Sunday, June 17, 2012

White Pizza Sauce for Lazy People

When I make pizza dough, I make the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe, which usually makes enough for 4 pizzas.

Sometimes my boyfriend and I will make all four pizzas in one night, so that we'll have food for the entire weekend so we can play Skyrim without having to take time out to cook.

When we ran out of red sauce after pizza two, I said "I'll go look online for how to make white sauce".  He said "when I worked at a pizza joint we just mixed ranch and blue cheese dressing".

Problem solved.

I had some ricotta cheese to use up, mixed in some Parmesan, fresh garlic, ranch and blue cheese dressing.

No "recipe" - just mix the ingredients until it's not too runny. 

This is DELICIOUS with broccoli, probably good with asparagus or spinach too, tomatoes, basil, etc...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pop Tarts for Hippies, Homemakers and Healthy Eaters!

In my fantasy life I own and operate a food cart featuring freshly made cheeses (mozzarella, ricotta, yogurt, paneer, cream cheese and more), and "healthy" junk/comfort food - classic American junk food made from locally-sourced, seasonal, organic ingredients. 

If I were to define my life's calling, I do believe that would be it.  It's a perfect fusion of my life-long love of and addiction to junk food and my recently illuminated passion for local, healthy, sustainable, responsible, seasonal, flavorful food.

All I'd need is a commissary kitchen, a car or truck adapted with refrigeration, an up front investment of at least $10,000 (probably more), I'd have to quit my current job, hire staff, spend way more time on social media, create a side-business of retail versions of my food cart stuff for sale in local grocers, and promote the hell out of myself all over town until I'm burned out and wished for the simplicity of just having a normal full time job like I have now in my real life.

Until I can "stretch myself across like a bridge where fantasy and reality lie too far apart" (to paraphrase Fiona Apple),  I shall continue sharing with you recipes like this:

Homemade Pop Tarts - via 100 Days of Real Food
•    2 ¼ cup whole-wheat flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
•    ½ tsp salt
•    1 cup cold, unsalted butter (2 sticks)
•    ½ cup water plus ice
•    1 egg beaten with a splash of water
•    7 – 8 tablespoons jam or jelly

1.    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.    Put the flour and salt in a food processor with the dough blade and pulse it together briefly.
3.    Meanwhile fill a glass measuring cup with ½ cup water and add a few ice cubes to it.
4.    Take the cold butter straight out of the fridge and cut it into ½ inch chunks. Sprinkle the pieces of butter on top of the flour in the food processor. Be careful to spread out the butter as opposed to letting it all clump together in one piece.
5.    Turn on the food processor and blend until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal. While the food processor is still running add 1/3 cup water through the top. Watch the dough come together and add 2 – 3 more teaspoons of water as needed so a dough ball will form. If some of the dough is in a ball and some is stuck to the sides that is okay…you can fix it with your hands. At this point the dough could be stored in the fridge in plastic wrap for up to 3 days or in the freezer (in a freezer safe container) for up to 6 months.
6.    Remove the dough from the food processor and put it on a lightly floured counter or large cutting board. With a rolling pin (and another sprinkling of flour) flatten out the dough to one big rectangle or square that’s no more than a quarter inch thick. Trim any uneven ends and use those to patch other edges as necessary.
7.    Using a knife cut out 14 to 16 rectangles of dough. Actually you could make them any shape or size that you want at this point  . Lay half of your dough shapes onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Spoon about a tablespoon of jam down the middle of those bottom dough pieces.
8.    Top them with matching dough shapes and seal around the edges by pushing down with a fork. Make a few holes in the top with the fork as well. Lastly, brush the tops of the uncooked toaster pastries with the egg wash.
9.    Bake at 375 degrees F for 18 – 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the cooked pastries on a cooling rack (if you have one) then either eat them right away or store them in the fridge for 3 days or the freezer for several months. They can be eaten cold or reheated. Enjoy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Salt and Vinegar French Fries

This is now the FOURTH time in the last 3 weeks I have made these fries, and each of the first three times, I ate them so quickly I completely forgot to take a picture and document their glory!!!

Shown here with Cooper Burgers and Sweet Potato'au Gratasanga - links coming soon!

Vinegar-Infused Fries - inspired by Umami Girl
1. Use at least one potato per serving. I have used fingerling, russet and yukon gold, all with great success.  If I'm cooking for a munchie session with Tony, I'll do at least 4 good sized potatoes (or way more fingerlings).  For a party of 6, use at least 8 med/large potatoes (or way more fingerlings)

2. Cut them into fry shapes. I cut in half lengthwise, then cut the "tops" off each half, making four long slabs ~1/2" thick.  Then, I slice each slab in to 3 or 4 pieces for more or less equal sizes.

3. Put the fries in an appropriately large pot - cover with regular ol' white vinegar, and maybe with water too. (I have, upon running out of vinegar because of these fries, gone to a 1/2 water/vinegar ratio, or less, and they always turn out good and tangy.

4.  Bring to a boil, and boil until fork tender

5. Let the potatoes cool in the pot with the liquid until cool (or about half an hour - mine are always still warm)

6. Preheat the oven to ~425 (400-450 are good roasting temps)

7. Drain in a colander, and pour some oil on a baking sheet (safflower/sunflower is good because it has a high smoking temp.  Please don't ever use "canola" oil for anything, ever, and watch out for GMOs in soybean oil).

8. Mix around the potatoes in the oil (I use my hands) until they are all well coated.  Then, dash on your favorite seasonings - I use generous amounts of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as well as smoked paprika (or cayenne if I have a cold/allergies).  There are lots of possibilities!

9. Bake for a while - wouldn't you love it if I kept track of times?  :(  10 minutes?

10. When you decide they are "halfway" done, take out the pan, close the oven, and flip each one over so they will be golden on all sides.  Place back in the oven, and cook until almost done.

11. If needed, turn on the broiler for the last few minutes.

ENJOY!!!!  Use your favorite dips. I've been into a blue cheese dressing/Plochman's stone ground mustard blend.  THESE FRIES ARE SO GOOD!!!!!!!  I don't think I'll ever make fries any other way!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chocolate Syrup

It's so much fun to make your own junk food! 

Chocolate syrup is pretty much unhealthy no matter what, but doesn't there  seem to be something a little healthier about it having only five very pronounceable ingredients?

cocoa, sugar, water, vanilla extract and salt

Essentially, you just put them in a pot, bring to a boil for a bit, simmer for a while, wait for it to thicken, cool and enjoy. 

The nuances:
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 - 2 cups sugar, to taste
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla

1. Mix cocoa, sugar  and salt in a small sauce pan and remove clumps.
2. Add water.
3. Bring to a boil, let boil for a few minutes
4. Reduce to simmer and simmer for a while (at least 10 minutes)
5. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and allow to cool. 
6. Refrigerate - the colder it is the thicker it is. 

It's getting dangerous in my kitchen!!!! 

Worse, I discovered my crappy oven in my current crappy rental does NOT overheat like my last 3 crappy I can finally start to bake successful CAKES! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

My New Potholder!

One of my coworkers is a very talented crochet artist, and I commissioned her to make me a potholder in the likeness of my dear Mojo, so that he can *always* be in my kitchen no matter what.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fettuccine Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus

The entirety of last week I was consumed with the idea of making fettuccine alfredo with asparagus.  Not sure where the craving came from, or whether it was a nutrient craving (asparagus) or a dairy craving - (butter, cream, and cheese?) or what but once I get an urge like that it will haunt me until I try it.

I have no idea if this is an "authentic" recipe but holy hell was it GOOD!

After consulting a few recipes, I came to the conclusion that if I melted some butter, added some cream and Parmesan, it would be pretty good. 

I love being right!

I was too hungry and nervous about making this for the first time, so I didn't take step by step pictures, which means - I'll have to make this again!!

Fettuccine Alfredo (maybe)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 half pint cream (4 oz)
  • 2 very large handfuls of freshly shredded Parmesean
  • a tiny dash of garlic powder
  • a few twists of freshly ground pepper
  • a bit of freshly chopped parsley for garnish if you want
  • Fettuccine noodles - I used 1/2 a package of fresh Spinach Fettuccine by a local company (Pasta Plus), and as always, I made way too much.  Don't be like me.  Measure your noodles.  Just don't ask me how much to use.
Begin to melt the butter over low heat while you are bringing salted water to a boil in another pot for the noodles.  Cook noodles according to directions.  When butter is melted, add cream.  It is so much fun to watch it blend as you stir.  Add a tiny dash of garlic powder if you want.  Add 1 very large handful of Parmesean, and stir until it's pretty much melted. Even if it doesn't melt, it probably doesn't matter. After the noodles are done and drained, decide you need another handful of Parmesean.

When the sauce is awesome and to your liking, add the noodles and stir gently to coat.

This is really really really good with freshly roasted asparagus.  I mean just look at it!

If you want a more polished recipe, check out the blogs I routinely scour for inspiration: the Pioneer Woman and Simply Recipes.

Roasted Asparagus

I was in too much of a scramble to make sure all the components for Fettuccine Alfredo came together that I didn't stop to take a picture of the lovely lovely sight that is freshly roasted asparagus.

So I'll have to make it tomorrow, but you can see part of its glory in the picture below.  This is now my favorite way to prepare asparagus.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Toss asparagus with enough oil so they're all coated. Toss with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast for 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven - I shook the pan halfway through so they could roll over and roast on the other side.