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Open Wide!! Incoming!! Prosciutto Pesto Puffs

Open Wide!! Incoming!! Prosciutto Pesto Puffs

Prosciutto Pesto Puffs!! Prosciutto Pesto Poppers?? Puffs or Poppers?  Mmmmmm, I can kind of go either way.  In support of Puffs, these tasty little morsels are light and puffy.  But, don’t discount Poppers; the journey from cutting board to platter is anything but guaranteed – see Open Wide above.   I say you get 3 dozen pieces, but do you???  What if you don’t? Who will know? Most importantly, this quick and easy app includes the four food groups (remember those?) –  cheese and dough, pesto and pig. Riiiiiiiiight??  I know I had you at cheese and dough.

Who among you doesn’t have some version of those four things in-house at all times?  Don’t make me come over there!  I know by now I have cultivated at least some level of pantry-responsibility in you.   Personally I am still working through pizza dough from last month’s Pizzapalooza/Bring Your Own Pizza Toppings pot lucky.  I was so uber prepped that I ended up with another half dozen crusts in the freezer. But this dish disappears so quickly you can short cut my Trader Joe’s dough short cut and just grab the poppin’ fresh variety.  It would be a crime against your calendar to make dough for this from scratch.

Good Enough to Eat!And pesto…I’m just about at the end of the stash of Pistachio Lemon Pesto I put away last fall. But for this I used an arugula pepita pesto –Y.U.M. – that was a contribution to the pizza party.  Any combo of greens and nuts or seeds will work. Just follow the basic proportions in this recipe.  The sassier the better. And, of course, you will get more depth of flavor if you toast the nuts or seeds first.  But if you are short-changed on time,  supermarket pesto ain’t half bad.  We’re on the clock, people! We got PopperPuffs to make.

Then there’s the pig – let’s just go straight for prosciutto and stop there. But of course you could use salami, ham, anything that is cooked or cured.  Raw bacon would be a mess. Smoked turkey would be a delish sub, or roasted peppers and thoroughly drained spinach if you are vegetarian.

Vegans however need not apply. This PopperPuff screams for cheese.  I met and [email protected]’d this dish about 8 years ago when my then 14-year old neighbor Allison whipped up a larger version, stromboli-like, and appeared for a boat ride with a hamper-full. All the adults were stunned. What? Is? This? Cheesy? Goodness?  It’s possible I broke a bicep shoveling in the gooey slices.  Ever since, we have called this (or any interpretation of) the Ali Roll.

It recently occurred to me it was a tad bit – don’t judge me on what I am about to say – too gooey.  I know. I know. But more because the center stays a bit dough-y than that there is too much cheese. Heaven forbid!  So for a Memorial Day app exchange – which had nothing to do with technology – I decided to whittle this down to bite-size, and the results were a crowd-pleaser.  The pieces were also less daunting than a slice 4+ inches wide which is considered bite-size in fewer and fewer circles these days.

Feel free to swap out all the fillings. This dish is pretty indestructible.  I haven’t tried it but am fairly certain you could make the logs and freeze them, then bake frozen. Or you could bake it off, slice and freeze in an airtight container. These are good warm-from-the-oven or at room temperature.

While not gourmet per se, this is squarely in the category my friend Cindy calls “People Love It”.


Oven Ready - Prosciutto Pesto PuffsProsciutto Pesto Puffs

  • 13.8 ounce can of classic pizza dough (or equivalent fresh dough)
  • 2/3 cup pesto
  • ½ pound prosciutto, thinly sliced, (includes a bit extra for snacking)
  • 1 ½ cups grated mozzarella*
  • Good olive oil, salt flakes and crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425o.

Roll or stretch dough into a 12” by 14” rectangle.

Cut in thirds lengthwise, creating three 4 x 14 strips.

Divide the pesto between the three strips and spread evenly. Leave a ¾” edge pesto-free along the far (long side) of each strip.

Cover the pesto area on each strip with prosciutto – about 4 slices per strip.  It’s okay to overlap a bit.

Divide the grated mozzarella between the three strips and sprinkle on top of the prosciutto.

Working with one strip at a time, tightly roll toward the pesto-free zone, creating a 14” long log.  Tuck the ends under and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other two strips.

Brush the logs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (I like Maldon Sea Salt Flakes ) and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan about half way through.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. When cool enough to handle, transfer the logs off the baking sheet onto the wire rack .   Let rest 10 minutes all together.

Slice into 12 slices per log. Stand back and relish the high praise.

*When asked on that maiden Ali-Roll voyage, the Ali-Roll Mistress herself instructed me to use “grocery store mozzarella for best melting.”   Sure, you could fancy it up with fresh mozz, but you still won’t have leftovers.

Makes 3 dozen PopperPuffs.

On deck - puffs are ready

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Pizza Party – Getting Pot Luck-y Part III

Pizza Party – Getting Pot Luck-y Part III


Bring your own pizza toppings.   Pizza Party extraordinaire.

BYOPT - Bring Your Own Pizza Toppings

In case you haven’t guessed, these newfangled pot lucks (emphasis on the LUCKY, not the pot) are a big hit.  Perhaps the reason typical pot lucks scare me just a wee bit is their origin.  Historically, pot lucks date back to the European middle ages when nothing, but nothing, was thrown away.  (Maybe we could take a tiny page from that lifestyle – I’m looking at you 40% food waste). Rather, leftovers were thrown into a pot and kept warm kind of indefinitely, available to any unplanned arrivals on short notice. This practice was especially prevalent in taverns and inns in medieval times, so no matter when you arrived, you could be treated to the “luck of the pot.”  It’s entirely possible, to me at least, that modern day pot lucks could be of equally suspect food safety, never mind random items.   But the Pot Lucky aims to change all that!

While on the subject of random items, who can forget the famous shrimp dip?   My hosts, the charming Bob and Sally Oyler, were no doubt surprised when not only did a guest plop down a somewhat lame-ass (editorial comment mine, certainly not that of the gracious hosts) hors d’oeuvre smack dab in the middle of their fabulous holiday buffet, but said hors d’ was accompanied by kitschy  recipe cards to take away.  By the end of the party, pretty much every card remained – apparently not a dish that you really need (nor want, for that matter) a recipe for.  And now, for more than 35 years, they have appeared in my mail, tucked inside Christmas cards from Sally, their daughter Barb, and most recently hand-delivered by a grandson, something of a recipe card mule, given he had no idea what was in the envelope he bore.  I have gotten the last card from Sally, but trust, hope they will keep coming. Anybody want that recipe?   I might have a few to share.

Shrimp Dip. Shrimp Dip. Shrimp Dip.

Like everything, pot lucks have a silver lining. The beauty of the pot luck is that it spreads both the effort and the expense and makes entertaining a you-don’t-have-to-be-Martha-Stewart snap.  After the sausage making party and the soup swap, both definite fan faves, I landed on BYOPT – bring your own pizza toppings.  A Pizza Party. “Best Party Ever”, according to one guest.  I think part of the fun was that everyone got a quick turn at playing chef – drawing from the 40 some toppings, sauces, and cheeses that found their way to the kitchen island.  And by playing chef, I mean this in the truest sense of the word – all the items were prepped (mise en place) and assembly is both the easy and the creative part.  I committed to providing the dough (Trader’s Joe has fresh flour, whole wheat and herbed dough, as well as a frozen organic dough).  Then I threw out some ideas for both pizza combos and individual toppings, organized by sauce/base, oils, toppings (veg and meat), and cheeses.    You can plan it two ways – have people chose from a list of toppings and mix and match at the party, or have them bring enough for their own concoction and they are responsible for everything but the dough on that pie. We got a bit of both.  Just a little coordination will keep you from having a lot of dupes.

I of course had to make a run to the Cheese Lady, not just for the fabulous ooey-gooey meltable cheeses, but also for her fine collection of oils and vinegars.   I settled on a lemon oil (fabulous to drizzle with my lemon pistachio pesto) and a white truffle oil. Super aromatic oils like truffle need to be drizzled after the bake.  They are too good to go on before the oven.  Good news guys – a phone call to the Cheese Lady and these puppies can be on their way to you.   They don’t ship cheeses, but do take phone orders on the wonderful assortment of oils and vinegars.  There is a divine maple balsamic that makes a killer vinaigrette with the lemon oil, and the raspberry balsamic is wonderful drizzled into a seltzer.  Super refreshing!

Oils and Vinegars Chez Cheese Lady

I had to get a couple cheeses that weren’t on my radar – one was meadowkaas which I did know about but didn’t expect to see til June. This is a special (aren’t they all?) style cheese that is made from the first milk from the cows that wander into North Holland’s (the Netherlands, not Michigan!!!) first grasses each spring.   An importer found some 65 wheels from 2015 and upon Cheese Lady deeming it delish, they found their way to her.  Yahoo!   However, the other cheese I bought I had never heard – Kurpianka smoked cheese from Poland.  Its touch of garlic and springy texture make it a perfect melting pizza cheese. Yum.     Oh and it looks like a cheese grenade. I love that!

Cheese Grenade

The most important detail you can tell your guests is to make sure the ingredients are “pizza-ready.” That means olives are pitted, zucchini and shiitake-types are quickly sautéed, and bacon is at least par-cooked.  Otherwise you will get both a free for all with your limited space and a real mess. I considered a change of address halfway through the party.   But a little organization goes a long way. I had a building station with sauces and oils, a topping station, a cutting station, a bar area, and a plates & salad serving area.  My kitchen isn’t nearly as big as it sounds.  But it worked – just barely.  We had about 18 people and made about 13 pies.  I find that so hard to believe because I swear I made 15 myself and ate at least 20.  #CarbFreeMay

It helps to have some basic equipment – a Pizza Peel to transfer the prepped pizzas, a Pizza Stone or two (or three) always hot in the oven, pizza pans, and plenty of cutting boards and pizza wheels.   Everyone brought what they had. I think there may have been six pies in the oven and two on the grill at one point.  For the grilled pizza, we used the frozen dough.  If you make your own or use fresh dough, it is best to roll it as thinly as you can and then freeze it to make a smooth transfer to the grill. Oil the grill and cook the dough on both sides to color and get grill marks.   Then transfer to the building area where you can add toppings.  Slide back on the grill and close the lid to melt the toppings. This will only take a few minutes.   The oven (400-425oF) pizzas work well if you dust the peel with corn meal or make sure the dough is well floured and not sticky.  Build the pie and slide onto the hot stones.   All in all, it’s pretty neck-down in the execution, once you do a couple test pies to get down the technique.

Prepping Ingredients

We had some pretty fantastic Pizza Party toppings – here is a select list (email if you want my master list):

  • Sauces: red sauce, lemon ricotta, lemon pistachio pesto, fruit chutney, kale pesto, green olive tapenade, horseradish dill drizzle
  • Oils: EVOO, lemon oil, white truffle oil, Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil (divine on the butternut squash ribbon pie), chipotle oil, fig balsamic
  • Arugula, charred scallions, roasted garlic, sautéed shiitakes, grilled zucchini and yellow squash, you’ll thank me in the winter oven dried tomatoes, sautéed broccoli rabe, fresh basil, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted beets, dried figs, butternut squash ribbons (the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer worked perfectly), Brussels sprouts, smoked salmon, capers, roasted plums, radishes  – wait…..seriously??? A partial list????
  • Pepperoni, prosciutto, shredded chicken, ham, bacon, sausage
  • Grated mozzarella, fresh mozzarella – sliced, burrata, grated parm/asiago/Romano, fresh goat, feta, glacier wildfire blue, smoked kurpianka, meadowkaas

Building a Pie

And here are a few of the winning Pizza Party combos:

  • Pesto, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, you’ll thank me in the winter oven-dried tomatoes, and dressed with arugula tossed in a lemon vinaigrette
  • Red sauce, figs, bacon, chicken, roasted garlic, wildfire glacier blue, smoked kurpianka
  • Lemon pistachio pesto, fresh mozzarella, asiago/Romano/parm, smoked kurpianka, basil and shiitakes
  • Red sauce, sausage, mozzarella, basil, artichokes
  • Kale pesto, broccoli rabe, chicken, Kalamata olives, basil, mozzarella, burrata
  • Lemon Ricotta, spinach, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash ribbons, figs,  feta, toasted pumpkin seed oil
  • Arugula Pepita Pesto, goat cheese, butternut squash ribbons, pepitas

Oven Ready

I’m sure you wish there were more and better photos (I do), but seriously, I need my fingers.

Good Enough to Eat

Next up in the Pot Lucky series: Build Your Own Burger!

Pizza Party - The End

The End of (this) Pizza Party! (and thanks to the phenom clean up crew!!!)

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