Written Recipes
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!

 
Holy Smoke n' Ribs Pizza!
Brad English

One of our Guest Columns by Tom Carrig was called "BBQ Pizza--Not".  It got me thinking about, what else, barbecue pizza.  My first introduction to this type of pizza was back in the 90's when the BBQ Chicken Pizza became all the rage at California Pizza Kitchen, and also at Louise's Trattoria here in Los Angeles, CA.  We could talk a lot about this explosion of "new" pizza ingredients that really brought so many new pizza concepts to public attention, and I'm sure much has already been written about it.  I also understand Tom's perspective about this abuse of the term "barbecue" and have learned over the years, as I've become more and more of a lover of "process" in my food quests, that barbecue, as a word, is butchered more than the butchers at national market chains carve up cuts of meat.  Wow, that was a mouthful of words even to type --hey Mom, I'm writing in metaphors and analogies now! 

But, Tom really got me thinking about barbecue and pizza.  I'd love to try an official BARBECUED PIZZA (as he defined it), where all the ingredients are indeed touched by the fire, the smoke, and all that low and slow temperature and time.  It sounds like an adventure but would also require

 
TJ's Asparagus Pizza
Brad English

I have been corresponding through our email with a Pizza Quester named TJ about making the Buonchristiani Lamb Sausage with Fennel Pizza.  TJ asked a few questions and then went off and had great success making the pizza  (that really is one that you have to try -- I love that pizza!).  In one of TJ's emails he told me about one of his own favorite pizzas.  It's a thinly shaved asparagus pizza.  Right there, that sounded really interesting, so, I thought I would give it a try. (in other words, he had me at "shaved asparagus")

I asked TJ where he got the recipe and he said that the original recipe is from the blog Smitten Kitchen.  I looked that up and here is the link so that they get the credit.  It's another great pizza!  We love pizza, don't we?!  You can find the original recipe here: http://smittenkitchen.com.

I am going to use TJ's own words to tell you how to make this pizza.  I think it demonstrates a couple of things.  The first, and most important thing, is simply this: passion.  This pizza is a perfect example of how important these simple passions are to our daily lives.  We keep ourselves younger by engaging our minds with tasks that push us to learn, or grow in some way.  TJ and I have never met, and may never meet, but we connected and engaged in this shared passion.  I hope that experience is enriching for both of us, I know it was for me.  And, the second interesting thing is this: that any recipe can be taken and should be interpreted, adapted, and adjusted for each individual. 

Following is TJ's email about his version of the Smitten Kitchen's Version of an Asparagus Pizza.

 
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.

 

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