Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pizza Dough and Some Toppings

We eat a lot of pizza at our house.  We like our pizza BBQ'd, we like it cooked in the oven on a pizza stone and lately we've been enjoying it cooked on a 13-by-18 inch rimmed baking sheet.  At this point in our lives if we can make things quicker and easier and still get something awesome - we go for it.

Pizza is by far everyone's favorite meal, everyone can help (even the little ones) and it's easy to tailor the toppings to suit everyones' taste buds. What follows is our baking sheet pizza dough recipe and some of our favorite variations.


3 3/4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon + a pinch of sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) room temperature (72°) water
extra virgin olive oil for the pans

*we usually add some whole wheat to this dough.  To make this variation, substitute 100 grams of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour and increase the amount of water to 325 grams (this comes out to be a little less than an 18 of a cup).

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.  Add the water and mix until blended.  Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface.  Gently form into a rough ball.  Then divide the dough into two halves, spacing them 4 inches apart, and cover both with a moistened kitchen towel for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to make your pizza, oil two 13-by-18 inch rimmed baking sheets.  Pick up the dough and invert and stretch the dough the length of the baking sheet.  The floured side should now be facing up and the moist side should now be on the pan.  Using your palms, gently pull, press and stretch the dough to fill the entire bottom of the pan.  Repeat with the second piece of dough and top with your favorite sauce and toppings.

When you are ready to cook your pizza preheat the oven to 500°F.  The pizza cooks for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

This recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas.  If you only want to make one the other can be tightly wrapped and frozen until you are ready to use.  We usually double the recipe and freeze several of them so we aren't making dough every week.  When you are ready to thaw the dough place it in the refrigerator and then bring it to room temperature before using.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Our favorites: we have come to the conclusion that less is more, especially when it comes to sauce.  We aren't big sauce people so most of our pizzas have little to no sauce on them.  We always use fresh mozzarella.  We sprinkle salt on the edge of the crust before baking.  Most of our pizzas include L's favorite ingredients: olives and pineapple. (oddly enough they are actually pretty good on any pizza combination).

 - BBQ chicken pizza (my personal favorite): a thin layer of homemade BBQ sauce, and then add BBQ'd chicken, fresh pineapple, mozzarella and a sprinkle of blue cheese.  After it's finished cooking you can add a sprinkle of cilantro.  Kids version: no sauce, chicken, pineapple, olives, mozzarella and blue cheese.

- Pesto, ham, pineapple: a thin layer of pesto, ham, pineapple and mozzarella.

- Pepperoni: a little olive oil or pesto, pepperoni (we buy a pepperoni stick and slice it ourselves.  The pepperoni is smaller than the pre-sliced version from the store but we are able to slice it a bit thicker), olives (of course), mozzarella, and any vegetables we may have in the refrigerator.  When we have lots of zucchini some grated zucchini makes a nice addition!

- Grilled: Portobello mushrooms, onions and zucchini, topped with feta. Once the pizza has cooked add sliced heirloom tomatoes.  Serve with salad of your choice on top.  (shown below)

When it's too hot to turn the on the oven, we fire up the grill and cook our pizza outside.  The dough works just as well cooked this way.  A tip: pre-cook one side of the pizza, add your toppings to the pre-cooked side and place back on the grill.

Pizza dough recipe adapted from Jim Lahey's my bread

Friday, April 19, 2013

Yummy Granola

We make this granola weekly.  We eat it by itself.  We eat it with fresh, frozen or dried fruit.  We eat it with yogurt. We eat it with milk.  We it because it's delicious!


2 12 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick or instant)
12 cup sweetened shredded coconut
14 cup flax seeds
14 sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
12 cup chopped walnuts
12 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
34 teaspoon salt
14 cup canola oil
14 honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
fresh, dried or frozen fruit

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well.  In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey and vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.  Bake for 7 minutes, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to ensure even browning and bake for another 7 minutes.  Stir again and cook for a final 2-3 minutes.  (You may wish to cook the granola for shorter or longer depending on your oven temperature and how brown you like your granola).

Let the granola cool completely before serving with your favorite fresh, dried or frozen fruit (ours is shown with frozen, wild blueberries).

The granola can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Makes about 10 cups.

Recipe adapted from Joanne Chang's flour

Monday, April 8, 2013

Marinara Sauce


2 - 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes in juice
12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper

In a blender, purée the tomatoes with their juice until almost smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato purée, oregano, basil and sugar.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Decrease the heat to medium and continue simmering until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

The sauce may be made 1 day ahead or double the recipe and freeze the extra in small portions to use as needed.

Makes about 6 cups.

Adapted slightly from Giada de Laurentiis', giada's family dinners

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Stacks


2 eggplants
olive oil
1 large fresh mozzarella ball, torn into pieces
grated parmesan cheese
marinara sauce

Slice eggplant into 14 inch thick slices.  Layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling salt on each layer.  Set aside for 12 an hour.  Rinse, drain and then pat the eggplant dry.  Preheat your gas or charcoal BBQ grill on high.  Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on the grill.  Grill for a few minutes, until the eggplant has some grill marks.  Flip and grill for a few minutes on the other side.  Remove from the grill. (In lieu of a BBQ the broiler in the oven works just fine - place the eggplants on a cookie sheet, broil for a few minutes until beginning to brown, flip and broil for a few minutes on the opposite side.)

Preheat oven to 450° F.  In a shallow baking dish make 4-6 stacks (depends on size of eggplants and how big you want your stacks) of eggplant.  Stack 2 eggplant slices, layer on a few pieces of mozzarella, sprinkle of parmesan and repeat.  2 eggplants, mozzarella and parmesan. Pour marinara (more or less depending on how much sauce you like) over the stacks, layer the top with mozzarella and parmesan and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and brown.

To serve place each stack on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan.

Serves 4-6

*This easily made in casserole style by layering sauce, eggplant and cheese in a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Papa Mike's Skillet Corn Bread with Honey Butter


12 cup white flour
12 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup yellow corn meal (medium or fine grain)
1 12 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
14 cup canola oil (plus a little for the skillet)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the egg and oil and mix.  Add milk a little at a time until it makes a stiff batter (don't worry too much about the amount of milk).  Heat the oil in 10-inch, oven safe, cast iron pan until hot.  Add the batter and cook until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

For the honey butter....mix room temperature salted butter with honey to taste.  (It's yummy so you might want to make a little extra!)

This recipe is a family recipe that comes from MKM.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Indian Vegetable Curry


1 can light coconut milk
12 oz. cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
2 large carrot, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. curry powder
Kosher salt
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

In a 12-inch skillet set over medium-low heat, stir together the coconut milk, ginger, garlic, curry powder and 1 tsp. salt.  Add the cauliflower, carrot and onion, . Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring often, until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, and tomatoes and continue to cook until the chickpeas are heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, season to taste with salt, and serve over rice or with flatbread.

Adapted from Fine Cooking 122 , pp. 14
February 21, 2013