Brace yourselves. I am about to reveal the two-tiered secret to the best homemade pizza ever.

A) GOOD INGREDIENTS are paramount. I’ve tried making dough; I’ve tried buying it frozen and from grocery stores. This time it came from Vace, an Italian specialty store, and I cannot emphasize enough how huge a difference it made. I also made tomato sauce from imported San Marzano tomatoes (only $3), and used good quality mozzarella and backyard basil. The mozzarella actually tasted like mozzarella: fresh and light and creamy. Novel!

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B) the real secret is in the skillet. This is basically the closest way to replicate the high-temperature cooking process of a pizza oven. With a cast-iron pan, the pizza takes no more than 5 or 6 minutes to cook (maybe even less). Here’s a step-by-step process.

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1. Let your dough rise in a warm place for about an hour. Make sure it’s coated in olive oil so that it doesn’t stick to the bowl.

2. Meanwhile, make your sauce (my recipe is below)

3. Preheat your oven. And preheat your pan for about 10 minutes on the stovetop.

4. With a few minutes remaining before your pan is heated, assemble the pizza. This set of steps must be done quickly. Begin by covering¬† a pizza peel with flour. If your dough has risen properly, it will have nice air bubbles throughout. You don’t want to squash them by rolling the dough, so spread it by stretching. If you can’t toss/twist it, just pull it gently, or hold it by the edges and let gravity do the work. Once it’s large and round, lay it gently on your floured pizza peel and quickly assemble your ingredients on top. For me: a thin layer of sauce, mozzarella, garden cherry tomatoes, fresh basil.

5. This last step seems a lot scarier than it actually is. Switch your oven to broil. Swiftly and dexterously slide your pizza off the peel and into the pan in one graceful movement. The dough will immediately start cooking. So get it pan under the broiler as quickly as possible (careful, it’s HOT), with the pan handle to one side. After about 2 or 3 minutes, rotate the pan so that the handle faces the other direction. Approximately 2 or 3 minutes later, you pie will be bubbly and beautiful.

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Pizza sauce:

1 15oz can San Marzano tomatoes
half an onion
3 or 4 cloves of garlic smashed and minced
a handful of fresh basil
2 or so TBS vinegar
4 TBS olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt, pepper

Sautee the onion in a good amount of oil for a few minutes — til soft and translucent. Add the garlic and pepper flakes, and sautee for a few more minutes, til fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about an hour. Add more oil, the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. About halfway through, add the basil.

“This is the best homemade pizza I’ve ever had.” — A. Restuccia

Now that’s endorsement!

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Today has been great. Yoga, Big Bear coffee, haircut, and breakfast of fresh garden goods. Today is the day of the cast-iron skillet. Pizza tonight!

Veggie egg supreme:

Half an onion, half a bell pepper, half a spicy pepper, garlic sauteed, plus garden cherry tomatoes and bok choy, break an egg on top and cover til cooked. Sauteed fakin’ bacon on the side. YUM.

I’ve heard rumors of Vace but not until yesterday did I finally see it. I was up in Cleveland Park to get a haircut, and the salon was conveniently located a few doors down. This place really is a goldmine. Fresh, handmade pasta, Italian specialty ingredients and olive oil that actually tastes of olives. I bought pizza ingredients!

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Gonna make me a cast-iron pizzow.