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.
This caught my attention and I knew I had a personal quest to take care of.
As I watched Jensen speak on the videotape about the mulberries, I was transported back to that beautiful day when we filmed, and remembered how delicious that pizza turned out to be. My "aha" moment was the memory of how those mulberries sat bubbling on his pizza after it came out of the oven. I get hooked like this on occasion. I realized that I had a tendency toward this kind of fixation a number of years ago when I found myself craving a cheese burger for a prolonged period of time. The simpler the cheese burger the better. I even liked thinking or hearing the words "cheese burger." One day I was watching what had become a favorite movie of mine, "Crimes and Misdemeanors". In what is apparently quite a memorable scene for many viewers, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow are playing hooky from work at a movie theater and Woody hands Mia a ball of foil saying, "Have another cheese burger." Mia slowly unwraps the foil. It crinkles as it she peels it back and she goes about eating what appears to be a very basic and, likely, cold cheese burger. Well, they had hooked me. I realized I had watched the movie recently and this must be the reason for my latest little obsession. I still laugh about it today. Excuse me, I have to go make "something" for lunch....
Back to the Cass House, which is a place I found because of this so called fixation in the first place. Smoked fish brought me there. The interesting people I met brought me back! I'll tell you more about that story when I post my Central Coast gallery in a few weeks for this new webisode series.
Ok, now back - back to the Cass House Pizza!
Chef Jensen and Peter created this scrumptious pizza using local ingredients that featured fresh mulberries. When you watch the video (it will post in a few weeks) you will be treated to a true experiment as they improv and create this and other pizzas that represent the local region and food culture. Jensen suggested, to his surprise after they tasted it, that this could even be served as a dessert pizza. It's a great example of how fun pizza making can be.
The pizza starts with some toasted pine nuts sprinkled on the dough. They put these on the bottom because they didn't need to be cooked as much as the other ingredients because they had already been toasted. They then added some caramelized onions, followed by the mulberries. They used two different cheeses one on each half of the pizza, to experiment with their creation. The first was a St. Pat, from Cow Girl Creamery out of Point Reyes, CA. The second was a smoked blue cheese from Rogue Creamery in Oregon. After the pizza came out of the oven Jensen drizzled a balsamic reduction over the pizza to finish it off as both a glaze and a garnish.
So, for my at home version, I went to the local gourmet market hoping to find some fresh mulberries. I doubted they had them, and I was right. But, as with any recipe, you use what is fresh and available. I ended up with fresh blackberries and some alternative cheeses. They didn't have a smoked blue cheese, so I thought I would try a regular blue with a little smoked Gruyere added in to try to re-create that flavor.
This pizza was definitely only the first attempt in my micro quest to perfect and play with this gathering of ingredients. Please send me any notes, or thoughts you have for different ingredient ideas, cheeses etc. As I am writing this entry, I have to say, I'm thinking back to the bite when I first felt one of the warm blackberries push up into the roof of my mouth and then release it's sweetness onto the pizza. Please excuse me again, I have to go to the store....
Good luck with yours!
The Cass House Mulberry Pizza
Peter's Classic Neopolitan Dough (*Located in the Instructional Archives)
Toasted Pine Nuts
Peter's Onion Marmalade (*Recipe located in the Instructional Archives. This is made by caramelizing onions and reducing a balsamic vinegar, so I didn't feel the need to add any after the fact as Jensen does in the video).
Mulberries, Blackberries, or other fresh berries.
Smoked Blue Cheese, or other cheeses to your taste, Bake it in a hot hot oven on a pizza stone.