Continuing our tradition of declaring pizzas ‘a kind of sandwich,’ we present this shrimp pizza with pesto sauce and smoked paprika. Like the pizzas that went before it, it descends from our 15 week pizz-off Friday end-of-week celebration stint. We’ve come to love these Fridays, and hope to start anew soon albeit with a different theme (Yet to be determined, maybe tapas?).
On a recent Pizz-Off!, we had three amazing pizzas. Two were made by our friends, and this one was our entry into our competition. If you are looking for a new way to enjoy the abundance of butternut squash now making its appearance in fall farmers markets, this is it! I love butternut squash. I have got to find a new way of expressing my pleasure about foods, since I seem to ‘love’ everything. But it really is true. There are very few foods that I don’t absolutely delight it and can’t find a way to work into a tasty meal. That has served me well since I’ve managed to quiet some of Anders initial protests and converted him to many foods that he had previously sworn off: Swiss chard, oxtail, sweet potatoes. Anyway, back to the butternut squash. I think it was about our 7th or 8th pizza night and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a new recipe to serve. When you have a pizza competition with friends every Friday, with each friend making a different pizza, you begin to stretch creativity. Then I remembered my birthday gift to Anders last year – a cooking class at Sur la Table. For that class, we prepared butternut squash ravioli with fried sage. It was wonderful-so much so that the following weekend we made our own homemade version. We haven’t made it since then (an oversight I will have to remedy soon!) So this pizza for me is reminiscent of that meal and combines all the flavors of that meal on a pizza : Butternut squash with fried sage and caramelized onions.
Note: This pizza is a little involved but it’s so worth it. You can prepare some of the ingredients (the squash and the onions) in advance to save time on the day of. I unfortunately thought up this recipe while at work. With two hours to prepare the ingredients before the guests arrived, I had to shop, roast squash, caramelize onions and the most critical thing – clean the kitchen! I needed every second of those 2 hours.
As one of our guests said when I won the weekly pizz-off pizza dinner with this pizza: “It’s not fair, no one can loose with seared tuna!” To be fair I have to concede the point I suppose, as even breakfast cereal with seared tuna would probably be awesome (someone try and let us know). The dough was new for us as our friends at Rossi Pasta sent us a few samples to cook with (Thanks guys). Probably one of our best tasting pizza’s ever.
This was a pizza Anders put together during one of our weekly pizz-off’s, where we wave goodbye to the old week… with a friendly pizza competition amongst friends. The goal is not to win, but to have a great time (and win). Our newfound love for smoked paprika once again manifested itself in a generous sprinkle on top, which has the odd side effect of producing some rather red-tinted photos (for which we apologize). As we were all sitting around the table, sipping red wine like the pro’s, we reminisced about our childhood cardboard-pizzas from the nearby Domino’s or local pizza pusher, and wondered why we didn’t make our own pizzas while in college when it’s really not that hard and so much better.
This recipe originally comes from Jamie Oliver, from his book “Jamie’s Italy“. We recently bought it and very quickly fell in love with his down-to-earth simple taste foods. Absolutely gorgeous. This is how we made our fava bean crostini, which turned out beautifully. In the background, you’ll notice some other crostinis which were also inspired by Jamie and which we will write about in future posts.
The last of the nine pizzas we made for Wendie’s birthday. That was quite an evening. This pizza was another one with an odd shape, but we have learned to ignore the shape, and just enjoy the taste. The smoked paprika is fantastic on pizza where it really shines through after the baking.
When you make chicken, a great idea for all the little leftovers that can be picked from the bones is to make a chicken salad. Unlike what you find in a grocery store, chicken salad should not be a vast ocean of mayonnaise with small islands of chicken. The mayonnaise and mustard is there to add taste, but mostly to hold it all together.
Chicken Salad Recipe #2
- 5 oz chicken meat in small pieces
- 2 tbs mayonnaise
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2 tbs peperiono seeds
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp curry
- 1 tbs + 1 tsp shredded Parmesan
- 1 tsp capers
- 2 tsp kalonjo seeds (name?)
Make sure the pieces of chicken are fairly small, and then mix all ingredients but the capers together. At the end add the capers and carefully mix a little more.
See a sample sandwich here: Chicken Salad Sandwich With Capers and Parmesan
This pizza makes for an excellent dinner if you are having a few friends over to share a nice bottle of Barolo. The black forest ham is great on sandwiches, and excellent on pizza. It’s not overly salty and thus goes really well with the veggies. As always, enjoy making pizza, have some fun, and don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Pizzas are the Chef’s playground, they are very hard to mess up, and everyone always enjoys fresh-baked bread. Just buy decent ingredients, and kick loose. We made this pizza on the spur of the moment, with ingredients we mostly ‘found’ in the kitchen. Adding Peperino seeds was purely because we had some. Black forest ham? We had some. Green bell pepper? Yup, we had some. That’s how we make pizzas, and the best ones go on the blog for you guys. So go crazy tonight. Make your own pizza, or try this one.
Pesto is a wonderful spread or topping for sandwiches and appetizer, in addition to its obvious uses in pasta. It’s very easy to make yourself, and when our sweet basil plant starts to grow out of hand we always have a use for the basil. If you live near a well stocked grocery store (We have Trader Joe’s here in California), look for a bag of basil and try this yourself if you don’t have the plants.
- 3 cups of rinsed fresh basil leaves.
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts
- 3 garlic cloves
Start by placing the garlic cloves in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the pieces are as small as they can get. Add the basil and pine nuts, and pulse again. Add the olive oil slowly while running the food processor, and finally add the cheese.
Tip: The Simply Recipies blog has excellent advice for freezing fresh pesto, plus a slightly different version. In general don’t sweat the exact measurements, but try and taste it and adjust. The quality of the basil can vary over the course of the year, or from region to region, so you may need to add more or less cheese and olive oil.
I don’t know how it’s possible to cut prosciutto as thin as they do, but it’s truly amazing that any knife can do it. My theory is they cut it frozen, but I’m not sure. I wish I could buy prosciutto in thicker pieces as I think that would work wonders on pizzas and sandwiches. But, alas, one can only dream on and work with what one is given. So, this pizza is made from wafer-thin prosciutto slices (vaguely reminiscent of wafer-thin mints). This is essentially a very basic pizza with just a few key ingredients, and it works like a charm. Goat cheese is fantastic on pizzas, and doesn’t overpower the prosciutto at all.
One of the pizzas from Wendie’s surprise birthday party, this one has some grilled chicken (with a very nice spice blend including smoked paprika), two cheeses, olives, tomatoes, green peppers and onions. The dough is a pizza dough with honey I sort-of invented (based loosely on our Lavash crackers recipe), and the tomato sauce has a wide range of spices, most noticeably a hint of fennel. We had 13 guests and I made a total of 9 pizzas and I was stunned that there were almost no leftovers. I really had expects to fill the freezer too, but at least everyone had a great time. Next time I’ll make more!
Saturday: Wake up. Shower. Get Dressed. Breakfast now, NO, kitchen remodel. Drink milk, drive to Escondido. Get mulch and rosebushes, look at avocado tree. Back, unload, Costco. Gas, Bank, Home. Hungry, NO, kitchen remodel! What to do? This. Simple, good, easy, fast, out the door again…
Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe
- 1 pound of potatoes
- 1/2 onion, cut into slices
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Optionally: Add 3 tsp butter, spread out on top before baking.
Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lay them out in a casserole. Mix everything else together and pour over the potatoes. If the cheese stays on top then mix it in. Place casserole in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. If the potatoes starts getting burned, turn oven down to 450, and cover with aluminum foil. Leave them an additional 10 minutes in that case. We have a very bad oven, we know.
The Little Pizza That Could!
This is a pizza made from leftovers in all aspects. The dough is actually from our lavash crackers, so it’s a little bit sweet from the Jamaican honey. The Italian Salsa Verde is from a tasting we did with a caterer for our upcoming wedding. The ham is the last of our Jamaican pineapple Christmas ham. Basically we got one of those inexplicable pizza-cravings while making lavash crackers and quickly improvised the little pizza that could.
We’ve never had corned beef before, but recently decided to give it a try. This is our first attempt, and while we are not quite happy with the look of this sandwich, it tasted great. This was of course also another reason to get out ye olde burner, to give the Parmesan on top a little color. The burner was a Christmas gift from a couple years ago, and besides making flan (which we have yet to do), its usefulness is being seriously challenged. However, it’s coolness is unquestioned.