Greek Chicken Pizza

Anytime I can whip up a recipe using nothing but items I already have in the fridge, it’s a good thing. And if I can use up some leftover chicken (rotisserie, grilled, anything!), that’s a great thing! And the best part about this pizza – it’s so good that I make it sometimes even when I don’t have the ingredients already in the fridge.

Trader Joe’s is great for condiments and I regularly have their sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and balsamic glaze in my pantry. Throw in some chicken, a little mozzarella and feta and you have a tasty flat bread pizza that reminds me of a Greek restaurant.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
12 oz. pizza dough – see recipe
6 oz. cooked chicken, cut into bite sized cubes
3 tbsp. chopped artichoke hearts (3 small, chopped)
2 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
4 oz. mozzarella
1 oz. feta
½ tsp. Greek oregano
Balsamic glaze

Optional Garnish:
Chopped basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll pizza dough into approx. 12” round and place on stone. Top with shredded mozzarella, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes, feta cheese and Greek oregano. Bake for 15 minutes, until mozzarella is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped basil and balsamic glaze (if using). Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Pizza Dough

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza 2I make pizza dough pretty often, because you can make so much with it. And because I love bread!  You can make a pizza with it (of course!), but it also can be used to make calzones, Pepperoni and Sausage Pinwheels, Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks or garlic knots. It only takes about 5 minutes to mix together (plus some time for rising) and here are some guidelines for how much you will need for various recipes.

 

 

8 oz. Pizza Dough (makes a 10” thin crust pizza, 8 breadsticks)
Featured recipes: Cast Iron Skillet BBQ Chicken Pizza, Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks
Ingredients:
⅓ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
¾ tsp. yeast
1 tsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
130 grams flour (approx. 1 cup)

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels12 oz. Pizza Dough (makes a 12-14” thin crust pizza)
Featured recipes: Hot Sopressatta Pizza
Ingredients:
½ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 ¼ tsp. yeast
1 ½ tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
200 grams flour (approx. 1 ½ cup)

16 oz. Pizza Dough (makes 2 10” thin crust pizzas, calzones)
Featured recipes: Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels
Ingredients:
¾ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 ½ tsp. yeast
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
260 grams flour (approx. 2 cup)

cheesy-garlic-breadsticksTo make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water until frothy, approximately 2 minutes. Using the dough hook attachment, add olive oil, salt and flour and mix on low to combine. Scrape flour off sides as needed, and increase to speed 2 (low-medium) for 2 minutes, until dough clings to hook and bowl is clean. Form dough into a ball, put into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

Tip:  dough rises best in warm, humid climates.  Since most of us prefer our homes not to be warm and humid, I create this environment in my microwave.  Take a mug full of water, and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes. After water is heated, place covered bowl in microwave with the steamy cup of water and close the door.  This will create a perfect environment for dough to rise.

Spicy Chili Honey

Spicy Chili HoneyI’m not really sure if what I’m about to tell you qualifies as a recipe or cooking but I am going to tell you anyway. You need to have Spicy Chili Honey in your pantry if you are fan of “sweet-heat” anything. I love adding this spicy kick to Homemade Ricotta Cheese with peaches for a creamy dessert, or anything that has cured salty meats, like my Hot Soppressata Pizza. I put this on a nice charcuterie board, so it can be drizzled cheeses, meats and breads… it can be a little addicting. I think I might even put a bowl of it on the table next time I make some fried chicken, because we all know drizzling a little honey on top of fried chicken makes it even better.

Ingredients:
4 oz. honey
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Spicy Chili Honey 2In a microwave safe bowl, combine honey and crushed red pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir to combine and then let stand for 10 minutes. Mixture can be used right away or will continue to get spicier as it’s stored at room temperature in a small glass container. Enjoy!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese 2Ricotta cheese is a staple in a lot of Italian cooking. I use it in lasagna, stuff shells, on pizzas, or even desserts. I always knew that making ricotta from scratch was pretty easy – there are only 4 ingredients, all of which were on hand and it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I had a hankering for Ricotta Cheese with Peaches and Spicy Chili Honey, where the cheese is the star of the show, and wanted a high quality, fresh cheese. The selection at the grocery store in Austin is a bit, well, lacking for Ricotta, so now was the time to make my own. The results were fantastic, and luckily there was quite a bit left for more dishes throughout the week.

Even though it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever made, it felt pretty fancy to make my own cheese.

Ingredients:
½ gallon whole milk (8 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (juice from approximately 1 lemon)

Homemade Ricotta Cheese 3Line a colander with 2 layers of dampened cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.
On medium heat, combine milk, heavy cream and salt, stirring occasionally until starting to boil. Reduce heat to low and add lemon juice. Mixture will start to curdle in about 2 minutes. Continue to simmer for approximately 2 minutes more. Pour mixture into lined colander and let sit about 20 minutes so the excess liquids (whey) drain from the cheese. Empty bowl occasionally to ensure proper draining. Store unused ricotta in the refrigerator for about a week (like it would last that long!) Enjoy!

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage PinwheelsIf you’ve ever walked into a pizza place in New York, you’ve seen the counter lined with pizza you can order by the slice, calzones and pinwheels.  My first stop when visiting New York is always my favorite pizza place, but I still need to get my fix between visits. These pinwheels are hearty, grab-able, appetizers for game day or just having some friends over. My all-time favorite is the classic pepperoni pinwheel, but you can put just about anything in them. Got a meat lover? Make this pepperoni and sausage variety. Feeling vegetarian? Broccoli and roasted garlic makes a divine pinwheel. Just don’t forget the cheese! Take some store bought pizza dough (or make your own) and roll away. One pound of dough makes 2 rolls, and each roll makes about 10 pinwheel slices, so this recipe is great for a group. If you’re making appetizers for just a few friends, cut the recipe in half, and make the leftover dough into garlic knots to have with dinner, or a thin crust pizza for tomorrow.

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels 2Ingredients (makes approximately 20 pinwheels):
1 lb. pizza dough
¼ lb. sliced pepperoni
¼ lb. crumbled Italian sausage, browned in skillet
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
¼ tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. melted butter
Marinara sauce for dipping

 

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels 3Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pizza dough in half and roll each half into an approximately 9×9 square on a floured surface. Top each square with half of the pepperoni, crumbled sausage, mozzarella and Italian seasonings. Carefully roll into a log, pressing ends together so the cheese doesn’t melt out when baking. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until deep golden brown on outside and dough is cooked throughout.

 

Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pinwheels 4 Let cool for 5 minutes, brush with melted butter, slice each roll into 10 pinwheels and enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza 2Pizza in one of my favorite foods, ever. I like it in any form; thin crust, deep dish, pizza bagels, you name it! The same goes for pizza toppings, you can’t go wrong with any of your favorite toppings, but it’s the method of cooking that gets that perfect crust which is key to any good pizza. Introducing…. cast iron skillet pizza! Starting the crust in a pre-heated skillet instantly starts cooking the bottom to lock in a perfect crunch, while finishing off on the oven creates ooey-gooey cheesy toppings. The mix of BBQ chicken, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and the fresh red onion, green onion and cilantro are the perfect combination for this crispy pizza.

I used a 10″ Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, but a smaller skillet can be used if you like a thicker crust.

Ingredients:
Dough (recipe yields approximately ½ lb. dough):
⅓ cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
¾ tsp. yeast
1 tsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
150 grams flour (just over a cup)

Toppings:
2 oz. BBQ sauce
8 oz. cooked chicken breast, cut into chunks
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. diced red onion
Chopped green onion and cilantro, for garnish

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet PizzaTo make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water until frothy, approximately 2 minutes. Using the dough hook attachment, add olive oil, salt and flour and mix on low to combine. Scrape flour off sides as needed, and increase to speed 2 for 2 minutes, until dough clings to hook and bowl is clean. Form dough into a ball, put into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

 

BBQ Chicken Cast Iron Skillet Pizza 3Preheat oven to 525 degrees. Once dough is ready, heat skillet on medium until preheated, but not smoking. Carefully press dough into hot skillet, stretching to edges with fingers, being careful not to touch the hot skillet! Cook on medium heat for two minutes, then start to assemble to toppings. Layer BBQ sauce, cheese, chicken and red onion and transfer skillet to oven until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Garnish with green onions, cilantro and serve.

Enjoy!

Top 5 Pizza Places in Austin

When I moved to Austin almost seven years ago, there weren’t a lot of good pizza options in town. Whenever I would visit my hometown in New York, my first stop would be my favorite hometown pizza place to get my fix. Fast forward seven years and pizza places are popping up all over the place. Here are my top 5 favorites (4 relatively new ones, and 1 Austin classic).

Pieous Fat Queen Pizza1. Pieous – The Fat Queen – crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, hot sopressata, Italian sausage and pepperoni

Pieous is the only restaurant in Austin to have a VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) certification. This Neapolitan style pizza cooks in an 800-900 degree wood fired over for under 90 seconds and their yeasty, chewy crust has the perfect amount of char. The Fat Queen has more toppings than one would think possible. Getting a pizza from Pieous is well worth the 15 mile drive outside of town.

 

Via 313 The Original Pepperoni2. Via 313 – The Original Pepperoni – cheese, smoked pepperoni, tomato sauce

This Detroit style pizza is a Sicilian style pizza with a softer, thicker crust, topped with pepperoni, cheese all the way to the edge of the pizza and sauce on top. Cooked in a perfectly seasoned blue steel pan, the thick crust comes out crispy, with a little oil, and a lot of delicious. With one of their locations in the backyard of Craft Pride on Rainey Street, it’s the perfect place to grab a pizza and a beer on a sunny day.

 

Backspace Pepperoni Americano3. The Backspace – The Pepperoni Americano – picante salame, tomato, mozzarella, basil

Most of the tables in this quaint space are front row seating to watch the pizza makers in action with the wood fired oven. Lots of fresh mozzarella, basil, and spicy pepperoni tops this chewy crust, cooked to perfection.

 

 

Home Slice4. Home Slice – NY Style Cheese Pizza

Home Slice is the only place in Austin that you can get an authentic NY style pizza experience, ordering at the counter, and getting a large cheesy slice on a paper plate for only a few dollars. Wait at the outdoor pick up window on South Congress for some sun and people watching, or head inside for a much shorter line at the counter.

 

 

 

Luckys Puccia5. Lucky’s Puccias and Pizzeria – Margherita – tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella
Lucky’s pizza has a thin crispy crust and the perfect amount of cheese. Margherita pizza is traditionally topped with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, but Lucky’s also includes shredded mozzarella, so there is deliciously salty cheese on every bite. Stop at their new casual brick and mortar store on 5th street for pizzas and puccias (wood fired Italian sandwiches).

Pieous

PieousWho would think that a small pizza place, located about 15 miles outside the heart of downtown Austin, would be the #2 rated restaurant in all of Austin on Trip Advisor?  It’s second only to Uchi, the OG of badass restaurants in Austin, which is quite an impressive feat. (Update, Pieous has recently taken over the Numero Uno position).

 

 

Pieous Pastrami SandwichIt’s hard to impress someone that grew up in New York with pizza and pastrami, but Pieous knocks it out of the park.  Their pastrami is hands down the best in Austin, with a perfectly peppery bark.  Sliced thick and piled high on fresh baked sour dough bread, this enormous sandwich tempts me to order sandwiches over pizza, which is an unbelievable feat for this pizza lover.

 

 

Pieous Fat Queen PizzaBring and friend and share that delicious pastrami sandwich, so you have room to try some of their phenomenal pizzas.  The Fat Queen, topped with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, hot sopressata, Italian sausage and pepperoni has more toppings than one would think possible. The yeasty, chewy crust has the perfect amount of char.

It’s a go to anytime heading all points west of Austin, but their pizza and pastrami are worthy of the drive on their own.