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Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef: Pizza By Maria Filosa

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and you're listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef.

I have to admit, my favorite go to meal is pizza. I use to buy pie from restaurants until I found out just how easy it was to make my own. I think the crust is the part that deters most would be pizza chefs from making their own pies. I discovered that the crust is so easy to make that I can throw together a pie in just a couple of hours. That may sound like a long time frame but that includes the time it takes to rise. The basic ingredients needed to make a standard crust are 1 and 1/4 cups of water or other liquid, 1 tablespoon of yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and four cups of unbleached flour. If you own a bread machine or a good blender, you can mix up the ingredients to form a dough ball in no time. I rarely bake anything in my bread machine, instead I use the dough setting to mix up my ingredients and then keep the dough ball warm and cozy so it can rise. This takes about 90 minutes start to finish. You can also use your heavy duty blender if you have one to mix up all the ingredients and then put the dough ball into a greased bowl covered with a towel so it can rise until double in size. If you want the work out, just use your hands to mix it all together. You need to let the dough rise so it will become elastic and stretchable. Once you are ready, place your dough ball into a large greased cookie sheet or split the dough into two pieces and freeze one half for another meal. Let the dough rest in the pan for about 10 minutes and then begin stretching it or use a rolling pin to coax the dough to the edges of the pan. At this point you can add your toppings.  A regular pizza usually has tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, maybe some type of meat like pepperoni or meatball and a good sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Then  pop it into the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and you are ready to feast. Now that you have the standard pizza down, let's get a little crazy.

You can change the liquid used in your crust to create different flavors. One of my favorites is to puree a bunch of tomatoes and use them instead of my liquid. This will make your crust slightly pink, or if you use green tomatoes, slightly green. It will be subtle taste difference but one that is very good. If you decide you'd like to make a dessert pizza, watermelon is great to use as your liquid. Simply remove the pits and puree the watermelon until you have the required amount. Then when assembling your dessert pizza, spread some Greek yogurt on the crust and place sliced apples, peaches, strawberries, kiwis or any other fruit you like. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let your dessert pie cool then add dollops of whipped cream. Your friends will be amazed at how good it tastes. If your taste buds desire some chocolate, when making the crust, add about 1/2 cup of powdered cocoa to the mix. Then after placing the dough on the pan, use a fork to prick a few holes into it and bake it for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. To assemble, spread some chocolate pudding and even some vanilla pudding on top, sprinkle with chocolate chips and add some whipped cream. Delicious!

How about a breakfast pizza? After placing the dough on the pan, layer some  cooked bacon, ham, sausage and cheese on the crust. Then beat about 4 eggs and gently pour them over the top. Bake this pizza on a lower temperature, about 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until the eggs are done. Slice and enjoy with a good cup of coffee.

So whether you have pizza for breakfast, dinner or dessert, put on your chef hat and start experimenting. It's easy and it's fun.

I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef, have a bountiful day!

Alison DelRe is the Director of Community Relations and Account Associate at WDIY.