inspired me to give it a shot and it worked well! When following instructions, add a banana to the mix before putting them in the blender.

It’ll add just the texture you want. They’ll taste almost like regular pancakes. Of course, add maple syrup or honey to your liking. 🙂

The Next Food Network Star Season 4

After the last episode, a few of my picks are gone – Kevin Roberts and Nipa Bhatt– both of whom I thought had a chance are out of the competition. Aaron McCargo Jr.… eh … maybe. He’s hit and miss. Sometimes, he can have some showmanship, but I think he’s a better cook than a TV star. I think the most complete package still is with Kelsey Nixon. I’ll be very surprised if she’s eliminated anytime before the final two. I wanted to say final four, but we’re almost already there!

My pick for The Next Food Network Star Season 4

Wow!

This show’s awesome! I think I’d watch a show from almost any of these stars. All of the people are very beautiful – they all have great potential.

Who am I picking to win this? (Please bear in mind this is just from watching 1 show.) Well, here are those that I like (not in order):

Aaron McCargo Jr. – great food – 2 iron chefs liked it.

Kelsey Nixon – excellent personality, great energy and stage presence – definitely has what it takes to be on TV. The way she handled the judges questions, it was awesome! She’s also VERY HOT!

Kevin Roberts – the guy is funny … can’t say much more, but have the feeling that he’s got a shot.

Nipa Bhatt – I actually have the feeling she’s NOT going to win, but I feel that she has great potential. Her confidence I think is great. She’s got good answers to judges questions and could handle being put on the spot … but seeing her say “I can’t handle this anymore,” we’ll see what happens. She, like Kelsey, is also very beautiful.

Shane Lyons – I think this young kid’s got a good shot as well – seeing him breakdown in episode 1 I think helped him – it showed his love for food and his pride in his work.

Of these guys … I’m picking Kelsey.

Mandarin Garden in Berkeley, CA *****

This restaurant has the absolutely the most delicious Peking duck! I say, visit the place for the duck itself. It’s definitely worth driving a few miles for. They come with tortilla like wrapping paper instead of your typical bread – the skin is crispy and meat is juicy. In the bread, we put some hoisin sauce and cucumbers and green onions along with the meat/skin. The waiter was nice enough to give us a demonstration as well. The staff is very friendly and can speak Chinese, Japanese and English.

Aside from the duck, we’ve had other items on the menu that were quite good. I really liked the pot stickers and they seem to have a specialty called stuffed eggplants that other restaurants don’t seem to carry.

I’ll definitely visit the restaurant again should I be in Berkeley.