Instructionals
Summer Heirloom Caprese Salad
Brad English

This is one of my favorite salads to make in one variation or another.  If I don't have fresh mozzarella on hand, I'll just make this as a tomato and basil salad with a little oil, balsamic and salt and pepper.  I am always happy with a tomato salad.   If you can't get an heirloom tomato any quality tomato will work.  It's a very flexible platform for pure goodness!

This salad can be a great lunch all by itself.  It's refreshing and fulfilling.  It can also be a great dinner salad.  Or, as you will see in my next post, it can be a terrific topping for a pizza, or a sandwich for that matter.  I also like to add a roasted red pepper (I try to keep a jar of them around for such an occasion).

This is a fresh and easy salad that I did not invent, nor am I taking any credit for it.  I am simply pulling the best ingredients together that I have access to and tweaking them to make this great Italian concept my own.  It will change slightly every time you make it because this salad is all about the ingredients.  Each one of them, the tomato, the cheese, the basil, the seasoning, all stand out, but also blend together so well, in much the same way that the simple ingredients we often see on a great pizza work together.  In my mind, the caprese salad is to salads what the Margherita pizza is to pizzas.  They are pure representations of what they are (salad and pizza) and celebrate the individual ingredients as well as the gathering of them into a meal.

The Summer Heirloom Caprese Salad:

Heirloom Tomatoes
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt
Pepper

--Slice an Heirloom Tomato into slices or wedges.
--Place a ball of buffalo mozzarella (or fresh cow's milk mozzarella) over the tomato and break it open.
--Tear or snip with a scissors the basil leaves into strips, or cut them and lay over the top.
--Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad, to taste.
--Sprinkle a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper to finish.

Enjoy!

 
A Fish Tacone Quest
Brad English

It's officially Fish Taco season here at Pizza Quest.  Why not?  It's summer and there isn't a better time to enjoy the fresh summery flavors than in a great fish taco!  As you've seen in recent webisodes, we stumbled onto two incredible fish taco places while visiting The Cass House Inn in Cayucos, CA.  Both the Taco Temple and Ruddell's Smokehouse create some of the most delicious fish tacos I have ever had.  You will see later this week, in an upcoming webisode, how our passion for great fish tacos translates into a truly unique Central Coast Signature Pizza designed by Chef Jensen Lorenzen and Peter, using some of Jim Ruddell's fresh smoked Albacore.  So, sit tight, as we keep exploring the world for memorable foods.


While we're on this subject, I want to share my own fish taco recipe, one that I have worked on for

 
Mozzarella Curd Pizza with Pepperoni
Peter Reinhart

Joe D'Astice, of S'mores Pizza fame (see the Instructionals archives), is back with another demo as he shows us how he uses fresh mozzarella curd, not the stretched cheese balls, to save time and money and still come up with a gorgeous, delicious pizza.  It really raises the question of why more pizzerias don't simply use this method instead of making or buying the more expensive version, so we're going to start asking this question and see what we can find out from the experts. If you have any thoughts or experience in comparing the two versions please let us know because I was pleasantly surprised at how similar this cheese tasted and performed comparable to the silky cheese balls.  Of course, there's tradition, which is a serious matter and usually filled with folk wisdom that isn't immediately apparent, and there's also something oh so satisfying about handling the cheese in a warm salt water bath that makes it worth the effort on so many levels (see our webisode filmed at Pizzeria Delfina with head pizzaiolo Anthony Strong, as well as the Bel Gioioso click-through button to their video on the subject).  But for those who don't want to go through all of that, and can find the pure curd at your local cheese counter, this version is a simple solution. The curd looks more like what we used to call Farmer's Cheese, so there are a lot of other applications for it -- even in cheese cake or cheese filling for Danish pastries and the like -- for which this can be used. Feel free to share your own tricks and tips right here in the comments section. In the meantime, enjoy this demo by our friend Joe, filmed at The Fire Within Conference in Boulder, CO, and visit him and his mobile oven in Rockford,, Illinois.

 
Quesadillas Ingles
Brad English


A little voice, in fact, a very persistent little voice is constantly calling out "Daddy, can you make me a quesadilla?"  Moments later the chorus continues and continues until I relent or take the dog on a walk.  This happens in the morning, after school, for dinner, or later in the night as a snack!  The result of these requests has meant that I spend a fair amount of time over my stove making up quesadillas for the kids (and others of us).  And, also the dog has gotten his fair share of walks. 

This is Pizza Quest, however, not Family Pet Quest - so let me focus on the mighty little quesadilla.  Sometimes, it can even be a mighty big quesadilla.  One of my favorite versions is a Breakfast Quesadilla, which is a cross between a breakfast sandwich and a breakfast pizza.  The dough, or tortilla is simply the delivery system.  Peter has often referred to pizza as dough with something on it, akin to a grilled cheese sandwich or any other product where dough serves as a host for a number of ingredients to make a tasty meal. The quesadilla, in my opinion, falls right in line with this concept.  It's a dough and its main basic ingredient is cheese.  Who is going to argue this isn't a pizza on some level?

Many great Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants take that to a whole other level, offering a quesadilla as a meal with chicken, or as a full breakfast, or whatever they have come up with to enhance the basic cheese between two tortillas concept. 

As I said, I have spent a good amount of time playing around with my versions here at home.  With my last name being English, these are now "officially" being called Quesadillas Ingles.  I never really thought about it much, it's just cheese and a couple of tortillas heated up on the stove top but, after being "forced" to make these things over and over and having a few incidents where I might have a lucky accident, I began stretching the concept beyond slapping some cheese between two tortillas.  One of the first "accidents" I recall was noticing when a little cheese spilled out from between the tortillas and fried into a perfect crispness on the side.  I love that crunch! 

Sorry for the digression, but, we have to take a short road trip up the coast.  If you live anywhere near Santa Barbara, CA, add a visit to La Superica Taqueria on Milpas Street to your list of must-do places.  You will always find a line out the door of this taqueria and you will see why after you go.  They have a side dish which is fried cheese with bits of bacon and onion.  It isn't fried crisp, but has a bit of that flavor from the onion and bacon, and the edges can get a little crisp and charred.  You take this small bowl of pure perfection and add it to your tacos, or even to just a warm corn tortilla.  It is the only place where I've come across this treat and, living in Southern California with a great Mexican restaurant always around the corner, that's pretty noteworthy.  I happened to be in the area this past weekend and took some photos that I'll share soon. 

Ok, so back to Quesadillas Ingles. One day, I thought of double decking the little corn tortillas to make them more substantial.  I think I was trying to just make them a little bigger so that I would have to make fewer of them.  I like to use corn tortillas for these and they're small and the kids are always calling out for more.  My daughter starts this pleading, usually, and then my son shows up and joins in.  Then I'm making these for two people and I'm inevitably cutting them up like small pizzas and stealing a wedge or two for myself before delivery.  Thus, the double-decker was born. 

You can add all sorts of ingredients besides cheese to make these more of a meal.  I've added sauteed onions, Mom's Pickled Jalapenos (see the Instructional archives for this recipe), chicken, and a mixture of cheeses.  You don't add much, these are more like street tacos than over-filled restaurant tacos.  A little goes a long way. 

I made two versions here in these photos.  The first is a basic double-decker with cheddar cheese.  The second has some leftover spicy Italian sausage that I had used in a pasta dish the night before.  I chopped up the sausage, which I fished out of some great tomato sauce, and sauteed it with onions.  I added some new, freshly chopped onions and sauteed those until soft.  I then added this mixture with each cheese layer and suddenly had a nice spicy sausage pizza, er, I mean a double-decked Quesadilla Ingles with Spicy Sausage and Sauteed Onions.

Quesadillas Ingles

Fresh Corn Tortillas
Cheese (Cheddar in this case, but don't stop there)
Cooking Spray, or Butter
Pan
Heat

Options:
Add anything you can think of. 
I have triple stacked these babies, but find a double stack holds up better and has the right balance of cheese and tortilla.  If you follow my technique you can get all three layers of tortillas  crispy, which is better than having a soft middle layer (in my humble opinion).

 

Suggested Instructions:

Set your dial to medium high; you may have to adjust.  This can be a smokey operation.  You want the heat to make things go quickly, to melt the cheese and give a little char on the tortilla, but it's a bit of a dance, so be prepared to make adjustments as you learn.

Hit the pan with a little non-stick cooking spray.  This works best to make sure the cheese doesn't stick. 

Lay down your first tortilla.

Put your first layer of cheese on the tortilla and cover with a second tortilla.  Let this go until you get the bottom tortilla crisp before flipping.  What I'm trying to do here is get that 1st tortilla crisp because it will become the middle tortilla when you flip it over.  It adds another layer of crunch in the middle.  Trust me, it's worth it.

Flip the tortilla over (after giving the top another spray so it won't stick when you flip it over).

Now add your second layer of cheese on the charred bottom, which is now your top.  Add other toppings, or fillings if using with each cheese layer. Place the 3rd tortilla on top of that and hit that with some more spray. Allow the bottom one enough time to crisp and char to your liking.  You can flip them and check, and then flip them back as many times as you need to.  The cheese will be melted quickly enough, so you are just looking for the texture/crispy finish on the tortilla. 

Flip it again onto the 3rd tortilla (the top) to finish. 

After the last flip, allow the tortilla to cook a bit. Then, pick it up and throw a couple pieces of shredded cheese on the pan and place the tortilla back down on the cheese.  Add cooking spray if you think you need it so it won't stick.  The cheese will fry/crisp quickly and stick to the tortilla.  Flip and repeat and you will have added a nice toasty crunchy cheese crust to your Quesadilla Ingles.

Take a slice!

Enjoy! Then walk the dog....

 

 
Sprouted Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Peter Reinhart

I've been asked for this recipe many times even though only a few of you actually have the sprouted wheat flour but, in the hopes that you will soon acquire some, here's what to do with it when you get it: make a killer pizza dough.  As I mentioned in earlier posts, this flour is so remarkable that you don't need a preferment, nor oil, nor sweetener, nada -- just flour, water, salt, and yeast. Furthermore, you don't have to make it the day before, as I advise with regular pizza doughs, because the sprouted wheat has already created its own enzymatic changes before it even gets to the flour stage. However, it is okay to hold the dough in the fridge for up to three days if you prefer. You will get a little more acidity by doing so, which is a good thing. Either way, you will never taste another 100% whole grain dough like it, and if you don't tell folks that it's 100% whole wheat and then ask them what they think, they will probably guess that it has only a small amount of whole wheat in it. Yet you will know that, not only are they getting the benefits of 100% whole grain, but it is even more digestible than regular whole wheat and more of the nutritional benefits of the grain are available to the digestive system (the jury is still out as to how much of those benefits survive the baking process so I won't make any specific claims, but the digestibility factor is immediately apparent).

To get this flour, find the Peter's Blog dated June 7th and

 

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