Sausage and Pickled Jalapeño Pizza: An Ode to San Francisco

I was recently in San Francisco for a few days, with my better half and I have to admit that I’m still on vacation mode. It’s so hard for me to return from any sort of trip, whether it’s a week long or just a day, and get back into the right mindset to work. Does that happen to you guys as well? Please tell me it does, that way I don’t feel totally guilty for feeling this way. This laziness to be an adult is hard to shake off, especially after a great getaway.

San Francisco is one of those places where I can actually see myself living in (if it wasn’t so darn expensive). The best thing it has going for itself—aside from the calmness and laid back people—is the amazing weather. Can we talk about how it always seems to be just the right amount of sun and warmth mixed in with the perfect amount of fog and coolness? Los Angeles has too much sun for my taste. I can say that, I was born and raised here. Too much sun and too much heat, at times. Do we even have any cool bridges here? Incidentally, one day we overheard a tourist confuse the Bay Bridge for the Golden Gate Bridge, telling anyone who would listen, to snap a picture in front of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but that’s okay because SF does have a lot of bridges. I don’t blame you, tourist. I do blame our hotel room view for making me want to do nothing but stay in bed all day long and just peer out into the beautiful city, adding to my laziness. 

I wasn’t really allowed to lay around on the trip though, because we had a lot scheduled in such a little amount of time. We took a twenty plus mile bike ride—through the Golden Gate Bridge (the real one) and up north to some Old Mill town—that was insanely beautiful but at the same time, it was insanely tiring. We got way too much sun (one of us more than the other) and saw some killer red woods which sort of made it all worth it. The beers at the end of the bike ride though, that’s what got me through the end. I did almost get blown away by some gusty winds on the bridge, but that’s a story for another time. 

The most important part of the trip was the food, of course. We pretty much ate our way through the city and I don’t regret a thing. There are an unbelievable amount of restaurants throughout SF, it’s kind of insane. Everywhere you turn there’s something delicious calling out your name. We devoured an entire tray of fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. and some mussels and fries and one too many baskets of bread. But who’s counting? Certainly not me. Julian took me to a tiki bar one night, called the Tonga Room which I swear I can live in for the rest of my life. Did I mention there’s indoor rain and tiki huts with little lights involved? Well there is, and it’s awesome.

I gulped down so many watermelon beers at 21st Amendment Brewery, that I lost count. (Sorry mom!) It’s my new favorite beer, that’s all you need to know. My favorite fruit mixed into beer? Yes please. A million times yes. 

The most memorable meal we had, however, was actually on our first night, at a restaurant in Russian Hill called Gioia Pizzeria. We gorged on a simple arugula salad, a spring pesto pasta dish, and the best pizza I’ve ever had. Said pizza was just the right amount of thin crusty dough, sprinkled with house made sausage and pickled jalapeños. We both sort of looked at each other after that first bite and telepathically communicated to one another just how amazing it was. We came back home rather depressed that we had to leave, but I knew that I needed to recreate that meal anyway I could. So here I am now, going on and on, talking your ears off  about my trip. Reminiscing about the delicious food and fun times. This super long intro was basically to say I fell in love with this pizza and that’s why I made it for you guys. 

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Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders

I’m on a mission in life to become the Slider King of America. I don’t really know if that’s an actual thing, but it sounds really cool. I can totally see myself being King of the Sliders, too. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have on my resume. If anything, it’ll make me well known by millions, right? At the very least, it’ll grant me some free sliders whenever I want. Which is always. Sliders everyday of my life sounds even better than being king. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be king. Give me a slider kingdom to rule where all anyone ever eats are sliders. Where sliders just rain down from the skies above. Sounds like a dream come true, if you ask me. I’d walk down the streets of my kingdom pointing at people, screaming, “You get a slider. You get a slider. And you get a slider. And you get a slider!”

Last week I decided to torment you guys by putting up a recipe for Mini Challah Rolls—have you checked it out already?—with a promise to post a delicious slider recipe the following week. Well, guess what?! It’s the following week already, and here I am with the promised delicious slider recipe. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something, and aren’t familiar with the fact that I’ve had some great sliders on this blog before, I’ll refresh your memory.

This one time I got all kinds of crazy and made a big batch of pot roast in a slow cooker and put together some killer Pot Roast Sliders that I’m still day-dreaming about. I can’t seem to shake them out of my mind. If you like crispy onion rings and avocado and sriracha, then you’ll love those sliders. Then I decided to one up myself and I created these BLT Biscuit Sliders which is everything right in the world. Biscuits with jam and heirloom tomatoes and lots of crispy bacon and of course, avocado and lettuce. If all of that has you thinking, “Oh no he didn’t!” Well then just sit down and hold on tight because I’m about to blow your mind! I’m now bringing you these Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders. I couldn’t just use the same rolls I used before or even those biscuits, so I made some new buns. Challah buns. And I’m piling it high with a cajun remoulade sauce, fried green tomatoes, grilled shrimp, lettuce and pickles. It’s an explosion of delicious flavor upon delicious flavor. I don’t know what else to do right now, other than to go to a tall place and yell out “I’M KING OF THE SLIDERS!”

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Bacon Cheddar Jalapeño Corn Dogs

I’ve been wanting to make corn dogs for the blog since for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’m like 99% sure that I wanted corn dogs to be my very first recipe/post. I said, “Jonathan, you should totally make corn dogs as the first ever recipe/post on this new blog you want to start!” Unfortunately, as life would have it, it didn’t work out that way, and I ended up making a cinnamon swirl loaf instead. I wasn’t upset or anything, I happen to love cinnamon and bread is sort of my weakness, so there were no complaints here. I kept telling myself that corn dogs would be the next post, and then the next post and the next. Each post came and went, and as you know, corn dogs always got cut. So flash forward to me now, about two and a half years later (or is it three already? I really can’t remember at the moment) and corn dogs are still no where to be found. Until now of course.

Whenever I wrote it into the schedule of upcoming posts, something would always come up, be it a holiday or special day, where corn dogs just didn’t seem to fit. Now I know what you must be thinking, “Corn dogs always fit, Jonathan. Always and forever.” You’re right they do. That’s where I dropped the ball. I wasn’t thinking straight. I didn’t realize that by continuing to push corn dogs down the long list of upcoming posts I would be depriving not only me, but you as well. Corn dogs are delicious and I’m happy I finally got around to fulfilling my deep fried, corn battered hot dog dreams (with a few jazzed up ingredients of course). It’s hard for me to do simple on here. Don’t get me wrong, I love simple recipes. It’s just that I think you all deserve better than that. Plus, how can you possibly tell me that bacon and cheese and jalapeños don’t make everything better. They really do. 

Sure it’s summer and I should be making lighter dishes and sharing healthy recipes that don’t require too much time in a hot kitchen. Sure, I should be doing that, but somehow my brain isn’t getting the memo. Somehow, I keep craving rich comforting foods, loaded with cheese and bacon and butter. I’ll get around to that “healthy” cooking and eating at some point. Right now, just let’s enjoy the moment. This moment being hot dogs on a stick, coated in a corn, bacon, cheddar cheese and jalapeño batter, and deep fried until crunchy and golden brown. Did I mention there’s a sweet and spicy honey mustard dipping sauce involved?  

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Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Pizza

I’ve always had this fantasy in my head where I’d eat pizza everyday of my life and I’d never get bored of it. I don’t think you quite understand just how much I love pizza. How deep my admiration for pizza runs. It’s pretty deep. Deeper than any ocean and higher than any mountain, that’s for sure. In my fantasy, everyday would be an entirely new (and entirely delicious) type of pizza. New toppings, along with new crusts and various different cheeses. That’s 365 days of nothing but fun and exciting pizzas. Can you live with that? I can totally live with that. 

Pizza tends to be my go-to dinner whenever I don’t know what to make for supper because I’ve run out of ideas, and I can’t really come up with anything new because all I seem to do is develop recipes for the blog and various other projects I have going on. There’s only so much my imagination can take. So on those nights when I’m simply drawing a blank—and I’ve managed to do nothing but stare into space for about 20 minutes before coming to the conclusion that pizza is the right answer—I end up deciding to make pizza. And it’s not like a, “Fine, I guess we’ll have pizza tonight. Pull my arm why don’t you?” Maybe out loud that’s what it sounds like but in my mind it’s completely different. In my mind, there’s a party going on. Confetti is being thrown around and champagne bottles are being popped open. In my mind it’s like, “YAY!!! Pizza for dinner! This is the best night ever!!! Pizza pizza pizza PIZZA!” 

My pizza preference tends to fluctuate from day to day or week to week. Sometimes simple is the name of the game. My number one favorite topping will always be pepperoni. Just pepperoni. Nothing but pepperoni. I especially go nuts over those tiny pepperoni that curl up a bit while it bakes, causing the edges to get slightly burnt and slightly crisped. It’s the best. At the same time, I do go through these phases where I’m in an adventurous kick, and I can’t get enough of really fancy pizzas with interesting toppings. Like this Brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza for instance. A couple of eggs on top just takes it to a whole new sophisticated level. The moral of this story is that pizza is king. We all should dedicate a day of the week (I’ll even take one day a month) to be a pizza party day. We should be making different kinds of pizza and eating them all like we’re getting paid to do it. Let’s start now with this pizza!

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BLT Biscuit Sliders

Let’s discuss a few things, yeah? Let’s talk about how my love for biscuits knows no end. Biscuits are like the equivalent to what doughnuts are to me on the sweet end. If you didn’t know already I happen to love doughnuts (I’d kill for one), but that’s neither here nor there. We’re talking about biscuits. Biscuits is the name of the game. We can also chat it up all day long about the many things you’d have to do to get me to eat bacon. I’ll let you in on a secret though, it doesn’t take much for me to eat a few slices of crispy bacon. And by a few I of course me, a ton of. I’d do unspeakable things for bacon. It’s okay, you can judge me. I can tell you all about my undying obsession with avocado anything and I’ll share the story about the one time I ate nothing but avocados for dinner and it was awesome. I have no regrets. We can brush up on such topics as BLT’s, sandwiches and sliders. All of which are very near and dear to my heart. Mostly because I love the idea of little hamburgers and tiny sandwiches because it means you can eat a lot more of them without feeling guilty. What? They’re tiny! 

The only time I’ll eat a BLT is when I can assure myself that I’ll get a sandwich loaded with bacon. More bacon than anything else. I’ve encountered a few sad BLT’s where there’s like one slice of bacon amidst a thousand slices of tomato and a million pieces of lettuce. What kind of sandwich is that?! That’s more like a salad, if you ask me. I don’t want a salad! I want a big stacked up bacon, bacon, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. With super toasted bread, of course. That goes without saying. 

So I’m brainstorming recipe ideas one day and I, for some unknown reason, keep getting an incessant craving for a BLT sandwich. It’s weird, because like I said earlier, that never happens to me. I contemplated different ways I could make it for you (for me). I knew it had to be something awesome because you need an awesome recipe. I owe it to you. I also knew there needed to be a ridiculous amount of bacon involved. It all sort of avalanched together. I had a vision to make them into sliders because sliders are just so awesome. I was eating toast with jam that day and the biscuit idea sort of called out to me like a light from the sky. Okay, so it might not have been that dramatic and magical, but for the sake of the story let’s say that it was. Anyhow biscuit BLT sliders were born. Avocado wanted to be included so I invited it to the party and called it a day. So now here we are, making and eating and talking about BLT biscuit sliders. Who would have thought? Oh, I totally did my friends. I totally did. 

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Roasted Asparagus Sandwiches

I’d like to discuss so much with you in regards to the perfect sandwich. One might think that there isn’t much to it, other than a few common ingredients here and there, but they’re wrong. There’s so much more to it than a few slices of bread and some filling in between. The bread needs to be hearty and toasted. I’m the kind of the guy that likes my bread toasted to the point where it can pass as a lethal weapon. Always have been, ever since I was a little boy. It was so bad that I wouldn’t even eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if my mamma didn’t toast the bread for me. I’d throw the sandwich back in her face if it wasn’t (that didn’t really happen, although now she’ll claim that it did, just you watch). Of course the perfect sandwich has got to have cheese of some kind. No exception. It doesn’t matter what kind of cheese, I don’t discriminate, just as long as there is cheese involved. And lots of it. The ultimate sandwich needs meat, also. I’m not a vegetarian and although sometimes I find it necessary to pretend to be (don’t ask), when it comes to a sandwich, all bets are off. Something salty and cured is definitely a must. Because my dream sandwich involves lots of bread and cheese and cured meat, it needs to have a vegetable of some sort, you know, to pass itself off as “healthy.” Whatever is in season will do, don’t worry about it. It’s really just so that my mom and doctor won’t complain. See guys? I’m eating my veggies! I love vegetables!

So now that we have all that down, the sandwich to end all sandwiches is coming together. Before we can proceed to devouring said sandwich, however, it needs to have  a crunch factor of some sort. I’m all about different textures when it comes to eating. I don’t like to feel like I’m eating baby food, where everything is sort of one note, that one note being mush. I’d say to throw some potato chips directly into the sandwich itself, but I’m trying to be classy here. I sometimes forget that I’m not ten years old anymore and people expect you to eat your chips on the side, not on the inside. All these rules, I can’t seem to keep up. So we’ll classify this sandwich making business up a bit by adding a nut of some sort. Walnuts will do. Pine nuts would be great, sure, but what am I made of money?!

Once you have all these different components together, you can begin to assemble the World’s Best Sandwich. Or Jon’s Ultimate Sammie if you’d like. Or maybe Move Over Subway Because You Ain’t Got Nothing On Us? Okay, perhaps not the last one, I’m still working on the title, bear with me. So here we are making delicious sandwiches like our lives depend on it, because it’s a serious task. One that requires so much more than we originally anticipated. We’re sandwich making masters. Pros. We got this. We’re going to make them open-faced and put an egg on top because we all know that everything is better with an egg on top. Hello, that’s why there’s a saying going around, “put an egg on top.” So now that we know how to make the perfect sandwich, all that’s left to do is to go out and celebrate this feat by making these perfect sandwiches and eating ALL of them until we can’t eat anymore. That’s the only way I like to eat my sandwiches if I’m being honest. 

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