Roasted Brussel Sprout Pesto

This versatile pesto can add a richness of flavor to a variety of meals such as pizza or pasta, but in my opinion it is phenomenal served alongside a platter of sliced homemade bread. It is also versatile in the sense that it is just as wonderful at room temperature as it is freshly made; this is a relief because I can make it early in the day, set it aside for a few hours, serve it much later, and then use it for leftovers the next day. Like many other pestos, this pesto is made in a food processor with the usual ingredients—garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil—but what makes it stand out is the distinctly pronounced flavor of the roasted brussel sprouts. Basil for brussel sprouts might seem like a rather small substitution, but it makes a huge difference. You have to taste it to believe it. See the recipe.

Chicken Strudel

I have been making this chicken strudel recipe for over 25 years and I never tire of serving it to guests and family. With its flaky phyllo crust, it tastes as impressive as it looks.

Some notes:

- If you’ve never worked with phyllo dough before, don’t worry; it’s not as difficult as it seems. People often recommend covering the dough with a damp towel in order to prevent cracking, but I find that that makes the sheets of dough too moist. Instead, I simply try to work quickly enough so that the sheets won’t have enough time to dry out and crack. And even if the sheets do crack, the good news is that they’re relatively forgiving. Regardless, because the sheets are ultimately stacked, the final product will look perfect no matter what. Read more.

Brown Rice Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Although I eat more than my share of gluten, I have many friends who don’t. For their sake, I am always on the lookout for gluten-free recipes. When I first learned about gluten-free pizza crust made with finely chopped cauliflower, for example, I was intrigued and went right to work. But ultimately, I was disappointed; cauliflower doesn’t hold together nearly well enough to simulate pizza crust. So I began experimenting with other gluten-free pizza crusts. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that hot and cooked brown rice, when pulsed in a food processor, results in a very cohesive mass—cohesive enough to simulate pizza crust. The finished product is sufficiently sturdy too; it can withstand the weight of any number of toppings, from traditional sauce and cheese to sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese. Read more.

Crispy Edged Cheese Pan Pizza

I’ve never been to Detroit, so I guess I’ve never tasted an authentic Detroit-style pizza. The closest I’ve come is Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado; they have a “Detroit-style” pizza there, and if it’s anything like the real thing, then I’m a fan. With this recipe, my goal is not to replicate Brown Dog’s Detroit-style pizza, but rather to incorporate some of its best elements into my own pizza.

While I understand that Detroit-style pizza is traditionally baked in industrial steel trays, I prefer to make pan pizza in half sheet pans as they are just deep enough to give the crust a chewy and soft interior, but not so deep as to become bready. I’ve also used my half sheet pans enough that they are now perpetually seasoned, which isn’t necessary but is really nice. But to be honest, the real reason I don’t use an industrial tray is because I already have so many specialty pans, and so I’m unlikely to add another one unless it feels truly necessary.

A very important element of this recipe is the cheese. Detroit-style pizzas rely on Brick Cheese for flavor, using so much that it spills over the edges of the crust and onto the pan itself, resulting in a crackly and textured crust. Additionally, the sauce tops the cheese rather than vice versa. Brick cheese isn’t available around here, but a combination of sharp white cheddar, whole milk mozzarella (not the fresh kind), and Parmigiano-Reggiano gives the perfect balance of flavor and meltability. When the sauce tops the cheese, a lot more cheese is necessary so that the sauce doesn’t overwhelm the cheese. As much as I love Brown Dog pizza, it is so filling that I can’t eat more than a slice without going into a cheese coma. My solution is to conserve cheese by adding it directly to the pan’s edges, with another lighter layer on top of the sauce. Using butter to grease the pan helps the shredded cheese stick, while also aiding in the browning processes of both the cheese and the crust. Read more.