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, jalapeños (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.

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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.