How to Have an Epic Pizza Party!

Summer time screeeeams outdoor parties with friends, right?

I mean, we wait how many months for the snow to melt and the sun to come out?  So in the few months we have, we need to take advantage of the outdoors.

And, what better way to entertain in the summer than to have a pizza party.  Gather your friends, make a few pitchers of cocktails, grab some beers, put out an easy spread and let everyone do all the work.  The beauty of this is that the prep work is all done ahead of time and you get to enjoy the party with all of your guests.  And, isn’t that the whole point to entertaining??

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When we moved to the farm, we built a pizza oven.  I know, I know…I’m a lucky girl.  But I have to tell you, it took me about 1 week to master url codes and build my own website but it took an entire summer to master this *@&$! pizza oven.  The good news is we now know how many hours to stoke it before we actually want to be chowing down and it has become a great part of our summer get togethers.

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First things first…get a big board (or platter) and load it up with all of your toppings – tomato puree with chopped parsley and parm, chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms, diced red onions, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, a variety of meats (prosciutto, salami, sopressata, cooked ground beef, sliced sausage, diced roasted chicken) and a variety of cheese (mozzarella, parmigiana, Gorgonzola, fontina, goat cheese, feta)….this way, everyone makes their own pizza but you are close enough to your neighbour that you might get ideas from them too!

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While you’re at it, make sure you have some fresh herbs for your guests to top their pizzas with – I always rinse out my tomato can, fill it with water and use that as a “vase” for my herbs….people can just rip off what they need.

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Here is a beautiful round of dough rising….isn’t it just spectacular?  I mean, it smells so “yeasty” and it feels like a baby’s bum…so awesome, no?  Use your favourite dough recipe or use this quick pizza dough recipe if you are short on time!

If you are uber-organized, you might have some dough already on hand.  If not, remember this time saving pizza dough trick for next time!!

If you’re entertaining and you have friends with gluten issues, don’t let them go hungry (yes, I know there is other food, but if I went to a pizza party and couldn’t have pizza, there’s a good chance I would cry…really!).  Try this Cauliflower pizza base and let them make their own (you just have to give them a pan – cast iron works best – and follow the directions to pre-bake first before adding the toppings)

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If you have a big board, that works best (I have my grandmothers which is just a giant piece of plywood!) but you could always get a big piece cut from the hardware store and keep it behind a door.  Mine has a hole with a string on one end so I can hang it on a hook when I’m not using it.  This is my pasta making board too!!! If you want to see it in all it’s pasta making glory, check out my gnocchi recipe!!

Depending on how pliable your dough is, you might want to offer your guests a rolling pin (I find people get less frustrated using a rolling pin!!).

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This is my friend Enzo…he’s a master pizzaiolo.  Not really (I mean, he’s one of the best cooks out there but he doesn’t have his pizzaiolo papers…YET!!), but doesn’t he look good doing this??

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This one was topped with crushed tomatoes, melanzana (eggplant), peppers, and olives…Make sure you put some cornmeal at the bottom of the dough while rolling it because it makes sliding it onto the peel that much easier!

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Then we slid it onto a metal pizza peel (throw a bit more cornmeal on the peel for safe measure), brought it over to the hot oven (the temp should be close to 800 degrees) and slid it in the oven.  In a proper pizza oven ,it takes literally less than a minute to cook!

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The edges get brown and the bottom is nice and crispy!!

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Don’t be scared to try something new.  My son’s favourite summer pizza is sliced pears, toasted walnuts and cambozola cheese…once it’s cooked, it’s drizzled with local honey and a grating of fresh black pepper!!!

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And if you have a pizza oven, put some meat in a cast iron pan (this was lamb chops marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic and oregano) and put it in the oven.  It will cook as the embers cool down…all you have to do is baste it once in a while as it releases juices.

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Add in a few salads and you have a meal fit for a king.  Here we have my broccoli salad, a refreshing fennel, orange and onion salad (you can try my quick summer beet salad which is similar to this) and a farro salad (this one was like my baby kale salad but instead of the kale I used cooked farro and I added chopped cucubers)

If you don’t have a pizza oven, using your bbq is great too!!  Just follow these directions:

1.  Stretch out individual pieces of dough (you can even use these as a short cut!)

2.  Oil them well and lay it down on a hot bbq

3.  Cook until golden, turn it over, cook again

4.  Give them to your guests to load up

5.  Once your guests are done topping their pizzas, return them to the grill (it’s best if you turn off one side and put the pizza on that side so the heat from the other side heats the toppings without scorching the bottoms), turn the heat way down, close the lid and wait for the toppings to get warm and your cheese to melt.

6.  Eat!!

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I was invited to my friend Irene’s house for pizza.  She had a stand alone wood oven that she bought at Canadian Tire and she loooves it!!!  She makes her pizza on a metal tray like this.  Her roots are from Cyprus and her dad used to own a pizza place in Sarnia where he always put sesame seeds on his crust…good idea!!

By the way…if you want to take a peek at her other recipes ( I strongly suggest you do!), check out www.irenematys.com).

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She loaded it up with all kinds of yummy things…

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And this is what it looked like when it was done…so good!!

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And while you’re at it, why not make a brownie pizza?  I mean, that would just be the icing on the cake, errr brownie, right.

Ya feel me??

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