Food Talk Friday: Pizza!

Delicious fresh pizza served on wooden tableGreat pizza starts with a great crust which starts with a great dough. This recipe was mentioned by my friend, Ralaine, on Monday’s post. She shared the recipe with me. Her (Italian) husband gives it his full approval, so it must be good!



Ralaine’s Pizza Dough

 

2 ¼ cups of all-purpose or bread flour

1 teaspoon of fine sea salt

1 cup of lukewarm water

¾ teaspoon of active dry yeast

1 teaspoon of olive oil

 

Combine flour and salt

 

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the water and the yeast. Let is sit for 5 minutes or until it blooms. Add olive oil, and then pour in to the flour mixture. Knead until well combined – about 3 minutes, let it rest of 15 minutes. Then knead the rested dough for 3 minutes more. 

 

Scrape out the dough on a floured surface. Oil the side of your mixing bowl before returning the dough back to the bowl. Turn the ball of dough over to coat it with the oil, cover and let it rest and rise of 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)  

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Stud Muffin and I are planning a trip with friends to Italy in 2020. We’re already dreaming about the pizza we’re going to eat. Naples, which bills itself as the birthplace of pizza is definitely on the itinerary. We can’t wait!

pizza

We love all pizza. The simple margherita (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil). An obscene meatlovers. All veggies (well, maybe with a few pepperoni thrown on). Our standard go-to is pepperoni, olive, and mushroom. Something about that combo is delish. We love it.

In New York, we tried several different pizza places. John’s of Times Square (Fabulous!) A  by-the-slice, stand or sit-facing-the-wall place called Patzeria, also great and fun.

We haven’t really experienced a true Chicago deep-dish style. Hmmm … I wonder if there’s a local place … Off to do some research …

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cheese PizzaWhat is your favorite? Do you do homemade? Take out only? Chains? Local pizzeria? How about toppings? Everything? Anchovies? Cheese only?

I’m taking notes!

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Food Talk Friday: Greek Shrimp Pasta

After Lori’s Chicken with Artichokes and Lemons, this is probably my next most reliable recipe. I make it to take to friends recovering from surgery or bringing new babies home, for casual lunches on the patio, for whenever we need something yummy.

egyptian_food_pasta_with_shrimpGreek Shrimp Pasta

Serves 4

1 pound raw medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and cleaned

4 cloves garlic, pressed

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

6 green onions, finely chopped

4 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, minced

5 fresh tomatoes cored, seeded and coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound linguine freshly cooked and drained

In a large mixing bowl, combine feta, green onions, oregano, tomatoes

and salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture stand at room temperature

for at least one hour.

In a skillet, add the butter and olive oil and heat over medium high

heat. Add the garlic and stir till starting to brown, then add the

shrimp, toss together and remove from heat once the shrimp turn pink.

To the shrimp mixture, add the cooked pasta, toss together, then top

with the feta cheese mixture and enjoy!

You could also add olives, for a bit more salt and color.

This is extremely versatile. I’ve made it with other pasta when I didn’t have linguine. I’ve left off the fresh oregano and green onions when I didn’t have them. Although, without the green, it’s pretty boring to look at. Still tastes amazing though.

I made it early this week but I didn’t take a picture because I had nothing green and fresh to add and the picture would not have been appetizing at all. The picture above is a google image, licensed for non-commercial reuse. It’s pretty close.

Food Talk Friday: Comfort Food

Thinking and writing about Chicken Divan last week got me thinking about other comfort foods and what makes them so comforting.

In my humble opinion, it comes down to two factors.

  • Something creamy and starchy, or
  • Something cheesy and sticky

For the cook, easy preparation is another important factor.

Besides Chicken Divan, our other family go-to comfort food is:

Abbie’s Chicken and Rice

one-dish-chicken-rice-bake-large-24702

Named for the friend who first introduced it to us. I’ve since learned it’s a staple on Campbell’s soup cans and on their website. I have no idea if our version is the same as Campbell’s. I’m including a picture from Campbell’s though and it looks pretty similar. I make a big batch of it because we love the leftovers.

2 cups uncooked long grain rice

3 cans of Campbell’s Cream of … soups (I usually use one Cream of Mushroom, one Cream of Chicken and one Cream of Celery. But I’ve used two of one and one of another in all combinations and it always tastes great. I’ve also heard some people add a packet of dry onion soup mix. I’m sure that’s yummy too.)

Combine the soups and the rice, pour into the bottom of a greased 9×13 casserole dish.

Lay raw chicken breasts and or thighs on top.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper or your favorite chicken seasoning. Sometimes I sprinkle on some Pappy’s or other seasonings. Whatever strikes my fancy from the pantry. Lemon Pepper. Montreal Steak Seasoning. Madame Pele’s Heat. Sea salt. Fresh ground pepper. Really. Whatever.

Cover with foil.

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes to an hour. It can cook faster, but the slower and lower, the creamier the rice turns out.

This one is always a winner, especially on a winter evening after a hard day. Because sometimes we need a little comfort food.

 

 

 

Food Talk Friday: Carmelized Bacon

I don’t like my pancake syrup to touch my bacon or sausage or ham.

But …

add brown sugar, chopped pecans, and a touch of heat to the syrup, slather it on the bacon, and roast it in the oven? Then I will allow syrup to touch my bacon.

BX1001H_Caramelized-Bacon_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeWe found this recipe a couple of years ago and assigned it to Stud Muffin’s brother to bring to a Men’s Supper Club event. It was the hit of the dinner.

He’s made it several times now. Stud Muffin has made it. It’s always a hit. Especially with the men, who, interestingly enough, won’t usually try it until they’re told that it’s bacon. Men. Such scaredy cats.

There are several recipes out there, but we’ve always used Ina Garten’s and it’s delicious!

We also keep it in the oven a few extra minutes and often finish it with a minute under the broiler, just to be sure the bacon is fully cooked.

Ingredients
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup chopped or whole pecans
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon (regular bacon works too, but the thick-sliced is best)
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning) and place a wire baking rack on top.

Combine the brown sugar and pecans in a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and pulse to combine. Add the maple syrup and pulse again to moisten the crumbs.

Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise and line up the pieces on the baking rack without touching. With a small spoon, evenly spread the pecan mixture on top of each piece of bacon, using all of the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is very browned but not burnt. If it’s underbaked, the bacon won’t crisp as it cools.

While it’s hot, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.

2012, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, All Rights Reserved

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/caramelized-bacon0.html?oc=linkback

Food Talk Friday: Popcorn

Stud Muffin loves popcorn. He used to have it for dinner about every two weeks or so. We’ve made it all ways. Air-popped. Microwave. On the stove top.

image from flickr.com
image from flickr.com

He has the stove top preparation down to a science. How much oil. How long to let the kernels absorb the oil, then turn up the heat to pop. We’ve tried many seasonings. Tabasco. Cheddar “cheese” powder. Butter and salt. Kettle corn. Different popping oils. Vegetable oil. Olive oil. Canola oil.

I always love the old standard, butter and salt, for my seasoning.

Stud Muffin can no longer partake of popcorn because it is one of the triggers for his diverticulitis. He’s been a pretty good sport about it, over all. He’ll occasionally ask me if I want some popcorn. I always say yes, because I know he needs to cook it, smell it, and enjoy it vi-carrie-ously. 😉

If I’m home alone and want some, I use Alton Brown’s microwave method. It’s super easy, delicious, and devoid of the chemicals in the store bought microwave bags. I do make one modification to Mr. Brown’s directions. He uses a stapler to close the bag. I’m afraid of opening the bag and letting the staple fall into the popcorn and eating it by accident. So I fold the bag top over two to three times, then make two small vertical tears or cuts through all layers of the fold, so I have three sections of bag. I fold the center section forward and the side sections back and it makes a secure seal and I don’t have to worry about digging out lost staples.

What’s your favorite way of making popcorn? Favorite flavor?

Food Talk Friday: Mini German Pancakes with Apple-Caramel Sauce

So, a family member recommended we watch Brunch at Bobby’s with Bobby Flay on the Cooking Channel. We DVR’d some episodes and have been watching them.

Mini-German pancakes
Mini-German pancakes

Last night we watched Brunch for a crowd. Bobby made a strata, which we often make when we have breakfast for a crowd. It can be assembled the night before, it has bread and eggs and cheese and who doesn’t like those ingredients?

Anyway, when Bobby demonstrated the Mini-German pancakes with Apple-Calvados Caramel sauce, Stud Muffin had to try it.

The results: amazing! They reminded me a lot of aebelskivers, the Dutch treat, except these sank in the middle after a minute of cooling. Which made the perfect little pocket for the apple caramel sauce.

We didn’t have Calvados for the sauce so SM substituted Grand Marnier. I thought it was delicious. He was frustrated at first because his sauce wasn’t thickening like Bobby’s did in about two minutes, so I suggested he add a teaspoon of cornstarch and he did. I thought the consistency of the sauce was perfect. It likely would have simmered down and been fine without the cornstarch but it would have taken quite a bit longer and we were hungry. OH, and we didn’t have any heavy cream so he used milk, and that may have affected the consistency too, but like I said it was nothing a tiny bit of cornstarch couldn’t take care of. The recipe also suggested two kinds of apples, which we used because we had them, but I think all Granny Smith would be just as delicious.

Anyway, here’s the link to Bobby’s recipe.

You’re welcome!

Food Talk Friday: Coleslaw

I’m not normally a coleslaw fan. Ever since I was a kid, it’s never been a favorite. I don’t know if I didn’t like the sweetness of some slaws or the tanginess. Whatever, if it was on the table, I may take a dollop out of politeness, but not with any gusto.

Until about five or six years ago when I had this amazing blue cheese cole slaw. The tang of the cheese isn’t a vinegary tang, it’s smooth and marries perfectly with the crunch of the cabbage. I make this all summer long and love it. I’ve even made the dressing on occasion by itself and used it on green salads. Yummmm!!!

I’ve named it for the friend who gave me the recipe. She even won an award for this one!

No picture (what was I thinking, not taking a picture of this stuff??) But I’ll be having some this weekend. I’ll snap one and add it later.

Abbie’s Blue Cheese Coleslaw

1 med green cabbage (about 2 lbs) thinly shredded (about 12 cups)

1 small red onion, slivered

1/4 C chopped parsley

1 T sugar

1 t salt

1/4 C tarragon wine vinegar

1/2 C each sour cream and may

1 C crumbled blue cheese

In a large bowl, lightly mix cabbage, onion, and parsley.

In a medium blow, mix sugar and salt, add vinegar and stir until sugar dissolves. Mix in sour cream and mayo, then fold in cheese.

Pour dressing over cabbage mixture. Mix lightly to coat with dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 3 hours to blend flavors.