Friday, June 26, 2009

Going Camping and Summer Pizza

We are getting ready to meet my son, daughter-in-law and the littles for a weekend of camping. 

Tent camping to be specific. 

According to my oldest KidAdult I have been whimping out over the years as our camping escapades involved some 25ft. of metal that housed pretty much the contents of my entire house plus air conditioning. 

He said when he was small we roughed it. In a tent. That statement makes me laugh. He sounds like an old man. Like, When I was boy we didn't have no RV... we did it the hard way, in a tent, barefoot. And we had to walk 100 miles in a thunderstorm to get to pitch it. And we had to hunt our food... LOL.

Anyway. The Best Husband In The World reluctantly agreed with me and we agreed with KidAdult #1 to meet him and the girls and camp. The old way. 

So we're off to the great outdoors. I am in charge of Saturday night dinner. 

Actually I love to cook outdoors. Food always tastes so good cooked over charcoal or an open camp fire, especially after a day spent swimming and sailing on the lake. 

So all this planning and talking and prepping and packing reminded me of something my dad used to make on a summer's evening. He always made this for a snack, not a meal and it was always a delicious surprise when my mom would call us in from catching fireflies or playing flashlight tag with a gaggle of neighborhood kids. 

We'd come roaring up the stoop all barefoot and dirty, just as the streetlights came on and the smell of Summer Pizza would hit us full in our happy faces. 

I've updated this a little bit - but the taste still takes me back to the warm summer nights of my youth. 

Summer Pizza: 

1 pizza shell (store bought, pizzeria bought or home made*)
2-3 fresh tomatoes, sliced
10-12 slices fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons fresh ricotta cheese (optional)
10-12 fresh bay leaves
drizzle of olive oil

Optional: mushrooms and artichoke hearts (quartered) tuck these under the cheese (hey, my tastes have matured!)

Preheat grill to medium low.

Drizzle one side of pizza dough with olive oil and using your hand, smear it all around. Place this side down on the grill. Close cover and grill 3-5 minutes until JUST done on one side. 

Place dough ungrilled side down on floured board. On grilled side place sliced fresh tomatoes, top with bay leaves, then mozzarella, drop fresh ricotta randomly by teaspoon full on top. 

Carefully slide dough back onto grill. Grill until dough is puffed and cheese is melted. 

Serve with Kool-Aid and we're back in the 60's. 

*Your neighborhood pizzeria is usually happy to sell you a pizza dough. It will cost you about $2.00 to $3.00 and will always be expertly made. But if you're ambitious, try this:

Pizza Dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F) this is important - use your meat thermometer to test temp. Too hot - kills the yeast, too cold - won't grow.
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the flour and salt and set aside. Dissolve yeast in the warm water, let sit for 5 minutes. Add the oil. Stir in the flour / salt mixture. Turn out on lightly floured baord and knead until smooth and elastic. 
Lightly grease a medium bowl and place the dough in the bowl. cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about an hour)
When the dough has doubled, punch down and turn out on floured surface. Let rest for 10 minutes, then "toss" if you're good or roll out to a round.

If you make this right after dinner it will be raised enough just when the fireflies come out and the street lights come on. 


  1. My father in law is a pretty amazing chef. He is a scratch kind of guy... My own mother would admit he is the one that inspired me to cook. She boils noodles and makes a mean green salad. I now make my own stocks which are so much better than canned as you know. A couple years ago he gave me some of his sourdough starter that came over the Oregon trail. I have really enjoyed making pizza dough with it. Do you use anything like that ever? The Pancakes are pretty amazing too!

    I just bought a sirloin tip roast today...about 4-5 lbs. What is your suggestion for keeping it moist. Any idea's. I have not conquered the beef roasts yet...

    I would love to be included in your weight loss blog. I need all the support I can get. My husband read my post and his response was "the truth hurts". Man he is no better then the wii...

    Happy weekend!

  2. Tamis,

    There are two ways to cook a roast: fast or slow. A sirloin tip roast is a nice cut of meat so you can cook it fast to keep it moist. If it was a lesser cut of meat, you could braise it (slow cook) it to hold in the moisture. Now, with that said. If your family likes their meat done medium, fast is the way to go.

    Barding is another way to seal in moisture - as is a quick pan sear.

    Here is my recommendation.

    Preheat oven to 425.
    Take your meat out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking.
    Wipe the meat down well, patting with paper towels. you are essentially drying the meat.
    On a pan or plate, throw down a good 2 tablespoons salt and some freshly ground pepper.
    Roll your roast all over the salt and pepper, patting it into place.
    Heat a tablespoon of oil in a big saute pan (big enough to hold your roast)
    Sear the roast on all sides until nicely browned - we are sealing the meat.
    Get your roasting pan out - place a rack in it. Place your meat, fat side up in the roasting pan.
    Roast in your hot oven about 11 minutes per pound for medium.
    If you have a meat thermometer, use it for checking for doneness. If you don't have one - go buy one. DO NOT CUT INTO THE MEAT TO CHECK IT.
    Let the meat rest at least 15 minutes, loosely tented before carving.
    Deglaze the pan for some awesome au jus.

    Starter from the Oregon Trail, how lucky are you?? My son would kill for that - he loves sour dough. I have a starter for an Amish "friendship" cake that was my grandmother's. She would be 108 this year.

    Husbands - can't live with em, illegal to kill them! LOL. I'll forward you the info for the health/fitness blog via email since I have that from the newsletter list.

    Enjoy that roast! We are heading out for 2 days at the lake. ....

    ps. you sound like a great cook! Ever think of culinary school as your second career choice?

  3. Thanks for helping Tamis with the roast..hopefully I will get invited to the dinner it is served at!

    Bty the way.. the pizza sounds yummy!

  4. Oh that looks so good! I love the idea of ricotta cheese on the pizza! Never thought about that combo before! Hope you had an excellent time camping! It's been a lazy weekend here in the mountains, stormy and humid, I've pretty much taken the weekend off, which is proving to be a good thing! See you on Monday!


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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