Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fresh veggie pizza

This pizza uses my favorite crust recipe and a marinara sauce. The toppings were pulled from what we had in the fridge, but 'pulled-from-the-fridge pizza' just didn't have the same ring to it. Thanks for the inspiration, Kendra!

1 zuchinni, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp basil pesto
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
pinch salt
1 small tomato, chopped
2 cups grated cheese (also pulled from the fridge - we used Gouda, Emmental, mozzarella and goat cheese crumbled on top)

Heat oil over medium-high heat and add zuchinni. Cook until it just begins to soften. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms and pesto. Stir to mix well and cook 2_3 minutes.

Spread out the pizza dough and top with marinara sauce, then cheese. Top with zuchinni mixture and a pinch of salt, then the chopped toamatoes.

Bake in preheated oven at 450° or until cheese begins to brown.

Friday, April 25, 2008

60-minute yeast bread

I found this recipe on Apartment Therapy and had to try it. They called it 'No-time bread' and claimed it was a good yeast loaf made in an hour. I decided to try it, following their recipe closely but adapting it for my kitchen and preferences. The result: delicious. In fact, it's our new favorite yeast bread.

The crust was similar to a French baguette, but the inside much more like a soft, rich sandwich loaf. It sliced easily, stored well, stayed moist and not too crumbly - and that crust! My first loaf took (as you'll see) about 90 minutes. However, I think if you had your ingredients prepared, moved from on step to the next without getting distracted, it could be done in an hour. Let me know how long it takes you and if you have suggestions to make!

4 1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
Oil for bowl

Pour water into a large microwave-safe bowl and heat to 120° (test it with your pinkie - it should be hot, but not so hot that you can't keep your finger in it). Stir in the sugar, then add yeast. Let sit a few minutes until foamy.

Heat the oven to 450°. Put a Dutch oven, ceramic or stoneware baking dish/loaf pan in to heat up with the oven. Otional: place a cookie sheet in the bottom of your oven. You'll see why later.

Add 3 cups of the flour, salt and vinegar to the yeast mixture and mix well with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. Add the last 1/2 cup of flour and stir in as much as possible. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be smooth and elastic, not sticking to your hands, but maybe to the counter still a bit.

Oil the microwave-safe bowl and place the dough in it, rolling it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a very wet towel. Cover the whole thing with a dry towel and microwave on high for 25 seconds.

Let rest in the microwave for about five minutes.

Microwave for another 25 seconds, then remove.

Let rest and rise for another 15 minutes.

Optional: While waiting, pour 1/2 cup water into the cookie sheet in the bottom of your oven. Be careful - steam is what you're after and it can burn you! The steam will help form a nice crust on the bread.

Gently shape into a ball and place carefully into the hot pan. Quickly cut two or three slashes on the the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature is 200°. (You can add another 1/2 cup of water about 15 minutes into baking, if you want.)

Remove bread from oven and pan. let sit 10 minutes before slicing. Stores well in Ziploc and makes great sandwich bread the next day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lentil curry wraps

The base for this recipe came from the Extending the Table cookbook recipes for Dahl (India) and Curried Split Peas (Kenya). My original plan was to make two curries: chicken curry for dinner and lentil curry for lunches. But I decided to simplify things and make a double batch of lentil and chicken curry. It was gone in two days.

We ate it wrapped in pita bread and I put a little crème fraiche on mine. It could also be served over rice. Next time I think I’ll leave out the chicken. Too time consuming, especially when it’s just as good without it. Oh, and I would top it with some chopped tart apples. Yum.

1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp curry
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1-2 tsp cinnamon
4-5 cloves
1 cup lentils and/or 1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1 Granny Smith apple (opt)
Crème fraiche or sour cream (opt)

In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until soft. Add spices and stir to coat. Cook until fragrant, just a minute or so. Pour in the lentils. Add enough water to cover. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until lentils are soft, about 20 to 40 minutes depending on your lentils. Stir occasionally, adding water if needed. Taste and add salt or more curry if needed.

Serve either over rice or wrapped in pita bread (Lebanese flat bread). Top with crème fraiche and freshly chopped apple.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nicole's roasted potatoes

These are the best roasted potatoes...hands down. I learned the secret from the Marsks & Spencer British Cookbook Nicole gave me.

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into even chunks
2 Tbsp oil

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold, salted water.. Bring to a boil for 5 to 7 minutes. They will still be firm. Drain and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before shaking gently. This will begin to break down the edge of the potatoes. These slightly rough edges will become crisp and crunchy during the roasting.

Pour oil into a roasting pan and place in the oven as it preheats to 425°. Once hot, carefully transfer the potatoes to roasting pan, turning gently to coat in oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and roast in the oven for 30 minutes before turning in the pan. Roast for another 30 minutes, then serve hot.

Blah rabbit

I'm not sharing this recipe because it wasn't very good. However, I do get credit for attempting to cook rabbit...and would love to know if you have a good recipe for attempt number 2.

Pair of roasted squab

Rinse the birds and pat dry. Rub generously with olive oil and crushed garlic. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper all over.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up . Roast for about 45 mins at 375°, or until internal temperature reaches 175° and juices run clear.

- OR -

If you have a rotisserie in your oven, slide both birds onto the skewer , separating them with a small orange or lemon.. Cook using the oven's rotisserie settings until internal temperature reaches 175° and juices run clear. Place a pan filled with 1/2 cup water under the birds to catch the drippings.

Let the squab rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chicken and dumplings

4 chicken leg/thighs
2-3 carrots, sliced into rounds
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste


1 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Place the chicken in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boill. Add onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and parsley to the pot. Reduce the heat to low boil and cook the chicken, uncovered, for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Remove chicken from the pot and set it aside. Bring the broth to a boil and skim off any foam. If you want to remove all the vegetables, you can - I don't.

You want to use about 4-5 cups of broth. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice, and keep over medium heat while preparing the dumplings.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and milk in a bowl. Stir well to muix. Spoon out dumplings and drop into simmering broth. I use a tablespoon apiled high. The dumplings will swell and then slowly shrink as they dissolve and thicken the gravy. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin. Peel chicken from bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Drop them into gravy and dumplings. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes, then serve with more pepper on top.

Blackberry buttermilk muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups blackberries, rinsed

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest. Gently stir in the berries.

In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined and flour 'disappears'.

Fill each muffin cup to 3/4 full. Back in preheated oven at 375° or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Once fully cooled, these freeze well.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Chocolate ganache

It really couldn't be more simple, or more delicious. I adapted Mark Bittman's Chocolate Ganache recipe (below). You can see the video here.

7/8 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Heat cream in a pot (or slowly in microwave) until it steams. Put chocolate in a bowl, pour hot cream on top, and stir until chocolate is melted and incorporated into cream. Let cool until it thickens a bit. Pour over your cake and let cool in refrigerator.