Ok, I cheated. I bought the dough at a pizza place. Here's how it happened:
My friend Kara and I were s'posed to hang out, but we both needed to get some shit done. I had this pizza project started because earlier in the week at the farmer's market I was talking to my tomato guy, (yes, I have a tomato guy - he's awesome and is at the Rockefeller Greenmarket every Thursday through Labor Day) and I mentioned that I picked up some of Millport Dairy's garlic and herb cheese.
"Oh, I used that to make a great pizza," the tomato guy's son tells me. Actually, I guess I have two tomato guys, cause they're both always there. So Sonny Tomato (James) volunteers to give me the recipe.
"Um, ok, yeah, that would be cool," I say as I try to figure out where to write it down and with what.
"Use the voice recorder on your phone," he tells me. Him farmer, me blogger. Uh, duh.
So he recorded his home fashioned pizza recipe for me, stressing over and over that the key is the sauce and that I should put the sauce on top, "Grandma-style." I don't know much about this grandma and why she doesn't want gooey melted cheese on top, but I agreed to try it.
Next Papa Tomato (Cosmo - I swear to god, that's his name,) tells me how to make the tomato puree and insists on giving me a few "too soft" tomatoes that he has off to the side for free. I buy a few more and happily head back to my demoralizing day job.
That night I follow his instructions for transforming tomatoes into tomato sauce. How have I never done this before? So simple and easy. (See below for steps.) I end up with just over 1 pint of plain, very tomato-y sauce.
Flash back to my lady date with Kara. I know I need time to make the pizza dough. It needs to rise twice. Kara has stuff at her house to do. Hmm... Then I remember something I read in food blogger Cathy Erway's book - The Art of Eating In - she started making pizzas using dough from neighborhood pizza places. Of course, there is no shortage of those here in Brooklyn. So I ran out to my backyard to pick some rosemary and basil, threw my jar of sauce and some cheese into my backpack and hopped on my bike.
At a pizza place in Clinton Hill, the guy behind the counter assured me that my "weird request" was, in fact, quite commonplace. He slid a lightly greased, giant ball of dough into an aluminum tin, wrapped it up and handed it over.
"This will make an 18" pie," he said, pointing at the pizzas on the counter. I was pretty sure those were about 3 feet wide, but I didn't argue.
Once I arrived at Kara's house, I set to work: wash and dry the herbs, dice up some onions and garlic, play with the dough. Kara didn't have a pizza stone, so we just went with a half sheet pan well coated with olive oil.
Here is the transcribed recipe for the Homemade Grandma-style Pizza:
Of course he didn't give any measurements so this is fast and loose. Adjust to your liking!
preheat the oven to high heat
dice up some garlic and onion
brown them in a pan with olive oil
add your tomato puree - see below for homemade, I used 1 pint for my giant pizza
add fresh herbs: lots of basil and oregano, chives, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, salt to taste
whole wheat dough - I used white from the pizza joint
coat your pizza pan well with olive oil
stretch out the dough and put it in the pan
bake for 8 minutes, remove and cool for a minute or two
add three grated cheeses: mozzarella, garlic and herb, sharp cheddar
melt in the oven for a minute or two
add the pizza sauce on top
bake for another few minutes
The result: not bad at all. I think I need to get better at stretching the pizza dough. It was pretty thick. I also think I'm more of a fan of cheese on top. The pizza sauce was absolutely delicious though. I really think making the puree from tomatoes at the peak of summer ripeness was the key. Or maybe it was the fresh herbs? Or the fun of making and eating it with a friend? Aw... friendship pizza.
Here's the Homemade Tomato Puree instructions:
Wash and core some good ripe tomatoes. I used about 5 big ones. Cut into chunks and puree in a blender. Pour into a big heavy pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook down for about 2 - 3 hours. At first the whole mess will be pink and watery. It probably won't taste good. Patience, friend. Just check it every so often and give it a stir here and there. It will reduce by more than half. Maybe even 75%. Once you've achieved the desired consistency, you can add herbs or salt and pepper. Or just pour it into a jar and save for later. I didn't add anything to my puree until I actually cooked the pizza.