The Return of RecipeHacking

24 Aug

Once upon a time, in an earlier incarnation of this blog,  Josh and  I challenged our readers to show off their culinary prowess. Here’s how Josh initially introduced RecipeHacking:

“Welcome to RecipeHacking, an occasional foray into unconventional cooking, adventurous eating, and competitive creativity.

The idea is simple – each month we’ll post a recipe here at Kitchen Dancing and you – our faithful readers and fearless cooks – will tweak it, test it, re-imagine and redesign it. Post your new versions of the recipe in the comments section of the original post and the best new take on the recipe will earn fame and honor (as well as a nice little prize).

This is a contest for those of you who are constantly pushing the limits of your meals, scribbling notes in your cookbooks, improving on time-worn recipes. But RecipeHacking is not just for foodies and aspiring chefs – this is for all of us whose family put a crazy twist on an old favorite, those of us who have wondered about “secret ingredients,” or even just tasted a good dish and thought it could be a great dish.

Seek out your secret ingredient. Discover your taste for tampering.

RecipeHacking is for you.”

Previously readers submitted their favorite, most creative versions of macaroni and cheese and beans and rice. The next RecipeHacker challenge continues with the comfort food theme and is something that could be interpreted in a wide variety of ways. This month’s challenge will be PIZZA!

I don’t feel the need to post an exact recipe. You know what pizza is. Dough most typically covered in tomato sauce, topped with cheese and vegetable and/or meat toppings of your choice. Enough said.

To participate in RecipeHacking all you have to do is create a new pizza recipe with your own unique twist. It can be a subtle change or a recipe revolution. Creative adaptations and loose interpretations are encouraged. What could you make a crust out of other that the typical dough? Pizza is thought to have it’s roots in Italian cuisine. What delicacies from other cultures could be translated to this all-American favorite? Post your new version in the comments section below and check back often see what your fellow competitors come up with.  Please discuss and debate the merits of each other’s recipes – feel free to add those comments below as well. In a few weeks we will announce a winner and bestow upon them a small prize to congratulate them for thinking outside the (recipe) box. Good luck – hack away!

15 Responses to “The Return of RecipeHacking”

  1. Karen Renzi August 24, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    Hi Erica – Ahh if only we lived nearby. I am all over stuff like this! Alex and I once had an invent-your-own homemade ravioli contest b/n the 2 of us for a family dinner party…

    This is a pizza classic at homes in Italy but not common here. I start with homemade dough, plain crushed tomatoes (canned, no salt), sea salt and pepper over the “sauce.” Meanwhile saute in olive oil a little garlic, thin sliced potatoes (I leave the skins on, why not?) and whatever fresh greens I have in the house (broccoli rabe, spinach, beet greens), salt & pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. Mozzarella cheese then the sauteed mixture and then top with a bit of grated parmiggiano reggiano (or grana). Greens are my girls’ favorite veggie so they inhale this.

    I have a pic I took to show my CSA farmers if you want it – email me…

  2. Erica August 25, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    First of all, thanks for being the first person to post a recipe! That was a quick turn-around!

    Second of all, this recipe sounds great! Can’t wait to try it. We always have a ton of greens at our CSA and I often feel challenged to come up with interesting ways to use them.

    I would love to post your photo along with your recipe. I’ll email you for it…

  3. Liz August 27, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    My favorite pizza reimagining (and I can’t take credit for it; it was my friend Michelle’s idea) is to stretch your crust nice and thin (you can even grill it!), spread generously with mashed sweet potatoes (with just a touch of maple syrup), and top with carmelized onions and crumbled goat cheese. The boys can not get enough of this pizza!

    Next time I make it, I’ll get a picture; usually it disappears too fast!

  4. Rachel W August 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    I love the concept of recipe hacking. There are three coincidences that have made me think that posting the following recipe was fated:

    1. I created a pizza using macedonian ajvar (because I’m a little obsessed with Balkan food at the moment).
    2. The following day, you two re-start this blog.
    3. The following day, a girlfriend who is also hopelessly obsessed with ajvar sends me the following (which by far trumps my pizza creation)

    The thing to know about Ajvar is that it is amazingly delicious: red peppers with a little eggplant, a little garlic, fire roasted/simmered for hours until it creates a sauce a little thicker than pasta sauce. You can find it in Eastern European grocery stores– in the Amherst area I think you can get it at the hidden Polish deli/grocery/amazing pierogi place in Sunderland.

    “I just made this and I’m so darn proud of myself I wanted to send it along to the only person I can think of who both cooks and may have some Ijvar laying around. It’s really good. You could make a grilled version too, which is what I’d planned to do, but it’s been thunderstorms all afternoon here so I switched to the oven.

    Vegetable Topping:
    2 small – medium zucchini
    1 sweet onion
    3 red potatoes

    2 garlic cloves, pressed / minced
    2 Tb olive oil
    ½ cup red wine vinegar
    ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    3 Tb sugar
    1 Tb prepared mustard
    1 tsp salt
    3 Tb minced fresh basil

    Whisk together marinade ingredients. Cut zucchini into ¾ inch cubes, halve onion and slice. Place zucc & onion into glass dish, cover with marinade. Let sit covered, in fridge, 6 hours to overnight.

    Pizza Crust:
    1 cup warm water
    1 ¼ tsp yeast
    1 ¾ cup white flour
    1 cup cake flour
    1 ½ tsp salt
    2 tsp sugar

    Dissolve yeast in water. Place dry ingredients in food processor and mix. Slowly add in water mixture, mix until ball forms (add more water if too dry, more flour if too wet). Divide ball in half, let rise, covered, 1 hour on floured counter. (If no food processor, mix in water by hand & knead dough before rising).

    1 small jar Ajvar or 2 lg red peppers, seeded, halved & roasted blended together with olive oil as needed; & 1 cup feta cheese

    To Make Pizzas:
    Heat oven to 425-degrees F. Dice potatoes into ¾ inch cubes. Toss with olive oil & salt. Roast on baking sheet for 7 – 10 minutes, until soft but not yet browned.

    Drain marinade from vegetables into small saucepan. Add veggies to potatoes and roast until cooked through. Meanwhile, add 2 Tb sugar to leftover marinade and set to simmer on stove, turn off when thickened (may take the rest of the baking time). When veggies are done (approx 10 minutes), remove from oven & increase heat to 500-degrees.

    Roll out pizza dough, thin, and place on two pizza stones / baking sheets dusted with cornmeal. Cook dough 7-10 minutes (until beginning to brown – check to make sure it doesn’t start to burn).

    Spread crusts with sauce, then sprinkle with veggies. Return to oven until crust is golden brown (3-4 minutes). Remove from oven, drizzle with reduced balsamic marinade, serve.

  5. seekingsibling August 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Neither of these are my creation, but they are both weird pizza spins.

    This one is from my step-MIL. I posted it on FB a while ago, and I think you already saw it, but it totally fits here.

    Zucchini pizza

    Preheat oven to 375

    3.5 C Zucchini. Grated with skin and with as much moisture as possible squeezed out.
    3 eggs.
    1/2 C Parmesan
    1/2 C Mozzarella
    1/2 C flour (I probably did closer to 3/4 and used whole wheat flour.)
    Fresh chopped basil

    Mix all of the above together and press into a 9×13 greased pan. Brush some olive oil on top and throw it under the broiler for a bit if you want to brown it up. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake until cheese is melted.

    Another friend suggested this combination and it’s YUM! I attempted to make the crust from scratch, but it was no amazing success. The topping combo was good, though. Use a liberal amount of fig jam instead of tomato sauce. Then top with prosciutto and goat cheese. Veggies can skip the prosciutto. The prosciutto goat cheese combo was pretty salty, so I may try it with mozzarella instead.

  6. Abby & Heather September 7, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    There’s a pizza place near where we live that has a fantastic, savory crust, so we tried it ourselves — with some ingredients from our CSA and our local farmer’s market.


    3/4 c. all-purpose flour
    3/4 c. whole wheat flour
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/3 c. shortening
    4-5 tbsp. cold water

    Stir together sifted flour and salt. Cut in shortening until pieces are pea-like. Sprinkle one tbsp of the water over mixture and toss with a fork. Push wet pieces to side of the bowl and repeat until all dough is moistened. Form into a ball, then roll dough out into a circle. Transfer to a cookie sheet. Pinch edges up to form a crust so that the topping doesn’t leak off the edge of the pizza.


    1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
    2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 lb. or 1 and 1/2 c. collard greens, washed and chopped
    6-8 mini shallot cloves, diced
    Approx. 1/6 lb. gruyere cheese

    Boil squash until tender. Put squash in blender and blend with one tbsp olive oil. Pulse until only slightly chunky.

    Wash greens thoroughly, drain well and remove stems. Cook, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water for 9-12 min or until tender. Add shallots and pinch of salt, cool thoroughly. Set to the side.

    Using a peeler, peel thin slices of gruyere cheese and set to the side.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread butternut squash over crust (so that it’s approx. a quarter inch thick and covers the crust). Spread greens over squash and then cheese.

    Cook for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Crust will not be traditionally crunchy since it’s basically a pie crust. Cook 20 minutes, then check the bottom of the pizza to make sure crust is cooked through.

    Here’s a picture:

  7. Martha September 10, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    So, being in grad school and a new mom to boot, I cheated a little and bought my crust dough from a local brick oven pizza place.
    Apparently most pizza places will sell you dough for cheap. It’s a great option for those with little time on their hands. I got enough dough for two 8″ pizzas for just over $2.

    This isn’t that big of departure from regular pizzas, but it is entirely dairy-free.

    I made basil pesto and added in a little fresh mint and rosemary from my yard.
    Pine nuts
    Olive Oil
    Non-dairy veggie crumbles in place of parmesan

    Admittedly, the pesto wasn’t fantastic. It seemed to be missing a depth and complexity I associate with good pesto. Maybe it was the additions, maybe I missed something. Any ideas?

    Anyhow, I spread the pesto on the dough and added thinly sliced red onion, slices of roma tomatoes, spicy Italian sausage, and more pine nuts.
    I cooked them at 400 degrees for 16 minutes, switching top and bottom racks halfway through cooking.

    As I try to recommit myself to a dairy-free diet, knowing that I can still eat yummy pizza is quite a relief.

  8. Harriet September 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Although this is not my own original creation, I feel compelled to share this recipe. It has become a favorite in our family.

    BBQ Chicken Pizza

    1/4 cup diced grilled chicken breast
1/4 cup barbecue sauce ( I use Kraft, Hickory Smoke)

    1-10 inch wheat pre grilled pizza shell ( I buy thin crust shells and keep them in the freezer)

    1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

    1/4 cup shredded smoked gouda

    1/4 cup sliced red onion, sauteed

    Chopped parsley and grated Parmesan for garnish

    (I tend to use more than 1/4 cup of all the above ingredients)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
 In a small mixing bowl, toss the diced chicken with bbq sauce. On the pizza shell, place the shredded mozzarella, gouda, sauteed onion and diced chicken with sauce. 
Place the pizza shell on a pizza stone or pizza tray in oven and cook for 7-10 minutes. Cook a minute or two longer for a crispier crust. Remove from the oven. Garnish with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan. Cut and serve.

  9. Harriet September 12, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    This “pizza” is a fun dessert, using your favorite fruits and berries. I must give credit to my friend Junean for this one.

    Fruit pizza

    I tube frozen sugar cookie dough
    8 ounces softened cream cheese

    1/3 cup sugar

    1 tsp vanilla

    1/2 cup apricot jam or orange marmalade

    Fruit and berries in season

    Thaw and then press cookie dough in to 12 inch round pizza pan. If the dough is sticky, wet your fingers a little. Prick with fork all over. Bake according to directions on cookie dough package, usually about ten minutes on 350. Let cool completely. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Spread all over cookie. Top with your favorite fruits.
    I like to do designs with sliced kiwis, blueberries and sliced strawberries. Thinly sliced peaches also work well. Add a little water to the jam and drizzle all over. Cut in wedges and enjoy.

  10. Darren September 18, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    This is one of our favorites, inspired by a pizza we had a great pizza place in Atlanta called Fritti:

    Pineapple, Caramelized Onion, and Gorgonzola Pizza with Reduced Balsamic

    The Dough:
    1 2/3 cup warm water (between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
    1 1/4 tsp. honey
    1 package active dry yeast
    3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup semolina
    2 tsp. salt
    3 tbl. olive oil

    Combine the honey and the water and stir well. Add the yeast, stir gently, and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for the dough.
    In a stand mixer with a dough hook or in a large food processor with a dough blade, combine the flour, semolina, and salt. Then add the olive oil and turn on the mixer. Slowly add the water and mix for a couple of minutes. When the dough is ready, it should be a little tacky to the touch but should release from the bottle of the mixing bowl or food processor with relatively little struggle. Remove the dough from the mixer and let rest 30 minutes on a clean counter, covered with a large mixing bowl. Divide the dough into two and form into two balls. Place the dough balls in a lightly oiled (I use olive oil) 9×13 baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge for a day.

    When you’re ready to use the dough, remove one ball from the baking dish, re-shape it into a nice tight sphere and place on a lightly floured counter. Cover it with a large mixing bowl and allow the dough to proof for 30-45 minutes.

    Or, in the alternative, you can skip all that and buy some dough from the store. When we go this route, we like Trader Joe’s dough.

    The Pizza

    1/2 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1/2-1 cup pineapple chunks
    1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese
    Approx. 3/4 cup quattro formaggio or other pizza cheese of your choice
    Approx. 3/4 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
    3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

    Preheat the oven to 515 degrees.

    Warm a medium saute pan over medium heat. When it’s ready, add 1 1/2 tbl. olive oil and then onion and toss to coat the onions. Add a pinch of salt and then sprinkle on 1/2-1 tbl. of brown sugar. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they are well caramelized. Remove from the pan.

    Pour the balsamic into a small saute pan and place the pan over medium-low heat. Reduce the balsamic until it resembles a thin syrup (remembering that it will cook down a little more once you take it off the heat). Remove from the pan and set aside.

    Toss or roll the pizza dough until it’s roughly 12 inches around. Top with the sauce, cheeses, pineapple, and onion (in that order). Put it in the pre-heated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (we almost always use a pizza stone because we prefer a crispier crust).

    Once the pizza is ready, remove it from the oven and cut it up into slices. Once the pizza is on your plate and ready to serve, drizzle a little of the reduced balsamic over the top and enjoy.

  11. Kate G. September 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Greetings! I’ve been a fan of RecipeHacking for a while, but have never participated in a challenge – until now. My boyfriend and I whipped up this pizza recipe especially for you:

    We started with homemade dough (the first I’d ever made):

    * 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
    * 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
    * 2 cups bread flour
    * 2 tablespoons olive oil
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 2 teaspoons white sugar

    1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups bread flour, olive oil, salt, white sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine. Beat well until a stiff dough has formed. Cover and rise until doubled in volume, about an hour. (The original recipe advised only 30 minutes of rising time, but I consulted with my mom (a veteran pizza maker), and she recommended that the dough be left to rise for at least an hour.)

    Instead of red sauce, we made a fig pesto – we followed Epicurious’ pesto recipe, and added five fresh mission figs, chopped coarsely. We also added an extra clove of garlic to make up for the lack of roasted garlic on the pizza proper.

    Epicurious’ Classic Pesto recipe:

    * 4 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 3 large bunches)
    * 1/2 cup olive oil
    * 1/3 cup pine nuts
    * 2 garlic cloves
    * 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    * 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo or Parmesan cheese
    * 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

    Combine first 4 ingredients in blender. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add both cheeses and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.

    The most important part (I think) was topping selection – we wanted to balance the tanginess/garliciness of the pesto with lighter flavors, and we also wanted to include a protein. Here’s what we used to top the pizza:

    * About 8 oz. chevre
    * 1/2 cup crumbled feta
    * Two chicken breasts sauteed with olive oil and fresh rosemary, chopped into strips
    * About 1/2 cup white mushrooms, sliced
    * Ten fresh mission figs, sliced thinly
    * A sprinkle of black pepper

    We baked the pizza for 22 minutes at 410 F, and let it sit a few minutes before cutting/serving.

    The result was total deliciousness; the pesto wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be, but the figs topping the pizza added a nice sweetness (and also looked beautiful). We’ll be making this again in the near future!


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