Carla's Corner: Pizza Party

When was the last time you had a room full of cooks, or more specifically, folks cooking in your kitchen? Has pizza night ever moved from a bunch of boxes in the family room to the kitchen—where yeasty focaccia dough, spicy tomato sauce and several bowls of your favorite bits and bobs await? Some of you may find this surprising, and others not so much, but I rarely cook at home. This is because most of my cooking is done at the “office,” and I have the very good fortune of having a husband who loves to cook. However, the other day I was hankering for a pizza and I wanted to make it a family/friend affair.

I decided to make focaccia dough instead of a thin New York-style crust. I used a super easy recipe where all the dry ingredients, including the yeast, are dumped in a bowl. Then the wet ingredients (water and oil) are stirred in last.


2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon rapid-rising yeast
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
¾ cup warm water


1.Mix dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oregano and garlic) in a large bowl.

2.Combine olive oil and water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the water in. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until it is fully incorporated.

3.Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough should spring back after poked.

4.Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

It’s important to have a variety of toppings, because you want everyone to be able to make their dream pizza—the more toppings the better.

Here’s a list of toppings I had:
Diced zucchini tossed with olive oil and salt, halved grape tomatoes tossed with garlic, olive oil and salt, pizza sauce, ricotta cheese mixed with parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg, diced onions, mushrooms (portabella and button), turkey confit, arugula and artichoke pesto, fresh herbs (thyme and basil), prosciutto, turkey Italian sausage, turkey pepperoni, mozzarella, and truffle oil.

When everyone came in, I instructed them to tear off some dough, shape it into an oiled sheet pan, and go crazy.

Here are pictures of our pizzas. As you can see, we put everything but the kitchen sink on them. There were “meat lovers”, and there were white pizzas smothered with ricotta. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the baked pizzas. We were so excited about eating them that I forgot to take picture. Everyone “oohed” and “aahhed” over their own creation, which was the best part of the night.

We used some of the leftover bits and bobs for our salad (and the next morning there was plenty more for omelets!)

This was not only the perfect way to get the family (and me) into the kitchen, but it was fun watching everyone’s creative process. Next time I think we’ll do a pasta bar.

Until next time…cook with love!


Carla Hall was a finalist on Top Chef: Season 5 and runs Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C.

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