It’s summer. The season we spend the other 10 months of the year waiting for. This year we have earned it in so many ways with our deeply cold winter and extremely long and wet spring, we deserve a few months of warm weather.
When the weather turns warm our eating habits change. We cook more of our food on the grill, eat more fresh and raw vegetables, and enjoy cold salads and simple meals. That’s why the Red Apron has decided to introduce a new offering. Every Wednesday & Thursday evening in July and August we are hosting “Pop-up Pizza” nights, between 5 and 8pm. Stop in and order a thin sourdough crust, Italian style pizza, topped with local and organic ingredients. Pizza is a surprisingly simple meal to prepare, especially if you can source the dough. To that end, we will also be selling frozen pizza dough in our retail store, so you are never more than a few minutes away from a delicious thin crust pizza.
There are a few tricks to creating an exceptional pizza. The first is the dough. It’s better to stretch your dough, rather than rolling it. It will allow your dough to bubble up nicely when cooked. The other key to pizza success is to NOT go overboard with your toppings. A thin crust demands thin toppings. Pick 2-3 items that you love the most and use your sauce sparingly. Probably the most important thing about making a great pizza is oven temperature. The hotter the oven the better. Pizza ovens operate at 800 degrees – and you can cook a pizza in under 2 minutes. The the closer you can get to that temperature, the better and that’s why grilling a pizza is a great solution.
The next thing you really need to make excellent pizza is a stone or a steel. This thick metal or ceramic plate goes into the oven or on the grill at least 30 minutes before your pizza goes in. It’s important to get it hot first, so when you place your pizza on the stone or steel, it cooks the crust on the bottom as nicely as the oven will cook the top. Finally, the finish. A good pizza can be made excellent with a few flourishing touches at the end. Some fresh greens, a drizzle of chili oil, some fleur de sel, are all great ways to finish a pizza.
So let’s talk toppings! The possibilities are endless and this is where you really get to use your imagination, and express your personality. Remember – don’t get too crazy with volume!
Some combinations, ranging from classic to creative include:
- tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and grated mozzarella, finished with olive oil, fresh basil and fleur de sel
- tomato sauce, organic mushrooms, Ontario chèvre, mozzarella, roasted garlic, finished with fresh thyme and truffle oil
- cream sauce, shaved asparagus, parmesan, prosciutto, finished with arugula and olive oil
These three pizzas (with minor variations) are what we are serving up at the Red Apron’s Pizza Pop Up through July and August on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
More Topping Inspiration
- tomato sauce, black olives, goat cheese, chicken , mozzarella, finish with basil and olive oil
- tomato sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella, green olives
- fresh herb pesto, mozzarella, bacon bits, whole egg (cracked on top before cooking), finish with sliced tomatoes, cracked pepper, fleur de sel & olive oil
- fresh herb pesto, corn kernels, smoked sausage, caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese
- tomato sauce, grilled pineapple, sliced ham, cheddar cheese
- sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices, finished with fleur de sel, olive oil, and fresh basil
- tomato sauce, vegan cheese, roasted red peppers, black olives
There really are no rules when it comes to toppings, other than keep them thin so you don’t overwhelm your crust. Of course I am going to suggest that you scour the farmer’s markets for creative toppings. In July and August it’s easy to find a large selection of produce grown close to home, and picked at their perfect ripeness. The season is short and our farmers work very hard, battling extreme weather conditions, late thaws, oppressive heat, and all manner of vermin and insects, to grow beautiful and nutritious fruits and vegetables for our community. Please support them whenever you can.
When you shop at the Red Apron, you can be assured that we source most of our fruits, vegetables and meats from local growers and producers throughout the growing season, receiving deliveries direct from our farmers on a daily basis. Many of these farmers grow organically, and we take great pride in being able to support them and share their hard work with our clients every day.
Basic Pizza Dough
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar
2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
In a bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until mixture foams on top, about 5 minutes.
In a food processor, it is important to work with the plastic blade or the dough hook. Combine the flour and salt. Increase speed to medium and add the yeast mixture until a soft ball forms. If you don’t have a food processor you can do this step by hand, but it will take some time and elbow grease.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for a few minutes on a floured surface to prevent sticking. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes in warm and draft-free area. Cut the dough in half.
Use the pizza dough immediately or refrigerate it (less than 48 hours), otherwise place it in an airtight bag and freeze. This recipe will make two 10 inch thin-crust pizzas.