Two Non-traditional Pizzas

2011/02/27

I have written before about my love of homemade pizza, but here I go again. These two versions, both made with cheese curds from my favorite Fields of Grace Farm, are not exactly your run of the mill Margheritas, but they were both quite good.

This first one I made was a Mexican pizza. Taco sauce replaced the traditional tomato, and it was topped with onions, bell peppers, jalapeƱos (only on my part), and onion flavored cheese curds on a cornmeal-influenced crust.

Yum.

Ian initially thought this sounded gross, but after one bite he had to agree that it was pretty darn good.

This pizza, which I made for my Oscar party of one, was also quite tasty. I par-roasted (cooked part way in the oven) thinly sliced potatoes, onions, and garlic, which I layered on a whole wheat pizza crust, that had been brushed with olive oil mixed with (defrosted) frozen basil, and topped with garden herb flavored cheese curds.

This pizza crust was harder to work with than most and took a little longer to cook, but the result was very satisfying. The nutty whole wheat flavor of the crust went well with the cheese and potatoes, and I was very happy about it.


Mixed Citrus Marmalade

2011/02/27

I love citrus fruits, but I find that the selection up here in the chilly DC metro is horrid. No offense to Texas, but I don’t like their grapefruits. This is why I was ecstatic when my loving parents sent me a crate of fresh Florida citrus (juice oranges, Minneola tangelos, and white grapefruits). As much as I loved to eat these beauties fresh out of hand, though, I was rushing against the clock to finish them before they past their prime. Additionally, I in my selfishness wanted to save the flavor for the summer months. That is what canning is for, right?


Pickled Red Onions

2011/02/27

This year, President’s Day was gray and dreary, so I could think of no better way to spend my day off than making some of the prettiest preserves I could imagine – pickled red onions and mixed citrus marmalade.

Last summer, when I spent a weekend in Boston, I picked up a quick lunch at a burrito/wrap restaurant after walking the Freedom Trail. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, or much at all about the burrito I ate, except that it was really good and had the prettiest pickled onions in it.

Wishing to recreate the flavor of those onions, I searched the Internet for ideas and recipes. I found two that I really like: this one from David Lebovitz, which had the spices i wanted, and this one from Food in Jars, which I liked because it could be canned. So I combined the measurements from one with the spices from the other to create the following pickles.

I started by boiling three large red onions (roughly 3 lbs) in water for four minutes.

After draining the onions, I made a hot brine from white vinegar, water, sugar, pickling salt, black peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, chili peppers, and ground allspice (I didn’t have any whole on hand). I added the onions and took the mixture off the burner.

After dividing the mixture into three jars, I processed them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. The reward was three jars of stunning pink onions, no food coloring needed. I haven’t tried them yet, since the ought to sit for a bit before serving, but they look so pretty I can’t wait to try them.


Staples: Pasta Puttenesca

2011/02/23

I’m sure this has happened to you before. You look in the fridge and proclaim there is nothing to eat. Maybe you were out of town and haven’t made it to the store yet. Maybe you went shopping without a list and therefore didn’t get everything you needed for the week. Whatever the reason, nothing in your fridge goes with anything else. Don’t worry; it happens to everyone. But you don’t need to reach for the takeout menus just yet. All you need is a strategically stocked pantry.

Every year at about this time, the end of winter (hopefully), I like to go on a pantry fast. I buy less food at the store, to force me to clean out my freezer and cabinets by eating the food that has been accumulating in the corners of my kitchen that I don’t see as often when there is so much fresh food available (like in the spring, summer, and fall). However, some things I like to keep around are the ingredients for vegetarian Pasta Puttenesca.

This dish is very simple and easy to make. It never tastes exactly the same way twice, but that is mostly because I don’t ever measure anything when I make it. First, I heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then, I add an onion and a few cloves of garlic and cook until the onion turns translucent. Then I add chopped olives (black or kalamata, preferably jarred, not canned), chopped capers, some red pepper flakes, dried oregano, salt and pepper.

When this starts to smell really good, I add a pint jar of tomatoes and stir. Then I just let it cook down, stirring occasionally, while I boil the pasta.

When the pasta is almost done, I drain it and add it to the sauce to finish. I like to do this because the pasta will really soak up a lot of good flavor.

I like to shave pretty curlicues of Parmesan on top (just scrape at a hunk of it with a y-shaped vegetable peeler) and serve with a green salad and warm baguette (not pictured). However, since we had a friend over that night, I also put out an appetizer of a small piece of fontina cheese and a bowl of antipasto.

By the way, if you eat fish, the only other thing you need to keep on hand is some tinned anchovies or a tube of anchovy paste. Just add it in with the olives, and then you have authentic Puttanesca.

I don’t know about you, but at the end of a long day, I do not want to fight the crowds at the supermarket and then still have to come home and put together an elaborate meal. That is when I make things like this. I always have pretty much everything I need on hand, and popping into the store for bread and maybe a head of lettuce is far less of a hassle then trying to put together a whole meal. And it is a lot less greasy than takeout.


Why I Do What I Do

2011/01/13

Happy New Year. A lot of people ask me why I spend so much time and effort preserving my own foods when there are perfectly good grocery stores around selling quality jams, pickles, and canned tomatoes. And in the heat of August, when I am laboring in the kitchen over pot after pot of tomatoes, I often wonder myself. Given that I pay $0.49 per pound of whole tomatoes and it takes not quite a pound and a half to make one pint of canned tomatoes, I am getting a pretty good deal, but time is money, and canning is a lot of work.

This year, in addition to canning stewed tomatoes, I also made salsa, tomato paste (two tiny jars!), and slow roasted cherry tomatoes for freezing. Now I must say that these little beauties are spectacular. I roasted them at 180 degrees (the lowest my oven goes) for about twelve hours per batch, sometimes longer. The smallest ones dried out completely and taste just like sun-dried tomatoes, while the larger ones remained juicy but became oh-so-sweet. Seriously, they taste like tomato candy. But as good as they are, I only managed to get two and a half quart size freezer baggies of tomatoes. For all the chopping and electric bills involved, these seem like less of a bargain.

On nights like tonight, though, in the dead of winter when it barely ever gets above freezing, all that work seems worth it. Because for dinner tonight I made my favorite summer salad. Well, a variation of it. Actually, I have never made this salad the same way twice. The only mandatory ingredients are things I usually have on hand: avocados, mozzarella cheese, and (frozen) roasted corn. The dressing is made of two cubes each of Dorot’s frozen herbs – garlic, basil, and cilantro mixed with lime juice. Tonight I mixed it in with mayo because I had some homemade that needed using up. I wouldn’t bother with store bought mayo for this salad; it doesn’t really need it. I also added a handful of my frozen tomatoes to the salad tonight, defrosted with the corn.

This is really a “kitchen sink” style salad; pretty much anything can be tossed in. In the past I have added black beans, arugula, bell pepper, and anything else that was on hand. I bet boiled potatoes would be excellent. There is no real recipe, but I try to keep the proportions even on the cheese, corn and avocado. I overdressed it a little tonight, but it was still pretty good.

To go with the salad a made
this soup
by a href=”http://smittenkitchen.com/”target=”_blank”>
smitten kitchen almost exactly by the recipe. I ran short on cumin so I added some chili powder for depth and I didn’t want to use beef stock for obvious reasons, so I added an extra cup of tomatoes (my own of course) and then three cups of water with a vegetarian bouillon cube. The soup was really good and the flavors complemented the salad. All in all it was a tasty dinner, with plenty of leftovers.


Pizzas I Have Made

2010/06/17

I have had strange pizza cravings lately. They started before our recent trip to American Flatbread, but might have inspired the visit. However, the pizzas I wanted weren’t the kind you can find in restaurants, at least not around here. The cravings actually began around the time late spring vegetables began appearing at the market in all their abundant glory, which, coincidentally was about the same time I reached the section on Wolfgang Puck and Spago in the book The United States of Arugula.

The first, and by far my favorite pizza I have made so far, was a roasted beet pizza. To make it, I roasted some beets with onions, thyme, basil, and marjoram.

I spread out the pizza dough (from Trader Joe’s) dusted it with cornmeal and brushed it with olive oil. Then I arranged the beets, beet greens, and onions on the dough, and topped it with a generous helping of goat cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

The oven had been preheated to 500 F for 10 minutes, and it only took about 7 minutes to cook.

This second pizza I made the same night as the beet pizza, because we had company over. I spread out the same Trader Joe’s dough (they say rolling pins are bad for the structure), dusted it with cornmeal, and brushed it with basil pesto. Then I topped it with caramelized onions, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.

I baked it just like the beet pizza, but right when it came out of the oven I placed slices of proscuitto on top.

Dinner started with garlic bread and a simple salad of mixed lettuces, Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Dessert was ice cream with caramel sauce. There were no complaints.
More recently I made a roasted cauliflower pizza, which is something I have had before, with my CSA bounty. For this one, I roasted the cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper. I made the dough myself this time, which was insanely easy in my bread machine. Again, I dusted it with cornmeal and brushed it with truffle oil, then arranged the cauliflower (more on my side, less on Ian’s) with some purple basil and fresh dill, and topped it with mozzarella and Parmesan.

*

This pizza was good, but a little bland. Both the dough and the toppings needed more salt. With added salt and crushed red pepper on top, though, it was pretty tasty. *Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the final product, so you are going to have to imagine this with gooey brown cheese on top.


CSA: Week 2

2010/06/17

I will admit it; last week some of the greens from my CSA didn’t get finished. This is partially because we didn’t eat at home a couple nights that we usually do (we had dinner with friends one night and went to a fundraiser the other) and partially because of the perishability of leafy greens. This week, however, there was a bit more variety in the selection, which was nice. I didn’t finish quite all of the arugula, but most everything got eaten.

The haul:
1 medium bunch radishes

  • with butter and salt

2 crowns cauliflower

  • roasted on pizza

1 medium bag broccoli

  • with buckwheat and cheese

1 medium bag ovation greens

  • stir-fried

1 head romaine lettuce

  • salad

1 big bag arugula

  • wilted with indian-inspired fried potatoes

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