N loves pizza so it was an obvious choice for his birthday meal. It doesn't hurt that my parents have an incredible pizza recipe that they love to use. When I suggested we make it for N's birthday, my dad was more than happy to oblige.
Like most recipes I love, this one just takes patience, practice, and some delicious ingredients. The sauce is Jamie Oliver's quickest tomato sauce. It's simple and full of flavour. You can't go wrong with this one. We usually substitute Roma tomatoes for San Marzano type and I would highly recommend doing this if you can get your hands on them. They have a really distinct flavour and it's become what I look for in an authentic pizza sauce.
The dough is a bit of a hybrid. My dad is always the one to make it, but I've borrowed his recipe and was gifted some semolina flour so I plan to try it out. You'll have to wait for that to happen for me to post my take on the recipe, but there are hundreds of great recipes out there. I really think a lot of baking is getting to know your oven and your region anyway, so be adventurous. Experiment. I mean, the worst thing that's ever happened to me was that I ate the ingredients off my pizza. They were still delicious even if my crust was a bit of a fail.
As we waited for the dough to finish proofing, we made up a tray of appetizers, grabbed some beers, and headed out to the deck to relax. This is something my family does often, especially out at the lake, and I love it. Olives and cheese are two of my favourite things. I'm not one to get overly excited about sweets, so to me these little appies are way better than desert. Unless it's crème brûlée. I can't say no to that deliciousness.
We made two large pizzas that night. The first was very traditional: tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and basil. It's probably my favourite pizza. The flavours seem to come together perfectly without competing with each other.
My dad named our second pizza The Kitchen Sink. Basically it had "everything but the kitchen sink". We took a bunch of stuff we had in the fridge and piled it onto the pizza. There was asparagus, spicy capicola, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, and a couple different cheeses. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things too. It turned out delicious! I still love our simple pizza, but this one gave it a run for its money.
We chatted well into the night, enjoying our pizza and wine. That's another thing I love about making pizza with my family: with one oven the meal lasts for a few hours, so we sit around chatting and enjoying each other's company as we wait for the next pizza.