Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomato Bacon and Asparagus Pizzettas

Ah... pizza! How can you not love pizza? Even though we've only been doing this blog for about 2 months, I think this is the fourth appearance of pizza. What? We're only eating one pizza every other week?? That won't do!

Tomato Bacon and Asparagus Pizzettas

Well, this week we actually had two pizzas - or pizzettas - more precisely. We split a Trader Joe's pizza dough into two pieces and made two different mini-pizzas: tomato bacon (mmmm... bacon) and asparagus. They were totally different and delicious. I actually hate to say it, but as much as I love bacon, I think the asparagus pizzetta (roasted asparagus and jack cheese - seriously, that's all) was the better pizza.

The Food (Jhan)

Pizza again? Yep, and it's darn good stuff too. It might surprise you to know that I was never much of a pizza fan until recently when I began to make my own pizzas at home.

The other day one of my students asked me " What is your favorite thing to cook?" (They all know that I like to cook and I've found that food is certainly one of their favorite topics). In answer to the question, just off the top of my head, I answered "Home-made Pizza."

I was surprised by my answer because I like to cook just about everything, but the joy of these homemade pizzas is that you can do anything with them and they are quick on a weeknight or satisfying for a Sunday night supper.

I started thinking about what it is that I like so much about making pizzas, and it's not just that they are quick and easy, but it's that I can be creative. I can experiment with wild combinations of different types of toppings, sauces and cheeses. I can play with my food and nine times out of ten end up with something delicious.

And making mini pizzas can double the fun. The pizzettas we made the other night were both great and (believe it or not) neither had a drop of sauce on them - just crust, cheese and toppings.

The jack cheese and roasted asparagus pizza is really one of my all time favorites. I could eat roasted asparagus everyday and that coupled with melted jack cheese on an herbed crust - spectacular. Just roll out a pizza crust, cover it with some grated jack cheese and some cut up roasted asparagus spears, bake at 450 for about 15 minutes and eat! What could be simpler?

Tomato Bacon and Asparagus Pizzettas

The bacon and tomato pizza was almost as simple: 3-4 strips of bacon pre-cooked but still soft, 1 large tomato chopped, 1/4 red onion chopped, and grated mozzarella. Spread the mozzarella over the crust and arrange the B,T and O on top of the cheese, bake at 450 about 10-15 minutes, eat immediately (or after your husband takes pictures of it for 20 minutes).

I found these and other pizza recipes in a favorite cookbook of mine, The All American Cheese and Wine Book: Pairings, Profiles and Recipes, by Laura Werlin (husband's note: Hey! Don't forget the photographer, Andy Ryan!). This book is wonderful because it not only has incredible recipes but each recipe was supplied by a winery or an artisanal cheese producer that is profiled in the book (including our own local Pedrozo Dairy). If you love wine and cheese and foods that go with them I highly recommend this book.

Happy pizza making!

The Plating

OK, I well and truly suck at lighting white on white set ups, and I wanted an easy win. I had just scored a couple of black plates at Salvation Army (25 cents a piece - yes!) and figured I couldn't go wrong with black on black. And I was right; the pizzettas looked great alone on the black plates with no other props.

The only thing about this dish was that the asparagus pizza cam out a bit wonky shape-wise. There wasn't much I could do to completely hide it, so I tried to find ways to minimize it while using it to accentuate the hand-made nature of the pizzas.

I was also a bit surprised by the color of the asparagus pizza. We originally chose these two pizzas because of their colors: red and green (so we thought). But the asparagus pizza turned out to be mostly yellow from the cheese, but that seemed to work OK.

Tomato Bacon and Asparagus Pizzettas

The Lighting and Photography

Tomato Bacon and Asparagus Pizzetta Lighting
With the Vivitar 285 dead and buried (given to a friend to be dissected in the name of science), I was down to two flashes, but that didn't really affect this shoot.I shot one flash through a reflector from the right rear as the key light and bounced one off a white sheet for a rear fill. I added a silver reflector to the left for a touch of fill, and that was it. Simple, effective lighting that worked great with both pizzettas!

Tomato Bacon and Asparagus Pizzettas

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