Crazy Days and Crazy Nights

My day officially started with me leaving my lights on when I parked my truck at work.  You see, I drive a wonderful little 1994 Ford Ranger pickup, and back in the olden days, cars and trucks didn’t have fancy sensors and computers that would automatically turn off headlights.  I love the truck and wouldn’t give it up for the world, but I’m prone to “Nutty Professor” moments that make me forget the little things in life, like turning off headlights, while I ponder the great mysteries of life, or trying to solve work problems, while I drive to work. 

Fortunately, one of my co-workers arrived almost two hours after I arrived and exclaimed, “You must have a really good battery because your lights are still on!”  She was right, on both accounts. 

I made the long trek through the warehouse and went outside and turned off the lights and whispered a silent prayer.  Lo, and behold, when I cranked the engine, the truck started like a champ!  Indeed!  What a battery…especially since I had put the poor battery through the same sort of torment four or five times during the last few months!

I felt unbalanced and slightly out of control for the rest of the day.  Some might use the phrase, “getting out on the wrong side of the bed”.  I told myself that I was in for a real treat of a day!  Sometimes, the life unbalanced leads to unexpectedly good things.  Other times, it can lead to a chaotic mess that wreaks havoc on everyone and everything in your wake.

On the way to work I listened to the CD “Fragile”, by the band Yes, and when I was driving home, I was listening to the CD “Bloodletting”, by the band Concrete Blonde.  Anyone who knows anything about these two albums, or bands, should pick up on the notion that my day was a little off kilter. 

I recently took on a new assignment at work.  It’s been exciting and rewarding, and it has been a refreshing challenge.  Sometimes I feel like an Olympic swimmer, and twenty minutes later I feel like I’m barely treading water.  That sort of back-and-forth sensation might make other people nervous, but those are the waters I enjoy swimming in the most.  Swimming at peak performance and swimming to survive are both exhilarating experiences.

As I drove home, listening to Concrete Blonde, I thought of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”.  

Stevie Ray Vaugh was no fool.  His covers of Jimi Hendrix songs were nearly perfect.  He paid homage to the brilliant, raw power chords of Hendrix and he lovingly reworked them, (and then mastered them), and the end result was like a swinging hammer draped in satin and silk.  I have nothing but admiration for Jimi Hendrix and his contribution to the evolution of modern music, and to my endless enjoyment, but I have to say, there’s no cloud in the great blue skies that Stevie Ray can’t fly over!

Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn’s rendition of “Little Wing”.  Tight.  Clear. No Lyrics.  This is a cover song like no other.  Slick finger work, up and down the fretboard.  Jazz and Rock and Electric blues, all wrapped up with strength and subtlety.  What a tribute!

My journey was nearing an end and I realized that I needed to finish the work week with a good dose of pizza.  I pulled into the driveway, went inside, laid my wallet and keys on the counter and immediately started the pizza dough.  I always make two or three pizzas and tonight I decided on three.  I knew two of them would be traditional, Italian cold cuts, beef with mushroom, but the third was still a mystery.

It wasn’t until I pawed through the refrigerator a few times that the third pizza became clear, in my mind.  I found 2 ounces of crumbled blue cheese that needed to be used and wondered what I might pair it with.  About a half hour later, while the dough was still rising, I remembered I had a smoked chicken thigh, left over after last week’s grill, and I knew I had found a perfect match.  I imagined the finished pizza in my mind, and I knew that a slight drizzle of Sriracha sauce would complete the deal. 

There aren’t a lot of blue cheese aficionados in my family, which is a subtle way of saying, I like blue cheese and most of the family tolerates it, or detests it, so I thought this might be a good way of promoting my old friend, blue cheese.

The pizzas came out of the oven, one by one, and they were sliced and presented, side by side, on the kitchen counter.  We all grabbed some slices and sat down at the table and quickly jumped into lively conversation. 

My son briefly discussed plans about moving into a house with his friend.  My daughter gave us an update on her boyfriend’s recent bout with Covid, and my wife had just finished a phone conversation with her 80-year-old aunt who wants a pair of red ballet slippers. 

The dinner, and the conversation, was going well.  Until the cat made a sudden and unfortunate appearance.

Our cat came from out of nowhere and skittered across the kitchen floor, leaving a slimy trail of poop behind her as she fled, out of sight.  That killed the entire family dinner instantly.  Some of us jumped up to go after the cat.  Some of us ran to grab Clorox wipes to clean up the mess.  Some of us just gawked at the trail of mess that was left for us to clean up.

Two minutes later, my son and daughter were removing plates from the dinner table, wrapping up leftover pizza in aluminum foil, and washing plates.  Dinner was officially over, and I, the slowest of eaters, still had two pieces of uneaten pizza on my plate.

“What about the pizza?”  I selfishly thought.  “Does anyone want to say anything about the sort of genius mind that could come up with the notion of a pizza made with char-grilled chicken and blue cheese, with a delicate drizzle of Sriracha sauce?” 

As I sat there at the table, still trying to eat the last few bites of pizza without thinking about cat poop, I realized that this is all part of the game.  It’s all part of the deal.  It’s family at it’s best.  It really capped off a weird and funky day, quite nicely.   I really couldn’t have asked for, (or expected) any other sort of ending to this topsy-turvy day. 

So, now as I write, the clock finds its way to midnight and I pass from Friday to Saturday, in the blink of an eye, as I listen to Vangelis : Blade Runner soundtrack (Esper edition).   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3fz6CC45ok

R.I.P Vangelis –  Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou!  Your masterful compositions will never be sidelined or sullied by a ridiculous cat!

It almost seems anticlimactic now, but here’s my recipe for grilled chicken blue cheese pizza:

Ingredients:

Homemade pizza dough (see some of my previous posts on pizza, or use your own recipe)

1 grilled chicken thigh (grilled bone-in, skin on, then deboned, skin off, and chopped)

2 ounces crumble blue cheese

2 ounces Mozzarella cheese

½ cup marinara sauce

Directions:

I roll out the dough and pre-bake in a 400º oven for 10 minutes, flip over, and bake another 5 minutes.

Add sauce to the semi-baked pizza

Add Mozzarella

Add the grilled chicken

Add the blue cheese

Bake at 400º for 10 minutes

Slice and serve!

Before baking

Valentine’s Day Shrimp Alfredo Pizza

Here’s something for the couple that wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day but doesn’t want to go out to eat, after a long Valentine’s Day, at work.

Ingredients:

5 or 6 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, mashed

1 tsp red chili flakes

3 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs clarified butter (I used a garlic dipping sauce from a recent pizza delivery)

1 uncooked, spicy Italian sausage

1 Tbs butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup dried Parmesan cheese (straight from the can!)

2 ounces sliced Mozzarella cheese

a few black olives, pitted and sliced

3 green onions, chopped

prepared pizza dough (follow the recipe of your choice)

Directions:

Prepare the pizza dough and let it rise. While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.

Slice the shrimp in half, lengthwise. Marinate the shrimp in olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes.

Pan fry the Italian sausage and chop into small pieces. Set aside.

chop the green onion and set aside.

In a medium sized skillet, add the clarified butter and butter. Simmer at low heat to melt the butter. Add the heavy cream and mix, briefly. Turn the heat up to medium to thicken the cream sauce. Add the Parmesan cheese and gently whisk to combine. Remove from the heat when the sauce is thick and creamy.

After the dough has risen, roll out the dough out on a floured surface. Spread the dough into a circle. With a pastry cutter, slice a triangular wedge from the rim of the pizza dough. Curl the edges of the dough with your fingers and form the tip of the heart, on the opposite side of the triangular cut. Curl the edges of the dough in the cut area to form the top of the heart.

I prebake pizza dough in the oven at 400° F for about 10 minutes and then remove to add toppings.

Pour some of the olive oil marinade onto the prebaked dough and spread it across the dough. Add the raw shrimp and mashed garlic. Add the Mozzarella cheese slices and chopped, cooked sausage. Top with sliced black olives and green onions.

Bake until the cheese begins to brown.

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Slice and serve!

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

Fresh Pizza

I drew inspiration for this pizza from the well of memories I have of the summer I spent in Tuscany, chatting with the local farmers and artisan bakers.  Oh, how I miss the sun dappled hazelnut trees that surrounded our villa!…

Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

I saw a sprig of rosemary on my kitchen counter today, left over from last night’s meal, and my thoughts led me to pizza.  I wanted to make a pizza with some fresh ingredients.  So, here we go…

Ingredients for the sauce:

3 medium sized tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 Tbs white sugar

1 tsp olive oil

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp white vinegar

Directions:

Add chopped tomatoes to a sauce pan and simmer at low heat.  Add all of the other ingredients and stir.

Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, at first and then  increasing the frequency, as the sauce cooks down.

Ingredients for the spices:

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 Tbs dried basil

1 Tbs dried onion flakes

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried thyme leaves

1 tsp red chili flakes

½ tsp dried oregano leaves

¼ cup olive oil

Directions:

Add all ingredients, except olive oil, to a mortar and pestle.  Pound and grind the ingredients until everything forms a thick paste. 

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the olive oil in a microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  Remove the olive oil and the mashed seasonings.  Allow the mixture to sit for an hour before using.

Prepare the pizza dough.  I use a simple recipe which only takes about one hour to rise.  It’s warm enough now that I can cover the dough and let it rise in the cab of my pickup truck. 

Roll out the dough and form the pies.  I prebake my crust is a conventional oven, since I don’t have a Tuscan wood-burning brick oven. 

Combine the spices with the sauce.

Spread the sauce on the pizza crust.

Add sliced onions and mushrooms. 

Top with grated Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.

Top with arugula, or “scratchy endive”, as my dad likes to call it. Serve on the balcony, overlooking the lush rolling hills.

Power Outage Pizza

Yes, it’s another pizza post.  I swear I’m not making pizza every day…really!  The last post, Shrimp Pizza, was actually from last May.  I just now got around to posting it.

This post is from Sunday, August 9.  I had no intention of submitting a post because there was nothing novel about my approach to the pizzas – – until the power went out.

I have been dubbed an “essential worker” during this pandemic and I’m not entirely convinced that my work is essential but apparently, others do.  Many of my fellow employees have either contracted the virus or have been exposed to people who have tested positive which has resulted in several employees being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.  On top of that hardship, we recently replaced our old operating system with a new one and we’ve spent the last several weeks learning how to operate the new system.  Needless to say, It’s been a stressful time. 

I’ve been working long hours and six day work weeks for the last few months and I don’t foresee that changing in the foreseeable future.

I say all of this to illustrate how important Sundays have become.  Some of my Sundays are spent decompressing, as I try to forget about all of the craziness and other Sundays are filled with lots of domestic chores that I have ignored because of previous decompression Sundays.  This last Sunday was a mixture of work and relaxation.  Yard work filled the first part of the day, before the temperature crested 95° and became too hot to work outdoors, and that was followed by making pizza dough, followed by a short nap, while the dough was rising. 

There was a beautiful balance to the day, until the power went off.  An electrical power transformer in our neighborhood failed and several houses lost power for about six hours.  Of course, I didn’t know how long the power would be out so I decided to finish the pizza-making process on the outdoor grill.  I prepared the grill while there was still some sunlight.  I prepped the ingredients for the pizza and made my tools handy, a la mise en place. 

By the time the coals were hot, I had about 30 minutes of sunlight remaining.  I rolled out the dough and took them to the grill to bake. 

Back in the house, the last shafts of sunlight faded and candles were lit.  Baked pizzas were carried inside, one by one, to be sliced on a dimly lit cutting board.  And, just as we all settled down to eat, the power came back on. 

We turned the lights off and ate by candlelight.

Now that’s a great Sunday! 

Bon appétit!

Ingredients:

5 cups flour

2 cups water

1 Tbs olive oil

¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives

¼ cup pitted black olives

¼ cup julienne sliced onions

2 oz sliced capocollo

2 oz sliced hot calabrese

2 oz can of anchovies, packed in oil

12 oz mozzarella, horridly crumbled by hand

6 slices of sun dried tomatoes, probably less than 1 oz

¾ cup marinara (I used a thin, homemade marinara sauce)

I made three pizzas.  Each pizza started with a base of marinara and Mozzarella.

Pizza Uno:  Anchovy, onion and olives

Pizza Due:  capocollo, onion, olives and sun dried tomatoes

Pizza Tre:  hot calabrese

Directions:

Prepare the pizza dough, using the flour, water an olive oil.  If you want to see one of my pizza dough recipes, check it out here.

Let the dough rest and rise for at least one hour.

Sprinkle an ample amount of cornmeal on three baking sheets.

Separate the dough into three equally sized balls.  Roll them out with a rolling pin and transfer them to the baking sheets.

Bake one pizza at a time by sliding the pizza dough onto the hot grill.  Add tomato sauce (marinara) and add cheese and toppings of your choice.

Close the cover of the grill and bake for about 10 minutes.  Lift the cover of the grill and inspect the quality of the pizza by carefully prying up a portion of the pizza and checking the crispness of the bottom.  You’ll know when the pizza is done.  Pull it off and place the next pizza dough on the grill.  Repeat until all of the pizzas are done.

I used a very thin homemade marinara, made with just a hint of anchovy… Shhh!…don’t tell anyone!

As I mentioned above, in the Ingredients section, I crumbled the mozzarella, rather than grating or slicing it.  The sun was setting and I needed to get the pizzas on the grill, pronto!  But, there’s more to it than that.  Random chunks of mozzarella are perfect for grilled pizza.  The pizza has a marvelous haphazard, spontaneous look, texture and taste.  I suppose I could say that it is “rustic”.  Yeah, that’s it.

Don’t forget to thank the service crew members that come out to replace your transformer in the unrelenting August heat.  Sure, they are getting paid for their work, but take a moment to realize that while you are sweating over a hot grill, they are sweating twice as much.  And don’t forget, they are the real essential workers!

Shrimp Pizza (Extraordinaire)

When I think about making pizza I first consider the taste that I want.  Do I want something spicy, like pepperoni, or perhaps something more subdued, like ground beef?  Do I want a thick, rich, tomato sauce, or a thin whisper of tomato sauce?  Do I want bold herbs and spices?

After I decide on the taste, I start to think about the flavor.  Taste and flavor are not synonymous, even though we sometimes use taste and flavor interchangeably when describing food.  Flavor includes taste, texture and aroma, among other sensory experiences, like sight and sound.  Taste is like listening to a musical instrument and flavor is like listening to an orchestra.

I have made pizzas with shrimp before but none of them had the flavor I wanted, until now.  Charring yellow bell peppers provided a slightly sweet taste that green peppers can’t provide.  The garlic and onion, along with butter and oil made a fantastic sauce.  The overall flavor of the pizza was reminiscent of shrimp scampi, complete with a spritz of lemon juice.  Subtle use of herbs and spices rounded out the flavor nicely.  And of course, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella was the perfect choice to go with shrimp and the vegetables. 

This was a pizza symphony!

Ingredients:

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp red chili flakes

½ tsp salt

1 cup raw medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 Tbs butter

3 Tbs olive oil

5 cloves garlic, mashed

1 orange bell pepper

1 white onion

1 medium sized tomato, chopped

Juice of ¼ lemon

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 oz sliced mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Crush the oregano, chile flakes and salt in mortis and pestle.  Set aside.

Butterfly the shrimp and flatten them with the broad side of a chef’s knife.  Set aside.

Add butter and oil to a skillet.  Set the burner to very low heat.

Mash the garlic cloves and add them to the skillet.  Simmer at very low heat for 3 to 4 minutes.  The garlic should be soft, but not browned.  Remove the garlic to a cutting board.  Mash the garlic into a paste. Set the garlic aside.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the shrimp to skillet and simmer, while stirring.  Cook the shrimp until they just begin to turn pink.  Remove the shrimp from the skillet and keep warm.

Pour the hot butter and oil from the pan into a small bowl and set aside.  Return the skillet to the stove and set the heat to high.

Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet and sauté at high heat until they begin to char. 

Add the chopped tomato and stir briefly.  Remove everything from the skillet and set aside.

Prebake the pizza dough in a 400° oven for about 5 minutes.  Remove the pizza and place on a heat proof surface.

Pour the butter/oil mixture on prebaked pizza dough.  Use a brush to thoroughly coat the dough.

Blot excess oil from the pizza with a paper towel.

Sprinkle ½ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese onto the dough.

Add charred bell peppers and onion.  Add the garlic paste.

Top with the shrimp.

Squeeze a little lemon juice over the pizza.

Add ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese. 

Layer with slices of mozzarella.

Scatter the crushed oregano, chile flake and salt across the top of the pizza.

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400°, or until the cheese bubbles and begins to brown.

Pizza Fiorentina (Spinach Pizza)

A near perfect combination of rain balanced with ample sunshine have provided me with lots of garden-fresh spinach and basil. 

The tomatoes are on their way and I can’t wait!

Fresh spinach is such a joy!  As a child, I never liked spinach but that’s because spinach came in a can, back then.  Canned spinach is a sad, soggy misrepresentation of what spinach is meant to be.  Fresh spinach isn’t bitter, like the canned version and it’s crammed with vitamins and minerals. 

I have been feasting on spinach salads for over a week now and the garden is outpacing my consumption.  Must eat more spinach!

So, with that in mind, I find myself including it in more and more dishes.

Today’s culinary excursion took me to Italy, Florence, to be precise.  ‘Florentine’ is an adjective that is used to describe many things.  To fight Florentine style is to use a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other, but I’m not a fighter.  My passion is food and preparing food, Florentine style, often refers to the use of spinach in the dish. 

Pizza Fiorentina speciale!  Mama mia!

I’m making three pizzas today.  Two showcase spinach and one is an Italian meat extravaganza.  The spinach pizzas are made with garlic infused olive oil, rather than a traditional marinara sauce. 

I recommend using fresh spinach for the pizzas.  Frozen spinach can be used by it must be squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible…and for pity’s sake, don’t use canned spinach!  Use homemade pizza dough, or store-bought pizza crust. 

Homemade pizza dough

Pizza Fiorentina (Pizza Florentine)

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup fresh spinach, rough chopped

½ cup ricotta cheese

¼ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1 Tbs dried oregano

1 tsp red chile flakes (optional)

1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil, to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a pan over low heat.  Simmer and stir for a few minutes until the garlic softens. 

Strain the garlic and reserve the olive oil.

Chop and mash the garlic.  Return the garlic to the olive oil and set aside.

Combine ricotta and Parmesan cheese, spinach, oregano and red chile flakes.  Mix to combine.

Prepare the pizza dough.

Spread the olive oil and garlic on the pizza dough and bake in a 425° oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the pizza crust and add the cheese mixture, spreading the mixture evenly across the pizza crust.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. 

Remove the pizza from the oven.  Top with fresh basil.  Slice the pizza and serve hot.

Pizza con Varietà Di Salumi (Pizza with a variety of cured meats)

This pizza features thinly sliced pepperoni salami, hot capocollo and hot calabrese. 

Ingredients:

6 oz cured Italian meats (pepperoni salami, hot capocollo and hot calabrese)

1 cup marinara

2 cups mozzarella

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Prebake the pizza crust, if making from scratch. 

Add marina, followed by the meats and then the cheese.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.

Remove the pizza, slice and serve hot.

Pizza Spinaci all’Aglio (Pizza with Spinach and Garlic)

In its purest form, this pizza is nothing but olive oil, garlic, spinach and cheese but, I added a few other items to add sweetness and flavor.

Ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1 fresh tomato, sliced thin and marinated in olive oil and oregano for 30 minutes

1 cup fire roasted yellow bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup fresh onion, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh spinach, rough chopped

1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese

½ cups Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil, to taste

Directions:

Simmer the garlic in olive oil over low heat until the garlic softens.  Strain the garlic, chop and mash and add back to the olive oil.

Roast the bell pepper over an open flame or over hot coals. I laid the pepper on top of the gas burner and set the heat to the lowest setting. I rotated the pepper every few minutes until the whole pepper was charred.

Store the pepper in a paper or plastic bag for a few minutes to steam.

Remove the pepper and wipe away the charred skin, under cool running water. Dice the pepper and reserve.

Spread the olive oil mixture onto the raw pizza crust.  Allow the oil to soak into the dough for about one minute and then blot with a paper towel, to remove excess oil.

Add tomatoes, bell peppers and onion.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes.  Remove pizza crust and add the spinach.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven, top with fresh basil.  Serve immediately.

Pizza Salad

On my never-ending quest to reinvent leftover food I was recently faced with a dilemma.

To be honest, the root of the problem can be traced back to me.  I made two large pizzas for three people.  What was I thinking?!  All of the leftover pizza was portioned in sets of three slices, wrapped in foil, and placed in the refrigerator.  And, there it sat, practically untouched, for three days. 

It wasn’t bad pizza…at least I didn’t think it was bad.  The problem was, there was too much of it and I shouldn’t have expected people to eat leftover pizza for days on end.  If I was still in college, then yes, leftover pizza might be all you get.  Be happy to have something to eat.  Live with it. 

So, I either had to eat all of the leftover pizza or figure out a way to reinvent it.

Pizza Salad

(serves 3)

Ingredients:

3 slices of leftover pizza (with various toppings)

Iceberg lettuce (one third of a head of lettuce, rough chopped)

1/3  cup Kalamata olives

¼ cup Dried Parmesan cheese

Vinegar and Oil dressing, to taste (I used store bought Italian dressing)

Directions:

Slice the pizza toppings away from the crust with a knife.  Allow the pizza topping to warm to room temperature.

Cut the thick crusty edge from the pizza and toast briefly in an oven.

Fill serving bowls with cold chopped iceberg lettuce.

Drizzle salad dressing on salad.

Rough chop the toppings and scatter them across the salads.

Add chopped Kalamata olives and top with parmesan cheese. 

Serve the salad cold with warm breadsticks (formerly known as pizza crust).

Hawaiian Pizza

I never order ham and pineapple pizza, when I go out for pizza, or when I order pizza for delivery.  It seems like such a silly thing.  I prefer a more classic pizza, I suppose.  But, when life gives you ham and pineapple, it’s time to make Hawaiian pizza.

This recipe uses the same pizza dough recipe that I have posted before.

The only thing new here is the topping.  Simply add sliced ham and diced pineapple and bake. 

Topping Ingredients:

1/3 cup marinara

6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup sliced ham

10 pepperoni slices

3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (red, orange and yellow)

Directions:

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown.

And for the naysayers, offer them a pepperoni pizza.

Happy New Year!

Quick Pizza

I came down with a cold the other day and I promptly crawled into bed.  That’s my preferred remedy for nearly all illnesses.  I dreamed about making a pizza.  When I awoke, some hours later, I made that pizza.  I recently picked up some garlic naan at my local Indian market and I knew it would be perfect for the occasion.  Naan is an Asian flatbread, similar to pita, in case you are not familiar with it. 

Naan is typically oval shaped, about  6” x 8”, which makes a perfect individual serving.

Prep time: 5 minutes.  Bake time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 naan flatbread

2 oz tomato paste

1 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced

8 to 10 pepperoni slices

A dash of garlic salt

A dash of red pepper flakes

Directions:

Smear the tomato paste on the naan.  Add the sliced cheese and pepperoni.

Bake in a 375° oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts and begins to brown.

Remove from the oven and scatter a little garlic salt and red chili flakes on top.

I used some leftover Chihuahua cheese, instead of Mozzarella.

Dinner #5: Pizza

If you have seen some of my previous posts you might remember Dinner #1: Spaghetti.  For many years I relentlessly cranked out the same dishes (with some subtle variations) week after week.  Getting kids to eat healthy food was a real trick. 

Pizza was always Dinner #5.  Friday, the last day of the work week, was a day when I knew I could really relax and spend some time in the kitchen. 

I still come home Friday evenings and think, “how about pizza?”  

This time, I made three pizzas. Hamburger with mushroom and onion, Pepperoni and Italian cold cuts with spinach, mushroom, and tomato.

A quick rundown of some of the ingredients and then straight to the pizza…

Ingredients

Capocollo and Calabrese.   These Italian cold cuts are perfect for pizza and many grocery stores sell them packaged together, in 6 to 12 ounce portions.  They are a little pricey by weight but I don’t spend more than $5.00 and they can make two large pizzas!

Pepperoni.  Oh, no!  I accidentally picked up turkey pepperoni at the store.  I don’t like turkey pepperoni but, I put a char on it and pretended I was eating the real deal.

Mozzarella.  I bought “fresh mozzarella” at the store on an impulse.  It’s a step up from the brick of mozzarella but I’m not so sure that it’s worth the cost.  Real, fresh mozzarella is a treasure.  I want to make my own! Freshly grated Parmesan is always a good thing!

If you want to see how I make pizza dough, check it out here

Portions are arbitrary when it comes to pizza.  Put whatever you want on your pizza and use as much as you want, but use some common sense.  My cautionary advice is, if you think you’re putting on too much cheese, you are.  If you think your pizza toppings are excessive, they are.  Simplicity is key to really good pizza.