Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pizza Off!!!!

I love trying out new, different, and sometimes even strange varieties of pizza.  I certainly have my favorites, but I'll always try out something new!  My fiance, on the other hand, not so much.  He grew up in Chicago, eating a lot of pizza... no, not 'Chicago-style', but the crispy thin-crust pizza that most Chicagoans prefer.  This, in his opinion, is real pizza and it's best topped with Italian sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, and onion.  He has very strong opinions about his pizza.  I think he might even believe pizza was invented in Chicago.

We have yet to ever find his magical combination in Australia so I knew how excited he would be if we re-created it at home.  I was also itching to get him to try some new varieties... this lead to the Pizza Off!!!  He was confident that there wasn't a combination out there that could beat his sausage version so I knew I had to bring out the big guns... a fancy buffalo mozzarella, is there anything better?!  I picked up a nice gorgonzola as well for a pear, gorgonzola and walnut version (which was deemed 'disgusting' when I mentioned it).

We made a big batch of pizza dough and got to work.  As we only had one pizza stone, I was selected to present my dish first.  So let's get to it..., Pizza #1:

Classic Margherita Pizza


1/4 pizza dough (see recipe below)
1 large ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced into rounds
10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
2 roma tomatoes sliced
1/2 cup roasted tomato sugo (see recipe below)


1. Place pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2. Flour a surface to roll out dough. Sprinkle with semolina and roll dough evenly to about 1/8 in thick. If available, place dough on a pizza pan or baking tray to slide onto pizza stone.

3. Spread tomato sugo over pizza leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Arrange toppings over pizza. 

4. Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp. 

The results?  You can't go wrong with margherita pizza.  The success of the combination of tomato, basil and mozzeralla is undeniable.  We both savored every bite but had to leave room for the next contender.  A minor set back for me was getting a little too excited and putting my pizza in before the stone was hot enough, the crust could have been a bit crispier on the bottom.

Onto Pizza #2:

'Real Pizza'
(Italian Sausage, mushrooms, pepper, and onion)


1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup roasted tomato sugo
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 Italian pork sausage (removed from casing)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano


1. Place pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2. Flour a surface to roll out dough. Sprinkle with semolina and roll dough evenly to about 1/8 in thick. If available, place dough on a pizza pan or baking tray to slide onto pizza stone.

3. Break sausages into small pieces and cook for 5-10 minutes or until sausage is about 3/4 cooked.

4. Spread tomato sugo over pizza leaving a 1/2 inch border.

5. Place Italian sausage pieces throughout as desired and then add chopped onions, green peppers and mushrooms in a similar manner.

6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and oregano over top of pizza.

7. Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

The verdict?  Both pizzas were fantastic, and very different which was nice!  Pizza #2 won due to it's perfect crust.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr, need to work on my patience...  I demand a rematch!  I don't think our stomachs will mind.  Here are a couple of great recipes for dough and sauce that can be used for a variety of different pizzas.  The dough is enough for 4 pizzas (or calzones) and the sauce can be made in large batches and frozen for future use.  Enjoy!

Pizza Dough


1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 sachet of dried yeast
4 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 1/2 lbs “00” flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons fine salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup milk

1. Dissolve the yeast in a couple tablespoons of water. Add remaining water and sugar and still to dissolve.

2. Put flour and salt into bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook. Turn on low and slowly add yeast mixture. Mix until dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

3. Add oil and milk to bowl and mix until smooth and elastic, 4-5 minutes.

4. Dust a work surface with flour and empty out dough onto surface, making sure to scrape any off of the dough hook. Knead for a few minutes, adding more flour if necessary and shape into ball. Dust a baking sheet with flour and place dough on the sheet under a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes to prove.

5. Divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into balls. Again, place on flour dusted baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Leave for 30 minutes.

6. The individual portions are now ready to be rolled out on a floured and semolina dusted work surface.

Roasted Tomato Sugo


1 lb tomatoes, halved
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves (skin on)
2 sprigs basil
2 sprigs oregano
1 sprig thyme
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp baslamic vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place tomatoes, garlic and herbs on a baking tray and toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper, and arrang the tomatoes cut side up. 
3. Roast for 1 hour and peel tomatoes when cool enough and place in a blender.  Squeeze garlic from the skins and add to the blender.  Blend to a coarse puree and taste to adjust seasoning.


  1. Both look heavenly. All the ingredients I enjoy. I'll have to try your dough recipe. Thanks for sharing (=

  2. the roasted tomato pizza (real pizza) looks wonderful!
    tomatoes are looking lovely this year in California!

  3. YUMMYY!!!! Im salivating. Yours is prettier :)

  4. I am always drawn to the classic margarita, but I would happily eat either. Pizza is my FAVORITE food.

  5. Thanks ladies! It's a great dough recipe that can be used a staple for any pizza!

  6. I wonder if i could talk my husband into a pizza off?! I love pizza, any kind, and I am excited to try out you crust recipe, thanks!

  7. Looks wonderful! I love homemade pizza.

  8. Great Pizza Off... I am addicted to pizza, I can eat it all the time, Homemade pizza is so good, I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I make it!



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