Written Recipes
Roasted Seasoned Eggplant Pizza
Brad English

I remember standing in line late one night, or rather early one morning on New Years Eve, down in Hermosa Beach at one of our favorite local NY Style Pizza by the slice establishments called Paisanos.  I always used to joke with my wife and friends when one of the owners would call out to someone "Hey Paisano!"  I would say, "I thought I was Paisano!"  When they showed up a few years back, when I was a younger man, I would more often than not find myself wandering by, looking for a slice or two after being out for the night...if you know what I mean.   It was nice to have the added ambiance in this NY Style pizzeria here only a block off the beach in Southern California that came with a cast of NY Paisanos who felt at home barking out their indignant proclamations with their freshly imported NY Style attitudes. On this fateful New Years morning I placed my order for my favorite pizza -- their Roasted Eggplant and Sliced Tomato Pie.

Well, it turned out to be the LAST pizza of the night. (I already mentioned that it was late!)  I think we alll know how good a late night slice of pizza can taste.  Now imagine it's the last late night pizza available and there's a line out the door behind you.  My small group of friends formed a wedge as we moved out the door and ran for our lives to catch a cab home!

Yes, that last pizza of the night did hit the spot!  Perhaps this why I love eggplant on pizza so much.  I loved it before this, but since then, there is a more solid connection with the triumphant memory of being the "one" who won the lottery that night with this simple ingredient.  I was recently in our forum looking around and found a discussion where eggplant came up.  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  I couldn't believe I had I waited so long to play with this ingredient in my pizza making at home.  My Paisano memories came flooding back and I knew I had to pick up some eggplant!

To the kitchen!

Roasted Seasoned Eggplant Pizza


Pizza Quest Signature Beer Dough *LINK
Simply Red Tomatoes turned into Peter's Crushed Tomato Sauce
*Any quality canned tomato will work *LINK
Fresh Mozzarella *I used Bel Gioioso's
1 Japanese Eggplant sliced about 1/4" thick
Sliced Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil

*You can/should also add grated Parmesan cheese and Red Chilli flakes at the end.


Peter's Crushed Tomato Sauce is a perfect pizza sauce. Once you make it a few times following his recipe, you can start to do it on your own, just adding what feels right.  This is so simple and tastes so fresh I really don't see any reason to do anything else when I'm using a tomato sauce.  When I first tried it after reading Peter's book, American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, I literally thought, "This is it! This is the perfect pizza sauce."  Now I know perfect is not possible, but this may be an exception.


Roast the Eggplant:

Get your oven going early, to Pre-Heat your pizza stone to the highest temperature, for at least an hour before cooking your pizzas.  I threw the eggplant into the oven while it was heating up to pre-roast it.

Peel the skin off the eggplant and slice into 1/4" slices.
In a bowl mix the slices with Bread Crumbs and add in some herbs and spices to give them that special touch.  I poured a little Olive Oil and then added some Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper and actually a little Cayenne because I'm insane.  You'll see I didn't overdo it in the photos. 

I pre-roasted them until browned, pulling them out of the oven in time to allow them to finish up on the pizza (but they do need to soft when you pull them out).  I didn't time this, but think it was about 20 minutes as my oven was already hot.  Check it after 10, 15 etc.


The Prep and Build:

Build the pizza by placing the Crushed Tomato Sauce on the dough.

I added a swirl of Olive Oil to the sauce

Add pinches of the fresh Mozzaarella

Add the Roasted Eggplant

Add sliced/chopped basil after the bake.

Add the sliced tomatoes (Play with the thickness of the tomatoes to affect how much moisture they will hold after baking, but a scant 1/4" thick is probably ideal).


Bake:

Place pizza into the oven.  If you have it, switch the oven over to Convection Bake, which seems to give me a better bake. 

Check the pizza in about 7 Minutes.  When it's done, remove it.

This pizza came out beautifully.  I used a thicker cut on my tomatoes, so the overall pizza, was initially "wet".  But, as it cooled, it settled down.  I added the basil, sliced it up and remembered a simpler time, before kids, late one evening, walking down the street with some friends and a piping hot Roasted Eggplant Pizza from Paisanos.

(*The cayenne was interesting.  Play with the seasoning on the eggplant, it's a great vehicle for flavor.  With the bread crumbs and pre-roasting you also get a little crunchy texture going on after the final bake and even some charred crispy bits.)

Give this a try and send us your own versions with photos and a story!


Enjoy!

 

 
A Simple Salami Pizza
Brad English

Sometimes you just want comfort food.  This pizza is comfortable and comforting.  This is a pizza that will warm the cockles of your heart.  There isn't much fanciness about it.  This version isn't what we'd call artisan, or pushing the limits of artisanship anywhere.  It's just good.  It's just sauce, cheese and salami. 

You can, of course, make this fancier.  You can go down to the deli, or your fancy gourmet market and get yourself a funky cool salami with some wild name and it will likely be even better yet.  I would make this with sopressata, speck, a specialty salami, or any artisanal hand crafted salted pork product I can find and each unique product will definitely give this pizza it's own unique expression of what is possible by bringing quality ingredients together and making something bigger than the whole of the parts.

That day I was in the mood for comfort and I was home and didn't want to go shopping.  I had the dough, cheese, tomatoes and some basic sandwich salami -- in a bag.  This salami is meant to process sandwiches for hungry kids and families on the go. It's perfect for a last minute party platter if such an occasion arrises.  Though it's in a bag it's still good!  In my opinion salted/cured pork is by it's nature simply good.

Have you ever seen the Simpson's episode called "Lisa the Vegetarian"?  Homer explains the specialness of pork here better than anyone.  Lisa declares that she is no longer able to eat meat after a visit to a farm where she got to pet some of the little cuddly animals. Here's the "meat" of the conversation (pun intended)…where Homer continues in shock:

Homer:  Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute!  Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again?  What about bacon?

Lisa:  No

Homer:  Ham?

Lisa:  No.

Homer:  Pork chops?

Lisa:  Dad!  Those all come from the same animal!

Homer:  [Laughing] Yeah, right Lisa.  A wonderful, "maaaagical" animal! [Laughing]


For the record...I am not saying anything negative here about vegetarians! I love vegetarian pizzas as well.  It's just a shame they don't get to eat this magical animal in all of it's forms - especially the salted/cured ones and the slow barbecued, roasted, or grilled ones! 

Okay, moving on before I bury myself here and alienate half of our readers...



Simple Salami Pizza


Pizza Quest Signature Beer Dough *LINK
Simply Red Tomatoes turned into Peter's Crushed Tomato Sauce *LINK
(*Any good quality canned tomato will work)
Olive Oil
Grated Mozzarella
Sliced Salami
Red Chili Flakes


*Peter's Crushed Tomato Sauce is a perfect pizza sauce. Once you make it a few times following his recipe, you can start to do it on your own, just adding what feels right.  This is so simple and tastes so fresh I really don't see any reason to do anything else when I'm using a tomato sauce.  When I first tried it after reading Peter's book, "American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza," I literally thought, "This is it! This is the perfect pizza sauce."  Now I know perfect is not possible, but this may be an exception.


The Prep and Build:

Build the pizza by placing the Crushed Tomato Sauce on the dough.

I added a swirl of Olive Oil to the sauce

Add grated Mozzarella

Add Salami, sliced thin -- your favorite kind, but Genoa is pretty hard to beat

Place pizza into the oven.  If you have it, switch the oven over to Convection Bake, which seems to give me a better bake. 

Check the pizza in about 7 Minutes.  When it's done, remove it. I'm looking for charring on the salami and crust.  I love the little burnt bits and tips of the ingredients and dough!

Hellllo --  look at this!!  I typically don't have an idea of what I want to write when I make pizzas for this site.  I have an idea of what I want to eat, or explore, and when I come back and pull up the photos and think about the pizza I just see how the combination of my notes, photos and memory come together.  For this pizza, my first thought was Comfort Food, simple and fine, perfect for drop in guests (at least the meat eating ones)!  Thanks for stopping by for a visit...

Give this a try and send us your own versions with photos and a story!



Enjoy!

 
Mossuto's Fat Lip Pizza
Brad English

I was recently working back in NYC.  I had a number of pizza adventures on this short trip, which I started writing about a few weeks ago, and this pizza recipe is from one of the more interesting visits, which I haven't written about.  I was staying with my good friend Holly, who is like a sister to me.  I grew up next door to her family, where her twin brother Billy and she quickly became my big sister and brother by proxy.  They were five years older than I was and helped "keep me in line" like I kept my younger brother and sisters in line!  Our two houses may as well have been connected by a hallway, that should have been built, to make the trip across the well worn path more hospitable during the cold winter months.  But, that would have ruined the Stoop-Ball court between the houses.

 

Holly was dying to take me out for pizza.  I had just come from New York City where I had lunch at the new Don Antonio by Starita, where I met Roberto Caporuscio (who also owns Keste, one of my favorites), and had a truly unique new pizza for lunch and got to spend some time with Roberto and his daughter Giorgia back in the kitchen.  How can you follow that up?  I am never pizza'd out but I wasn't currently in the mood.  Holly kept insisting we go try this new place.  I wasn't really hungry and frankly, she isn't a pizza fan.  A few days before, she boldly said to me that she wished I was on a Wine Quest instead of a Pizza Quest. What she didn't realize, though, is that I was on one of those also.  The Quest is the "Quest".  Period!  So, anyway, I was a little skeptical of getting dragged out to a Jersey shore pizzeria that night!  She insisted, though, wanting to show me this new place that wasn't far from where we grew up over in Wall Township on Route 35. 

The place is called Mossuto's Market.  It's an Italian Market/Deli turned Market/Deli/Pizzeria/Restaurant.  I'll tell you more about it all in a follow up article, or two.  But, what I want to tell you about now is the new pizza I ran into that night.  Its name is "The Fat Lip" and it's a signature pizza of Biagio Schiano, who is

 
A Tomato Sauce Sandwich Pizza
Brad English

My Left-overs journey continues with my Cheese Steak Sandwich theme:  I had also grilled up some sausages the previous night, which were sitting in the same container with my Tri-Tip.  Now, nobody would want the sausage to feel left out, would they?  Would you? 

As I mentioned, I was using a can of Simply Red Tomatoes that I was given by Rob DiNapoli.  My first pizza, a Tri-Tip based Cheese Steak Pizza, turned out great.  The tomato sauce was a delicious foundation to this famous pizza sandwich combination.  The tomatoes were bright and tasty and, dare I say, fresh tasting even though they came out of a can.  I recently came upon my first pizzeria where that made their tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes every day.  I will be telling you all about this place soon enough, but it was the first place I had come across that did this.  Quality canned tomatoes are used by so many pizzeria because they are good, or even great, and also consistent.  And, in this case, they were all of the above.  Delicious. 

I wanted to use the grilled sausage and try another version of this concept, basically using the same ingredients as before, but what could I do differently?

What about adding the tomatoes on top after the bake?  I am a huge fan of this concept. If you have been reading my pizza recipe rantings, you'll have seen quite a few examples of this.  The cool ingredient layer, on top of a hot pizza, adds another taste sensation and even a new flavor profile to the experience.  A cool, or room temperature sauce just tastes different than a cooked sauce.  This isn't to say that one way is better than the other.  It is just different.  It is another way to extract flavors in a different way and experience something in a unique way.

My final thought was to make this pizza a little more about the tomato sauce.  A tomato sauce sandwich pizza.  Stay with me.  Let's go make the pizza.

 
Sauteed Jalapenos and Tri-Tip Pizza
Brad English

My in-laws were down one weekend recently.  I had decided to make some pizzas for them.  They were all sitting at the table playing a fierce game of Attack Uno.  I figured it was safer for me to give them all some space as the family battle unfolded.  This may seem to be an ordinary game, but my family, is not ordinary.  This can get serious. 

We had grilled up some Tri-Tip the previous evening and had a good amount of left overs.  I thought I would take advantage of this favorite ingredient of mine that I had laying around.  I'm often just as happy with my second round use of a good Tri-Tip.  One of our favorite meals is a Pepper Steak, which features left over Tri-Tip, Chopped Bell Peppers and Onions all sauteed up with a little oil, salt, pepper and any other herb or spice we feel like throwing in.  Toss this with pasta and you have a happy English Family.  But, this time, I was going to take this to the flatbread.

My kids fought valiantly with their grandparents, their uncle and their mother.  Uno is a high stakes game that lifts my kids up and brings everyone else down to where they are all on the same level - the battle field.  I started to chop ingredients and get a head start sautéing items for the pizzas I was going to make later on.  I sliced up some onions, mushrooms and a couple jalapeños that I had in the fridge.  As the war waged on over at the kitchen table only a couple of yards away I chopped, sliced and snapped pictures in relative peace.

The onions and mushrooms sautéed up without a hitch, or so much as a notice from the family.  Then I decided to sauté my sliced jalapeños.  I noticed a little tearing as I did this.  But, mostly I noticed the Uno crowd getting louder.  They weren't just getting louder due to their competition though.  It started with a single cough.  Then I heard a couple more.  As someone would shout out some game attack charge, it was proceeded by a cough.  Then, the chatter was also followed by a cough.  Pretty soon, the whole group was laughing and coughing as the game got more and more intense.  All at once, we all realized what was happening!  The smoke from the sautéing jalapeños had filled the room with whatever make those babies hot and was bringing tears and coughs and a lot of hilarity to this family gathering!  They spiced up our food later, but definitely had a spicy effect on the game too.  Needless to say, when we all realized what was going on, we laughed our heads off as we then opened all the doors and windows.

It was all worth it.  I had some nice rare pieces of Tri-Tip and when it all came together with the jalapeños, I created a pizza that was "perfect".  I know that perfection isn't really possible, but

 

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