I cut the story below out of a magazine years ago when my oldest son lived in Fairbanks, Alaska.
A Pizza Story; “Pie in the Sky”
Think about this the next time you call for a pizza delivery;
When people in the outer villages of Alaska would like pizza, they could not go to the town pizza shops — there weren’t any. Instead, they called Larry’s Flying Service, and it would be flown in. “Pizza is a real treat for people who live in the villages. They spend most of the year eating moose meat and fish,” says Dave German, a pilot who delivers at least one pizza a week to the 47 villages surrounding Fairbanks and Bethel. The service is free as a favor to regular customers, but they have to order in the morning so the local pizza parlor can get it to the airport 30 minutes before flight time. Alaskans can also order Chinese take-out.
Yesterday, I called Larry’s Flying Service and actually spoke to Larry. He said the story is correct as written and they enjoyed delivering pizzas for people that couldn’t get it any other way. They stopped the delivery services in the late 1990s.
But you don’t need to rely on a favorite pizza shop for a delicious pie; it’s simple to make one at home.
Get creative and make it a family fun time with each person designing their perfect combination of toppings. Go ahead and experiment with the toppings; this is when it becomes fun, especially if it is a teen party.
Several friends have high schoolers in the midst of their senior year and are hosting graduation events in May and June. Plans include make-your-own-pizza parties using some of these ideas: aprons for all (some with school and graduation date imprinted), pre-made pizza crusts, large green salad, less common toppings such as roast red peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and a few uncommon olives types (all meant to open their culinary palates).
Whether you plan a family night supper or a party with friends, the best dessert to accompany fresh homemade pizza could be ice cream, but I would serve gelato. Most supermarkets carry it, if you don’t find a local place that has it, and it comes in so many fantastic flavors.
If you have any other ideas for a pizza party at home, write me and I will pass them on.
Mortadella and Mozzarella Pizza
Homemade pizza dough
21/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 package dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water
12 ounces mozzarella, sliced thinly
4 ounces (or more) mortadella, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-inch pizza pan or 12-by-9 inch baking sheet.
Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast. Make a well in the center and add olive oil and warm water. Mix until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 5 minutes.
Roll out dough and press onto pizza pan or into prepared baking sheet. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature, then bake for 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Arrange fresh mozzarella on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with sliced mortadella that has been halved, in a semicircle. Sprinkle on garlic and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper.
Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Fresh Tomato Pizza
Pre-bake crust as above.
Top with thinly sliced mozzarella and 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or thinly sliced fresh tomatoes that have been tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with a half teaspoon dried oregano.
Bake pizza till golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup torn fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
Combinations to try:
Marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, gaeta olives*, salami.
Fresh mozzarella, ricotta, grated Parmesan, arugula
Grated Romano, red onion, rosemary, pistachios
Mozzarella, fennel sausage, caramelized onions.
*Gaeta olives are the most popular olives in Italy. Substitute kalamata if you can’t find gaeta.
Pizza dough tips
1. When mixing fresh dough, keep hands lightly floured as it will be sticky.
2. When kneading, fold dough back over itself, repeating until it is easier to handle, kneading until smooth, soft, and elastic. It will still be a little tacky.
3. After rolling the dough, use your hands to stretch the dough while pressing into place.
Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.