Pizza Bake-Off Party!

Saturday night a group of our great friends – old and new – enjoyed an evening of tasty pizzas, entertaining magic, and lively conversation. After reading my blog post a few months ago about homemade pizza dough, our friend Justin suggested we a pizza bake-off, similar to a chili cook-off. What a brilliant idea for an unbelievably fun party.

We ended up with six couples, and I prepared the dough for (almost) all the pizza. Everyone was asked to bring their most inspired, tasty toppings and prepped their pizzas at our home. The creativity flowed!

We had Roasted Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza (potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, onions, and garlic); Caramelized Onion and Wild Mushroom Pizza with Prosciutto, Fontina, and Rosemary (my favorite, Craig's too and he doesn't like mushrooms); Zucchini and Ricotta Pizza (a recipe our friends Amy and Matt picked up while living in Germany); Barbecued Chicken Pizza; Big Mac Cheeseburger Pizza; and Dea's secret family recipe for Pepperoni Pizza (Chef Boyardee Pepperoni Pizza Maker!).

Magician John Kinney kicked off the evening mystifying us with his incredible magic and card tricks. What a great ice breaker for a party, but he's headed to the Big Apple after graduating from Webster University this spring. Major sad face for us STL folks.

Erin brought a gorgeous cheese platter and tasty pecans and Craig made pepperoncinis stuffed with bacon, red peppers, and boursin that we had as our appetizers, and I made an Italian salad (recipes for the latter two below).  
The finale of the evening were the desserts Justin prepared: decadent Chocolate Bouchons, a Thomas Keller recipe with three sticks of butter (!!!) as well as Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust.
Check out all the recipes here. If you are interested in hosting an interactive dinner party, have a pizza bake-off. It’s a blast!

Stuffed Pepperoncini
These are delicious on their own and nice on an antipasto platter with salami, pepperoni, black olives, and provolone. The cheese mixture is also terrific on top of cucumber rounds.

6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 red bell pepper, minced
8 ounces garlic flavored soft cheese such as Boursin
1 tablespoon milk
32 ounces pepperoncini

Cut the tops off the peppers, remove any seeds, and lay on a few layers of paper towels to dry.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until bacon is browned. Move bacon to paper towels. Discard all but 1-2 T of the bacon drippings. Add the shallots and red pepper to the skillet and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender. Cook about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
Finely chop the bacon and cooked vegetables in a food processor. Add cheese and milk and process until smooth.

Spoon cheese mixture into a heavy weight plastic bag. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag. Pipe the cheese mixture into peppers. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to one day.

A Nice Italian Girl’s Salad
10 oz chopped romaine lettuce, or a mix of lettuces (arugula, endive)
1/2 c "good" olives
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar is fine)
24 chunks of pepperoni. cut to bite-size
12 grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if yours are large
chunks of provolone or mozzarella, cut to bite-size

3 T red wine vinegar
2 T green salad olives with red pimento and juice
6 leaves fresh basil, torn up
2-3 T Italian parsley
1 t paprika
1/2 t dry mustard
3 big spoonfuls fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
A few grinds black pepper and kosher salt to taste
1/3 – 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

Put lettuces in a big salad bowl. Break up olives with your fingers. Scatter olives and the sliced red peppers around the salad. Add in the grape tomatoes, pepperoni chunks, and cheese chunks.

In a blender, combine the vinegar, olives, herbs, cheese, pepper and oil. Blend until mixed well. Pour over the salad and toss.

Optional ingredients include quartered artichoke hearts, steamed asparagus, and sliced, pickled pepperoncini peppers.

1 comment:

  1. Craig EvansApril 04, 2011

    It was an amazing party. You put together a bunch of very fun people with a very fun "competition" and it ends up great. We ended up picking the winner out of a hat since it was simply too tough to judge.



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