#Pizza Margherita

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”
                                     – George Bernard Shaw

I was first introduced to pizza maybe at the age of  nine or ten when my dad would take us to our weekly dinner outing at Sukh Sagar in Bangalore. This restaurant didn’t require us to go inside, the service came to the car! My little brothers and me would always get a medium sized pizza & share. After a few years, Pizza Huts & Pizza Corners cropped up in every corner of Bangalore & most special occasions at home demanded a pizza night, be it a birthday or a simple evening when dad returned home after a week of travel.

But the real connection began in Manhattan, when my husband & me came across this place called Pronto’s very close to Times Square…Ah! the mozzarella & the marinara were married so well together, my only regret is not having enough of it! Since then we have turned into pizza loonies trying to analyse the cheeses, toppings & thickness of the base…yes! we are looking for the best and they all are. I think it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong with Pizza.

One lazy afternoon, as I was randomly flipping channels, I chanced upon the Rachel Allen show. I have always admired the ease at which she demonstrates her recipes, be it a salad or a pastry and of course, you gotta love her accent! Her Pizza was no different. The simplicity with which the dough was kneaded, rolled & baked into a delicious gourmet pizza tempted me to try my hand at it. Obviously, watching somebody thus well experienced & me attempting the same are two different things but who doesn’t love an adventure! But,  all kidding aside, I followed the dough recipe to the ‘T’ and the pizza party was a grand success at home. So much so that my  “laptop devoted” brother came to help for the second round. Now that’s something!
I’ve even had my little students make this in the summer break and they loved it!…Not just eating but making the pizza too.
I have made this quite a few times at home & it never fails. My husband has fallen completely in love with it. There’s nothing wrong with a pizza from a pizza joint but the whole experience of making it from scratch has got me hooked. Nothing compares to the joy of seeing the dough double in size or the soft mozzarella melting to golden brown perfection!

I happened to find the Pizza sauce recipe online and to be honest, I used the first one that popped up. It does take up some time but once you smell the aromas of tomato & basil you’ll realise it’s worth it! 
I changed the toppings to make it a classic Italian Margherita Pizza…we are big lovers of the tomato-basil-mozzarella combo and I stuck to that.



PIZZA SAUCE RECIPE (www.eatingwell.com)
5 pounds tomatoes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 tbsp chopped basil
3/4 tbsp dried oregano
3/4 tbsp thyme
Ground Pepper
1-2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make an ‘X’ at the bottom of each tomato and plunge into the boiling water for 2 min. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and peel them.
2.Heat oil in a pan, add onions and cook for 4-6 min, till browned. Add tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a boil.
3. Simmer till sauce thickens for about 2 hours.
4. Cool & blend into a smooth sauce.

RECIPE FOR Rachel Allen’s Pizza Dough Recipe

 250ml warm water
1/2 tsp castor sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast or 1 x 7 gms sachet of fast acting yeast
350 gms strong white flour plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for dusting
75gms semolina for dusting
1. In a measuring jug, mix the warm water with the sugar & yeast & leave it to stand for 5 min or until looking creamy. (No need if it’s fast acting yeast).
2. Add olive oil into the yeast mixture.
3. Sift the flour and add salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the olive oil-yeast mixture into the well and mix by hand, until the dough is wet & sticky.(Add water if it is dry).
4. Knead with your hands on a floured worktop for about 10 min(5 min in the food mixer) or until smooth & springy to touch.
5. Grease the bowl with olive oil & place the dough back in. Then cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. ( if you gently press the dough with your fingertip, the dent should stay, and that means it’s ready).
6. Preheat oven to 240 degree celsius or the highest setting.
7. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and divide into four portions.
8. Roll out each disc to a 25 cm(diameter) and 3mm thick circle.Keep the remaining dough covered with a bowl.
9. Place the rolled out dough on a tray sprinkled with semolina . Spread sauce & place toppings, cheese. ( I used tomato, basil & mozzarella).
10. Bake for 2 – 12 min or until edges are golden brown.

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