Pizza Toppings

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 74,753
    Pizza expert Ruth Gresser discusses the different kinds of pizza toppings.

    Ruth Gresser

    Owner and chef Ruth Gresser grew up cooking with her mother, who owned a catering business in Baltimore, Md. Ms. Gresser cooked her way through Grinnell College in Iowa before moving to San Francisco, where she cooked for several years at Friends a Cafe and at Le Trou Robert. In 1987, she graduated summa cum laude from Madeleine Kamman's Classical and Modern French Cooking School in Glen, NH. She then moved to Washington, DC, where she has helped open four popular restaurants: Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont Circle, Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown, Blue Plate and Obelisk. Ms. Gresser has been the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Women's Chefs and Restaurateurs Madeleine Kamman Scholarship and a guest chef appearance at Alice Waters' renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. She has also been profiled in The Washington Post Magazine, The Washington Business Journal and by Georgetown University Television. Ms. Gresser has been a chef demonstrator, contributor and panelist for The Smithsonian Institution and for FreshFarm Markets in Washington, DC. She is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

    Hi, I am Ruth Gresser from Pizzeria Paradiso, we're making pizza today. Right now we are going to talk about our pizza toppings. I have an array of things here to talk about and show you. We have meats, we have herbs, we have cheeses, we have vegetables. I just want to tell you that this is just the beginning of what you can put on a pizza. You should just use your imagination, and play, and have fun, and just make things that you like. Mostly when we think about pizza, we think about a tomato and cheese pizza, but that again, is just the beginning. There is no reason -- and historically tomato pizza is very new, so just play, do whatever you want. Just a couple of things to keep in mind. I have here some prosciutto, which is Italian cured ham, I have pepperoni, and I have some pork sausage. You could also put chicken on a pizza, you can put any kind of meat that you want on a pizza. The one thing to think about and remember is that some meats are cured or cooked, so they do not need to be cooked again, or they have already been cooked so you don't need to be concerned about making sure that they are cooked on the pizza itself. If you are using a sausage, like this is a raw pork sausage, you do want to make sure that it is fully cooked on the pizza. If you are putting chicken on the pizza, you either need to precook it, or again, make sure that when you put it on the pizza, it does cook fully. Herbs, I have some fresh herbs here; I have oregano, basil, and rosemary, and here is a little chopped parsley. The thing that I want to suggest to you about herbs is that some herbs are better chopped, so that you don't want to put a sprig of rosemary on a pizza like that, where you can put a big leaf of basil on a pizza. This is just going to be too intense of a flavor, it's not going to cook nicely. So, rosemary, you want to chop finely, and sprinkle over a pizza, where basil you can scatter full leaves on the pizza, or you can chop it up, and you can put it on, and cook it on the pizza, or something like basil, parsley, chives, you can just scatter on top after the pizza comes out of the oven, it's completely up to you. I have some olives here that you can put on pizza, I mean we are all familiar with putting olives on pizza. One thing is to make sure these olives have pits in them. So, make sure you pit your olive before you put it on the pizza. Here I have several different kinds of cheeses. We think of pizza as tomato and Mozzarella cheese, but that's just the beginning. I have Ricotta cheese here, a very nice fresh Ricotta that you can spread on pizza. Here is Parmesan cheese, this is Mozzarella, this is a very fresh cows milk Mozzarella, and then this is Pecorino cheese, so it's made with sheeps milk. This is a ball of smoked Mozzarella, and this here is Gorgonzola, which is an Italian blue cheese. So, again, use your imagination, try to pick a cheese that matches the other ingredients that you're putting on the pizza. The other thing that you will notice is that when I make pizza, I will dice my Mozzarella rather than grate it, and that is because if it's a larger piece of cheese on the pizza, it will take longer to melt and it will be less likely to start losing it's fat, and the pizza will not become greasy. Here I have vegetables; we have zucchini, peppers, onions, and what I wanted to talk to you about this is that these are very thinly sliced onions, again, thinly sliced zucchini rounds, and small pieces of red pepper. These vegetables can go on the pizza in this manner raw. The other thing that you can do, however, is you can take your vegetables and cut them in larger pieces. Here, let me just show you, and precook them. You can roast them first in the oven together with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, and you can use herbs in there, if you like as well, and you can make a different kind of pizza in that way. So, if you take your vegetables and cut them into larger chunks, like this. Again, it's all very simple and straightforward. So, you have got peppers, you have got zucchini, you have got an onion. You need to peel the onion of course. Again, just make big chunks of onion, like that. Then put them on a roasting pan like this, and the thing you want to remember is, you want to remember to make sure that you have a pan that's big enough for the vegetables to be laid out flat so that they don't steam. Then give it a little bit of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt, and some pepper, and roast this in your oven. You could roast it at about 400, probably for 20 minutes to half an hour. Then you have cooked vegetables to put on the pizza instead of the raw smaller vegetables. Again, it just depends what you prefer, what you are in the mood for. So, have fun, go out and find other things. Just use your imagination, you can put anything on a pizza. Remember, a pizza is bread with food on top, so whatever you want for a meal, you can make it into a pizza if you like.