What jumps out at me in this photo is the expression on my son Ben’s face. This is a young man who, for all other photo ops, avoids looking at the camera or the person taking the picture. But, he is clearly in his element at this moment. Taking pride in all the work that he does to get to the markets. It’s the look of a person who feels a sense of purpose, focused, and content in his accomplishments. We work in a hot kitchen during the week and then spend muggy summer weekends outdoors, and I rarely if ever hear a complaint from him.
A regular customer of ours said to me, “your business has been a great addition to the market and the community.” I can take pride in that tremendous compliment. But I am most proud of Ben for his precision and hustle in the kitchen, as well as the maturity he is developing. And, on top of that, he is always full of ideas, which I hope to add to the menu in the future. He would prefer that I not say this directly to him, so I will say it here: well done, Ben!
Tomato sauce on pizza is tried and true. On a classic white flour crust with classic toppings like veggies or pepperoni, it’s exactly what you would want in a home made pizza. What happens, though, when you have a whole wheat flour crust, or a blend of flours? What if you are not a huge fan of tomatoes? Here are some flavorful options for you to try:
What?… Yes. On one of our 100% whole wheat crust, potatoes really work. And you can find pizza with potatoes on top in Italy, so there is a tradition that already exists.
When I found myself with one serving of leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge, and already knew how great boiled potatoes are on a pizza, I had to give it a try. I spread the potatoes on instead of tomato sauce, added a blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheese, bacon and caramelized onions. It was very satisfying. More so because the whole wheat is filling.
My son, a die-hard pizza with pepperoni on it kind-of-guy, was craving something different. Here’s a simple Ricotta sauce recipe:
8 ounces of ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the herb of your choice – all to your taste. (I used thyme.)
I needed only 3-4 ounces of additional cheese, our blend of mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, and asiago. In the picture above, I put lightly sauteed red peppers and onions, and fresh sage on top. The 50-50 blend crust supported the richness of the cheese perfectly.
1. Carrot stuffed green olives and sweet yellow pepper chunks on a classic crust, with our pizza sauce and cheese blend.
2. Olive tapenade and cheese on a small 50-50 Herb crust.
The first crust is pretty traditional. The second, not so much. It just goes to show that sauce is not always needed and might sometimes get in the way of creating a combination of strong flavors. #2 would be a nice and easy appetizer or a fun lunch!
Apple, Bacon and a sprinkle of Parm, with a Cream Cheese Sauce, on a 50-50 Herb Crust
A customer excitedly came up to us at the market, raving about a breakfast pizza he had made with one of our whole wheat crusts. He bought three more crusts (!!) and gave me a run down of his recipe. His variation ran more to the savory side, and I had visions of something a bit more sweet. Here’s what I did:
For 2 small herb crusts, I whisked together 1/2 package of cream cheese, 1 egg, a teaspoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Room temperature cream cheese is easier to blend with the egg. I peeled and sliced the apple and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. I applied the sauce, arranged the apples and sprinkled with crumbled, cooked bacon and cheese. (If there had been cheddar cheese in the house, I would have used that. But parmigiano reggiano is always around.) The two small pizzas fed four of us nicely as a light breakfast. I think any of our crusts with whole wheat in them would work beautifully for this combo, small or large sized. I will be making this again for a New Year’s Day brunch!
Potatoes, bacon, onion, mushroom, fontina cheese on a Whole Wheat crust. Yes, Potatoes.
You will not miss the tomato sauce on this one. Whole Wheat is perfect with all these flavors!
Although there are a lot of ingredients that need to be cooked ahead of time, it is worth the work. And on a chilly fall evening, this is just the kind of pizza I crave.
Pre-cook the bacon. (I know some people put raw bacon on pizza. It ends up chewy when it should be crisp.) Boil sliced new potatoes until tender, drain, and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sautee your onions and mushrooms.
The trick is to apply half your cheese (about 4 ounces) to the crust first. Then the potatoes will be anchored into the cheese as it melts. Top with your cooked ingredients and the remaining cheese.
Prosciutto, Purple Peppers and Onion, on a 50-50 Blend crust, with Butternut Squash puree as the “pizza sauce.”
To make the puree, cube about 2 cups of squash and sautee it a bit of butter, to which you have added 1 medium clove of garlic, salt and pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add about a half cup of chicken stock, cover the skillet, and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. You can simply mash it or put it in a food processor for a smoother consistency.
Those peppers and onions really benefit from a bit of browning. The salty prosciutto and sweet squash are pretty spectacular together.
Top with your favorite cheese. This one has a combo of mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, and gruyere!
Not only that, this past Saturday, the last crust sold was the one-thousandth! The customer who picked up that one gets their next crust free.
Now this doesn’t mean we have made 1000 crusts. We made a lot of crusts practicing, taste-testing, offering freebies to neighbors and friends… that adds a couple hundred more! I am so proud of Ben for all his hard work and it’s obvious he is very proud of himself. This has not been an all-smiles business venture. With long baking days, when he frequently says “too many crusts,” and harsh summer weather, now heading into harsh winter weather; it has been mentally and physically challenging for both of us. Congratulations, Ben!