Written Recipes
A Brick Wood/Gas Grill Oven Project
Brad English

I am not the first to venture into how to bring fire and wood together to cook a pizza.  So, while making great pizza is all about balancing time, temperature and ingredients, it is also about the type of heat to a great extent. You can bake a pizza with a brick floor (brick oven), cook it in a live fired wood burning oven, which brings smoke and a more intense heat into the picture, you can cook it in your home oven on a pizza stone at lower - slower temperatures, or even cook a great pizza on your grill.  The possibilities may be endless.  The important thing is to balance time and temperature (heat!) with your ingredients and you can make great pizza.

I stumbled on adding fire to my home pizza making experience when I decided to grill a pizza.  I had added a wood smoker box into my gas grill and it seemed to cut the cooking time by almost 40%.  My home oven pizzas generally take between 8-10 minutes to bake.  This one baked in 6 minutes!  It also had fire, wood, and smoke added into the equation.  Of course, I do intend to get

 
Pizza Balsamico
Brad English

It's still summertime and, in Redondo Beach, CA, we are having one of the best summers I can remember.  We very typically have a marine layer of fog that covers our beaches for most of the day until it finally burns off after the relentless sun does it's job better than the Pacific is doing it's job of sending the fog our way.  But not this summer.  It has been sunny, sunny, sunny!  And, on top of all that sun, we have been blessed with a consistently cool ocean breeze, which has made things warm but not hot.  To further make this a great Southern California summer, our nights have been warm also.  I have hardly had to do the "layer off" routine and then, in the evening, put a layer (sweatshirt) back on.  Paradise! 

So, big deal you may be saying.  What's with all the talk of summer?  Let's get to the pizza.  We will.  But I'm on a roll here.  I've been having a ball making some fresh pizzas and enjoying sitting around outside and gobbling them up lately.  On a few long Saturday afternoons I've been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and making some delicious pizza pies with the wonderful ingredients that are readily available at so many good grocery stores. 

Now, with this pizza, I wanted to focus on the final touch - the drizzle -- which is a delicious balsamic vinegar that a friend gave to me from a shop up in the Central Coast of California Wine Country.  The pizza I made was delicious in and of itself, don't get me wrong.  I used some Bel Gioioso Burrata, fresh sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions, a little sausage, and chopped fresh basil leaves in a base of Peter's herb oil.  But, the kicker was how

 
"Atsa Creamy-Gorg A-Peezz!"
Brad English

So, I had some Bel Gioioso Creamy Gorgonzola cheese in the fridge.  I wanted to make some pizzas. What came to mind was my friend's grandfather.  I don't know why, but often, when I cook it seems distant memories come flooding back to me.

My friend Brian had introduced me to his Nono (Grandfather) while we were back in college. As I sat there contemplating this Creamy-Gorg pizza, I got lost in the thought that if I had gotten the chance to make Nono this pizza, he would have said, "Atsa Creamy-Gorg a-peezz!"  Nono had a little shop in San Francisco where he repaired furniture for years and years and years after emigrating from Italia.  I had met Brian on my first day of college.  He's Italian and Irish with bright red hair and his nickname, which is known to half the living universe, is "Flame!"  We became fast friends. To be clear, we weren't particular fast -- as in speedy -- unless there was a last beer, or slice of pizza, or something we wanted across the room.  In that case, watch out!  I don't know why this Creamy-Gorg Pizza brought up my memory of Brian's grandfather.  But, it did.

One day, while visiting him in San Francisco, Brian was telling Nono about something we had done, or were intending to do.  He warned us from behind his waiving finger, "Atsa tha dange!"  What he meant was that it was dangerous.  What it's meant to me is countless fond memories of that moment and a constant anchor that will instantly bring me back in time to those visits I made with Brian to his grandparent's home in San Francisco.  He would always come back to school after a break with all kinds of salamis.  It was good to visit the source.  How popular do you think he was in a dorm? 

We had made a lot of dough to use during our last Pizza Quest filming, so I pulled out one of Peter's Signature Bruery Challenge Pizza Doughs, which was made with Central Milling Company's Organic Pizza Germania flour.  We'll eventually post the recipe and show a video demo of how this is made.  But, so you know, I'll tell you it has some beer malt in it.  And, it is delicious! 

When I took out the cheese and took a bite, the very first thing I did -- after thinking "Atsa tha peezz!" to myself again -- was to go to the garage refrigerator and grab a beer.  This cheese and

 
Summer Caprese Pizza
Brad English

One of my favorite pizzas to make, each time I make pizza, is always different. What I mean is that it is never the same pizza.  It isn't necessarily the best pizza of any particular batch of pizzas, but it is definitely one of my favorites to make. Okay, let me explain all this crypticness: When I make pizza, what I do is plan on making a couple of specific pizzas and then let at least one happen with all the left over ingredients, or whatever else I may have in the fridge -- an improv pizza.  That's usually my favorite pizza to make.  It's a bit of a mix between art and performance art.  You make something up and see if it works.  I love this because something almost always emerges from my oven that I didn't expect.

In this case, what emerged during a recent pizza session were two things: sliced marinated tomatoes and the idea of combining warm and cool ingredients.  I have been loving that concept a lot lately.  I wasn't necessarily thinking of it while shopping, but when I had my ingredients all there, it just jumped out at me. 

So, here's my pizza.  I'm calling it my Summer Caprese Pizza. It starts with some fresh ingredients, gets baked, and ends with some more fresh ingredients that are cool, summery and drizzled with tons of flavor. 

Summer Caprese Pizza:

The Pizza:

Peter's Classic Dough (see Instructionals section)
Thinly sliced red onions
Thinly sliced organic leeks (or scallions)
Sliced tomatoes, marinated in Peter's Herb Oil (see below)
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
Grated Grano Padano or Parmesan

Marinate the Sliced Tomatoes in a 1/2 batch of Peter's Herb Oil for the Sliced Tomatoes:

1 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 Tablespoon dried rosemary needles
1/2 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1/2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Chili Pepper Flakes (Optional)
1/2 Teaspoon paprika (Optional)

*See original recipe in our Instructional Section called Multipurpose Herb Oil.

The Pizza:

Build pizza by placing tomatoes on the dough. 
Drizzle additional oil on dough over the tomatoes - there is no sauce.
Add chunks of buffalo mozzarella
Add sliced red onions and leeks

Place the pizza into a pre-heated (550 Degree) oven on your pizza stone.  Bake.

 

 

 

Summer Heirloom Caprese Salad *See recipe pictorial in the Instructional section.

I had planned on making this salad, and did so while I was making the pizzas.  What I didn't plan

 
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!

 

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