Eggplant Pizzas

Our 23rd wedding anniversary was last Sunday. We went out to a local French restaurant and they had this fantastic appetizer special. I could have eaten several plates of it. I took this dreadful picture at the restaurant. The chef came out of the kitchen and was watching me. I told him I was in love with his wonderful eggplant pizza.

This recipe is loosely based Julie Child’s version.

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Eggplant Pizzas (Tranches d’aubergine á l’italienne)

Serves 3-4 or 6-8 appetizer portions

1 medium eggplant
1 Tbs salt, for drawing water out of eggplant
2 Tbs olive oil, for brushing eggplant before roasting
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, for sprinkling on eggplant before roasting
10 large basil leaves, cut in chiffonade strips (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup mozzarella, grated
hot red pepper flakes for sprinkling finished pizza (optional)

Sauce:
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
15 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning blend
1/4 tsp oregano

Cut the eggplant in ¼” thick slices lengthwise.  Put the eggplant pieces on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. Let the eggplant sit with the salt on it for about 30 minutes to draw out the liquid.

Pre-heat oven to 375F.

Heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic just until it becomes fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, and oregano and let the sauce cook at a low simmer until it’s thickened, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork as it cooks.

After 30 minutes, wipe the eggplant dry with paper towels. Oil a baking sheet with olive oil, lay eggplant slices on, brush the tops of the eggplant with olive oil, and sprinkle with dried Italian seasoning. Roast the eggplant about 25 minutes.

While the eggplant roasts, thinly slice the fresh basil leaves (if using) and combined freshly grated Parmesan and mozzarella. After 25 minutes or when eggplant pieces are done, remove eggplant from the oven and turn oven setting to broil. Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the top of each eggplant slice, sprinkle with thin basil slices (if using) and top with a generous amount of cheese. Put pizzas under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

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Sweet Potato, Kielbasa, and Red Onion Pizza

Last week, my daughter Zoe and her friend Nick, made this absolutely amazing pizza. It sounds weird, but it’s definitely worth making. The Dijon mustard makes it, even though I hate mustard!

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Sweet Potato, Kielbasa, and Red Onion Pizza

Serves 4

Cornmeal, for the baking sheet
1 lb pizza dough, thawed, if frozen
1 medium sweet potato (or about 8 oz of another potato), peeled and cut into thin half-moons
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper
6 oz kielbasa or chicken sausage
6 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) sharp Cheddar or other cheese, grated
2 Tbs Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal (or coat with oil if you do not have cornmeal). Shape the dough into a 16-inch circle, oval, or rectangle and place on the prepared baking sheet.

In a large bowl, toss the potato, onion, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the kielbasa and cheese and toss to combine.

Spread the mustard on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all the way around. Scatter the vegetable-kielbasa mixture over the dough and bake until the potatoes are tender and the crust is golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with a salad, if desired.

Mozza Scuola di Pizza

For my 50th birthday (almost 2 years ago!), my husband bought me a gift certificate for cooking classes at the Mozza Scuola di Pizza. It’s a very long story of why it has taken me this long to use it.

Mozza Menu

Last night, I went with my friend, Chris, to the last pizza class at the school. They are closing it down and opening a new restaurant in February. Nothing like squeaking in at the last possible moment!

As most of my friends know, I am a huge pizza fan. I have eaten pizza all over the world and all over Italy, which is transcendent. I have been complaining since the early 90s that there were no real pizza places anywhere. Now, they are opening everywhere.

Nancy Silverton is an American chef and baker who is the author of several cookbooks and has been at the forefront of efforts to revitalize sourdough and artisan breads in the United States.  After attending Sonoma State University, Silverton trained at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London, England and at the Ecole Le Notre in Plaiser, France. She is the co-founder and head baker at La Brea Bakery as well as the head pastry chef at Campanile Restaurant, both in Los Angeles.

Silverton also owns two restaurants on the corner of Highland and Melrose in Los Angeles, Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza. Originally opened as a side venture, Pizzeria Mozza has garnered accolades for its artisan-style pizzas.

She knows more about bread and dough than anyone else in the world. Really.

I learned many things, my mind is still reeling.  The chef made 2 versions, one in the professional wood fired oven (they use almond) and the other in a home oven.  Surprisingly, the one in the home oven turned out really well.  Very close to the wood fired pizza, minus the char.

Another thing I learned was that their tomato sauce is only tomatoes, salt and pepper.  That’s it.  No garlic.  The over use of garlic in Italian restaurants is an American thing, not Italian.  While they do use garlic, they don’t over do it.  Also, they added the oregano / herbs after the pizza came out of the oven, which made it more flavorful.
Chef Chad Colby

Mozza Chad

Mozza Kitchen

Mozza Oven

Mozza Chad with Pot

Mozza Chad 2

Pizza dough is a breathing, living thing and very delicate. You can’t over work it!

Mozza Chad 3

Mozza Chad 2
Mozza Sauce, which is just tomatoes, salt and pepper….

Mozza Sauce

Mushrooms – Chef Chad completely bathed the mushrooms in olive oil and put them in a 500 degree oven for 6 minutes. I am not an addict! I can’t tell you how good these were. Just mushrooms, olive oil, salt and pepper….

Mozza Mushrooms

Mozza Pizzeria Mis en Place

Mozza Mis En Place

Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton — the Italian dream team that unleashed some of the best Italian cuisine in Los Angeles via Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Mozza 2Go — are opening chi SPACCA on February 4 in place of their Scuola di Pizza. Right now details are scarce but it seems likely that chi SPACCA, or “cleaver” in Italian, relates to chef Chad Colby’s wildly successful Salumi Bar nights which take place inside the Scuola. Back in May, Colby launched the first certified salumi program in Los Angeles.

My friend Chris and I are going to attempt to recreate the evening. I will go into a lot more detail then.

Here is the dough recipe. Nancy Silverton weighs all her ingredients, even the LA tap water!

Pizzeria Mozza Pizza Dough

22 oz warm tap water
1/2 oz compressed yeast
26 oz bread flour
1/2 oz dark rye flour (may substitute medium rye flour)
1/4 oz wheat germ
1/4 oz honey
1/2 oz kosher salt

Put the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve. Add the bread flour, rye flour, wheat germ, and honey and mix on low speed with a dough hook for 2 minutes. Add the salt, increase the speed to high, and mix the dough for 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

While the dough is mixing, lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil. Turn the dough out of the bowl and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or with another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl. Set the dough aside at moderate room temperature (68-70 degrees) for 45 minutes.

Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Turn the edges of the dough toward the center, acting as if the round has four sides. Turn the dough over and place it, folded side down, back in the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.

Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of the dough under itself. Shape each segment into a round. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dish towel and let them rest for 5 minutes.

Lightly flour your hands and use both hands pulling toward you to gather each round of dough into a taught ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with a dishcloth and set them again at moderate room temperature (68-70 degrees) for 1 hour. Leave the dough rounds at room temperature as you shape each round. Use the dough immediately.

Mexican Pizza

Cinco de Mayo recipe – I love Mexican pizza.  Is Mexican pizza authentic?  NO.  Do I care?  NO.  This is actually a copy cat recipe from Taco Bell.

 

 

Mexican Pizza

Serves 4

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 Tbs water
8 small (6-inch diameter) flour tortillas
1 cup shortening or cooking oil
16 oz refried beans
1/3 cup diced tomato
2/3 cup mild picante sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup sliced black olives

Cook the ground beef over medium heat until brown, then drain off the excess fat from the pan. Add salt, onions, paprika, chili powder and water, then let mixture simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir often.

Heat oil or shortening in a frying pan over medium-high heat. If oil begins to smoke, it is too hot. When oil is hot, fry each tortilla for about 30-45 seconds per side and set aside on paper towels. When frying each tortilla, be sure to pop any bubbles that form so that tortilla lays flat in oil. Tortillas should become golden brown.

Heat up refried beans in a small pan over the stove or in the microwave.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. When meat and tortillas are done, stack each pizza by first spreading about 1/3 cup refried beans on face of one tortilla.

Next spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of meat, then another tortilla. Coat your pizzas with two tablespoons of salsa on each, then split up the tomatoes and stack them on top.

Next divide up the cheese, onions and olives, stacking in that order. Place pizzas in your hot oven for 8-12 minutes or until cheese on top is melted.

Spinach Artichoke Calzones

Make inside out pizza for dinner tonight.  A calzone; Italian, “stocking” or “trouser”) is a turnover or Folded Pizza that originates from Italy. It is shaped like a semicircle, made of dough folded over and filled with ingredients common to pizza.

The typical calzone is stuffed with tomato and mozzarella, and may include other ingredients usually associated with pizza toppings.

I added some grated Parmesan to the top….

Spinach Artichoke Calzones

Serves 4

2 cups part skim ricotta
¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated or a few pinches ground
A few grinds black pepper
½ cup (a couple of handfuls) grated Parmigiano, plus extra, for sprinkling
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
15 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 x 16 oz pkgs refrigerated pizza dough
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Garlic oil (1 or 2 cloves chopped and heated in ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil)
2 cups tomato sauce, marinara or pizza sauce, for dipping

Preheat oven to 425˚ F.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Roll each pizza dough out on a cookie sheet, and halve each cross-wise. Spread 1/2 cup mozzarella and up to 1/4 of filling on each rectangle. Work on just half of the surface of each rectangle of dough, then fold dough over top of filling and pinch edges firmly to seal. For a half-moon “pizza parlor” look to your calzones, mound filling into a half-moon shape, fold dough over top trim edges of dough to follow the rounded shape, then seal edges.

Tie strips of dough scraps in knots, brush with garlic oil and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake knots with calzones.

If your dough tears, remove a little of the filling and repair. Repeat the process, spacing the calzones evenly on baking sheet. Bake the calzones for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown all over. Serve calzones with warm tomato or pizza sauce for dunking.

Cook’s Note: Freeze any remaining filling in a small plastic container and use it to stuff a chicken breast on another day.

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

Game Day Snack on Steroids

This is the perfect game day snack!  LOVE this idea.

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 Tbs butter
2 lbs pizza dough (I used 2 balls of Trader Joe’s fresh dough)
6 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (about 48 pieces)
48 slices pepperoni
2-3 cups marinara sauce for serving

In a small saucepan, heat garlic and butter over medium heat until garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and allow to sit. Brush the inside of a bundt pan with the garlic butter.

Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten. Place a slice of pepperoni and a piece of cheese on each, folding the dough around the cheese and pepperoni and pinching well to seal.

Brush the pizza ball with the garlic butter and place in the prepared bundt pan. Continue until all dough has been used.

Cover and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F and bake for 35 minutes, until top is browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Angie’s Fig Jam, Caramelized Onion, Manchego Arugula Pizza!

I was talking to my friend, Angie, yesterday and she said that she made a delicious pizza as an appetizer.  It sounded so good to me that I decided reveal her recipe.  Someone gave her a jar of fig jam, which inspired her to create this wonderful pizza.  You spread pizza dough with the jam – I always cook my dough a little bit first, then add caramelized onions, manchego cheese.  Once this comes out of the oven, top it with arugula.  YUM!  You can buy ready-made pizza dough in most markets these days or make your own.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Pizza

Erin Go Bragh

We already had our Corned Beef and Cabbage on Sunday. I know this is a ridiculous idea, but I find the following recipe appealing.  I think if you drink enough green beer, it just might work.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Pizza

Makes 2 medium (14-inch) pies

For the dough
2 tsp sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
3 cups all-purpose flour, or 2 3/4 cups plus 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp fine salt

For the toppings
5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
3 cups sliced green cabbage
Kosher salt
1 tsp pickling spices, tied securely in cheesecloth
1 large potato, peeled and thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
6 oz sliced corned beef

Make the dough:
Whisk 1 cup warm water (105 degrees) with the sugar in a bowl; scatter the yeast over the top and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil.

Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to make a rough, shaggy dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (Add more flour to prevent sticking, if necessary.) Form the dough into a ball; place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the toppings:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage, season with salt and cook until just soft, about 5 minutes. Add the pickling spices and just enough water to cover. Simmer over low heat, covered, until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the cabbage and set aside (discard spices).

Place a pizza stone in the oven, if you have one, and preheat to 500 degrees. Toss the potato with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer on a baking sheet until golden, about 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll one into a 14-inch round (keep the remaining dough covered). Place the round on a floured pizza peel (if baking on a stone) or a large oiled pizza pan; drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Scatter half of each of the cheeses, corned beef, cabbage and potatoes on top. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully slip the pizza onto the hot stone, if using, or place the pan in the oven. Cook until golden and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.

Pizza – Part 1

pizzaOne of my major obsessions (and I have many) is Pizza. Just think about it – it covers all the food groups in one meal! I have eaten pizza in France, Italy, Spain and am on a quest to find the ultimate pizza in the US. I have 5 places that approach nirvana.

First off, John’s Pizza in NYC. I have been a long time John’s pizza fan. My brother David sent me (in Los Angeles) 2 large John’s pizza’s on dry ice for my 40th birthday (a fews years back)! It was truly one of the highlights of my life. And yes, it does travel. I stowed the slices away in the freezer and pulled out one a week. I think I may have even shared a piece with my husband.

The second place that I discovered last November is in Phoenix Arizona (yes, I know it seems unlikely!). It’s called Pizzeria Bianco in Downtown. http://pizzeriabianco.com/ My friend Brady and I waited 4 hours for a table. We finally sat down at midnight – actually at the bar, there still were no tables available. It was absolutely worth the wait. I judge all pizza restaurants by ordering a Margherita (the pizza, not the drink). We ordered 3 pizzas so that we could try several – especially after waiting for 4 hours.

BYOT – Bring Your Own Topping pizza party! One of our favorite family dinners is “Pizza Night”. We make it on the grill and everyone can choose their own toppings.

To be continued…..