Minggu, 18 Januari 2009

4 Easy Steps to Wine Tasting

Legend has it that Cleopatra once promised Marc Anthony she would "drink the value of a province" in one cup of wine, after which she drank an expensive pearl with a cup of wine. Marilyn Monroe is rumored to have bathed in a bathtub of champagne. The lure of wine is cross-cultural and going strong. Enjoying wine, once surrounded by pomp and circumstance, is now something that many of us do on a daily basis to enjoy food, friends, and family. There is no reason each experience shouldn't be as exceptional as taking a bath in Champagne. Knowing a few simple tips about tasting wine can enhance your wine experience by leaps and bounds and easily transition you from a wine lover to a wine expert.


Fill the glass about one-third full, never more than half-full. Pick it up by the stem. This may feel awkward at first, but there are good reasons: Holding the glass by its bowl hides the liquid from view; fingerprints blur its color; the heat of your hand alters the wine's temperature. Wine experts can usually tell right away how much a person knows about wine by looking at the way they hold their glass.

Focus on the hue, intensity and clarity of the wine color. The true color, or hue, of the wine is best judged by tilting the glass and looking at the wine through the rim, to see the variation from the deepest part of the liquid to its edges. Intensity can best be gauged looking straight down through the wine from above. Clarity-whether the wine is brilliant, or cloudy with particles-is most evident when light is shining sideways through the glass.


Next comes the swirling. This too can feel unnatural, even dangerous if your glass it too full and your carpet or clothing is new. But besides stirring up the full range of colors, it lets the wine breathe a little and releases some of the aroma for examination. The easiest way to swirl is to rest the base of the glass on a table, hold the stem between thumb and forefinger, and gently rotate the wrist. Right-handers will find a counter-clockwise motion easiest, left-handers the reverse.

Move the glass until the wine is dancing, climbing nearly to the rim. Then stop. As the liquid settles back into the bottom of the glass, a transparent film will appear on the inside of the bowl, known as the wine's "tears" or "legs." You will often hear people pondering about the legs or showing them off, "Hey look at the legs on this wine!", but in truth they're simply an indication of the amount of alcohol in the wine: the more alcohol, the more tears or legs.


When you stop swirling, and the legs are falling, it's time to take the next step: smelling. Swirling the wine vaporizes it, and the thin sheet of liquid on the sides of the glass evaporates rapidly; the result is an intensification of the aromas. I'm sure you've seen wine snobs do this and you have laughed at them, but stick your nose right into the bowl and inhale.

There's no consensus about the proper sniffing technique. Some advocate two or three quick inhalations; others prefer one deep, sharp sniff. I've seen tasters close one nostril, sniff, then close the other and sniff again. It really doesn't matter how you do it as long as you get a good sniff in. With practice, and keen attention, you'll learn how to maximize your perception of aromas, and then how to decipher them.

The world of smell is vast and bewildering. First of all, our olfactory equipment is incredibly sensitive; we can distinguish aromas in quantities so small that laboratory equipment can scarcely measure them. Second, our analytic capacity is extraordinary; estimates of the number of different smells humans can identify range up to 10,000!

As with color, wine's aromas offer insights into character, origin and history. Because our actual sense of taste is limited to four simple categories (the well-known sweet, sour, bitter and salt), aroma is the most revealing aspect of our examination. But don't simply sniff for clues. Revel in the sensation. Scientists say smells have direct access to the brain, connecting immediately to memory and emotion. Like a lover's perfume, or the scent of cookies from childhood, wine's aromas can evoke a specific place and time with uncanny power.


With the aromas still reverberating through your senses, put the glass to your lips and take some liquid in. How much? You need to have enough volume to work it all around your tasting apparatus, but not so much that you're forced to swallow right away.

Because you don't want to swallow, not just yet. It takes time and effort to force the wine to divulge its secrets. I keep a pleasant wine in my mouth for 10 to 15 seconds, sometimes more.

Roll the wine all around your mouth, bringing it into contact with every part, because each decodes a different aspect of the liquid. Wine provokes sensations, too: The astringency of tannins is most perceptible on the inner cheeks; the heat of the alcohol burns in the back of the throat.

First, as you hold the wine in your mouth, purse your lips and inhale gently through them. This creates a bubbling noise children find immensely amusing. It also accelerates vaporization, intensifying the aromas. Second, chew the wine vigorously, sloshing it around in your mouth, to draw every last nuance of flavor from the wine.

Don't forget the finish. After you swallow, exhale gently and slowly through both your nose and mouth. The retro-nasal passage, which connects the throat and the nose, is another avenue for aromas, which can linger long after the wine is finally swallowed. You'll find that the better the wine, the more complex, profound and long-lasting these residual aromas can be. With great wines, sensitive tasters and minimal distractions, the finish can last a minute or more. It's a moment of meditation and communion that no other beverage can create.

Secrets to Great Homemade Pizza

A pizza is the sum of its parts; namely, the pizza crust, the pizza toppings and the pizza sauce. Make each one as wonderful as you can make it and you'll be assured of turning out the best homemade pizza possible. Try out the following secrets when you make your homemade pizza.

Pizza Crust Secrets

Bake your pizza crust separately: It would be best if you can bake your pizza crust first before you add on the toppings and sauce. There's one good reason for doing this. If you bake the lot at one and the same time, you may end up with a pizza that has overcooked toppings, burnt cheese and an undercooked, flat crust. Of course, you should not bake your crust fully the first time so that you won't end up with a pizza that has a burnt crust after your final baking stage.

Mixing pizza dough ingredients: Begin by putting in a bowl at least one-tenth of the warm water specified in your homemade pizza recipe. Add yeast gradually to the water, stir and let it stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, put the remaining warm water, stir in the sugar and salt (if your recipe calls for these ingredients) and the other dry ingredients except the flour, add the water and yeast mixture, stir the lot then immediately add the rest of the ingredients.

Kneading the pizza mixture: Kneading will let air mix with your pizza dough mixture. You should knead the pizza dough only until it reaches the proper consistency: the dough doesn't stick to the container and individual portions can be stretched without breaking. Over-kneading will result in brittle pizza dough. While kneading the dough, use flour to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands and the bowl, but use as little flour as possible.

Let your pizza dough rise before using it: After kneading your pizza dough, you must give it enough time to rise to your desired thickness. Generally, the longer the fermentation time you allow your pizza, the better the taste of the pizza crust. However, be careful not to use too much yeast if you are going to let the dough rise for hours (say you prepared the dough in the morning and let it relax for the rest of the day in preparation for baking by day end).

If speed is of the essence: If you need the pizza dough as quickly as possible, you can let it rise faster by adding more yeast to the mixture or by increasing the temperature of the dough. To do the latter, you can heat your oven for a few minutes, turn it off, cool the oven off a bit by leaving the oven door open for a few seconds, put the dough in a covered bowl, put the bowl in the oven and close the door. Let the mixture stay in the warm oven for at least 30 minutes, take it out, softly press the dough down then repeat the "rising" exercise for another 30 minutes. Another technique that you can apply for a faster fermentation period is to use warm water. The higher the water temperature, the faster yeast action will be. Just a note of caution, however, the pizza dough which has been allowed to ferment longer using minimum amount of yeast generally results into a better-tasting pizza crust so it's best that you mix and knead your dough hours before you actually need it.

Frozen homemade pizza dough preparation: If you have prepared pizza dough the night before and left it in the refrigerator for next day's baking, take it out in the morning and let it rise for at least several hours before you use it. Again, the less the yeast used, the longer the rising period required.

To make a thin pizza crust: If you are aiming for a thin crust pizza, you will want to use less dough per pan. You can also just stretch your pizza dough more on the pan. Doing this will naturally reduce the crust thickness.

To get a thick pizza crust: For a thicker crust, you need to use a pizza pan with a smaller circumference, use more pizza dough per pan or stretch out the dough less. The result would be increased crust thickness.

To get a crispy pizza crust: For a crispy pizza crust, it would be best if you reduce the amount of water. Drier pizza dough usually means a crispier pizza crust. Stiffer pizza dough also means crispier crust so it would be best to use flour with high gluten content if you want a crispy crust.

For a soft and gooey crust: To get a soft and chewy crust, you need to add more water to your dough mixture or use less flour. More moist pizza dough means softer pizza crust. To achieve better results, use flour with low gluten content. You may make gluten-free pizza dough by using gluten-free flour

If you live in a high-altitude location: Be mindful of the effect of high altitude on pizza dough. A higher altitude means less air pressure so the dough will rise faster, and it means a faster rate of evaporation so the dough will dry out faster. Thus, if you are in a high-altitude location, it is generally advisable to use more water and less yeast in your pizza dough mixture than you would normally use if you were in a low-altitude location.

Pizza Toppings

Simply speaking, the pizza toppings you should use depend on the type of pizza that you want. Fresh mozzarella cheese is necessary if you want to make a New York pizza. New York style pizza is typically minimalist; that is to say, they use as few toppings as possible. On the other hand, a Chicago deep dish pizza is usually loaded with meaty toppings: pepperoni, beef sausage, pork sausage, ground beef, bacon, ham, etc. You will also see bell peppers, mushrooms, and different kinds of cheese on a typical Chicago pizza. Tomatoes, cheese, anchovies, garlic, and herbs like basil and oregano, on the other hand, are typical of Italian pizza. California pizza, on the other hand, is characterized by seasonal vegetable toppings, fruit toppings, chicken pizza toppings, smoked salmon toppings, and other unusual toppings.

For great economy: Use pizza toppings that you already have on hand. Bacon, ham and sausages left over from breakfast, for instance, will make great toppings. Innovate depending on what ingredients you have. Naturally, cooked toppings will require less time in the oven so be sure to take this into account when baking your pizza.

Fresh toppings: It is recommended that you use fresh ingredients for your pizza toppings. Use fresh mozzarella cheese, if possible.

Finger crush herbs: To release the flavor of dried herbs, it is best to finger crush them before you add them to your pizza.

Drain and dry toppings: To avoid getting a soggy pizza, especially if you are using lots of canned and moist ingredients, you should drain your toppings of excess moisture before you arrange them on your pizza base.

Pizza Sauce

Your pizza sauce will give your pizza its distinctive flavor. In the web, you can find a lot of easy pizza sauce recipes to follow. You can even try making your own trademark pizza sauce.

Easy pizza sauce recipe: There should be canned, pre-mixed pizza sauces available in your local supermarket. On the other hand, you can use spaghetti sauce as your pizza sauce. Another easy alternative would be to sauté some onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil, add tomato sauce (chunky tomato sauce is fine or tomato paste/puree diluted with some water), add salt (and crushed pepper if preferred), let the sauce simmer then add basil and oregano. You can even add some balsamic vinegar if you wish. You can also add some cooked ground meat to your sauce if you prefer.

Thicker sauce is better: Use thick pizza sauce on your pizza. Too watery pizza sauce means a soggy pizza. If you are using canned pizza sauce, evaluate the thickness. If too thin, let the sauce simmer before using it on your pizza.

Pizza sauce on top: When cooking your pizza, it is advisable to put the sauce on top. This will prevent your cheese and other ingredients from burning.

Mind-Blowing Pizza Sauce

The best pizza dough does not necessarily lead to the best pizza. The quality and choice of pizza toppings and pizza naturally have something to do with the final taste of your pizza. Thus, if you want to get great pizza, then you should have the best pizza crust recipe, the best pizza toppings, the best pizza spices, the best ingredients, and the best pizza equipment. You must also have the best pizza sauce.

The Best Pizza Sauce

The pizza sauce is particularly important to pizza making. It is that which gives the whole dish its unifying flavor. It ties everything up, so to speak. Therefore, the best pizza sauce is relative to the type of pizza dough recipe you are following and the type of pizza toppings that you are using. The best pizza sauce is simply something that sets off your pizza toppings and your pizza crust so well that the untrained palate is only aware of great tasting pizza; the trained palate, on the contrary, will be able to distinguish each ingredient used but will still be impressed by how the specific combination of ingredients lends the pizza its unique taste.

Thus, a pizza loaded with all kinds of choice toppings, drizzled liberally with the best homemade pizza sauce that you can find, may give you nothing but a soggy and extremely messy pizza that pales in comparison with a simple cheese pizza or vegetarian pizza topped with sauce made so thoughtfully and carefully that the pizza crust, the toppings and the sauce all balance one another.

This talent for combining ingredients so that each one of your pizza spices, for instance, truly complements one another is something developed only through endless trials and experimentation. There's also such a thing as good taste in food - something as innate as good taste in clothes (when you instinctively know which articles of clothing and accessories will result in a phenomenal outfit) or a good ear for music - which a truly great cook must have in order to come up with the best pizza sauce recipe. This skill, in turn, is developed or acquired through experience and training.

It is clear, therefore, that you need lots of practice if you want to be a pizza gourmet cook or master who has his own trademark pizza sauce recipe. For now, however, you may have to content yourself with the basic pizza sauce recipes that you will find online and in recipe books. In fact, starting with the basics is good preparation for developing your own homemade pizza sauce recipe. This will give you the experience to determine which ingredients you need to retain, which ones you need to change and which ones you need to add to achieve exactly the taste that you want.

The following are some of the pizza sauce secrets and information that you can use for making your own mind-blowing pizza sauce blend.

It All Begins with Tomatoes

This is not strictly true for there are pizza variants that do not use tomatoes in the pizza sauce. However, tomato-based sauces are the most common types.

Now for the best tomato-based sauce, use fresh tomatoes that you have grown yourself. You should avoid supermarket-bought, fresh tomatoes because these are probably ripened through an artificial chemical process. The best type of tomatoes for pizza sauce making is the plum variety.

To prepare your tomatoes, you should remove the seeds and cut these into small chunks. Use a blender to reduce fresh tomato into paste. Add some water and grind well to ensure uniform consistency and texture. However there's nothing wrong with a chunky tomato sauce if you prefer this type of sauce; as long as the pieces are more or less similar in size, then cooking problems should not arise.

Once you have your tomato base, evaluate its thickness. The best tomato base is a thick one. If you have added too much water during the grinding stage, check now if the sauce is not too thin. Thin pizza sauce will run off and will merely make the dough soggy if so. If you have made an excessively thin tomato base, you should let the lot simmer on low heat to let some of the water to evaporate. Beware that heating your tomato base to get rid of excess water will affect the flavor of your tomato base.

If you don't have your own tomato patch, then just use the canned stuff. It is best to use slightly thick tomato sauce - it is thick, has enough moisture level yet hasn't undergone as much heating (if at all) as tomato concentrate products. On the other hand, you can buy canned tomatoes that haven't been converted to sauce or paste yet. You can use your blender to prepare your tomato base, in this case, adding as much water as you need to achieve desired glueyness.

Then Come the Pizza Sauce Flavorings and Spices

After preparing your tomato base, you should prepare a large, non-stick flat pan for cooking the sauce. To start with, heat some olive oil. Use the extra virgin variety if you want a stronger olive taste; this is especially applicable if you are using olives on your pizza toppings as the olive oil in the sauce will reinforce the flavor of one of the toppings. After heating the oil, you should melt some butter in it.

After heating oil and melting butter, you should start sautéing the usual ingredients: onions and garlic. Mince the onions and garlic if you want the best possible flavor. You can even transform your garlic into garlic paste then increase the amount of garlic used if you want a distinctly garlicky taste. When the garlic is mildly brown and the onion transparent, pour in the tomato based that you have made according to the above instructions. Mix everything but don't take too long. After a few seconds of adding and stirring the tomato, onion and garlic mixture, you should add salt, pepper (crushed pepper works best for a hotter pizza sauce recipe) and when nearly cooked, all the other spices.

The first ingredient that comes to mind is salt. Another is sugar. The first one is definitely a requirement while the second one is optional; people who love a sweet-tasting tomato pizza sauce can add sugar.

Italian style pizza naturally has basil and oregano. If you are using the fresh leaves, chop them into small pieces. If you are using dried herbs, crush them first using your fingers or a mortar and pestle assembly to release trapped flavors. Add the herbs and spices during the last few minutes of simmering.

The pizza spices used varies. If you want tasty pizza sauce, use fennel seeds and laurel leaves. If you want an even stronger flavor, use lots of parsley or you can use the laurel bark; however, be sure to remove the laurel bark and the laurel leaves after cooking the pizza. If you want a spicy pizza sauce, however, add some cayenne pepper or some paprika to your pizza sauce mixture.

Other pizza sauce ingredients are cheese, beef stock (or the instant variety if you have no time to make beef stock), and mushrooms. Basalmic vinegar and alcoholic beverages, moreover, are great for imparting a slightly piquant taste to your sauce. The same thing can be achieved with pure fruit juice such as lemon juice.

Do not forget that you have the option of adding as many ingredients and spices to your pizza sauce. It's all a matter of taste, anyway. And here's one final tip: if you like a dish so much - say creamy carbonara pasta - try recreating the sauce and using it on your pizza. If it doesn't work, then use it the way it has always been used (e.g. prepare some pasta to use with your carbonara sauce).

Make a Yummy Low Fat Pizza

There was this line in a movie (I can't quite recall which) that said "Fatless, salt-less, sugarless… and tasteless" or something to the same effect. This actually reflects a quite popular sentiment in this day and age of health consciousness. People who wish to be healthy or who want to lose a few pounds are of the belief that they have to sacrifice taste if they wish to achieve their desired weight or health goals. Naturally, tasteless yet healthy foods don't lend itself well as a substitute for tasty yet rich foods to which we have been accustomed. As a result, people who go on a low fat diet usually find themselves reverting to old habits sooner or later.

Nevertheless, while it is true that majority of health and low fat foods being sold in the market do tend to be bland, this is not applicable in all cases. If nothing else, there is such a thing as a yummy, low fat pizza. Yup, a delicious low fat pizza is definitely possible. In fact this article will instruct you on how to make one. All you need is a proper understanding of what constitutes healthy, low fat food and how to apply such principles into making your pizza.

The Principles of a Low Fat Diet

Understand one thing: low fat doesn't mean non-fat. These two are entirely different things. Low fat means you reduce the amount of fat in your diet. This means that less than thirty percent of your daily calorie intake should come from fat.

A low fat diet also means a reduction in the amount of unhealthy fats in your diet. By unhealthy fats, we are referring to saturated fats (which are unhealthy because they raise bad cholesterol levels) and polyunsaturated fats (which are unhealthy because they reduce the amount of ALL types of cholesterol and do not discriminate between good and bad cholesterol). Each of these two types of fat must consist less than ten percent of your daily calorie intake. Monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, are the "healthy fats" because they promote good cholesterol levels and reduce bad cholesterol levels. Such healthy fats, however, should still only comprise less than fifteen percent of your daily calorie intake.

Reduction in the amount of fat and reduction in the amount of unhealthy fats are the basic principles of a healthy, low fat diet. If you reduce the amount of fat intake but consumes only or mostly unhealthy fats, then you are, technically, on a low fat yet generally unhealthy diet.

A low carb diet is not the same as a low fat diet. A low fat diet can be one that has high carbohydrate content whereas a low carb diet can have a high fat content. With careful planning, however, it is possible to combine a low fat diet with a low carb diet.

There are debates as to which of these two types of diet is healthier. Definitely, a low fat diet that reduces the intake of unhealthy fats is healthy. However, if your goal is to reduce weight, a low carb diet is more effective in the short run. Nevertheless, a low carb diet can lead to more side effects and can be unhealthy in the long run whereas the low fat diet, although apparently not as effective as a weight reduction measure in the short term, is more effective as a weight maintenance measure in the long run.

Now that the definition of a low fat diet has been discussed, and the low carb and low fat diet have been sufficiently differentiated, it is time to apply such tenets. Get your pizza pan and wooden spoon ready. It's time to make our yummy, low fat pizza. Take note that we are going to make real, homemade pizza - not something that simply looks and tastes like pizza.

How to Make a Yummy Low Fat Pizza

The secret to making a low fat pizza is finding out the fat content of your usual pizza ingredients, finding a low fat substitute, reducing overall fat content, and adjusting the other ingredients and the cooking procedures to reflect the changes. You need not compute the calories in pizza to make a low fat pizza.

Low fat pizza dough

The change should start with the pizza crust. Whether you are making a thin crust or a thick crust, you should always focus on how much fat content your pizza crust recipe has. For instance, the basic pizza dough recipe has the following ingredients: flour, yeast, water, oil/shortening, milk, salt, and sugar. To make pizza crust relatively low in fat content, therefore, you must check each of the ingredients and find substitutes when applicable.

In the easy pizza crust recipe indicated above, it is easy enough to find low fat substitutes. First, you should use vegetable oil instead of animal fat or butter as your shortening in your pizza recipe. Of all vegetable oils, however, it is best to use olive oil which has the highest amount of monounsaturated fat content. Avoid palm and coconut oil as these have higher saturated fat content. Next, you should use dry, non-fat milk solids to replace regular milk.

Aside from replacing the ingredients that you can with their low or non-fat substitutes, you should also reduce the total amount of fat in your pizza dough recipes. Use as little oil as possible in your pizza dough. Moreover, do not use egg yolks even if your traditional homemade pizza recipe calls for it.

Substituting olive oil for butter or shortening should not result in any drastic changes. In fact, you can use extra virgin olive oil for a stronger olive flavor. If you prefer your crust to be creamy, you shouldn't worry since you are using milk on your dough anyway. The above ingredients should therefore give you great-tasting, low fat pizza.

Now, if you want to make an even healthier pizza dough, increase fiber content by using whole wheat flour instead of the usual white flour; reduce the amount of salt and sugar, too. Then, you can decrease carbohydrate content by opting for a thin crust pizza (less carb per slice) or reducing the amount of flour. To compensate for the less flour, you can use egg whites as binder (of course, amount of water must be reduced in proportion to the amount of egg white used).

Pizza Toppings and Pizza Sauce Low Fat Pizza

It is much easier to choose pizza toppings for a low fat pizza recipe. You should primarily choose vegetable toppings. Thus, a vegetable pizza is preferable. For variety, you can add fruit and make it a vegetable-and-fruit pizza. You can find a vegetable pizza recipe or a fruit vegetable recipe online; you can also create your own.

No-cheese pizza is best, but if you really must have cheese, then find low fat cheese or find a low fat cheese blend that you can live with. Moreover, less cheese is best. Use just enough cheese to give your pizza flavor; I'm afraid that cheese pizza is generally out then.

Tomato sauce is healthy, but you should choose one with a lower salt and sugar content. If you want, you can make your own. You can even dice up your own tomatoes and use them as toppings. Finally, substitute lean meat to your fat-laden sausages; use white meat (without the fat portions) instead of red meat. Add herbs and herbal pizza spices to add flavor and taste to your low fat pizza.

All About Pizza

The term pizza covers a lot of territory. If you want to learn all about pizzas, then you should have a bit of a background on pizzas: specifically the history of pizza, pizza origin, pizza facts, and even pizza trivia such as who invented pizza. The subject also delves into the different types and styles of pizzas. The varieties currently existing defy any attempts at enumeration. Thus, most people who attempt such a task stop at a broad categorization of pizza types according to certain attributes such as crust thickness, crust elasticity, crust baking and cooking procedures, toppings, etc. Aside from general, historical or trivial information, other things are of interest to the pizza lovers. For instance, homemade pizza enthusiasts would like to know certain tips and tricks for making pizza. This includes pizza making techniques, the best pizza crust recipes, pizza toppings, homemade pizza sauce, etc. Some other interesting topics will be frozen pizza dough and where best to attain them, what are the criteria for choosing the, what are the methods for preparing them, etc.

It must be obvious that this article is a mite ambitious for wishing to tackle something entitled "all about pizza." However, an attempt is definitely warranted, so here goes.

Some pizza facts and trivia

Accounts of pizza history always begin with the origin of pizza. This one might as well follow the same tack. We have to thank any civilization or race that baked flat bread on hot stones or stone ovens for pizza, for almost certainly, bread like the focaccia was the "mother of the pizza crust." However, the invention of the pizza is more properly attributed to the Neapolitans - the people of Naples, Italy who were baking and making pizza crust topped with tomatoes, oil, and Italian herbs, and spices. This rudimentary and traditional Italian pizza was common peasant fare in Naples. If you want an individual originator and inventor of pizzas, however, then you won't be wrong if you cite Rafaelle Esposito - a native of Naples; he modified the basic Neapolitan pizza recipe and came up with three variants that added mozzarella cheese to the rudimentary Italian pizza toppings.

Now, if you are looking for some topics for small conversation, then you must remember the following trivia. One note of caution, though; you shouldn't blurt these out just to anybody or you'll sound decidedly corny and geeky. Make sure you're talking to someone interested in pizzas before you use the following trivia as conversational gambits.

" Most people in the United States love pepperoni; the least liked toppings are anchovies.

" Pizza was called (and is still called) tomato pie and pizza pie in certain parts of the States.

" The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in New York.

" The pizza industry is worth more than 30 billion dollars in the United States alone and Americans consume around three billion units of pizza every year.

" New York pizza is traditionally plain. Supposedly, New York pizza is unique because of the acidity and hardness of the water in New York. New Yorkers therefore claim that only in New York can you make real New York Pizza.

(New Yorkers must admit, however, that if water is the unique characteristic of New York pizzas, one who uses water adjusted for hardness and acidity to reflect New York water conditions, adds all the usual New York pizza ingredients and toppings, follows all the procedures strictly but makes the pizza in New Jersey can conceivably make an authentic, New York style pizza. But such an assertion, some would say, is just plain cheek.)

Pizza types and pizza styles

The first step to a great homemade pizza is determining what type of pizza you wish to make. After all, different types of pizza have different attributes and thus call for different types of pizza base, pizza toppings and cooking techniques. Would you like to make an authentic Italian pizza, a New York style pizza, a California style pizza, or a Chicago style pizza?

Italian pizza is generally lean, although when you add cheese, its fat level generally rises in proportion. There are various kinds of Italian pizza, too. There are Neapolitan pizzas, of which there are two general types: the marinara and the Margherita. There are various combinations of these as well. Authentic Italian pizza, moreover, is supposedly baked on wood-fired or even coal-fired, stone ovens.

New York pizza, as abovementioned, is generally plain. The mainstay of New York pizza is mozzarella cheese - fresh mozzarella cheese to be precise. One can add garlic, different types of cheeses, anchovies, shrimp, etc but these are usually optional. The pizza dough recipe for traditional New York pizza, on the other hand, calls for high-gluten flour. The result is firm, usually thin, chewy pizza.

The California style pizza is generally known for gourmet flavors. You can say the California pizza has countless variations. The pizza crust, in this case, is light, crisp and generally well risen. The toppings can be out of this world - generally California pizza makers experiment a lot with all kinds of meat, sea food, breakfast dishes, and vegetable for the toppings.

The Chicago style pizza, on the other hand, is generally crusty and very filling. They are characterized by their raised edges; imagine a pre-baked apple pie crust where you can place the fillings on top. Chicago pizza is usually meaty (some variants come stuffed with cheeses and meat layers) and it is eaten with a knife and fork.

You can also start by deciding on the flavor you want. Do you want to make a cheese pizza, a vegetarian pizza or a fruit pizza? Perhaps you want to make a low fat pizza, a low carb pizza, a healthy pizza? Sourdough pizza is also another variant.

Take your pick among your many options. Once you have decided, choosing the recipe would be much easier. If you have decided on an Italian pizza, for instance, then find your Italian pizza crust recipe, your Italian pizza sauce recipe and the overall Italian pizza recipe that will give you a list of toppings and pizza preparation procedures for making an authentic Italian pizza. For an easier time of it, you can opt to use Italian-style frozen pizza dough then just follow the Italian pizza recipe that you've found.

Some pizza making tips and techniques

Hand tossing will help you minimize the lumps in your pizza dough. However, this should be done only after sufficient pizza dough kneading. This process lets your pizza dough develop into the right kind of consistency - that which is suitable for stretching and hand tossing. Hand tossing, however, is not advisable for thick pizza crust varieties.

If you want a crisp and firm pizza that retains its structure even when the moist toppings are added, you can bake the pizza crust before you add the toppings and the pizza sauce. However, for thin pizza crusts, baking the crust after the toppings and sauce have been added is sufficient. For uniform baking and crisping of the crust, use a pizza stone or a pizza screen.

Finally, remember that the protein content of your flour will influence the end product. High-gluten flour will lead to a crisp but chewy crust. Gluten-free flour, however, may lead to very soft dough; additives may have to be used to give the pizza dough strength.

Quick pizza crust recipes and easy homemade pizza recipes of all kinds and style are easily available online. There are tips for baking and preparing frozen pizza dough, making your own pizza dough, preparing the ingredients for the best pizza crust recipe, etc. All you need to start making your very own pizza recipe is an internet connection, a good source of basic pizza recipe, great pizza equipment, your imagination, and lots of time and resources for experimentation.