We recently went on a short weekend getaway to Santa Barbara, and on the way home we decided to stop by the Mario Batali pizzeria in Los Angeles called “Mozza.” We shared a Fried squash blossoms with ricotta pizza which was excellent, but did lack a little bit of oomph. It was bland I guess, but good. We were sitting at the bar, watching the chefs prepare the dough, and learned a new technique to keep the bubbles in the edge. So we thought we would give it a try, and make a similar pizza in style, but with much more taste in it.
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?).
Inspired by the very thought of China, we decided to attempt to make a couple of ‘Chinese’ sandwiches – at least in inspiration. The first is a roasted duck sandwich on a steamed sweet bun. You will notice the green onions sticking out of the bun… That was Anders trying to make it look like a dragon, then giving up. Instead it looks a bit like a large bald caterpillar head.
This sandwich is literally a result of a quick raid of our refrigerator. We found some shrimp and olives, the last of our sun dried tomato hummus, and a bit of blue cheese. So, we made a sandwich (of course). You may recognize the cilantro-lime shrimp from earlier sandwiches, as they constitute a quarterly craving. Moving from Denmark to San Diego, one of the things I thoroughly enjoy are the large shrimp. Every shrimp I ate growing up (not many) were tiny, no more than an inch long, and thin to. We did shrimp in numbers, and adding those to a sandwich like this would have taken maybe 25 to 30. It’s such a joy to bite into the larger more succulent shrimp and really taste the meat, although the danish ones are by no means bad at all.
This is a one-bite sandwich with two thing slices of baguette bread. A bit of pesto, some farmers market salami, tomato from the garden and a touch of green onions. It is great as an appetizer or a very small mid-day snack (Which is how we enjoyed this sandwich).
Living close to Mexico means there is a constant influx of great Mexican cuisine. Carne Asada is one of those things that are very popular in San Diego, and it is essentially a long slice of skirt of flank steak, usually marinated or rubbed, and then grilled. It is fantastic when done right. Wendie got us a couple of these steaks, and of course I had to go make a sandwich out of them. I opted to add some ‘green stuff’ from the local farmers market on the bread. We call it ‘green stuff’ because we don’t really know what it is, but the guy that sells it swears by it. It tastes a bit like spicy tabbouleh without the couscous. In any case, substitute with pesto and all shall be well. The greens on top are called “micro greens’ and are also from the farmers market. These taste very lemony, and I wish we had more precise name for them, but alas, ‘micro greens’ it is.
A great tasting pizza for every occasion. This is fairly simple to make except for the dough, but places like Trader Joe’s now sell pizza dough which should make this super easy. We made this pizza as part of a giant birthday party involving 8 other pizzas which you can find elsewhere on amazing sandwiches.
Caramelized onions are such a treat but requires good quality sweet and savory onions to really bring out the best taste of the food. They go extremely well with mild blue cheese, such as the Roquefort we used here. The first time we really discovered the joy of caramelized onions was at a visit to the farmers market in Temecula, Ca. The ‘strawberry lady’ had brought some gigantic onions that she was raving about. She told us to go home and slow-cook them (caramelize), and basically just eat onion for dinner. We did almost that, but added a steak too (man must eat). However, since then we regularly enjoy this often overlooked treat in our cooking. Most people probably don’t realize how easy it is to make amazing food with something as cheap and simple as onions, so hopefully this can server as inspiration.
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.
We always are looking to try new ingredients on our sandwiches, and for a while we have been thinking of ways to use melon. Melon can provide a little sweetness and also a little bit of crunch (Depending on the ripeness of the melon of course). It’s fresh, so we added it to smoked salmon to really enhance the sense of ‘freshness’ one wants from fish. The mascarpone-pesto was really a way to ‘water down’ the pesto to not overwhelm the rest of the sandwich, yet provide more depth to the taste experience. We like ‘depth’ in our food, as well as ‘height’ (We are making sandwiches after all).
Potatoes are probably the national vegetable of Denmark. In fact, every year every Dane consumes on average 73 Kg potatoes (160 pounds). Potatoes au Gratin is one of our favorite ways of cooking potatoes, and one of the few ways that Wendie actually likes. It is of course a rather creamy affair, so we don’t do it very often. Recently we indulged ourselves, which left us with a bit of leftovers. Undaunted by the scornful look from Wendie, I went ahead and created this little beaut, a potato au gratin sandwich. What’s not to love when it comes to starch on starch?
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.
There are so many ways one can use falafel to make sandwiches besides the traditional pita bread. Here we have combined it with Italian ciabatta bread because we love that, hot chili sauce because it’s traditional for at least the European Pita style, roasted garlic because it complements the falafel well and Italian Salsa Verde because it brings any food a little closer to food-nirvana (No seriously, add some to your next pizza, sandwich, paste, rice or potatoes and see for yourself). The salsa verde is very close to pesto, bu is a lot more lemony which adds a great flavor.
We love to make lavash crackers, they are fun, fairly easy, and you can use them for appetizers like this one. This is very simply just two of our own crackers with a falafel, homemade pesto, and sprinkled with smoked paprika. We had this around midnight while watching the episode of Lost where Locke stops the islands time-switches. It was an on-the-spur of the moment little snack we just improvised with what was available, but it turned our really good. In fact, we’re now considering if these may be worth serving at our wedding reception in April (Yeah, we’re getting married). Well done Locke, we salute you with falafel !