Posts Tagged ‘avalanche pizza’

Spring Beef Heart Pie

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Pizza is my business! It’s how I make a living and sometimes it takes every moment of every week to keep my business running. Most of the pizzas on this blog are creations I make for my customers every week and some of the posts suffer from “Pizza Shock” or the fact that all my planned culinary finesse gets ruined by a massive influx of pizza orders that waylays my concentration, my recipe writing and photographs. This is one of those pies that almost hit the shitcan after a very busy day, (hence the bad photo above). So if you can hold your nasty comments about crappy photo’s, crummy writing and just…have a heart…literally!

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The heart in question is from my good friends at Shews Orchard. They are stalwarts at the Athens Farmers Market and produce some of the finest meats and fruit in Ohio! Not long ago, I bought a beef heart and wanted to incorporate it in my menu-mix. Here is the pie I came up with.

Beef heart is one of the most meaty tasting offal’s I’ve eaten because it’s flavor is less irony and contains a minimal astringency on the back palette. I’ve paired this with melting Piave Vecchio, an underused and very resilient pizza cheese from the Veneto region of Italy. Most folksPiave has the nuttiness to stand up to the beef heart and Portobello that I had planned along with some spring ramps for an additional facet of “Bad Ass pizza”

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Fabricating a beef heart looks harder than it is. In fact, it’s very simple. Just start with the outer silverskin revealing the beautiful red flesh below. Cut out the veins and tough walls to reveal strips of wonderful heart.

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All I did then was to salt, pepper and roast the heart at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. I also roasted an oiled Portobello mushroom in the same oven for 12 minutes then pulled it out and reserved the mushroom for slicing. (Remember Holmes, both will be sliced and cooked on a pizza later so don’t cook the shit out of them.)

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Now you are ready to make your pizza. Take six ramps and wash well, finely dice five inches from the bottom after taking the roots off reserving the “flags” for the pie. Slice the heart and Portobello. Take your proprietary dough and make a 15 ounce dough ball and form a disc. Place on parchment ready to put on an upturned heavy gauge cookie sheet or a pizza stone that has been heated in a 495 degree oven for 30 minutes…or the hottest you can get your oven.

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Place the cheese, thinly sliced heart, sliced Portobello mushroom and ramps on the pizza and cook for 12 to 17 minutes in the oven until done. Garnish with some tomato for color and  enjoy until your hearts content!

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Pizza Paul Nyland; Best in the Business

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There I stood in white-hot Ohio sun in my parking lot shaking hands with guy I didn’t even know. It was 2003 and I had been in the pizza business for three years and I really didn’t have time for this. Gordon Food Service had told me they were gonna send a consultant this day but I told them I didn’t need anyone telling me how to run my business. I had forgotten the date and they evidently sent him anyway.

“So Johnny, my name is Paul and pizza is my business, that’s why they call me Pizza Paul.” he said happily as he handed me his Gordon Food Service card that indeed said, ‘Pizza Paul Nyland’ written in large letters on it. “I’m just doing the rounds and would like to show you how to boost the revenue in this fine place.”

“I’m really not inter…” I said abruptly looking away.

“Okay John, let me ask you one thing and I’ll leave.” Paul said holding his palms up in surrender.

“Okay, shoot.”

“Have you ever tried calzones? They are a great revenue generator because they are so good. I can show you how to…”

“Sorry Paul, I’ve been in the restaurant busin…”

“Lemme ask you another thing, Paul said as he reached in his car and pulled a case of cheese off the seat. “How many other pizza places have calzones around here?” He shoved the case in my chest and walked to the front door of my pizzeria.

“Well, I don’t think any…”

“See, you’ll be the first to make calzones if you just let me show you…” he said opening the door and entering. I stood and rolled my eyes in frustration, this guy was not taking the hint to hit the road and he was literally busting into my store. When I stepped into my lobby Paul stepped uncomfortably close and whispered. “Johnny, tell me, who was the first President?”

“George Washington.”

“HA! See everybody knows that! Now, who was the second?” Paul said smiling like he just stole a million dollars.

“John Adams.” Paul’s smile melted in disappointment and he fidgeted.

“Okay John, then who was the third?”

“Thomas Jefferson.” Paul swung around and said, “Nice place you got here, okay who was the fifth President of these United States?”

“Uh, I can’t recall right now.” I said honestly.

“BINGO,” Paul screamed. ” You see Johnny!” Everyone remembers the first person to do something but never the second. THATS WHY YOU NEED TO DO CALZONES!” he pointed to the sky like a preacher which made me smile.

“But…” Paul didn’t give me time to finish.

“This case of cheese if for you my man!” Paul pointed to it. “It’s a new blend from your friends at Gordon Food Service! Now lets make calzones!” he said like a  General as he walked into my kitchen and instantly introduced himself to my young staff!

That day, Pizza Paul Nyland not only changed my menu, he changed the way I looked at Pizza and I made a friend for life! I’ll never forget that first calzone he made a blend of mozzarella and provolone, canned mushrooms and pepperoni. The combination of his enthusiasm and the luscious, fatty and messy way the calzones tasted was irresistible. Paul stuck his mug into each of our faces saying, “Best thing you ever had, huh? huh? huh? as the crisp dough slathered with garlic butter and copious amounts of Parmesan cheese disappeared. As my staff wiped the grease from their chins and slapped Paul on the back, I knew I was hooked on calzones.

Now, over eleven years later, every one of the 81 pizzas I have on my menu can be made into calzones and every year  I saw Pizza Paul at the pizza conventions I would fill him in on my new calzone variants like stuffed ciabatta and stuffed fougasse. I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face and he was never condescending or judgmental, always looking at the bright things in life!

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In 2004, my Manager, Brynne Humpreys accepted the award for Best Gourmet Pizza from Pizza Paul at the NAPICS show in Columbus. (With Big Dave Ostrander, on the left.)

Paul and guys like him are a huge reason why I just love the business of pizza so much. It’s such a small fraternity of dedicated and fanatical obsessives with only one thing in mind- the craftsmanship and love of pizza!

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Pizza Paul was a tough judge a World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo hosted by Pizza Today Magazine last year. Talented Pat Miller of Slice of New York is on right.

With Pauls’ passing, I figure we all try to surround ourselves with people we love and understand. But there are others on the periphery of our lives who’s orbits and interests intersect with ours only once or twice a year creating a bond of commonality that only strengthens with each meeting. As the years zing by, we all get older, smarter and more reflective about our relationships and we start to look forward to seeing those people who have influenced our lives and made us smile so much. After all, it’s not the amount of time that makes a friendship, it’s the intensity, honesty and happiness a real friend brings.

Thank you Pizza Paul Nyland! You were one-of-a-kind.        (Oh, by the way, the fifth President was James Monroe!)