October is National Pizza Month (Or Not)

If you google “National Pizza Month” you will find a gazillion hits alleging that Congress designated this holiday in 1987. However, if you check through the bills passed by Congress that year, you will not find such a declaration. [You will, however, find all kinds of other designations, such as for a National Dairy Goat Awareness Week and a National Tap Dance Day and even a National Day of Excellence (wait: just one DAY?)].

But no matter: Congress should have done it, so we’ll celebrate anyway! Because approximately three BILLION pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, two billion of them going to MY house.

pizza-border-2

On average, every person in the U.S. consumes around 23 pounds of pizza each year. (Again, that average is skewed by the number of pounds eaten by my husband and me, and for that matter, by the number of pounds acquired by my husband and me after consuming all that pizza.)

The top 5 pizza sales days are Super Bowl Sunday, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, the night before Thanksgiving, & New Year’s Day. In our house, the top pizza consumption days are Saturday and Sunday (“treat days”) and then other days for leftovers.

In spite of the fact that this pizza consumption kills off some 252 million pounds of pepperonis a year, we don’t do pepperoni. Neither do we go for the pizza toppings popular in Japan, which include squid and Mayo Jaga (mayonaise, potato and bacon).

According to the Guinness World Records site, the most expensive pizza commercially available is a thin-crust, wood fire-baked pizza topped with onion puree, white truffle paste, fontina cheese, baby mozzarella, pancetta, cep mushrooms, freshly picked wild mizuna lettuce and garnished with fresh shavings of a rare Italian white truffle. Depending upon the amount of truffles available each season, the pizza is regularly sold at £100 each to customers of Gordon Ramsey’s Maze restaurant, London, UK.

We don’t do that kind of pizza either. We like lots of cheese. I like mushrooms and onions. Jim occasionally insists on an add-on of sausage because he, after all, was born in Chicago. But I insist on strict lines of demarcation between his half and mine. Here is a recipe I have used for a wonderful pizza. It is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Vegetarian Epicure: Book Two by Anna Thomas:

Basic Short-Crust Pastry

1 ½ cups flour
½ to ¾ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, well chilled
scant 1/3 cup ice water

Sift together the flour and the salt. Slice the cold butter rapidly and drop the slices into the flour. With a pastry cutter or two sharp knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal.

Sprinkle the ice water over the flour-butter mixture and stir it in very quickly with a fork, until the dough gathers together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in wax paper or foil, and chill it for about 2 hours.

Makes enough dough for 1 large (11 or 12 inch) quiche shell.

Preparing the shell

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out in a circle about 2 ½ inches larer than your quiche pan. Roll the circle of dough loosely around your rolling in and unroll it over the quiche pan, centering it as well as possible. Press the sides in against the rim of the pan, pushing the extra dough down a bit to make an edge that is slightly thicker than the bottom. Trim the dough off with a sharp knife, about ¼ inch above the rim of the pan.

Crimp the ridge of dough neatly just about the rim of the pan. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork, and chill the shell for ½ hr.

Prebake the shell in a preheated 450 oven for about 8 minutes, prick again with a fork, and return to the hot oven for another 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom of the shell begins to color. Allow the shell to cool slightly on a rack, then fill and finish baking according to recipe.

Cheese and Tomato Deep Dish Pizza

1 recipe Basic Short-Crust Pastry (or what the heck, buy it pre-made)
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried basil, crushed
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1 lbs. yellow onions
2 Tbs. butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ lb. mozzarella cheese

Prepare the short crust, line an 11-inch quiche pan with it, and prebake according to instructions above.

Chop the tomatoes coarsely, reserving their juice. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic in it for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, ½ tsp of the salt, the basil, and a little fresh-ground black pepper. Simmer this sauce, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about half. It should be quite thick.

Peel, halve, and thickly slice the onions. Saute them in the butter until they are golden and sprinkle them with the ¼ tsp salt.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the bottom of the quiche shell. Arrange the sautéed onion slices over it in an even layer. Cover the onions with the tomato sauce.

Cut the mozzarella in thin strips and arrange them evenly on top of the tomato sauce. Slice the olives off their pits and sprinkle the olive bits over the mozzarella cheese.

Bake the pie for 35 minutes in a preheated oven at 375 and serve hot.

Serves 6 to 8.

Pizzeria_Uno_Chicago-style_deep-dish_pizza

Happy Quasi-Legal Pizza Month!!

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About rhapsodyinbooks

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18 Responses to October is National Pizza Month (Or Not)

  1. Ooh, I had pizza last night, good to hear that I was ushering in an official holiday!

  2. sandynawrot says:

    LOVE a deep dish Chicago-style pizza (you know, the kind that is like 750 calories per slice!). Our pizza-eating has sadly changed though, since Ryan can no longer have it unless I make it with special cheese. If I couldn’t have it at least once every couple weeks, I’d lose it. Yum.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    We grilled our first pizza on Sunday – it looks like we should have waited a few days. Carl insists on some kind of meat on our pizza – sausage or pepperoni – and I like olives, both black and green.

  4. I’ve never made a deep dish pizza, but love to eat them! We started grilling pizza for the first time this summer, too.

  5. Trish says:

    Ok, so every designated theme for a month is actually something that Congress puts into place? Glad our tax dollars are being well spent. I can just imagine a bunch of codgy old men sitting around thinking up ideas for the next month. Awesome. 🙂

    But YUM PIZZA!! We go to a local pizza joint (Elle knows it specifically as “The Pizza Joint”) maybe twice a month or more. Makes everyone happy. I’ve made pizza a handful of times but it’s never as good as a big ole greasy pie from the pizza joint.

  6. Beth F says:

    We had grilled pizza last night! We love my homemade pizza (crust to toppings) more than storebought, but I’ve been lazy this year. We had kale and onion last night, but I usually top our pizza with whatever I find in the veggie bin.

  7. We celebrated that last night but we have to have gluten free pizza. Wheat is killer for my husband! Love this post.

  8. Nothing beats a gooey, hot pizza for dinner. Pepperoni, cheese and mushrooms, please.

  9. jama says:

    Who needs to wait for a designated holiday to gorge on pizza? 😀 Wow, that’s quite a deep dish masterpiece you’ve got there. Yum!

  10. Oh, sweet Moses. I’m not even lying when I say that my mouth watered while I was reading this. I really ought to eat breakfast before I check out Weekend Cooking posts. 😉 I love my pizza thick and cheesy and gooey, yum!

  11. I’m impressed you made deep dish pizza at home! I usually eat thin crust, but should try deep dish sometimes.

  12. Janel says:

    This crust sounds awesome! I love buttery deep dish pizzas, but have never tried making one myself. I keep bugging my husband to help me make a pizza oven in our backyard. He hasn’t given in. Yet. 🙂

  13. Katherine P says:

    Now I want pizza! I’ve made pizza crust but never a deep dish crust before. This sounds delicious. I’m definitely pinning this for later use!

  14. Vicki says:

    My favorite food, as far back as I can remember, has always been pizza!!

    I only like thin crust, but will eat deep dish once in a while if that’s what available. I like pepperoni, sausage, onion, tomatoes and bell pepper on mine.

    Your photo is making me drool btw!

  15. stacybuckeye says:

    Can you come cook for me, please? I love buffalo chicken or sometimes barbecue chicken. If I must I will devore pepperoni pizzas too. Sigh. I have a pizza problem.

  16. I don’t eat pizza often but my favourite topping is ham, bacon,onion,pineapple and cheese on a rich tomato base.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  17. sagustocox says:

    You have just given my husband another reason to eat more pizza…as if he doesn’t eat it enough. I need a Chinese food day, week, or month.

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