At the end of the week, Swedes like to have something called fredagsmys, which loosely translates to “Friday coziness”. From Svensk wikipedia:
“Fredagsmys är en aktivitet där familj eller vänner samlas på fredagkvällen efter en slutförd arbetsvecka och firar helgen med lugn samvaro, hämtmat, plockmat, godis, TV-tittande, och ibland alkoholdrycker för de vuxna”
“Fredagsmys is an activity where family and friends get together on Friday night after a tiring workweek and celebrate the weekend with quiet time together, takeout, finger foods, treats, tv watching, and sometimes alcoholic beverages for the adults”
(I translated that all on my own! Well, mostly).
Anyway, the idea is basically that on Friday night you don’t have to go out if you don’t want to. You can stay at home, get comfortable on the couch with some delicious food and a bottle of wine, and watch 4 episodes of Lost back to back. Or at least, that’s how we usually celebrate our mys. And what better way to celebrate than pizza?
Pizza is one of those things that ends up seeming a lot trickier than it is. And I use a fair number of gadgets and tricks to get my pizza just the way I like it – I have a bunch of stone tiles that I bake the pizza directly on for a crispy crust, and I use parchment paper and a pizza peel to slide it in and out of the oven. But if you don’t have these things, you can just as easily bake pizza on a cookie sheet (make it squarish, it will be fine!) and it will come out wonderful. This is how our friends Kaitlin and Chris make their pizza, and I like it a lot, too.
Anyway. The real secret here is that you don’t have to make your own dough. I mean, you can – it’s not that hard, and there are many recipes on Internet to help you – but here in Seattle you can get prefab pizza dough at Trader Joe’s for $1.19. I fancy myself a pretty good baker, but I will gladly pay a buck to not have to knead dough and wait for it to rise.
Another trick is that you don’t have to cook the tomato sauce. You can, of course, or you can buy a premade sauce (again, TJ’s is good for this), or you can use leftover tomato sauce from last night’s spaghetti. But lately, I’ve just been taking a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and whizzing them in my immersion blender with a clove of garlic, a big pinch of salt and red pepper flakes, and sometimes some parsley or basil (optional). Bonus: you can do this in a Mason big jar and feel like a real domestic badass (note: “domestic badass” would have been a better blog name than “fistful of basil”. File for future use). Note that this sauce is uncooked, which is weird for pasta, but for pizza it works pretty well.
Once you have your sauce, you can go a number of different directions with toppings. The key is to apply them sparingly, especially if you’re making thinner crust pizza like we do (this keeps things from sogging and prevents “hang cheese”, something that used to terrify me as a child). Some of my favorite combinations:
- pepperoni and sliced olives
- caramelized onion and bacon or prosciutto (if using bacon, cook it a little first to give it a head start)
- lightly sauteed broccoli rabe and italian sausage
- fresh mozzerella and basi leaves
- thinly sliced zucchini and goat cheese
For the first three toppings, use shredded mozzerella cheese. For the fresh mozzerella pizza, use the balls of mozz that come in brine (I like the little ones since you don’t have to cut them up – just halve them and sprinkle on the pizza). For the goat cheese pizza, you can use all goat cheese, or some goat cheese and some grated mozzerlla.
You can also get creative with other toppings – anchovies, pesto, sauceless, etc. Pretty much anything will work, as long as it isn’t too soggy and there’s not too much of it.
I like to prepare all my toppings and lay them out in little bowls before I get started. Also, it looks pretty.
Bake at your highest oven temperature (ours goes to 550) either directly on your baking stone or on a cookie sheet for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely bubbling and the bottom of the crust is browned. Mine take about 13 minutes, but yours may take longer.
NOTE: this oven temperature works for a thin crust pizza. If you’re making anything thicker, dial that oven down to 475 or 450 and let it take a bit longer to bake.
When made from scratch, pizza is quick, not that terrible for you, and pretty inexpensive. Here’s a rough cost breakdown for a pepperoni and olive pizza:
crust – $1.19
sauce (1/3 of a can of diced tomatoes) – $.50
olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt – pantry
pepperoni (2/3 of a package from TJs) – $2
olives (1 can from TJs, plus some for snacking) – $1.29
TOTAL = $4.98
So for about five bucks, you can make a pizza that would easily cost upwards of $20 at a sit down restaurant, or $12 – $18 at a takeout place. That leaves you plenty in your budget for this mediocre $9 Willamette Valley pinot:
So go make some pizza! And have a fredagsmys!