Northeast Times

Pizza recipes squared away

Pizza has been pleas­ing taste buds for a very long time.

I was plan­ning din­ner and think­ing about how I could trans­form some leftover, grilled chick­en saus­ages and bell pep­pers in­to an­oth­er meal. Then it hit me: Pizza! Din­ner di­lemma solved. I de­cided to slice the saus­ages, chop up the pep­pers, com­bine them with some mild salsa and cheeses, and use it as a top­ping for homemade, deep-dish pizza.

Pizza has been pleas­ing taste buds for a very long time. In pre­his­tor­ic times, people baked large pieces of bread on flat cook­ing stones. Later, in Italy, these flat pieces of bread were spiced up with herbs and called fo­cac­cia bread. Itali­ans still love to eat fo­cac­cia as an ap­pet­izer or snack. This snack was handy be­cause you didn’t need utensils, and it could be seasoned with ex­tra scraps of food and fresh pro­duce.

When Europeans came to the New    World, they were in­tro­duced to to­ma­toes, which they then took back to their home coun­tries. The Itali­ans needed something a little dif­fer­ent to add to their bread-filled diet, and the people of Naples were the first to put to­ma­toes on fo­cac­cia bread. At first, no one wanted to use to­ma­toes be­cause they thought this de­li­cious red fruit was pois­on­ous!

The world’s first pizzer­ia opened in 1830 in Port’Al­ba in Naples. Piz­zas were baked in an oven lined with lava from a loc­al vol­cano! The first pizza de­liv­ery oc­curred in 1889 when an Itali­an res­taur­ant own­er was asked to cre­ate a spe­cial dish for the guest of hon­or, Queen Mar­gher­ita Teresa Gio­vanni. He wanted to in­clude the col­ors of the Itali­an flag in his dish to hon­or the queen, so he ad­ded to­ma­toes (red), moz­zarella cheese (white), and basil (green) to fo­cac­cia bread. The res­taur­ant own­er named this meal the Mar­gher­ita Pizza, us­ing part of the guest of hon­or’s name along with part of the name of his res­taur­ant — Pietro II Pizzaiolo. The pizza was de­livered to the palace be­cause the queen did not want to travel to the res­taur­ant!

In 1905, Gen­naro Lom­bardi opened the first Amer­ic­an pizzer­ia in New York City, and it is still there today. However, pizza did not be­come pop­u­lar un­til after World War II, when war vet­er­ans sta­tioned in Italy re­turned home crav­ing the pizza they had eaten there. Soon, pre-made pizza pie mixes, frozen pizza and pizzer­ia chains sprang up around the coun­try. Today, pizza is one of the most pop­u­lar and de­li­cious foods in the world!

More pizza facts:

—Pizza Hut is the largest pizza com­pany in the world. 

—The world’s largest pizza meas­ured 123 feet in dia­met­er, and was baked in South Africa in 1990. 

—The world’s largest pizza or­der came from the VF Cor­por­a­tion in North Car­o­lina, which ordered 13,386 piz­zas for its 40,160 em­ploy­ees na­tion­wide.

—Oc­to­ber is Na­tion­al Pizza Month. 

—Kids between ages 3 to 11 prefer pizza to all oth­er foods for din­ner.

—Three of the top 10 weeks of pizza con­sump­tion oc­cur in Janu­ary. More pizza is con­sumed dur­ing Su­per Bowl week than any oth­er week of the year. 

—62 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans prefer meat top­pings on their pizza, while 38 per­cent prefer ve­get­ari­an pizza. 

—Moz­zarella cheese was ori­gin­ally made from the milk of wa­ter buf­falo!

Us­ing con­veni­ence products like pre-made pizza crusts or boxed crust mixes make cre­at­ing this re­cipe for Sa­vory Pizza Squares for a weeknight or week­end pizza party an easy task.

SA­VORY PIZZA SQUARES

2 (6.5 ounce) pack­ages pizza crust mix (like Jiffy Pizza Crust Mix)

2 ta­ble­spoons minced onion

2 tea­spoons ground basil

1 tea­spoon ground oregano

1/2 tea­spoon ground sage

1 tea­spoon gar­lic powder

1 cup warm wa­ter

3 ta­ble­spoons olive oil plus 1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil for pan

1/2 cup all-pur­pose flour

1/2 cup corn­meal

Top­ping:

1-1/2 cups cooked and chopped ham, chick­en or tur­key; or cooked ground beef or ground tur­key; or cooked and sliced chick­en, tur­key or beef saus­ages or pep­p­er­oni slices

1-1/2 cup shred­ded Parmes­an or mixed Itali­an cheeses

1/2 cup ripe olives, chopped

1/2 cup fresh pars­ley, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tea­spoon gar­lic powder

1. Pre­heat oven to 400 F. Grease a 13- by 9-inch pan with olive oil. Sprinkle with corn­meal for a crisp crust. Set aside.

2. For crust, com­bine pizza crust mix and dry spices in a large mix­ing bowl. Add wa­ter and olive oil. Blend well with a fork. Cov­er bowl and set crust mix­ture aside in a warm place for at least 5 minutes or up to 1 hour.

3. Sprinkle flour on a cut­ting board. Knead crust mix­ture on the floured board 8 to 10 times. Press crust in­to the bot­tom of pre­pared 13- by 9-inch pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

4. Com­bine top­ping in­gredi­ents. Sprinkle over top of crust. Bake an ad­di­tion­al 20 to 30 minutes or un­til lightly browned. Cut in­to squares. Makes 12 to 15 servings.••

An­gela Shelf Medear­is is an award-win­ning chil­dren’s au­thor, culin­ary his­tor­i­an and au­thor of sev­en cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kit­chen Diva’s Dia­bet­ic Cook­book.” Her web­site is www.di­vapro.com 

You can reach at .

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