Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pizza Party for My Nephew & Pizza Snob Friends

Taylor's First Pizza

As a kid growing up, I looked forward to Sundays when the Times would be delivered to our doorstep. I'd get up and run to the door and grab the heap of freshly ink-pressed paper and toss it onto the living room floor. I would then grab scissors and hastily cut the bra and thong off the newspaper with two quick snips. And on my hands and knees, I would quickly shuffle through the stack like a college intern in a file cabinet on a busy day. There it was. Exactly what I was looking for.

No, it wasn't the comics.

Coupons. Pizza coupons.

During that time, the powerhouse pizza companies were Domino's, Pizza Hut and Little Caesar's and were constantly offering deals with soda, an extra pie for X amount of dollars or some weird culinary invention. But it was Little Caesar's who kept it real. For $15, you could get TWO pizzas with TWO toppings, while the other two offered ONE pizza for nearly the same price. Coming from a frugal, Chinese family, we'd be lucky to even get the $15 deal. Domino's and Pizza Hut was for the rich... and plus, they make such damn greasy food. I still refuse to eat that stuff to this day. But Little Caesar's? Yes please! Anyway, it was easier to push a cow off the road than it was to convince my parents to buy us pizza. They just didn't see the point of bread, cheese and sauce cut into triangles? Why? For $15, they could get a whole roasted duck at the Sam Woo bbq zoo. They could buy 7 of those face-sun visors if they made them back then. Thank god they didn't. Sometimes, we'd get those cardboard-like pizzas that came wrapped and stacked on top of each other. One look at it and you knew that it wasn't going to be very good.

My sister and I devised a plan to obtain more pizzas... simply by being on our best behavior. We showed homework, cleaned the house up every chance we could and blew MAJOR smoke up their asses. Most of the time, we failed. But for every 15 tries, we got our pizza. And it was heaven. For some reason, my story wasn't far off from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. We weren't very wealthy but we had hopes and dreams... of getting pizza. I still remember what it was like holding $15 buck in my pocket and happily crossing the street. The all-too-familiar sign with the cartoon Greek guy would widen my eyes. I could see the oompa-loompas walking back n' forth behind the counter processing goodness. A smile cracked on my face and wielding that fabulous coupon that would grant me access into delicious cheesiness. If you remember, Little Caesar's used to package their double goodness on a cardboard and large white 'envelope'... much like Charlie's winning ticket in the chocolate bar. A simple tear in the 'envelope', and wafts of goodness seaped into your nose. Those days are long gone. Now Little Caesars pack their pizzas in boxes and are selling two types of pizzas for $5 each. You've seen their human billboards... spinning and tossing their signs on the corner of the street. Definitely not the same.

I still love pizza to this day, but really, who doesn't? My favorites being Fat Slice in Norcal, Abbot's in Venice Beach and Greco's on the corner of Hollywood & Cahuenga. And for a frozen brand, I absolutely love the 5 for $5 Jeno's pizza – my official poor-college-guy staple, amongst Del Taco and Sriracha-sauce hot dogs. But the more you cook, the more you stray away from eating out and I definitely can't eat the pizza from Domino's and Pizza Hut. The sight of that greasy bread and orange puddle of oil laying on top... man. It's inevitable that you'll try making your own pizza.

Finally, after a long hiatus, I got called for a catering gig that requires making pizza in a woodfire oven. I freaked because (1) I cannot stand baking and (2) how the hell do I work a woodfire oven. Why do I hate baking? Because it basically requires a lot of patience, standing around and precise measurements. Once you've done exactly what the book tells you to do, you loiter in the kitchen area. I prefer cooking savory food because it triggers the human senses and requires full attention. I see it as a high maintenace girl that needs love, care, attention, gifts, massages and affection. If something's not right, she'll react and blow up. Such is the case with sauces that break... meat that is overcooked. Very temperamental but I love it.

J and I borrowed her mom's Kitchen Aid mixer and one look at that thing ensures that your food will be good. Tokyoastrogirl sent me a link to a recipe by Heidi of 101 Cookbook's, who now has her first published cookbook. (Congrats to her on a huge achievement – she deserves it). I decided to throw a pizzafest slash practice for the catering event, and to celebrate my nephew's first birthday. Since he has four beaver teeth coming out, he'd be able to eat his first pizza. I tried out the recipe Heidi used and man, this was some GOOD pizza dough. My mom, who never let us have pizza, loved the bread. J called me 30 mins after she tried it, and asked that I save some dough for her. I myself hate eating pizza crust, but couldn't resist. So far so good. The best way to find out if this pizza was really good was to call on my friends ME & EP. These two are pizza snobs slash whores. They eat pizza once a week. They've DRIVEN to the famous Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix TWICE, where people wait for 2 hours in line to get in to this spot. I've seen the photos of their pizza and wow, amazing. If you like the pizza at Batali & Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza, you'll like Pizzeria Bianco because the head chef, Chef Matt Molina, was trained in that same restaurant.

Australia-looking Pizza

These hairy arms are not mine. They belong to my friend ME. Here ME is rolling the dough out for our first pizza. A great dinner party to have is a pizza party, where you buy a bunch of pizza toppings and let everyone make his own pizza. I watched as he rolled the dough, and he looked very happy. Almost with that perverted, sexual offender look. Don't worry if your dough starts to look like Australia like it does in the photo, simply roll it back into a ball and start over. It's a good thing also to roll a few times because you want air to get in there to add some puffiness to the pizza.

Baby Cheese Pizza

Baby Cheese Pizza
For the birthday boy, my sister and I made him a 6" pizza with delicious marinara and mozzarella cheese on it. We then sliced the pizza into 1/2" x 1/2" cubes and laid them out on his baby chair (pictured above). He went to town on it and gobbled it up in about 7 minutes. This pizza reminded me of larger Bagel Bites and was very very fun to make.

Pepperoni Pizza

ME's Double Pepperoni Pizza
First ME laid out 5-6 pepperoni slices on the cheese. I looked at him with a puzzled look. C'mon man, I thought you were a pizza whore... double down on it! He pretty much covered the whole pizza up w/ pepperoni... not a chance for the bread to see the light of day. A classic, delicious pizza!

Marguerite Pizza

My Sister's Marguerite Pizza
She likes simple food and this pizza is a classic representation of food that doesn't need to be complicated. The Italians first devised this pizza as a way to promot patriotism. A marguerite consists of only red sauce, white cheese and green basil... the 3 colors in the Italian flag. I cut the slices of tomato rather thin because 10 minutes in the oven really doesn't cook the tomato fully. Everyone loved this.

Sausage & Zuccini Pizza

Spinach & Fontina Sausage with Zuccini and Red Onions
My favorite pizza has to be a veggie pizza, but the consensus insisted on adding sausage to this pizza. You can use any kind of sausage, it'll taste perfectly fine. I did a quick sauté with the zuccini and added garlic and smoked paprika. This combination was very good.

Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza

Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza
I made this for the client and she absolutely loved it. I quickly sautéed the portobello mushrooms in garlic and thyme and added it to the pizza. After it came out, I lightly drizzled some fantastic White Truffle oil. If you plan to buy White Truffle oil, try to fork out the money for a pure bottle of truffle oil, not the truffle-infused olive oil crap you see at Trader Joe's. If you don't use it quickly enough, the oil goes bad and tastes nasty. For many this was the 2nd favorite.

Heirloom, Basil & Burrata Cheese Pizza

Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil & Burrata Cheese Pizza
I think for this election, I'm not voting for Hillary, Obama nor Edwards, I'm voting for Burrata Cheese for President. This stuff is stellar. Tokyoastrogirl gave me the idea for this and I really have to say THANK YOU. The combination of sweet, juicy heirlooms, fragrant basil and soft & milky burrata is heavenly. After I baked the pizza, I dropped globs of the burrata cheese (it comes in a water-filled tub, in some sort of 'casing') all over. I watched as it melted slightly on the surface. Beauty. This was everyone's favorite and definitely mine.

A note to those that wanna try out the pizza recipe. With exception to the Baby Cheese and Pepperoni pizzas, I simply used olive oil on the dough as a 'sauce' base. I'm not much of a tomato sauce person, so I refrained from using it – and it turned out wonderful. Always salt and pepper the pizza after you've added your toppings. You can even add some more olive oil on top of the pizza before you bake it. Pizzas were baked for about 12 minutes, at 450 degrees without a baking stone. I've heard a baking stone does wonders, so I'll try that next.

Here's the link to Heidi's tasty recipe again. Happy belated to my little nephew, you rock. And thanks to everyone for reading.


Brilynn said...

I'm drooling, I NEED to make myself some of that fabulous pizza, immediately!

Manggy said...

I can't believe it, they ALL look good! Wow!

Anonymous said...

All of these pizzas look sooo good, but especially that tomato, basil, and burrata. Where did you get your burrata from?

JadedOne said...

Happy birthday to you cute nephew! Those pizzas looks good enough to sell to the general public. I'd pay $15 for one hehe.

BTW, my hubby and I call those visors "bukkake visors". Yeah, I just had to throw that in there hehe.

One last thing, I had been checking your blog every day since your SF post in anticipation of the next one. Plz post more! :)

H. C. said...

Yum!!! And I love how you had to point out those hairy arms ain't yours...

Daily Gluttony said...

very impressive as always!!! i am going to have to try this fo' sho' now that the summer heat is waning and it's time to fire up the oven again.

btw, pizza was always a rare special treat in our household growing up as well. my parents were not only being frugal but also thought it was too "yeet hay." also, my grandma knew that we kids liked pizza but she didn't know how to order it in english, so sometimes she would try to make it for us herself using mantou dough, ketchup, american cheese and ham. It was good times.

e d b m said...

Brilynn/Manggy, thanks! Trust me, I was just as surprised too. I was quite confident that my dough would turn out like sh*t.

Marvin, you can find burrata cheese pretty much at any market. it's usually next to the mozzarella in a water-filled tub. $8-10 though!!!

Jadedone haha. BUKKAKE visors. Care to explain the purpose of THAT visor? I appreciate you checking back for the rest of the SF postings. I'm a little SF'd out b/c i was there for nearly a month working. I'm on it soon.

Hi HC, hairy arms could mean hair in the pizza haha. Please shave prior to making dough.

DG, HAHA. I was WAITING for you to toss in your cantonese version of the story. I give your grandma much respect for recreating her own pizza. I remember my parents would buy those boboli packs and buy tomato sauce. Slap the sauce on and put american cheese on it... it was SICK. haha.

Anne said...

Do they make hair nets for arms? Cos your friend needs to wear one. J/K!!! Hope he doesn't send a virus to my blog, ha. Seriously, your pizzas look insane...what IS it about bread, sauce and cheese that makes such an intoxicating combo? Pizza is a food I'll never tire of...and if I could eat YOUR version I'd probably want it everyday. Bravo!

SteamyKitchen said...

Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza
Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza
Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza
Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza
Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza

i want i want i want!!

Bon Vivant said...

They all look so good but it was love at first site when I saw the burrata pizza! From your description, it tasted as wonderful as it looked.

Christine D. said...

Seriously, anyone who doesn't like pizza needs a major flogging.

Hey, $1 Celeste pizzas need some lovin' too!

Oishii Eats said...

Dough ma!

marias23 said...

Yum! Portobello and truffle for me please!

JadedOne said...

Hey I'm not into bukkake if that's what you're implying. It's just what we call those visors cuz they cover the entire face. Haha!

Chubbypanda said...

Yes, my Chinese brother! Testify! =b

What is it about Little Caesar's and Chinese families? Every one of us got our pizza pizza from Little Caesar's in the 80's.

What's this about bukkake?

Yuzu said...

The basil on your sister's pizza — bring it on! I love basil. The more, the merrier.

This post reminds me...I made pizzas a long time ago and never posted them on my blog. Ahh...too lazy now. ;P

Anonymous said...

I can getSword of the New World Vischeaply,
Yesterday i boughtSword of the New World Gold for my brother.
i hope him like it. i will give Sword of the New World money to him
as birthday present. i like the cheap snw vis very much.
I usually buy vis and keep it in my store.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog~

Mikette said...

WOW! You make it look so easy. Your nephew is adorable.

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