Apricot Blueberry Pizza

Michael McCollum5/5/15Apricot Blue Berry Pizza.

This may sound like an odd recipe, and it is. However, it tastes great. As a desert fruit pizza, I advise to consume it after making it, as it does not hold any ascetic values over time. This is a great breakfast pizza, or brunch, or late night snack. With all the apricots in the area ready to pick, what could be better than this on the Patterson Apricot Festival weekend?
This pizza goes well with a fine red wine, poor white wine, beer, or scotch, all depends what you have on hand.
Ingredients
Pizza Dough*

5-6 fresh sliced ripe apricots
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1tsp sugar

*Make your favorite pizza dough. Mine just happens to be the exact same recipe as the pre-made down at Trader Joe’s. So…..do I do ALL the work?
Again, I think not. Buy package and divide into two. You can make 2 skillet pizzas from one TJ package. If you want a scratch pizza dough recipe, my friend Maria sent me a great one. (Bottom of post)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread dough out in preheated 12 inch skillet. (heat skillet on top burner for one minute, wait a few more before spreading dough) Spread mozzarella cheese on dough. Add apricot slices, blueberries and sprinkle with sugar on top of cheese. Bake in oven for 16 minutes. Remove from oven,  Let rest 2-3 minutes until mozzarella sets. Enjoy!
Word to the wise.
That skillet gets real hot, have a care when handling it!
PIZZA DOUGH
•    2 cups flour
•    1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
•    1 cup warm water
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    2 teaspoons white sugar
•    1 teaspoon salt
Blend yeast in water and add  the sugar and olive oil. Put 2 cups of flour in large glass or plastic bowl then add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork. , when the flour is wet then add your 1 tsp of salt.  (In Italy we say salt is added far away from the yeast)
When you have a ball you can put it out on your counter dusted with flour and begin to knead the dough until it is pliable and not sticky,  add flour if need be. (This should only take a few minutes) put back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in your oven with just the oven light on. Let rise until double the size.

Pizza Margherita

Michael McCollum 6/24/13 Margherita PizzaSimple is better. And this pizza is great! I first had this pizza in Napoli (Naples) on a tour. Our guide told us that Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita. This was later to be refuted, but not in Napoli!

This pizza goes well with a fine red wine, poor white wine, beer, or scotch, all depends what you have on hand.

Ingredients

Pizza Dough*
2 fresh tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
6 garlic cloves
sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup Parmesan Cheese

¼ cup fresh cut basil

*Make your favorite pizza dough. Mine just happens to be the exact same recipe as the pre-made down at Trader Joe’s. So…..do I do ALL the work?
Again, I think not. Buy package and divide into two. You can make 2 skillet pizzas from one TJ package. If you want a scratch pizza dough recipe, my friend Maria sent me a great one. (Bottom of post)

Michael McCollum11/10/13Mix for Margherita Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread dough out in preheated 12 inch skillet. (heat skillet on top burner for one minute, wait a few more before spreading dough) Spread mozzarella cheese on dough. Peel, and chop garlic cloves, mix with coarse chopped tomatoes (big chunks, see photo) olive oil, add salt and pepper, mix, and spread on top of cheese. Bake in oven for 16 minutes. Remove from oven, add basil and Parmesan cheese. Let rest 2-3 minutes until Parmesan melts. Enjoy!

Word to the wise.
That skillet gets real hot, have a care when handling it!

PIZZA DOUGH
•    2 cups flour
•    1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
•    1 cup warm water
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    2 teaspoons white sugar
•    1 teaspoon salt
Blend yeast in water and add  the sugar and olive oil. Put 2 cups of flour in large glass or plastic bowl then add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork. , when the flour is wet then add your 1 tsp of salt.  (In Italy we say salt is added far away from the yeast)
When you have a ball you can put it out on your counter dusted with flour and begin to knead the dough until it is pliable and not sticky,  add flour if need be. (This should only take a few minutes) put back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in your oven with just the oven light on.  .   Let rise until double the size.

For Schiacciata
Take sheet pan and oil the bottom with olive oil (using your hands)  Then  with your fingers poke the dough to make dents.  Once you have done this drizzle ½ to ¾ cups olive oil letting oil go into dents and sprinkle salt on top.   Bake in 450° oven until brown
Buon appetito!

Ciao, Maria

 

Rome

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. We decided to pick- pocket all the tourists.
No, not really. We had been warned that professional pickpockets would be waiting in droves at any and all major tourist attractions. I found this to be totally untrue. I did once experience a couple of hands in my pants pockets, but after a few well-placed blows to the head, followed by a flying scissor-kick, my wife backed off my wallet.
Have you ever seen one of those spy movies set in Rome in which drivers chase each other at high speeds, barely missing each other, buildings and pedestrians? Well, that is the way they drive all the time. As none of the vehicles have dents in this mass demo-derby, I can only conclude that these are the best drivers in the world. I would never think of driving there. Definitely a “white knuckle” experience.

My wife, Carrie, a seasoned travel agent, booked us a tour guide for a visit to Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome. We could have gone on this alone (with no idea what we were looking at), or with a group (with no idea what they were looking at) or a private tour guide, which we totally enjoyed. We met him at the back of Vatican City. He knew all the guards and other group tour guides by first name, and the grounds and contents top to bottom, all explained on his tour. At opening time, WE were the first to be let in, and he immediately led us to the Sistine Chapel, which is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City.

The entire ceiling is covered in frescos by Michelangelo Buonarroti and other famous artists of that period. We were in there for about 20 minutes; the first 15 minutes we were by ourselves. After a tour of the museums and grounds, we came back that way, and the chapel by then was elbow-to-elbow with tourists and no longer silent. Looking back, how smart it was for my wife to hire the private guide. That was an experience of a lifetime.
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica I overheard a tourist say, “I have
been inside a lot of churches, but this here is probably the biggest.” I thought, no kidding, you could fly an airplane inside of it without hitting anything.

One of my favorite dining experiences in Rome had to have been the small “hole in the wall” shops that sell cold drinks and pizza. There were all kinds of pizza. One of my favorites had thinly sliced potatoes and cheese on the top. You can spend 10 percent of what you would spend in a restaurant having lunch in a shop like this.
We met a young man from Russia in such a shop. He was eager for conversation, but did not know any English. However, he did speak Indian, and the shopkeeper was Indian, so we had the good fortune of having a translator. The Russian said he was on holiday, as he had broken up with his girlfriend and was heartbroken. As he told us his tale, more and more people in the shop joined in the conversation until everyone was involved. We took turns buying each other beers until we were pleasantly mellowed. A most excellent Soviet/American encounter on neutral ground!

Rosemary Potato Pizza Recipe

On our last trip to Italy, my wife and I went on a quest for the perfect potato rosemary pizza. We had enjoyed this local cuisine at the many small bakeries in the towns and cities of Tuscany. After trying a few variations, we decided on procuring the recipe from a small shop in the town of Pisa, where pizza was invented and named after. Pisa Pie. As in “I would like a Pisa Pie to go, prego”.(please)
I engaged the cashier/chef with casual conversation and discovered to our good fortune that she was new on the job, and was referring to a vintage hand written recipe while making the potato pizza. As a distraction, I had my wife start a small fire in trash can in the far corner of the shop. Right on cue, the chef looked away and I snatched the recipe and ran for the door. My wife was detained for a while until they finally believed she had mistaken the trash can for a ashtray, after all, even the stray cats in Italy are avid smokers. After the initial shock that I had married an arsonist subsided, and with recipe in hand, I knew we had the means to replicate the savory pizza pie!
When we arrived back to our hotel, I used a complementary community computer and decoded the ancient Italian words only to discover it was not so ancient and was actually contemporary a shopping list, not a recipe.
Plan B.
After donning a simple, but effective disguise, I went back to the shop and asked for the recipe, which they were more than happy to tell, and here it is. Due to the fact that I do not have time to learn Italian, I have taken the liberty to translate the recipe into what I believe to be “The King’s English”, or some form of it.
They made theirs in large baking pans, which I consider too industrial for my taste, and as such, I fell back on the tried and true method of the 12 inch cast iron skillet.

Rosemary Potato Pizza Recipe

Ingredients

Pizza Dough*
1 Russet Potato
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp fresh chopped Rosemary
sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

*Make your favorite pizza dough. Mine just happens to be the exact same recipe as the pre-made down at Trader Joe’s. So…..do I do ALL the work?
Again,I think not. Buy package and divide into two. You can make 2 skillet pizzas from one TJ package. If you want a scratch pizza dough recipe, my friend Maria sent me a great one. (at bottom of post)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Spread dough out in preheated 12 inch skillet. (heat skillet on top burner for one minute) Spread mozzarella cheese on dough. Peel, and thin slice potato,(about 1/8 inch slices) cover potato slices with cheese. Brush on olive oil, add a dash of salt and pepper, add chopped rosemary. Bake in oven for 18 minutes.(15 if you use Maria’s recipe, that will make great crust, but the potato will be Al dente. As such, maybe raise the rack?) Enjoy!

Word to the wise.
That skillet gets real hot, have a care when handling it!

PIZZA DOUGH
•    2 cups flour
•    1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
•    1 cup warm water
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    2 teaspoons white sugar
•    1 teaspoon salt
Blend yeast in water and add  the sugar and olive oilPut 2 cups of flour in large glass or plastic bowl then add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork. ,  when the flour is wet then add your  1 tsp of salt.  (In Italy we say salt is added far away from the yeast)
When you have a ball you can put it out on your counter dusted with flour and begin to knead the dough until  is pliable and not sticky,  add flour if need be. (This should only take a few minutes) put back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in your oven with just the oven light on.  .   Let raise until double the size.

For Schiacciata
Take sheet pan and oil the bottom with olive oil (using your hands)  Then  with your fingers poke the dough to make dents.  Once you have done this drizzle ½ to ¾ cups olive oil letting oil go into dents and sprinkle salt on top.   Bake in 450° oven until brown
Buon appetito!

Ciao, Maria