Wife’s away…

…so I’ve been cooking up the stuff that’s not on her diet…which makes it not on mine. Funny how marriage works that way.

Started off with a pizza on Friday. Three cheese and pepperoni and salami.

My usual dough recipe, Egg setup (Bge stone on top of the AR)¬†and temp, but for some reason it didn’t cook up like normal. Bottom was getting done, so I popped it on the oven under the broiler to finish up the top. Only thing I can think of is that my dough was less than 24 hours old and I usually let it go 48 to 72 hours. Oh well, still good.

Last night I went with burgers, 1/4lb patties

Double meat, double cheese, corn and some fries. Apparently we were out of tots.

Sitting here at work, trying to finish up and wondering what’s on the menu tonight. Me thinks wings might be in order…

Tortilla Pizzas

Tortilla Pizza
Tortilla Pizza

Long time, no post, huh? Sorry about that, Guys. After Christmas, we took a few days off and headed down to the ranch to ring in the New Years. While down there, I developed a pretty nasty cold and ended up coming down with bronchitis, so I’ve been out of action for a while. I have done a few cooks, but none were really blog worthy.

January starts the busy season for Mrs. G, and as a result, she’s gonna be on the road quite a bit this month. And the next. ūüė¶ ¬†That means a lot more solo cooks from me. Making pizzas using tortillas as the crust has been on my to-do list for quite a while¬†now. I have been a bit worried about Mrs. G’s reaction to that, so I’ve been putting it off. With her out of town, I figured last night would be the perfect time to give it a shot. (And wouldn’t you know it, when I talked to her on the phone last night and told her, she actually said that sounded like a good idea. Go figure.)

Saucing the tortilla
Saucing the tortilla

Ingredients

  • tortillas
  • pizza sauce
  • mozzarella cheese (I added some cheddar as well, use what you like or what you have on hand)
  • your favorite pizza toppings
  • Italian Seasoning to sprinkle on top
I topped mine with a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar cheese, pepperoni, 'shrooms and black olives
I topped mine with a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar cheese, pepperoni, ‘shrooms and black olives

Directions

  1. Heat up your grill or oven to 400F¬†and insert your pizza stone¬† to preheat for a minimum of 30 minutes (you do have a pizza stone right? No? Well go get one. I’ll wait here for you while you do that) For this cook, I used my Mini Big Green Egg and an 8″ pizza stone.
  2. Lightly sauce your tortilla and add your desired toppings. Go light on the toppings. The tortillas are thin and won’t stand up to a heaping of toppings.
  3. Place your pizza on the preheated pizza stone and cook for 8-10 minutes. Check your pizza about halfway and rotate for even cooking as needed. Check the bottom after about 8 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning. Cook until your desired level of crispness.
Done after about 8 minutes
Done after about 8 minutes

Tortillas being pretty small, I knew that one was not going to be enough for me. Leroy, aka Spring Chicken) on the Green Eggers Forum, mentioned doing a double layered one yesterday. Kinda like the Mexican Pizzas you get at Toxic Hell Taco Bell. Sounded like a good idea, so I tried it out on my second one. And before you get any ideas of that being a lot of food for one person, keep in mind that pizza stone I used was only 8″, so they were pretty small. ūüėõ

Double layered tortilla pizza
Double layered tortilla pizza

Pretty much the same instructions as before, except I used two tortillas and put a thin layer of sauce and cheese between them.

After about 9 minutes
After about 9 minutes

Came out ok, but I think if I do a double layered one in the future, I would heat up the top tortilla for a few minutes to crisp it up a bit. I think it would give it a better texture/mouth feel than I got with a crispy bottom layer and a soft, warm upper layer.

Plated up on our best China. Hey...I did mention Mrs. G was out of town, no need to dirty more dishes when eating by myself.
Plated up on our best China. Hey…I did mention Mrs. G was out of town, no need to dirty more dishes when eating by myself.

If you are looking for a classic pizza, this might not be for you. But if you are looking for a quick dinner or snack or even an appetizer, this might be just up your alley. It has all the taste of a normal pizza and a crispy, cracker thin crust. Not the normal crust you would expect, but not the hassle of making dough, letting it rise, and stretching it all out. I also think it would be a great way to get kids involved in the whole cooking process.

Our First Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza
Deep Dish Pizza

¬†¬†¬†¬† A pizza argument is something I shouldn’t get involved in. Chicago vs New York. Deep dish vs thin. Neopolitan¬†vs Sicilian. What’s the best? I don’t know. I have never been to New York and tried¬†their pizzas. Nor have I been to Chicago. I know there are die hard cult like followings of both and I wouldn’t want to offend any of them. Speaking of…this might not be a true deep dish pizza, but it sure was good AHH-Mazing!! That much, at least, I can tell ya.

¬†¬†¬†¬† A recent trend on the Egghead Forum has been deep dish pizzas (at least that is what they are calling them). And I think one of the main reason’s was Zippylip’s¬†Mushroom Lovers Deep Dish Pizza¬†(you really should check it out). Ever since that post, people have been making them like crazy and I knew I had to try my hand at one as well.

Ingredients for dough
Ingredients for dough

¬†¬†¬†¬† I’m not going to get into the dough recipe. I’m no expert by far, but Zippylip¬†has a great write up with pictures HERE¬†that will walk you through it and here is a condensed version:

Batch of Zippylip Dough 

1) Combine 1.5 cups of cold water, 3 cups of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt; 
2) Mix with a spoon for a few seconds to eliminate any large pools of water; 
3) Let stand for 20 minutes; 
4) Mix on medium for 20 minutes (it will be very soupy, don’t worry); 
5) Turn off, cover, let stand for another 20 minutes; 
6) Turn mixer back on & add up to 1 additional cup of flour (about 1 tablespoon at a time) allowing it to incorporate. Repeat this until you get the consistency you are looking for (it should be pulling away from the bowl, yet still be sticky enough so that it is a pain in the ass to get out of the bowl); 
7) Remove from bowl, cut into individual pieces (2 for 2-16 inch pies, 3 for 3-12 inch pies, or 4 for 4-12 inch thin-crust pies or 2 deep dish pizzas in a 10.5″ Cast Iron Skillet);¬†
8) Place in separate oiled plastic containers & cover; 
9) Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 4 days; 
10) Remove about 2 hours before you are ready to use; 
11) When removing from the bowl, be patient, it will want to stay in the bowl, this is normal; 
12) On a floured surface, gently shape the dough (due to the higher moisture content, this dough will be harder to work with than more typical dough, so be careful not to tear it ‚Äď tossing will not likely be possible);¬†

     I will say that you may need to play around with the water and flour ratio to get it just right, will probably depend on your location and weather conditions. I had to add more water to get the soupy consistency mentioned in step 4.

¬†¬†¬†¬† So you’ve made your dough, you’ve let it rise in the fridge for 24 hours at least (I know, seems like a long time and a lot of work, but it’s worth it, I promise) and you’ve pulled the dough¬†out and are ready to get started. Take out a 10.5″ cast iron skillet. Add oil just enough to coat the bottom (I used canola oil), then turn over your plastic container holding the dough and let it fall into the skillet. That’s it, don’t shape the dough, don’t knead it, don’t stretch it out. It will do that on its own. (Step 12 is more for a hand tossed pizza or a thin crust.)¬†Now its time to let the dough rise at room temperature. But wait…it’s winter right now. I don’t know about you, but I know our house isn’t warm like in the summer. So what do you do? Turn the light on in your oven and place¬† the dough as close to it as possible. It will generate just the right amount of heat to allow it to rise. Trust me on this one.

My dough after rising in the oven for 3 hours (I know it said 2, but I had to go to a doctor's appointment and then the store. I'm sure two will be fine)
My dough after rising in the oven for 3 hours (I know it said 2, but I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and then the store. I’m sure two will be fine)

¬†¬†¬†¬† OK…you dough has risen, now its time to talk sauce. You have a favorite sauce? Ok, use that. You want to buy a store bought one or one from a restaurant? Ok, go for it. We opted to keep it simple. And by simple, I mean really simple. We took a can of diced tomatoes, the basil, garlic and oregano seasoned ones, 14.5 oz or whatever size they come in, and drained the liquid but¬†reserved it in case we needed to thin our sauce. Dumped it into a skillet and then mashed the tomatoes using a fork. Heat on medium and adjust to taste using salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and maybe some garlic powder. Once you’ve got the flavor you want, turn off the heat and allow to cool. How easy was that?

Our simple sauce for pizza
Our simple sauce for pizza

¬†¬†¬†¬† You’ve got your dough, you’ve got your sauce, now its time to talk toppings. I don’t know if there are special rules for toppings for deep dish pizza. If there are, who cares? This is your pizza. I say top it the way you want. We opted for pepperoni, our Home-made Hot Italian Sausage¬†(which we are now out of ūüė¶¬†), mushrooms and red onions, but you can add whatever your lil heart desires.

Browning up the last of our Hot Italian Sausage
Browning up the last of our Hot Italian Sausage

¬†¬†¬†¬† Time to start topping your pizza now that you have decided on what you want on it. Sauce first, right? Wrong! On this pizza, you don’t want the sauce to go down first. The liquid of the sauce will mess up the dough. You’ve got to protect that dough.

Start with cheese
Start with cheese

¬†¬†¬†¬† Start with a layer of cheese. Mozzarella. But don’t use that pre-shredded stuff. We’ve talked about this before. Its got chemical and stuff added to it to keep it from clumping. That also keep it from melting nicely and leaves a gritty texture. No, buy a block of cheese and grate it for yourself. It’s cheaper, too. ūüėČ

A pizza isn't complete without pepperoni!
A pizza isn’t complete without pepperoni!

    Follow the cheese with your choice of toppings. We started with pepperoni.

The rest of the stuff
The rest of the stuff

 Then added the sausage, mushrooms and diced red onions.

Let's get saucy!
Let’s get saucy!

Followed by our sauce. Can you guess what comes next?

More Cheese!!
More Cheese!!

If you guessed more cheese, move to the head of the class. You guys are so smart.

On to the Egg
On to the Egg

     Time to get cooking. Guess I should have mentioned to pre-heat your grill or oven to 425. Whoops. If using an Egg, the placesetter should be used legs down (and pre-heated a minimum or 30 minutes). Then place your cast iron skillet on top of the three green feet or use spacers of some kind to elevate it off of the placesetter.

20 minutes in
20 minutes in

Check your pizza every 10 to 15 minutes and rotate it to ensure even cooking.

35 minutes in and done
35 minutes in and done

Our pizza took about 35 minutes at 425F. Your times may vary and you may want to pull it earlier depending on how much you like your cheese browned.

Resting
Resting

Upon finishing, bring your pizza inside. Using a thin knife, cut around the edge of cast iron skillet so that you can remove the pizza and then allow it to rest on a wire rack for 3 to 5 minutes. Leaving it in the pan will cause the crust you worked so hard on to get soggy.

Sliced
Sliced

Mmmm…doesn’t that look good. Look at all those air bubbles in the crust. Light and airy.

View of bottom
Golden brown and crispy crust

One bite was all it took. I was in love. Heavenly. Crispy crust on the bottom, yet slightly chewy. Light and airy with a slight buttery flavor from the oil it cooked in. pepperoni and a bit of heat from the sausage. Every bite better than the next. We sliced it into six pieces and even though I thought I was only going to have one, I ate two. I just couldn’t stop myself. Mrs G, who has been to Chicago and eaten plenty of their pizzas, at one point said that it could stand with any of the famous places. I don’t know about that, but I’ll take her word for it. I usually prefer thinner crust pizzas, but now…I don’t know…this might be my go to style. And the good news…that dough recipe…it makes enough for two. So I’ve got another ball in dough in the fridge. Guess I’ll be having pizza again this weekend. ūüėČ

Mexican Breakfast Pizza

Mexican Breakfast Pizza

Mrs. G and I don’t cook many breakfasts on the Egg. Not that we couldn’t, but we tend to have different morning schedules. I get up earlier and let the dogs out, maybe grab a quick bite to eat. Mrs. G likes to sleep in. Rarely do we get up around the same time and cook breakfast, and when we do, we generally don’t feel like firing up the Egg.

This past weekend was the Plano Outlaw Eggfest. The second year for us cooking at it, and we really wanted to start off the day with a breakfast item. So we racked out brains and tried to come up with a good idea. We found a recipe that sounded good to us, but we thought we’d put a Mexican twist on it and ended up with Mexican Breakfast Pizzas.

(I’m going to let you know that there are pictures from two different days rolled in here. We made a trial run of this to make sure it would work out and then¬†again for the actual Eggfest. We were so busy at the Eggfest, we kinda, sorta forgot to take pictures of all the steps, so some pictures are from the trial run.)

Ingredients

  • Pre-made pizza dough (we used 1/2 of Tom Thumb’s White Wheat Pizza Dough)
  • 12 oz San Miguel chorizo
  • 1 cup frozen hash browns, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Oaxaca Cheese and 1/2 cup Chihuahua cheese, shredded¬†(or 1 cup of Monterrey Jack or your favorite cheese)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
Rolled out dough topped with Mexican chorizo.

Directions

  1. Preheat your Egg (or oven) to 425 with your pizza stone inside.
  2. Remove chorizo from casings and fry up in a medium skillet over medium heat, drain grease and set aside.
  3. Roll out your pizza dough, making sure to create a lip on the edge to prevent the eggs from leaking out later. Top pizza dough with chorizo.
  4. Next, add the hasbrowns

    Top with frozen hasbrowns
  5. Add the shredded cheese

    Topped with cheese
  6. Scramble your eggs and add milk and salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle on top of the pizza making sure to evenly cover the entire pizza. You may not need the whole egg mixture depending on the size of your pizza. If it begins to leak out the side, you have probably added enough.

    This is what happens if you don’t build a good lip on the edge of your dough. Don’t do this.
  7. Bake at 425, for about 12-15 minutes. Make sure to check on your pizza and spin occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly.

    Checking on the pizza (notice on the right side where I didn’t quite build that lip well enough and some of the egg mixture leaked out and made a bit of mess? Whoops)
  8. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese before serving
Ready to be sliced and served

So we cooked this Mexican Breakfast Pizza twice in one week. Once as a trial run and Mrs. G and I thought it was a hit. We cooked it again for the Eggfest, and either people were really starving or they agreed with us as it disappeared in under 5 minutes. Chorizo and eggs and cheese are always such a great pairing, they are just made to go together. Throw in some hashbrowns and pizza dough and how could you go wrong? If you are looking for new ideas for a breakfast item, I suggest making this pizza. I think it would be a great brunch item as well.

The only thing I would do different (and I meant to do it the second time around and totally got busy and forgot) would be to dice up some jalapenos and add them as well. If you don’t like heat, no worries. The pizza works just fine without them. We just like a bit of heat. ūüėČ

Mediterranean Cheese Focaccia Bread

Mediterranean Cheese Focaccia Bread

We’re all guilty of it. We all like getting free samples at the store. C’mon….admit it. No? Maybe its just me. Last week, I was at Sam’s procuring some ribs to smoke for a cousin that was going to be spending the night at our house. After finding the ribs, I was wandering around, seeing what else I possible NEEDED, when I heard a man giving out samples. This guy had his shtick down. He was rhyming, he was rapping, he was joking, basically he knew how to draw a crowd in and sell. And what was he selling? Focaccia Bread. He had all kinds of flavors. There was a sun-dried tomato version, Mediterranean cheese version, cheese and jalapeno and one more. Sorry, can’t think of what it is now.

Mediterranean Cheese Focaccia

The focaccia breads were tasty. He was serving them up hot, they were light and fluffy and the flavors were…well, they were good, but not out of this world. Nothing really to write home about, but I was getting an idea. Why not take them and expand on them? Make them like a mini pizza and add extra toppings to them? They would be great for an appetizer or a quick dinner.

Out of the package

As you can see, they are already cooked and just need to be warmed up to be eaten. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for later use. They might work ok as a bread with a main entrée, but in no way would that be a dinner by itself.

Topped and ready to bake

Keeping with the Mediterranean theme, I opted to top mine with some mozzarella cheese, a bit of feta cheese and some olives. I heated up my Mini Egg to 450, allowed a pizza stone to warm up on it and then placed my focaccia bread on top of that.

Cooking away on the Mini Egg

I took a seat outside next to the Egg with a cold beverage in hand, relaxing, reading my Kindle, while the dogs played and enjoyed a bit of the evening. My plan was to cook the focaccia for about 8 to 10 minutes, like we cooked our pizzas the weekend before, but somewhere in that time, I began to smell something burning.

Whoops

Yeah…I screw things up. All the time. More than I would like to admit, just ask Mrs. G. ¬†Guess I should have read the instructions on how to warm up the focaccia bread. Did you just go up and glance at the first picture of the packaged focaccia bread looking for instructions? If not, I’ll save you the time and go ahead and tell you. 400F for 2-3 minutes. Whoops. Good thing Mrs. G was having a night out with some of her co-workers. Since they were pretty cheap and there were about 6 per package, I decided to start again,this time following the instructions.

2nd attempt

 

     Sometimes it pays to read the directions and not think you know everything.

Much better result

Turned out pretty good for what should have been a 5-10 minute preparation and cook dinner. Much better than any frozen pizza you will ever find.¬† I think it would be a great teaser to fend off any hungry guests while grilling up your main entr√©e or a quick “I don’t feel like cooking” dinner. Think when we get through these ones, I might go and try the sun-dried tomato ones. And maybe next time, I’ll just stick them under the broiler to warm them up a bit and melt the cheese. The Egg really wasn’t needed, just wanted to play with my new toy.

Before you go, one last thing. The DAD’s Chili Throwdown is almost over and it’s coming down to the wire. While I may have started out strong, it’s now getting close. If you haven’t already gone over and voted, I would greatly appreciate it. While you are there, don’t forget to register to win a 6.5qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven that retails at over $150. It wouldn’t upset me one bit if you asked the love of your life, your kids, your friends, your yard guy or poolman¬†or the checkout guy at the grocery store to go ahead and vote for me as well. I can use all the help I can get.