Thứ Tư, 31 tháng 7, 2013

Daring Bakers Challenge – Crackled Loaves with Dutch Crunch Topping

This month’s challenge was to make bread with the Dutch Crunch Topping. The highlight of the challenge is the topping which gives bread its signature ‘crackled’ look when baked.

“Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!”

Technically, Dutch Crunch doesn’t refer to the type of bread, but rather the topping that is spread over the bread before baking. In Dutch it’s called Tijgerbrood or “tiger bread” after the tiger-like shell on the bread when it comes out of the oven. The final product has a delightful sweet crunch to it that makes it perfect for a sandwich roll. It’s a common option at sandwich shops all over the Bay Area and is often one of the first breads to run out.

Recipe Source: The recipe for the Dutch Crunch topping came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. The recipes for the breads we’ve suggested came from The Bread Bible and an adaptation of a recipe found on

The main ingredient in the Dutch Crunch Topping is Rice Flour. This flour is a staple in Indian households, more so in South Indian households. So diving into this challenge made it a snap with all the ingredients on hand. 

NOTE: I followed the recipes as they were provided except I added 1/2 tbsp of Hot Sesame Oil to the Dutch Crunch Topping which helped the tops brown up nicely to give the tiger/giraffe effect. 

Preparation time: Dutch Crunch Topping: 15 minutes active time, 15 minutes passive time; Soft White Roll: 20 minutes active time, 2 hours passive time; Brown Rice Bread: less than 1 hour active time; 2-3 hours passive time. 

Equipment required:
Small bowl
2 large bowls, or a large bowl and a stand-mixer bowl
Stand mixer with paddle (or whisk) and dough-hook attachments (optional)
Wooden and regular spoon(s)
Knife or dough cutter/scraper (optional, depending on your recipe)
Bread pan(s) or baking tray(s)
Plastic wrap or something else to cover the dough while it rises
Servings: This recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9x5 loaves (23cmx13cm) or 12 rolls. If you make only 6 rolls in the first soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.

We’ve provided this recipe first because it is the mandatory aspect of the challenge. Note, however, that you should not prepare the topping until the bread you’ve selected to bake is almost finished rising (~15 minutes from baking). 

2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

Soft White Roll
Servings: Six sandwich rolls
This recipe approximates the quintessential white sandwich roll found throughout the Bay Area. The recipe is simple, quick, and addictive.

1 tablespoon (1 packet) (15 ml) (7 gm/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (No need to use a thermometer – it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
1 cup (240 ml) warm milk (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (We’ve tried both nonfat and 2%, with no noticeable difference)
1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (20 gm/ ⅔ oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm/⅓ oz) salt
Up to 4 cups (960 ml) (600 gm/21oz) all purpose flour

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).
2. Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together. (The photo to below is with the first 2 cups of flour added).
3. Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below (For us, this usually required an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour).
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size. 

6. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).
7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
8. Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping, I got better results by putting them directly into the oven.

9. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

I used the rolls to make one of our favourite sandwiches, its light and refreshing. Cut the rolls in half, slather with home-made Basil Walnut Pesto, top with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, season with a little salt and pepper. Top with a light dusting of parmesan and place top half of roll. Nothing fancy or one-of-a-kind, but we are not big on sandwiches and stick to the simple stuff. The Dutch Crunch was super delicious and the roll had a slight chew to it.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Store as you would any bread – in a bread box, a paper bag, or loose plastic wrap. Both varieties suggested are best in the first couple of days. The loaves or rolls can also be frozen in plastic – simply toast to reheat.


Dosai Pizza

After many dosa pizza recipe attempts I finally nailed it mom was totally getting tired with my experiments on a daily basis I did a research on this recipe there are many people who add chutney instead of pizza sauce if sauce is added it goes soggy anyways I'm happy with the overall taste and texture perfect for a sundays brunch...:)
Dosa Pizza Recipe Demo Video do watch and subscribe...:)

1 Shredded Carrot
1/2 Bell Pepper (finely chopped)
1 Onion(finely chopped)
1 Green Chilly(finely chopped)
Few Sprigs of Curry leaves and Coriander (finely chopped)
1/2 Tsp Dry Basil 
Cheese Singles 
Oil for frying
Salt as per taste

  1. In a mixing bowl add all the chopped veggies add salt as per taste and sprinkle basil mix well and reserve.
  2. Heat a tawa on medium flame add 2 ladles of batter in hot pan swirl and prepare a dosa the dosa should be bit thick add 1/2 tsp oil cover and fry the dosa.
  3. Flip the dosa to the other side and add 2 tbsp full of pizza sauce spread it.
  4. Sprinkle on the veggies and spread over the sauce place the cheese singles and cover allow the cheese to melt a bit once done serve it right away...enjoy...:) 

Thứ Ba, 30 tháng 7, 2013

Vietnamese Caramel Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho) Recipe

Vietnamese Caramel Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho) Recipe
If you are like me, you have probably been seduced by popular Vietnamese foods, such as phở and banh mi. The flavors, delicate in the case of the traditional noodle soup (phở) and robust in the instance of the roasted or grilled pork sandwich (banh mi), are always pleasing but rather elusive. During one of our monthly cooking group meetings, we decided to tackle Vietnamese food. One of the members of the group had received a thorough schooling in Vietnamese food from an ex-boyfriend when they visited his family in Vietnam. We learned that Vietnamese food is carefully balanced using five elements: salty (water), spicy (metal), bitter (fire), sour (wood), and sweet (Earth). Each element, in turn, corresponds to one of the body’s organs. We happily spent the afternoon playing around with different combination of these five elements, aptly changing the flavor of each dish by manipulating the balance of the elements. A little bit of fish sauce here, a splash of coconut soda there…I will never look at flavor profiles in the same way.

This dish, with its rich caramel and ginger sauce, epitomizes the principles of Vietnamese cooking. A simple caramel sauce (don’t be nervous – it’s just melted and cooked sugar) blends with pungent fish sauce to produce a sticky, sweet and salty coating for the chicken. As soon as you taste it, you will wonder why the only thing you topped with caramel sauce in the past was ice cream.
For many years, I avoided using fish sauce because of the odor that could only be described as rancid. If you can get past the smell, you will find that the skunk of the cooking world mellows as it is simmered and combined with other flavors. I promise. In fact, I was enamored with the effects of this sauce that I added it to my Crockpot Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs in Tomato & Red Wine Sauce and was rewarded with one of the best tomato sauces to come out of my kitchen.
Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Cook until the sugar starts to melt and turn brown, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the caramel is bubbling and turns reddish brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, very carefully, pour in 1/2 cup water. Please be sure to turn your face aside while you do this so you do not get splattered. If the caramel hardens, set the pan over medium-high heat. Stir until the caramel dissolves, then pour it into a heatproof measuring cup or bowl.
With hot water (so the leftover caramel bits don’t seize up on the bottom of the pan), clean and dry the pan. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in the skillet. Add 1/2 cup medium onion, finely chopped, and 1/2 cup peeled ginger (cut into matchsticks). Cook for 1 minute. Add 2 sliced garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute.

With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, ginger, and garlic from the oil and reserve in a bowl.
To the skillet, add 3 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (well-trimmed of fat) that have been generously seasoned with kosher salt. Cook until the chicken no longer looks raw on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. Yes, the pan will be crowded!

Add the reserved caramel sauce, 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes. Mix to coat the chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook (the mixture will be simmering briskly) until the chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken every 2 to 3 minutes, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the reserved onions, ginger, and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 additional minutes. Transfer the chicken and cooked aromatics (ginger, etc.) to a serving platter. Thinly slice 3 green onions and use to garnish the chicken. Serve with rice.

Other recipes using a Vietnamese caramel sauce:
Vietnamese Caramel Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho)
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, and cut into matchsticks
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 lb. bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed, generously seasoned with kosher salt
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried red chile flakes
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium heat and add sugar. Cook until the sugar starts to melt and turn brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the caramel is bubbling and turns reddish brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, very carefully, pour in water. Please be sure to turn your face aside while you do this so you do not get splattered. If the caramel hardens, set the pan over medium-high heat. Stir until the caramel dissolves, then pour it into a heatproof measuring cup or bowl.
With hot water (so the leftover caramel bits don’t seize up on the bottom of the pan), clean and dry the pan. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and heat canola oil in the skillet. Add onion and ginger. Cook for 1 minute. Add sliced garlic and cook for an additional minute. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, ginger, and garlic from the oil and reserve in a bowl.
To the skillet, add chicken thighs. Cook until the chicken no longer looks raw on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. Yes, the pan will be crowded! Add the reserved caramel sauce, fish sauce, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, black pepper, and chili flakes. Mix to coat the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and cook (the mixture will be simmering briskly) until the chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken every 2 to 3 minutes, about 20 minutes. Stir in the reserved onions, ginger, and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 additional minutes.
Transfer the chicken and cooked aromatics (ginger, etc.) to a serving platter. Thinly slice 3 green onions and use to garnish the chicken. Serve with rice.
Tags:Vietnamese,Caramel,Ginger,Chicke,Ga Kho,Recipe

Usha 3212 12 Liter Halogen Oven (Product Review)

This is not a sponsored review the product is purchased by me and review is done on request.

Thanks for watching...:)

Thứ Hai, 29 tháng 7, 2013

Vichyssoise is NOT pronounced Veeshy-Swah

For my 18th birthday – which fell during the summer in between high school graduation and moving off to college – my dad took me to a fancy dinner at a fancy French restaurant in Richmond, Va.; I believe it was called La Petite France. I had wanted to go there for some time. I will never forget that dinner. My dad, a man of few spoken (and even fewer written (sadly, a trait that I in no way inherited )) words, gave me a watch. He knew that I valued any evidence, trinkets, tchotckes, what have you, of his and my mom’s marriage (they divorced when I was 3, but have remained close friends to this day). The watch, he explained, was given to him by my mom before I was born. He had worn it for decades. The back of the watch was inscribed with his initials and the year 1972. He also went on to explain his interest in the concept of time – how our perception of it changes. I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time. But then I remember thinking a year was such a long time, and Summer vacations were always forever away. Now, a year is like a second, a blip.

And that that meal seems like yesterday.

Still waters run deep, eh dad?

That night, among other food firsts, I tasted vichyssoise. I was absolutely blown away. This creamy and rich, yet delicate and subtle chilled soup was like nothing I had ever experienced. I could have had 4 bowls and not been sated. I am not sure if I have ordered vichyssoise out too many times since but I have endeavored to make it numerous times. Each time I do, I share it with whomever is close by and everyone seems to react the way I did when I first tasted it, and how I feel about it to this day. Except I have now learned that this is not a soup to have 4 bowls of. Considering it’s primarily potatoes, milk, heavy cream and butter, it’s best to show a little restraint (learned that the hard way with my last batch).

The culinary origins of vichyssoise, namely whether it is a genuinely French dish or an American innovation, is a subject of debate among culinary historians. Credit for the dish usually goes to Louis Diat, in 1917. Diat was the chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City for most of the first half of the 20th century. His inspiration for the soup was his mother’s much heartier potato-leek soup. He found it too hot to eat and poured cold milk into it to make it more palatable. The name is from Vichy, a city near where Diat grew up.

Interestingly, this culinary delight, which seems to have such complexity, is the most simple creation one can imagine. Call it the Cinderella of soups: its humble home cooking transformed into polished restaurant fare. Yes, you can gussy it up but why toy with perfection? I have found no variations that surpass the original but do often play with the garnish. A sprinkling of finely chopped chives tops a true vichyssoise, but I have experimented with fried leeks, a rosette of smoked salmon and torn croutons.

Since 1917 this recipe has remained almost entirely unchanged. If you order it out, you will see almost no chefs trying to put their bells and whistles on it. It is still as cool and soft as it was eight decades ago. And for the record, the aforementioned watch – I cherish it more than almost anything and wear it to this day. And every time I taste a vichyssoise I think of that watch, my dad, my 18th birthday dinner, and how while time does fly, it too stands still.
Loius Diat once prepared 8 portions of his famous soup to be delivered to the Manhattan town house of Sara Delano Roosevelt, Franklin D.’s mother, at her request – and enclosed this recipe (with one or two of my own alterations in parenthesis).

Serves 8
4tbsp. butter
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 medium white boiling potatoes (about 2 ¼ pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups whole milk
2 cups light cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1. Heat butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add leeks and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 20 minutes. Add potatoes, 4 cups water (I use chicken stock), and salt to taste and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft, 50-60 minutes.
2. Strain soup through a mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing and scraping the solids with a spoon. Clean pot and return soup to it. Whisk in milk and light cream, bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let cool. Strain soup through a fine mesh sieve (finer than the first), pressing and scraping it into a bowl with the spoon, leaving behind a thick paste of solids. Discard solids. Stir heavy cream into soup, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled. Season soup with salt to taste.
3. Divide soup between 8 soup bowls and garnish with chives (or fried leeks, torn croutons, or a rosette of smoked salmon).Serve cold.



My friend, Brandon, recently told me that when we are born we have smooth brains. As we get older, acquire knowledge, information and experiences, our brains become wrinkly. I guess as we get older everything gets wrinkly and crevice-y. Not unlike rivers, valleys, and land in general. The Grand Canyon is a very good example of this. Here we have nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history exposed as a result of the Colorado River and its tributaries cutting their channels through layer after layer of rock. 

A week or so ago I was riding out to Malibu with Ryan.  As we were zipping along the PCH, listening to Metallica very, very loudly (is there any other way?), I was suddenly overwhelmed with a flood of visceral memories. As we drove along we passedThe Reel Inn where I took my Dad for a dinner while it was so misty and foggy we couldn’t even see the water from our table. It was beautiful. Or Topanga Canyon where I spent most Sunday brunches when I lived out here for a Summer while I was in college. I remember those days being with Emma and Sam. Or that house where I was sent to photograph a brother and sister portrait for their parents. Turns out Heather and Danielle actually pranked me for a Girls Behaving Badly episode. Or that wonkymotel on the left where I ended up at 1am with a friend and a backpack filled with wine. We watched episodes of I love Lucy on the little TV and ran around the property like wild animals.

Remembering and feeling all of this again made me happy, sad, longing, empty and completely full. And a little bit old.

I think sometimes about the places we live. The walls we live within. What has happened here? If these walls could talk sort of thing. I wonder about who has loved here, lost here, died here. What sort of wild parties, famous and infamous people have been here? What babies, songs or paintings have been born here?

When I was younger (young enough to still be living in Richmond, Va.), my dad and I were driving down the street and stopped at a light in front of a random, lonely little house in The Fan. He looked at it wistfully and told me about an awesome party, a wild night, he had spent in that house in his twenties. Wow. This little old house? I’ve never even noticed it. And yet every time he drives by it he is taken back to some specific night in his past. How many other people in the world have attachments to that old house for whatever reason? And now I have an attachment, albeit vicariously, to that house.

Much like brains filled with information, causing their physicality to change or actual land changed over time, water, and air - buildings, streets, and places also have a tactile memory for us. They, too, are topographic. All of the traffic over time in all these places makes them their own kind of wrinkly. It somehow reminds me of the Family Circus cartoons. You know, the maps with trajectory using dotted lines?

Obviously food has a special place in our hearts and minds. Restaurants, kitchens, dining rooms, dishes, flavors, smells and textures. The dish I’m sharing with you here is another one of the first ones my dad taught me how to cook. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. 

Sort of like that drive out to Malibu, I don’t have this dish very often. As a result, each time I do I am taken right back to my kitchen on Grove Avenue and I can hear my dad explaining how to prepare it while sharing with me the stories of the times he had made and the guests who partook.

This version has been wildly modified from the original. My dad doesn't even remember how he prepared it initially. The relish he made was Asian-like and incorporated very different produce than I have used here. So, while, over time and use, this dish has changed - become wrinkly, even - its taste and the memory it elicits remains steadfast.

Grilled Salmon with Market Relish over Jasmine Rice

Serves 2

2 ½ lb. salmon filets
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
dash of fish sauce
1/2 lemon
½ cup chopped shallots
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
½ heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (different colors, if possible)
1/4 cup chopped Hungarian Frying peppers
1/4 cup tomatillos, quartered
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil
1 cup Jasmine rice
2 cups water
salt & pepper to taste

For rice:
Wash rice in several changes of cold water in a bowl until water is clear, then drain in a sieve. Combine with water and salt in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

For salmon:
Brush salmon with oil and lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grill salmon on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. 

For relish:
Heat oil in sauce pan, add shallots and peppers. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until somewhat soft. Add garlic, cucumber, wine and fish sauce. Cook down for another 5 or so minutes. Add tomatillos, tomatoes and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

See photos for assembly and serve with a smooth Sancerre or a dry rosé.

Tags:Grilled,Salmon,Market,Relish,Jasmine Rice

Chủ Nhật, 28 tháng 7, 2013

Sausage, Egg Fontina Cheese Pizza

I feel bad. Maybe you haven’t noticed, or maybe it’s not a big deal, but I feel bad for being kind of absent lately. For the past couple of months a lot of things have been in flux. It’s felt a little bit like a deck of cards tossed up in the air. And some haven’t even hit the ground yet. But everything is all good, mind you. 

You all know Maggie, my dear friend and roommate of two years? She recently moved out. She found a magical, little spot all her own. Don't worry, she didn't go too far. In fact, we have plans to kick back with some wine at her new place tomorrow night.

Alas, you know how it go – Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes.

In the midst of Maggie’s move, my birthday happened. It was a fun one. Fred and I went to Los Olivos (and places surrounding) for the better part of the weekend, explored, went to wine tastings, had a beautiful dinner, and embraced the drive both up and back. I got some beautiful and touching cards and some wonderful gifts. Surprisingly, I actually received a couple of pretty extravagant gifts. One of these was from my dad. He called me and told me he wanted me to have a gas grill. The wording here is important: he wanted me to have. I already have a charcoal grill that I have been perfectly happy with for years. I had no idea I wanted or needed a gas grill. Dad’s logic was that, with a gas grill, I could use it like an oven and wouldn’t even have to heat up the kitchen. I guess in the Summer in the South that is a huge plus.

Dad seemed very enthusiastic about his gift idea (it reminded me of the time I was thirteen years old and he was brimming with excitement to give me the surprise gift of, wait for it… a plant), and I get it. It’s fun to give a gift. It’s rewarding. And when you think you’ve drummed up the best gift idea ever, it’s downright titillating. I’ve often felt it more fun to give gifts than to receive them. I guess that all depends on the gift going in either direction, though.

And so, after an arduoulsy involved process, I brought home my shiny, new gas grill. Dad insisted I get a Weber. He has one and he loves it. He told me, “I’ve had dozens of gas grills and this one is the best.” So that’s what I got.

This was about two or three weeks ago, and ever since the first day we put it on the patio, Fred (who was captivated by the idea from the get go) and I have done some thing or another with the grill almost every day: steaks (two or three times), BBQ chicken, mojo chicken wings (courtesy of Erika at Lindy & Grundy), vegetables, salmon, veggie burgers, meaty burgers, sausages, lamb chops, onions, a pork tenderloin. More than once I’ve sparked it up just to grill a zucchini or a sausage to use in a separate dish. And tonight we are going to grill oysters! I must admit, I love it and it is tons of fun – Thanks, Dad! Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my little charcoal grill still which sits proudly on the patio, right next to The Monolith.

The most interesting thing we’ve been doing on the grill, and the most frequent – hell, and the most fun – has been pizzas. We have now made pizzas four different times, with a number of different kinds of pizzas each night. This past weekend we made four pizzas: a breakfast pizza with sausage egg and cheese, a classic pizza Margherita (but with purple basil instead of green (pictured above)), a dessert pizza with grilled peaches, mascarpone, mint and honey (not pictured) and Fred’s wild card pizza with grilled corn, salsa, cilantro, onions, bacon and Cotija cheese (pictured at top). They were all fantastic except for the dessert pizza. A - we didn’t think it through completely and the mascarpone turned into liquid and B – grilled fruit is going to make me hesitant because it just does. But I loved the idea of breakfast, dinner and dessert pizzas, all in a row. My favorite of all of our pizzas was the 'breakfast pizza'.

And so, my dear dad ended up giving me a pretty rad gift. And one I didn’t even realize I would want at the time. And I can’t even imagine all the amazing meals that lie ahead in the years that I will have my grill. So much better than a plant.

And with this, things are settling. New colors and shapes and people and sounds. 

You all know Fred? Well, pretty soon he’ll be moving in. The grill, Maggie, Fred…

Strange fascination, fascinating me.
Ah, changes are taking the pace I’m going through.


Sausage, Egg & Fontina Cheese Pizza

Makes 8 slices

What you need/what we used:
Pizza dough: make your own or use prepared pizza dough. In full disclosure, we used the prepared stuff from Trader Joe's = Not. Too. Shabby.

1-1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, cooked down with olive oil, basil, salt & garlic

1 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese

1-2 grilled Andouille sausage(s), sliced

2-4 eggs (entirely depending on your eggy wantonness)

Salt & pepper

What you do/what we did:
Prepare the grill for high direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat for 10 minutes until the temperature is between 550 and 600 degrees. Prepare a small bowl with olive oil for greasing the grill grates and for brushing the pizza. Prepare the toppings so they are ready to go on the pizza - tomato sauce, cheese, and anything else you wish.

Shape the pizza dough by flattening it with your hands on a slightly floured surface. Either use your fingers to stretch the dough out, or hold up the edges of the dough with your fingers, letting the dough hang and stretch, while working around the edges of the dough. Once you've stretched the dough, let it sit for 5 minutes and then push out the edges with your fingers again, until you have a nice round shape, about 12-inches in diameter. Do not make a raised rim, it will interfere with the grilling process.

Note that if you are preparing the pizza dough for a party, you can make several pizza dough rounds, stack them separated by parchment paper, and keep them in the refrigerator for up to two hours before cooking.

Once the grill is hot (you can hold your hands an inch over the grates for no more than 2 seconds), dip a tightly folded up paper towel in olive oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. Then place a pizza dough round on a lightly floured (or you can use cornmeal) pizza stone (or rimless cookie sheet). Let the dough slide off the stone onto the hot grill grates. Close the lid of the grill and let cook for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, open the grill and check underneath the dough to see if it is getting browned. If it is on one side, but not another, use a spatula or tongs to rotate the dough 90 degrees and cook for another minute. If it is not beginning to brown, cover the grill and continue to cook a minute at a time until the bottom has begun to brown. It should only take a couple minutes if you have a hot grill. The top of the pizza dough will start bubbling up with air pockets which you should stab and pop - gently.

Once the pizza dough has browned lightly on one side, use a spatula to flip the dough over so that the grilled side is now up. 

Paint the grilled surface of the pizza with a little olive oil, then cover with 1 ladle of sauce – no more, or you'll end up with a soggy pizza. Sprinkle on your grated Fontina cheese, slices of grilled sausage and, finally crack the eggs on top. Remember to go light on the toppings, or your pizza will be heavy and soggy.

Slide the topped pizza back onto the grill. If you are using a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium. If working with a charcoal grill, close the vents on the cover almost all the way. Close the lid and continue cooking. After 2-3 minutes open the lid to check the egg and the bottom of the crust. You want the whites just cooked through and the yolk soft. If the grill marks start to get too dark before the eggs is done, lower the heat some more and rotate the pizza 90 degrees. Check every 2 minutes until the eggs is done and and the cheese is bubbly, pull off the grate with a spatula onto a cutting board or other flat surface and let rest for a couple minutes before cutting into slices.

Salt & pepper that bad boy, slice and serve!


Thứ Sáu, 26 tháng 7, 2013

Go Figure

After a month of picnicking and al fresco dining, July rolled in. It's uncomfortably hot and I don't have air conditioning, so clearly I thought it best to start baking again. I dabble, it's true. Doug makes fun of me as I always claim to never, ever bake. Usually I'm proclaiming this as I'm handing him an oatmeal cookie or a loaf of banana bread or some such thing. He's right. I do bake more than most non-bakers, and I certainly bake more than I ever have before. But the truth is, most of the time I don't really know what I'm doing.

I rarely perceive recipes as anything more than a general guideline, a suggestion, and in baking – unless you're Betty Crocker – that's not very wise. So I do have some flops. Most of the time my baked goods are yummy or look good, but usually not both. And there are always tweaks I intend to make the next time I bake that cake, or pie, or what have you. The main problem, I think, is that so often I'm experimenting and playing and riffing, but I almost never make the same thing twice. Hence, I never actually perfect any of my baking projects. Those tweaks I mentioned? They never have a chance to see the light of day. Or rather, the light in my oven.

Some clients of mine gave me a bag of tart, little apples from their parents' garden a few weeks ago. This is what lured me into this baking surge. I tried to eat one of those apples, but it was was so sour all of the moisture was sucked straight out of my mouth. And they hurt my teeth (most apples do). Nothing can ever, ever go to waste with me, especially not a sweet home-grown gift. And so, as I do when I have a baking conundrum, I called my mom. “Apple Crisp. It's in your Craig Claiborne.” That's basically all she had to impart – which was enough. She has been making apple crisp all my life, and – cooked fruit aside – I have always loved it. Granted, I prefer to pick the crumb part all out and leave the baked apple part for someone else.

So I made an apple crisp. But, of course I couldn't just follow the recipe. I had to add blackberries. And I'm sure other stuff, too. So, while it was pretty tasty, it was really wet. Which, of course my mom warned me about: “Tweeters, just remember, the blackberries will be good but they will completely liquify, so you may need to compensate.” Compensate? I did not. She was right. So the next week, when my neighbor gave me some peaches, I decided to make a peach crumble. Keeping in mind the lesson I learned the week prior, I compensated by adding lots of extra crumble part. But, of course it was unnecessary as there were no blackberries. Just the peaches. So I essentially made a doughy extravaganza with a peach essence.

Live and learn? Or not.

Earlier yesterday, the fourth of July, I could not get back to sleep after Fred roused himself to go surfing at the crack of dawn. So I wandered into the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, and poked around in the fridge to see what I wanted to get into. And there were the black figs.

So I called my mom. And as she often does, she suggested a pie. But I just so happen to be deathly afraid of making doughs, and crusts and stuff like that. Oh, and never bread. Never. But I also refuse to purchase pre-made pastry dough. Quandry. I figured, since it was hours before I usually got out of bed, why not get down and dirty, and confront my fear with some pastry dough play times.

I followed my mom's recipe to the T. I used chilled lard. I used butter. Everything. But I also decided that I wanted to add almond flour instead of all all-purpose flour. I had almonds. I had the flour-making version of the Vitamix. Almonds sound like they would profile perfectly with figs. Oh, and there was that one, errant white peach hanging around, too...

And, against my better judgement, the riffing began again. I found about three recipes that all looked good, but were completely different: parbake crust, do not parbake crust, cut the figs in quarters, lengthwise – cut the figs in slices, widthwise (is that even a word?). Oh wait, this one calls for mascarpone and honey and I've got some crème fraiche and honey! What about a little vanilla? And some lemon zest! Here I go again on my own...

I did par-bake the crust. And, yes, I added all of the stuff I mentioned above. And it was beautiful. And it would have been perfection, cartwheels and wait for it... fireworks... If I had A) cooked it all the way through, and B) why has no one ever explained the pricking little holes in the bottom of pastry dough to me before? Maybe if I had read any one recipe all the way through...

So finally, I decided to break my bad pattern and make the very same tart again. Mostly it was because I got up so ungodly early and was confused about how much time still lay ahead in my day. And my mom's pastry dough recipe did make enough for two.

Now that it was mid-afternoon on the fourth of July, during the hottest part of the day, and in my house, after the oven had been on around 400 degrees for the better part of five hours, I succesfully created what I considered to be a A) varsity level baked good, and B) I try, tried again and got it right. Lesson learned. Go figure.

Now, let's hope Fred will make some ice cream before I melt.

Fig, Peach & Mascarpone Tart

Makes 1 9-inch tart

For the Crust:

1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour
1 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sweet butter, chilled
3 tablespoons lard, chilled
3-5 tablespoons ice water, as needed

Sift flours, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add chilled butter and lard. Working quickly and using your fingertips, rub or cut fat into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course meal.

Sprinkle on ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, and toss with a fork. Turn dough out onto your work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape it up into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Chill in refridgerator for 2 hours.

Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured work surface. Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the dough.

For the Filling:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup honey
Zest of ½ lemon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 fresh peaches, sliced
8 to 12 fresh figs, sliced
confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)

To make the crust in a medium bowl combine flours, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add chilled butter and lard. Working quickly and using your fingertips, rub or cut fat into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course meal.

Sprinkle on ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, and toss with a fork. Turn dough out onto your work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape it up into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Chill in refridgerator for 2 hours. Crust can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

When ready to roll out, unwrap the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to an 11-inch circle.  If the dough starts to break up or tear as you’re rolling it, don’t panic.  Simply place the dough into the tart pan and use your fingers to press it along the bottom, sides and edges.  If your rolling was successful, carefully place the dough in the tart pan and press it against the sides and edges so no gaps are present.  Cut any excess dough flush with the tart pan.  Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator.  Line the unbaked crust with a sheet of foil or parchment paper covering all sides.  Fill the pan with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove the foil and beans from the pan and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the bottom crust looks dry and the shell is a very pale golden color.  Remove the pie from the oven and let the shell cool completely.

To make the filling in a medium bowl combine mascarpone, lemon zezt, honey and vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Mixture will be smooth and glossy.

When the crust is completely cool, score the bottom and smear the filling evenly across the bottom of the tart.  Arrange sliced figs and peaches in a circular pattern on top of the filling.  

Place back in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry edges are golden brown. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve.

This tart will keep, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to two days.  It’s most lovely served the day it’s made.