Tomato, Feta, Caper, Onion Pizza
Pizza's have evolved quite bit since the first ones I can remember eating. In the town I grew up in, there was a Magoo's pizza wagon parked on the main highway through town. The selection was pretty standard for the day; pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, a combination, the "Hawaiian" ham and pineapple (I'll say more on this some other time), or you could select your own combination of toppings. Pizza proved to be a popular treat in Hawaii as evidenced by chains like Pizza Hut and Domino's quickly staking claim in mini-malls all over town. Today, pizza is an ubiquitous fixture on America's food landscape. Open any phone book, (wow, am I dating myself or what?) rather, do a search online in any metropolitan area and your pizza choices are vast.
The humble pizza's evolution has brought us Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchen, just two of many institutions that aren't shy about baking anything on top of a crust and calling it a pizza. Now, I like myself a good barbecue chicken pizza once in a while just like the next guy, but there is such a thing as taking things too far. Often, pursuits in innovation and novelty result in losing touch with the fundamentals. I needed to get back to basic pie making.
Practicing my pizza dough recipe I came up with this Greek inspired pizza recipe. Well, Greek only because feta cheese stands in for the usual mozzarella. At the time of writing this post, I Googled "Greek pizza" and found a fantastic Greek food blog called Kalofagas. Turns out the Greeks have been making pizza or "ladenia" as it's called on the Greek island of Kimolos, probably as long as, if not longer than the Italians have. For all food Greek, the Kalofagas blog is a must. Check it out. I will definitely be sampling his recipes in the future.
So here's my pizza dough recipe. Just five ingredients go into my fool proof pizza dough (hey, if I can do it...); 2 to 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 packet of yeast, 1 cup of lukewarm water, a pinch of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.
In a large bowl, pour in the lukewarm water, sprinkle the yeast over the surface and add the pinch of sugar to activate the yeast. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes in a warm draft free place until it starts to get all frothy. Next, add a cup of flour and the salt while stirring. As the flour begins to absorb the water yeast mixture, continue adding flour until the mixture starts to form a ball and comes away from the bowl. Plop the dough ball onto a floured work surface and knead for about ten minutes or until you get tired of kneading, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from getting too sticky. The more you knead, the more elastic the dough will become. A little kneading will produce more of a bread like consistency once baked, similar to a foccacia bread. A lot of kneading will give you a dough that will bake into a crispy thin crust. At this point, transfer the dough into a lightly (olive) oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for about forty five minutes. It should double in size. While you're waiting for it to rise, you can prepare all your toppings.
After the dough has had a chance to rise, dump it out onto a floured surface and you should have enough dough for two large pies or one gigantic trash can lid sized pie. I suggest going with two. Roll out half of the dough and make it as thin as you'd like. I prefer mine thin and crispy. Top with sauce, and cheese and anything else you'd like.
Now comes the baking part. For me, nothing works better than my outdoor grill. I crank the heat up as high as it will go, around 600 degrees, and stick the pizza in. I forgot to mention, I use a perforated non-stick pizza pan or you could probably get even better results if you use one of those expanded metal mesh pans found at a restaurant supply place. Why? Because more heat will hit the bottom of the crust directly making it super crispy. Ten to twelve minutes later, and the pie is done; crispy on the bottom, nicely browned on top just like I like 'em.