The last of the Pesach dishes, pots and pans, etc., have been stored away. The chametz dishes have been put back in place. The toaster oven, Kitchen Aid mixer and blender are back in their rightful spots on my counter and the cabinets that have been hiding forbidden chametz ingredients are opened.
As I sit down to write this week’s column, I sigh with relief that my house is now back in order, all my laundry is done and my pantry, refrigerator and freezers are stocked with every chametz food that we were denied these last eight days. But I shouldn’t gloat now, should I? After all, those of us who stayed home and made Pesach should take a moment and think of those who had to start packing the moment Yom Tov was over. Not easy juggling all that packing and managing to make it down to the huge chametz parties that the hotels provide as soon as the chametz is bought back. And if that wasn’t hard enough, all those poor souls had to rush to the airport the next morning, deal with long lines and security checks. Then to top it off they have eight days worth of laundry to deal with. All of us who stayed home are sympathizing with you, really.
Ahh, the hustle and bustle after Pesach. How I remember those days back when I was a kid.
My job was to wrap each and every glass, glass dish and plate in newspaper so that they were insured to make it to the table in one piece the following year. When that was done I got to rip off the contact paper I so meticulously applied just a week before. Then the hard part, making sure no glue remnants were left on the counter. That was always a challenge. Whose idea was it anyway to use contact paper to cover the counters? Man had already landed on the moon by that time, couldn’t someone have invented those plastic counter top covers a few years earlier than their 1980s arrival?
By the time all was back to chametz, I was on the phone with my friends making plans to meet at the pizza store on 13th Avenue. Were we really dying to have a slice of pizza, or did we just want to socialize? Maybe a little of both. Whatever the reason, I was one of over 100 crazy kids lined up outside Amnon’s and down the block waiting for the first pies to come out of the oven. Who would think that a slice of pizza would make so many mouths water after just a week of abstinence?
Things have changed a little since those days. Right after Pesach this year my daughter ran out to Dunkin’; pizza is so yesterday I guess. Also different is that she ran out before helping to put the Pesach dishes away. That’s ok, Jordana, you’ll make up for it when I move in with you when I’m older.
Aside from those coffee lovers, pizza still remains the food that most people crave most of the time. Join me as I trace the history of pizza and then enjoy a wonderful recipe you can make at home.
The common belief is that Italians invented pizza, however, the origins go back to ancient times. It’s known that the Babylonians, Israelites and Egyptians were eating flat bread that had been cooked in mud ovens, topped with olive oil and native spices.
The lower class of Naples, Italy, is believed to have created pizza in a more familiar fashion. In the late 1800s an Italian baker named Raffaele Esposito, was believed to have developed a dish for Italian monarchs King Umberto and Queen Margherita. To impress them with his patriotic fervor, he topped flat bread with the colors of Italy: red tomato, white mozzarella cheese and green basil. The king and queen were so impressed that word quickly reached the masses and others began to copy it. By the beginning of the 1900s pizza made its way to the inner cities of the United States, thanks to Italian immigrants, most notably New York and Chicago. Small cafes began offering the Italian favorite. Today pizza has become just as American as baseball and apple pie.
Approximately three billion pizzas are sold in the United States every year, plus an additional one billion frozen pizzas.
Ninety-three percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month.
1 (quarter ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups bread flour, olive oil, salt, white sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine. Beat well until a stiff dough has formed. Cover and rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll out and place on a pizza pan.
For those of you who want to simplify this recipe, you can pick up pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. It’s a pretty good substitute for the real thing and it’s under $2 a package.
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well combined. Allow to sit for at least a half hour for flavors to blend. Spread on pizza dough and top with enough mozzarella cheese to cover, approximately 24 ounces.
Bake in preheated oven till crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Enjoy.
For those of us watching our weight because of all the added calories over yom tov, I’m sure those who stayed home burned off enough calories cleaning and cooking to have 2 slices of pizza. For those who were away, umm, well … what’s another few hundred calories, right?
Judy’s been putting the dishes away, so we’re reprinting her post-Pesach column from 2012.