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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pizza Night

Some weekends are so enjoyable you wish they would never end- and when Monday rolls around you wish Saturday was the day that followed. That sums up my sentiment at the moment. My brother flew into Columbus on Thursday to visit and we made the most of every meal and adventure. In fact the pizza night was a mixture of both from trying to find room to let the formed pizza dough rest to spilling an egg into the oven. If you're curious what it looks like to have dough resting on all open counters and inside the microwave or what egg smells like cooking on the door of an oven you should have been there. Well, minus the unpleasant egg smell.

Before he came up I planned a carnitas dinner and a pizza night since he is a big fan of both and to attempt better organization. Dawn had to work during the day while we had all the fun, which left the cooking and shopping responsibilities to me. And, as I told someone the other day, Columbus is a city of markets. From small chain grocery's and independent grocers to ethnic markets and corporate giants. If the ingredient is available in the country, for a population of just over three quarters of a million there is a good chance you can find it here.

Maybe it is due to the ingredient selection but I am an equal opportunity pizza topping guy. I am not going to gawk at people throwing something other than mozzarella and basil on a pie. I picked up some leeks, potatoes, and pepper bacon while at the market on Thursday. (It sounds more like the making of an Irish dinner than Italian, right?) Saturday I found some uber cool white sweet plums at the farmers market. In the fridge was a chunk of Romano cheese that goes well with a variety of pizza toppings. Throw in a few eggs that were mentioned in the earlier fiasco and in my book you have the making of a pretty darn good pizza night. Oh, and did I mention we watched Raging Bull while he was up too. You get the picture. It was an awesome weekend that I will remember for a long time.

Pizza Dough

3 C bread flour
1 C durum flour
1 T extra virgin olive oil plus more for coating the bowl
1 1/4 C filtered room temperature water (approximate, depending on humidity)
1 T honey
1 T active dry yeast

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until it forms a shaggy shaggy ball. With a mixer and dough hook or by hand, knead ten minutes or until dough is shiny and smooth. Splash a drop of olive oil into the bowl to coat the dough ball and the sides of the bowl to keep it moist and from sticking too bad. 

At this point the dough can be frozen for a week or kept in the refrigerator for a couple days. Just bring to room temperature and let dough relax. This make ahead version works in a pinch because the dough still rises some in the fridge or has to come to room temperature and rise for a good hour out of the freezer. I made the dough and let it rise covered on the counter for four hours.  Stretch to the preferred thickness and cover with pizza toppings. I split the dough into fourths and sprinkled a mist of cornmeal on parchment paper and on top to roll it out extra thin with a rolling pin so it cooks up nice and crisp. Form a small lip, also known as the cornichone, which will swell nicely on the heated baking stone.

Plum and Bacon Pizza

6 pieces thick cut pepper bacon 
1 to 2 small white plums or purple, halved and thinly sliced
romano cheese, parmigiano reggiano, or hard cheese of your choice

Preheat pizza stone in a 550 degree oven for an hour. Cook some of the fat out of the bacon but not until it is crisp or it will burn while the pizza is cooking. Leaving the bacon somewhat soft also allows the fat to cook into the plums. The good thing about Romano is it adds flavor without detracting from the ingredients or crust. Spread plum slices out in a single layer and top with diced bacon and then cheese. Slide pizza on parchment paper onto pizza stone and cook for 5 minutes then broil for one to two minutes to crisp and enjoy.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza

6 slices thick cut bacon
3 eggs
sprinkle of sel gris salt
romano cheese, parmigiano reggiano, or hard cheese of your choice

Preheat pizza stone in a 550 degree oven for an hour. Cook some of the fat out of the bacon but not until it is crisp or it will burn while the pizza is cooking. You can also cook the bacon crisp and sprinkle the bacon crumbles on top after cooking the pizza. Crack the eggs evenly out onto the pie, sprinkle diced bacon on top, and grate cheese on top. Slide pizza on parchment paper from peel onto baking stone. Cook for 4 minutes then broil for a little over a minute. Make sure not to cook too long or the yolks will become tough. Sprinkle salt on top and enjoy.

Leek and Potato Pizza

1 leek washed thoroughly and finely julienned, mostly white with some tender green
1 medium russet potato peeled and sliced thinly with mandoline
a few drops of extra virgin olive oil
sprinkle of coarse sea salt
romano cheese, parmigiano reggiano, or hard cheese of your choice

Preheat pizza stone in a 550 degree oven for an hour. Place potatoes evenly in a single layer on dough and sprinkle salt on top. Spread leek heavily on top of pizza and shake a few drops of olive oil for moisture. Grate cheese on top and slide pizza on parchment onto baking stone and cook five to six minutes. Broil for about two minutes or until cornichone is a deep walnut color and leek tips are just browned. Enjoy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Broccoli Breakfast Blogaversery

Wow. It's hard to believe that it has only been a year since we decided to start sharing our kitchen adventures with the rest of the world. It seems as if most people who celebrate their first year cook something extravagent to share and celebrate. But instead of sharing the wonderful leg of lamb and buttermilk polenta meal we shared on our actual blogging anniversary, instead I opted for a throwback of some of our first pictures. In other words, giving you something completely unidentifiable, and highly questionable. At least this is slightly more focused than our first blogging attempts.The picture above is of a green egg salad by the way, just in case you were dying of curiosity.

Although the questionable picture is a small reminder of how far (some) of our pictures and hopefully our writing has come since the early days, the recipes really signify the beauty of the blogging world. Like so many of the recipes we've tried on our adventures, even something as simple as a scrambeled egg salad has bits and pieces of inspiration and techniques picked up from browsing the blogging world. One of the first factoids we came across when we started blogging was that you could actually use those huge stems of broccoli once you get done with the florets. All you have to do is peel them, and voila! This was somewhat of a revelation to us at the time, and maybe there's someone out there who is unaware of this now.

Over the last year we've gone on many adventures, from our Ohio Wine Dinner and Buitoni Dinner, to Daniel's two months of non-stop bread baking, and to the many culinary adventures we've been glad to pursue but haven't had the camera or time to turn into a post to share with you. Even when we don't share our posts with everyone, the feedback and encouragement we've received from you all has given us even more ambition and an ever growing desire to share our new adventures with you. So thanks!

Broccoli Pancakes (makes 4)
 2 Broccoli Stems, peeled and shredded, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 egg
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Additional oil for pan
Additional salt and pepper to taste

1. In food processor, puree all but 1/4 cup cup shredded broccoli with garlic cloves, and olive oil. Remove from processor and combine with one egg.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Combine with broccoli and egg mixture. Add buttermilk slowly to achieve right consistency.
3. Heat skillet over medium high heat with additional olive oil. When pan is hot, add half of reserved broccoli and divide in half. Quickly saute. When broccoli begins to brown , spread each pile into a thin layer and top each with 1/4 of the pancake batter. When batter begins to bubble, flip.
4. Repeat with remaining broccoli and pancake batter.

Green Egg Broccoli Salad

5 Eggs
2 Broccoli Stems, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium sized carrot, peeled and shredded
1 tbsp soy sauce

1. In food processor, puree broccoli stems, olive oil, and garlic.Combine broccoli, eggs, and buttermilk and whisk quickly.
2. Heat skilled over medium heat. Add eggs and scramble, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3. When eggs are finished (they will be a different texture than regular scramble eggs because of the extra moisture from the broccoli), plate and top with a handful a carrots and a splash of soy sauce.

So, thanks for a great year!!! Let us know if there's anything you'd like to see on our blog in the next year so we can continue to grow and improve. Who knows where the next year will take us!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sailing Away

It sounds dreadful to be unhappy with summer weather. Almost like you are ungrateful to the fact that fresh produce is abundant and the sun is generally shining. I have a problem with, the lack of sunshine and the need to grill even during the dreary overcast days to trick myself into thinking the sun is out. Maybe it is a spoiled mindset from growing up in Florida, but I feel entitled to a certain allotment of UV rays every day during the dog days.

The other day when I was tricking myself that the sun was out and it would be marvelous to be sipping a Pimm's Cup and breathing quintessential charcoal fumes while the meat is marinating.  Instead, the weather was reminiscent of San Francisco haze but there was still chicken marinating and smoke trickling out of the Weber. In line with tricking myself there was sunlight trickling through the leaves of the trees, I planned a dinner with everything we love about summer- a salad highlighting cool fresh fruits and vegetables and spicy grilled meats as a counterbalance.

Jerk chicken is such a classic summer dish but sometimes classics should be updated to stay current and stylish. New peppers and new colors that change the whole outlook of the grilled bird. Departing from the familiar orange hue imparted by the Habanero peppers in the marinade, I switched it up a bit by adding Serrano's to elevate the marinade to an intriguing shade of green. This imparted a fresh heat alongside the musky bitterness of the ground allspice and cloves.

But what is a nice grilled piece of meat alone on a plate without an opposite or arch rival to show the strengths and differences. A cool bright salad of soft nectarines and mangoes with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and crisp cabbage all laced with a peppery allspice vinaigrette. All superheroes begin in similar ways and the salad must marinate for optimum performance just like the moist heat of the chicken that brings to mind sunny days whether it is outside or not.

Emerald Jerk Chicken

1 3-5 # chicken cut in 8 pieces
3 serrano peppers, 1 deseeded
1 bunch green onions
5 garlic cloves
1 T allspice berries, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C apple juice
5 grinds black pepper
a couple pinches of sea salt

After chicken has been cut into pieces, pulse all the marinade ingredients in a food processor until fully incorporated. It helps to grind the spices before everything is added together so they are ground fine enough. They can also be crushed in a mortar. Place chicken in a large glass bowl and pour marinade over and allow to marinate for at least an hour at room temperature or up to four hours refrigerated.

Grill over hardwood charcoal and wet mesquite chips until done (approximately 170 degrees) depending on heat of grill. Enjoy.  

Summer Salad
1 nectarine finely diced
1 mango 1/4 inch dice
2 C diced cabbage (1/2 large head)
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
10 cherry tomatoes quartered

1 tsp. allspice berries ground
1/3 C. apple cider vinegar
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
a few grinds of pepper and sea salt to taste

Grind berries before pulsing vinaigrette. Then pulse the vinaigrette until all components are incorporated. Mix the vinaigrette well with the chopped salad and refrigerate at least an hour or up to a day for the flavors to meld. Enjoy the salad and chicken with a nice French Rose.