Archive for the ‘Seafood Pizza Recipes’ Category

Coca De Recapte: Flatbread with Sardines

I don’t know who’d throw me off of the cliff first: the Italian pizzaiola I told of a Spanish Pizza, or the Catalonian Baker to whom I uttered “Italian-style flatbread.” Both dudes would probably be justified in introducing me to Acapulco-style cliff diving, because both these breads are different, yet familiar.

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The small towns in the Catalan region of Spain had a fixed time where people could use the bakery’s wood-fired oven to make their flatbreads. The townsfolk went from house to house to gather ingredients to put on this wood-fired flatbread, called Coca De Recapete. Some Cocas are sweet and some savory, some square and some football shaped, some thin and some thick. Some use egg and milk in the dough, some don’t. Does this sound familiar, like pizza everywhere these days?

One of my favorites uses a mix of wood-fired and charred vegetables called Escalivada. It might include onion, eggplant, sweet peppers and tomato to which townspeople add sausage, sardine or anchovy at the height of summer.

On this snowy December day, I’ve got some fresh sardines and a plan: It’s Coca De Recapte on the grill, featuring eggplant, yellow hothouse tomatoes, zucchini, yellow onion and marinated sardines in a vinegar and paprika pickling liquid.

EEEEWWWWWWW, GROSS. WHAT’S THAT?  There, I printed it before you said it! Now I dare you to view this video on cleaning sardines.

Before we get started, here’s little personal ditty about fresh sardines. Sardines always get a bad rap but if you can get them fresh, the taste is amazing. My most favorite way to prepare them is to grill or saute them with extra virgin olive oil, garlic. Then I dump tomato, capers, butter, anchovy paste, Italian flat leaf parsley, lemon and canned white beans on them and dig in. They taste so much like tuna and are packed with Omega 3.  The sardines’ lives are short so they do not get exposed to our toxic oceans where climbing the food chain has become a killer. Here’s a cool way to avoid mercury-saturated tuna, shark, dolphin and swordfish.

Escabetx de Sardines

This is a traditional paprika-garlic pickling brine that adds a bright, lemony note to the strong flavored and oily sardines. Because the fish literally cooks in the brine, it soaks up the variety of flavors from garlic, pepper, bay, paprika and lemon and makes the sardine a perfect companion to the charred notes of the vegetables and pizza from the grill.

Makes 2 topped flatbreads

Brine for sardines

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic

3 small bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/4 cup rice wine or white wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

6 sardines, cleaned and filleted

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Start the brine by heating up the oil, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns over medium heat in a small saute pan. Simmer for 5 minutes until the garlic is translucent and just turning golden.

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Add the white wine vinegar, paprika, lemon zest and sugar and turn the heat up to high. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until reduced by half.

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Turn the heat off and transfer to a non-reactive, preferably tempered glass bowl. Leave on the kitchen counter until it cools to room temperature. When cooled, add the sardines and put in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

For the flatbread dough, make the Easy dough recipe. Form each dough ball into football shapes. Dimple the dough by pressing your fingertips into the dough gently and stretch out to a 10-inch length. Oil both sides with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil on each side, using a paper towel or brush. Set both in a small cookie sheet.

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1 yellow onion

1/2 or 3/4 red pepper (if you like roasted red pepper please use a whole one)

1 medium  eggplant

2 small zucchini

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for brushing vegetables

3 yellow tomatoes

Manchego cheese

Lemon juice and more olive oil for garnish

Turn your grill on high and wait for the temperature to reach 45o to 475 degrees.

Cut the onion in half lengthwise and using a metal skewer, skewer both halves.

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Cut off the ends of the zucchini. Using a mandoline or knife, cut the zucchini into strips of 1/16th of an inch-(fairly thin but thick enough to withstand ahot grill.)

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Brush all the vegetables with the olive oil and place on the grill.

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The zucchini will cook first. Remove them from the grill when limp and grill marked. Close the lid of the grill after turning the other vegetables. Grill covered, turning frequently until the red pepper is charred, the onion is moist and limp, and the eggplant looks like a deflated balloon with a soft center. Place all in a cool place for at least 10 minutes.

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Cut the end of the eggplant and peel the skin back, revealing the warm flesh. Keep pulling the skin back and pull the flesh out in strips.

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Peel off the red pepper’s black skin and discard any seeds and the top. Cut the flesh into 1/2 inch strips.

Cut the tomatoes in quarters, then cut the inside flesh out and save for salads.

Cut the grilled onion into 1/2 inch petals after cutting off the ends.

Reserve all these vegetables next to the grill.

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Grate 2 cups Manchego Cheese if using a microplane like I did here (a dumb idea because this cheese is semi-soft). You’ll only need 1 cup  if using a convetional grater. Bring the grated Manchego, brined sardines, and oiled dough to the grill also. You are now ready to grill the Cocas.

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Making sure that the grill is medium hot or 450 degrees, quickly brush oil onto the grill, using a paper towel. Place both elongated doughs on the grill and wait only 2 to 3 minutes before checking the bottom. By now, the dough will have hardened enough to move. Check the underside and move according to your grill marks. Wait another minute and turn over.

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Immediately top with the cheese and the vegetables. Here, I made one coca with cheese (Goon version) and a traditional non-cheese coca.

Close the lid to get heat to the top of the cocas but BEWARE. WATCH THE BOTTOM OF THE DOUGH AS IT WILL BURN VERY QUICKLY. (Yes, I know, capitalization is the sign of a weak mind and shallow spirit, but I’ve burnt these before and it’s not fun!)

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When the bottom cannot take any more cooking and is browning nicely, take the cocas off and serve immediatly. I topped mine with a spritz of lemon and another squirt of unfiltered (Spanish) olive oil called Zoe.

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The World is My Oyster Pizza

“A brave soul was he who ate the first oyster.” Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that one before. Now I’ve got a new one for you: “A foolish soul was he who put oysters on a pizza.” Foolish maybe, but when combined with Brie, spinach, and an apple and fennel salad, this pizza turned out beautifully.


Oysters have been an important food since the Neolithic period. The Greeks loved them and the Roman Emperors paid the same weight in gold for them. Maybe they knew that oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1(thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic acid) and D (calciferol). Four or five medium size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, manganese, copper, calcium, iodine, magnesium,  zinc, and phosphorus. Now that’s some serious nutrition.


You might notice  34 shells, but only 12 oysters in the bowl. Hmmm…what does that Tabasco, lemon and my smile indicate?

Oysters have graced the table in numerous in stews, fried, au gratin, Rockefeller, stir fried, in chowder, with drawn butter or mignonette, but my favorites is a funky recipe from Savarin in one of my very old French cookbooks. Titled “Bordeaux Oysters,” the directions are simple: “Take a dozen ‘flat’ oysters very, very cold, a small sausage very strongly garlic flavoured, very heavily pimentoed, very hot to the tongue. You then take a bite of scorching-hot sausage, followed by a cooling mouthful of oyster. This is the only preparation with which one could, in a pinch, drink red wine (Bordeaux).”

Although not as spicy, garlicky or simple as Savarin’s recipe, this pie has all the elements an oyster lover would want as a last meal. I’ve combined the oysters with creamy French Brie, kicked up with a little Parmigiano Reggiano. I added a Granny Smith apple and fennel salad, balanced with some lemony acidity, for crunch. On top of it, a dark green nest of baby spinach nestles briny oysters cooked in spicy horseradish, basil, jalepeno and lemon.

After opening the Oak Room in Boston, I was lucky enough to be able to install a first class oyster bar in this beautful room. This included being taught how to shuck oysters and clams by guys who lived in Wellfleet on Cape Cod and had been shucking since birth. The first time I added cocktail sauce led to so much denigration from those chefs that I now forgo everything except hot sauce and or lemon. The true taste of the sea is a miracle.

Some oyster places pride themselves on shucking fast, but I like to shuck slowly. That way you don’t crack your teeth on shell bits. Here is my way of shooting straight through the hinge or “beak,” then cutting through the adductor muscle.

Using the Easy Pizza Dough recipe, make the two 7-ounce dough balls. Freeze one to use later but only after you know you won’t screw the first one up.

2 slices applewood smoked bacon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for the crust

5 cups fresh baby spinach (pushed down tightly in a measuring cup)

2 red jalepenos, one smaller

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

3 large basil leaves

Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

12 medium fresh oysters in the shell, shucked using the above video, reserved with juices in a bow1/2  fennel bulb

1 Granny Smith apple

1 teaspoon grated Parmesano Reggiano

5 to 8 ounces good French Brie (don’t get the cheap stuff as it will turn to an oil slick on your pizza), sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place an upturned heavy cookie sheet on the middle deck.

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Cut the bacon strips lenthwise down the center, cut in half and stack on top of each other. Cut in small cubes.


Sautee in a medium pan on high heat for 2 minutes. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. (Good bacon does not exude much fat, so adding the olive oil will distribute the taste into the spinach.) Heat for another 2 minutes until the bacon is golden brown.


Remove the bacon to a medium bowl, leaving the fat in the pan. Heat the fat on high.

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Place the spinach in the pan. Using tongs, toss the spinach for only 20 to 30 seconds. The heat will wilt the spinach very fast. Take it out of the pan immediately and reserve on a cool plate.

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Cut the top off one of the red jalepenos. Cut down the length of the pepper, then cut out the seeds and any white ribbing. Julienne one half of the pepper finely, and add to the bacon.

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Roll the 3 basil leaves into a tight ball. Cut fine strips from the ball, then cut across, creating small pieces.

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Add the horseradish, basil, hot sauce and juice from 1/4 lemon (about 1 tablespoon) to the bowl. Stir well, then add the oysters in their juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

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Peel the apple and cut in half lengthwise. Run the edge of half an apple along a mandoline (Japanese Benriner is best), or slice the half as thinly as possible, into matchsticks. Place in a medium bowl.

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Cut the fennel lengthwise. Cut the core out using a “V” cut and trim any discolored parts. Slide along the mandoline or cut paper thin. Add to the bowl with the apple. Squeeze 1/4 lemon (about 1 tablespoon) and 1 teaspoon water (this will distribute lemon better) and toss. Leave on the counter to soften and meld flavors.

Topping the pizza:

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Roll out the pizza round according to the Easy Pizza Dough instructions. Place dough disc on parchment paper. Grate Parmesan cheese on top, then place the Brie slices over top.


Using the bottom of another upturned cookie sheet or a pizza peel, carefully slide the pizza onto the preheated cookie sheet in the oven. Cook for 11 to 14 minutes or until the bottom is dark-gold and the crust is golden brown.

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Cut the second, smaller red jalepeno with a very sharp knife to create rounds. Discard seeds. Pour only the oyster marinate from the bowl onto the cooked spinach and toss into the greens.

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Top the pizza with the fennel and apple salad, then make small nests with the spinach and place the oysters in the nests. (You will notice that the oysters have a pale opaqueness to them because they have been cooking in the acidity of the marinade, like ceviche). Scatter the remaining bacon, basil, and jalepeno on top, then top with the jalepeno rings.

Spritz with lemon and Serve immediatly. When complimented on this oyster pie, just say “Aw, shucks!”