It seems as though all of my friends and even my sister are getting on the wood-fired pizza oven bandwagon (think Uuni). I think it's great! These small ovens heat up to 900 degrees in about 30 minutes and make everything taste like it came out of a backyard oven in the Tuscan countryside. Pizza parties are a no-brainer...the guests bring a few topping ingredients and the host supplies the dough. (You could make your own but
Trader Joe's has a good one, ready to roll out. You can also buy from your local pizza place.) The possibilities are endless but simple combinations are best. I found two kinds of kale, some arugula flowers and thyme in the garden, added some caramelized onions, roasted garlic, fresh mozzarella and some sliced Yukon Golds for a deliciously different pie. Hang out, watch how quickly it's done, and marvel at the sight of these puffed and blistered discs from heaven.
Caramelized Onion +Potato + Kale + Fresh Mozzarella Pizzetta
1 head of fresh garlic
good olive oil, about 1/4 c
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 small bunch of kale, torn off the stem and chopped coarsely
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dz small, fresh mozzarella balls, torn in half
fresh thyme, pulled from the stem
arugula blossoms or other sweet flower, violets would be good (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the very top off of the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until soft. Toss the sliced potatoes in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange on a sheet pan. Bake (at the same time as the garlic) for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet and add the onions, a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 15 minutes, stirring often, over medium heat until soft and golden brown. Remove from the pan, add a bit more oil and then add the kale. Sauté for about 5 minutes until limp. Assemble all of your ingredients in 'to go' containers for the party. Roll out your dough and brush with olive oil. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves and spread on the crust. Place the onions over the garlic then the kale. Arrange the potatoes on top and then dot with the cheese. Bake and then sprinkle with the flowers and fresh thyme just before serving. Makes 2 pizzettas.
Avocado toast is fairly ubiquitous these days but I had a version on my last trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that surprised me. It featured a guacamole-style avocado mash with a crumble of feta cheese and—the shocker—capers! The bread was toasted on the grill which added a pleasant smokiness and rustic simplicity, which I liked. Cutting the toasts on the diagonal is a must according to Adam Rapoport (editor in chief at Bon Appetit magazine). It seems that the sharp points matter when enjoying an open-faced delight such as this! This recipe would work equally well as small hors-d'oeuvres, a plated appetizer and a healthy lunch by adjusting the size of the portion. Try this delicious take and see if you don't fall in love with avocado toast all over again.
2 Hass avocados
2 T red onion, chopped in a fine dice
2 T chopped, fresh cilantro
1/2 of a chile serrano, seeded (or to taste), chopped finely
5 T olive oil, divided (1 T for the mash and 4 T for the toasts)
1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
a pinch sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
Rustic Italian bread or baguette, sliced thinly (depending on your purpose)
3 - 5 capers per slice
3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Mash the avocados in a bowl (with a fork) with the onion, cilantro, chile and 1 T of olive oil. Add the lime juice and season to taste with the salt and pepper. (Remember the capers
and cheese are also salty.) Brush the bread slices lightly with olive oil and grill
(or toast in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown). Spoon the avocado mixture on the bread slices, sprinkle with the cheese and place the capers on top.
This recipe comes from my friends at Daiquiri Dick's in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where this appetizer is a frequent favorite on their menu.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"