Kelly's Arugula Pizza
When we first began contemplating what Pizza Quest could be as a Travel/Food Series, one of our early goals was that the show would vicariously transport viewers around the world as we journeyed on our quest to find the secrets to that perfect pizza. I wanted people to feel what I had when I first read Peter's book, "American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza". As I read the opening chapters I felt as if I was connected to Peter as he described the places, the people, the smells, the tastes and some of the secrets of the master pizzaiolos he had found. I knew right away that this had to be a show some day. I mean, who doesn't love pizza? But, even more than the recipes and great pizza I hoped to make, I think it was about the experiences that Peter shared that made the biggest impression on me (don't get me wrong, the recipes are great and my pizzas are well on their way toward perfection, if that's even a possible end goal).
Over the years I had always loved my own "journeys" when I watched Anthony Bourdain exploring so many cultures and tasting such amazing food. My favorite parts of those travels was when it seemed I forgot I was watching a show and would just get lost in the moment, as if I was with a good group of people all enjoying the shared passion of good food and good conversation. Nobody can take you to this place like Anthony. You really should "travel" with him if you can. He's on TV every week - don't miss it!
I also remember the hours I've spent sitting there with Mario Batali as if I were the 4th guest on Molto Mario while he cooked another mouth watering meal he had learned while studying in Italy. His passion for not only cooking, but for the story of cooking, or really the people and traditions behind the cooking, is what ultimately sparked my interest as a home cook. I think that's why so many Food and Travel shows are so popular. We all can't get everywhere we'd like, or travel with our favorite TV show hosts in the real world. A well done food/travel show, book, blog, or even a recipe can transport us there instead, even if for only a little slice of that moment in time. With food I think that experience can be heightened because we use so many of our senses in the process of cooking and, ultimately, tasting the food.
I recently watched an episode of Bourdain's "No Reservations" with my son, Owen. Anthony took us on a trip to Brittany, France where, by the time it was over, Owen was making plans to go to Brittany when we could somehow make the time. The kid is a dreamer! We'll probably have to settle for a shellfish tower here where we live, in Redondo Beach, which to someone else in the world may be as exciting as a trip to Brittany would be for us! Or, on our quest for a better quality of life, maybe we'll bring a little Brittany here to our home and, by doing so, we'll not only taste a little of what Brittany is about, but also crack a few crabs, pull a few shrimp, and dip a few lobsters with a few of our friends.
From the beginning, our website was intended to be a community, or gathering place where we could continue to share the experience, or quest with our viewers and hopefully, have them share back.
I was thinking about all of this recently when I was planning to make a new round of pizzas. I thought about one of my favorite chefs. I've had the pleasure to eat his food and spend a bit of time with him over the past year thanks to Pizza Quest. His name is Kelly Whitaker, of Pizzeria Basta in Boulder, CO. I thought I might take a little quest-like trip and see if I couldn't bring a little of the Pizzeria Basta magic home for a night. So, I took a look at Kelly's menu on the Basta website and decided to make a few pizzas of his, both to test my skills, and also to share of some of his great pizzas with my family.
I'm going to make a few of them and write about them over the next few weeks. The first one is the pizza Kelly simply calls "Arugula" on his menu.
Kelly's Arugula Pizza
- Pizza Quest Signature Pizza Dough *See archives for recipe
- Peter's Herb Oil *See archives for recipe
- Smoked Gouda *Kelly calls for Smoked Mozzarella
- Grape Tomatoes
- Wild Arugula
*Note: My ingredients vary here a little from Kelly's original recipes because of what I could find in the store, or I had on hand to use. Again, I want to stop and point out how truly fun this aspect of cooking is. Using a substitute ingredient will not only make the recipe a little more of your own, but will also open up the opportunities of discovering other taste connections and aha's.
Make sure to pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees, or higher if it can go. Later, before baking, I put my oven onto Convection Bake, which automatically lowers it to 525 degrees. This seems to cook my pizzas faster by moving the hot air around the oven.
Spread the pizza dough out on your floured peel.
Drizzle a little of Peter's Herb Oil on the dough. I added this, because I nearly always use this on any pizza that doesn't have a tomato sauce.
Add the grated Smoked Gouda, or Smoked Mozzarella
Add the halved grape tomatoes, cut side down.
Tear some prosciutto into pieces and place them around the dough.
Into the oven it goes. When it comes out nobody knows (your oven will decide that)! But, through repetition, I know that mine comes out in 8 minutes.
Add a little fresh Arugula to the top, to taste, to finish it.
Cut and Serve.
This was a sweet, smokey, herby, "prosciuttoey" pizza. The tomatoes steam and soften and kick in a sweetness that literally pops in your mouth with flavor. This was juicy and moist and warm and just plain old awesome!
That's my version, so who has another variation? Let us know and thanks to Kelly for the original!
A Crab Dip Pizza
How can I use crab on a pizza? I had crab - if not just out of the ocean fresh it was caught by my friends steamed and brought home to me. In my mind that's far better than just caught fresh any day! As I hope you've already read, I had decided to make one pizza with some of the fresh cracked crab placed on top of the warm pizza after it baked. I thought that would be a great way to use the crab as close to it's original form. But, what else do I love with crab? What other ways could I use the rest of my supply? That's simple. Crab Dip! I love crab dip.
Crab Dip is already practically a pizza topping waiting to happen. It's a warm cheesy topping that you spread on a cracker, or a slice of bread. What does Peter always call pizza? He says it's basically "dough with something on it." That pretty much brings your typical crab dip served up on a slice of a nice baguette into the realm of Pizza. Wouldn't you agree? The simplified instructions would be: Place crab dip onto pizza crust. Cook. Eat.
So, off I went to the internets, as I like to say. Let's see what kind of Crab Dip recipes we can catch there. I browsed a few references for Crab Dip and Spicy Crab Dip until one jumped off the page from the Food Network. It was Emeril's "Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip". It looked Hot as in spicy and it had the word Jalapeños! I didn't need to wander any more. I was hooked (or, netted to play the pun) as I read the ingredient list and surprised to see he didn't call for just jalapeños, but pickled jalapeños! Well, who do we know who has his own pickled jalapeños sitting in the fridge that were made by none other than MOM herself! It was me. I had Mom's Pickled Jalapeños, which is what I wanted to use anyway. Crab, Emeril and Pizza - how could that be a bad combination? This was going to be fun.
You can go to Food Network, or simply google "Emeril's Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip" to get his original recipe. I didn't create this, I just used it as the basis for my pizza. I will post the recipe here as I modified it for my use. For the original, please go directly to the master himself!
A Cracked Crab Dip Pizza
- Peter's Classic Pizza Dough *See archives for recipe
- Peter's Herb Oil *See archives for recipe
- Emeril's Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip *I did a modified version. Or, use your favorite crab dip.
- Monterey Jack and Mozzarella Cheese
- A little Cream Cheese
- A little grated Parmesan Cheese
- Limes for drizzling
My version of Emeril's "Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip"
I halved his recipe as a guide because I was making one pizza and had about 1/2 the crab called for in his original recipe! The left overs were delicious as well the next few days!
- 1/2 pound Cracked crab, or packaged Lump Crab
- Chopped Garlic - about 1/2 teaspoon
- Grated Monterey Jack, Mozzarella and Cream Cheese
- Chopped Mom's Pickled Jalapeños
- 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Hot Sauce - I used Frank's Red Hot
- 1/4 cup of Mayonnaise
Combine the Crabmeat, Garlic, Mom's Jalapeños, Cheeses, Worcesterchire, Hot Sauce and Mayo in a mixing bowl. I added the 3 cheeses by eye - wanting this cheesy, but not too cheesy. For my version I added a little cream cheese to make it a little creamier. I did not add any salt at this point because I felt that my Mom's SOY Pickled Jalapeños had enough and I like to finish the warm pizza with a little anyway.
There is no need to pre-bake this. Just mix it and set it aside. Bake the rest of it after you are done making your pizzas for later. Again, check out Emeril's original for the official version.
The Crab Dip Pizza
Pre-heat your oven to the highest temperature (about 550 degrees) for at least an hour prior to baking your pizzas to make sure your pizza stone comes up to temperature.
Spread your dough out on the pizza peel and cover lightly with some of Peter's versatile Herb Oil.
Add the Crab Dip onto the pizza. Spread it out a bit. It will cook down and flatten out as it bakes. I sprinkled a little more cheese on top as well before baking.
That's it: Dough then Dip. Now it goes into the oven. My oven was now on Convection Bake at 525. This pizza went in at 12 after the hour and came out at 19. That's 7 minutes. Pretty fast for a home oven. And, look at the bits of char I got. This was a nice bake for a home oven.
Right when it comes out of the oven hit it with some fresh squeezed lime and don't be shy about it.
Top with some wild arugula and a little grated parmesan cheese to finish.
Cut and Serve!
This was rich and spicy! This is not a pizza you'll sit down and eat by yourself. But, as an appetizer, or if you are sharing, it was really nice. Imagine taking your favorite crab dip and spreading it over a warm hot slice of an amazing bread that you just pulled out of the oven. Ok, that's this pizza! Delicious.
Try it out. Let me know if you've ever done this, or if you do, what you did to make it your own. Interestingly, I pulled a slice of this out of the fridge the next day and took a bite of it cold. It was really good - cold. It wasn't as rich and I ate a couple slices as my breakfast of champions meal of the day.
Thanks Emeril and thanks to my friends the Wildermuth's for bringing me some of their Dungeness catch to both enjoy with them and take more home to explore some new pizza ideas!
Crab Season Pizza
Somewhere around mid-November every year the Dungeness Crabs of the West Coast begin to make their journey from the sea to our plates. This fact did not go under-utilized by our friends, the Wildermuth's, who had invited us to join them on their trip to Oregon for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Due to family obligations we were unable to attend. We wanted to; we always do. We've had a standing invitation for years now. Who wouldn't want to go visit Coos Bay, Oregon in the late fall where their family lived. Kim and her Mom have been chronicled in these pages on Pizza Quest when I asked her mother to make up some of her pickled jalapeños on a visit to LA sometime last year. I affectionately called them "Mom's Pickled Jalapeños". You can find the recipe in our archives. I got word that her whole family got a kick out of Googling "Mom's Jalapeños" and seeing her recipe pop up in the number one spot!
Anyway, I was minding my own business, helping my own in-laws around the house during the holiday break, when I started to get text messages from Oregon about how much crab they had just pulled onto the boat. Torture! I imagined the feasts they would have. More torture! Then I started getting more texts about the feasts that they did have. Enough! I blocked it out of my mind and went back to my crab-less vacation.
After the holidays, I got a pleasant surprise when they asked us over to help them eat some of the crab that they brought home. Done deal! We sat and cracked crab and I was introduced to a terrific new dipping sauce -- a simple, spiced up version of Vietnamese Fish Sauce. I devoured my crab using only that. The salt/spice combination was terrific with the steamed and then cooled crab.
There were plenty more crabs left from their haul and they sent me home with some. Kim's family had sent extra, perhaps knowing the torture I was put through over the holidays! I wanted to eat the crab while it was still relatively fresh. A light bulb went off in my head and I pulled a few frozen dough balls out of the freezer. It was time that I get to making some more pizzas for the website anyway. Why not come up with a couple to celebrate our friend, Mr. Dungeness?
For this first version I decided to try to make a simple pizza and finish it off with the cooled crab on top after it cooked. This is a great way to enjoy a "special" ingredient in a not so common way -- on a pizza. I wanted to build a pizza that supported and showcased the crab as it was, as close to how I had just eaten it: cracked, dipped, and devoured. So, here's what I came up with.
The Crab Season Pizza
- Peter's Classic Pizza Dough *Recipe (in PQ the archives)
- Peter's Herb Oil *Recipe (likewise, in the archives)
- Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Shredded Provolone cheese
- Preserved Lemon, or Lemon Curd
- Sliced Red Onion
- Grape Tomatoes
- Fresh Cracked Crab -- Steamed and Cooled -- or a quality canned Lump Crab Meat
- Chopped Kalamata olives
- Fresh Arugula
- Spiced Fish Sauce
Spiced Fish Sauce Recipe for drizzling:
- Vietnamese Fish Sauce (I have access to a lot of ethnic markets around here and this is readily available everywhere now, but especially at local Asian markets. Also, Kim generally monitors my Fish Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Chili Garlic Sauce pantry, as we all often get together and cook at each others houses.)
- Thai Chili peppers or whatever heat level peppers you can tolerate
- A fresh lemon or lime
Spiced Fish Sauce Recipe
To make this great drizzle sauce, simply take a little fish sauce and chop up some Thai Chili peppers, to taste, add them to the sauce and squeeze a little fresh lemon or lime. You can make it on the same day you plan to use it but, if you can do this the day before, the sauce will take on even more of the flavors from the chili peppers. Store it in the refrigerator.
Preheat your oven to the highest temperature, about 550 degrees, for at least an hour prior to cooking to make sure to get your pizza stone up to temperature.
Spread out and shape your dough, and cover it lightly with some herb oil.
Add a little grated Mozzarella and a touch less of the provolone, or other favorite cheese.
*NOTE: I used a limited amount of each ingredient in order to give the crab center stage. If you make this a few times, you can adjust the amounts each time until you get it just right. For this pizza I think a less is more approach is best.
Add a few dabs of the Lemon Curd around the dough - for flavor accents in the finished pizza. *You could skip this and drizzle the pizza with a little fresh squeezed lemon juice instead, or do both.
Add the sliced red onions and halved grape tomatoes. Place them open side down, which helps them sit there when you slide the pizza in the oven and allows the tomato to hold more moisture -- almost acting like a steaming chamber for itself.
Into the oven with your pizza.
*Note: When I place my first pizza in the oven, I change it over to Convection Bake which adjusts the temperature down to 525 degrees, but the airflow seems to help cook the pizza much faster. I am getting close to 6 - 7 minute pizzas regularly in my home oven. Cooking times are not a science and are more often than not a moving target from one pizza to the next.
When the pizza comes out, add a few chopped Kalamata Olives and the cool crab. If you have been reading my recipes, this seems to be a running theme of adding cool toppings after the bake. Crab is the perfect ingredient to do that with. It will slowly warm up as it sits on the pizza, so make sure you enjoy a bite while the temperature contrast is there. I love that!
Drizzle a little of the Fish Sauce with Chillis onto the crab (ahhh, the "secret ingredient" to this incredible pie!).
Top with some fresh arugula
Cut and Serve!
I think you will enjoy this pizza if you like crab. As you bite into it you experience a flavor sandwich with the warm crust and cheesy herb oil on the bottom as the roof of your mouth explores it's way through the cool greens and fresh cracked crab while it all meets with the occasional burst of the sweet warm grape tomatoes! There are also hits of the tart sweet lemon, an occasional salty briny Kalamatas, and the fish sauce with an accent.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I clearly did.
Send me some of your favorite crab, or seafood pizza recipes and I'll give them a go and maybe feature them here. And, as always, if you try this, let us know how you liked it and maybe what variations you came up with that you loved as an option. After all, making pizza is all about options!
Brad's Signature Pizza with Sausage, Goat Cheese and Avocado
Being last isn't always a bad thing. As I often say, one of my favorite pizzas to make is the one that develops with left over ingredients or by chance. Making pizzas is no small task. You don't generally just make one pizza - at home anyway. You prep and throw a few pies together because it's a bit of work and the operation does create a bit of a mess no matter how you manage it. When you add in photography as part of your mise en place you get flour and ingredients all over the place -- but it's so much fun! Besides all that, pizza is also meant to be eaten as a left over. It's good cold the next day for breakfast straight out of the fridge and how many things can you say that about?
I set out to make my 4th version of the Signature Pizza using a Hot Italian Sausage as the anchovy replacement. As I was shopping, I thought of the Buonchristiani Lamb Fennel Sausage Pizza I first made earlier this past year (see archives) and decided to pick up some fresh goat cheese to go toward that concept, and to also try changing another main ingredient to see what would happen. So, here I was about to make version 4. I think there was a leak in my glass. I kept having to refill it as I made my pizzas. I have to say, I think I enjoy having a sip of good wine or beer while I'm cooking as much as I do when eating the finished product. In the same sense I think, for me, the act of cooking is half the fun of eating, so why wouldn't the tasting of wine or beer while you pull your ingredients together make for an enhanced experience just as when you pair the final dish? I think this further explains why food is so important to us. It really is a a gift that we gather around on a daily basis as we share our lives with one another. I enjoy sharing a home cooked meal with friends, either here or at their house, but for all of these reasons, I think some of my favorite dinner parties are when you gather and cook together, essentially making the dinner prep part of the dinner party.
But, this time I was alone in the kitchen. The family was circling, but busy doing other things while they waited for the next pizza to emerge from the oven. Alone, I had to march on, knowing that they would soon gather and, hopefully, enjoy what I was making. I know Owen would. He's like Mikey - he eats everything!
The ingredients on top of this version of the Signature Pizza are basically the same as the previous except for the substitution of the Sausage and Goat Cheese. As I was assembling the pizza an avocado, sitting in a bowl on the counter, caught my eye. It was ripe. Okay, why not? When life puts a chalkboard sign in your path, pay attention! While the pizza cooked, I decided to cut it open and throw it on the pizza after. It was green and would certainly look cool, and I thought it would be an interesting texture and mellow flavor accent on top of the spicier sausage and distinct goat cheese. I have a nice bottle of balsamic vinegar that a friend gave me from the Central Coast. It's surprising that I still have it, because it's so good you feel compelled to drink it, not drizzle it! At the end, this sweet vinegary drizzle proved to be the final touch of a lucky accident.
This is a terrific pizza! There are layers and layers of flavors that come at you from between the cool topping of avocado to the warm crusty dough on the bottom. The Birra Basta, with it's fruity earthiness, handled this quite well. Each of my four variations of the Signature Challenge Pizza (see previous postings), in fact, delivered a slight variation of flavors to work with, challenge, and blend with the Bruery's beer. What a great way to experiment on playing with a pizza and pairing concept, coming up with a number of similar but interesting variations. It was also a pizza feast! I'm still a fan of Kelly Whitaker's original anchovy version, but I sure had fun creating some options to share with my family, who all agreed that these were some of the best pizzas yet!
Brad's Home Made Pizza Quest Challenge Pizza - with Hot Italian Sausage, Goat Cheese and a Sliced Avocado Topping:
Pizza Quest Signature Beer Pizza Dough *Any dough will work, but I have to say it's worth it to make this dough.
Fresh Goat Cheese
Hot Italian Sausage - or, any other sausage you may feel like trying
Sliced Chilis (Hot or Mild)
Preserved Lemon *Kelly Whitaker made his own in a pressure cooker. Lacking the time and skills, I found a baking product called Lemon Curd to use instead. It gave a nice tart lemon flavor in bursts, as well as a sweet finish.
Greens *I had some wild arugula around. This worked great.
Kalamata Olives - I had picked up some at the market and decided to use a few.
*I didn't have that, so I diced up a little fennel greens and sprinkled some sea salt to finish the pizza.
Good quality Balsamic Vinegar to drizzle
Spread the dough to your desired size.
Add Peter's Herb Oil to dough (see archives)
Add the Goat Cheese and then put a little Burrata in the center (bear in mind that it will melt and cover).
Add the pre-cooked, but not browned sausage (it will brown and crisp in the oven on the pizza)
Add the sliced Chilis
Add a few pinched Kalamata olives for little salty briny flavor bursts
Add the lemon curd, or preserved lemon in little dabs around the pizza. This is meant to be a surprise, not an all over flavor. It's not a flavor you would think of for pizza, but when used sparingly I've become a big fan. That may have to do with the fact that I have a Birra Basta sitting next to me that Patrick Rue and his team infused with lemon peel during the brewing. Maybe...
Into the oven it goes…
While the pizza cooks, cut the avocado in half. In the skin, make 1/8" slices lengthwise. Scoop them out with a spoon.
Take the pizza out after 8-10 minutes, or when done (in a convection 525 oven I am getting closer to a 6-7 minute bake).
Lay the avocado slices over the hot pizza.
Sprinkle or drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the pizza
Cut and serve…
This one is a keeper! So good -- you have to try it!
Enjoy and Happy New Year!!!!
Signature Pizza with Jalapeno Cured Bacon
I'm still working on my Pizza Quest Signature Pizza series. I set out to make a few versions to try with a glass or two of my Birra Basta. I can't just let the keg sit there, right? It was all created to be used; The Bruery didn't brew this beer to pour it down the drain. The makers of my "new" kegerator surely wanted beer to flow through it. I know I'm onto something here.
As so many artisans explain, quality food starts by using the freshest ingredients you can get. As I got into home cooking, I watched a lot of Molto Mario. One of the things I picked up early from watching was that you use what is fresh. If you set out to make a recipe that calls for Bluefish and all you can find at the market that's fresh is the Sea Bass - you substitute! Go fresh. Buy local quality food as close to it's original environment as you can. This isn't exactly the right example here, but I bring it up because when I shop for pizza ingredients, I have a general list and look for those ingredients, but keep an eye out for something that says, "Here I am! I am fresh! I am bold! I am your future!" I haven't found that thing yet, but I often find some other interesting ingredients to work with.
I was browsing the meat department looking for another option to this Signature Pizza. I had some things in mind, but was definitely browsing. "Hello there" it said. I introduced myself. We got along immediately. I don't know how we had never met before. "I'm always in your neighborhood!?" I said. By now the butcher was about to call security on me. He wasn't used to customers talking to his bacon display. But, this wasn't just bacon. It was a proudly sliced pile of Jalapeño Cured Bacon.
Ok, now back to reality. How do you not try that?! I knew I was looking for some spiciness and salted pork. I didn't know it would be brought together in this way, but there she was. Beautiful in all her glory. Sorry, I slipped away again.
The pizza is pretty much the same as the previous few. It turned out delicious which was to be expected. If you can't find a Jalapeno Cured Bacon, I imagine using a quality bacon and adding some thinly sliced, or chopped jalapenos would work as well.
Brad's Home Made Pizza Quest Challenge Pizza - The Jalapeño Cured Bacon Variety:
Pizza Quest Signature Beer Pizza Dough (see Instructional archives)
*Any dough will work, but I have to say it's worth it to make this dough
*I couldn't find any, so I substituted a baby Belgian white endive
*Kelly Whitaker made his own in a pressure cooker. Lacking the time and skills, I found a baking product called Lemon Curd to use instead. It gave a nice tart lemon flavor in bursts as well as a sweet finish.
Old Glory herself - House Cured Jalapeño Bacon (We met at Whole Foods, if you're interested)
*I had some wild arugula around. This worked great.
*I didn't have that, so I diced up a little fennel greens and sprinkled some sea salt to finish the pizza.
Spread the dough to your desired size.
Add the Burrata Cheese to the center of the dough, factoring in how it will melt and cover.
Lay out the endive leaves
Add the lemon curd, or preserved lemon in little dabs around the pizza. This is meant to be a surprise, not an all over flavor. It's not a flavor you would think of for pizza, but as you'll see in some of these recipes I've become a big fan. That may have to do with the fact that I have a Birra Basta sitting next to me that Patrick infused with Lemon Peel during the brewing. Maybe...
Add the cooked Jalapeño Bacon (or bacon with sliced chilis)
Into the oven it goes…
While the pizza cooks, toss some greens with a little herb oil or a favorite dressing. Or, you could just put the greens on as is.
Take the pizza out after 8-10 minutes.
Lay Salad mixture over the hot pizza.
Sprinkle the Fennel and a little Sea Salt across the pizza (sparingly).
Cut and Serve…
Oh, and pour your next glass of bier!
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