I am by no means a pizza snob. I don’t have a pizza stone or a peel, I don’t have plans to build a pizza oven in my backyard anytime soon, and I don’t go in desperate search of the latest and greatest pizza in Houston. But I have recently come to the conclusion that making my own pizza with my own weird toppings is much cheaper than going to a pizza parlor and paying someone else for designer toppings and thin crust. It’s also healthier than ordering from the local $5 cheese-on-cardboard joints. When we moved to Houston we were saddened by the lack of good pizza places in our neighborhood. There are chain restaurants, but the pizza isn’t what we used to eat at home where the original Hideaway was just a block from our apartment. Our little corner of the city doesn’t have any pizzas of note, so we decided to make our own.
I started my pizza adventure making Pioneer Woman’s pizza crust. It was also an opportunity to use my Kitchenaid stand mixer which I was gifted for our wedding and had yet to use. The pizzas came out reminiscent of Hideaway Pizza, moreso because of topping than crust. Crust always seems more like a vehicle for the wonderful cheese/sauce/topping trifecta than a tasty element of the pizza, but I’m slowly learning how crust can change a pizza for the better. It’s also been exciting to learn about prepping yeast and how to knead dough and working with bread in general. It’s a whole science that I’m completely new to!
Pizza is important to my family and friends. My mom is always in search of the best New-York style pizza in Tulsa, currently NYC Pizza on Harvard. Every Friday of my teenage-hood was pizza night, usually Papa John’s. It was a fight to get the cold slices in the fridge for breakfast, everyone wanted some! In college, pizza was the go-to meal for movies, gaming, hanging, and dates. We ate a lot of really bad Little Caesar’s $5 pies while we stayed up all night talking and rolling dice. Hideaway pizza in Norman became an important locale during graduate school where we would gather for “Fridaways” to drink beer, share lunch, and dish on the latest department gossip and student antics. Pizza is a very social food for me, so while making it at home seems counter-intuitive to that social element, we’ve made it for a lot of friends and hope to keep doing so.
Lately, I’ve been tired with the thick, doughy crust Pioneer Woman’s recipe yields and I’m experimenting with thinner crusts. I’ve been inspired to create something like what I ate at Home Slice in Austin last week. And I’m still dreaming about that fig and goat cheese pizza from Boulder, CO. The closest I’ve come was today’s savory-sweet feta, bacon, onion, and apricot pizza with olive oil and thyme. I’m excited about playing with pizza a little more in the next few weeks and trying to capture some of that summer simplicity pizza provides. And you know what they say about pizza and sex, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.