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Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

Trails End Resort – Hayward, WI

Well known for a few things, including the American Birkebinder cross country ski race, annual world lumberjack contests, and a nearby former hide out of Al Capone, the ville of Hayward, Wisconsin is nestled among pines and birches on rolling hills in Northwestern Wisconsin.   Numerous lakes dot the landscape and it’s a regular fisherman’s paradise.

Trail’s End Resort is on nearby Lake Couderay, has cabins and boats for rent, camp sites and a nice lodge bar (“Michelle’s”) that features live music, (like Todd Eckart) that serves lunch and dinner daily with an emphasis on house made items from local ingredients.

Entrees enjoyed  included the rib dinner and a thin crust bacon-topped pizza.  Both got raves.  The ribs are massaged with a house-made rub before being slow-smoked and finished on the grill;  many of the meats served at Trails End (including the bacon) are from the  provider 6th Street Market, in nearby Ashland, WI, who have been cranking out specialty meats and sausages for 25 years.

Trails End Hayward WI

Bacon Pizza

Trails End Hayward WI

Rib Dinner

Todd Eckart Music

Todd Wows the Crowd

Here’s their full menu.
Trail's End Lodge on Urbanspoon
Trails End Resort

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

The “full name” of the product is Good & Delish Rising Crust Extra Thick Pepperoni frozen pizza.  Good & Delish is one of Walgreen’s in-house brands for food products, the other is Nice!  Not sure why they need two brands, as there doesn’t seem to be any segment specific reason for one or the other.

Seldom is the day I even stop at a Walgreen’s, I just think they are too spendy.  But I stopped today simply because “it was there,” I s needed one or two things, and on short trips, I hate to make multiple stops.  Getting lazy, I guess.

I have been on the hunt for a new brand of frozen pizza, Walgreens probably wouldn’t have it, but I figured I’d peek anyway, and sho nuff, no soap.  But they did have their house brand pies at $4.99 for 29 ounces, and that’s a pretty good value, so I figured “what they hey”, and brought one home.  I have reviewed other Walgreen’s products before, notably their frozen cheeseburger.

Never been a fan of rising crust pizzas, but when you think about it, it’s quite an achievement, isn’t it?   The Walgreen’s pie was a straight forward affair, 20 minutes at 400; the ingredients were typical, but the pepperoni was “pork, beef, and chicken,” a formulation I try and stay away from.   But I was committed now.

The box has the “Real Cheese” (which indicates the topping is a bon afide dairy product)emblem on it, and a Federal Inspection seal, but without the customary “establishment number,” so I can’t tell you who makes these pizzas for Walgreens.

Upon taking it from the oven, the first thing I noticed was some “shiny pools” on top of the pie, which surprised me, since the pepperoni had the combination ingredients.  Pure pork or pure beef or both I would have thought had a higher content of fat.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best US made frozen pizza I have ever consumed, for me, this pie is about a six. All of the ingredients are VERY mild in flavor, the “Boboli-like” crust is good, crispy and chewy at the same time, and the pepperoni, had some heft to it, due to its thickness.

Would I buy it again?  If the circumstances were right, probably.

 

Walgreen's Frozen Pizza

In the Box

 

Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Box – Frozen

 

 

Walgreens Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the Oven

Good & Delish Frozen Pizza Review

Duluth, MN – Green Mill Pizza Redux

 

 

 

logo

Think I told this story once – the first time I ever went to the Green Mill, it was a divey little bar on a side street in St. Paul, MN.  That was….let’s see….nearly forty years ago.  A colleague of mine at KSTP, Suzy Applebaum, said we should go for lunch, and we did..even tho back in those days, the place being busy and all, and nearly an hour to cook a pizza, well, it was a long lunch.  No matter. Suzy was terribly charming company.  I should have spent more time with her.

It was one of those places that my mom liked, when  I snuck her away from her society snob ladies on occasion just to have her enjoy offbeat places.  She did like the Green Mill, and some years later (10?) suggested we hold my wedding rehearsal dinner at one. So we did. Could never say no to mom.

Now approaching thirty locations throughout the Midwest, the Green Mill has grown and changed, just like we all do, and was starting to show its age, just like we all do.  So they embarked on a little remodeling program, made it more “bar-ey” and less “restaurant-y”, added more TVs, dumped some of the old fixtures, and amped up the menu, with a host of new dishes, including beef and Minnesota’s favorite – walleye.

Wings come in a variety of flavors, and bone-in or bone-out.  Accompaniment sauces are made in house.  In fact their menu says many of their food items are now made fresh daily from fresh ingredients.  Nice.

Green Mill Pizza Review

Siracha Wings

 

 

Green Mill Pizza Review

Jalapeno Garlic Wings

 

 


 

 

 

Green Mill on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

Green Mill Pizza

Timballo Recipe

Timpano (Timballo) Recipe

In one of the best “foodie” movies ever made, The Big Night, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub (“Monk”) try to save their failing restaurant by putting on the feast of all feasts to impress Louis Prima, who they have heard is coming to visit. One good word from him, they figure, and all will be right with the world.

One of the dishes they create is the “timpano”, a traditional holiday feast in Italy, featuring pasta, meat, cheese and sauce baked in a pastry shell.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 3 Italian sausages (cooked), thin sliced on a bias
  • 36 meatballs (cooked) sliced in half
  • 32 oz shredded Italian cheeses
  • 1 c tomato sauce (toss the cooked pasta in it)
  • 1 package of salami or prosciutto
  • 10” glass or steel pan, preferably domed
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ package dry ziti
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook the pasta and drain while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.

Roll out pizza dough, large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan, reserving enough to make a cap. Butter the dish and the outside of the dough.

Now you are going to layer the ingredients as if you were making a parfait, beginning and ending with the pasta. Pasta, meat, sauce, cheese. Repeat, ending with a layer of pasta. Place the dough cap on the timpano, cover, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Let cool another ten minutes before slicing like pieces of cake. Drizzle additional tomato sauce and decorate slice with basil leaves.

Variants: Some recipes use a layer of quartered hard boiled eggs; others use layers of peas or other vegetables.

Shortcuts: I made everything from scratch here (except the pasta) but you don’t have to. You could purchase pre-cooked meatballs. You might also try the pre-cooked lasagna noodles in criss-crossed strips in the pan in lieu of the pizza dough for an interesting effect.

 

 

Timpano Recipe

Ball of pizza dough

 

 

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Dough stretched out in deep baking dish

 

Timpano recipe pictures

First row of ziti down

Timpano recipe pictures

2nd layer of pasta over meat and cheese

Timpano recipe pictures

Dough cap in place, ready for oven

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Out of the oven, ready to slice!

 

Timpano recipe pictures

Dig in!

 

Timpano recipe

Huntley, IL – Luigi’s Pizza Review

20140504_084624Spoiler alert: Luigi’s pizza is spectacular. If you’d prefer to stop reading now and head directly to the restaurant, that’s ok with me. Actually located closer to Rockford, IL than Chicago, the village of Huntley, once a bucolic rural town surrounded by dairy farms, has become a burgeoning suburb of the Windy City; so burgeoning that it will in the near future, get its own commuter train.

Before the farmers started selling out to development companies, long before the commuter train was even imagined, Luigi’s Pizza and Restaurant was serving the good folks of the village, every Tuesday through Sunday, with classic American style pizza and a full menu that includes pasta, sandwiches, and daily specials.

I was meeting some pals at this family owned and operated restaurant; walking up to it, I wondered if a 6PM time on a Friday was a bad idea, but there were a couple of tables still open.  The restaurant has seating for  - perhaps thirty, with room for a few more at the bar.

The table was attended to by one of the owner’s daughters, and she was both affable and diligent in her work.  The food came out as ordered, and in the right order, with only the pizza taking a bit of time, maybe 25 minutes.

I could find no fault with the pizza as my personal tastes go. Cracker crisp crust, tangy tomato sauce, really, really excellent cheese in copious quantities, and a perfectly seasoned, hand pulled fennel laced Italian sausage.

This may be the best thin crust pizza in Chicago land, and is worth a drive to Huntley, even if you aren’t bound for the town’s annual Turkey Testicle Festival!   The full menu is in our menu section.

Luigis Pizza Huntley

 

luigi map

Luigis Pizza on Urbanspoon



 

Luigis Pizza Review

Carpentersville, IL – Barones Restaurant and Pizza Review

Barone's Restaurant and PizzaThis may or may not be part of a small local chain;  there are a number of establishments in the Chicago suburbs with the same name, but no indication(s) online or elsewhere the joints are connected.

This particular location, in the far Northwestern suburb of Carpentersville, is located in a small strip mall, set well back from the nearby main drag (Illinois 25), and you’re not likely to see it if you’re not looking for it, or unless you’re a regular. There are two sides to the business, a full boisterous bar with seating and service on the right, and a sedate, vinyl-table clothed restaurant on the left.

Judging from mentions of the restaurant on other sites, this place has been here at least 25 years. The restaurant does a booming take out and delivery business, with a very complete menu of dinners, sandwiches, pizza, and nightly specials. On a Thursday nite, at the dinner hour, the bar was packed and the dining room deserted.   Guess which I opted for?

Meals are served complete – with a complimentary bread basket, soup or salad.  The Thursday special was fried chicken, four good sized pieces on the plate, with a choice of fries, smash or baked.  The salad was ample, the soup Minestrone.

The thin crust pizza is priced 10-20 % less than other independents in the area, which surprised me, because Barone’s really piles on the cheese (the equivalent of double at other pie shops), and used a hand-pulled, flavorful, Italian sausage in good sized pieces. The crust is typical of “Chicago thin,”  not cracker-like, but crispy and flaky at the same time. Sauce was flavorful without being overbearing. I like sliced green olives on my pizzas on occasion, and it seems like Barone’s uses my favorite kind, a “Sicilian style.”

Service was perfunctory.  The menu states to allow 25 minutes for  pizza, so there’s been no oven update in that kitchen in the past few decades.  But that’s ok.  It was worth waiting for, and if I lived in the Chicago ‘burbs, this would be my new go to place.

And my always “ultimate test” of how is it the next morning, cold?  As Mr. Burns would say, “Excellent.”

Barone's Restaurant and Pizza

Complimentary Bread Basket

 

 

Barone's Restaurant and Pizza

Sausage and olive pie

Barone's Restaurant & Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Barones Restaurant and Pizza Review

Cheap Kid Meals

The personal pizza for about a buck. Inexpensive kid’s  lunch of snack, or add a salad, and you have about a six dollar dinner for a family of four.

Here’s the key. Shop at Dollar Tree. I bought four ingredients, crusts, sauce, cheese and pepperoni, for a total of $4.00.

I used one crust (they come in two packs)      .50 (cents)
1/4 of the cheese                                                        .25
4 slices of pepperoni                                                 .20
1/10 of the sauce                                                        .10

Yes, I put the pepp on top of the cheese this time, in case the spouse wanted to try a slice, she has a thing against cooked pepperoni. (Yeah, I don’t get it either).

The instructions call for 7 minutes at 450, and that worked out perfect.  More good news?  No clean up!  The crusts are sturdy enough to go right on the oven shelf.

Cheap kid recipes

Cheap kid recipe

Homemade Pizza Recipe

It’s  both a labor of love and a real pain in the ass at the same time, making pizza at home from scratch.  But once and awhile I enjoy it, and I thought I’d share some recipes and tips I have sorted out after years of trial and error.

The first task is making the dough for the crust, and if you want it to turn out ‘pizzeria style”, you’d best start 24 hours or longer in advance. I make a double batch, divide into two balls, one of the pie of the moment, one to freeze to have handy for next time. (Tip: to freeze a ball of pizza dough, coat it with olive oil, but in a freezer bag.  Allow to thaw for 24 hours in the frig before using, and allow three hours on the counter to come to room temp for best results).

Basic Pizza Dough

  • 2 t yeast (jars work better for me than packets)
  • 4 t sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 4 C flour (the best is designated as “00″ which is used in Italy. Find it at good food stores. King Arthur sells a version, too) but almost any white flour will do.
  • 1 C + more, water water, warmer than your finger
  • 1/2 C EVOO

Put yeast, and 2 t sugar in 1 C warm water, mix. Allow to sit at least ten minutes for the yeast to be activated. You’ll know it’s working when it has a foam cap on top of the liquid.  If it doesn’t foam up, start over.

Mix flour, remaining sugar, salt and EVOO together. If using a counter top mixer, about two minutes, lately though, I have been doing it by hand, gives me some added satisfaction.  Add water and continue to blend.  Eyeball whether you need more water and add appropriate amount until all ingredients are blended. With a KitchenAid, mix on low for 8 minutes, until the dough loses its stickiness.

When I do it by hand, it’s a ten minute chore, folding and kneading to reach the same results.  The last  minute of mixing, if you want a flavored crust (like herb or garlic), add that ingredient and mix.  Split the dough in half and put one in the freezer as described above.

Lightly coat the other ball with oil, and place in  a covered bowl for 2 hours to raise.  At the end of the two hour period, put in a large tupperware, with lid, overnight in frig, and when ready to use the next day, let sit on the counter (still in the tupperware) for 4-6 hours before using.  (If you want a cracker thin, crispy crust, skip the 2 hour rise).

Assembly and Baking

Preheat the oven to 500. Roll out the dough, or hand stretch, into an oval about the size of a cooking sheet. It’s easier to do if you lightly flour your counter or work space. Poke holes across the dough with fork tines. Now here’s a trick.  Place the rolled out dough on a piece of parchment. Brush on your favorite tomato sauce, cover with cheese and your favorite toppings. I generally use pinches of fresh hot Italian sausage (you can buy the builk style or rip the casings off of link style, pepperoni, and olives. Sprinkle a t of oregano and basil over the pie.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Stretched dough

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Ladle sauce and spread with back of spoon
Homemade Pizza Recipe
Ready for the oven

 

Pizza Squeeze

While I usually make my own sauce, in a pinch, I am quite happy with a product called “Pizza Squeeze” from Contadina. Everyone has a personal preference for how pizza sauce should taste, this product suits me. (pictured left).

Carefully lift the pie on the parchment (you may require assistance) and slide onto middle rack of pre-heated oven.

Bake for six minutes on the parchment, and then pull the parchment out from under the pie, leaving it bare on the oven shelf.  Bake 6-10 minutes longer, until the crust browns and the cheese is bubbling.  Your time may vary, as oven temps do.  You can also do it on a Weber the same way; be sure to keep watching it and rotating every couple of minutes. You can get a nice char from charcoal reminiscent of the 800 degree wood ovens currently in fashion.

Let sit on a bread rack for a couple minutes when removing from oven. Slice in squares, or serve whole and pass a pair of scissors around the table to let guests have a DIY pizza experience.

This is a local Chicago brand of Italian sausage, I really don’t find much variance in  brands, except I usually skip ones made in house at groceries.  I haven’t found one of those that is all that flavorful.  Score a couple of sausages lengthwise to peel back the casing.  Pinch off a piece of the pork to dot the pizza.  For me, about half the size of a golf ball is ideal.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

 

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Peeling casing off sausage
Homemade Pizza Recipe
Pinch off sausage pieces

For olives, when I’m in a the mood for ‘green’, I buy what are often labeled “salad olives.”  I’ve paid $5 a jar, and a buck a jar, never seem to be a significant difference.

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Salad Olives

Today’s pepperoni choice is “Jefferson Brand” – the packages promises “Wisconsin quality made in Kansas” whatever that means.  It’s a Tyson company. The plant number on the package indicates the product is made at the Tyson plant in South Hutchinson, KS.  It was on sale.  Pepperoni is something I don’t see much difference between brands either.  But you can tell its ‘cheap’ if the slices char and or cup on the pie, indicating a higher fat to pork ratio.  I’m sure you’ve seen that on some pizzeria pies.

I like a little diced fresh garlic on my pizza.  Here in Portland, my favorite pie is heavy on the garlic, a “Neapolitan style” at Cara Amico.

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Diced fresh garlic

.Almost any shredded or sliced mozzarella will do.  You may want to mix it up by adding romano, provolone, or exotic blends like flavored goat or fetas. Not sure of the melting quality, but I’d like to try some from Cypress Grove in California, who make a whole raft of flavored goat cheeses.  The truffle one might add some interesting depth.

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Pepperoni side

 

Homemade Pizza Recipe
Sausage side

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Pizza Recipe

Luigis Pizza Review

Luigi's Frozen Pizza ReviewContinuing to cut a swath through small Midwestern frozen pizza manufacturers, I happened upon Luigi’s brand, manufactured in the small town of Belgium, WI.  I’m not able to find much information about it online, nor do they have a website. I’m going to make a giant assumption here and opine this is yet another manufacturer that started out as a supplier to bars and restaurants and made the leap to retail. Stop the presses!  Upon further investigation, with a ‘similar logo’ and geographical proximity, it may be these pies originally came from the loins of a nearby restaurant, Luigi’s of Sheboygan. Maybe.

It’s also one of those times when I reached for one product and ended up bringing home another; usually I go for “all meat”, but ended up grabbing a supreme, which is topped with sausage, pepperoni, onion, green and red peppers.  The sausage bits are small and pre-cooked. The quantity of toppings is adequate; the pie falls into what I would determine to be a medium price range at about $7 per pie, which ways in at about 25 ounces, or 28 cents per ounce, or 87 cents for each of the eight slices (recommended servings).  Further, each slice contains 20 % of your daily sodium content. Whoops!

Instructions call for 15 – 18 minutes at 400; they further state that since ‘oven temperatures may vary’, one should rely on appearance, rather than timing, and bake until the cheese bubbles and the crust is brown.

After 15 minutes, the cheese was not ‘bubbling’, so I went the distance with another 3 minutes. And then another two and a half minutes, I must need my oven temp calibrated!

The result is pictured below.  It’s a thin and crispy ‘Upper Midwest style’ crust, but it broke in a couple of places coming out of the oven. No big deal.

Coming out of the oven, the aroma was similar to a pizzeria, which is a plus with me, but also noticeable was the scent of the green peppers, which I believe in the “a little goes a long way” with that topping.  Not my favorite.  Cheese and sauce were good, the cheese had a nice “pull” to it.  Cracker crust lived up to its billing.

Sausage?  Not so much.  There are very few frozen pizzas that have raw sausage, I get that, but the pre-cooked crumbles, especially this small, have a taste that just doesn’t sit well with me.  This sausage isn’t very seasoned, either, tasting more like pure ground pork. That’s ok, just not at the top of my list. Pepperoni did not char or cup, indicating a better quality pepp than many suppliers.

Would I buy it again?  Sure.  While it’s not at the top of my list for frozen pizzas, it is soooooooooooo much better than so many brands. I recommend you try it, though I suspect it might be a bit difficult to find outside of the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois areas.

Luigi's Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the package, prior to baking

Luigi's Frozen Pizza Review

Baked, 400, 20 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luigis Pizza Review

 

New Orleans – Theos Pizza Review

Theos Pizza New Orleans ReviewFor the nearly ten years I lived in New Orleans, it was a city full of bad pizza and bad burgers; today it has its fair share of good outlets for both, and is the birthplace of one of America’s fastest growing pizza chains (which is awful, and I won’t bother to stop by and review).  In fact, my favorite pizza during my tenure was served at a local seafood restaurant in the ‘burbs.

Today’s occasion for venturing out in mid city was to grab a light repast within walking distance of BurgerDogDaughter’s domicile, and we sauntered into Theo’s, a local mini-chain for pies and craft beers.

Despite rather conventional ingredients and standard Baker’s Pride decks, Theo’s manages to churn out some really tasty pies; my daughter, knowing me as she does, ordered me a meat and olive combination. Her choice was the “Arti-Garlic”, which featured fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, peppers and mozzarella.  For a meat-centric guy like me, that was one good pie!  As was the meat one. Mild sauce, chewy / crispy crust, tasty processed pork products.

They close rather early as pizzerias go.  Worth a stop in the Big Easy. Menu.

 Theos Pizza New Orleans Review

 

 

Theos Pizza Review

Theo's Neighborhood Pizza, Mid-City on Urbanspoon

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