Written Recipes
The Hwy 15 Pizza
Brad English

A few months ago I went to Las Vegas for the Pizza Expo.  I wrote about visiting with John Arena of Metro Pizza.  While driving to Vegas I had been a little lost in thought.  No, I wasn't on my phone, but I was drifting along somewhere out in there in the desert.  I was thinking about the email exchange I had with John and the fact that he mentioned he'd love to make some pizzas with me.  As this worked it's way around my brain, I started noticing that the desert valley I was in was reminiscent of something familiar.  I was driving along in an air conditioned car, with a cool venti iced latte from a Starbucks stop a while back.  I said to my father, who was riding with me, "Look at the mountains that are encircling us.  Don't they look like the crust of a giant pizza?"

He looked around and said, "No."  I told him he was crazy and unimaginative!  All he could see was the white sand and scrubby sage and rocks.  "Can't you see how the sage brush is like little bits of herbs poking out from the desert sand (which would be the cheese)?

We then came upon a hill that appeared to be formed from a lava eruption, or burst from under the ground.  To me, that was it, it sealed the deal, I was literally in the middle of a giant 10-mile wide pizza and that burnt rock hill was a bubble in the crust.

I think I brought it up to my father again in the next valley. (There are two distinct "Pizza Valleys" on Hwy 15 from LA to Las Vegas -- you heard it here first.)  He just couldn't see my vision. Topics turned to the more mundane banter bouncing between laughter and arguments that we always have - especially while trapped in a small car for 4-5 hours together.

I've written before about my experience meeting up with John Arena at the Pizza Expo, which was great.  During the show, John took me by a booth that he had made dough for and I noticed that there was a huge air bubble with a burnt top.  I mentioned my desert pizza "vision" to John and, being far more visionary than my father, he loved the idea.  We kicked around some ideas for desert ingredients.  On my way home I was all ready for the pizza valleys and admittedly, I did ask

 
Pesto Seafood Pizza
Brad English

When you do a pizza night, half the fun is coming up with the menu.  With the prep work that goes into making pizza, it just doesn't make sense making one type of pizza for the night.  You usually have the idea pizza for the night and then you borrow ingredients, add others and come up with supporting pizzas for that particular event.

Our friends had us over and as you have hopefully read, they brought down some fresh seafood and some fresh ideas.  We made a Vietnamese inspired Banh Mi Pork Pizza and then moved on to use the freshly caught (or dug up) Coos Bay Empire Clams on a White Clam Pizza.  Both of these were delicious and I'd say the Bahn Mi Pizza was more like inspiring.  We weren't done yet.  Knowing we had a good supply of clams, we planned on doing a couple of pizzas with the clams as well as a pasta dish for the evening.

For this second seafood pizza, we wanted to do something different than with the first which was a clean white sauce -- herbed olive oil pizza.  What else would go well with the the clams and some other seafood?  Loan (pronounced Lan, who is our friend's sister from Oregon who I would say has become our friend as well) suggested doing a fresh pesto.  Bam!  That pulled the idea together. The pesto sauce would be a nice adjustment while using some of the same ingredients.  As this pizza came together it continued to evolve as a work of performance art.  Our creative juices were flowing and I think we came up with a winner!

 

Pesto Seafood Pizza

- Peter's Signature Bruery Beer Dough *Made with Sriracha Salt as a substitute *Link here

- Fresh made Pesto *Link to Peter's Pesto Recipe

- Sun Dried Tomatoes

- A small pile of Coos Bay Empire Clams -- if you can get them *See Note below

- Fresh Jumbo Shrimp

- Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice

- Thick grated Parmigiano-Regianno

- Thick sliced tomatoes

- Chopped Garlic

 

*Note from "American Pie" about selecting clams for this pizza:

"When making this pizza, look for freshly shucked medium-sized whole clams, such as manila, cherrystone, or littlenecks.  You can also shuck them yourself or steam them open.  An easier

 
Sriracha Dough
Brad English

I have only experimented with this dough one time.  It's nothing earth shattering, though it sounds like it should be, but it's certainly interesting, so I think it's worthy of a post.

I was making up some pizzas recently and we were doing a Vietnamese inspired pizza. Since I make the doughs the day before, I noticed my Sriracha Salt just sitting there staring at me on the counter.  As I went to grab the Kosher Salt, the jar of Sriracha Salt shuddered a little, maybe beckoned.  It was just a little, but enough for me to notice.

 

Ok, just kidding of course, but I did notice it while grabbing the regular salt and a little light bulb went off.  "Why not?"  I was making Peter's Signature Bruery Beer Dough and thought I'd substitute the Sriracha Salt for the regular salt.  I didn't know if the dough would work because of the spices -- perhaps causing it to not rise, or explode or something.  But it did work.  The result was a subtle hint of spiciness throughout the dough.  As I took my first bite of the finished pizza, I didn't notice it right away.  There was so much going on with the Banh Mi Pizza (see that post from a few weeks ago), that the subtle flavor it added to the dough didn't show up immediately.

 

As I got to the crust, though, I could definitely sense the Sriracha flavor.  It was subtle and interesting.  Like I always say about making and eating pizza, it's always interesting.  There's a unique opportunity to experiment when making pizzas.  You can try little things while making the meal because you'll be making 3 or more pizzas at a time and each one can be an experiment with slight changes, or major changes help you figure out what you like most.  And, I believe that the excitement of trying to find that "Ah-Ha!" moment is almost as much fun as eating that perfect slice.  The quest is about the questing and also the time spent with friends and family eating the results of your madness!

So, the recipe for the Sriracha salt is already posted -- just use it instead of regular salt when making any dough and let us know the results. Sometimes it's just the little things that the difference....

For Peter's Signature Bruery Beer Dough recipe - click: *HERE

*Note:  This would work with any dough recipe.

 

Enjoy!

 
Coos Bay Clam Pizza
Brad English

Kim's sister Loan (pronounced Lahn) came down from Coos Bay, Oregon where she lives, with a mission to get us together and make pizzas, cook some good food, and hang out with friends.  Knowing we all love seafood, she and Randy did a little digging (maybe a lot of digging) and personally dug up what seemed like a ton of Coos Bay Empire Clams!  I knew what we were going to do with those; I love Peter's take on White Clam Pizza from his book American Pie.  His recipe is a tribute to the one served at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT.  I've made it numerous times and it always comes out great.

Having all of these fresh clams, we not only made a pizza, but Loan also whipped up a terrific pasta dish as well.  It was clam-tastic (I know that's cheesy, but this is a blog and it's true).

As with all recipes, once you make them enough you start to leave the reservation a little.  Peter's herb oil is a perfect example.  I use it so often, I just add herbs that I have until it looks right and tastes right.  For this pizza I spiced up the oil with some chili flakes.

 

Coos Bay Clam Pizza

- Peter's Signature Bruery Beer Dough *Made with Sriracha Salt as a substitute *Link here

- Peter's Herb Oil with a little extra red pepper flakes *Link here

- A big pile of Coos Bay Empire Clams -- if you can get them *See Note below for options

- Teaspoon of Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice

- Grated Mozzarella Cheese

- Grated Parmigiano-Regianno

- Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley

 

*Note: From "American Pie" about selecting clams for this pizza...

"When making this pizza, look for freshly shucked medium-sized whole clams, such as manila, cherrystone, or littlenecks.  You can shuck them yourself or steam them open.  An easier method, however, is to use either canned whole baby clams or another canned product called cocktail clams… (With these canned products, just drain the clams well…)  I do not suggest using chopped clams, even fresh ones, unless that is all you can find, as they tend to toughen during the bake."

We ended up using these larger clams for this recipe, which had to be chopped.  They were hand picked, shucked, and frozen by Loan and her family and brought down to us for this feast.  I did notice that some of the meat was tough, as Peter mentioned, but how do you not use the hand dug clams that came packed with passion and love?  I continue to reap the benefits of Loan's generosity as she brings, and even ships down, fresh seafood that they caught up there.  One day, we'll make the trip to visit them and join in on a crabbing trip, or clam dig on the beautiful beaches there and I'll post the photos.

I have also used the canned baby clams for this pizza and it always comes out perfect.

 

Prep:

Make up the herb oil *See Link above for recipe.  Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice.

I also added a little extra chili flakes to spice this one up.

Add the clams to the herb oil and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

 

The Coos Bay Clam Pizza

Pre-heat your oven to the highest temperature (about 550 degrees) for at least 45 minutes to 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 add a little grated Mozzarella and Parmessan Cheeses.  Don't add too much cheese on this pizza.  You want it to be a background element.  This pizza is about the clams and the herbs.  The cheese holds it together.

Add the Clams.  As you do, it will bring enough of the herb oil along with them.  There is no need for more oil on this.

That's it.  Now it goes into the oven.

Right when it comes out of the oven hit it with some more fresh squeezed lemon and top with the chopped parsley.  Because we were using these large clams that were caught, shucked and frozen, they put off a lot of liquid after the bake.  I simply tipped the pizza and drained off that excess liquid.  *When you used the canned baby clams, you don't have this problem.

 

Cut and Serve...

 

This turned out great.  It's terrific when you get the opportunity to cook with food that you know comes fresh from the source.  The only other ingredient needed for an amazing food experience is, of course, the good friends who we were lucky enough to be with.

*Peter suggests in "American Pie" that you can also make variations of this with other fresh/raw seafood such as squid, shrimp, or scallops.  Sounds like a plan!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 
Sriracha Seasoned Salt
Brad English

I met Randy Clemens at a baking class Peter was teaching at a Sir La Table here in Los Angeles. We were just getting Pizza Quest going and Peter was out on a teaching tour.  Peter introduced me to Randy, who had come to visit with him, after the class.  Peter had connected Randy with his publisher and Randy told us that he was close to finishing his first book cookbook.  I loved the idea.  It was a cookbook about using Sriracha Sauce.  I love that sauce.

Well, it turns out Randy published his book.  It's called The Sriracha Cookbook. I have to admit, I had meant to get a copy of the book, but as life goes, I just hadn't gotten around to it.  However, while browsing the internet I recently stumbled on one of the recipes from the book.  It was for a Sriracha Seasoned Salt.

It didn't take me 5 minutes to go to the cupboard and pull out my box of Kosher Salt and start measuring up a double batch of the stuff.  I put it into a couple of canning jars and gave one to a friend and kept the other.  Ever since then I've been finding ways to use this salt rather than just plain salt in any recipe, or as a final seasoning topping to any dish.  It is a great way to add a little spice to a dish in a unique way.  I use it on nearly everything that I'd use salt on.  You haven't noticed, and I have been waiting to say too much about it until I posted my version of the recipe here on the site, but I use it all the time on my pizzas!

 

The Sriracha Salt is spicy, but in a more flavorful way, if that makes any sense.  In other words, it's more flavorful than it is spicy.  The balance between the salt and flavors and spiciness is perfect (for me anyway).  It's like when you sauté up some jalapeños.  The heat is mellowed and you are left with a nice flavor with a toned down heat factor.

I recently even substituted this salt into a Pizza Dough recipe and it definitely added a subtle flavor (I'll post that dough recipe next week). You could sense a slight little spicy note trying to whisper at you through the dough.  You may not even notice it if you weren't aware of it, because there's relatively little salt in the dough, but to me, half the fun of cooking is experimenting and trying something that is new, or interesting.  You could just add Sriracha sauce to your food, but having Randy's Sriracha Salt around gives you another element to play with when trying to create fun and interesting things to eat and share.

I have the book on my list of things to get!  I suggest you track it down too.

 

Sriracha Salt

- 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt

- 5 teaspoons of Sriracha Sauce (with the rooster on the label!)

 

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees F.

Add the Sriracha Sauce to the salt and mix well.

Spread the salt/sauce mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread it as thinly as possible so that it will dry out.

Place the pan in the oven and turn off the heat.  Leave it in the oven overnight.  As the salt dries, it will clump up.  Before storing, place it in a bag, or crumble it in your hands in a bowl to break it up into individual crystals.

I keep mine in a glass canning jar and when I pull some out, I still squeeze it between my fingers as I apply it to break up the clumps up a little more.

This is a no-brainer.  Try it.  You'll like it!

 

 

 

 

 

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