Treat the family with Halloween pizzas

SCOTT KEELER (photo); JANET K. KEELER (food styling) |   Times
Sweetie Pie Candy Pizza starts with refrigerated cookie dough and ends with chopped candy bars of your choice. We used Kit Kats and Butterfingers and a scattering of orange peanut M&M’s.

SCOTT KEELER (photo); JANET K. KEELER (food styling) | Times Sweetie Pie Candy Pizza starts with refrigerated cookie dough and ends with chopped candy bars of your choice. We used Kit Kats and Butterfingers and a scattering of orange peanut M&M’s.

Ghouls and goblins big and small will be out in force this weekend. And they'll be hungry for more than fake blood. • Feed them chocolate and sour-sweets all night and face the consequences of a scary sugar rush. They need real food. • They need pizza. • Cheesy pies are just the thing whether you're having a party — Halloween is on Saturday this year — or simply looking for something to feed the kids before they head out, buckets in hand.

By making pizza you can get inventive with toppings, tailoring them for simple tastes or adventurous palates. Or even make a maniacal pumpkin face with pepperoni. Pizza can be both salad (pile it high with dressed greens) and main course (lots of protein and veggies).

Okay, maybe you don't need dessert with all those fun-sized candy bars, but a Sweetie Pie Candy Pizza (recipe below) puts the punctuation point on the party. Cut slices small; it's rich.

Pizza delivery or pickup is an option, but be warned: Halloween is one of the busiest days of the year for pizza joints. Place orders early and still expect to wait. You can also go the frozen pizza route, though you'll be mostly limited to cheese, pepperoni/sausage and one with nearly everything.

Preparing a homemade pizza couldn't be easier with the choices available these days for bottled sauce and ready-to-go dough. Buy a tube of refrigerated dough or a ready-made shell like Boboli. Some grocery stores sell housemade pizza dough. If you're the type who actually makes a Halloween costume, you're the person who can prepare your own sauce and yeasty pizza dough, too.

I've included a recipe here for both, and the dough recipe, though simple, takes some time for the double rising. Cornmeal in the dough adds texture and body. Whether you're using a store-bought dough or your own, let it come to room temperature before shaping. As the dough warms, it relaxes and become pliable.

Another tip: Transfer raw dough to your pizza pan before spreading on sauce-cheese-toppings. Unless you've got a large wooden paddle, called a peel, it's tough to move a loaded unbaked pie to the baking pan. Trust me. If you're using a pizza stone, get a peel.

Bake a homemade pie for 10 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Besides the universally loved pepperoni (make mine with black olives, please), at right are some other combinations sure to soothe your savage beasts on Halloween.

. Quattro Formaggi Tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, Fontina and Parmesan.

. Mushroom Forget the canned version. Saute fresh, sliced button mushrooms in olive oil with a few shakes of dried thyme, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pair with tomato sauce and mozzarella.

. Sausage and Artichoke Hearts Tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, cooked bulk sausage and drained marinated artichoke hearts cut in half.

. BLT Brush dough with olive oil and cover with shredded mozzarella, diced tomatoes and cooked bacon pieces. Lightly toss shredded iceberg lettuce with mayo and pile on cooked pizza.

. Pesto Tomato Pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella and halved cherry or grape tomatoes (yellow and/or red) over all.

. Barbecue Chicken Barbecue sauce, mozzarella cheese, shredded rotisserie chicken and sliced scallion or red onion.

. Garden Veggie Mix packet of ranch dressing powder with 8 ounces cream cheese; spread on cooked pizza base. Layer on a variety of chopped, fresh veggies such as carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes.

. Shrimp Scampi Bake dough covered with mozzarella until halfway cooked. While pizza is cooking, saute peeled, medium shrimp in olive oil, minced garlic and white wine. Drain shrimp and scatter on pizza; cook remainder of time.

. Mexican Brush shell with olive oil. Add sliced cured chorizo sausage, shredded Manchego cheese and sliced, roasted red peppers.

. Meatball Tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, chopped green peppers, halved and thawed frozen meatballs and Parmesan cheese.

. Muffuletta Spread dough with olive tapenade or chopped olives; top with thinly sliced provolone and salami, ham and capicola.

. Blue Onion Caramelized onion, crumbled Gorgonzola, dried or fresh sage.

. White Spinach Mounds of ricotta and shredded mozzarella, then spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

. Caprese Tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with ribbons of fresh basil and coarse salt just before serving.

. Leftover Beef Salad

Spread pesto on a baked pizza shell. Layer on strips of cooked beef then top with grated Asiago cheese and chopped arugula. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or jkeeler@sptimes.com.

>>Moderate

Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water

1 package active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup warm milk

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in large mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes. Add warm milk, olive oil, salt, cornmeal and 3 cups of the flour; stir until well-blended. Add 1 cup of the flour; mix with your hands until the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Add remaining 1/2 to 1 cup flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addition, until a soft dough is formed that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 6 to 8 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep dough manageable. When finished, the dough should be slightly soft but should spring back when pushed. Lightly oil the surface of the dough and put in the rinsed mixing bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 60 to 90 minutes or until doubled.

Punch down dough. Knead about 1 minute. Oil the surface again and place back in bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 60 minutes. (Or let rise in refrigerator for several hours. Let the dough stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding.)

Punch down dough. Briefly knead. Divide dough in half for two 14-inch deep-dish pizzas or into quarters for four 8- to 10-inch pizzas.

To make the pizzas, lightly grease the pans and roll out dough to a circle about 1 inch wider than the pan. Place dough in pan and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Add the sauce (1 cup), toppings and cheese (about 2 cups grated) and bake 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes two 14-inch pizzas or four 8- to 10-inch pizzas.

Source: Breaking Bread with Father Dominic by Father Dominic Garramone (KETC, St. Louis, 2000)

>>Easy

Sweetie Pie Candy Pizza

1 1/2 packages (16 ounces) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 heaping tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup chopped candy bars (tested with Kit Kats and Butterfingers)

1/3 to 1/2 cup M&M's, any variety

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press the cookie dough in a 13-inch pizza pan or 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes; the edges of the pizza should be set and the center somewhat soft.

Put the chocolate chips onto the cookie as soon as it comes out of the oven. Drop the peanut butter onto the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes while chocolate melts. Spread the chocolate and peanut butter over the cookie, as you would tomato sauce on a pizza. Let cool and then sprinkle chopped chocolate bars and M&M's over all.

Makes at least 20 thin slices.

Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

>>Easy

Basic Pizza Sauce

2 (28-ounce) cans tomato puree

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Pinch of salt (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and maintain at a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Storage: The sauce will keep for about a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for up to four months.

Makes 4 cups; enough for three large pizzas.

Source: Adapted from The Pizza Book by Evelyne Slomon (Times Books, 1984)

Treat the family with Halloween pizzas 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 9:14am]

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