I love spending an afternoon cooking with friends, especially if the friends love to cook and eat as much as I do. Our dear friends Randall and Bernat fit the bill...we have spent many weekends together where the majority of our time is spent in the kitchen, and the rest of the time is spent either shopping the farm stands or eating! Last September we had one of those weekends and this pizza party was the result. Pizza is perfect for a multi-generational cooking party - there isn't much cooking once you have made the dough...and dough takes time but is fun to make. Plus, once you have gathered all the possible components everyone can mix and match the ingredients to suit their own tastes. Half the fun comes from seeing what inspires everyone, and tasting each others winning combinations.
If you do not feel like making your own dough you can buy pizza dough at most supermarkets these days.
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
approximately 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
cornmeal or semolina flour
Place the yeast in a large bowl with the warm water and sugar. Set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy. Add flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix to combine. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 miutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If the mixture is too sticky you can mix in a little more flour until it is manageable.
Use remaining tablespoon olive oil to coat a large bowl. Set dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for about an hour - the dough should double in size. Divide the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll into rounds about 1/8 inch thick, using more flour for rolling. You can stack these between layers of parchment paper sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal until you are ready to use.
We made a second batch of pizza dough using 1 cup of whole wheat flour mixed with 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. You can use whatever you like for toppings...we made a tomato sauce with sauteed onions, garlic and fresh basil. We also sauteed broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms. Our raw toppings were figs, sliced mozzarella, grated parmesan, and fresh herbs. We also loved drizzling a little extra virgin olive oil on after cooking and sprinkling with course sea salt.
Cook the pizzas in a preheated 450° oven. I do not have a pizza stone, or any rimless baking sheets, but I find that using these sheet pans inverted works well...you can still slide the pizzas off the pan onto a cutting board or plate pretty easily. Just be sure to sprinkle them liberally with more of the cornmeal.