I am excited to be writing from Michigan where I am on holiday for the next couple of weeks. Trading winter for summer has been wonderful, and last night I had the pleasure of testing out a few recipes in my aunt & uncle’s wood-fired pizza oven. It is a beautiful set-up (pictured below) and I am so impressed with his pizza handling skills. I tried to slide the pesto pizza into the oven and lost most of the cherry tomatoes to the fire in the process. The dough we used was purchased from Gordon’s – you could also make your own using this recipe, omitting the rosemary and lemon zest. The cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the pizza crust but in a very hot, wood-fired oven it only took about three minutes.

Claes Oldenburg, Flying Pizza, 1964
lithograph, 43.2 x 56.2 cm, edition of 200

The Swedish-born artist Claes Oldenburg is known for his sculptures of everyday objects ranging from spoons to hamburgers. The public works are often interactive and were initially scorned before being embraced for their playfulness. In addition to the colossal sized sculptures, the objects also appear in soft-form and were originally sewn together by Oldenburg’s ex-wife. Oldenburg moved to the United States in 1936 and many of his works pay homage to the foods associated with New York City. The pizza in Flying Pizza from the New York 10 portfolio appears twisted and distorted, a characteristic of his sculptures when they are reincarnated from a hard to a soft form.

{Pesto, Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella & Parmesan Pizza}

1/2 c pesto
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1 c mozzarella cheese
pizza dough

Roll out the dough with a bit of flour and spread an even layer of pesto. Top with mozzarella, Parmesan and cherry tomatoes before sliding into the oven. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the dough and the heat of the oven. In the wood-fired oven it took about 3 minutes, rotating the pizza once. Serve immediately.

{Arugula, Red Onion Marmalade & Goat Cheese Pizza}

1/2 c red onion marmalade
1/2 c goat cheese
handful of washed arugula, still wet
pizza dough

Roll out the pizza dough with flour and top with the marmalade. Spoon out small globs of the goat cheese and disperse evenly over the pizza. Slide into the oven and when rotating pizza, remove from oven to top with the wet arugula. Return the pizza to the oven to finish cooking, three minutes total in a wood-fired oven.

{Feta, Parsley, Red Onion & Lemon Pizza}

adapted from How to Cook by Lesley Waters

1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled
1 large red tomato, sliced
1 TB olive oil
2 TB red onion, minced
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
pizza dough

In a large bowl combine the parsley, red onion, crumbled feta and lemon juice. Mix and set aside. Roll out the pizza dough with flour and top with the sliced tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and slide into the wood-fired oven for three minutes, rotating once. When done cooking, top with the feta mixture and return the pizza to the oven for 30 more seconds.

{Spicy Sausage & Jalapeño Pizza}

1 fresh jalapeño, thinly sliced
1 sausage, meat removed from casing
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 c mozzarella cheese
1/2 c tomato pizza sauce
pizza dough

Pre-cook the sausage meat with the chili powder and hot sauce by sauteing in a frying pan. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel to draw out the grease and fat. Roll out the pizza dough and spread an even layer of pizza sauce. Top with the mozzarella cheese, sausage and jalapeño. Sprinkle the dried chili flakes over the pizza before sliding into oven. Rotate pizza half way through cooking and remove once the cheese is melted and golden, about three minutes.