[11:45] Stacey Wee

How to Throw the Perfect Pizza Party

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Saturday, February 9 is Pizza Day, and how better to celebrate it with an old fashioned pizza party?

Nothing is more fun than gathering your friends to mix and match ingredients and then watch it all come together in the oven. And don’t worry – homemade pizza using the freshest ingredients and baked to perfection isn’t as difficult as you think.

First, check out a basic recipe. Next, set your amateur pizza chef guests up for success with these steps:

Make the crust dough ahead of time

The crust is, of course, the foundation of the pizza. Fortunately, a simple pizza crust is surprisingly easy to make from scratch, although the recipe will vary depending on how fluffy you want it to be. Fluffy dough made with yeast can take several hours or even a whole day to rise, so get started early enough to have nice, soft dough balls for your friends to start rolling when they arrive.

Practice the toss and wow your guests

Tossing? Isn’t that just for the pros? Of course not! Tossing is a time-honoured technique for spreading the dough that helps it stay intact and retain moisture. Watch a few YouTube videos and practise before your guests arrive to dazzle them with your aerial dough acrobatics!

For sauces, think outside the tomato

Tomato sauce is the pizza classic, but Thousand Island dressing, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce and even hummus work very well as bases for your pizza toppings. Here is an excellent list of sauce ideas from WiseBread.

Grated cheese

Choosing the cheese offering can be trickier than you might think. Pizza needs a consistent, meltable cheese with a milder flavour that won’t overpower the other ingredients. Plus, offering enough high-end cheese to cover several pizzas is sure to be hard on your wallet.

One solution is to have two cheese “sections”. The first contains cheeses meant to cover the whole pizza. Mozzarella, cheddar, asiago and parmesan are safe bets to provide in bulk to your pizza-making guests. The second cheese section should be the “topping” cheeses, like blue cheese, gouda and chevre, to be used more sparingly, in the way of other toppings like sausage, olives and pepperoni.

Don’t skimp on the toppings

Toppings are the stars of the pizza show, and your guests will come with their own topping fantasies when they arrive at your pizza party. Don’t shortchange them with a scant buffet of pepperoni, ham and maybe a mushroom or two. Provide at least four meats and six veggies. Definitely include the traditional staples: pepperoni, ham, bacon, grilled chicken, mushrooms, olives, sweet basil (be sure to add only in the last few minutes of baking) and even pineapple (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Here are some more off-beat toppings to try:

  • Meatballs
  • Corned beef
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sauerkraut
  • Corn
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Chopped hot dog
  • Salmon
  • Egg (cracked over and baked with the pizza)

Now for a little inspiration!

Seven awesome alternative pizza styles from Food and Wine

Taste of Home’s top ten pizzas, which include zucchini crust and bacon cheeseburger

Thirty all-veg pizzas for non-meat eaters and veggie lovers

Eighteen dessert pizza recipes for afterwards

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