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.
I love it when I can turn Anders on to new and/or previously unloved foods. Much of our experience of food comes from our earliest introduction as children and it seems that taste memory is the longest memory. He must have had a bad introduction to anchovy as a child and hated it because he just cannot abide the stuff. Well he couldn’t until he had this pizza. Still, I can see how a child would be unenthusiastic about anchovies – salty, oily, and fishy. Lucky for me I wasn’t introduced to this taste trilogy until I was in college. A Bulgarian friend gave me a slice of fresh bread with butter and anchovies sprinkled with lemon juice. It was a delight and I have loved it ever since.
This pizza made an equal convert out of Anders: anchovies, with lemon slices, mozzarella, goat cheese and caramelized onions. The look on his face when I mentioned it – consternation. The look after his first bite – rhapsody!
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.
For the past two months, we’ve been hosting weekly pizza parties. Well, truth be told, they have been competitive throw downs where our friends are invited to say goodbye to the week that was and bring their best recipes to battle it out for the pizza crown. We’ve had some pretty fantastic creations. After 8 weeks though, inspiration begins to wane. So we were quite excited to hear of the tastespotting.com Johnsonville Italian Sausage competition. Inspiration, the chance to get our pizza on our favorite food porn site AND the likelihood (albeit remote) of winning a food making competition. How could we not be excited?
Anders had this one on his mind for a whole week and came up with this creation: Johnsonville Italian Sausage Pizza with roasted garlic, Portobello mushrooms and topped with parmesan crisps and toasted pine nuts. Does it get any crazier than this? We hope you like it, and if you do please vote for us when the time comes.
Reason number 1099 why I love living in Southern California: fig season! We don’t have our own fig tree – a gardening oversight that we plan on remedying soon. We have the perfect spot picked out and Wendie has done her research to determine which variety to grow. More on that later. Between the local farmers markets and generous friends we’ve eaten more figs this season than in our entire lives. We love eating them fresh from the tree and have also experimented with making preserves, jams, sandwiches and this latest use – on pizzas. This little configuration was served as dessert in a recent pizza party: fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized figs and onions.
As we promised, we will be posting pizza recipes from all of our Pizza Cookoff Fridays. Actually, I should confess that that title is the more sanitized and hence publishable version of the actual title. Here’s another of our creations – this was week 2. This is a sauce less pizza (distinct from the saucy pizza with all her insolence and impertinent attitudes :-)) that we find works best early in the evening of pizza debauchery. Light and pleasing, it was a nice introduction and palate opener to the heavier pizzas that were to follow that night.
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.
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.
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!
Recently we discovered the joy of smoked salmon on pizzas, and decided to try another one. This is our second pizza from Wendie’s surprise birthday party (of nine total), and also a very popular one amongst our friends. It’s simple in its ingredients, with very subtle tastes. The Sautéed mushroom worked great on the pizza (We used it a few times that night), and on this the avocado brings a coolness to the hot pizza that almost melts with the salmon.
Pizza Dough With Honey Recipe
Total time: 2 hours (including rising).
Will make enough dough for 4 pizzas. The remaining dough can be frozen until your next pizza craving demands satisfaction. This is a variation of the basic pizza dough in that we have added honey and a little more yeast and salt. This makes the dough just a little sweet, and more tasty, which can be a fun variation when making homemade pizzas. Continue reading Pizza Dough With Honey