Saturday’s Pizza on the Big Green Egg

I spent the day on Saturday at The Kitchen Shoppe hanging out with folks who were learning about the Big Green Egg.  I’ve written about the BGE in previous posts and believe I have explained that to call the BGE a grill is the understatement of the century.  Yes, you can grill on the BGE, but you can also do sooo much more – you can bake, smoke, and roast too.

On Saturday, I was cooking pizzas on the BGE.  My assignment from Dan, our BGE guru and my boss, was to do an INTERESTING pizza.  Other than those traditionalist who only eat their pizza with red sauce and cheese, the pizza was well received.  So much so that I was asked to post about it on the blog.

On the BGE

So here’s what I did:

  • The Dough – I used Gran Mugnano ’00’ flour in my old-favorite pizza dough recipe – Jimmy & Jeff’s Pizza Dough (see below)
  • The Toppings – Stonewall Kitchen’s Fig & Ginger Jam (replaced the sauce), julienned prosciutto, crumbled blue cheese, arugula (lightly dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper) and a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • The Temperature – between 600 and 700 degrees F
  • The Tools – pizza peel coated with a healthy layer of corn meal, pizza lifter (like a giant, round spatula), pizza cutter
  • The Charcoal – a mix of Wicked Good Jake’s Blend and Big Green Egg
  • The Time – about 6 to 10 minutes – until the desired doneness is achieved

Before Being Fully Devoured

In addition to the pizza, folks who came out for the Big Green Egg lesson with Dan also ate pulled pork, spice rubbed chicken, BBQ salmon, and 1 1/2″ thick steaks cooked at 700 degrees F.

The food was delish, the weather was cooperative and the company was wonderful.  What’s your favorite pizza on the Big Green Egg?????


Jimmy & Jeff’s Pizza Dough

by mmm mmm mmm

Keywords: pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)
  • 3 cups “00” flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)

Instructions

Combine yeast and sugar in a bowl large enough to hold approximately 2 cups of liquid. Add 1/4 cup water, stir and let bloom (about 5 to 10 minutes).

While yeast blooms, place 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp sea salt in to bowl of a food processor. Whirl to blend.

After the yeast mixture blooms, add the honey, olive oil and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir with a whisk.

With the food processor running, add the yeast mixture through the feed tube.

Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the work bowl and forms a ball.

Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a few minutes to remove air bubbles. Dough should be soft and elastic.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise for several hours. The longer the better. You can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator with great results.

After the first rise, punch the dough down, divide it in half, form each half into a ball and let it rise again for about an hour (or more if necessary).

Shape the dough and top it with your favorite ingredients.

Bake in a hot oven (500 degrees F) or cook on the grill.

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Pizza Dough: A Base for Yummy Toppings & for New Friendships

Throughout my life, I’ve developed friendships based on many things…..common hobbies, school ties, work, mutual friends, shared pain, serving together, love of dogs, etc….. But I have found over the past year and a half (or perhaps I’ve just reinforced what I already knew) that in addition to these things, food can be the base upon which friendships are built.

Through my work at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School (TKSCS) I’ve come into contact with many people – some are like me and some are not.  Some I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet or get to know, others I would. But no matter the similarities or differences, I’ve developed some wonderful friendships and our common bond is food and the passion for creating the best food we can.

Recently, TKSCS held its 40th anniversary celebration – it was a full-day event that included cooking demonstrations, product specials and demos, food samples and learning opportunities for a wonderful product, the Big Green Egg (BGE).  Those of you who have heard of the BGE or who own one probably know that the BGE provides the basis for some unlikely friendships as well.  BGE enthusiasts, or Eggheads, have all kinds of fora (or forums) online for sharing BGE cooking experiences and recipes. People who might not otherwise have met or who might share nothing else in common interact with one another, sharing what they’ve learned and helping one another through sticky cooking/grilling/egging situations.

I have a BGE on my back deck, and over the last 6 months have dipped my toe in the water of the BGE experience.  One of the things I best love making on the BGE is pizza.  Although homemade pizza has been a staple in our house for years, pizza on the egg is relatively new.  And I have to say I can’t imagine making it any other way.  The BGE allows you to cook pizza at high temperatures (600 – 700 degrees F), which gives you a nice crisp crust, and it imparts a wonderfully smoky flavor to the pizza.  It’s fabulous!

So at the 40th anniversary celebration, I made pizza on the BGE for 8 hours.  What a great assignment.  I got to be outside in the beautiful spring weather while doing something I love.  My “station” was next to the band – the Buc Hill Aces – and near the BGE classes that were being offered throughout the day; so in addition to smelling my pizzas, I also got to enjoy the wonderful aromas wafting through the air from the classes.  The students were grilling hamburgers, steaks, chicken and shrimp.  It was a fiesta for the nose!!!

Throughout the day, many people commented on the pizza dough.  Those of you who have been reading for a while know that the dough recipe was given to Jeff by our long-time friend Jimmy.  Jeff tweaked the recipe through the years and finally entrusted me with it about a year ago (March 21, 2013 to be exact). While there is no magic in the recipe, it does have just the right combination of ingredients to produce a flavorful crust with a wonderful texture.

So for those of you who asked about the dough recipe, I am finally posting it on the blog. I hope you enjoy the recipe and that it becomes a mainstay in your pizza repertoire.  If you try it, please let me know how it turns out for you.

Jeff and I have made this recipe hundreds of times in the last 22 years and have never been disappointed.  We’ve learned things along the way and have sometimes had to make substitutions.  We’ve played with the recipe, adding new ingredients such as fresh herbs, whole wheat flour, flax seed, etc. – sometimes the results were good and sometimes not so much; but the basic dough is always a crowd pleaser.

I would highly recommend cooking your pizza on the BGE if you have the chance.  It really does produce a wonderful result.  And not only is the pizza great, but the aroma that wafts from your yard into the yard next door will be enough to get the neighbors interested in what you’re doing, which hopefully will spark conversations and, in turn, allow new friendships to blossom!  I have a sneaking suspicion, that sharing this recipe for pizza dough will be the base of some new friendships too!!!!

Keep an eye on my “Classes I’m Teaching” page. I’m working on my cooking classes for the fall and am planning a hands-on pizza making class, among others!

Jimmy & Jeff’s Pizza Dough

by mmm mmm mmm

Keywords: pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)
  • 3 cups “00” flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)

Instructions

Combine yeast and sugar in a bowl large enough to hold approximately 2 cups of liquid. Add 1/4 cup water, stir and let bloom (about 5 to 10 minutes).

While yeast blooms, place 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp sea salt in to bowl of a food processor. Whirl to blend.

After the yeast mixture blooms, add the honey, olive oil and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir with a whisk.

With the food processor running, add the yeast mixture through the feed tube.

Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the work bowl and forms a ball.

Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a few minutes to remove air bubbles. Dough should be soft and elastic.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise for several hours. The longer the better. You can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator with great results.

After the first rise, punch the dough down, divide it in half, form each half into a ball and let it rise again for about an hour (or more if necessary).

Shape the dough and top it with your favorite ingredients.

Bake in a hot oven (500 degrees F) or cook on the grill.

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Great Partnerships: Pizza & Beer and MmmMmmMmm & Alter Ego Brewing Company

I am soooooooo excited about my class this coming Sunday (1/19) that I almost can’t contain myself!  Have you ever been involved in something that just feels RIGHT?  That’s how I feel about this class!

I get excited about each of my classes. I really do, I’m not just saying (writing) that! I love having the opportunity to share my passion about cooking and food I have prepared with people.  But I do believe the Pizza Pizzazz! class on Sunday at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School will be truly memorable.  You see, I am partnering with the wonderful folks from Alter Ego Brewing Company for the class.  Together, we will be presenting an interesting, flavor-packed menu paired with some truly remarkable beers!

Now I may sound a bit cocky about Sunday, but please do not mistake my confidence for ego (no pun intended).  And I AM confident because this past Sunday Jeff and I had dinner at our house with Brandalynn & Theo from Alter Ego Brewing Company and together we worked out the beer pairings for class. We had a wonderful time getting to know one another, tasting food and beer combinations, tweaking our pairings and making sure we were in agreement on serving order.

Alter Ego Brewing Company (AEBC) is a small-batch artisanal brewery that will be opening this summer in Harrisburg, PA.  AEBC’s version of their story is a much better narrative than I ever could have written about them!  The only thing I will add is that when you meet Theo & Brandalynn you will have no doubt about their passion for what they do or their fun-loving personalities!

The menu for the class:

  • Light & Lemony Fennel Salad
  • Roasted Potato & Goat Cheese Pizza
  • Ballpark Pizza
  • White Pizza with Asparagus & Egg
  • Asian Chicken Pizza
  • Espresso Panna Cotta

I toyed with whether or not to include the names of the beers that will be paired with the menu items above, but I decided against it.  That would ruin the unveiling in class and the part of me that loves a little drama simply won’t allow it!  So I would encourage you not to miss Pizza Pizzazz!

Here are a few teaser pics of the food and beer from our dinner with Theo & Brandalynn:

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Not only will you leave with 6 great recipes, but you will taste 6 delicious beers that were hand-selected (or is that tastebud-selected) to pair with the food.  Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than having someone else cook for you, being waited on, drinking delicious beer, and spending time with people who have a passion for what they do?  I sure can’t.

There are still a few seats left for Pizza Pizzazz!  To register, simply click here or call The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School at (717) 243-0906 or toll-free at (800) 391-2665.  I truly hope to see you there!!!!!

Monday MmmMmmMmm

Is there a better way to spend a Monday night than with sharing some laughs and good conversation with friends over pizza, wings and beer?

A group of us got together at Al’s of Hampden on Valley Road in Enola last night to find out. Al’s Monday Special: 35 cent Wings (1 doz minimum) / 50% off ANY Pizza (4pm-10pm – Dine-In Only) just sweetened the deal!  We met at 6:00(ish) and were off and running (or should I say chewing).  Typically when we go to Al’s we spend a good 15 minutes engrossed in the “what should we order” conversation; but last night it seemed to go much more smoothly.  Of course, we ended up with about 5 numbers on our table and our food came in stages over about a 30 minute period.  The beautiful thing about this group is that once we said a blessing over the food, everyone who had food dug right in and those who didn’t have their food did the talking.  Emily Post may have been offended that we didn’t wait until everyone had their food to begin eating; but no one at our table seemed to mind!

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Pizza: Conventional and Unconventional

I LOVE PIZZA!  And I don’t really trust people who don’t like pizza – I mean, what’s not to like?  Bread, tomatoes, cheese….mmmmmmm! I know there are people who can’t eat pizza for health reasons and they are exempt from my mistrust – mainly because if they could eat it, they would.

I like pizza shop pizza (particularly JoJo’s Pizza and Al’s of Hampden (they also offer a great selection of craft beers)) and frozen pizza – SOME frozen pizza; but I especially love pizza we make at home.  I usually call it “Jeff’s pizza,” but the truth is we collaborate.  The dough is all him!  Over many years he has finessed a recipe he received from a good friend of ours – I didn’t even ask him if I could share it because I’m fairly certain the answer would be “no.”

The toppings are where the collaboration happens.  Typically the ingredients we have in the house dictate the kind of pizza we end up making.  We’ve made conventional pizza with just sauce, mozzarella and traditional toppings; and we’ve made many unconventional pizzas – including some ideas we’ve gotten from recipe books and some made from our creative energies, such as:

  • Coney Island – chili instead of sauce, cheddar cheese and sliced hot dogs topped after cooking with yellow mustard and chopped onions
  • White pizza – sometimes with ricotta and sometimes without it, some creamy and others on the drier side
  • Chopped salad topped pizza (without sauce)
  • White sauce, asparagus, pancetta and fried egg
  • Caramelized onion with all kinds of different cheeses and chopped nuts
  • Etc.

Last night we went conventional and unconventional. We made a pepperoni pizza and a caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza.  The following is a photographic walk through the process:

Pizza dough just after being punched down.  Look at the air bubbles.  The dough may look like it’s too wet, but it is actually just right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaping the Pizza. We don’t worry if the pizzas don’t come out perfectly round.  They taste great no matter the shape!

 

Topping the Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza.  The toppings included a brush of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the dough, a tiny bit of mozzarella cheese to help the ingredients stick to the pizza, caramelized onions, chopped prosciutto, goat cheese and a tiny bit of mozzarella on the top to hold everything together!  Jeff wanted a few pepperoncini rings and I didn’t so we put them on half!

Topping the Pepperoni Pizza.  The toppings included Don Pepino Pizza Sauce (a good choice if you don’t have the time to make your own), pepperoni (as you can see Jeff had a serious hankerin’ for pepperoni), mozzarella, and dried oregano.

The Finished Products!

Not all our creations are delicious – sometimes we flop; but we always have fun when we make pizza.  It’s a chance to create together and to enjoy our labor of love.  One day we’ll have a brick oven for our pizza and will be able to make more than one at a time – that will make it easier when we make pizza for company.

My remaining pizza challenge is to recreate a white pizza my grandmother used to make.  It was an incredibly tasty dough topped very simply with olive oil, cracked black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  The pizza was not thin crust, but it was not as thick as a Sicilian style.  I have my mom on the lookout for the recipe……once I master it, I’ll definitely let you know!

In the meantime, let me know your favorite pizza toppings!  I always love to hear what other people like to eat.