Archive for February, 2010
There are thousands of recipes for pizza dough. Everyone has their own proportions of flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt and oil. I’ve been using one that I found a long time ago that used two types of flour, but over the years I have phased out the two-flour aspect of the recipe out of laziness, and it seems to be just fine. I’m not a pizza purist; I simply go with what works. This dough makes a great thin-crust pizza, and is especially good if you use it the next day, or freeze it and use it later. Another thing that pizza purists would probably yell at me for is the fact that I use a rolling pin on my dough to make it the right thickness. I’m sure the Grimaldi’s guys would have a field day with that one. In any case, it works for me, and that’s what it’s all about. Do what works.
Every once in a while I will be perusing the internet, looking for new recipes, and stop at Mark Bittman’s blog “Bitten”. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times’ food section, and generally has interesting recipes that can be cooked with very few ingredients (hence the column “The Minimalist“). I generally try to push myself to cook complicated, involved dishes, but there is always room for a simple “I’m too tired to spend 2 hours in the kitchen” and “I want something simple and tasty” meal. I have my fair share of those dishes, the type you make for yourself, or when you just want to take a break and go for simplicity. Of course, these dishes also have to satisfy the taste buds. I decided to give Mark Bittman’s Spanish and Indian Chickpeas a try to see if they’d become a go-to dish for me.
Last night I got together with some friends to cook dinner and watch this week’s episode of Lost. Cooking a meal that fits in with the show is pretty easy: you either cook fish or wild boar. Since wild boar was not readily available, I opted for a whole roasted fish. A whole fish makes for a great presentation (unless you are dealing with a squeamish crowd who can’t handle their meal staring back at them) and it’s surprisingly easy to do. 15 minutes of prep time, 35 minutes in the oven and dinner is served!
For a Sunday dinner, a roast chicken is always a crowd-pleaser. This roast chicken, which is stuffed and cooked over a bed of onions and potatoes, is my favorite way to do it. There are “three-Bs” to follow when roasting a chicken: Brining, Butter and Basting. Follow these rules, don’t rush anything, and you will have a chicken that is crispy, juicy, and is sure to be a favorite.
Or at least, relatively simple. You can prep this whole meal in less than 15 minutes, let it bake for 40 minutes, and have dinner in an hour. Serve it with a side of rice, pasta, or the polenta I’ll tell you about, and it’ll feed 4, no problem, and cost per portion is around $5. Quick, simple, tasty, cheap. All the makings for a good weekday meal.
It has recently come to my attention that polenta has a bad reputation. Often misunderstood and feared, just because it’s different, polenta doesn’t deserve to be marginalized. Polenta is your friend. You must learn to trust and embrace polenta! You will find that polenta is easy to cook, makes an excellent side dish, and will take any flavorings that you wish to impart to it. Give polenta a chance, and it won’t disappoint you.
Today I was inspired to create a bread pudding as part of the Food52 weekly contest. Have I ever made a bread pudding? Hell no. Could I come up with a flavor combination that I think is delicious and give it a shot? You betcha!
Gorgonzola has been one of my go-to cooking cheeses for a long time. In college, when I was learning the ropes at the Psi U grill, one of the recipes that I inherited was a grilled gorgonzola-stuffed tomato with scallions and bacon. Simple, creamy, melty goodness. Figs stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped with bacon, and thrown on the grill can do double duty as a sweet and salty starter or a decadent and rich dessert. Pair it with caramelized onions and throw it onto a crust and you’ve got a tasty tart. The sweet, savory, and creamy combination almost always works. Why not in a soup?
***update*** 2/25: My soup was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Food 52′s Onion Soup Contest! Thanks guys!
Last week I picked up my monthly farm share distribution, which included 2 lbs of sweet winter carrots, along with onions, beets, potatoes, milk, eggs, beef, yogurt, pickled beets, and tomato puree. A carrot ginger soup seemed to be in order.
Today’s taste test comes to us from the deserts of the Southwestern United States and Mexico: The fruit of the prickly pear cactus. This small, red fruit is commonly used to flavor drinks, candies, syrups and jellies since it has a lot of small, inedible seeds that make it tough to use whole. Not to mention the fact that the skin is covered in small, very irritating spines called “glochids” that need to be dealt with carefully before the fruit can be used. This is a plant that resists being eaten. All that aside, the fruit itself has a very pleasant, floral, sweet flavor and a bright, crimson color. It turns a regular margarita into something festive (and native, given that tequila is a cactus distillate).