Floridian Pizza Oven

Home Brick Oven

This weekend I’m in Florida to see a live performance with picture of an animated short film I worked on some years ago while at USC. More on this in a coming post. One of the reasons I decided to make the trip out here for this particular performance is that my family happens to live out here. And of course, where there is family, there will be food… lots of food… ridiculous food. Today I was visiting my uncle who recently had a brick oven built in his back yard… What? Doesn’t everyone’s uncle have a brick oven? Hm… Anyway, he was generous enough to allow me to invite myself over for pizza. My initial visit was at 12, which was a good thing since he needed to light the fire right then so that it would get up to temperature by dinner time at 7. The temperature? Around 700 degrees. Cook time? 90 seconds.

Now don’t think for a minute we used any “pizza sauce” homemade or otherwise. Uncle Sam does pizza “sauce” with fresh chopped plum tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and salt – that’s it. Topped with a combination of fresh and shredded mozzarella, sautéed mushrooms, and onions, it’s divine. There is nothing like the crust one gets from a brick oven. A bit charred, amazingly crispy, and with a touch of smoke from the burning wood. I’m obsessed. He tells me that there are a myriad of things that taste amazing from the oven – chicken, steak, vegetables. But his favorite? Whole roasted turkey. That will have to wait til next time.

Me? Spoiled? Never. ;-)

Homemade Brick Oven Pizza

Easter Pie

Easter Pie I realize Easter is long over, but considering you haven’t heard from me since BEFORE Easter, I thought this would be a good place to begin my blogging catch up.

Most of  you may look at that pie pic and assume it is filled with fruit or some other sweet concoction. Well, you would be wrong. This, my friends, is Easter Pie, a family recipe that originates with my grandmother Emma Pizzi, god rest her soul. This tradition is perhaps the most revered of all my stepfather’s family and I am so happy that I can carry it on and share it with my friends and of course, all of you faithful readers.

So what exactly is in an Easter Pie? Meat. Lots and lots of meat. Italian cold cuts to be precise. I’m not entirely sure why this particular combination is reserved for Easter, but I do know that my grandmother was very devout and observed the tradition of refraining from eating meat during all of lent. So when Easter arrives, what better way to celebrate than a pie full of meat? According to my stepfather the recipe was actually handed down from my stepfather’s father’s mother Michelina, to whom my grandmother was very close. Who knows what prompted her to chop up a bunch of cold cuts and throw them into a pie crust, but we are sure glad she did.

Easter Pie (Recipe PDF)

Easter Pie SliceNow the original recipe calls for something called fresh cheese or “basket cheese“, which, according to the linked article, is an Italian delicacy made only at Easter time that apparently is like a blend of ricotta, cottage cheese, and fresh mozzarella. I’m sure it’s divine, but personally I have never been able to locate it, so I have always just used a bulb of fresh mozz you find at any grocery store. It works beautifully. Also according to this article, Easter Pie is a fairly common tradition with countless variations, which probably explains where Michelina got the idea…. but don’t worry. Ours is the best.