Posts Tagged ‘Pizza Recipes’

Curried Loki and Chicken of the Woods Mushroom Pizza

Sometimes, pizzas just happen. Certain factors gel together in the cosmos to throw great foods into my lap just begging to be rendered into a great pizza. Case in point: a freaky, tie-dye-poisonous-looking-wood-growing-dense-alien-like mushroom that is called “Chicken of the woods” and a lame-green-bulbous-gourd-watermelon-wannabe called “Loki.” (…was I channeling Tyler Perry?)

Last week a good friend of mine foraged some wonderful Sulpher Shelf Mushrooms, also called “Chicken of the Woods.” This wild and bright fungus was new to me. I had tasted another bracket fungus that grew on trees- the “Hen of the woods” (or Maitake) before but this was much different. I was in for a suprise. After a quick saute I said, “Wow, this tastes like chicken,” then made a stupid joke about the Donner party and a plan was hatched to make a great pizza out of it.

That same day at the Athens Farmers Market, my good friend Larry Cowdery of Cowdery farms handed me what looked like a bottle goard saying it was called Loki, in Hindu. That was karma ingredient number two and it seemed the recipe for this pizza was being made for me. And what better ingredient to bind the two…CURRY!

Loki, or Lauki, is a Calabash squash and called by many names like doodhi or bottle squash. Pale green and prized for it’s firm nutty and delicate flavor, Loki is perfectly suited for curries. Unlike other squash, it has a firmer and crisper texture.

I’ve decided to do what I call “A Preppie Pizza” wherein all the labor goes into the prep and then just gets dumped (a culinary term) on the dough. Added to the Loki sauté will be some pattypan squash, garlic, tomato and some excellent curry powder. I had some Paneer cheese hanging around so I will add the mushrooms to these and make a great pie.


Preheat the oven to 495 degrees and insert a pizza stone or heavy upturned cookie sheet on the middle shelf.

One seven-ounce dough ball from the Easy Dough Recipe

Two cloves of garlic

Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

One quarter of a large loki squash

One half of a pattypan squash

One Amish paste tomato (or Roma tomato equivalent)

Two tablespoons of good curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 ounces of trimmed Chicken of the Woods Mushroom

five to six ounces of paneer cheese

Cilantro for garnish


Peel the loki squash, cut in half then down the tube. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out then cut the meat in thin slices.


Cut the ends off of the pattypan then slice in half. Cut into thin strips. Reserve.


Cut the tomato in half lengthwise then into thin strips. Reserve.


Smash the garlic cloves and roughly chop. Reser…you know what to do.


Heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame and add the garlic. Let that saute for three minutes, add the loki, pattypan, salt and curry. Saute for four minutes keeping in mind that this cooking is just to meld the flavors together add the tomato and cook for another minute. These will cook again on the pizza.


The Chicken of the Woods mushroom is very thick so to facilitate a quick saute, slice horizontally in thin slices (or medallions). Add another tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the same curried pan and turn to medium high. Wait for the oil to heat (two minutes) then saute the Chicken of the Woods mushroom for five to six minutes. This type of mushroom will not wilt much no matter how long you saute it so watch carefully for searing or browning at the edges. When this occurs, remove mushroom from the heat.


Form the pizza dough into a disc. Place the curried vegetables, the paneer, then the mushroom. Bake in the oven for twelve to fifteen minutes. NOTE: The paneer will not melt much so do not ruin your crust by waiting for it to do so.

Take out of the oven and garnish with cilantro and dig in! This pizza is an awesome vegetarian option to any table!



Here are the ingredients above.

Amish Asparagus and Serrano Ham Pizza

The green rockets of spring are taking to the air. Finally, we can get our noses out of the misted produce isles and the never-ending harvest of mediocre corporate veggies. Here in southeast Ohio, asparagus is the first hint of what is to come: morel mushrooms, ramps, strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries, kholrabi, garlic tops, arugula, mustard greens and kale, until the baby zucchini blossoms herald the full frontal assault of summer.

When I visited the Ervin Hershberger farm in Chesterhill Ohio, Ervin’s wife Rachael shoved a one-year old in my arms and we stumbled out back to the asparagus field. “I don’t know if there’s…oh my, we DO have alot of asparagus,” she said as I looked at the  green stalks peeking their delicious heads up from the field. Short and fat ones grew alongside long skinny ones just waiting for me to grab and twist before dropping them into the aspargus bucket. As my delight in the first bounty of spring heightened, I kept reminding myself, “Don’t drop baby John…don’t drop baby John…don’t…”

The best hint on buying asparagus is to never buy asparagus that has been cut with a knife. Asparagus has a fabulous way of telling you when you’ve reached the spot where the stalk turns to wood. Grab the stalk and twist – it breaks right at that inedible point.

While waiting tables in Chicago years ago, my friend Chrisensio told me that, while new to this country, he tried every job as a migrant worker. “The two jobs I would rather die than go back to are cutting asparagus and planting pine trees in a clear-cut forest.”  The field managers walked among the pickers, telling them to cut under the earth to get as much poundage as possible. Sounds like a real back-breaking job. It also gave me a hint of how are foodstuffs are managed by the large companies.

I decided to make a pizza with asparagus using Serrano ham from Spain. I will pair this magnificent combination with Manchego cheese (Spanish cheddar from the La Mancia region of Spain), sweet San Marzano tomatoes,and  fresh mozzarella.

Jamon Serrano means “Mountain ham” and can best be described as having a taste like Italian prosciutto crudo or the French Jambon Bayonne. This ham is dry cured with salt and is only made from the “Landrace” breed of pig from the Sierra mountains in Spain. The taste, compared to the  Prosciutto crudo, is more of an upfront salty-pork flavor and noticably lacking in the last Parmesan-umami taste at the back of the throat that prosciutto exhibits. I like this ham on pizza because of the amount of fat in each slice. I tear the fatty pieces  to cook in the oven (which creates some bodacious cracklings), while saving the crudo for topping the warm pizza.

I love fresh raw asparagus on pizza as much as the next guy but with this recipe, I take off the outer skin and “shock” the asparagus. This par-cooks the aspargus for 30 seconds and then fast-cools it, setting the chlorophyl or green color.

Asparagus and Serrano Ham Pizza

1 Easy Dough recipe

4 to 7 fat stalks of fresh, local aparagus

6 to 7 slices of Serrano ham

3 whole canned San Marzano tomatoes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons shredded imported Manchego cheese

5 to 6 small balls of Boccocini (fresh mozzarella balls)

Make two 7 ounce dough balls. Freeze one for later or double this recipe for 2 pies.

Preheat an upturned cookie sheet on the middle rack of your oven set at 475 degrees.

Put a 3-quart pan filled halfway with water on a high burner to boil. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water.

Using a peeler, lay the asparagus down on cutting board and run the peeler down along the stalk, taking as little of the skin of as possible. Roll the stalk and peel the skin around the whole stalk. Do not run the peeler twice in the same spot or you will take the meat off and end up with nothing.

Fill a large bowl with water and add 4 to 6 ice cubes.

Place asparagus in the boiling water and count to 30 seconds. Do not walk away. Grab the asparagus with tongs and transfer to the ice bath.

Take the asparagus out of the water and cut each stalk in half lengthwise.

Cut the fatty portion off each slice of Serrano ham.  Wrap the non fatty portion around each half-stalk of asparagus.

Open the can of tomatoes and place in a colander to drain. Tear the best 3 tomatoes into filets. Place on a plate. (For true San Marzano tomatoes, note the D.O.P. or Denominazione D’Origine Protetta on the side of the can, the 3 seals on the left side of the can).

To Assemble the Pizza:

Form the pizza dough according to the easy pizza dough recipe. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper.

1. 2. 3. 4.

1. Pour the extra virgin olive oil onto the dough.

2., 3. Scatter the Manchego on the dough, followed by the fatty ham and the tomato filets.

4. Place the fresh mozzarella balls on top.

Place the pizza with the parchment on the preheated cookie sheet and close the oven. This pizza should cook in 10 to 12 minutes. Check for even cooking after 5 minutes and turn accordingly. The final pizza should be golden brown and more brown on the bottom.

Pull from oven and place aspargus on the pizza in spokes. You may have to trim the asparagus. Place one half mozarrella ball in the middle of the spoke. Serve immediately. Don’t cut this baby until you get a ‘wow factor’ response from your family or hungry guests.