Posts Tagged ‘celery pizza’

Sprouted Lentil-Crusted Pizza with Egyptian Egg Pudding Sausage

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Nothing spells happiness more than a mouthful of green lentils, (well, maybe a mouthful of hundred-dollar bills.). Last week I used some sprouted lentils in my dough that I’ve been using for years in my breads. After finding a fabulous ancient recipe for egg pudding from Egypt, I decided to pair the two and, true to form, made a few modifications.

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Sprouting is a really cool activity to pair with baking, pickling and drying. My all time favorites besides green French lentils are local, organic black beans, (left), sweet Adzuki beans grown just 20 miles away and of course local sprouted corn adds a great crunch to breads, (right).

The egg pudding recipe called for a mix of leek, garum, (an ancient fish sauce still made today), pine nuts, wine, vinegar and stuffed in an intestine and cooked for a short amount of time. I took the Mark Anthony approach to Cleopatra’s Egyptian recipe and inserted the wonderful Italian Prosciutto di Parma into the mix with Roman abandon. (Metaphorically speaking.) I had some awesome Prosciutto shank that was very fatty and perfect for chopping up into small dice which provided a giant bang of flavor.

This pie captured all the components of a brilliant Colosseum fight combining some cool local vej rarely seen on any pizzas like celery and turnip. These were gently handled and slow cooked in a prosciutto and dashi broth to further enhance the wonderful lentils. Add some sweet Valorosso tomato and “Viola”, a great pie is born.

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Above is all that I needed to make this great pie.

For the sprouted lentil bread you will need to start four to six days in advance.

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In a sided tray or large jar, pour two cups green lentils. Add room temperature water to cover the lentils and wait for three hours then drain. After drained, toss with your hand to aerate. Leave the lentils in a warm place. Do this three to four times times a day until sprouted.

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Put four cups high-gluten or bakers flour in a bowl. Add two cups of a natural pre-ferment (follow the steps until the dough ball is made- this is a naturally active pre-ferment) that has been fed the night before and is at a 90 percent hydration, two cups of water and the sprouted lentils that have been strained along with one tablespoon of salt. Knead into a ball in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm area for 30 minutes to let the natural yeasts activate.

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After the bulk fermentation, cut the dough into four balls. They should all weigh 15 ounces. (Shoulda, coulda, woulda.) Oil each dough ball with extra virgin olive oil and top with plastic wrap. Place in a refrigerator for one, two or three days. By this naturally slow fermentation, you will make the dough more digestible, the gluten strands will have more time to form a good “net” and the crust will become crisper.

For the Egyptian egg pudding sausage:

3 ounces of large diced skin from a ham of Prosciutto di Parma

2 ounces finely chopped Chicken skin diced fine

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

One quarter of a leek (1 ounce)

2 ounces red onion

2 ounces of Prosciutto di Parma flesh and fat, chopped fine

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Garum, (Thai fish sauce is acceptable as substitute)

One natural casing from a pigs intestine


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Place the Prosciutto skin in a pan under medium heat and let it melt. If it starts to smoke too much, turn the heat down. The priority is to get as much fat and flavor from the skin as possible. Remove the Prosciutto skin and immediately add the chopped chicken skin as well as the pine nuts and turn to medium high heat. Cook and stir for six minutes then add the chopped leek, onion, chopped Prosciutto di Parma as well as two tablespoons of water. Let simmer for another six minutes or until the leeks and onions are cooked, limp and transparent.

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Place the pigs intestine in warm water to hydrate the casing. Pour all ingredients (including the hard-boiled egg yolk and finely diced Prosciutto di Parma) into a bowl and smash-mix with a large spoon or the end of dough roller.

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Add the Garum and rice wine vinegar and meld all the smashed ingredients together. Tie one end of the sausage tightly and, using a sausage-stuffing flange, stuff the casing with the pudding. If you do not have a flange, you can use a funnel or hollow device. (These will be problematic because of the air bubbles that will form in between stuffing.)

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Place the egg pudding sausage into a half-inch of water that is very hot but not yet boiling. Cook to set the pudding while turning the sausage frequently to make sure the water does not get hot enough to pop the skin.

For the toppings: At this point, pre-heat your oven to 495 degrees with an upturned heavy gauge cookie sheet turned upside down.

5 thin slices the size a half dollar of Prosciutto di Parma

Two cups water

Two tablespoons Katuobushi, (dried bonito flakes)

Three celery stalks, outsides peeled to get rid of heavy strings

One medium sized turnip

Five large pear tomatoes like Stanislaus Valorosso or San Marzano

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Peel and cut turnip into thin, coin-shaped discs using a mandolin or knife. Peel the celery so there are no major strings then cut on the bias into small pieces. Deseed the tomatoes and pull apart into strips.

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Place the Prosciutto di parma slices in a medium high pan with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Cook for four minutes then add two cups of water. Bring to a boil and add two tablespoons of Katsuobushi, (dried bonito flakes).

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Add the turnips and celery to the dashi broth and cook until the turnip is tender. The dashi stock will now be very reduced almost to nothing. take the vegetables out of the pan and into a bowl to marinate with the tomato. Toss to coat and remove the prosciutto.

Finally, the Pizza: First Re-check the oven to see if it is ready to go.

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Form the pizza in a disc on a piece of parchment paper.  Place three ounces of Gruyere cheese on the lentil crust. Add the turnip, celery and tomato.

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Place the pizza in the oven. Cut the egg pudding sausage on the bias. After six minutes in the oven, pull the pizza out and place the egg pudding around the pie. Cook for another six to eight minutes until the crust is done, the cheese melted and the egg pudding is piping hot.

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This pizza is a lot of work but it had a world shaking taste!

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Veal Sweetbread Pizza


Man oh man, do I love sweetbreads.  “Holy cow” is what I thought last week I was peeking at the great meats at Sunny Mead Farms run by Richard and Tanya Jeffers. A pack of sweetbreads it was. I held it in hand and almost drooled on my shirt. Sweetbread pizza bounced around my cranium (not much to stop it) for days before I had the guts to do this.

Well, even if you are disgusted at the thought of eating a thymus gland from a small bovine, let me ask you this: How many cows anuses have you consumed in the past year? Ears? Lips? Snouts? I’ll tell you now, (because Hormel won’t) that it all depends on how many pepperoni’s you’ve had on your pizzas.

Sweetbreads have been a wonderful treat for centuries. The Italians call them “animelle,”  and after the usual immersion in water or broth, are coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried. The Northern Italians liberal use of cream and truffles add to the sensuous crunch and mellow flavor of this offal.

 At Chez Maxim’s in 1900’s Paris, two stellar dishes of sweetbreads, the Ris De Veau A La Paoise included the old-style cooking of the whole sweetbread in a loaf presentation that accomodated six diners who enjoyed this offal paired with butter (go figure,) ham, eggs and lemon. Called a “Plat de resistance,” by the Maitre d’ Hotel, Mr. Cornuche’, it was just as popular as the Ris De Veau Aux Petits Pois that was blanketed with a sauce of salt pork, onions, vinegar, carrots butter and boullion blanc then surrounded by fresh peas. To the south in Madrid Spain, the approach to the sweetbread is much simpler with the Mollejas Salteadas sauteeing a smaller diced version with breadcrumbs in olive oil, garlic parsley and onion.

My own affinity with sweetbreads came when I was a dining room Captain at the fabulous French Restauarant, Le Ciel Bleu in Chicago. I salavated watching guests nibble on sweatbreads with a lemon buerre blanc (butter sauce.) Our chef also had a little twist of gently placing a small salad of watercress, celery leaves and thinly sliced nectarine in the center for a crunchy-sweet juxtaposition as foil to the cream. 

So here is my sweetbread pizza. It has some great components compiled for maximum enjoyment. The Creamy Fontina is topped with the local peppery bacon from King Family Farm and crunchy celery. These flavors counterbalance the sweet pepper from Cowdery Farms and nectarine from Gillogly Farms. The little crisp-sourness of the watercress and celery leaf finishes this pie well, especially with the splash of Balsamico.

For the Sweetbread offal.

1 Veal or young cows thymus gland

Water to cover


Take the whole gland and rinse very well. Place in a large bowl of cold water for one hour, drain and fill with cold water again waiting another hour. Drain the water and add new water and place in a refrigerator overnight.


Remove from the water and place in a pot of water that just covers the sweetbread. Turn the heat on high and wait for it to boil. Leave in boiling water for two minutes. Drain the hot water off and place into a ice-cold water bath to cool. Drain them again.


Using a sharp knife cut and pull off any excess membrane or fat from the sweetbreads.


Cut the enlogated part of the thymus off and use the round portion. Cut this into smaller lobes.



Place these small lobes onto parchment paper on a tray. Put parchment over them followed by another tray. Place a weight on the upper tray compressing the lobes to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cool and compress in refrigerater overnight.


Pressed sweetbread chunks ready for cooking.

For the Pizza:


 1 tablespoon olive oil

Seven small lobes from the round thymus gland prepared above.

Salt and Pepper sprinkled on the sweetbread

2 strips peppered bacon cut into small squares

1 stalk celery

1/2 lemon

3/4 cup Fontina Cheese

1/2 cup roasted yellow (Toro) peppers

One nectarine

A few sprigs of watercress and celery leaves

Preheat your oven to 485, using either a pizza stone or heavy bottomed cookie sheet upside down. Using the Easy dough recipe, make a seven ounce round dough and press it out.


Turn heat on high and add olive oil. Season sweetbreads with salt and pepper. Just before oil smokes, place the sweetbreads in the pan until lightly browned (2 minutes) then turn and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Pull and reserve to cool.    


Saute bacon in pan on medium-high heat until just starting to crisp. Add celery and saute for 2 minutes. Place on plate and squeeze half the lemon on the celery bacon mix.


Slice nectarine and grate cheese.


Place Fontina, bacon, celery, peppers on the pie skin. Load the pizza in the oven using the bottom of another cookie sheet dusted with semolina or cornmeal for easy transfer.


Slice the sweetbreads in half and ready all other ingredients for the oven. Wait ten minutes or until the pizza just starts to brown, then carefully place each piece of sweetbread around the pie. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer. The sweetbread will be crispy on the outside and luscious in the middle.


Place nectarines, celery leaves and watercress on pie and spritz with some Balsamic Vinegar. serve immediately.