California cuisine is best characterized as a style of cooking based on experimentation, fusion, and the use of fresh, local ingredients. Perhaps the best example of Cali-cooking comes in the form of the aptly named California Style Pizza.
Pioneered by chefs Ed LaDou (inventor of the BBQ Chicken slice) and Wolfgang Puck in the kitchens of renowned restaurants like Chez Panisse in San Fran and Spago in West Hollywood, this is a style of pizza that pushes boundaries.
If you’re feeling intimidated by all this talk of high cuisine, don’t be. California style pizza is pretty much a New York slice topped with whatever the hell you feel like throwing on it.
To give you an idea of how few rules there are: Wolfgang and LaDou came up with about 250 different pizzas using ingredients as far out as scallops, chili oil, smoked salmon, zucchini flowers and eggs. Your dreams, your pizza.
Obviously, it’s time you had a pizza party, California style… and we’re gonna help you throw it. Check out WA’s roadmap to the perfect Cali Pizza Party:
1) Assemble a band of pizza-minded friends and family. Each attendee will be responsible for his/her own pizza. Make sure they can be trusted to bring a pound of dough, some sauce and some cheese.
2) In addition, each participant must also bring at least three toppings (don’t be lame) they’d like to try on a slice of pizza. Could be bacon, could be seafood, could be the weirdest veggie in the supermarket… go for it.
3) Once your pizza tribe has congregated with all of their supplies, gather your ingredients in one place and start imagineering up some crazy pies. (Remember, together everyone achieves more pizza.)
4) To get your creative juices flowing, get some real juice flowing into some large glasses and throw on some music from our Book of Awesomeness. (If it’s not a California red you have gone woefully astray!)
5) Preheat your oven to 550°F and oil up some baking sheets, that dough is sticky!
6) Apply a generous amount of flour to dough and gently roll it out onto the baking sheets. (About 1/2 pound of dough should make a 10” pizza. Use the full pound for a big ‘ole, thick pie.)
7) Use a basting brush to coat your rolled out dough in oil before adding your sauce, cheese and toppings. This will help your aspiring crust retain some much needed moisture. Sprinkle on some salt for good measure.
8) Go Cali on that ‘zah, brah! Let your wildest dreams and your world class topping-spreading fingers do the work! (Don’t forget to let a glass of wine assist you in the process.)
9) Get those pizzas in the oven! Bake for five minutes, rotate your pie, and bake for another five… or until your crust turns golden brown and the cheese looks toasty and melted.
10) You now have a lot of crazy Cali pizzas, and a big ‘ole appetite. Everybody must try each other’s pizzas, it’s the right thing to do.
Otherwise, just gorge yourself on pizza and make sure that you leave no bottle unopened!