41: seamus o’conner

seamus o’conner
pizza artist

Seamus O’Conner is an Italian wannabe. He is of Irish and German blood, but his soul is pure Italian. After he decided to take a trip to Italy in April 2003,  he began to study Italian. Seamus went to a local community college where he was one of the oldest students. He started a cooking school with his wife and some new Italian friends called Italian Country Cooking. When they return to their village, they love to hear all the locals call out their names welcoming them back home. You can visit Seamus at his blog and over at Flickr.

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Here is my basic pizza dough recipe. I make this dough by hand because I can judge by the feel if the dough is right. This recipe can also be made in a food processor or with a KitchenAid mixer.

I make the pizza sauce using high quality canned tomatoes, olive oil, Kosher salt, pepper and dried oregano. For toppings, I roast an assortment of vegetables and season them with fresh herbs.

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Basic Pizza Dough Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 package yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
1-1/4 warm water approximately 85-90 degrees
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

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Place yeast and sugar in a bowl add 1/4 cup warm water. Let it rest for about ten minutes until the yeast is activated. Put flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Make a well in the center. Add the  water/yeast mixture and the olive oil. Stir with a large spoon incorporating the flour as you stir. Add the additional water slowly. Once all the water has been added begin to knead with your hands. You want to knead it for about 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Brush the dough with olive oil and put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise about an hour until it has doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and lay it on a cutting board. Fold the left side of the dough toward the center and then fold the right side toward the center overlapping the portion from the left. Flip it over and let it rise again for at least another hour. Take it from the bowl and divide into 3 equal parts. It’s best to use a dough cutter for this. Form these into three balls and let rise again for another 45 minutes to an hour. At this point, your dough is ready for pizza.

I prefer thin crust pizza, so I roll it out very thin using a rolling pin. If you would like a more substantial crust, roll it out by hand using your fingers to spread out the dough and crust.

Three ways to bake pizza at home

Conventional Oven
– Purchase a piece of marble from a tile store. You want a piece approximately 18 by 16 inches and about an inch thick. The thicker the stone the better to retain heat.
– Preheat oven to 500 degrees with the stone. I suggest you heat it for at least an hour.
– Roll out dough to desired thickness. Slide on to the stone using a pizza peel and bake for about 1 and 1/2 minutes. Take out and flip it over and set it on a baking rack. Spread your pizza sauce on top. Add the  cheese and other ingredients.
– Slide back in the oven for about 6 more minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
– Remove and let rest on the backing rack. This is critical because if you slide it directly on a cutting board your crust will get wet from the steam generated from the hot crust.
– Let it rest for about 30-45 seconds.
– Slice and eat.

BBQ/Grill

– Preheat grill to 500 degrees.
– Roll out dough to desired thickness.
– Slide the dough directly onto the grill. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. The bottom should be charred slightly and golden.
– Remove from the grill, flip it over and apply your pizza sauce, cheese and ingredients.
– Slide back on the grill and  cook for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
– Remove and let rest on the backing rack. This is critical because if you slide it directly on a cutting board, your crust will get wet from the steam generated from the hot crust.
– Let it rest for about 30-45 seconds.
– Slice and eat.

Grill Pan on the Stove

– Preheat oven to 450 degrees for about 30 minutes
– Preheat grill pan for about 15 minutes. Grill pan needs to be really hot
– Roll out dough to desired thickness.
– Slide the dough directly onto the grill pan. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. The bottom should be golden brown.
– When the bottom is nicely browned, flip it over and grill for another 2-3 minutes.
– Remove from the grill and apply your pizza sauce, cheese and ingredients.
– Slide directly into the oven on the rack. Do not use a pizza pan or a baking sheet. Bake for about 3 minutes until the cheese is melted.
– Remove and let rest on the backing rack. This is critical because if you slide it directly on a cutting board, your crust will get wet from the steam generated from the hot crust.
– Let it rest for about 30-45 seconds.
– Slice and eat.

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on the nightstand:

am loving:

  • My wood burning oven
  • The Blog Camp 365 in 2010 Project on Flickr
  • Pizza any day of the week
  • Gelato from Scoops on Heliotrope in LA
  • Planning an olive harvesting trip to Italy in the fall (if anyone’s interested in coming along, let me know)
  • Speaking Italian

how does summer inspire you?

I am a food nut and I am extremely inspired by the fresh vegetables I have growing in planters on my patio. I picked the first tomato the other day. I love cherries in June and peaches in July and look forward to fresh corn in a couple of weeks. I am inspired by the late sunsets in Los Angeles. The orange and red colors in the sky force me to stop on the freeway and take photographs.

what’s one item in your summer wardrobe you can’t go without?

This summer, it’s a pair of black Converse All-Star high tops. When I wear them, I feel 10 years younger.

what’s your idea of the perfect summer pizza?

My perfect summer pizza is made with pepperoni from Rosie’s Italian deli in Pasadena. In the wood oven, the pepperoni curl up around the edges and crisp up real nice. Best pepperoni in town. I also love fresh wild mushrooms seared in a cast iron skillet with a little thyme. They’re perfect on a pizza with some good mozzarella.

what are three constants in your day?

  • Making and sitting down to a homemade meal with my wife and my two boys
  • Espresso first thing in the morning made in a Moka pot
  • Taking at least one photograph a day, but many days it’s upwards of 50

tell us how you became a pizza artist.

We traveled to Italy in April of 2003. By the end of the year, we owned a bombed out apartment in a medieval village called Casperia. Behind the village, we discovered a pizzeria called L’Asprese. After I tasted their pizza, I realized I wanted to be able to make pizza like that.

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28 thoughts on “41: seamus o’conner

  1. I love this post!
    I have never thought of making pizza on a grill pan on the stove-brilliant!
    Thanks for all the tips, Seamus.

  2. I’m so happy to meet this fellow today! You have an interesting story Seamus, I appreciate hearing about your life. Thank you too for sharing how to grill pizza, something I’ve been hoping to learn!

  3. i could not love this more.
    kerouac in italian, and rosemary on a pizza…swooning.
    tim is lucky he can make a decent pie, or he’d have some worrying to do. ;)
    thanks so much, shari, sheri, and seamus!
    xo,
    tara

  4. Grazie mille for the nice comments. It is 7:32am in Los Angeles and I am getting ready to start a fire in the wood oven to make pizza for lunch. In Italian the word for crazy (in Spanish it’s LOCO) is PAZZO. I am pazzo for pizza. Bella giornata a tutti.

  5. I like this expansion of the word artist. Art is so subjective. Pizza seems the perfect medium for Seamus. Art and mediums aside, I hold a special place in my heart for those who appreciate the importance of a homemade meal with family. Cheers to keeping our priorities in order and doing what we love.

  6. Seamus, fortunately I have been lucky enough to taste your pizza. While my family enjoyed the traditional cheese and meat fixins…..they till have their mouths watering for more. Seamus was kind enough to take the time to prepare for me gluten and wheat free pizza. All I can say was delicioso. Truly yummy.

    Watching Seamus cook is the best part. His pure love for food and people comes out as he joyously floats around, yes I mean float. This is one happy Chef.
    Pure joy when he combines the subject of food>with people. His passion is so clear, whoever is lucky enough to taste his fresh mouth watering veggies,
    his incredible pizza…. we haven’t even gotten to Seamus desserts yet!

  7. Seamus, thanks so much for sharing your story about your love of food and expecially pizza. I too have enjoyed your thin crusted pizza and they are as good as your beautiful photos. I will have to try your recipe but I am sure it will never match yours.

  8. Seamus! This is a wonderful article and I thank you for the recipes! I can’t wait to try pizza on the grill (will be sure to share pictures). It has been a pleasure getting to know you through BC365 this year, your passion for pizza, food and people shines through your photography and stories. I wish you and Anne the best in your endeavors, and if I ever go to L.A., your place will be my first stop! All my best, Cyndy

  9. P.S. Pazzo for Pizza. I think this is the perfect name for your wood burning pizza restaurant. It will happen, I know…

  10. Grazie mille everyone.

    Clare thanks for your support. I will make pizza for you and ray and matt and katie anytime,

    Cyndy I appreciate your your support too. It’s nice having people in your corner. I have really enjoyed BC365 and I am glad I have hung in there. It is so easy to quit. I want to make it till the end of the year.

    Mamma thanks for your love. You and dad can come and have pizza anytime you want.

    Nikole I have always admired your blog. Great photographs and even better words.

  11. Seamus! it’s so awesome to see you here!! i LOVE the pizza on the grill option. i’m SO going to try that. and i’m definitely investing in a marble stone for my coming Aga. :-) we’ve been talking for five years about building a pizza oven in the garden, but now i think i’m going to force my husband to do it. i’m also greatly relieved to see that the pizza crust i make is very similar to yours (i think i just need to roll thinner) – with a touch of honey in it. what an inspiring post all around!

  12. Ciao Julochka,

    Thanks for the nice comments. I would love to build my own wood oven and I hope to some day. I don’t think it’s too difficult. A friend sent me some plans that I will forward to you. Ciao and good luck with your kitchen.

  13. Seamus – it’s great to see you here! I know you visited me before and we are big fans of grilled pizza. Or any pizza for that matter.

  14. Pingback: Sautéed Zucchini | Juicy Lifestyle

  15. Pazzo per pizza, indeed! We built a wood-burning oven in our garden in San Diego and have two grown sons who have become great pizzaioli–I make the toppings ahead (personal favorite is “bianco”, combination of mozzarella, ricotta and parmigiano + basil and fresh cracked pepper). Each time we make pizza, we discover new combinations and new favorites. Competition between i figli is intense…
    Buon appetito!

  16. Sharon

    Wonderful story. My boys are so into it. There is some competition but there also is this wonderful quest to make a better pizza everytime. We’ve had a great time. Thanks for your comments.
    Ciao
    Seamus

  17. Anna grazie. I am planning on roasting some chickens in the wood oven tomorrow for a camping trip on Friday. We are having cold chicken sandwiches on peasant bread. I love cold roasted chicken. It’s incredible.

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