Gourmet Night- Natalie's Pizza Night

Thanks for coming, everyone! It was a fun night, as usual. I forgot to take some photos of all the pizzas before we dug in, but I did get a few shots....

Basic Pizza Dough
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix yeast with water. Add remaining ingredients, mix, and knead for a few minutes until smooth dough forms. Place dough in oiled bowl. Cover and let rise about an hour. Divide dough into 2 balls, flour and wrap loosely in plastic wrap. Let rise another hour. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. You can also make it in your bread machine according to manufacturer's directions for dough.

Pizza Hut style Breadsticks
1 ½ cup hot water
2 Tb sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup non fat dry milk
1 Tb yeast
approx. 3 cup flour ( I often use ½ whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup melted butter

Dissolve sugar, salt and dry milk in hot water. Add enough flour (about 1 cup) to make a soupy mixture. When the mixture is no longer hot but still warm add the yeast and stir well. Then add the rest of the flour, enough to form a moderately stiff dough (I always have to add more than the recipe calls for). Knead the dough until smooth. Roll dough into a rectangular shape the size of your baking pan. Spread half of the butter onto the baking pan, then place your dough into the pan and spread the remaining butter on top of the dough. Top the breadsticks with garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, or whatever you want. Cut the dough into breadsticks with a pizza cutter and let raise for 10-15 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 20- 25 min.

Italian Salad
Romaine lettuce
Fresh baby spinach
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
1 handful of kalamata olives
5-6 slices of salami, quartered
1/4 fresh red onion sliced thinly
Toasted pine nuts
Fresh Parmesan cheese
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Add the pine nuts to a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook stirring frequently until golden brown, remove from heat and let cool. Mix the romaine and spinach and add the tomatoes, olives, onions, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, top with Fran's vinaigrette, toss and serve.

1/2 cup canola oil
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste (lots of pepper)
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly before tossing on your favorite salad.

Roasted Garlic Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza with Roasted Onions, Red Peppers and Feta
2 large heads of garlic, whole and unpeeled, the tops sliced off - cloves exposed
1 large red onion, peeled, cut into thick wedges
About ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drain the oil before chopping the tomatoes
About 1½ cups (100 g) grated mozzarella cheese
1 large red pepper, charred on/under the grill, cooled, seeded, peeled and cut into ½-inch strips
About 1 cup (100 g) crumbled feta
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Make the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the onion wedges into a large roasting pan. Drizzle with about 1½ tbsp of oil, season with the salt and pepper, toss well to coat the onions with oil (I put the red pepper strips in with the onions, rather than charring on the grill). Free a small space somewhere in the corner of the roasting pan and nest the garlic heads inside. Drizzle the garlic with about 1½ tbsp of oil. Roast the onions and garlic for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring the onions after first 20 minutes. The onions should become tender and lightly caramelized, the garlic should be very soft and golden. Remove from the oven, cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 500F.

In a food processor, combine the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and squeezed roasted garlic cloves. Process, adding the rest of the oil if necessary, to produce fairly smooth paste. The sun-dried tomato and garlic spread can be made 1 day ahead and kept refrigerated.

Spread the sun-dried tomato and garlic paste evenly over the shaped dough leaving 1-inch bare border. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, followed by the roasted onion wedges, grilled pepper strips, and then feta. Bake the pizza for 8-10 minutes until the crust is puffed and golden brown, and the cheese bubbles. Transfer to a cutting board. Cool for 2 minutes. Top with the fresh herbs and serve.

Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Bacon
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 small onions, peeled, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup farmer's cheese (can use cream cheese if you can't find farmers)
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
In a medium size saute pan, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon and cook until the bacon is very crispy and all of the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and discard. Place the pan over high heat. Add the onions to the hot bacon fat and cook until the onions are well browned, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone and farmer's cheeses. Season with nutmeg and black pepper. Reserve.

On a lightly floured surface, stretch or roll the dough as thinly as possible, about 14 to 15-inch circle. Evenly spread the mascarpone mixture over the dough (I always have extra...). Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, bacon, thyme, and sauteed onion. Bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove pizza from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, cut into slices and serve immediately.

Prosciutto and Portobello Pizza

2 Portobello mushrooms, stemmed
3 tsp.Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Yellow cornmeal for dusting
6 Marinated quartered artichoke hearts, cut in half lengthwise
6 oz. Mozzarella cheese
6 Very thin slices prosciutto
½ cup Fresh arugula
½ cup Homemade pizza sauce (recipe follows)

To preheat the baking stone and roast the mushroom:
Place a large baking stone on the bottom shelf in the oven, then preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C. Heating the baking stone well in advance will allow enough time for it to become very hot before baking the pizzas on it. Baking on the very hot stone will create pizzas with crisp crusts. Place the Portobello mushroom on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle 1 teaspoon/5 ml of olive oil over the mushroom. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the mushroom is tender and its juices exude. Allow the mushroom to cool. Cut the mushroom into 3/4-inch/2-cm slices. Combine the mushroom strips and any accumulated juices in a bowl. Season the mushroom strips to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

To prepare the pizzas:
Lightly dust the work surface with flour and press 1 ball of dough on the work surface into a circle. Once the pizza dough is formed, lightly dust the pizza paddle with cornmeal and place the dough on the pizza paddle. Spread 1/2 cup/65 ml of pizza sauce in a thin layer over the pizza dough, leaving a ½-inch/1-cm border around the edge. Arrange half of the mushroom strips and artichokes over the pizza. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the pizza. Immediately transfer the pizza from the paddle to the hot baking stone in the oven. Bake the pizza for about 10 minutes or until the bottom is crisp and deep golden brown and the cheese has melted and become pale golden on top. With 3 minutes cooking time left, drape the prosciutto over the pizza. Using the pizza paddle, remove the pizza from the stone and transfer to a cutting board. Scatter the arugula over the pizzas, then drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons/10 ml of oil.

Homemade Pizza Sauce
Serves: 3 cups

1 TB. Olive oil
1 Onion, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 TB. Chopped fresh oregano
2 sprigs Fresh thyme
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper
5 Extra ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can Whole peeled tomatoes (14 oz.)
1 tsp. sugar

Heat oil in heavy saucepan over med-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 8 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Add large pinch of salt and cook 3 minutes or until onions are translucent but do not brown. Stir in fresh and canned tomatoes and sugar. Press down on canned tomatoes with back of spoon to mash them slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook over med-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Discard the thyme and bay leaf.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend sauce until just smooth. Let sauce cool. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Banana Split Brownie Pizza
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

1 (20-ounce) box fudge brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
2 tablespoons sugar
2 bananas, sliced and tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup chopped nuts
Chocolate ice cream topping or chocolate syrup, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15-inch pizza pan (I didn't have a pan with a lip, so I just used a 10 inch round baking dish & cooked the brownie longer). Prepare the brownie mix according to box directions. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until done. Remove from the oven and cool. Beat the cream cheese, pineapple, and sugar together in a bowl. Use any reserved pineapple juice at this time, if needed, to soften the mixture to a good spreading consistency. Otherwise dispose of or save the juice for another use. Spread the mixture over the cooled brownie crust. Arrange the banana and strawberry slices over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and drizzle with chocolate ice cream topping. Refrigerate. To serve, slice as you would a pizza, and enjoy!


  1. Darla...sooo, sooo yummy! I wish I could have it all again tonight for dinner! Well done, my friend!

  2. to die for. i'm craving that meal again.

  3. It was such a great night! Great food and Great company!! Everything was perfect! You are great!

  4. The food was divine. Honestly, I'm dreaming of the portobello pizza today. The low moment of the night for me was when I reached onto Amy's plate and ate the last piece of Brownie pizza she left. It was that good!

  5. Thanks for dinner. Everything was flawless, as usual! I can't wait to try it all.


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