A pizza story in three acts: The Recipe, The Interview, Lessons Learned.
Act I: The Pizza Recipe
There’s an online recipe trend wherein chef-writers write endlessly before giving you the recipe. That sucks. Those people deserve your ire and scorn. So, without ado, here’s one of my favorite pizza recipes, from Late Night Pizza’s Michael Kleinman:
- Aged pizza dough in oiled pan.
- Spread Honeycup Mustard on it with a spatula.
- Add Muenster cheese. (A well-melting variety yields better results.)
- Top with tomato slices.
- Cook @ 450°. (Time depends on crust thickness, pan, altitude, etc.)
Act II: The Pizza Interview
This recipe is from Athens, Ohio back in the 1980’s, but Michael Kleinman is still really into food, especially pescatarian and low carb stuff. He has two foodie Instagram accounts: kleinman_cooks and kleinman_eats where he shares his secrets. …But the nitty-gritty on the grilled cheese pizza is right here. Read on!
Hi Michael. Thanks for sharing your recipe with my readers (aka my mother and sometimes my wife). Because of Covid-19, it seems like more people are cooking lately.
Other than, “Try to find some flour!” do you have any advice about pizza dough?
Dough is tricky and varies a lot with the brand of flour. Lots of pizza places talk about fresh dough, but all experienced bakers know aged dough has more flavor and better texture.
We let our dough rise for three hours, and then rolled it out, put it in oiled pans, and wrapped it in plastic wrap to let it slow proof in the fridge for 2 days. When it proofs that long it becomes much easier to work with it; the gluten relaxes and it doesn’t spring back as much, so it stays in place in the pan.
If they still make it, Rhodes frozen bread dough is pretty good used as a crust.
Proof/prove the dough. Got it. Should we cook it at the highest possible temperature?
Late Night style pizza cooks at a lower temperature, 450º, so it cooks in the middle. I learned this from an oven repair guy from Cleveland who tasted our pizza and told me to turn down our oven. He was totally right, and the pizza was much better even though it took longer to cook.
Tomato slices on immediately? Halfway through cooking? After?
We put the tomatoes on before cooking, at the beginning.
How’d you come up with the Grilled Cheese Pizza? What was your inspiration?
Upscale grilled cheese sandwiches in NYC–for a while it was a trend to use Honeycup mustard on them. I thought it would be great to get that flavor profile on a pizza.
You were right! It’s seemingly a truly original pizza concoction. Googling around finds a few not-so-near ersatz copycats like this Detroit-style pizza topped with mustard, corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese, (not muenster,) and this pizza joint’s Honey Turkey Club Focaccia, featuring both muenster cheese and honey mustard. Speaking of, you and I both know:
Honeycup mustard, though sweet, is not a honey mustard…
I always had the LN-GCP ‘plain’ but in your pic, you show some toppings. Should newcomers go purist first, or do you love it more with some toppings?
I never put items on the GCP.
The pic I sent was not a GCP it was a Late Night Incredible Spinach pie. I just sent it along because I had it handy to bring back memories.
Ah, memories. 99.9% of Athenians and former Athenians of a certain age remember Late Night Pizza fondly, but almost nobody remembers the Grilled Cheese Pizza. It was a huge fave of mine. Any thoughts as to accounting for the tastes and popularity of various pies?
Not many people were hip to the grilled cheese pizza, but it was my secretary’s favorite pie, too.
The Twice Baked Potato Pie, the Artichoke Parmesan Pie and The Incredible Spinach pie were our top selling specialty pies.
The Chipotle Pineapple was a Late Night original way before anyone had even heard about chipotle peppers.
I found a dusty can in a specialty store in Columbus and loved them. Back then they were 10 times hotter than they are today and it would burn the next day coming out of you.
I would spend up to a month perfecting a specialty pie and sometimes did not feel it was good enough and would not put it out.
I did an oven roasted vegetable pie that did not make the cut and a bunch of others.
The enchilada pizza I liked a lot but it never got much traction.
You’re bringing back great memories of those pies. *salivates* I’ll get you out of here on this: Did you, as my sister remembers, also use the Honeycup on the twice baked potato pie?
We did not use Honeycup on the Potato Pie.
Thanks. Her ignorance of pizza condiments is an embarrassment to the family.
Act III: Pizza Lessons Learned
This section is a quick pizza recipe report of sorts. Maybe you’ll benefit from my pizza foibles. I first made this pie 20+ years ago, shortly after Michael and I probably had a similar conversation. In the past few days, I’ve made the grilled cheese pizza twice. My Friday attempt at this pizza recipe left me wanting with wearily whetted wolfish appetite.
Staving starvation, I somehow scrounged both flour and yeast amidst relentless covid-19 food supply senselessness. I prepared and kneaded the dough. Proved it for two whole freaking days in the fridge. Aaaand, it was boring. Really uninspired. I also didn’t use enough muenster cheese or Honeycup mustard. Too much plain-Jane dough and not enough other stuff. Undeterred, I vowed to carry on.
The Next Day: Another Grilled Cheese Pizza??
Amazon Fresh is finally delivering again; the pre-made pizza crusts arrived on Saturday. In my excitement, I forgot to brush the crust with olive oil (per crust instructions) before adding the extra-phat portions of mustard, cheese, and tomatoes. Nonetheless, a comparable success! Delicious. Not quite as good as the real thing, but good.
- Don’t skimp on the Honeycup Mustard.
- Don’t skimp on the muenster cheese.
- Pre-made crusts are fine. No pan needed.
- Aging/proving dough won’t improve boring dough. (Learn to make better dough.)
- This pizza is as scrumptious as I remember.
- I miss Late Night Pizza.
- I miss going out to eat, in general. #coronavirus
If you like this pizza recipe, feast your eyes on the only other Dan Dreifort pizza content. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!
Dan Dreifort took cooking lessons when he was six years old. No kidding. He was daintily flipping Crêpes Suzette while his peanut-butter-sandwich-making peers hadn’t graduated to crafting the more advanced peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. #bigTime
8 thoughts on “Late Night Pizza Grilled Cheese Pizza Recipe”
Thanks for sharing this, Dan. Late Night was one of the best things about living in Athens. Michael’s pizzas opened my eyes to the joys of distinct toppings. GCP was good and all but team Artichoke Parmesan over here. We’ll be trying this recipe to see how bad we can bork it up.
I liked the comment about your sister 😜
Sent from my iPhone
Kleinman also has a fantastic recipe for soysage. Those were the days..
So great to remember Late Night Pizza. I worked for Michael, making the french bread for the Cart, and prepping various toppings such as the mystical artichoke parmesan. If only I had thought to remember the recipe! Michael was a great guy, a real perfectionist where it counted most. Those were the days indeed.
Maybe you sold me a French bread pizza! I did a stint working across the street in the Ali Baba buggy circa 1993-1995.
I am in talks with Michael to do another recipe blog post soon. Subscribe, and you’ll get an email when it comes out.
Please ask Michael to share his recipe for Twice Baked Potato Pizza! That’s my all-time favorite, and I’m not alone in this sentiment. Many thanks for considering this request! Eileen Dempsey Scahill, Ohio University grad ‘90
I’ve been a gnat in Michael’s inbox for a while now. We’re close to doing another one.
Yeah! I miss that Pizza. TBPP was my fav!