Written Recipes
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

 
Another Left-Overs Cheese Steak Pizza
Brad English

If you know me, you know I love Tri-Tip or Santa Maria steak and, chances are, you've probably had it a few dozen times off of my grill.  The Tri-Tip cut is mainly a West Coast thing.  It's certainly my thing. As I understand, it used to be a cut of meat that was mainly used to be ground up for hamburger, or used for stew meat.  One day back in the late '50's, at a Safeway Supermarket in Santa Maria, CA, the meat manager decided to throw this whole cut of meat onto the rotisserie with some salt, pepper and garlic salt.  The butcher commented that he was wasting his time, that this meat would be too tough to chew. Instead, after about an hour, what they discovered was something new.  This left-over section of beef, shaped like a triangle (Tri-Tip), turned out to have a whole new texture and flavor profile.  Here's a link to a couple sites for more information on cooking and the history of Santa Maria Tri-Tip.

The first is a great article by Russ Parsons of the LA Times.  I had been using this recipe for some time before I had the chance to meet Russ while filming at Pizzeria Mozza (check out our Pizzeria Mozza webisodes to see his conversion to loving Nancy Silverton's Hawaiian Pizza, something he thought could never happen).  At the time, I didn't even know Russ wrote this article.  One day, I looked at my folded, faded cut-out newspaper article and noticed Russ' name.  Needless to say, I was that much happier having met him - now realizing I was already a huge fan! 

http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jun/29/food/fo-calcook29

Here's another link with a little history about how the cut came to be:

http://www.santamariaelks.com/history/tritip.html

Now, I'm not saying these guys are going to be written up in the history books for this, but they are in my history notes.  There are some great websites out there discussing how to cook a Tri-Tip and I have used it many times to create pizzas.  And, if you like Cheese Steak Sandwiches like I do, then how could you not like a Cheese Steak Pizza?  I can still remember the first time I had a Cheese Steak while I was working one summer for my uncle's moving company.  We pulled into a nondescript strip mall and

 
A Pizzeria Basta Market Menu Pizza
Brad English

When I make a few pizzas, the one I often end up liking the best was the one that wasn't planned so much, but just sort of came together.  This pizza may have been born because I was in a store and something caught my eye.  I might have come across a new pile of chili peppers.  I might have sampled 5 or 6 salted pork products and found something interesting.  Or, I may have had something at home that spurred an idea or tied some of the other ingredients I had shopped for together. 

This favorite pizza of mine is more often than not the "Last Pizza" I made. It's my left over ingredient pizza, or my "idea pizza."  It's the one where I let chance or even fate drive the story of the pizza I am creating.  This is a fun pizza to make.  It comes together a little more organically, as if you said to yourself that you felt like pizza that day and went out to the garden to see what you could find.  The "Last Pizza" is truly a creation from scratch.  When you hit a home run, or sometimes a grand slam with this pizza, it's a little more special because there is just a touch more discovery here than when you follow a recipe.  I think there is a bit of this in all the pizzas we make, which may be why we're on a quest here.

Kelly Whitaker at Pizzeria Basta has a list of pizzas on his menu that are always there like most restaurants. As a customer, you know you can get your favorite pizza, which is what we often crave. He also has a Market Menu that is driven by this same concept of cooking with the most fresh and interesting ingredients you can find. I love that in a restaurant.  It makes me feel that the chef is thinking and touching the process and, more importantly, caring about it.  If I were a chef, I would certainly want to cook this way.  They spend a lot of time developing the menu designed to satisfy their customers.  But, I think that a chef would enjoy this process of discovering and creating something new even more than I do with my "Last Pizza".  To Kelly, I imagine this is what the Market Menu provides for him. And, if you're like me, it provides a great option as a customer to enjoy something new at a familiar place.

I will probably continue to visit Basta's website (www.pizzeriabasta.com) to see what new Market Menu pizzas Kelly and his team come up with.  After all, I am just a home cook; Kelly is the chef and I am happy to follow his lead and make and share his pizza ideas.  Interestingly, as I choose to make my versions of Kelly's Market Menu Pizzas in the future, they will become my planned pizzas and, while I'm out shopping for those ingredients, I will keep an eye out for something different for my own new Last Pizza for that day!

Looking at his Market Menu pizza online recently, I could see that this was definitely a gourmet ingredient driven pizza.  First of all, he is using the Bianco Dinapoli Organic Tomatoes.  I did a series of recipes using these - just a simple crushed tomato sauce with nothing added, and it was almost unbelievable how good they were.  In fact, my son Owen commented that day on how great my sauce was.  It was such hard work for me.  I opened the can and squeezed the tomatoes into a bowl by hand. How pure is that? 

He also used a nice salami that

 

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