Post #575 Pizza Time!

June 10, 2018 at 4:34 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Does anyone remember the first pizza they ate?  Yeah, me neither.  I do know that I’ve been eating pizza for decades, and I’ve eaten it all over the world.  I’ve had pizza with red sauce, white sauce, curry sauce, garlic sauce, and no sauce.  I’ve eaten pizza with every imaginable kind of topping, even grilled squid.  It was good.  I’ve eaten round pizza, square pizza, rectangular pizza, free form pizza, pizza strips, pizza rolls, thin crust, thick crust, medium crust, alternate crust.  I’ve made my own pizza, and I’ve eaten pizza made by other people, places, or factories.

Pizza is probably one of my favorite foods.  And if it’s made properly, it can also be one of the healthiest.  There’s just something about the combination of tomato sauce and cheese that is universally appealing.  One of my favorite comic strips had the family sitting around the dinner table with a pizza.  The little girl said, “Don’t forget to take off all the toppings I don’t like.”  The mom did and the little girl said, “Not so much cheese on it.”  The mom fixed it and the little girl said, “Scrape off the sauce.  I don’t like too much sauce.”  When she was done the mom was frustrated and said, “That’s just wet triangular bread!”  And the little girl said, “I just love pizza.”

There are pizza snacks that go along with the pizza technology.  Some are microwavable, but I prefer to cook them in the oven.  Microwaves do terrible things to dough.  And I’m seldom in that much of a hurry.  Most of the time, pizza snacks are uninspired, but some are truly terrible.  I experimented with making mini pizzas when I was a kid.  I used toasted bread or English muffins for the crust and grated cheddar cheese and jarred “pizza sauce”.   I had mixed results, but when you’re a perpetually hungry teenager whose standards aren’t very high, nearly anything works.

Over the years, I’ve refined some of those results.  I’ve used my own hand made marina sauce.  I’ve played around with a mix of cheeses to include mozzarella and parmesan.  Toppings became whatever was at hand, but usually a mix of veggies and meats.  I’ve flipped the crust over in the style of a hand pie or a calzone.  But the only real pizza snack that I’ve found that I’ve truly enjoyed were accidents.

First, let me define what I mean by a pizza snack.  It should be small enough to be eaten in two or three bites.  It should have all the elements that define a pizza: tomato sauce, cheese, and a crust of some sort.  The crust can NOT be soggy.  Whenever possible, a topping should be incorporated.  It should be easy to eat with your fingers.  It shouldn’t take a huge production team to make it.

My first pizza snack was really an off shoot of following a recipe from ATK.  They made a thin crust, free from pizza on the grill.  It was a real production, but once you got used to making it, it was pretty easy.  You just had to be very careful about burning it.  You grilled the crust briefly on both sides, pulled it off, added the pizza fixings, set it on the grill until the cheese melted, then served it hot.  For the pizza snacks, I grilled the crust then finished it in the oven.  I sliced it into bite sized pieces, crisped it in the oven for a couple of minutes more, then served.

My second pizza snack I got the idea from a pizza I was eating at the time.  We had ordered a pepperoni pizza and the restaurant had been generous with the pepperoni.  So generous, several pieces had stayed on the crust and baked/burned into the crust.  This took on a flavor all its own.  The next time I made pizza, I left out a small chunk of the crust and rolled it out separately into a thin sheet and put some already cooked pepperoni on it so there was very little dough surface uncovered.  I flashed baked it, high temp short time, so the pepperoni crisped, and the crust wasn’t burned too much.  When it cooled enough to handle it, I cut it into strips to serve.

Corollary to this one, I also discovered that if you place thin sliced pepperoni in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about fifteen minutes at 375, then take off the baking sheet and allow to cool, they crisp up and become pepperoni chips.  So good to eat!

Today, though, I discovered a new pizza snack.  Weekends for us are a time for doing errands we don’t have time for during the week.  The primary one is grocery shopping.  Since we know we’re going to be on the go for several hours, we always make certain we get something for lunch that day.  Sometimes we eat out, but mostly we’re rushing home to put things away and to relax.  So today, we bought something called Pizza Sticks.  When it was time, I baked them for 15 minutes at 375.  They were crispy and filled with cheese and pepperoni and had a spicy marinara sauce for dipping.  They were quite good and checked all the boxes for my pizza snack.  So, of course, I immediately started figuring out how I could make this at home.

The sauce was the easiest part.  It was just tomato sauce with Italian spices in it.  Open a can, shake some spices into it, a little salt, heat it up and let it cool.  You’re done.  You can use a jarred sauce if you like, just make sure it’s one you like and is flavorful enough to carry its role in this.

The pizza sticks were actually rolled in the nature of a spring roll.  The cheese was a low quality mozzarella, and the pepperoni was lacking in bite.  Again, when dipped in the sauce, the overall effect was good.  So here’s what I came up with.

First, use either wonton skins, or spring roll wrappers.  Use something thin so they crisp nicely in the oven.  Spread one open on a surface with plenty of space to work.

Next, lay out a thin slice of mozzarella, but use a good quality.  You want some flavor in the cheese, not just the meltiness and pull of mozzarella.  Put a thin layer of pepperoni (or you favorite topping) on next, then a couple of shavings of parmesan-reggiano cheese for extra flavor.  Then roll them tightly as you would a spring roll.  Fold the sides into the center, then roll the end closest to you tightly until you reach the other end.  Moisten the end before reaching it, and once you’re done rolling, place the roll seam side down on a plate.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 375.  Spread a piece of foil on a baking sheet and lightly spray with vegetable spray.  Lay the rolls on the tray seam side down and not touching.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Serve warm with cooled sauce for dipping.  The cheese will be melted, the toppings heated, and the whole thing will be delicious!

As always,

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