Written Recipes
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.

 
Quesadillas Ingles
Brad English


A little voice, in fact, a very persistent little voice is constantly calling out "Daddy, can you make me a quesadilla?"  Moments later the chorus continues and continues until I relent or take the dog on a walk.  This happens in the morning, after school, for dinner, or later in the night as a snack!  The result of these requests has meant that I spend a fair amount of time over my stove making up quesadillas for the kids (and others of us).  And, also the dog has gotten his fair share of walks. 

This is Pizza Quest, however, not Family Pet Quest - so let me focus on the mighty little quesadilla.  Sometimes, it can even be a mighty big quesadilla.  One of my favorite versions is a Breakfast Quesadilla, which is a cross between a breakfast sandwich and a breakfast pizza.  The dough, or tortilla is simply the delivery system.  Peter has often referred to pizza as dough with something on it, akin to a grilled cheese sandwich or any other product where dough serves as a host for a number of ingredients to make a tasty meal. The quesadilla, in my opinion, falls right in line with this concept.  It's a dough and its main basic ingredient is cheese.  Who is going to argue this isn't a pizza on some level?

Many great Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants take that to a whole other level, offering a quesadilla as a meal with chicken, or as a full breakfast, or whatever they have come up with to enhance the basic cheese between two tortillas concept. 

As I said, I have spent a good amount of time playing around with my versions here at home.  With my last name being English, these are now "officially" being called Quesadillas Ingles.  I never really thought about it much, it's just cheese and a couple of tortillas heated up on the stove top but, after being "forced" to make these things over and over and having a few incidents where I might have a lucky accident, I began stretching the concept beyond slapping some cheese between two tortillas.  One of the first "accidents" I recall was noticing when a little cheese spilled out from between the tortillas and fried into a perfect crispness on the side.  I love that crunch! 

Sorry for the digression, but, we have to take a short road trip up the coast.  If you live anywhere near Santa Barbara, CA, add a visit to La Superica Taqueria on Milpas Street to your list of must-do places.  You will always find a line out the door of this taqueria and you will see why after you go.  They have a side dish which is fried cheese with bits of bacon and onion.  It isn't fried crisp, but has a bit of that flavor from the onion and bacon, and the edges can get a little crisp and charred.  You take this small bowl of pure perfection and add it to your tacos, or even to just a warm corn tortilla.  It is the only place where I've come across this treat and, living in Southern California with a great Mexican restaurant always around the corner, that's pretty noteworthy.  I happened to be in the area this past weekend and took some photos that I'll share soon. 

Ok, so back to Quesadillas Ingles. One day, I thought of double decking the little corn tortillas to make them more substantial.  I think I was trying to just make them a little bigger so that I would have to make fewer of them.  I like to use corn tortillas for these and they're small and the kids are always calling out for more.  My daughter starts this pleading, usually, and then my son shows up and joins in.  Then I'm making these for two people and I'm inevitably cutting them up like small pizzas and stealing a wedge or two for myself before delivery.  Thus, the double-decker was born. 

You can add all sorts of ingredients besides cheese to make these more of a meal.  I've added sauteed onions, Mom's Pickled Jalapenos (see the Instructional archives for this recipe), chicken, and a mixture of cheeses.  You don't add much, these are more like street tacos than over-filled restaurant tacos.  A little goes a long way. 

I made two versions here in these photos.  The first is a basic double-decker with cheddar cheese.  The second has some leftover spicy Italian sausage that I had used in a pasta dish the night before.  I chopped up the sausage, which I fished out of some great tomato sauce, and sauteed it with onions.  I added some new, freshly chopped onions and sauteed those until soft.  I then added this mixture with each cheese layer and suddenly had a nice spicy sausage pizza, er, I mean a double-decked Quesadilla Ingles with Spicy Sausage and Sauteed Onions.

Quesadillas Ingles

Fresh Corn Tortillas
Cheese (Cheddar in this case, but don't stop there)
Cooking Spray, or Butter
Pan
Heat

Options:
Add anything you can think of. 
I have triple stacked these babies, but find a double stack holds up better and has the right balance of cheese and tortilla.  If you follow my technique you can get all three layers of tortillas  crispy, which is better than having a soft middle layer (in my humble opinion).

 

Suggested Instructions:

Set your dial to medium high; you may have to adjust.  This can be a smokey operation.  You want the heat to make things go quickly, to melt the cheese and give a little char on the tortilla, but it's a bit of a dance, so be prepared to make adjustments as you learn.

Hit the pan with a little non-stick cooking spray.  This works best to make sure the cheese doesn't stick. 

Lay down your first tortilla.

Put your first layer of cheese on the tortilla and cover with a second tortilla.  Let this go until you get the bottom tortilla crisp before flipping.  What I'm trying to do here is get that 1st tortilla crisp because it will become the middle tortilla when you flip it over.  It adds another layer of crunch in the middle.  Trust me, it's worth it.

Flip the tortilla over (after giving the top another spray so it won't stick when you flip it over).

Now add your second layer of cheese on the charred bottom, which is now your top.  Add other toppings, or fillings if using with each cheese layer. Place the 3rd tortilla on top of that and hit that with some more spray. Allow the bottom one enough time to crisp and char to your liking.  You can flip them and check, and then flip them back as many times as you need to.  The cheese will be melted quickly enough, so you are just looking for the texture/crispy finish on the tortilla. 

Flip it again onto the 3rd tortilla (the top) to finish. 

After the last flip, allow the tortilla to cook a bit. Then, pick it up and throw a couple pieces of shredded cheese on the pan and place the tortilla back down on the cheese.  Add cooking spray if you think you need it so it won't stick.  The cheese will fry/crisp quickly and stick to the tortilla.  Flip and repeat and you will have added a nice toasty crunchy cheese crust to your Quesadilla Ingles.

Take a slice!

Enjoy! Then walk the dog....

 

 
A Buonchristiani Pizza with Spicy Pork Sausage
Brad English

I was making a bunch of pizzas recently and taking lots of photos, so I went to the meat department where I shop to see if they happened to have any lamb sausage.  Yes, Jay Buonchristiani's Lamb Sausage with Fennel Pizza was that good and I wanted to make it again (see the Instructional Section for the original posting on this).  And, I had another bottle of his Syrah hanging around, so I thought, why not try it again.  But, the butcher didn't have any lamb sausage.  Since I was in a hurry, I thought I'd pick up some spicy pork sausage and give the pizza a try with that.  Jay's recipe calls for any type of lamb sausage - but not spicy because of the wine he was pairing it with.

I was having some friends over and, because of the spices, I decided to open a different wine to use to make this pizza, as well as to drink with them - a 2008 Dover Canyon Barbarian from the Central Coast.  We had recently taken a family trip to Cambria, CA with our friends, the Dunhams, and they were coming over for dinner.  Kevin and Kristin are good friends with the owner of Dover Canyon, Dan Panico.  We were lucky enough to be able to tag along for a barbecue at the winery on one of the nights while we were up there. 

What a great time!  A number of people I know who have houses in Cambria had told me to visit Dover Canyon and were jealous when I told them we were not only going wine tasting, but also going over for a barbecue.  I've had their wines on numerous occasions while sitting by the Dunham's pool snacking on cheeses and salted pork products.  You don't often get go to a private barbecue at a winery, and almost never as a family guest, kids and all.  So, I thought it was a good idea to follow up and make this pizza with one of the delicious wines we bought that weekend. 

Dan and his fiance' Glenda were gracious hosts at the winery.  When we showed up a little late, after getting out of LA traffic that Friday, we were immediately given glasses of wine and began to get acquainted.  The guys moved upstairs, above the tasting room for some pool, while the women did - something else.  Who knows?!  And, at the time, who cares!  They were busy, happy, and the kids were off running around outside, and we were drinking great wine with the winemaker and playing pool.  How do you beat that?

A little while later, we moved over to the house to start grilling.  The dinner consisted of some marinated lamb, mashed potatoes with root vegetables mixed in, grilled avocados stuffed with shrimp and mango salsa, a fresh farmers market salad, some great fresh bread, and lots of delicious wine.  We sat out on the covered back patio with a soft rain coming down and enjoyed a memorable candlelit meal. 

And we even came back the next day to do some "official" wine tasting.  

Dover Canyon is a small winery that sits on top of a beautiful rolling hilltop.  Dan and Glenda live in the older farm style house that overlooks it all.  If you ever visit the tasting room, you will surely be greeted by the big, gigantic, lovable "puppy" Saint Bernard named THUNDER!

 
Sprouted Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Peter Reinhart

I've been asked for this recipe many times even though only a few of you actually have the sprouted wheat flour but, in the hopes that you will soon acquire some, here's what to do with it when you get it: make a killer pizza dough.  As I mentioned in earlier posts, this flour is so remarkable that you don't need a preferment, nor oil, nor sweetener, nada -- just flour, water, salt, and yeast. Furthermore, you don't have to make it the day before, as I advise with regular pizza doughs, because the sprouted wheat has already created its own enzymatic changes before it even gets to the flour stage. However, it is okay to hold the dough in the fridge for up to three days if you prefer. You will get a little more acidity by doing so, which is a good thing. Either way, you will never taste another 100% whole grain dough like it, and if you don't tell folks that it's 100% whole wheat and then ask them what they think, they will probably guess that it has only a small amount of whole wheat in it. Yet you will know that, not only are they getting the benefits of 100% whole grain, but it is even more digestible than regular whole wheat and more of the nutritional benefits of the grain are available to the digestive system (the jury is still out as to how much of those benefits survive the baking process so I won't make any specific claims, but the digestibility factor is immediately apparent).

To get this flour, find the Peter's Blog dated June 7th and

 
The Cass House Mulberry Pizza
Brad English

Pizza Quest is about to take us on a journey up to the Central Coast of California.  We had the good fortune to stumble upon a small coastal town called Cayucos that has some real hidden gems worth the a special trip.  One of the focal points of our visit was to explore what pizza is and could be with the terrific chef and proprietor of The Cass House Inn - Chef Jensen Lorenzen.   We'll let you in on more of the details as we release the coming video segments where we explore Cayucos with Jensen and some of the other local food stars!

I was recently reviewing some of the footage and was compelled to try to make a version of the pizza I watched Jensen and Peter create before our eyes.  Jensen had assembled a host of local ingredients, one of which was fresh local mulberries. 

 

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