Your Time to Shine

Hey Pizzaiolos! Send me pictures of the pizzas you’ve made, and I’ll put them in the new “your pizzas” section! Pizza on!

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Cauliflower Crust with Artichoke, Pine Nuts and Olives (Guest Chefs)

Sorry for the hiatus, folks!  I sincerely hope none of you had to resort to frozen pizza or delivery, but we’re back – with plenty of snark, wit and a few killer recipes in tow.

Today, we’re getting a wee unorthodox and letting an unfamiliar guest stand in for our standard crust recipe in hopes that our vegetarian, vegan and gluten-intolerant friends can come out and play.  CAULIFLOWER!  No, that is not my new PG way of cursing without cursing – it’s the base of our new crust, and a damn good one at that.  We’re replacing the “run of the mill” with the “what the what?”, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  Not convinced?  Cauliflower is bringing along its friends artichoke, pine nuts, olive oil, vegan cheese, olives and rosemary to the party… and they don’t mess around.

Cauliflower is suiting up for it’s best rendition of pizza crust, so our playlist for the evening consists of some of the most innovative and catchy covers out there… so hit play and lets get started!

Ingredients:

Flax – 1 tablespoons
Water – 3 tablespoons                  Head of Cauliflower – 1              Ground Almonds – 2 tablespoons Vegan Cheese – 1 cup               Fennel Seed – 1/2 teaspoon           Salt – 1/4 teaspoon                   Pepper – 1/8 teaspoon                Italian Seasoning – 1 tablespoon Artichokes                                    Olive Oil                                          Pine Nuts                                  Kalamata Olives

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • We’re going to start with the dough prep.  Take your head of CAULIFLOWER and chop into florets. Rinse and dry completely, then put the dried florets into your food processor, filling the bowl about half way.
  • Grind the cauliflower until the mass looks like little grains of rice. Place into a microwave-safe bowl and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
  • Cover the microwave-safe bowl tightly with plastic-wrap and microwave on high for seven minutes.  Fluff the stuff to the desired consistency, adding butter, salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
  • Take your cauliflower mush and place into a tea towel and squeeeeeze! You want to get this stuff as dry as possible before mixing with other ingredients.  This will ensure it gets nice and crispy.
  • In a separate bowl, mix your FLAX and WATER (this will be our vegan egg substitute).
  • Let the flax mix sit for 5 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower mush with your FLAX MIX, VEGAN CHEESE, FENNEL SEED, GROUND ALMOND, SALT and PEPPER.
  • On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the mixture to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges become golden.
  • Remove from the oven and top with ARTICHOKES, OLIVE OIL, PINE NUTS, OLIVES and additional CHEESE.
  • Set the oven to broil and place pizza on top rack.
  • Broil briefly until cheese is bubbly and you can’t contain your excitement any longer.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Consume.
  • Dance just a little.

The great thing about cooking for friends and family with different tastes is that you, yourself, get to explore things that you may have cringed at or avoided in the past.  This is, of course, unless you’re one of those you-eat-what-I-cook-or-you-don’t-eat kinda people… but they are statistically less fun.  So get out there and explore!  This is something I would have never tried if I didn’t have vegan friends.  Cooking is all about getting out of your comfort zone (but, of course, getting right back in it when it’s raining and you have a cold).

You’ve probably noticed we’re had quite a few guest chefs lately, and it feeds (pun intended so hard) into this theme of exploration.  When you give the reins to wonderfully creative people, you will never cease to be amazed… so thank you T, N, V, K and M

Hope you had fun! See you next time!

Potato, Pork and Goat Cheese (Guest Chef)

So we’ve all been there before… “so many leftovers, so little motivation”. Studies show that humans throw out more leftovers than any other species on the planet. Unbelievable. So why not remix the classic leftover dilemma? This week, we have done just that.

Our neighbor, and professionally trained culinary master, brought over some left over pork and potatoes to see how it pizzas (verb). With our leftovers, and just a few other simple ingredients, she transformed some cold leftovers to a gourmet pizza.  To accompany this adventure, we have a playlist of some of the most innovative remixes out there.

So hit play and lets get started!

Ingredients:photo 5 (7)
Prepared Dough
Olive Oil
Rosemary
Salt
Pepper
Dried Cranberries
Red Wine
Butter
Onion
Cracked Pepper
Leftover Pork
Leftover Potatoes
Goat Cheese

You’ll notice that I have stopped using units of measurement to accompany the ingredients. The more I post on this blog, the more I realize that pizza is a very subjective food. That’s the beauty of pizza… more, less or complete omission of an ingredient won’t ruin it. How much onion do YOU want on your pizza? Want more cheese? Go for it! Don’t worry, when it’s imperative I won’t leave you hanging, but otherwise, make these pizzas YOUR pizzas.

  • First, we’re going to prep the CRANBERRIES with a process called “macerating”. Yes, I did a double take the first time I heard this word, too. This is a simple process that essentially involves softening or re-hydrating something with liquid. In this case, we are re-hydrating cranberries with wine. Because why not? Let the cranberries soak in a bowl and set aside.
  • Slice leftover POTATOES and separate leftover PORK into bits.
  • Next, we’re going to caramelize the onions. Put a small pad of BUTTER  in a pan and place on medium-low heat.
  • Slice your ONIONS thinly.
  • Once the butter is melted, put the ONIONS in the pan.  Stir occasionally until they look well cooked and a bit wilted.  About 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • This would be a good time to preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  • You may have noticed there was no prosciutto in the ingredient list. How uncharacteristic! Well don’t fret, my dears. Remember how I told you our guest chef was a culinary genius? That’s right… there’s pancetta in the dough. Set down all sharp objects and just let that settle in. I’ll post the complete dough recipe at the end if you want to use it for this pizza, but either way, take your prepared DOUGH and stretch out by hand prior to placing on pizza pan. Let gravity and the weight of the dough do most of the work for you. Once it is stretched and flat-ish, place it on a well-floured surface and finish the job.
  • Combine some OLIVE OIL, ROSEMARY, SALT and PEPPER in a bowl. Brush this liberally over the flattened dough.
  • Precook dough for four minutes.
  • Top with PORK, POTATOES, MACERATED CRANBERRIES, CARAMELIZED ONIONS and GOAT CHEESE.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about 6 minutes.  Feel free to check on the dough consistency periodically to make sure it’s to your liking.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Top with a little CRACKED PEPPER.
  • Consume.
  • Dance a little jig.

Now obviously this pizza was tailored to the leftovers on hand, but the take home message is GET CREATIVE! Leftover Chinese food? Make a cheese-less pizza with peanut sauce and chives. Leftover Mexican? Green chili sauce, re-fried beans and chihuahua cheese. Go nuts – it’s all trial and error… but having a professionally trained neighbor doesn’t hurt.

Now hold on, we’re not finished yet. Put your immediate plans on hold because we have a pretty damn amazing dough to make… and it goes a little something like this:

All-Purpose Flour – 2 Cups
Wheat Flour – 1 Cup
Yeast – 2 Teaspoons
Kosher Salt – 2 Teaspoons
Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoons
Water – 1.25 Cups
Black Pepper – 1 Teaspoon
Pancetta – 2 ounces

Kneed and prep as instructed in the original dough recipe.

Hope you had fun! See you next time!

Sauceless Ricotta, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion (Guest Chefs)



Oh, do we have a treat for you all this week!  Guest chefs and a BONUS PIZZA! Our friends S&B have graciously imparted their pizza-wisdom onto us with new techniques and recipes, and we are shamelessly exploiting their kindness for our blog. They’ll thank me when they’re famous. This is the couple who inspired our tradition of pizza nights, so it is an honor to make pizza with them in their home. Without them, there would be no Very Sound Pizza. Lets move on before I get choked up.

Today we will be focusing on a very unique, sauce-less pizza that artfully incorporates three cheeses, prosciutto and caramelized onions. For those of you who are familiar with Middle Eastern food, the taste is reminiscent of cheese bourekas. If you have never tried these before, stop everything your doing and go to your closest Middle Eastern market and get some. Actually, finish reading my blog and make this pizza… you can do whatever you want after that. Because this pizza is such a strong reminder of Middle Eastern flavors, I felt a playlist of similar cultural sway would be appropriate; a fusion of East and West.

Now, before we get started, let me address a couple of things. First, it may have become quite apparent to you that we have determined prosciutto to be one of the best pizza ingredients of all time, as it has not-so-subtly made its way onto all of our pizzas thus far. I don’t anticipate we’ll get any arguments about that. Second, you will notice that I often use the same wording to instruct similar processes from previous posts. Lazy? Perhaps. Efficient? That sounds much better. It’s my way of keeping y’all from having to scroll through multiple posts to make one pizza.

So hit play and lets get started!

photo 5 (3)

Ingredients:
Prepared Dough
Corn Meal – Enough to coat pizza pan
Ricotta Cheese – 10-12 oz. or enough to cover pizza in thin layer                                     Goat Cheese – 3-4 oz. or enough to coat pizza
Sliced Mozzarella                                         Prosciutto – 4 slices                                    Caramelized Onions – 2 Onions
Butter – 1.5 tablespoons
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • We’re going to first start with caramelizing the onions, as they take a good while to cook. Put the BUTTER and OLIVE OIL in a pan and place on medium-low heat.
  • Slice your ONIONS thinly. A mandoline is great fphoto 4 (5)or this process, but watch the fingers.
  • Once the butter is melted, put the ONIONS in the pan.  Stir occasionally until they look well cooked and a bit wilted.  About 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • This would be a good time to preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  • Take your prepared DOUGH and stretch out by hand prior to placing on pizza pan. Let gravity and the weight of the dough do most of the work for you. Once it is stretched and flat-ish, place it on a well-floured surface and finish the job.
  • S&B use a pizza docker to score the dough before pre-cooking it. This tool helps prevent bubbles in the dough when you are using lighter flour. This isn’t usually an issue with heavier dough like the wholewheat recipe on our first blog, but it also makes the dough much crispier, which it great for this particular pizza.
  • After stretching and docking the dough, they transfer with a CORN MEAL-coated peel to a pizza stone and pre-cook for a couple of minutes until crispy. A pizza stone is a fantastic tool for making sure you are cooking at a consistent temperature. It absorbs and maintains very high heat, allowing for a crispy, evenly cooked pizza.
  • Now we get to the good stuff! Spread a generous amount of RICOTTA CHEESE over the pre-cooked dough.
  • Top with MOZZARELLA slices, followed by PROSCIUTTO, CARAMELIZED ONIONS and GOAT CHEESE crumbles.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes.  Feel free to check on the dough consistency periodically to make sure it’s to your liking.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Consume.
  • Smile.

Making pizza is great. Making pizza with friends is better. A sincere “thank you” to S&B for spending some QT with us and opening our eyes to some new tools and techniques.

But wait, there’s more! It’s BONUS PIZZA time! As you can see in the pictures throughout this post, the bonus pizza is pretty traditional. Sometimes “traditional” is code for “boring” (like “cozy” for “small” or “fixer-upper” for “completely destroyed”) but this pizza is a tried and true classic. The dough preparation is the same as above, but we involve sauce, mozzarella, sliced pepperoni, onion and mushroom. Very classic pizza ingredients, because sometimes familiarity is comforting. Load up all the toppings and bake for about 10 minutes or until the dough is at the desired consistency. Unlike some of the more experimental pizzas, you can’t go wrong with this one. Super simple, super delicious, super classic.

Hope you had fun! See you next time!

Prosciutto, Truffle Oil and Egg Yolk Pizza



I’ll come right out and say it… this is a very sexy pizza. If this pizza were a woman she would be staring at you from across the bar licking her lips and laughing at a fart joke. If this pizza were a man *consults wife* “he would not be making a fart joke”. Fine, whatever, you get the picture.

Today’s pizza is a sultry mix of flavors, textures and scents that are sure to please any palate and impress any lover. We’re paying homage to a personal favorite from our time in Hawaii – V Lounge’s Prima. Our pizza is umami to the max, with salty prosciutto, a savory spice blend and the ever sensual truffle oil. Our musical selection for the evening will be sure to get you in the mood… to make pizza. Because pizza between two people is a beautiful thing.

That being said, I take no responsibility for the total lack of inhibition that may result from the creation/consumption of this pizza… so hit play, you sexy devil, and let’s get started!

photo 4 (5)

Ingredients:
Thawed Dough
Semolina Flour – Enough to coat pizza pan
Sauce – 10-12 oz. Enough to cover pizza in thin layer
Baby Bella Mushrooms – 4-5 medium mushrooms… more if you want, no one will judge
Butter – 1.5 tablespoons
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
Prosciutto – 4 slices
Shredded Mozzarella – 3-4 oz. or enough to coat pizza
Egg Yolk – 2
Truffle Oil – A little goes a long way… a very light, evenly distributed coating of droplets
Sunny Paris Spice Blend (a combination of shallots, green peppercorn, chives, basil, tarragon, parsley, dill, garlic and bay leaves) – Enough to sprinkle with moderate generosity

  • We’re going to first start with sauteing the mushrooms, as they take a good while to cook. Put the BUTTER and OLIVE OIL in a pan and place on medium-low heat.
  • Slice your MUSHROOMS thinly. A mandoline is great for this process, but watch the fingers… I’m still typing with two.
  • Once the butter is melted, put the mushrooms in the pan.  Stir occasionally until they look well cooked and a bit wilted (see picture).  About 15-20 miphoto 3 (5)nutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Next, place the PROSCIUTTO on a baking sheet and broil for a couple minutes on each side until crispy. Make sure to monitor so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • This would be a good time to preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  • Break out your pizza pan and coat with SEMOLINA FLOUR.
  • Take your thawed DOUGH and stretch out by hand prior to placing on pizza pan. Let gravity and the weight of the dough do most of the work for you. Once it is stretched and flat-ish, place it on the pizza pan and finish the job.  This one should be quite thin. Feel free to use the semolina flour liberally to keep the dough from sticking to the pan/youphoto 5 (4).
  • Cover the stretched dough with SAUCE.
  • Distribute sauteed mushrooms and prosciutto bits evenly over sauce.
  • Top with MOZZARELLA.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes.  Feel free to check on the dough consistency periodically to make sure it’s to your liking.
  • While that’s cooking, blend two EGG YOLKS in a bowl.
  • Remove pizza from oven and pour the egg yolks in the center. The heat will cook it just a tad, but if you’re squeamish about raw egg you can put it back in the oven for 30-45 seconds.  The intent is for it to stay gooey. We initially made the pizza with only one yolk, but being gooey-yolk lovers, we felt two would be better.
  • Sprinkle with TRUFFLE OIL and SUNNY PARIS spice blend.
  • Call your boss and tell him/her you won’t be in tomorrow because you’ll be in a pizza-induced glory-coma. You will probably be fired immediately.
  • Look for a new job, but remember it was all worth it.

photo 5 (3)

This is, hands down, our favorite pizza of all time. The question is, did I play our hit song too soon? Will y’all stay for the rest of the show? That is neither here nor there… this pizza needed to be a part of your life. My only regret is that you couldn’t have experienced it sooner.

Also, sorry about the whole job thing. See you next time!

Brie and Hot Pepper Jam Pizza


This week, we’re dedicating our playlist to a very special ingredient that seldom crosses over into the pizza world. Nope, not rubber cement. Not even a little bit. I’m talking about JAM, people! And spicy jam at that. The combination of smooth brie, savory prosciutto, bitter arugula (ok, I didn’t sell that one very well) and smoky jalapeno jelly will have you shouting “That’s my jam!” in jubilation instead of because you were accosted outside of a grocery store.

And what aural pleasures do we have to accompany the creation of such a masterpiece? Only the finest jams about jam, jamming and being able to rhyme better than other people (it’s a hip-hop heavy playlist).

We’re turning everyone’s favorite baked brie and jam into a killer pizza, so hit play and let’s get started!

photo 4 (5)

Ingredients:
Thawed Dough
Semolina Flour – Enough to coat pizza pan
Apple – 1
Brie – 4 oz.
Hot Pepper Jam (we used blueberry and jalapeno) – 4 oz.
Arugula – Enough to cover pizza
Prosciutto – 3 oz.


  • Break out your pizza pan and coat with SEMOLINA FLOUR.
  • Take your thawed DOUGH and stretch out by hand prior to placing on pizza pan. Let gravity and the weight of the dough do most of the work for you. Once it is stretched anphoto 3 (5)d flat-ish, place it on the pizza pan and finish the job. Feel free to use the semolina flour liberally to keep the dough from sticking to the pan/you.
  • Once you’ve got your dough flattened to the desired shape and thickness, it’s time to spread the HOT PEPPER JAM over the dough… pretty simple stuff.
  • Ah, before I forget – go ahead and preheat your oven to 500 degrees. No, I didn’t specify that you needed an oven but I hoped that was implied. You must be the one who poured wine in your ear.
  • Next, it’s APPLE time. If you have a mandoline, that’s your best bet. If you don’t know what that is you photo 5 (4)don’t have one and just use a knife. Also, make sure to core the sucker first. Distribute the apple slices over the jam one layer deep.
  • BRIE! Sorry, that was not helpful. Slice the brie and distribute over the apple slices. Just like that.
  • Moving on, place the PROSCIUTTO on a baking sheet and broil for a couple minutes on each side until crispy. Make sure to monitor so it doesn’t burn. That would be a shame.
  • Chop the crisp prosciutto into bits and sprinkle over the pizza.
  • Pop that bad boy in the oven on the top rack and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove, let stand for a few minutes, sprinkle with ARUGULA and dig in! You must also make sure to mumble “That’s my jam!” with a mouth full of pizza.
  • photo 5 (3)photo 1 (4)

    Yea buddy! You did it! Bask in the glory of your first pizza and bust a move while you’re at it. High-five the person next to you or just air high-five if you’re alone. No one’s there to judge you. Oh man, did you actually just air high-five?

    Hope you had fun! See you next time!photo 1 (3)

    Dough. A Deer? We’ll get to toppings later.


    Dough – the pizza artist’s canvas, yet often regarded as a mere vehicle for all those flashy, bold and if you ask me, pretty self-absorbed toppings. While not nearly as sexy as caramelized onions, thick cut pepperoni or gooey mozzarella, you wouldn’t put your (favorite something) on just any (not great something), now would you? Seriously, after an hour that’s the best I could do.

    So now that I’ve got your attention – if for no other reason than because it’s a commercial break during Downton Abbey – let’s talk music. Making a solid dough is your first step in creating a solid pizza, and will probably be the most labor intensive part of the process. There will be kneading, mixing, punching – but it’s oh so rewarding. That being said, you’ll need a bit of aural motivation that really brings out the dough-maker in you. That’s why I’m going with a classic Rat Pack compilation that is sure to get your baking juices flowing… that or you’ll be a drunk misogynist within the hour. Either way, good times all around. Hit play and let’s get started!

    Ingredients:photo 2 (2)
    Bread Flour – 2 Cups
    Whole Wheat Flour – 2 Cups
    Salt – 1.5 Teaspoons
    Water – .5 Cups at 110 degrees / 1.25 Cups at  room temperature
    Active Dry Yeast – 2.25 Teaspoons
    Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoons
    Sugar – Pinch

    Now before we get down and dirty, I must offer a disclaimer that this is not an original recipe of mine; this is an adaptation of Cook’s Illustrated’s Pizza Dough Recipe, which is a tried and true awesome recipe. So, all props to CI. V and I have made some adjustments to fit our tastes, but don’t worry, it’s still pretty awesome.

    • Pour *half* of the BREAD FLOUR, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR and SALT into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
    • In a measuring cup containing the warm WATER, add the YEAST and SUGAR. Let stand for 5 minutes and watch the magic happen.
    • Add 1.25 cups of WATER and the OLIVE OIL to the yeast mixture.
    • Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture that you set aside earlier; combine the ingredients.
    • Add the remainder of the flour and stir until a solid mass is formed.
    • Transfer the dough to a floured surface (obtain “super baker” status by just throwing flour on the counter top) and knead like a champion for about 8 minutes until elastic.
    • Form dough into a ball and placed in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for a couple hours until the dough doubles in size.

    photo 4 (2)    photo

    “But wait! Lavoisier’s Law of Conservation states that mass must remain constant… you can’t just create more dough from less dough!” First off, you are a giant nerd. Second, the activation of yeast creates gasses and air pockets in the dough, essentially inflating it. In order to be able to work with the dough, you have to let some of that air out. Did you have a bad day at work? Was traffic awful? Invest in Bitcoin? Well you’re in luck… it’s time to punch something productively!

    photo 2  photo 3

    This will let out a bit of the air / a lot of the frustration. Now I know what you’re thinking, “That it a very large pizza and I have a normal sized oven”. Valid concern. The next step is to divide the dough into three, mold into loosely packed balls, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until use. We usually let a dough ball thaw for a day before using it.

    And that’s dough! Your canvas is prepped, Michelangelo, your mic is live, Mick Jagger, and another analogy. It’s time to create.

    Hope you had fun! Stay tuned for our first pizza!

    What? Why?

    Because why not? I believe if you love something, you should share it with the world.  If the world doesn’t like it, it’ll let you know and maybe you should keep it to yourself from now on. That’s all this is. I love music. I love making pizza. And I want to share both with you.

    I also think creativity is a dish best served collaboratively, which doesn’t make any sense. What I’m trying to say is I want to hear your ideas. Sure, I’ve got some half-cocked recipes up my sleeve which are mostly products of fever-dreams and spilling things, but what have YOU always thought would be an awesome pizza? I, along with my lovely, typo-detecting wife, V, make the pizzas, test them out, report back to you, and pair each one with a most fitting playlist – like a fine wine for your ear. And if you’re actually planning on pouring wine in your ear, this blog may not be for you be right up your alley.

    My plan is to update this little experiment with a new pizza/playlist combo each week or so. I’ll start off with a few of my own ideas then open it up to the class. If you suggest something and don’t see it right away, it means this is going WAY better than I expected and I have actually received multiple suggestions. Also, your idea might be terrible.

    Let’s get this party started, shall we?

    -Andre