Deep Dish Double-Crust Pizza

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This beauty has been a favorite in our house for a while now.  Like any pizza, it’s so forgiving and willing to absorb any random things you have hanging out in the fridge.  This iteration took care of about 4 bell peppers and an onion, along with some other random meats and vegetables.  The key is the garlic.  Do whatever you want to the rest of the pizza, don’t skip the garlic.

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Deep Dish Double-Crust Pizza

Yields 1 12″ deep dish pizza, enough for about 6 people.

For the dough:

1 1/2 c warm water

1 package active dry yeast

1 t sugar

3 1/2 c flour

1/2 c cornmeal

1/4 c olive oil

1 t kosher salt

Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Set side until the yeast begins to froth, about 5 minutes.  With the dough hook attachment set at low speed, slowly begin incorporating the flour, cornmeal, olive oil, and salt.  Continue kneading until the dough is cohesive but still tacky, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down the dough.  Cut about 1/3 of the dough off and set aside.  Proceed with the pizza as follows.

For the pizza:

Dough from previous recipe

2 t butter

2 c prepared pizza or marinara sauce, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb mozzarella, shredded

Other pizza items of your choosing – pepperoni, diced peppers, sliced onions, sausage, whatever

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Melt the butter briefly in a 12″ cast iron skillet and swirl around.  Lay the larger piece of dough (about 2/3 of the total dough) in the bottom of the skillet.  Gently press the dough out to cover the bottom and sides of the skillet.  If it fights back or slides back with the butter, just let it sit for a minute or two and try again.  Once you have the dough approximately how you’d like it, let it rest for about 5 minutes.

Layer 1 c of the marinara sauce on top of the dough.  Sprinkle on the minced garlic and approximately half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.  Add your other pizza toppings then top with the remaining mozzarella and 1/2 a cup of the marinara.

Press the remaining 1/3 of the dough into a circle approximately the size of the top of the pizza.  Lay the dough over the top of the pizza, pinching the top and bottom pieces of dough together as you go.  Top with the remaining 1/2 c of marinara.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until the entire top layer of dough is cooked through.  Let sit for about 5 minutes before cutting.

Oodles of Zoodles

I bought myself a new kitchen tool, a mandolin, and put it to use right away with our newest squash use – Zoodles!

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Zucchini noodles, or “Zoodles,” aren’t a new thing, and they’re certainly not difficult.  All you do is slice zucchini on your thinnest julienne setting on a mandolin.  Some recipes recommend using them raw, but I cooked these.  After I had sliced all the squash, about 6 small zucchini and yellow squash, I heated a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and sauteed the noodles until they were tender, about 10 minutes.  From there, I added prepared marinara sauce, meatballs I had frozen previously, and parm.  The whole meal came together in the same amount of time as a normal spaghetti meal.  Yes, it was less than gourmet, but the zoodles and meatballs meal was a hit.  The zucchini noodles take on a similar texture to al dente pasta, but with significantly fewer calories and substantially more healthy stuff.  I recommend this technique should you find yourself in possession of a mandolin, a few minutes, and an abundance of summer squashes.

Roast Vegetable And Goat Cheese Bread

I’m totally on a bread baking kick right now.  I’ve been teaching my 3 year old how to bake bread and it’s such a fun thing to do together.  She gets to add all the ingredients, punch down the dough, and I even let her cut slits into the top of last loaves.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be open about letting my kid play with knives, but she’s got mad skills.

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In any case, I found a recipe similar to this in myCook Italy book.  But the book in the recipe didn’t quit suit my needs, so I took the concept and branched out on my own.  Learn from my mistakes – this recipe will make a lot of bread!  I made one enormous loaf, but it would be much smarter to divide it into two loaves and share or freeze one of the finished loaves.  This bread is really delicious for eating out of hand, adding as a side to a meal, or, with the addition of a little sauce, as a great weeknight meal.  More on that part later.

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Roast Vegetable and Goat Cheese Bread

1 package active dry yeast

3 T sugar

2 1/2 c warm (not hot) water

3 T melted butter

1 T salt

6 1/2 c AP flour

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4″ slices

2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4″ slices

2 large bell peppers, cut into 1/2″ slices

3 T olive oil

Salt

2 oz mild goat cheese

Combine the yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Set aside for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy and bubbling.  Add butter, salt and 3 c of flour.  Begin mixing with the dough hook and continue adding flour, half a cup at a time until a smooth dough begins to form.  Continue kneading for another 7-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Combine the eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, olive oil, and salt and spread in an single layer on a large baking sheet.  Roast the vegetables for 20-30 minutes or until they are tender.  Set aside to cool.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and transfer it to a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in two.  Roll one half of the dough into a 10″ by 12″ rectangle.  Spread half the vegetables over the dough, then crumble on half the goat cheese.  Starting with one of the more narrow ends, roll the dough up, tucking the ends under the loaf to seal.  Transfer the loaf to a greased baking sheet.  Repeat with the second half of the dough, vegetables, and cheese.

Allow the rolled loaves to rise until nearly doubled, 30-45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped.

Feel free to adjust the vegetables based on what you have on hand, it’s nice and versatile!

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We served this bread as a great dinner tonight.  I was sort of expecting it to fall flat as an independent meal, but it was great and we all went back for seconds.  A quick homemade tomato sauce turned it into a stromboli/pizza/calzone type things.  Definitely looking forward to the leftovers on this one.

Quick Tomato Sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, finely diced

drizzle olive oil

2 – 28 oz cans tomato sauce

3 large sprigs basil

1 t sugar

Salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven, saute the garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat until fragrant.  Reduce the heat to medium low and ad the tomato sauce, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat, remove the sprigs of basil, and serve.

What’s for Dinner Sunday: CSA Korean Pancakes

CSA Korean PancakeYes, Tiffany did an awesome version of these. My version is based off of this one, which has a slightly different makeup. My mom is visiting, and she also has a CSA in California so she also has lots of “kitchen sink” recipes. We’ve been trying hers (to be blogged soon), but we are both in love with the Tamago Yoko  from local restaurant Snack Bar.

The Korean version seems simpler and more adaptable, so that’s what we started from, but we add a ton of other stuff. About double the veggies from the original and one extra egg. So this is kind of a blend of the original recipe and our imitation of the Japanese version. Basically, you can shred and shove whatever veggies you have into this. It would probably work well with lots of the winter veggies, like beets, turnips, and greens.

They came out fantastic – we’re having the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow with fried eggs on top.

Pancakes

  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 cups water
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 1  tsp.  salt
  5. 2 cups grated potato, excess liquid squeezed out
  6. 1 cup shredded carrots
  7. 1 green bell pepper, seeded and  julienned
  8. 1 jalapeño, seeded and julienned
  9. 1 small zucchini,  julienned or shredded
  10. 1 bunch green onions, cut in 1 in. sections
  11. 1/2 thinly sliced shitake mushrooms
  12. 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
  13. 1-2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  14. 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  15. 1/4 lb thawed peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into small pieces
  16. Vegetable oil for cooking

Dipping Sauce:

  1. 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 1 Tb. rice vinegar
  4. 2 Tb. brown sugar
  5. 1 Tb. sesame oil
  6. 1 minced garlic clove
  7. 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  8. 1/4 tsp chili oil

Garnish: Siracha, Gochujang Sauce, wasabi mayo

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Beat together first 4 ingredients and set aside.
  3. Combine dipping sauce ingredients and microwave for about 1 minute, stir well to combine. Set aside.
  4. Fold the prepped veggies and shrimp into the batter.
  5. Heat 2 frying pans on medium high heat with a thin coating of oil.
  6. Cover bottom of first frying pan with batter and tamp down. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until light brown and set on the bottom.
  7. Flip over to other side into second pan. Re-coat first pan with oil and start second batch.
  8. When first pancake is browned, flip on oven save tray and put in oven to keep warm.
  9. Repeat steps 6-8 until all batter is used up.
  10. Remove from oven and slide 1 pancake on each plate. Garnish with a zigzag pattern of desired sauces and serve hot with a side of dipping sauce.

Becoming an Italian Grandmother – The Day I Beat The Pasta Water

I love rolling pasta.  I got my little pasta machine about two years ago and have tried to use it pretty regularly ever since.  Last night’s dinner was as much of an Italian Grandmother meal as I could possible make.  Fresh rolled pasta topped with some pesto I made out of my basil plant in the backyard.  Freshly grated parm and a big hunk of fresh bread finished the meal.

But the best part – I beat the water!  I’ve never been able to roll the pasta before the water reached full boil before.  But this time I won.  Maybe because I had a helper.

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I’ll be the first to admit that my “helper” usually slows things down in the kitchen.  And today was no exception.  But she loved turning the crank on the pasta machine.  We finished all this before the water boiled.

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The recipe for fresh pasta is incredibly simple:

1 c. Flour

1 egg

Scale up or down based on how many you’re feeding.  We had a 2 c flour/2 egg batch pictured above.  It was enough to feed 4 people.  Create a mound of the flour directly on the counter.  Create a well in the center of the mound.  Crack the eggs into the well.  Start whisking gently with a fork, pulling the flour in bit by bit.  Once the eggs are incorporated and a dough starts to form, begin kneading by hand until you have a smooth dough that doesn’t stick to either the counter or your hand.  Adjust by adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky, or by adding a few drops of water if the dough is too stiff.

Once you have  smooth dough that bounces back when you touch it, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.  Do not skip this step!!  The dough must rest so the gluten formed in it has time to relax.  Otherwise it will be a hot mess when you start to roll it.  Then roll according to your pasta machine’s directions.  Boil in salted water for 2-4 minutes, or until the noodles float.  Ta-DAA!  Pasta!

It’s entirely possible to make the dough well ahead of time and either freeze it or refrigerate it until you’re ready.  So you could make it in the morning and roll it for dinner if that worked with your schedule.  I think that’s what I’m going to try and do.  If I can put a slow-cooker meal together before work, I can make the dough.  I simply cannot sacrifice 30 minutes of our evening letting pasta dough rest.  This way when I walk in the door, I only have to start rolling and wait for the water to boil.  Even Italian grandmothers can be efficient, right?

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In other Italian Grandmother news, I made this really yummy fish dish.  It’s salmon drizzled with honey and topped with pistachios and seasoned breadcrumbs.  It was really simple, and really delicious.  Even the toddler liked the fish and “fish-tashios.”  The unfortunate part of this meal was the carrot puree.  The salmon was supposed to be served over a parsnip puree.  I did not have parsnips, but I did have a hearty helping of rainbow carrots from my CSA box.  I figured “carrots sort of look like parsnips, let’s substitute!”  What happened is I basically served fish on top of baby food.  It was carrots, steamed and mashed.  Salt and pepper were the only things separating those carrots from the actual baby food I made my daughter when she was younger.  Italian Grandmother failure on that point, though a win if I were serving infants, I suppose.

Amaranth Greens and Sweet Pea Frittata

Ahhh, the frittata.  The catch all for those vegetables you just don’t know how to handle.  When amaranth greens showed up again, I decided that the forgiving vehicle of a fritatta to get them to the table.

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Seriously.  How pretty are those leaves?

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It’s like summertime in a skillet!

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And anything that ends with a simple, fast, one-pot meal is a winner in my book!

Amaranth Greens and Sweet Pea Frittata

1 clove garlic, minced

Drizzle of olive oil

1/2 c small sweet peas, frozen or fresh

1 bunch amaranth greens, stems removed, roughly torn

6 eggs, beaten

5 leaves fresh basil, roughly torn

Shaves of Peccorino or Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the garlic in olive oil until it is fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  Add the sweet peas and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the frozen peas start to break apart and thaw.  Add the amaranth greens and cook until the greens are wilted by not mushy.  Pour the eggs evenly over the skillet.  Continue cooking. covered, until the eggs are set in the center.  You can either lift the edges of the frittata a little bit to let the raw egg pour down onto the cooking surface and cook, or if you’re brave, when the eggs are set on the bottom but still runny on top, you can flip the frittata out onto a plate then slide it back into the pan, raw side down.  If you flip and return to the pan, cook another 1-2 minutes until the eggs are completely cooked through.  Shave the Parmesan or Peccorino on top.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Penne with Bacon, Leeks, and Peas

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This is a super simple pasta dish that came together with just a handful of ingredients and the time it took to cook the pasta.  It made for a really filling weeknight meal that left a ton of leftovers for weekday lunches.

Penne with Bacon, Leeks, and Peas

Serves 6-8

1 lb penne pasta

1 T olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, finely diced

8 oz bacon, finely diced

8 oz green peas, frozen or fresh

1 c heavy cream

1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Cook the penne according to package directions.

While the penne is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add the leeks and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until they are both browned.  Approximately 5-8 minutes.  Add the peas to the leek mixture and cook another 3 minutes.  If using frozen peas, you can add them to the leeks a little earlier or add them to the pasta during the last 4 minutes of cooking and allow them to boil with the pasta until both are tender.

Drain the pasta (and peas, if cooking that way).  Add the leek mixture to the pasta.  Pour in the heavy cream and Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the bacon is salty.  Serve with more grated Parm and an extra twist of fresh pepper.

Becoming an Italian Grandmother – An Update!

I’ve been working hard at my Italian Grandmother practice.  I’ve had some successes and some…not so successes.  I hit up my enormous backyard basil bush last night to make a pound of pesto that will make its way into something soon.  And thanks to a clearance sale on anchovies, we’re about to dive into some new territory on the fish front.

I did have a spectacular failure, though.  It was awful.  I decided I wanted to try and make Roman Artichokes.  The recipe seemed simple enough, though the process of breaking down the volleyball-sized artichokes did not.  And it wasn’t until after I had these monster ‘chokes that I realized the recipe had called for baby artichokes.

But I persisted.  I peeled these things, created a pile of compost scraps that was substantially larger than any meal that would result, and cooked them up with garlic and mint.

IMG_2393But whatever I did to clean them did not get ride of the needle sharp little teeth inside the heart.  I took a bite before my husband got to the table to enjoy his, and promptly started squealing.  It was like eating needles coated in lemon juice.  It was awful.  I tried to approach the artichoke from a couple other angles but all failed miserably.  Finally I decided that artichokes aren’t edible, they’re some sort of scary weed that wants to make my mouth bleed.  I gave up and all my hard work went into the trash.

There was another less-spectacular failure.  I attempted to make this pasta cake thing that was the whole reason I bought the book.  The pictures were super cool.  You sliced eggplant super thin, fried it, and then arranged it in overlapping layers around the inside of a cake pan.  Then you filled the inside with pasta, mozzarella, and a homemade tomato sauce.  Top with more eggplant, then bake.  After it’s baked, you turn it out on a stand just like a cake.  An eggplanty, pasta filled cake.  The pictures were luscious, and I couldn’t wait to make this thing.  I lovingly prepared my tomato sauce, imagining how this was going  to become my Italian Grandmother signature dish.  I was going to be making it for dinner parties for years to come, always brushing off the raging compliments with an “oh, you’re so kind!  It’s really nothing…” all while thinking “…nothing you could ever manage to make.  BWAA HA HA HA.”  But I’m a horrible person, so I have those sorts of thoughts.

Anyway, I prepare the dish, but quickly see that my CSA box did not provide enough eggplant to make the smooth overlapping layers in the picture.  No worries.  It would be held together with faith and determination!

I bake the dish, I let it cool, I turn it out.  And….SPLAT.  Faith and determination failed to hold together my masterpiece.  I scooped it up off the counter, tossed everything in a bowl, and told my husband that it was supposed to be served that way, the pictures are a lie.  I don’t think he bought it, but the end result was a delicious pasta and eggplant dish.  So no harm, no foul, right?

There have been successes.  I trussed!  I made a lamb stuffed with artichokes, mint, and pecorino cheese.  It was difficult and delicious.  I was really proud to put this one on the table.

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Trussing the beast for roasting!

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And the result!  Served with some boiled potatoes and ciabatta.

So all in all, two steps forward, one step back on the grandmother front.  Nobody said this was going to be easy!