Thanksgiving Brick Oven Pizza – How the Pilgrims Roll…

2 Apr

Thanksgiving Style Brick Oven Pizza

Timing may not be my strong suit and this post probably seems a bit out of season but bare with me, I’ve been wanting to post this for months so here it goes…. Days after Thanksgiving ends, there seems to be a never ending supply of turkey sandwiches and other fixings left over from our great American pastime. In order to put a little variety in these turkey menu variations I decided to mix things up a bit by creating a Thanksgiving pizza cooked in my brick oven and enhanced with a few extra ingredients. Today I’m sharing that pizza recipe that I believe was created when the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth, or was it San Diego?

Thanksgiving brick oven pizza from Paggi Pazzo

To get started on our Thanksgiving pizza, I typically make the dough before hand and then freeze so whenever I need a few dough balls I always have a few handy. To make your own dough feel free to use this homemade dough recipe. For the toppings I will chop the turkey meat into little strips and make sure the squash is at room temperature because we want to spread like a sauce across the dough. Once we have the ingredients sorted, I start my brick oven pizza fire with a few sticks of kindling and a small log. I have a Alfa Forno pizza oven and it doesn’t require hours of fire building to get to 900 degree temps, in fact it can be reached in 30 mins so once the kindling is going strong add 2 large logs to really get the fire roaring (one draw back is the temp can drop fairly quickly so we want to keep the oven door slightly closed to keep the fire breathing and adding additional logs depending on how much food and company you have).

So our fire is roaring and it’s time to make the pizza. On a clean surface, stretch your dough by hand adding flour when needed to prevent sticking. Before adding your dough to the pizza peel, add semolina flour to again prevent any sticking (we don’t want a pizza in pieces, do we? Or is that how the Pilgrims did it? so confused….). Spread the squash across the dough and top with shredded turkey and any vegetables that you prefer (I added some mushrooms to this pizza). Then add your goat cheese in little chunks across the pizza followed by pieces of prosciutto di Parma and sage. Add a little extra virgin olive oil across the pizza and a sprinkle of Reggiano Parmigiano and now you’re ready to add the pizza to the brick oven. Make sure the pizza oven temp inside the oven is between 750-900 degrees for best results – the pizza will cook in about 90 seconds to 2 1/2 minutes so be sure to turn the pizza repeatedly making sure the pizza does not burn. So there you have it, Paggi Pazzo’s Thanksgiving brick oven pizza, Happy Turkey pizza day to you and yours – time to nap on the coach.

Thanksgiving Pizza Recipe

Prep time: 3 hours

Cook time: 2 mins

Total time: 3 hours 2 mins

Yield: 8 slices


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • handful fresh sage
  • 2 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • 1/4 cup chopped or shredded turkey
  • 1 Pizza dough
  • 2 ounces mashed squash
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms or asparagus spears
  • 1 teaspoon Semolina flour

Cooking Directions

  1. To make dough, click here
  2. Build brick oven pizza fire with kindling and 1 small-medium size hardwood firewood log
  3. Once kindling is burning hot, add 2 larger logs and once temps are close to 900 degrees, move fire to one side of the oven so pizza(s) can cook on the other side
  4. Sprinkle semolina flour across pizza peel before putting dough on top
  5. Roll out dough then put on top of pizza peel and generously lay squash across, add salt and pepper
  6. Add shredded or chopped turkey across pizza and then top with chunks of goat cheese
  7. Add pieces of prosciutto di Parma across pizza followed by fresh sage and a light dressing of olive oil, then grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  8. When temp is between 750-900 degrees and pizza and turn throughout 90 seconds – 2:30 minute cooking process to prevent burning. Once dough has spotted char marks and toppings have melted (cheese turning an almost light brown), remove from brick pizza oven
  9. Let rest for 5 minutes then slice and serve

Thanksgiving brick oven pizza recipe

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For a Hot Summer Dessert try Caffe Granita – Milk was a bad choice?

5 Jun

Granita al Caffé con Gelato

When it gets to be super hot and muggy, reminding me of those sweltering Roman summers when I was a kid visiting family, there’s a nice tasty treat that will help cool you down. I’m talking about Caffe Granita! The shaved frozen espresso is a taste relief on those humid July and August days and I’ve added a twist to this recipe to make it a savory dessert. So sit back and enjoy Paggi Pazzo’s take on Caffe Granita that will cool you down faster than a hot cup of coffee or a big glass of milk(?)Preparing Caffe Granita with Lavazza espresso from Paggi Pazzo

To begin the Caffe Granita we need to prepare a cup of espresso and as I’ve mentioned in my Tiramisu recipe, Lavazza is my espresso of choice (could there be any other????). While the espresso is still hot add sugar and stir, this will help the espresso from becoming too bitter when it freezes. After the espresso cools down a little bit, add to a tray with a cover and put in the freezer. This is where the tedious part starts and be careful – for full transparency I lost about 2 spoonfuls after I scraped the frozen espresso too hard and it was “incoming espresso shrapnel”, so take cover! After 3 hours remove the espresso from the freezer and use a fork to scrape the espresso creating little crystallized chips. After the entire surface is scraped, put the tray (covered) back into the freezer and repeat every hour for the next 3 hours (that’s a lot to keep track of!). Truthfully if you do this at least 3 times, I’ve found you can let the espresso sit over night and then give another good scrape in the morning. Just remember to scrape the espresso again at least 2 more times before serving.

Now for the Paggi Pazzo Caffe Granita twist… the traditional and authentic recipe calls for whipping cream to be only served with espresso but I had left over biscotti so I decided to make an Italian Sundae of sorts :-). I would serve your Caffee Granita in a glass with vanilla flavored Gelato (if you do not have gelato, vanilla ice cream is a good substitute) then crumble biscotti on top of the gelato and add a thin layer of whip cream. Take the shaved espresso and generously pour on top of the whip cream and your Caffe Granita is ready to be served. So there you go, stay cool and keep it classy with Paggi Pazzo’s Caffe Granita! Salute “Don” Burgandy!

Caffe Granita with Almond Biscotti and Gelato recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Caffe Granita Recipe

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 8 hr
Total time: 8 hr 20 min

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 cup Lavazza espresso
  • 8 scoops Vanilla gelato or ice cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 almond biscotti or Savoiardi biscotti
  • 8 tablespoons whip cream

Cooking Directions

  1. Make 1 cup of Lavazza espresso in a bowl and add sugar, stir for several minutes
  2. After espresso cools a bit, add to a tray and cover putting into the freezer for 3 hours
  3. After 3 hours, take frozen espresso tray out and scrape to make little crystals (repeat every hour 3 times)
  4. In a small glass, add gelato then crumble biscotti and add whip cream on top
  5. Scrape 2 tablespoons of the frozen, crystallized espresso and cover on top of whip cream
  6. Ready to serve

Caffe Granita recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 2 ratings and 0 reviews.

Click here for Caffe Granita recipe and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Pesto Pizza Party Palooza!

28 May

Pizza with Pesto & Fresh Mozzarella

Friday nights are usually pizza night and while I prefer to make classic Roman and Napolitana recipes, my daughter and wife have a special taste for pesto. My wife and I spent time in Liguria on our honeymoon and had a chance to enjoy pesto from where it was originated and while I’m not a big fan, I have to say it was really good. Since then I make pesto fairly often (as my Pesto Genovese recipe attests) but my daughter really loves pesto pizza and I love putting a smile on her face so today I’m sharing my Pesto Pizza recipe to get your pesto-on!

Pesto Pizza recipe from Paggi Pazzo

I prefer the indoor oven for making pesto pizza as the pesto bakes nicely on top of the dough. Now if you don’t want to make your own dough feel free to buy one at the store but look for dough’s that are not prepared with unnatural oils or unhealthy ingredients. If you plan on making your own here’s a homemade dough recipe I use often and feel free to make it the night before and keep in your fridge – or days before and freeze – or even that day but let it rest for a minimum of 4 hours before using. For the pesto I prefer authentic ingredients like Pecorino Sardo and Grana Padano with garlic, fresh basil, and pine nuts (Italian or European). If Pecorino Sardo and Grana Padano are not available substitute with Reggiano Parmigiano and Pecorino Romano. I use a food-processor to mix all of the ingredients as it’s much faster and easier but the traditional Ligurian way is to muddle them together. Now that can take a while and I have children, so waiting is not really an option.

Spread your dough and generously apply the pesto across then add chunks of fresh mozzarella on top with an extra sprinkle of grated Pecorino Sardo (or Romano). Now I cook the the pizza in a Roman style 495 degrees to give the bottom a nice crunch but you have to keep an eye on it as it will cook fast! After about 8-12 minutes the cheese and bottom will begin to brown so be ready to remove from the oven and then let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting. I prefer red wine with this pizza so if you want to stay Ligurian try Colli di Luni which comes from Sangiovese grapes or go with a nice table wine like a Chianti or a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. There you have it, Paggi Pazzo’s Pesto Pizza recipe– it’s Pesto Palooza time and now You know what to do!

Preparing Pesto Pizza from Paggi Pazzo

Pizza with Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Recipe

Prep time: 3 hours

Cook time: 5 min

Total time: 3 hours 5 min

Yield: 8 slices


  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Sardo
  • 3/4 cup grated Grana Padono
  • 3-4 full cups fresh basil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup Italian or European pinenuts
  • 1 Pizza dough
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella

Cooking Directions

  1. To make dough, click here
  2. Grate Pecorino Sardo and Grana Padano into a bowl. If cheeses are not available, substitute with Pecorino Romano and Reggiano Parmigiano
  3. Add tablespoon of olive oil to pan and add pine nuts, cooking for 5 minutes then let sit for another 5 minutes
  4. Add fresh basil into food processor (but make sure basil is not wet after cleaning as the dryer the better for the pesto sauce), pine nuts, garlic, black pepper, salt, and 3/4 cup of olive oil
  5. Use pulse option in Food processor for 10-20 seconds until pesto starts to cream then add grated cheese and remaining olive oil and then purée for 10-20 seconds
  6. If pesto begins to take on a creamy consistency, then pesto sauce is ready. If still thick, add a little more olive oil and stir
  7. Roll out dough and generously lay pesto across
  8. Cut fresh mozzarella into small chunks and spread across pizza and then sprinkle with a handful of Pecorino Sardo (or Romano)
  9. Set oven to 495 degrees and add pizza. After 8-12 minutes when cheese and bottom of pizza begin to brown remove from oven
  10. Let rest for 5 minutes then slice and serve

Pizza with Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella recipe

5 out of 5
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Click here for Pesto Pizza Recipe and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Tiramisu Roman Style – A Special Mother’s Day Dessert

14 May

Roman Style Tiramisu

On Mother’s Day for my beautiful wife and mom, who my children affectionately call Nonna, I made Roman style Tiramisu. It’s a sweet and light dessert that both the adults and kids can enjoy with minimal effort but maximum taste. Today I’m sharing that recipe that can be prepared for Mother’s Day, any holiday or non-holiday for that matter, using traditional Italian ingredients that make a difference in taste – so don’t go all bush-league on us and keep it classy with Paggi Pazzo!

Tiramisu Recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Begin your Roman style Tiramisu by adding 5 egg yolks (that have been sitting at room temperature) to a large bowl with a cup of sugar and mix, then add Italian mascarpone and mix again. In another bowl add a 1/2 cup of whole milk and 1/2 cup of whipping cream and mix until the mixture becomes nice and fluffy, then transfer to the large egg yolk, mascarpone, sugar mixture and mix together. I don’t think Sir-Mix-alot mixes as much as we do in this recipe.

For espresso I use Lavazza (my favorite espresso) but feel free to use another Italian espresso just please refrain from using American coffee (or other espresso impersonators) as it will compromise the taste. I make enough espresso for 6 shots and let cool and pour in a small bowl and then take the Vincenzovo Italian savoiardi biscotti (ladyfingers) which are nice and flaky (and delicious on their own) and dip them in the espresso. Place them across and on top a layer of the mascarpone mixture in a medium size baking glass 8×8 (2-inches deep). Add another thin layer of the mascarpone cream across the pan on top of the savoiardi biscotti and repeat dipping the cookies and adding to the pan a second time. After sprinkle dark chocolate powder that has been mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of Lavazza ground espresso on top of the tiramisu. I would let it chill overnight before serving but if you must insist on cutting into the tiramisu, give it at least 5 hours (you can do it, show patience, I believe in you!) Roman Tiramisu Cup from Paggi Pazzo

Since my children were having the Roman style Tiramisu I did not add any alcohol or liqueur but typically I like to add a shot of rum or sambucca to the mascarpone mix to give it a nice little bite. Other regions in Italy will add Marsala or Vermouth instead of rum but feel free to add what you prefer. This recipe is good for 1-1/2 to 2 pans so if you want to make little tiramisu cups with the extra tiramisu, use the same recipe but place the savoiardi biscotti vertically cut in half and then add more mascorpone cream. For a true Roman taste, thinly slice fresh strawberries and add to the mascarpone cream mix or place on top of the tiramisu when ready to serve (Tiramisu con le Fragole). There you have it, Paggi Pazzo’s Roman Style Tiramisu, buon appetito!

Roman Style Tiramisu from Paggi Pazzo

Roman Style Tiramisu Recipe

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 5 hr
Total time: 5 hr 30 min

Yield: 10 servings


  • 2 pounds Italian mascarpone cheese
  • 6 Lavazza espresso shots
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 20 Italian Vincenzovo savoiardi biscotti (ladyfingers)
  • 4 tablespoons Dark chocolate powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lavazza espresso grounds

Cooking Directions

  1. Add egg yolk and sugar to a large bowl and mix for 1-2 minutes at low speed, then add mascarpone cheese and repeat
  2. In a separate medium bowl, add whipping cream and milk and mix 6-8 minutes at medium speed, then add to large bowl – mix again at low speed for another 2 minutes
  3. Add thin layer of mascarpone cream to medium size cooking pan (1-2 inches deep)
  4. Place Lavazza espresso in a bowl at room temperature and dip savoiardi biscotti individually then place on top of mascarpone cream, repeat 1 more time
  5. Mix chocolate powder and Lavazzo espresso grounds into a bowl and mix, then sprinkle gently on top of tiramisu
  6. Let tiramisu chill overnight or at least 5 hours and serve

Roman Style Tiramisu

5 out of 5
stars based on 3 ratings and 2 reviews.

Click here for Tiramisu recipe and all other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

Paggi Pazzo tries the Grill Pizza Kettle Kit

8 May

As I have continued to research and review potential brick oven pizzas for my backyard, I spent a small sum to buy the Pizza Kettle Grill and try to replicate a brick oven pizza taste for my favorite Romano and Napolitano recipes. Thus far I have to say the product has been pretty good and worth the purchase. There’s some minor challenges and difficulties but for quick wood-fired pizza this kit is a good solution.

Grilling pizza with the kettle kit grill with Paggi Pazzo

Grilling pizza with the kettle kit grill with Paggi Pazzo

The Pizza Kettle Grill comes with a wire box/cage that goes under the pizza kit and separates the charcoal around the pizza cooking area. The kettle itself has an open top and attaches to the cooking surface level of the grill with the top of the grill placed over it. The heat escapes quickly so I went to Home Depot to cut a steel plate top that is directly over the pizza stone and allows the open flames over the edge to flow directly over the pizza. This provides a more consistent temperature for how the top of the pizza cooks compared to the bottom. This is important as the top of the pizza will sometimes cook slower and the kettle grill’s heat can climb as high as 900 degrees, cooking the pizza in 2-3 minutes and if not monitored may give you a slightly burned bottom crust with under cooked toppings. The modification I made of adding the steel plate has reduced these potential problems significantly.

Another downside I’ve found to the pizza kit is a a full cylinder of charcoal is needed to heat the grill for cooking. I don’t use lump hardwood charcoal in this case as it burns very fast and won’t last as long as regular charcoal briquettes (and because they are not directly under the food I don’t have concerns about the carcinogens). Once the charcoal is ready I place it around the wire-cage and add a handful more of unheated charcoal briquettes and pecan wood chunks. My first pizza typically comes out the best and I find that around 750 degrees is the ideal heat. Pizza 2 and 3 I need to lift slightly so the top of the pizza is cooking nicely under the metal plate I inserted but the char on the dough is usually better than the first.

Grill pizza outdoors with Kettle pizza kit

Outdoor pizza kettle grill from Paggi Pazzo

I’m still perfecting the Pizza Kettle Grill myself and can churn out about 3-pizzas in 15 minutes so it’s a fast cooking machine and not a bad alternative to a bigger, heavier brick oven pizza (though I plan to have one someday soon). Check it out for yourself and I think you’ll like the results.

Grilled White Pizzas over wood fire

Grilled White Pizzas over wood fire

Pizza Margherita grilled over wood fire

Pizza Margherita grilled over wood fire

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