Recipe Ideas

Since a Google search for "pizza recipes" yields nearly ten million results, there's no need for us to reinvent the wheel. Instead, let's look at some examples, concepts and big-picture ideas.  Do it yourself pizza making is really about letting your hair down and having fun in the kitchen, while tailgating, out on the deck or patio, wherever.

The Rules
There are none! We believe experimenting is fun and serendipitous. Anything goes.

Pizza #1
Here's a good example of the process of inventing your own personal pizza. Guido Nardini, chef, host and co-owner of the famous Chicago restaurant Club Lago, visited our home and made bratwurst pizza (I'm serious), which is saying something for a man who speaks Italian fluently and travels to Tuscany at least once a year to rekindle family connections there.

Here's how Guido went about it:

1. He scrounged around our kitchen and discovered our larder was mostly bare, except for VOILA! some stray onions, bell peppers, cloves of garlic, and a package of Johnsonville brats.

2. While the brat links were cooking up in a pot of boiling water, he chopped the onions, garlic, and peppers, and sauteed them in olive oil.

3. Guido spread about a tablespoon of olive oil on a large Bova Italian Herb ready-to-use pizza crust, followed by a couple tablespoons of spaghetti sauce which was hiding in our fridge behind a jar of mayonnaise (no, he DIDN'T use mayo on this pie).

4. He sprinkled some ordinary run-of-the-mill grated Parmesan cheese over the oil-sauce layer, followed by a relatively even layer of the sauteed veggies.

5. Guido next sprinkled about a handful of Mozzarella-Romano blend (cheap dairy case stuff, in a plastic bag).

6. He sliced the now-cooked brats pepperoni thin, and placed these meaty coins all around his evolving creation, and topped it all off with another handful (or maybe two...I was distracted keeping an eye on his kids) of shredded cheese.

7. Into a 400 degree gas oven it went, right on the rack, which was vertically centered, the sweet spot for pizza baking.

8. Tick, tock, tick, tock...ten minutes, time to eat. WOW! Crispy bottom and top, and a perfect chew in the middle.

A Few Takeaways From Guido's Most Excellent Culinary Adventure

First, don't feel like you have to measure everything, or even anything. Most of the zillion pizza recipes online specify 1/2 cup of this and 2 tsp. of that. Relax! Measure and weigh if you want...or don't. Do it your way. You want avocados and Japanese zucchini on your pie? Go ahead. Think of a pizza crust as an artist's canvas, just waiting for your creative impulses. The entire world of food is your palette.

Second, don't forget leftovers and odds and ends that are just looking for a home on your pizza pie. We've spread crumbled meat loaf, ranch dressing, chopped up KFC chicken and ketchup (see below) on Bova crusts and enjoyed them immensely.

Third, homemade pizza's an economical way to feed a crowd. It's amazing how far a half pound of hamburger or a bit of bacon and cheese go when they're on a pizza. Guido's brat pizza fed four adults and two youngins just fine.

Pizza #2, Our Figure-It-Out-As-We-Went Cheeseburger Pizza (made on a 12-inch Bova Cheddar Cheese crust)

1. I poured about a tablespoon of olive oil on the crust and spread it around using the palm of my hand to create a thin film. A brush works OK too. We often first apply the oil as a barrier if we're using a watery sauce. The oil keeps the crust...well...crusty!

2. Next, I cringed as my wife squeezed about 2 or 3 tablespoons of ketchup and half as much mustard right on the crust and spread-and-mixed it in one glorious motion all over. Said I, "Ketchup? On a pizza? Isn't that, like, heresy?" No matter, she was confident this would all work out, which it did. If you try this, use whatever ketchup/mustard proportion appeals to you.

3. My son (this was a family affair) suggested onion, so we chopped some red ones up and sprinkled them around. I mean, what's a cheeseburger without some onion?

4. We then sprinkled some shredded cheddar cheese around our evolving pie, followed by a crumbled 4" x 3" x 1" slice of meatloaf left over from our previous night's dinner.

5. I'm a garliholic, so I sprinkled some of the powdered stuff on. Not much, just enough for my taste.

6. Last, a few strips of sliced Kraft American cheese singles and more shredded cheddar. I realize some purists wince at the mere thought of using stuff that's technically called cheese food and cheese product, but what the heck. This is America! We're free to choose. Anyway, what greaseburger joint doesn't use it on their sliders?

7. We baked this pizza 13 minutes on a Presto Pizzazz oven, and it works great! I almost can't say enough good things about this $45 marvel of American ingenuity.

The Pizzazz is fast. No need to warm anything up, including your kitchen on a sweltering day. It's economical--about 5 cents in electricity to bake an average pie.

It's very easy to use: place your pie on the platter, plug it in, set it to "Dual" (which heats from above and below simultaneously), twist the timer to 12 or 13 minutes, and watch.

For the first two or three minutes, you'll swear this gizmo could never bake a pizza. Wrong! When the timer rings, it shuts off the heating elements automatically, but keeps turning. Just slide the now-baked pizza pie off the non-stick platter, slice and enjoy.

A Pizzazz produces the perfect pizza, with a crispy crust to die for. Whether it works as well on frozen or raw dough crusts, I can't say. But with our Bova crusts, it's magnifico.