thin crust pizza: a sight for sore eyes.

What is the best food to eat when you can't see? Carrots. What is the best food to serve someone who can't see for comedic enjoyment? A mountain of a pizza.
I'm very lucky, and quite proud, to be hosting an invalid. A visual gimp, if you may (I'm not sure how politically incorrect that is - if anyone asks, they are from the town of Gimpy, seriously, an actual town, in Queensland). Not only do I get the infinite pleasure that comes from my best friend Stelna's company, but I also get a certain amount of maniacal jocose enjoyment from watching her attempt to do the most basic of tasks, such as type. Not that she doesn't look very attractive, to the indie/hipster population, when she perpetually wears sunglasses. Very mysterious.

(In all actuality, I can make so much fun, because I went through this very same laser-corrective eye surgery about 2 years ago - changes your life, just makes you seem a bit . . . 'off' for about a week . . .)

So, to be cruel, I made pizza. I could have done something easy - like soup. But no, roasted veggies, garlic, sundried tomatoes, on a foccacia-esque crust just sounded too tasty. Stelna, therefore had to struggle with fork and knife to scrape up every piece of goodness to make the perfect bites. I had to leave about ten minutes after we started eating for a waxing appointment (I also needed some hearty pizza sustenance for this! Another reason I made this meal), and I swear she had only gone through 1/16th of her pizza.
Pizza, like most dishes (though this flat-bread with toppings has practically become its own food group), has a checkered history. By around 1000 it had appeared in latin texts, and by the 17th century, there was a flatbread sold in Naples named 'pizza'. As with any good Italian dish, it was the bread of the people, as this crust was used to test the temperature of the oven for making normal bread. As it gained in popularity, the toppings diversified. By the late 1800s, the famous margherita Pizza was created, named after the Queen-Consort of Italy at the time - it also was the most nationalistic pizza you could ever eat. Consisting of red tomato sauce, white mozza cheese, and green basil, you essentially eat the Italian flag when consuming a margherita pizza.

However, with pepperoni being the most popular topping in the USA, its no wonder the pizza has become the flag for obesity in that great country. Pizza hut, the first commercialized chain of fast food pizzarias, opened in the 1930s and the flat-bread in North America has gone downhill since then. Pizza is supposed to be a medley of flavors, or the enjoyment of the most basic ones - such as the famous margherita. It is not supposed to be about the cheese, or the fat, or the styrofoam-tasting-bready-thing-that-holds-it-all-together. It's about fresh flavors, enough cheese to act as a cement, but not enough to override the other toppings. They should all balance each other out, and the bread should almost be the crowning glory (in my opinion). Whether you like your crust crunchy or soft, it should have the flavor and texture of focaccia, the loveliest of breads (again, in my opinion). Ah pizza, let us return to your roots, and let us disdain from ever again going to Panago or Pizza Hut or Little Ceasars.

Thin Crust Fresh Pizza

thin pizza crust (see below)
1/2 c. marinara sauce (see below)

1 head of roasted garlic, minced
handful of fresh basil
handful of fresh spinach
1/3 c. sundried tomatoes, drained
1 fresh tomato, sliced
1 roasted eggplant, sliced
8 roasted mushrooms, sliced
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
6 artichoke hearts, sliced (optional)
50 g. prosciutto (optional)
1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 c. of mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 500F. Spread marinara sauce on the crust. Add the layers of toppings (I like to sprinkle a little cheese in between all the layers so my pizzas have more staying power - as you can tell, I like to pile them high). Sprinkle dried parsley and oregano over the top.

2. Place in oven and bake until cheese is brown and bubbly on top and the crust has a nice brown - about 8-12 minutes.

3. Pray. Eat - while looking at your friend struggling to mow down. Enjoy!

Marinara Sauce
(Adapted from Recipe Pizza)

3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 roma tomatoes, peeled and minced
1 3 oz. can of tomato paste
1 tbs. dried oregano
1 tbs. dried basil
1/2 tbs. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)

1. Heat oil. Saute onion and garlic until brown and caramalized.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring on occasion, for about 5 minutes.

3. Let cool. Puree if you want, or leave chunky. When cool, spread over pizza crust or freeze for future use, up to 3 months.

Thin Pizza Crust*
(Adapted from Recipe Pizza)

*Note: I am the worst baker alive - I bake the way I cook. Handfuls of this, pinch of that, random cup (drinking cup mind you, not measuring cup) of something else - baking should be a science, unfortunately, in that regard, I fall short. Please do not make the same mistakes I do - these amounts should be good.

3/4 cup of lukewarm water
3 tbs. olive oil
1 3/4 cups of unbleached plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 envelope of dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon of sugar

1. Add ingredients in order written to a bread machine. Put it on dough setting. Let it go for about 20 minutes, then remove the dough and let it rest for about 5 minutes.

2. Place on baking stone, or on lightly oiled baking sheet. Press out dough to form a slight lip. If your dough is spread quite thin, add your sauce and topping of choice and then bake all together. If it is a bit thicker and you like your pizza crust quite crisp, place it in preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes to pre-cook it before adding toppings.