Pizza recipe from 1968 is still cook's favorite

October 15, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Myra Bottoms of Danville and her family eat a lot of pizza but they rarely call one of the takeout places. They enjoy pieces of Italian pie that are dripping with cheese and tasty tomato sauce that Bottoms has created. Her creations are thanks to a recipe that she clipped from a newspaper in 1968.

Her copy for Brown and Serve pizza is a dark brown despite her attempts to preserve it by laminating it.

When she discovered the recipe, pizza delivery stores were not on every corner. Bottoms had to search for the pizza-making utensils. A lid from a 3-gallon ice cream container became her pan.

"I took the metal lid and made pizza pan out of it because that's what I had," she says.

On a vacation, she walked into a Domino's store and convinced them to sell her a couple of pans.

Bottoms persisted in finding the right utensils because she knew she loved pizza. She tasted it for the first time while in high school in Richmond.


"We had an hour for lunch and we would go to this little mom-and-pop place and have a Coke and a pizza."

Since she found a recipe that she liked for the crust, her own family is spoiled by Bottoms' creations. She and her husband of 41 years, John, often sit down to an Italian meal with daughter Tonja; son John E. and wife Debbie, and their daughter, Nicole.

In a way, Bottoms is running her own pizza takeout store with her family.

"They come for that and they take it home," she says.

After making the homemade crust and sauce, she adds a variety of toppings.

She and her husband prefer sausage, pepperoni and peppers.

"I like the bacon ones they have at Giovanni's, so I grated up some Canadian bacon," she says.

Despite her preference for a variety of ingredients, her daughter and granddaughter prefer cheese.

"My daughter told me the other day that I could use a little less cheese, but she really likes it," Bottoms says.

Her son also is a fan of her homemade yeast rolls, which she says are easy to prepare.

"If I put some brown and serve rolls on the tables, my son will say, 'Mom sure was lazy today. She didn't make any rolls.'"

To make the pizza dough, she uses a mixer or food processor with bread hooks. As someone who likes to keep the house cool, she has a trick for getting her dough to rise in 45 minutes. She boils water and removes the water from the burner. The dough is placed over top of the water to encourage it to rise.

She has other methods.

"One batch I put in the attic. Another batch, I put in the garage."

She's not one for chopping garlic, but likes the taste, so she uses garlic powder. About 1/8 teaspoon equals one clove.

Since the recipe is for four crusts and she often doubles it, the freezer stays stocked.

For ones she plans to freeze, she bakes the crusts and removes them before they're brown. They are placed in a bag when they're still warm.

"It keeps them moist that way."

When removing a pizza from the freezer, she recommends setting the stove at 400 to 425 degrees and using the middle rack instead of bottom one.

In making the sauce, she warns that it splatters badly while cooking.

"I've even seen it hit the ceiling before," she says.

She suggests putting a lid on the sauce and leaving it cracked to let out steam.

She uses Contadina tomatoes because they are thicker and the sauce won't have to cook as long.

Bottoms has shared her cooking skills with many people outside the family. She and Marilyn Marlowe used to cook for a senior citizens group at the First Christian Church.

"I miss it. I miss all the ladies," she says.

Her husband, who is retired from a career with the National Guard, also joins her in the kitchen. He has a well-guarded recipe for beer cheese. They like to make the cheese during the holidays and share it with friends.

"If I give that recipe away, I don't have anything special to fix for people at Christmas."

When not in the kitchen, much of Bottoms' time is spent at the sewing machine, where she creates elaborate embroidery. She decorated one shirt with many gnomes, including one in the bathtub with "Saturday night" written underneath it.

"I just do them for friends and family," she says

She also hand quilts and has made numerous baby blankets.

"I do baby blankets because I can work on them in the car when we're traveling."

The Bottomses don't even have to stop for pizza when they're on the road. When camping, she often has several ready to go from the freezer to their stock of supplies.

Brown and Serve Pizza

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 package dry yeast

1 1/4 cups very hot tap water

1/4 cup olive oil

Tomato sauce (see below)

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1 pound mozzarella cheese (grated)

Garnish: onion rings, sliced mushrooms and green pepper strips (all sauted); sliced pepperoni anchovies, etc.

In a large mixing bowl thoroughly stir together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast (just as it comes from the package); gradually stir in very hot tap water and the oil.

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