I'll admit up front I have something of a crush on Giada De Laurentiis, the charming host of one of the Food Network's best cooking shows, Everyday Italian. Now here's a truly gorgeous woman complete with beautiful Roman features, sunny California disposition and a genuinely rare, unforgettable onscreen presence. Combine this with an obvious flair and talent for creating simple-yet-mouthwatering culinary masterpieces and you've got this guy dreaming about what life would be like with Giada. A guy can dream, can't he?
The lovely Giada De Laurentiis.
But I digress. Since I'm assuming you're here for the food and not the woman, I'll get back to the script and concentrate on the eats. And today, you're in luck because I'm going to share with you the secret recipe for my renowned "dingobear classic pizza." I'm 100% confident in saying up front, without the slightest hint of exaggeration or hyperbole, that this recipe makes the absolute best pizza that humankind has ever tasted, is tasting, or ever will taste, throughout all time, history and eternity of the entire universe. I'm sure you'll enthusiastically agree once you've had just one bite. And if you happen think otherwise - you're wrong and you probably didn't follow my recipe correctly. :)
Now for the world premiere of the dingobear classic pizza recipe. The following makes one delicious, thin-crust 12" pizza, which should serve two hungry people quite nicely. And it's fairly quick and easy to boot: from scratch to stomach, it'll take you only about 90 minutes, including baking time, if you're efficient. Ok, here are your ingredients for the crust ...
3-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (I actually never measure this, so this is a guess)
2 1/4 cups of unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
several dashes of dried basil
several dashes of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
2 grams (about 1/4 of a packet) of quick-rise dry yeast (go for a brand like Fleischmann's)
3/4 cups of hot water
... and all of the fixin's for the kick-ass topping.
175 mL of pizza sauce (No, I don't make this from scratch. Who do you think I am? Giada?)
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
200 grams (or so) of smoked mozzarella, grated (smoked is the secret here - trust me)
1 Roma tomato, sliced (use Roma - it's less watery than the average salad variety)
3-4 Crimini mushrooms, sliced (Criminis are actually baby portabellas and full of flavor)
1/8 of a medium-sized green pepper, sliced into small strips
9-12 slices of Mexican salami (feel free to substitute your favorite spicy deli meat)
Now, what to do with all of the ingredients ... first, in a large mixing bowl, add the olive oil. Next, dump in 2 cups of the unbleached flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup in a separate bowl. (You'll probably need this extra flour to dust your pizza dough later). Then, add the salt, basil, and oregano to your mixing bowl.
Separately, (I use a large coffee mug), put together the sugar and the dry yeast. Next, add the hot water and make sure the water is very hot. Like scalding but not boiling hot, if you know what I mean. Vigorously stir the water, sugar, and dry yeast together to dissolve the yeast. Once you've done this, pour this concoction into your mixing bowl with your flour mixture.
Now the fun part - working your pizza dough. With your bare hands, mix, pound, punch, pummel etc. the ingredients in the mixing bowl until a consistent chunk of pizza dough has formed. If the dough feels very sticky, use some of the flour you've reserved to dust the dough into something a little more manageable. After about 5-8 minutes of pounding, cover your mixing bowl for about 3-4 minutes, to allow your pizza dough to rise. If you wait much longer than this, your thin-crust pizza may not be very thin-crust, which is fine if that's what you want, but in my opinion, you'll want to keep this pizza thin-crust because it's just better that way. Yeah, so there.
After your 3-4 minutes of rising are over, slowly spread-out or pound-out your pizza dough evenly onto a 12" pizza sheet. Dust the dough with flour as you deem necessary. The pizza sheet I use: a cheapish, Teflon-coated one I picked up at the local Ikea for about $9. I'm sure you can find something better but the cheap Ikea sheet seems to work nicely for me so I'm stickin' with it.
Preheat your oven to 325F. Spoon on the pizza sauce. Next, evenly sprinkle on the chopped garlic over the sauce. Then, add a very thin layer of grated smoked mozzarella and the Mexican salami. Sprinkle on some more cheese, then add your sliced Roma tomatoes, Crimini mushrooms, and green peppers. Add the rest of your smoked mozzarella. By now, your mouth should be watering at the fact you're only 25 more minutes away from eating the delicious pizza you've just created!
Place your pizza into the oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate, turn the heat up to 350F, and then bake for another 10 minutes. At this point, your entire kitchen should smell better than a New York pizzeria. Take your dingobear classic pizza out of the oven, slice, and enjoy!
Giada De Laurentiis herself would be proud.