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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pizza: Morning, Noon and Night

 As I begin this week's blog, I would first like to thank my first few readers. Your feedback has been incredible and I am so pleased to hear all of the positive comments. As suggested, I will have a recipe in each blog. Over the years I have acquired and created a number of mouth-watering recipes that I am more than happy to share. I hope that in this blog you are able to find inspiration, whether it be in one of those recipes, pictures of event decor or something as simple as a story of one of my travels.  Which brings me to the question: What inspires you? A person? A place? Things big or small? Feel free to leave a comment and share.

Interestingly enough,  this week’s recipe inspiration came about by the means of a good friend of mine who just returned from a trip from California.  After winning Delta Airline round trip tickets that they had so graciously donated to one of the many non-profits they support, she dined her way through wine country with her own Southern flair.

When she returned, my friend raved about a restuarant with breakfast pizzas. While I've had my fair share of cold Dominos for breakfast, she ensured that these pizzas have a bit more sophistication. Combining the unique flavors that California is known for, this breakfast treat is the epitome of freshness and comfort.

I loved the idea so much that I decided to come up with my own version: the BLT Pizza, a combination of soft fried eggs, crispy bacon, and peppery arugula greens.

This has been a true crowd-pleaser.  Of course, most things with bacon are, so don't be suprised if it disappears quickly. Share with friends, family or keep it for yourself (I won't tell)...

BLT Pizza
  • 12 ounces, weight Prepared Pizza Dough
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling On Pizza Dough
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 8 strips Cooked Bacon (Adjust to taste. I love bacon, and think the more, the better!)
  • 1 1/2 cups Grated Mozzarella
  • ¼ cups Grated Parmesan
  • 1 pinch Kosher Salt
  • 1 pinch Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • 1 cup Arugula
  • 1 whole shallot
  • 3 Sprigs Rosemary, stripped and diced (optional)
  • Cherry Tomatoes 
Liberally cover your kitchen counter with flour. Knead rosemary into dough and roll to a 1/4-inch thickness. Brush both sides of dough with olive oil and set aside. 

Preheat your grill to approximately 375-400 degrees. Once the grill is at the desired temperature, place the dough on the grill. Make sure to keep a close eye on the dough as it cooks, as it can burn quickly. Mark each side of the dough and move off of direct heat. Crack eggs onto the dough and close grill lid for 2 minutes.  

Once the eggs whites are opaque and the yolks are set, top the pizza with cooked bacon slices, cheeses, shallots and arugula. Cover again for 2 minutes or until cheeses are melted and arugula has wilted. Add sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.

I know you're getting hungry. Word to the wise though; this is definitely a fork and knife kind of pizza. You don't want to end up with egg on your face (or on your shirt!) I have the dry cleaning bill to prove it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Milestone

A few weeks back,  a good friend of mine asked us to cater her sister-in-law's 50th birthday. A milestone in one’s life that signifies all that has passed as well as what is to come. As a gift from her sister-in-law's husband she was given a trip to Italy. However, since all the family and friends could not join them, we were given the task of capturing the true essence of the scenic mediterranean land.
Our canvas being a beautiful back yard with lighting provided by Mother Nature herself, we had the ideal backdrop for a true alfresco dinner. We created a long family style table dressed in a cotton polished burlap topped with a crisp white hemstitch linen. The center of the table was a collection of wood, wrought  iron and patina copper candelabras all accented with deep rouge peonies, set in blue whitewashed brushed wicker baskets. One of the elements of the table that I really enjoyed was the collection of items. Some old, some borrowed and some new; all from friends that sincerely care for the birthday girl.
 After the guests arrived to the champagne cocktail bar, they were escorted to the back terrace for a vast display of Antipasti meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, grilled whole artichokes, olives and the chef's collection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. 
 Dinner was served buffet style in three waves for guest to help themselves. The first, offered bites of pear and endive salad, assorted grilled flatbread pizzas and an artisan bread display with classic Italian spreads and dips. Once the first course was cleared,  the dinner fare was presented for the guests to choose their own dinner. The dinner consisted of  wild stripe sea bass with thousand tomato fondue, braised veal osso bucco, balsamic glazed eight piece chicken, a whole parmesan wheel filled with a wild mushroom risotto and brown sugar glazed petite carrots. Lastly, dessert was a luscious cake made by a family member. It was to die for.

As the sun went down and moon came out, it was as if the stars in the Tuscan sky were transposed onto the Atlanta skyline.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Starting From The Beginning...

As I relaxed and enjoyed my Spiked Sun Tea this past weekend, I pondered what to submit for my second Blog Post. Then it occurred to me, perhaps I should start from the beginning-the roots of my passion for food, travel and design. 

Food: My love of food began as a young boy in my grandmother’s kitchen in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  My grandmother and aunt both were a huge source of inspiration when it came to cooking and creating new recipes and helped me hone the skills and techniques that I use to this day. I spent my summers on the family farm, learning how produce, meats and grains were cultivated and harvested.   I developed a deep-seated respect for the earth and everything it yields, and learned that there is no greater reward at the end of a hard day’s work than sitting around the dinner table with family and friends enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. 

Travel:  Growing up we did not have a lot, so our vacations consisted of camping trips. My Mother (yes, my family was a victim of divorce), would leave work and pick us up in her  awesome blue Ford Mustang. All we needed was a canvas tent, sleeping bags and a Coleman cooler full of food. 

Dinner was a true American classic; Oscar Meyer hot dogs and canned baked beans. Once the tent was set up, we set off to find the perfect stick for roasting our dinner over the fire. My brother and I would then sharpen our sticks to perfection, although I'm not sure whether it was more fun finding the stick or actually having the opportunity to use our Swiss Army knives (which were also great for opening cans).


Although we loved the flavor of a good old fashioned hot dog cooked over a camp fire, we always saved room for dessert; Sweet Pudgy Pies. For those of you that do not what a Pudgy Pie is, it is two pieces of soft, white Wonder bread, coated with butter, filled with canned fruit and pressed in a Pudgy Pie maker. Set on hot coals for about five minutes per side, and you've got yourself some good eats! I can practically taste that meal now. To this day, everytime I grill out, I get a little nostolgic for our time spent camping in Wisconsin.

Design:  My grandmother, an orphan of the depression, was adopted by a couple who were shoe cobblers for the Kohler family as well as the local factory workers. She lived a wonderful childhood of birthday parties, church get-togethers and Sunday dinners. She told elaborate stories of parties with beautiful silver service pieces, ornate floral arrangements, hand sewn dresses of imported fabrics, and the latest shoe fashions, which completely captivated me.  With my grandmother's influence, I learned the importance of presentaion, unique event aesthetic, and the utmost importance of proper etiquette; lessons I use on a daily basis.

Whenever I find myself in a creativity rut, I try to go back to where I started from to gather a little humble inspiration.  Just remember that your best ideas may come from the simplist memories from your past.