Posts Tagged ‘zucchini pizza’

Cool Pizzas and Breads in February

Yea, it’s cold standing in a giant parking lot in February but as I monitored the weather channels over the past few days, I saw a window of opportunity this Saturday to bake some killer breads and pizza variants. I made the pan pizza (above) that was my ode to a pizza I saw at the Campo di Fiori in Rome, Italy. This pizza carried sliced zucchini and Peruvian purple potatoes tossed in egg and Parmesano and baked on a wonderfully creamy and crunchy Sicilian-style dough with an aged mozzarella and provolone.  The best part was the creamy Bellwether Farms Crescenza, from Sonoma County, California.  In spite of the cold weather, we sold out in a few hours. Thank you sunshine, farmer’s market customers, Avalanche General Manager Joel Fair, the staff and Laura for hanging out in the cold.


I recognize that my culinary efforts sometime skirt the realm of madness but I ignore it because the Italian kimchi I made (top left) was the BOMB! Just like Korean kimchi, I used the traditional combo of fish, garlic and chilies. My creation consisted of napa cabbage, roasted garlic, lemon zest, sun-dried tomato pesto, anchovies ground into a paste,  some excellent imported Calabrian chilies and oil for a great zing. I used King Family pork to make some fabulous meatballs (above middle) with chopped garlic, pizza cornicione breadcrumbs, red onion, rosemary, fennel seed, fresh basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I made a a poolish on Tuesday of almost 100% hydration that spent the night in my mixer. On Wednsday morning, I mixed a Bianca dough with a high protein flour and 70% hydration using the autolyse method. See the gluten net as I tested the window pane (photo above right).


You may think this is high-maintenance but the glorious pizza these maddening combinations produced was spectacular! The Bianca dough came out great (above left) and I topped the dough with aged provolone and mozzarella, the Italian kimchi, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella for a big OMG! The pizzas sold out incredibly fast (above right). Man, you should’ve smelled these bad boys as they popped out!


Along with the above monstrosity, I had time to put together my favorite combo: Gruyere cheese and curry (above left). I roasted onions with curry powder and then added raisins to re-hydrate. I used a 16-ounce schiacciata dough topped with fresh spinach, the curry mix and imported Gruyere! Holy Moly is all I can say. I also made a smaller but equally potent schiacciata with a harder dough called “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Swiss” (above right). Ironically, this had absolutly no cheese made in Switzerland. The Finlandia Swiss and the stronger French Emmental paired with local ham, bacon and some shaved imported Serrano ham I just picked up.


The breads I made included the massive Flintstone Wheel (a Tortano-style uber-couronne, photo top left), my lebanese Barbari using local Amish spelt from Shagbark Milling and Seed with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and toasted cumin seeds (shown in the middle), and the sea salt and herb fougasse with extra virgin olive oil (above left).


I just love making ciabatta loaves! This weekend we made some large loaves (left) with a local spelt couronne studded with cherry and walnut. We also made a small ciabatta (middle) into two types of sandwiches: the first an imported Serrano ham from Spain with arugula, pistachio pesto, tomato and imported brie, and the second a Caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato. I especially love looking at the crumb on ciabatta because of the irregular cells and the shiny gluten strands that indicate a killer loaf!


Last but not least is the always popular Leek-a-choke fougasse (above left) with leeks, artichoke and parmesan cheese. A very special fougasse I made this weekend included a Thai-inspired flair (above middle) and included pad Thai, roasted napa cabbage integrated with local peppered bacon, pickled local Amish daikon and tons of black and white sesame seeds. As the fougasse rested, I topped it with a four-month-old curried kimchi that I marinated in a Thai peanut sauce for three days. Man, talk about FLAVOR in capital letters!

Anyway, if you’re still with me and my mania, check out this video before the market at set-up time. I screwed up some introductions like saying ‘Fiore del campo” instead of Campo del Fiore and some other stuff but that’s what you get when an old man bakes all night. For those of you wondering, yes: my hands are sanitized.

Roman Pizza Bianca

Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s Halloween season and my business is in the throws pizza madness. The late season crops are booming and I am gearing up my strategy to win the International Pizza Expo’s Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas in March. I’ve dusted off my pizza thinking cap and thought that I just might make a pizza bianca. (or not…think I’m stupid? I’ll not give away my soon to be winning pizza to anyone!) Either way, everytime I make these pizzas, it takes me back to Rome.

The thing I miss most about Rome besides drinking espresso and puffing on a Cuban cigar in the sunshine at an outdoor cafe on Via Margutta, is sampling all the different types of Pizza Bianca. Just last year my good friend Bruno di Fabio and I found a little panificio near the Vatican which had the best zucchini, egg and parmesan pizza bianca as well as numerous other pizza bianca that just blew me away.

Last week I found the time to kick out some P.B’s. I made these with a pre-ferment made with a 70/30 mix of high protein flour and local spelt flour. To this I added a biga, salt, yeast and organic malt syrup. I then mixed it with a hydration of 65 percent-(not “ciabatta sticky” but just this side of annoyingly sticky,) then retarded for four days under refrigeration. This gorgeous baby, (above) has all my favorites and I bake it here at Avalanche often. I started with Bellwether Farms Carmody cheese, late season heirloom tomato, panchetta, onion, Calabrian chili’s and arugula.

Normally, the Italians from Rome would mix a batch and let it proof for up to five or six hours depending upon the time of the year. Then they cut and formed into a football shaped loaf about two feet long and left to proof again for upwards of 20 minutes for the gluten to relax. The it is formed into a five to six foot loaf using the piano method of lightly jabbing fingertips into the soft dough after being brushed with olive oil. I proof my dough in specially made pans, (above.)

My formula for the dough is different (of course) and I will give you a peek at that later this week as well as the recipes for these pizzas.

Most Romans find solace in eating the pizza bianca plain and hot out of the oven, (above) or stuffed with a miriad of items like a pita… (oops, I just made a few thousand Roman enemies.) I like a protein like prosciutto and arugula with pear and balsamic but shredded zucchini, mint, arugula and tomato is a big hit here in Athens, Ohio.

 Here is my stuffed pizza bianca with Genoa salami, roasted zucchini, mint, tomato, arugula, spinach and some olive oil and salt.

I made four pizzas using the goons pizza bianca dough.

A Sicilian Sfincione with the incomprable Stanislaus Alta Cucina tomatoes, onions, anchovies, oregano, pecorino and bread crumbs. This fit perfectly atop the puffy rise of the bianca dough.


Then I baked an organic zucchini pizza bianca with mint, pecan, local goat cheese from Integration Acres, parmesan and those same stellar Stanislaus tomatoes. (In fact my modis opperandi is to open the can, then select the biggest, juciest tomato and gobble it down over the sink before any of my staff catches me in my secret guilty pleasure.)

Next was a spinach, gorgonzola, pear and walnut pizza bianca which was particularly “Nad-Pumping” (a great gutteral term a chef once was fond of saying. Should I stop now? Heck no.

Last was a fabulous P.B. with sea salt and rosemary. 

“Holy crumb Batman! any way you slice it, Pizza Bianca is a hit!” I’ll try to find time to throw some of these recipes your way this next week, (as soon as I get done with this dang pizza making business of mine!)