By Frank E. Vaerewyck, “The Firehouse Foodie”
Going on vacation is a great way to decompress and get out from under the familiar rat race we find ourselves in from day to day. Many like to go to a new place and experience new things; others just like the more relaxed feel of somewhere more familiar. We are lucky enough to enjoy both types of experiences. Last year my wife Tina and I were able to get away and enjoy some down time in Ocean City, Maryland. Having never been there, we did the tourist thing and took in the sites. We enjoyed the newness of somewhere unfamiliar, but seeing some familiar places, like a grocery store or national chain restaurant, still gave that comfortable feeling like back home.
One of my favorite things about getting away is trying new restaurants. With pizza being my favorite food, I really enjoy going out and finding a local pizza place that has that local feel that you can’t get at a national chain, eat in or delivery. I enjoy picking apart the pizza and seeing how they make it and what ingredients they use. Not every pie I get I like. On our recent trip, my review of the pizza wasn’t so great, partly because I felt there was no passion in the pie, It was put together with mediocre, if that, ingredients and was very bland. When I have to load up my slice with table shakers just to make it taste good, there’s a problem. Now I understand that salt and pepper are usually to taste, but I added garlic, crushed red pepper, basil, and grated parmesan cheese just to give it some taste. The coolest thing this place had was a 28-inch XXL Pepperoni Pizza that could feed a football team. We didn’t try that one but when we have the kids with us that might be an option.
There is a place here at home that touts itself as a real New York pizza place, and after my son Hunter and I visited it, I am a believer. They had passion for what they did; they had great fresh ingredients and a great finished product that was worth the money. The 16-inch Double Crust Stuffed Pizza that we ordered had to be put in a box and taken home to be finished. Just as I have pride in the dishes I make, they had pride in the dish they served.
In the firehouse, if you mess up, they don’t let you forget it. Once I made spaghetti that turned out more like chili and I still hear about that one years later. So, like they say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”
Double Crust Stuffed Pizza, Firehouse Style
2 cans pizza dough
1 large jar pizza sauce
3 C shredded mozzarella cheese
½ lb. Italian sausage
1 pkg (8 oz) pepperoni
½ red pepper, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
Italian seasoning mix
1 (8 oz) can mushrooms (if you like them)
Whatever else you want; it’s your pie–add or subtract at will
- Preheat oven to 450ºF. Roll one can of dough out into a 12-inch circle. Roll the other dough out into a 9-inch circle and set aside.
- Place the 12-inch dough round into an ungreased 9-inch spring form pan.
- Sprinkle dough with 1 cup of cheese.
- Shape sausage into a 9-inch patty and place in pan on top of the cheese.
- Layer pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, red pepper, or other toppings and remaining cheese on top of sausage patty.
- Top with the 9-inch dough round and pinch edges to seal.
- Cut several ½-inch vent holes in the top crust.
- Spread sauce evenly on the top crust, leaving a ½-inch border at the edges.
- Bake pizza in the preheated oven until the crust is set, the cheese is melted, and the sausage is cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Let hot pizza rest for about 15 minutes before cutting. This will make it easier to slice and serve. Slice into wedges and enjoy.
Frank Vaerewyck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with the Manassas (VA) Volunteer Fire Company. He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program. As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters, but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.