Slideshow: My Pie Monday: Microscopes, Broiler Issues, and More

hmw0029's Microscope Set-up
hmw0029's Microscope Set-up
"My starter (no name...yet) is about 42 hours old [in this photo, from 10/13/2010] since I started it; it was super active last night but after I took it to work it's not looking so bubbly. I even fed it right before I left home! Oh well.

"It's Trader Joe's whole wheat flour, fed with KA bread flour.

"I included the microscope picture* and also pictures of a pH strip ( it was somewhere between 4 and 5) with the loaded slide, and the sourdough culture in an microcentrifuge tube (I had to give it a very quick spin to get rid of large particles).

"At this point, there are lots of bacteria and not many yeasts.

"Happy sourdough culturing!

"* It doesn't matter so much to non-scientists but just to clarify, I use this exclusively for checking cultures and counting cells and not for micrographs for publication. This cheapo made-in-China microscope really sucks. But the good thing is I'm the only one who uses it, so I can look at sourdough cultures. heehee"

[Thanks for sending in these pics, hmw! This is so geekily awesome! —AK]

Pizzasnob's Fort Lee Special
Pizzasnob's Fort Lee Special
"Back on September 13, your first post on your Cavanagh starter inspired me to take the plunge and try it out for myself.

"600 hours later (25 days), I ended up with the included pictures. I know I tend to be a bit loquacious in my posts, so I'll let them do most of the talkin'. I've decided to call my starter and its resulting pies "The Fort Lee Special, or How I Stopped Worrying and Love the 600 Hour Pizza."...

Pizzasnob's Dough
Pizzasnob's Dough
"Starter: Used the Fresh Loaf pineapple juice method. They're a great site and helped me a lot. I was too lazy to go out and buy wheat berries, so I used rice grains from the pantry instead - and thus the Fort Lee Special begins with its Korean roots.

"Dough Recipe: Kenji/dmcavanagh's recipe (pretty much the same!). 5 day fermentation. Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour.

Marisa R.'s Vegetarian/Vegan Pizza
Marisa R.'s Vegetarian/Vegan Pizza
"This pizza was for both me and my fiancé. I'm vegan and he's vegetarian. The vegetarian half: San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The vegan half: thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil. We used a simple dough recipe courtesy of Mark Bello at Pizza a Casa. We had taken a class with Mark about six months ago, and this was our first attempt at making pizza since taking the class. It came out pretty good for our first pizza!"
Kevin B.'s Spinach-Artichoke Pizza
Kevin B.'s Spinach-Artichoke Pizza
"Skillet-broiler method, 4-day cold-fermented dough based off Kenji's recipe, however I used AP flour. Spinach and artichoke, bianco-style, with marjoram and basil. Salted the cornicione with sage sea salt, really helped."
Dhorst's Sourdough Romanesco Broccoli Pizza
Dhorst's Sourdough Romanesco Broccoli Pizza
"The pizza was quite tasty--sourdough crust brushed with garlic infused olive oil and aleppo chile and topped with mozzarella and asiago fresca and Romanesco Broccoli. I have to say I was a Romanesco virgin, and it's a great veggie."
Dhorst's 'Jacob's Philadelphia Freedom Pizza'
Dhorst's 'Jacob's Philadelphia Freedom Pizza'
"Jacob's Philadelphia Freedom Pizza: A take on a Philly Cheese Steak. Sourdough crust, kissed with garlic olive oil, and topped with a little tiny bit mozz/provolone mixture, sliced leftover grilled sirloin, green peppers and onion. It was finished with a bit olive oil and oregano. And Jacob really like old school music--Elton John is thumbs up in his book."
Pizzablogger's 'Drunken Dance Margherita'
Pizzablogger's 'Drunken Dance Margherita'
"I'm having all kinds of broiler problems again....flare-ups, uneven heat, etc. It's like dancing while totally drunk with a much more sober...and fleet of foot.. person on ice skates — and it pisses me off in a major way.

"This Margherita was tasty, but I burnt it in a few spots and the erratic heat caused more of the look of a New York-Neapolitan crust than I tend to favor.

"Back to the friggen drawing board. Again. Convinced I ain't gonna be happy until I build a wood burner.

[Isn't it always back to the drawing board? Some folks spend their whole lives chasing the perfect pizza. Good luck, Pizzablogger! —AK]

Dave Martin's Black Trumpet Mushroom Pizza
Dave Martin's Black Trumpet Mushroom Pizza
"Made this pie after a hauling in about 4 pounds of black trumpet mushrooms one day late August in N. Michigan. Used dough aged for about 10 days in my fridge, and a red wine tomato sauce. Cooked in my home electric oven at 550°F. For anyone who hasn't tried black trumpet mushrooms, they are buttery with a pungent apricot aroma. Delicious on pizza."
climbhighak's Sourdough Soppressata Pizza
climbhighak's Sourdough Soppressata Pizza
"After a summer of nothing but work, I have recently had some time to play in the kitchen. I also bought myself a KA Artisan mixer. I am still not sure whether I prefer the mixer or doing things by hand.

"This is an all-natural yeast (sourdough) crust using Caputo "00" and basically Varasano’s recipe. This pie only aged overnight at room temp.

"Strianese DOP tomatoes blended with some oregano, sea salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and some finely grated Parmesan for the sauce.

"I used imported buffalo mozzarella and sopressata as toppings. I also grated some Parm on top after the pie came out of the oven. This was a 90-second pie done using a broiler and stone at just shy of 850°F.

"All the flavors were amazing but the dough does need a couple more days of aging in the fridge."

Adam Kuban's Di Fara Knock-Off and Pineapple-Pepperoni FAIL
Adam Kuban's Di Fara Knock-Off and Pineapple-Pepperoni FAIL
I built up a batch of dough made from dmcavanagh's recipe using my sourdough starter (named "Cavanagh"). Four pizzas, only two shown here.

Top: My accidental Di Fara knock-off. Just wanted to do a NYC-style pizza with regular "aged" part-skim mozzarella. But had some fresh mozzarella on hand so I threw that on, too. Along with a base layer of grana padano. Some sea salt and olive oil prebake. Girl Slice said that it was bland, and it was, somehow. The sauce lacked flavor as did the crust. Must have done something wrong in the cold-ferment or used my starter when it was not optimally active.

Bottom: Half pineapple (Girl Slice's half) and half pineapple-pepperoni (my half). Girl Slice declared this a FAIL.

"The acidity of the pineapple seems to have done something to the fresh mozzarella," she said. "It's like it curdled it while cooking. You've gotten worse since last week, dude!"

Not pictured: Brussels sprouts/mozzarella/oilve oil white pie (à la Motorino) and a pineapple-peperoncini-pepperoni-hot-oil pie.

James Schulman's All-Broiler Pizza
James Schulman's All-Broiler Pizza
Veteran MPM'r James Schulman says, "Here are a few shots of another attempt at a broiler method pie. I tried using a cast iron pan as well with good results. This was a roasted garlic with Molto Caldo Giardinera from River Valley Kitchens.

"I am still having broiler issues, it doesnt stay on long enough to finish the pie, then the oven cools off... I am working on a grill-turned-oven that I haven't had time to focus on but soon."

[Wow. Lots of broiler issues in this week's edition of MPM. Hope you all are getting those pesky burners fixed! —AK]