Operation perfect pizza

Thank you for all of your comments on the latest diet free living post! I gotta say I was really inspired and motivated when I wrote it.  It’s been barely 24 hours but I feel a real shift in my perception. Only good things can come from that!

Before this wave of inspiration came upon me (which by the way I totally credit the It Was Always Meant to Happen That Waybook… thanks Christie for reviewing it!! You all should buy it asap if you can relate to my struggles with food), pizza was on my mind. And well, I have the need to share such important things with you. ; )

Are you a pizza fan? What does “perfect pizza” mean to you?

To me, it means a chewy, doughy crust and incredibly fresh ingredients. Basically, it’s pizza from Picco. I’m obsessed!!

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So obsessed in fact that Adam and I have had it the past 3 Sunday nights we’ve been in town… and I’ve ordered the exact same thing (salami & cherry peppers with garlic, rosemary, chopped tomato, fresh mozzarella, romano & basil) – this never happens!! Absolutely obsessed. It’s incredible. And now it’s our little Sunday night tradition.

Of course for those of you who don’t live in Boston, this little nugget of information is quite useless. I know! But don’t worry – I am now officially on a mission to create the perfect pizza crust, inspired by Picco!

This was Saturday night’s pizza (mushroom for me, buffalo chicken for Adam).

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I used the dough recipe we tried at the King Arthur cooking class (scroll down that post to see the gorgeous pizza that came from that experience!)… which combines 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1.25t instant yeast, 3/4t salt, 1T olive oil and ~0.75cups of warm water. It is quick and easy… and it’s even better on the grill! Yup, I grilled our pizzas on Saturday [apparently I was in a grilling mood this weekend]!

You can’t really tell from this photo but the grill marks are all on the bottom and under the sauce. I brushed the rolled out dough with EVOO and put it directly on the grill. A few minutes later I flipped it (when little bubbles formed), left it on for a minute or so and then removed it to apply the toppings. The pizzas then went back on the grill, which I then closed to let the cheese melt for a few minutes and let the other side of the crust cook a bit more.

It was definitely the best pizza I’ve made so far! The dough was nice and crispy on the bottom but soft with a bit of chew all over! I thought it was close to Picco’s until we had it the following night… and so the search for the perfect dough continues

I think Picco uses sourdough crust… it was just so chewy with large air pockets, very reminiscent of sourdough. Have you ever made sourdough pizza crust? I need to find out how to do that and get on it STAT!

Pizza is one of my favorite food groups! Winking smile

Please share your favorite pizza stories and recipes in the comments!

Share your breakfast, feed a hungry child

Friday was really rough with my lower back injury. It hurt to sit; it hurt to breathe, stand up, reach, bend down… basically to function. Even sitting up straight hurt so I did little except for watching a million crappy movies and eat myself to sleep (yeah…..). On Saturday things finally started looking up (I guess all the ibuprofen and icing kicked in!) and I tried to catch up on a few of my favorite blogs. This is when I discovered the Share Your Breakfast campaign through Tina’s post.

For every picture of breakfast that you upload, Kellogg’s will donate 1 meal to a hungry child. This is such an amazing cause so I decided to take a few minutes of my time and find some old breakfast pictures (this is where having a food blog comes in handy!). Want to see my favorite breakfasts? I’ve been very lucky in the breakfast department!

I went through a breakfast pizza phase for a while. No complaining here!Breakfast pizza with blueberries and crunchy cereal…

breakfast pizza

Breakfast pizza with yogurt and raspberries

breakfast pizza with raspbs

b pizza slice

[Fun fact: I had this for breakfast the day I met Siggi!!]

Carb + Barney Butter + fruit (and coffee, of course!) seems to be a very popular equation

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toast with bb and kiwi

english muff with bb and strawbs

Sometimes I throw some yogurt on top for good measure Winking smile

waffles, bb and yog

… and sometimes I double the carbs (LOVE waffle sandwiches… I really need to recreate this stat)

waffle sandwich

There is also the yogurt + fruit + nut/cereal standby…

yog with cereal   bloobs

… that’s anything but boring (how fantastic are these colors?!!)

yog parfait

And then there are a few odd ducks that perk up my mornings!

Whole wheat bagel with jalapeno olive cream cheese and fresh tomatoes

bagel, cc, toms

Banana pb&J oats (I OD’ed on oats a few years back and now they are a rarity ‘round these parts)

banana pb&j oats

Carrot cake breakfast sandwich anyone??

carrot cake breakfast sandwich

Or protein YAMcakes? Veggies totally belong at breakfast!

protein yamcakes

Lobster omelet. Need I say more?

seafood lovers omelet

Anyone else is now hungry for breakfast? :lol: I’m off to send these to Kellogg’s. Hope you do the same!! The campaign ends in June so keep those pictures coming!!

Question of the day: sweet or savory (for breakfast)? I think you know my preferences from the above. Smile with tongue out

Beer vs. wine pairing party

It was a long day at work today, which makes memories of this past weekend that much fonder.

On Saturday, we were invited to our friends’ Kevin and Trisha’s house for a beer vs. wine pairing party. The idea was to bring a dish that pairs well with one or the other and have some fun! Almost immediately I thought of bringing something spicy to pair with a Riesling, and then a moment of brilliance hit me – mini banh mi sliders. Oh yes I did!

Of course it’s me and I can’t just make a favorite recipe and call it good. And well, dessert needed to happen as well (just in case we didn’t have enough). I made some meyer lemon curd a few days prior so the idea of white wine cupcakes with meyer lemon curd filling and marshmallow wine frosting was born. Sounds fitting for a beer vs. wine party, no?

I started with the white wine cupcake recipe base (using half all purpose and half white whole wheat flour – they were perfectly tender, no whole wheatiness in sight. Yes, that’s a word!)

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Then scooped a bit of the cupcake insides (which I saved for a little snack later Winking smile ) and filled the cavities with the meyer lemon curd (don’t overfill them with the curd or they’ll be too intense).

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Lastly came the frosting part. I used 1/2 of this recipe for the marshmallow frosting – it wouldn’t harden so I added extra cream of tartar until it came to the right consistency) and it really tasted like marshmallows. I was so excited I forgot to add a bit of wine to it. Oh well, still amazingly delicious! [Adam said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made!!]

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The recipe made 18 cupcakes. 18 addictively delicious cupcakes. Good thing I had some friends to share it with!! Smile

So now on to the party. We had some super talented cooks, that’s for sure. Andrew impressed us all with his salmon tartar cornets with sweet red onion crème fraiche (recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook!!)

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Unfortunately, while I was totally drooling over this, I couldn’t taste the final product given the ahem, red onions. Sad smile I am certain it’s the most amazing appetizer though (I mean, common – it’s Thomas Keller’s recipe!!) so I plan on tackling it one day. How impressed are you with Andrew? He even made the little cones from scratch!

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For his pairing, he chose the pale ale by the Victory brewery since he just passed his PHD exam. I liked all the pairings from this dinner so I’m going to direct you to Kevin’s post for more comprehensive beer reviews since he knows a lot more about beer than I do. All I can say is that it went down easy! Winking smile

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Next up – my banh mi sliders!! I used grass fed beef instead of turkey, but otherwise followed the recipe to the T. It’s really the best!! I love how the meatballs have a bit of heat, which is enhanced by the spicy mayo and sliced jalapenos and then cooled off by the pickled carrots and daikon radish. Man, I loved these little guys!!

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This sweet Riesling was a really good pairing for this spicy dish.

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Happy customers Smile

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More finger food! Mac & cheese mini cakes to be exact! I believe Melissa used the Wine & Food magazine recipe but don’t quote me on this. These little cakes were perfectly portable, cheesy and indulgent.

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… and paired really well with this crisp prosecco. Seriously, best party idea ever!!

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Onto some Mexican cilantro chicken with all the fixins (cheese, salsa, tortillas), paired with the Hennepin Belgian style saison.

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The chicken had so much flavor and I just love the body of saisons – kind of like wheat beer but with so much more character. Yummmmm.

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Our stomachs were getting quite full but there was just one more savory course. Pizza!!

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Prosciutto, mozzarella

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and balsamic caramelized onion and goat cheese

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Paired with a surprisingly light Syrah. Can’t go wrong with pizza + wine!

At this point all of us really needed an eating break so we moved to the living room for some couch (and more drinking) time. Smile

Eventually these molten chocolate cakes (from the Flour bakery cookbook) baked and well, you can’t let perfectly molten chocolate deliciousness wait for you! Now can you? (don’t answer that!)

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Paired with this aged Mikkeller Belgian strong ale (brewed with chocolate!).

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Heaven!

My cupcakes were a bonus dessert and we all enjoyed them at our leisure.

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Someone kept hoping to sneak a bite but we were a bit quicker Winking smile

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What do you prefer – beer or wine? What’s the coolest “theme party” you’ve ever been to? I’m totally stealing this idea and plan on hosting one of my own this summer! Party smile

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