The Best Homemade New York Style Slice!

How to make the perfect New York slice…..something we have been attempting for awhile now.  Making pizza at home often results in something bland where you utilize dough that tastes like flour and sauce from a can.  It does not taste like take out pizza in any way.  We are after that thin crust that gets thicker, like a gradual slope as you reach the edge, that has a millimetre of crisp on the bottom and is soft on the top, that folds in half with no problems with little cracking from underneath.

Here are our secrets to modifying recipes!

1. Use homemade tomato sauce.

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2. Your dough recipe should include good amounts of sugar, salt, and oil.  This is where the flavour comes from, and helps transform that dough from tasting like flour.

3. Do not add water to the yeast and let it sit.  Add the dry yeast to the dry flour, along with the other dry ingredients and blend.  Then add the wet ingredients.

4. Use bread flour.  The high gluten content is needed for the desired texture, and responds well to lots of kneading.

5. Knead it for a long time, a good 10 minutes without stopping.  It should pass the “window pane test”- take a piece and stretch it paper thin, and it shouldn’t break.  If it does, keep kneading.

6. We portioned it into 4 balls for a standard dough recipe.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately for a bare minimum of 24 hours, up to 72 hours.  This allows the ingredients, especially the yeast, to “ferment”.  Ferment=flavour!  Note, the 4th ball isn’t in the photo, it was being formed when I took the picture.

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7. Gently start spreading each piece of dough on a floured surface to get a small circle, and then hand toss the dough.  Do not cheat!  Hand tossing is extremely important!  We looked up a how-to on the internet to get a step by step tutorial.  It was worth it.

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8. Not too much cheese.  It will look like zero cheese, but trust me.  This is all.  Use only mozzarella, and do not mess around with toppings- pepperoni might work and we might try that, but just cheese is a good starting point.  There aren’t many topping on a typical NY style slice.

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9. Preheat your oven to at least 500F, which is as hot as ours would go.  Make it hotter if that is an option.  It only needs a fews minutes to cook at that temperature, and the fast cooking at a high temperature is what gives it that millimetre of crisp crust, that is soft on top.  Leave your pizza stone in the oven as it preheats.  Preheat for 1 hour.  We skipped this step and our first pizza sucked because it wasn’t hot enough.  Our past pizza was a work of art- it had the hottest oven and hottest pizza stone.

10.  Use a pizza peel, or in our case, a make-shift one, to slide the pizza onto the hot stone.  We used a cast iron flat griddle.  The pizza stone should never leave the oven.  And don’t forget to top the pizza while it is sitting on the peel, you will never get it on afterwards (we made that mistake only once haha!)

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11. Do not skip any of the above, or try to cheat!  This is the most important thing to remember!  It was fun to make, and we did it together with the radio playing.  We always have great talks while cooking together, and it made 4 large sized pizzas!  Enough for us to have several meals from it.  We will not be going back to any other method 😉

AND HERE IS THE FINAL PRODUCT!

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Look at that! Yum!

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That soft top that I was talking about.

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If this doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will!

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Perfect NY style fold!

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Minimal cracking!

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This is the shape you get if you forget to top the pizza not on the peel. haha.

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Another beautiful fold.

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That millimetre of crisp crust that has the ability to fold!

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Perfection.

This pairs well with the following salad:

– iceberg lettuce (we added a little green leaf lettuce too)

– oil, vinegar, and herb dressing (we used Newman’s Own Oil and Vinegar)

– thinly sliced red onions

– lots of pickled pepperoncinis, and a slash of the juices

– parmesan

– black pepper

– a few croutons

Do not skip the pepperoncinis!  They are SO important!  A bite of pepperoncini with every bite of salad.  And use your hand to coat the lettuce with the dressing, black, pepper, and parm all at once.

We wash and spin all our lettuce at once, so while the leftover pizza is warming, the salad is ready in just a few minutes!

Best. Meal. Ever.

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Top 6 Ideas for Easy Preparation of Weeknight Meals (and even packing lunches too!).

My sister and brother-in-law are very busy career folk with 2 dogs, a house under renovations, and a million other things to do, and freeze a lot of meals for quick dinners on busy weeknights.  After a recent conversation, I was inspired to share what I do for quick and easy meals, and how this preparation and routine has helped me maintain a healthy, whole foods diet (for the most part, haha!).

1. Have cooked or thawed protein in the fridge at all times.

I like to buy in bulk and freeze meat, and there is nothing worse then being hungry for dinner and having to defrost something before you can even cook it!  I like to bake 5 or 6 chicken breasts in the oven, with a simple seasoning such as salt and pepper, or some herbs.  This way, they can be doctored up later.  Add a drizzle of oil for extra flavour and juiciness.  Chill in the fridge in a container for later use.  P.S. Cutting cooked and chilled chicken is so much easier and slices SO nice.  Now you can add it to a salad for an entree-style salad, make a quick wrap, or pasta.  You could also cook a whole chicken, bone-in chicken, etc. and do the same thing.  For pork and beef, I prefer to have them thawed and even marinated for a day or two in spices or whatever, or even cut up and put on kabobs for quick grilling.  This works with chicken too.  Or with thawed meat you can cube it or slice it when raw and store in the fridge.  Sometimes cleaning and cutting the meat takes awhile, but this way, it is already done.

 

2. Make a big batch of homemade tomato sauce.

When you have tried this, you will never go back to the canned store bought kind again.  I freeze it in batches and always have one ready in the fridge.  Chicken parm sandwiches, english muffin or pita pizzas, or pastas are made super quick easy.

 

3.  Triple recipes, or just make a TON of something at once.

Put on the radio, and spend some time in the kitchen on the weekend and cook up a favourite dinner.  We love pasta dishes in our house and make huge batches of them.  Mac n’ cheese is really delicious for leftovers, and can easily be healthified.  We will make a pasta that has 4 or 5 chicken breasts in it and a mound of veggies is on the cutting board waiting to go in.  Pasta is good for leftovers and re-heats well too.  If you have a microwave at work (or like cold pasta) you will have lunches for several days, or leftovers to eat anytime.

 

4. Prep all your produce.

Wash, cut, and prepare all the fruits and veggies (including lettuce and greens) in your fridge store in containers (which also makes for easy snacking, I find I am much more likely to grab them if they are ready to go).  For lunches, I even take it a step further and portion them into baggies for small lunch containers for the week.  That way, all the work is done and I plop them into my lunch bag.  And having peppers and mushrooms sliced and washed already, and lettuce clean and dried, cuts dinner prep time way down.  I even sometimes do things 2-ways, for example, I will cut carrots into sticks for snacks and side dishes and also shred some for salad toppings.  Words cannot describe how useful it is to have a fridge full of washed and prepped fruits and veggies.  If I have edamamme, I will cook it and do the same thing (it is good hot or cold, or added to salad or stir fry).  Or I will have a can of beans or chick peas rinsed and ready in a container for salads and topping any dish basically.

 

5. Cook up a batch of rice.  A big one.

With your veggies already prepared and meat thawed, you can stir fry it all together and then serve over rice for such an effortless, yet delicious dinner.  I find rice re-heats well, in my opinion.  Or make a curry, which is really easy, yet really hardy, and serve with rice.  And combine leftover cooked rice with leftover cooked chicken, you get an amazing homemade chicken fried rice.  I even like our homemade, healthier version better then take-out now.  We almost never buy it out anymore.

 

6.  Use the slow cooker for everything.

Casseroles, meat, roasts, sauces, etc.  It does the work all day and you come home to a delicious meal!  For extra fast meals, do something all-in-one, like pork loin with potatoes/onions/carrots, seasoning of choice, and voila.  You could even add a side salad or corn on the cob for something extra.

Now I bet all of this sounds like a ton of work, and just really not do-able at all.  But I don’t have every single example above ready in my fridge.  My rule of thumb is: always have cooked or at least thawed protein available and abundant, and prep all produce.  One week I might have a ton of cooked chicken breast and rice in the fridge, the next week might be more grilling with side salads, and the next week might be making loads of 1 or 2 dishes for leftovers.

I pick a day when I have some time, put on my favourite radio station (oldies or NPR usually) and head into the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. It’s very relaxing, because there is no time frame, I am not starving, and can putter around.  Or the Artist and I will do it together one night, and catch up, be silly, or have really great talks about life, or all of the above.  Being in the kitchen together is one of our favourite ways to spend time together.  Sometimes we even take it a step further; the Artist will prepare a big dinner with tons of leftovers, and I will prep all the produce for the week, and we will pour drinks, turn up the tunes, eat the dinner by candle light, and make a mini-date out of it.

When these are all prepared, and I even pre-portion for lunches (so I literally grab my lunch from the fridge and plop it in my lunch bag in the morning), I eat a lot healthier and a much more balanced diet.  We are less likely to resort to junk or take-out when we get home tired after a long day because we can make something delicious and homemade in minutes.

The fastest meals, I would say in 15 minutes or less, would be: entree-style salads, tacos (using already cooked meat or beans), quesadillas, wraps, and grilled kabobs.

On the more medium side of things, in about 20 minutes, you could have: grilled meat, stir fry (less time probably if you use cooked meat instead of sautéing), pita or flatbread pizza, or grilled paninis.

And in about 30 minutes, you could make: spaghetti, chicken fried rice, any pasta dish, prepare pizza dough ahead of time by rolling it in desired shape(s) and freezing (you could even cook it for a few minutes to help it hold its shape) for taking pizza at home to the next level, spicy orange chicken with cashew nuts (or any Asian dish that doesn’t involve battering and frying the meat before starting), or larger cuts of meat including larger cuts of bone-in meat either grilled, or oven roasted.

In 30+ minutes: mac n’cheese casserole, sweet and sour chicken (or Asian dishes that include battering and frying meat), Mongolian style stir fry with Sriracha sauce, and of course things in the slow cooker.  These just mostly require time for cooking and don’t need as much attention other then checking or stirring during this time.

And for all of these examples, having prepped produce will come in handy for easy and quick side dishes and salads.  For example; grilled peppers, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, raw veggie platter with hummus, and never ending combinations of salads.  And to keep things as healthy as possible, choose whole wheat options, make your own marinade instead of using a bottled one, and be aware of how much sodium and sugar you use so that you can adjust to fit your needs/wants.

I hope this was helpful 🙂

 

A Stitch…

I have had a “stitch” in my upper side for 2 days now….it comes and goes.  I hate it.  It is on my upper left side and hurts when I take a deep breath.  I thought it was because I didn’t have any water and it was going on noon, so I started guzzling. But I have been being conscious of drinking more water for 2 days now and it won’t leave me alone.  I have also tried Advil, and taking a hot shower.  The hot shower seemed to work while in the shower, but as soon as I got out it was back.  It seems to alternate between being almost nothing, usually while sitting, to being quite uncomfortable.  And the worst part is, I can’t think of what I did to cause this.  Maybe I am just getting out of shape this summer because my normal exercise classes don’t start up again until September, and my lack of exercise is what caused it.  Ugh.  It is driving me crazy.  This is the longest “stitch” I have had I think, maybe it is from lifting weights on Friday.  Waking up this morning it felt completely better, but as I got my day going it creeped back.  Maybe I am just sleep deprived from these last few days of 6 hours or less of sleep per night.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, does not fly with me.  I need my sleep.  A good 8 hours minimum to function, but too many nights in a row of just 8 hours won’t cut it.  The perfect amount is 9 hours.  I feel refreshed and energized.  I have a zero tolerance to feeling sleepy the same way I have no tolerance for feeling hungry.  And if I am tired I can’t control it at a certain point….I will fall asleep on a bus, subway, in a car, on a couch, sitting up, laying down, in the middle of the day- anywhere, anytime.  If I am tired enough, I will sleep.

To get my mind off this lingering stitch, the Artist and I got some Pad Thai.  This place we have been going to for years whenever we are in the area serves the best Pad Thai ever.  It is the right amount of spicy and sweet, with the egg whisked in really finely (I don’t like big chunks), the noodle is not too skinny but not too fat either, and there are some delicious ground peanuts on top as the perfect garnish.  And the portions are large, so there is usually enough leftover for lunch the next day 😀  I love a good Pad Thai, and this hit the spot.

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The Artist also makes a really delicious version of this.  He is such an amazing cook, he can make italian, chinese, thai, and mexican dishes better then take out places.  Especially pastas, I don’t generally order them at a restaurant anymore because I always find myself thinking “The Artist can make this waaaay better at home”.  Although certain things are just better for take out.  A nice greasy pizza, or deep fried chicken wings, are among the best to order out.  But as for fine italian fare, the Artist is the best.  Typing that made me think of Kenny Bania on Seinfeld…”The best Jerry, the best!”

Here is one of my favourite pizza dishes the Artist makes, it is homemade dough (we have really been enjoying thin crust with our home made dough), homemade sauce, low fat mozzarella, basil pesto (often home made), baked chicken breast, and grilled red peppers.  Sometimes we add diced tomatoes too.

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And then we convert the flavours into a pasta dish, not using any tomatoes, and adding onions.

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The Artist also makes this really good brushetta and broccoli pasta.  He makes a home made brushetta topping of freshly diced tomatoes, olive oil, a splash of canola oil, loads of fresh pressed garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and parsley.  He mixes it all up and it is so yummy on toasted baguette, so wonderfully fresh.  It is even good to “marinade” a little in the fridge, if you make it the day before you use it, the flavours really settle into one another.  But he boils some noodles and tosses them in this mixture along with baked chicken breast slices (we often bake a bunch of chicken breast with simple seasoning like just salt and pepper for example, and keep them in the fridge and slice off as we need them), and some briefly steamed or blanched broccoli.  I love my broccoli only briefly cooked so it is nice and super crunchy.  This is a favourite staple dish in our house.

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My Artist is such an amazing chef, he always cooks for us on special occasions, and a lot on weekends, and sometimes even lights candles for dinner, and serves me my plate all fancy looking like in a restaurant.  And then he cleans up and does the dishes afterwards!  He likes to spoil me, and I love to be spoiled.  We both definitely love being spoiled, as well as doing the spoiling.

I have the best marriage ever ❤