Baking Time and Temperature for a Yala’s Half-Baked Pizza

Yala’s Pizza, my favorite pizza joint where I grew up, sells half-baked frozen pizzas for you to take home and bake yourself. Whenever I go back home, my parents pick me up one (a double pepperoni), vacuum seal it, and stick it in my cooler right before I leave. They are the best.

I couldn’t find the recommended baking time and temperature online, so I had to call them. I figured I’d post the instructions here so that other Lorain County natives can search for it online instead of calling the grumpy guy at Yala’s. (And so that I’ll be able to find it next time…) Here it is:

🍕🍕🍕 450F for 15-20 minutes 🍕🍕🍕

I used my pre-heated pizza steel and baked my pizza for 15 minutes on the middle rack and turned on the broiler for the last two minutes to brown the cheese. Steel conducts much better than a stone or pan, so aim for closer to 20 minutes if you use a regular pan or stone.

It came out great:

German Potato Salad

Now that it is starting to cool down in the northeast, I’ve been craving some warm comfort food. This German Potato Salad, served hot, fits the bill. It is a completely different animal than its cold, mayo-dressed cousin.


  • 3-4 pounds of medium red potatoes
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of course German-style mustard
  • 1 small bunch of parsley (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper


  1. Cut the potatoes into small, bite-sized wedges. Cook them in a large saucepan, covered in salted water, until the water starts to boil. Then turn the heat down to about half and let them simmer for 10 more minutes. They should be easily pierced with a fork, but not falling apart. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, slice the bacon into half-inch pieces. I usually keep my bacon frozen, so I remove it from the packaging and use my chef’s knife to slice through it while it is still frozen and easier to handle. Heat up your favorite large cast iron skillet and cook the bacon until it is crispy. I usually start out at 3/4 power and then reduce it to 1/2 power once it starts to brown. Once crispy, remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside. Make sure to keep the bacon grease in the pan, though.
  3. Dice the yellow onion and cook it in the bacon grease over 1/2 power, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent. Don’t let it get brown.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the cup of water, cup of vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Carefully add it to the skillet with the onion once it is translucent. Turn the heat up to full power and get the concoction simmering. Stir regularly and let it reduce by half. This takes about 10 minutes.
  5. Once the sauce is reduced, add the potatoes and bacon back into the pan, along with the chopped parsley, and toss everything to evenly coat. I like to leave the heat on during this to warm the potatoes backup a little bit in case they’ve cooled.
  6. Once you are satisfied that the potatoes are warm, the dish is ready to serve. I like to set the entire cast iron skillet on a trivet on our dining room table and serve it from there.

If you don’t eat it all in one sitting (it is a lot!), it saves and reheats pretty well. We usually eat our leftovers within a few days because it is so delicious.

Rethinking Cheese on Tacos

Cheese on tacos is usually boring and bland, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Cheese has some pretty cool properties: It can be melted and crisped.

I regularly tweak my taco meat recipe, so last week I was searching for inspiration while I probably should have been working. I stumbled across an article from Serious Eats where Josh Bousel argues that we are going about cheese on our tacos all wrong. Instead of  just sprinkling cheese on our tacos like n00bs, we ought to melt our cheese directly to the tortilla. You should read his article.

I tried it and I don’t think I can ever go back.?????

Breifly, you melt the cheese in a non-stick pan and then throw down a tortilla (corn works best) over half of it. Once the cheese starts to crisp and the tortilla is warm, remove the pan from heat and carefully slide a spatula under the tortilla and cheese to remove your new creation.


It works on breakfast tacos and regular tacos alike, as well as with a variety of cheeses. The cheese is crispy and crunchy around the edges, still a little gooey on the tortilla, and has a deep, rich flavor.

Read Josh’s recipe on Serious Eats, then run to the nearest kitchen and give it a try!


Making Great Pizza at Home

Chuck’s note: This is a guest post from my friend Robert Ramsey. I regularly turn to him for advice because he seeks out the best version of what he is interested in. I learned a few things from this write-up and I’m going to alter my pizza-making method accordingly. 

Homemade pizza can be a bit intimidating. I’m sure you’ve heard that your small home oven cannot produce the heat necessary to make good pie, and the recipes for homemade pizza are often disgusting, with tough, thick crust and pounds of toppings to compensate.

The truth is, you can make good pizza at home. It takes a little work, but with some patience and a hacker attitude you can easily crank out quality slices.

Pizza making, like most things involving good bread, is as much art as it is science. Therefore, your opinion matters quite a bit, and deciding what you believe “good” pizza to be is up to you. I prefer a Neapolitan style both at home and in the restaurant, but I have seen many New York style pies successfully done at home as well. Note: a Neapolitan style dough is actually the easiest of all the non-pan pizza doughs to create. It requires no kneading, can be done in one step, and tends to be less of a mess.

What you will need:


  • 30 oz Italian 00 flour (I’ve found the best place to get this is Amazon)
  • .6 oz fine sea salt
  • .5 oz instant yeast
  • 19 oz of room-temp water (or so, it depends on the humidity)
  • Semolina flour. This is for sliding the dough into the oven.


  • 28 oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (or other Italian brands. Check the pasta aisle in your grocery store. You’d be surprised what you can find there).
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • two-finger pinch of salt


I prefer basil and wet mozzarella, but you can do things like sweet peppers, sausage, etc. Keep things light! You want there to be far more empty sauce than toppings. Good pizza is about accenting a crust, not being a delivery vehicle for toppings.


  • Food processor (you can use a blender in a pinch)
  • Pizza peel or sideless cookie sheet
  • Kitchen scale
  • Pizza steel. This is very important. You CANNOT use a stone. I purchased a Dough Joe online, and I love it. Another good option is the Baking Steel. If you know someone who has a scrap yard, have them cut you a 15×15 piece of steel plate. It works just as well. Chuck’s note: This is critical. You need something that can rapidly and efficiently transfer heat to make a nice crust. Regular pizza stones and pans will result in an underdone crust.

Making the Dough

Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and stir well. Add a little bit of the water at a time and stir with your hands until everything in the bowl is wet. Be patient with this and make sure to stir well with every bit of water, as adding too much results in a sticky mess.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter overnight or for 10 hours.

Pull the dough from the bowl onto a well-floured surface. Divide it into four equal portions. Put each of these into a Ziploc bag and press the air out. Put the bags into your fridge.

Let the dough cold-ferment for at least 48 hours. I prefer 72 hours. This is going to create elasticity and bubbles within the dough, which is key to delicious dough.

Making the Sauce

Making the pizza sauce

Add the can of tomatoes with half of their liquid to the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients. Process until “saucy.”

Pizza sauce!

At this point I usually like to throw the sauce in a sauce pan on the stove to simmer for a bit and bring the flavors out.

Making the Pizza

Grab your dough bags from the fridge and let them sit out for an hour or so beforehand

Put your pizza steel in the oven on a rack as close to the broiler as you can comfortably get. I usually go with the rack second-from-the-top, but if you feel like you can easily shovel a pizza in without touching the broiler, go right on ahead.

Heating up your Pizza Steel

Preheat your oven to 550F at least 45 mins ahead of making pizza. You’ll need this to get the steel to maximum heat.

Pizza dough

Liberally flour your counter or pastry sheet. Grab a ball of dough, then, form your hands into a “karate chop” and use the tips of your fingers to poke the ball into a 6-8” disk, occasionally flipping it over to maintain the circular shape. As it flattens out, you should find air bubbles in the dough. That’s gold. Try to avoid popping them.

Pizza dough

Grab your pizza peel or baking sheet and dust it with semolina flour. You don’t want the semolina to be too thick, but don’t skimp either.

Take your pizza dough disk and drape it over your two fists, using them to slowly rotate it around. This is very difficult to do correctly, but you’ll slowly stretch the dough into a larger circle. Don’t get discouraged. If your pizza is shaped like a big pecan, it still tastes good.

When your dough is thoroughly stretched, drape it onto your peel. DO NOT TOUCH IT after it goes down. Touching the dough even slightly will cause it to stick, which is disastrous later on.

Grab a ladle full of sauce and spread it on your pizza. You want the pizza to be well covered in sauce, but make sure that the sauce hasn’t pooled anywhere, as it will slosh when the pizza is put in the oven.

Putting sauce on your pizza dough

Add your toppings. Again, go light.


It’s time to add the pizza to the oven. This is fairly dangerous, so make sure you are wearing some high quality oven mitts and that nothing flammable is close to the oven. Grab your peel and give it a quick shake to make sure your pizza slides easily. Open your oven with one hand, and with the other slide the peel at a 45 degree angle as far back onto the pizza steel as you can. Jiggle the pizza onto the steel and close the door.

How long you keep the pizza in varies from oven to oven, so start out with my times and then experiment a bit if you aren’t happy. I let the pizza bake for 7 minutes, shut the oven off, and then turn the broiler on high for 1:40 seconds. This gives you the char on top.

When the second timer goes off, put those oven mitts back on, pop open the oven, and slide it back on the pizza peel. It can be a little tricky, so sometimes I just reach in and grab the pizza.


Let the pizza sit for at least 5 more mins while it finishes cooking (residual heat!), then dig in.

Mix Up Your Hotdog Toppings

We like to mix up our hotdog toppings in the Grimmett house so that we feel a little less guilty about eating hotdogs. Sometimes it is cucumber kimchi. Sometimes chili, cheese, and fritos. Sometimes sauerkraut. Sometimes coleslaw. Sometimes ginger scallion sauce.

Last night it was quick-pickled cucumbers, radishes, and green onions with a spicy mayo.




Ingredients for the quick pickles

  • 1 Kirby Cucumber
  • 4 medium radishes
  • 2 small green onions, greens and whites
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • Juice from 1 small lime


Instructions for the quick pickles

  1. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/8 inch thick half disks.
  2. Slice the radishes in half, then slice each half into 1/8 inch thick half disks.
  3. Slice the green onions into 1/2 to 1 inch long segments at a 45 degree angle. (Or you can slice them however you want. It really doesn’t matter.)
  4. Toss these all in a bowl with the salt, sugar, and lime juice. Mix together thoroughly.
  5. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before you top your hotdogs with them.

Daikon radishes work great too, but I didn’t have any when I made this, so I used regular radishes.



Ingredients and Instructions for the spicy mayo

  1. Mix together 3 tablespoons of mayo with 1.5 tablespoons of whatever spicy asian-style sauce you have on hand.

Sriracha works fine. I prefer ABC Sambal sauce from Indonesia. You can get it on Amazon. This stuff is everything I wanted sriracha to be. It has more garlic, more spice, and is all-around tastier.

This is easy to scale up, too. Keep the ratio 2:1 mayo to hot sauce and you’ll be good to go.

You could make your own mayo, too. But let’s be honest: The reason you are making hotdogs tonight is because you probably didn’t want to cook a full meal. That jar in your fridge will do for now, but plan ahead next time. The homemade stuff is easy to make, keeps for at least a week, and is far superior to the Hellmann’s you are used to.



Since summer is almost here, you know you’ll make hotdogs soon. Do yourself a favor and make some interesting toppings. Write your favorites in the comments.

Sous Vide Turkey Breast for Sandwiches

If you have a sous vide circulator, making your own turkey for sandwiches is incredibly easy and the result is tastier than the stuff at the store.

N.B.: You’ll notice that in the photos I left the skin on the turkey breast. That was a mistake. I highly recommend that you remove the skin and as much fat as possible before cooking it. I attempted to sear it before slicing, but I ended up removing the skin from what I actually ate.

Just looking for time and temperature recommendations for turkey breast? 145F (~63C) for 2.5 hours.


  • 1 Whole Turkey breast, bone-in and skin-on
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Remove the skin and as much fat from the turkey breast as you can.
  2. With a sharp boning knife, remove the breast meat from the breastbone. Save it for turkey broth.
  3. Season both halves of the breast meat with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Vacuum seal each half individually and save one in the freezer for later. Seal the bag twice to avoid leaks. Or, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, put each in a ziplock bag and use the water displacement method to remove the air before sealing them.
  5. Set your sous vide water bath to 145F (~63C) and put one of the halves of turkey breast in. If you used a ziplock bag, make sure to clip the zipper part to the side of the container to avoid leaks.
  6. Let the turkey cook for 2.5 hours. (If you are cooking the frozen one you set aside and it is still frozen, cook it for 3.5 hours.)
  7. Remove the turkey from the water bath. If you like warm turkey sandwiches, open the bag and slice the turkey immediately and assemble your sandwiches.
  8. If you prefer cold turkey sandwiches (as I do), plunge the bag of turkey into an ice bath to cool it down, then leave it in the fridge for three hours. After it is properly chilled, open the bag, remove the juices and congealed fat, then slice for sandwiches.


Assemble sandwiches.

Enjoy! Om nom nom.

Ham and Black Bean Soup

Now that it is winter, we eat soup every week. This ham and black bean soup is high on the rotation. It takes longer than some other soups to make, but it is delicious and filling. Perfect for the cold, windy weather.


  • 1 Cottage ham
  • 1 lb of dried beans, pre-soaked or boiled
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Put the whole cottage ham in your soup pot and put in enough water to cover. Simmer the ham for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the ham and set aside. Save the remaining liquid in the pot.
  3. Dice the onion, celery, green pepper, and carrots. In a separate skillet, add the oil and veggies, then sweat them.
  4. Add the black beans, spices and the ham liquid in the pot with the sweated veggies.
  5. Dice the ham you set aside earlier. Add it to the pot.
  6. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for an hour. Add more water if it gets thicker than you prefer.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with diced red onions, sour cream, or shredded cheese.

Vegetarian or vegan? – Leave the ham out, add more carrots and celery, and use vegetable stock for the liquid.