Monday, November 9, 2009

Pizza Party!

Ah the ubiquitous pizza party. Kids love them for their birthdays. Companies offer them as incentives for sales and jobs well done. But most of the time the pizzas are more like cardboard, ordered in great numbers for price not taste or a tender crust.

We did a pizza party at our house this past weekend for our neighbor Barb. She’s celebrating 60+ yrs and the kind of woman that finds humor and joy in all that she does…so why NOT a pizza party?!

When I discussed the party with Barb a month prior to the event, we decided it would be fun to build the pizzas as well as eat them as part of the party. And it truly was! As part of the prep for the party I had roasted and cut yellow, red and orange peppers, fresh mushrooms, big heads of garlic, and white onions. I also chopped black olives. For the sauce I provided basil and tomato pasta sauce that I use jars and jars of each month for spaghetti, Italian subs, etc.

The night before I mixed up the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day (ABin5) olive oil pizza dough recipe (page 134) left it rise the 2 hours, and refrigerated it for our use the next evening.

I love ABin5 recipes because they mix up so quickly and are ALWAYS consistently good. Once it’s mixed you just let it sit on the counter for a few hours, then pop it in the frig. Next day or multi-days later take it out and shape it into bread, pizza, rolls, flatbreads, etc. For the pizzas you don’t even have to let it rise! Yippee! Just layer your ingredients on top and pop it in the oven.

I love, love, love Greek style pizzas, so often make my version of it. I’ll slather the patted out pizza dough with butter, the roasted garlic, put some fresh tomatoes down, then layer on fresh mozzarella. Voila! Yummy pizza, with no red sauce. I love the inclusion of pine nuts but sometimes use walnuts in fresh pesto.

This fall when I harvested my pesto basil, regular and purple basil from the garden I made up numerous batches of pesto and froze it in vacuum seal bags.

So when I took it out for the party all I had to do was let it thaw and snip off a corner and squirt it out. Heavenly aromas filled that kitchen!

My neighbor Wanetta and Wayne, along with their son Don, were guests and Wanetta brought her homemade tomato sauce, cooked hamburger and turkey pepperoni.

I passed out grapefruit sized portions of the dough to Wanetta and Barb for them to start patting out in the aluminum foil covered pizza and cookie sheet pans.

I guess I gave Wanetta too much as she said later that she couldn’t get her crust thin enough. Wanetta made a ½ and ½ pizza; one side had her sauce and hamburger, onions, and shredded mozzarella cheese. The other side had the turkey pepperoni and cheese.

Barb used the red sauce I provided and added peppers, mushrooms, onions and olives to it, and then smothered it all in shredded mozzarella cheese. Barb, the guest of honor realized what was missing from my preparations was a green pepper so she had to run home and grab one. Thank goodness the traffic was light in the neighborhood…but then it always is, since we live in condos and only 100 feet from door to door! LOL.

My pizza was ½ and ½ also. This time I put my homemade pesto made with my homegrown basil on ½ of the pizza I made, and the other half was the butter, garlic and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Wanetta and I listened in fascination to Barb talk about the Julia Child exhibition at the Smithsonian that she had been to. The trip was Barb’s birthday present from her husband George. We didn’t know if Julia Child ever made pizza (I’ll be she did), but we had a ball hearing all about the exhibit and little things about her life that Barb had discovered.

Once the pizzas were made and done cooking we sat down with our men folk and ate a nice salad and then the pizzas. My latest wine, New Zealand Merlot really rounded out the meal. What a lively conversation it was with everyone joining in talking about their culinary discoveries in France, Sweden, Germany, Alaska, and York, PA!

Wanetta had made a German Chocolate Cake for Barb, and Don had decorated it. It was the perfect end to the meal. Richly chocolate and moist! What a fun evening!

Barb having a great laugh as she blew out the candles.

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