Monday, July 27, 2009

Can We Stuff Any More Cheese Into This Meal?

About once a month, my friends and I plan a dinner party together. July was my month to host. This was the perfect month for me since I've made the decision to move to a house and I got to host it in my future home. For a month I thought I was going to do an Asian grill night with some Korean BBQ and some Vietnamese grilled pork with noodles. In the end, I decided on a gourmet burger and grilled pizza night. This past week was spent reading food blogs and stealing recipes. The party list grew to twenty people and I started to get more ambitious. There were about five different recipes I was sure I wanted to make. The day started at noon with some food shopping and some prep work. I had it all under control.

Well, I thought I had everything under control. The first item that I started to prep were Bleu Cheese Stuffed burgers. To two pounds of beef, I added half a cup of diced red onions, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of Lawry's seasoning, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper. 4 oz of Bleu cheese and 4 oz of cream cheese were mixed, small patties were formed, a spoon of the the Bleu cheese mixture was placed on top, another small patty was placed on top and the sides pinched together. We ended up with four LARGE patties that were placed in the fridge until grill time. This burger was pretty spectacular. Bleu cheese goes so well with beef.

The Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers and the Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers were assembled next. Then I started on the pizzas.

The first pizza was this Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza from Smitten Kitchen. Instead of yellow summer squash, I used sliced Japanese eggplant. The coloring wasn't as pretty but the eggplant seemed to work fine. I also substituted thyme for the basil. Some cream cheese was added to the goat cheese to cut the sharpness of the flavor. This pizza gave me the opportunity to use my pizza stone which worked out well.

Once the guest started to arrive, the grilling began. My friend Michael was a big help because unlike me, he was very comfortable with dough. The dough was purchased from Trader Joes for $0.99 a piece. The problems I had last week were fixed this week. I used a lot more flour when rolling out the dough and used the flour appropriately (on the rolling pin and on my hands.) The dough was rolled out nice and smooth and the grilling began. was all a blur.

The dough cooked incredibly fast. Within minutes, the top of the dough began to bubble and the bottom began to harden and get grill marks. We watched it carefully and flipped it when it was just right. Then toppings were quickly placed on top (tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese) and the grill door was closed to heat the toppings. Everything happened so fast. I ran back in to roll out the next batch of dough and to prepare the next set of toppings. (Salami and cheese; Salami and grilled vegetables). The next thing I remembered was that we had four fully grilled pizzas and it was time for the burgers to be placed on the grill. There was a pizza I did not get to make (Bleu cheese with BBQ chicken) but sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy the party you are throwing.

My favorite pizza of the night was the roasted vegetables with feta. It had half a head of roasted garlic, red peppers, eggplant, onions, tomato sauce, and a nice generous sprinkling of feta. It occurred to me later that I enjoyed this pizza more because the crust had a lot of flavor from the grilling and the taste of the feta was more pronounced than the taste of the mozzarella. The roasted garlic also helped in the flavor category.

The prettiest pizza goes to the heirloom tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella pizza. Look at that beauty. (The heirloom tomatoes at the top of this posting looks like candy doesn't it?) The evening was quite the success. The severe thunderstorm warning scared me a bit but the rain held off and my friends got to hang out on the porch, drink beer, make bad jokes, and eat some serious grub. The cost of this whole affair was quite minimal considering that a lot of my friends brought meat and toppings for the pizza. I should also mention the other dishes that were brought that night.

Coconut Basil Chicken Burgers with Thai Peanut Pesto - made by Jazmin (full of flavor and was very light on the stomach.)

Fresh Corn Casserole - made by Jenny (crunchy sweet corn with can you go wrong?)

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever - made by Jenny (The best chocolate sheet cake EVER!)

Here are the postings I read to research grilling pizza.

101 Cookbooks
Adventures in Shaw
Pete Bakes


  1. OMG frickin' yum! I bet your guests were honored to eat all that!

  2. kichenocd - It was a fun night. I was honored to cook for them.