A Beautiful Summer's evening, a lovely drive through rolling hills, a huge lake (Lake Pepin, which is really a river) eagles soaring overhead, a quaint town named after a city in Sweden, turn left, you're almost there, past the tiny cemetary on the hill, turn right by the sign that says "Liberal Cathoic Church" hmmm... keep going along the dusty gravel road, look for parked cars...you must be close, the smell of pizza is in the air. Pizza? Until last week, I had never heard of the A - Z Produce farm. The "Pizza Farm" , as they're known, just outside of Stockholm, Wisconsin serves gourmet pizzas. One night a week, they make brick oven baked delights, made from the organic produce and meat from their picturesque farm. You can explain it, but you have to experience it to really understand it. This is an organic family farm. The herbs, vegetables and "happy pigs" provide the wonderful toppings for the delicious pizzas.
July 12th marked our 24th wedding anniversary...we said we were going to wait to celebrate, but instead we first had a wee little night out at "The Anchor" in NE Minneapolis, which I highly recommend for some of the best fish and chips in town...add a local Grainbelt Nordeaster and you've got it made. An inexpensive delicious eating experience. So I was really surprised when David said pack up a bottle of wine and a blanket, "we're going for pizza in Wisconsin"...I guess I wasn't too surprised, our friend Tim told us about this unique rural dining experience, so David thought we'd follow Tim's lead. The Fisher and Bannen Farm only serves pizza on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and that means pizza, ONLY pizza. Bring your own "everything else"...and that's where you can get creative. We brought a bottle of red, a root beer for Pete, some salads, utensils and something to sit on. The fun and friendly couples sitting along side us in our little pine covered nook on the lawn were smart and stopped at Homemade pie shop in Stockholm on the way. They highly recommend the coconut cream pie...next time. I did have these beautiful fresh vegetables from our friend Bou's family garden to make some simple salads to go with our pizza.
The most unusual pizza, perhaps, is the four stations pizza. One-quarter of the pizza is sausage, roasted pepper and fresh mozzarella; a second is pepperoni, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, basil and garlic; the third is pesto, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; and the fourth is roasted beets, onion, basil and Gorgonzola cheese....next time!!
After you order your pizza from the great combos on the chalk board, you can sit anywhere you please...with the crowd, secluded in the trees with a table, candles and flowers, or close to the pasture with the animals!
Our pizza was ready in about an hour...the time was not an issue. We had fun observing the variety of people who had gathered there for the "Wood Stock" of pizza. "Hippies"...actually highly tattooed Bohemian types are quite the norm these days, book club ladies, "Red Hat Society" ladies, families, and couples looking for a romantic rendezvous.
This experience has inspired me...maybe we should open up our home? our backyard?...we could build a wood burning oven?...is it allowed in our the city's code? We could call it "Pizza Fridays at the Abes? I do have a baking stone and a grill, plus the life changing pizza and bread dough recipe from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" This recipe is so easy...I swear. You can always have pizza or bread dough in your fridge!! I've been making Rosemary and Sea salt Foccacia out of this dough too.
Olive Oil Pizza Dough
(From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Makes about 4 pizzas)
2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 TBSP. granulated yeast
1 1/2 TBSP salt
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix the water, yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil in a 5-quart, lidded container.
Mix the flour in. Use a wooden spoon, (you could use a stand mixer...but it's not really necessary) you are mixing the dough just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Cover, not airtight, and let sit at room temp. for about 2 hrs., until dough rises (nearly doubles)
Store in the fridge, keep it covered, but not air tight, and use within 12 days.
On the day you are going to make pizza, bring the dough out of the fridge. Dust the surface of the dough with some flour and pull off one quarter of the dough (using a serrated knife). This is about the size of a grapefruit. Put the rest of the dough back in the fridge to be used another day. Using floured hands, quickly shape into a ball and then roll out. I sometimes just stretch it. Using flour when needed to keep it from sticking.
Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Pizza
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
Few leaves of fresh basil, cut into thin slivers
1/2 medium yellow zucchini, sliced as thinly as you can pull off with a knife or your mandoline (I went for 1/8-inch thick with mine)
1/2 medium green zucchini, sliced as the same as above
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll your pizza dough into a thin 12-inch circle and lay it on a stone that has been dusted lightly with cornmeal.
In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese with the juice of half your lemon. Season it with salt and freshly ground pepper, and spread it over your pizza dough. Scatter fresh basil slivers over the cheese.
Arrange your zucchini coins in concentric circles over the goat cheese spread, overlapping them slightly. You can alternate their colors, if you’re feeling fancy. Squeeze the juice of the second half of your lemon on top of you zucchini, then drizzle with olive oil and finish with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (your baking time will vary, so please watch carefully), or until the edges of your pizza are golden brown and the zucchini looks roasted and a little curled up at the edges
How about a Breakfast Pizza idea...This one is from the "Big Sur Bakery Cookbook"
6 strips bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
6 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
One to two hours* before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.
Prepare the dough and toppings: Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper-towel-lined plate; roughly chop.
Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle.
Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour ( I use some cornmeal too) and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper.
Bake the pizza: Shake the pizza peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.
Come on over! I'll make you a pizza and we can talk about Shaklee. Isn't it about time for you to find out more about these wonderful green, organic healthy products?...I would love to show you how great they are.
Contact your Shaklee distributor for more information. Fresh Clean water is so important for a healthy lifestyle. Check out the new "Get Clean Water Pitcher" We can't wait for ours to arrive.