Pizza Margherita

by . on June 13, 2012

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Hi Friends!

Remember us? We used to write about food, mostly in New Orleans, sometimes in funny places like the North East and Europe. We even posted recipes and reviewed the occasional restaurant. Delicious!

Well, I don’t have to tell you that life gets messy and busy and complicated. We’ve recently had the great fortune of being introduced to home ownership. While the excitement of landlord free living has yet to wear off, we have certainly discovered the realities of home costs quite quickly.

Curse you window treatments for being so expensive!

The fix it list is long and growing, while our pocketbooks are their usual size. This sudden run on our monthly budget has left us with many nights of cheap meals. Boring, everyday cooking that I felt deserved no repeating. But, in my haste to cut costs and keep dinners under budget, time has past. It has been months, in fact, since our last post. My bad.

However, as my Mother keeps reminding me (repeatedly), eating cheaply and simply is no reason to ignore a deserving recipe. While the impudent teenager in me hates to give my Mother credit where it is due, I shall do just that. So, from me to you, recipes that are cheap, delicious and on a budget, as requested by Mom.

Our first recipe is a simple classic.

One of the interesting benefits of our new house is this beauty: 

a 1950s era Chambers stove, perfectly restored and in working order. After I got over my initial horror and assumption that I would blow us to kingdom come in a terrible gas related catastrophe, I came to love and respect the old stove. Beyond the built in thermowell, griddle and grill, the true beauty of a Chambers stoves is its ability to maintain temperature. A great benefit when making pizza without a crazy hot pizza oven.

Now for the pizza part.¬†Pizzacare, Jeff Baron’s Mid-City pizza joint makes my favorite pizza in the city (Brussel Sprouts and Pancetta? Yes, please). They also happen to sell fresh, ready to bake pizza dough, yours for around 5 bucks. I am adverse to anything that requires yeast and rising time, so dough ready to go makes me happy. If you don’t live in NOLA, you can find frozen pizza dough in most super markets and local pizza joints, or you can always make it yourself with this recipe. Once you’ve got the dough, a few simple ingredients is all you need. If you happen to own a basil and oregano plant, that’s one less cost.

Pizza Magherita (serves 4 for under $20)

1 lb pizza dough (essentially 1 large pizza)
28 oz can whole tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp fresh oregano, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
12 oz mozzarella
20 basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 500F with rack at lowest setting. Place pizza stone or cookie tray in the oven to heat.

Warm 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, onion and oregano and cook, stirring often, until the onions and garlic begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the drained whole tomatoes, stirring and breaking into small pieces. Cook the mixture until it has thickened to your liking, but so that any liquid released by the tomatoes has been cooked away. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. On a floured surface cut dough into halves rolling each out to a desired size. We made two rectangular pizzas that perfectly fit cookie trays, as we seemed to have lost the pizza stone in the move. Top each half with half of the sauce, then basil leaves and finally slices of mozzarella. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a ground of pepper. Remove tray or stone from oven and carefully slide one pizza on. Return to oven a bake until golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Repeat with second pizza. Cut each in half and enjoy.


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