Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grilled pizzas

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far in Sunnyvale. We had friends over for dinner and had planned to bake pizzas. A few days earlier, when we had planned the event, it was still winter (there is virtually no springtime here). So using the oven only sounded appropriate. But we couldn't possible heat up the house any more yesterday night, as we were already suffocating.

Fortunately Craig Priebe was here to help. He just wrote a great little book called "Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas" where all the pizzas are grilled on a barbecue. He explains how to make the dough (but also tells you it's ok to buy it) and how to pre-grill it; how to make sauces and toppings in advance, then how to build your pizza and grill it. We gave a try to two of his recipes, guided by the mouth-watering pictures, and it was a success! I guess we could perfect our grilling techniques but all the explanations are there in the book. You just need to make a little bit of reading at first (the first section of the book is a crash course on grilling the perfect pizza) then you're ready to go.
The piadinas (italian flat-bread sandwiches), salads and desserts also look fantastic. I'm trying the PAT piadina next (Pancetta, Arugula and Tomato, with a basil pecan pesto. Yum!).

Moroccan Grilled Pizza
Pizza dough: this is where all the art resides, but there is a nice little box on the side of the 2-page recipe that goes "save time with pre-made doughs or crusts [...] Trader Joe's sells terrific fresh pizza dough that grills up perfectly"... And indeed it does! As we were pressed by time, this is what we did. However the recipe is detailed but doesn't look overly complicated.
Toppings: grated Parmesan, shredded mozzarella, grilled chicken breast (coat breast with salt, pepper and olive oil and grill on the hottest part of the barbecue for about 5 minutes on each side) torn or cut into bit-size chunks, 1/2 thinly sliced red onion, about 12 roasted garlic cloves (we chopped the top of a whole garlic head, drizzled with olive oil and placed on a low-heat barbecue for 5-10 minutes), pitted Kalamata olives, 1/2 thinly sliced red pepper.
Curry Glaze (we forgot all about it but the pizza tasted great nonetheless... This would have given it a nice kick, though): combine 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp curry powder, 1 pinch red pepper flakes and 1 pinch salt. Drizzle over the finished pizza before grilling it.
How it works: first grill the pizza dough, rolled into an irregular 12x12" (30x30 cm) round without edges for about 3-4 minutes on one side only on a grill that indicates 400F (we used our gas barbecue but the book explains several indoors and outdoors grilling methods) . Flip the pizza crust over and brush with olive oil, then add the toppings (randomly sprinkled rather than layered, to create different tastes in each bite), starting with the cheeses; finish with the glaze. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on your preheated (medium-high) barbecue. You can then broil for 2 minutes in the oven to caramelize the glaze (we forgot that step).

The Margheritan
This one is a simple tomato, basil and cheese pizza. We bought a small can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes that we spread over a grilled pizza crust (first brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan and shredded mozzarella). We added a sliced fresh mozzarella ball and fresh basil leaves and grilled for 5-8 minutes.
The recipe uses a "chunky tomato basil sauce" made of fresh, coarsely chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, pressed garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar mixed together and used uncooked.


cammu said...

looks pretty good.

Felicia said...

Sounds delicious :)

Anonymous said...

e-hem... I saw pizza and I felt somehow called into the discussion... ;)
Moreover with all my travelling I have seen the italian cuisine being raped and ravaged by "chefs" and restaurants making money by selling books with supposedly italian recipes and dishes that are often an abomination compared to what you get in Italy.
I was therefore really drawn to your article. Nothing personal - and since you are a great cook and love cooking I thought I should write a couple of things.
Bear in mind that I am open to experiments and variations - but I hate it when people call it "italian" or "mediterranean" - because, honestly, very often it has nothing to do with it. Adding "origano" (and not "oregano" or whatever else they call it... ;) ), does not make a dish italian.... :P
I suppose you get the same with French cuisine...

So, my comments:
1) there is no such thing as a "Margheritan", it is called "Margherita" - the name comes from the queen of Italy Regina Margherita di Savoia who visited Naples at the end of the 19th century. As far as I know, the pizza would celebrate the new "Italy" (unified in the 1870's) and the 3 colors of the new Italian flag - that is why you have ONLY 3 ingredients: mozzarella (white), tomatoes (red) and basil (green) (olive oil as a condiment); this was something new as pizzas in Naples had always been without cheese;
- pizza "Marinara" is the other original pizza (together with the Margherita), and is with tomato sauce, garlic, origano and olive oil;
- regarding the ingredients - as I said, I am open to experiments, and certainly variations are welcome, but as mentioned above, there only 3 ingredients in the "Pizza Margherita"; add anything else, and you are making something else altogher; so for the "Margherita", garlic, tomato paste, pepper and (horrible!) sugar are a total no-no; no wonder the author of the book is all but italian.... ;)
- italian cuisine is based on a few basic ingredients; recipes are made in order to make sure you taste the flavour of those basic ingredients - anything more complicated and you are getting farther and farther away from the italian cooking style; we are no big friends of spices (one or two are more than enough);
- what is "arugula"??? this is a typical distorsion of an italian name - the real name is "rucola"; arugula is most likely some southern dialect version of the name spoken 100 years ago by the grand-mother of the chef (does he have italian origins at all?); go any place in Italy saying that you want "arugula" and they will look at you in a weird way (at the very least).

Other than that - enough with the rant - and I really hope the grilled pizzas tasted excellent!
BTW, using a BBQ to cook pizzas is not a bad idea.

PS: another supposedly "italian" dish is "Spaghetti alla Carbonara" using cream - there is NO cream in this pasta Sauce - only egg, parmesan cheese, olive oil and bacon with its melted fat. Nothing else.
PS2: there is no such thing as "Spaghetti Bolognese". There is a "sugo alla bolognese" but is not what is served in "Spaghetti Bolognese" outside of italy. The meat sauce is called "ragĂș", eaten widely in Italy. The sauce with the meatballs is only served in the southern regions of Italy and is not called "bolognese" or "ragĂș" - honestly I don't even think it has a name.... ;)

kabonfootprint said...

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jean-philippe said...

hummmmm ! it's so nice and so delicious !! what a wonderful blue cordon you are !

FlavoursofItaly said...

I will try this tonight, looks delicous!

Gabriel said...

Very nice. I have also a site for recipes for cooking. See. I love your recipes. I am from the Slovak Republic. Be translated through Google translate

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beetle said...

I love pizzas and pictures which I could see at your post were... hmm... delicous :)
Unfortunately, I don't have any skills at kitchen and I have to eat pizzas at the restaurants, but I have to say that your blog gives me a reason to try to bake pizza :)
I hope that it wouldn't be a disaster (I mean me vs. kitchen)
Best regards


Dave Jones said...

sounds delicious.....i'm visiting your blog first time...looks pretty good.

John said...

It looks very goods
I'll definitely to come back to your blog again.

Joanna said...

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Sam said...

Hey Estelle - I know we haven't conversed for a long, long time, but I just found out you are really good friends with my manager. (Flo). I suppose we shouldn't really be talking about food during our 1:1s - but sometimes it happens...


Estelle said...

Hi Sam,
No way! The world is so small, it's amazing!
Lucky you to work with Flo :-)

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