Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oh so close

As I have been tweaking my dough recipe, I have gotten so close to great pizza. Last night might be one of the best.

The dough is made with 25% culture, way more than I've seen elsewhere, but it adds a great flavor. I've also been upping the water, this recipe was with 70% hydration. I let the dough bulk ferment, rather than dividing before letting it rest in the refrigerator for 4 days. Then let the dough sit out and proof for longer than I had, almost 6 hours. The result was a great, light open crusty dough. It did need a touch more salt... So I guess I'll have to try again.

This pie as a mixture of white and crimini mushrooms.


Here you can see the great cornicione (crust).


Second was my standard garlic with hot peppers.


And finally a nod to Buffalo wings. This was topped with Frank's Hot Sauce and blue cheese, then finished with shaved celery.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Souffle

Making souffles is surprisingly easy. Though there are a few steps none are that difficult, and even if yours does not rise mile high it will surely be yummy. I picked up this recipe from

Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Souffle
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
3/4 cup milk
4 egg yolks
about 1 cup mashed sweet potato
1 - 2 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper
7 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar

Warm the butter and flour over medium heat, mixing to form a roux. Cook for a minute or two until smooth and warmed.


Addd the milk and cook a few minutes longer to thicken.


Remove from heat and mix in the egg yolks. Make sure to stir thoroughly so that you do not scramble the eggs but mix them into the sauce.


Add the potato and cheese and season with salt and pepper.


Mix to combine. Set aside and cool to at least room temperature. At this point this can be placed in the refrigerator and used later to finish the souffles.


Coat small ramekins with butter or oil and bread crumbs. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks. Then fold this into the potato mixture. Fill the ramekins. Bake in 400 deg oven about 20 to 25 minutes.


Serve warm straight from the oven.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Velentine's Day 2011

It's amazing what one cookie cutter can do.

For Valentine's Day, I made a bunch of dishes...yes all red and white, using a heart cookie cutter.

Here is tomato soup with heart toasts.


Then beets with warm goat cheese.


I made roasted red pepper pasta, and using the heart cutter made them into nice little hearts.

I served this with a sundried tomato pesto.


Monday, February 14, 2011

A little bit goes a long way

As I am on my quest to make great pizza, I will periodically try new recipes. Last week saw one from I tried the New York Style. Two things I found interesting about this dough. First, it has a fairly low hydration (amount of water to flour) of only about 56% . The second was the relatively large amount of yeast.
I'm not going to go into detail now, but higher hydration leads to better texture and the goal is to use as little yeast as is necessary.

According to the great bread baker Peter Reinhart: "use only as much yeast as it takes to get the job done and no more"

I would say there was way too much in this recipe.

At the same time I made another batch with my Ischia culture, at about 70% hydration. I let the doughs rest in the refrigerator for 4 nights. Then proof at room temperature for about 6 hours. Here you can see the difference in the doughs.


In the end the New York Style was too puffy for my taste. The parts under the topping was too doughy and the cornicione (crust) was too uniform in texture. Shown below is a fire roasted tomato with fresh mozzarella.


As you can see below the higher hydration dough, still puffed in the oven, but was less uniform in texture, creating big open holes (this is were that extra hydration comes into play). This one is topped with hot peppers and roasted garlic.


Here you can see the structure of the cornicione.

This last one was again with the New York dough and topped with mizuna (also called japanese mustard, has a similar taste to arugula) and blue cheese.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jicama Salad

In an attempt to expose the kids to new foods, I picked up a jicama to make a simple salad.

This simple salad was a big hit, and paired well with some beans and rice.

Jicama Salad
one jicama, pealed
1/4 thinly sliced onion
small handful cilantro
1/4 jalapeno, finely chopped (or more to taste)
juice of half lime
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper

After cutting off the skin of the jicama, half then thinly slice.


Toss with the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Last night I made gnocchi using sweet potatoes. This was a simple change that added a nice sweet flavor. I prepared a simple sauce of parsley pesto and grated Parm.

I used this basic recipe, but had to add extra flour, as the sweet potato does not have the same starch that white potatoes do.

I boiled the potato and passed through a food mill.


I let them cool in the refrigerator for a hour or so, as they we soft. Then sauted them in a little butter and oil.


To finish, I tossed with some parsley pesto and topped with cheese.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Left over this left over that

I am a fan of left overs. They make for a quick dinner, when there is not time to make something elaborate. I like to tweak them though, rather than serve the same thing over again, change a flavor, add cheese, or my favorite turn into soup. I pick this up while in Spain. We would make rice dishes (paella being one of them) then the next day turn the left over rice into soup.

A couple nights ago I was looking for something to make and saw we had some left over French onion soup and a jar of tomatoes. Perfect!


Puree the tomatoes and cook with a little garlic, then add the French onion soup. Heat through.


Then add a can of beans. I have been making large batches of beans and freezing them in containers. This is way cheaper than cans, and likely has way less salt too.


Finish with some greens, I had kale. Then top with Parm.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lentils with Feta

Last night we had some friends over for dinner and while the kids ran around and caused mayhem, I prepared this simple lentil dish. You can substitute goat cheese for the feta.

Lentils with Feta
1/2 onion
1 - 2 celery stalks
1 - 2 carrots
1 - 2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup brown or green lentils
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil
small handful arugula or other greens
2 - 3 ounces Feta

Dice the vegetables, cutting about the same size as the lentils.


Saute in a pot over medium heat with a touch of oil, until soft about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the garlic, cook another minute and add the lentils. Turn to coat.


Then fill with water or stock to cover by an inch or more. Cook over medium-high heat, adding more liquid as the lentils absorb it.


Cook for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through, but still hold their shape. Add the thyme, season again with salt and pepper. There should still be some liquid, but it should be soup like. To serve, top with greens and feta.


Because everyone (at least all the sane people) loves pizza, I made a four pies as well.

This is a red with half mushrooms.


This is a white with tellegio and black pepper, a la Pizzeria Oceano.


Grilled eggplant with hot peppers.


And lastly, caramelized onion and blue cheese.