One of our favorite demonstrations at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival was led by chef Alex Guarnaschelli. If you're not watching her wildly entertaining and informative show on the Food Network, Alex's Day Off, I highly recommend you check out a few of the episodes. Her passion and enthusiasm for food is infectious, and her recipes are creative and delicious-sounding. On Saturday afternoon, in the bright sunshine, Guarnaschelli made homemade pizza. While she whipped up tomato sauce and pizza dough, she provided the audience with tons of helpful hints for channeling your inner pizzioli. Read on for her suggestions.

  • Don't be intimidated by making pizza dough at home. It's simply a combination of flour, yeast, water, and honey.
  • Oiling the bowl is a necessary step that should not be skipped. "One time, I wondered: is this step really necessary? The step where a recipe tells you to 'place the dough inside a lightly oiled bowl.' It really is! The oil prevents the bowl from sticking and allows it to grow big and bodacious."
  • If you're taking the time to make homemade dough, then you should also put together an easy and delicious tomato sauce. Guarnaschelli's consists of 10 garlic cloves, shallots, chile flakes, and oregano.
  • Get outside of your comfort zone. Use ingredients that are unusual. For example, Guarnaschelli makes her tomato sauce with yellow tomatoes instead of red.
  • There's nothing wrong with using regular old black pepper. "Although it may not be chic anymore to use plain black pepper, I think it's fine!" Likewise, it's OK to use part skim ricotta.
  • When following a recipe for pizza, or anything else, she says, "don't stress! There's no food pizza police coming to your house telling you that you've done it all wrong. Nobody is looking at what you do, so really, do whatever the hell you want."
  • Always add basil to the sauce or pizza. "You can't have pizza without it."
  • The more parmesan, the better. "When do you stop with parmesan cheese? If a recipe calls for 1/4 cup, who really adds that much? Who measures out the cheese? I just grate and grate until I feel like it's enough. I like to make it rain parmesan cheese."

Are you a fan of Alex Guarnaschelli?