Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Got an hour... make focaccia

Ok, so its more like two... but it is super easy and this is a great recipe I found on Serious Eats. I have topped this was a range of toppings; fresh or dried herbs, tomato slices, potato and last night fresh garlic.

(As I basically follow the recipe, I have reprinted it here with my few additions.)

Potato Focaccia
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast or about 1 3/4 tsp instant yeast

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and shaping

1 1/2 teaspoons fine
kosher salt or sea salt
5 ounces all-purpose potatoes, cooked and mashed

Extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt
topping as mentioned above

If using active yeast, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, and stir until creamy. Otherwise mix the yeast with the flour, there is no need to activate it. Make sure to up the water by 1/2 cup.


Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Add the mashed potatoes and the yeast (if using active), and, using fingertips, bring in a little of the flour. Gradually add 2/3 cup warm water (if using instant add an extra 1/2 cup) and bring in the remaining flour as you go along. Knead briefly to make a rough ball of dough.


Dust a work surface with flour. Sprinkle the ball of dough with a little extra flour and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Invert the bowl over the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes more, sprinkling with extra flour if the dough is sticky, until the dough is smooth and somewhat soft.


Grease a 9 x 12 metal baking pan with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the pan, and with oiled hands flatten and stretch the dough by hand to cover the bottom; the dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.


Cover with a wet but not dripping kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 hours. The dough should have doubled in volume.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Press with fingertips on the focaccia to make dimples all over. Brush generously with olive oil. Season with coarse salt and any other topping. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the focaccia is well risen and golden brown all oven. Serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack to let cool and serve at room temperature.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chili Glazed Tofu and Mushrooms

Sometimes you just look for a way to use the stuff you have in the refrigerator... Last night was one of those times. I had pea tendrils and snap peas, tofu and a couple of mushrooms and found this salmon recipe.

The mushrooms and tufo worked as great substitutes for the fish, and it didn't require a separate trip to the store.


Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils

1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger, divided

portobella mushrooms and/or tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry

3 cups pea tendrils

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Whisk chili sauce, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon ginger in small bowl. Place mushrooms and tofu in a shallow oven safe dish. Spoon chili sauce marinade over and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.



Bake in 400 over for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in wok or heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and minced garlic; stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add sugar snap peas and stir until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine, and pea tendrils and stir just until wilted, about 1 minute.


I served this over rice, place some of the veggies then the mushroom and/ or tofu on top and drizzle with sesame oil.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

two salads four ingredients

Ok so there are a few more than 2 ingredients per salad, but the idea is there. In the summer when produce is at its peak around here and the farmers market is bustling, it couldn't be easier to make great simple salads. With the addition of some bread (one even has it in it) you have a light lunch or simple addition to dinner.

Arugula is by far one of our families favorite greens. It's great both fresh or cooked. Here I serve it on some toasted bread for a great quick salad.

Toss the arugula with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and season with salt and fresh pepper. Place on top of toast (rub with garlic for an extra kick) and drizzle reduced balsamic over top.


This second salad uses one of our favorite cheese, burrata, think fresh mozzarella with a creamy center. This is served with roasted beets, topped with oil and a splash of balsamic, seasoned with salt and pepper.


The great thing about these salads is that you can easily mix and match... arugula and beets, burrata and bread, all four together. Easy quick and always delicious.

My other blog.

For those that missed it, I am starting to write a weekly column on another blog. Please check it out:


Friday, June 24, 2011

More Kohlrabi

I have been really enjoying kohlrabi lately. It has a great crunch, perfect for salads, a fairly mild flavor, but with a hint of radish, it pairs well with most dressings, and is easy to handle.

Last night I made a quick mustard dressing. My son is a huge mustard fan, right now we have nine different ones (yes, I counted).

It is always a great way to convince him to try stuff, just make a mustard dressing and we are good.

This dressing used some fresh thyme and oregano, but almost any herbs will do. Add some garlic and mustard and finish with oil and vinegar (about 3:1). Season with salt and pepper and you are good to go.


I went for matchstick this time. Tossed with some dressing, added some toasted nuts and a little Parmigiana.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strawberry Pops

For camp this summer, I have started to make Auden his own popsicle. They could not be easier, and require all of two ingredients.

If you do not have a popsicle tray, you can always use an ice cube tray with tooth picks.

Strawberry Pops
about 2 cups strawberries
about 1 -2 cups yogurt to taste, I used Greek

Remove stems from strawberries and wash.


Puree in a blender or food processor. You can leave it a little chunky or blend until smooth.


Fold in the yogurt and mix to combine. Pour into tray, cover with plastic and poke with popsicle sticks. Freeze overnight.




Almost any fruit works for these, any berries or combination, or bananas or mango... For harder fruits, like apples, cook briefly before freezing. You can also leave out the yogurt.

Its also fun to drop pieces of fruit in, such as blueberries or chopped strawberries or raspberries.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled Pizza

Grilling pizza is a great easy way to make super tasty pies. The smokiness of the grill ads a wonderful flavor, and the high heats allows you to cook several pies fairly quickly, great for a group.

Here I made two pies, one with a cooked tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella that were marinated in pesto.


The second one with white beans, balsamic onions and buffalo mozzarella.


The big trick with grilling pizza is to have everything ready and close by. Cook the dough on one side for about 3 -5 minutes, then when you flip it, put the toppings on as fast as you can, so you can close the lid. This will trap the heat and cook the cheese.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Blog

I will now be taking part in a second blog, adding a weekly column on food, cooking and the balancing act that is feeding the family. My column should run every Saturday starting next week.

Please check it out at:

BlackBerry Mom Blog Launched Father's Day:
Parent Bloggers share professional tips and challenges with fellow parents
What better Father's Day gift than an upgraded BlackBerry Mom? Popular syndicated columnist Allison Berman (aka: BlackBerry Mom) launches a blog, where she and fellow bloggers bring a unique parent-to-parent perspective on the daily joys and dramas of raising a family.
Parent bloggers will share their tricks of the trade in their areas of expertise, on topics ranging from home decor to downward dog, kid-friendly salads to skinny jeans for all shapes and sizes, networking to nail polish (and everything in between). The take away: inspiration to try new things, insight into a world outside- and inside our own, honest advice from real-deal parents and pros.

Weekly bloggers include:
BlackBerry Mom -Allison Berman
A weekly columnist for the Times Herald Record Sunday edition, Berman writes about the trials and tribulations of running a successful business, while rearing a family. Berman's business: She creates one-of-a-kind, custom home accessories, enabling people to create homes that reflect individuality. Berman simultaneously maintains a happy household, which includes one hot hubby, two cute daughters, and one fierce (but friendly) mutt.
Yogatude -Laura Merlo
A self-proclaimed yoga addict, this mom of two keeps it real -- and balanced (most days) -- by practicing yoga. This exercise-meets-meditation art form helps Merlo cope with the constantly-evolving world around her, including a husband, kids, and business. "I like to preach what I know. And what I know is how yoga makes me feel physically, emotionally & spiritually. Join me in learning to accept where we are today and maybe laugh at it a little, too."
Designing Woman -Allison Berman
Once upon a time, Berman worked in Marketing, in NYC, but that quickly changed when she became pregnant. "I discovered a serious lack of beautiful, child safe, decorations. A university trained artist, I was inspired!" Berman started using low VOC paints to turn wastebaskets, tissue boxes, peg racks, and picture frames into modern, sophisticated, high-end accessories now sold at specialty boutiques, through interior designers, and on
netWorker - Marlowe Sidney Bamberger
Calling this media and marketing woman a guru and go-getting is an understatement: While still in college Bamberger did marketing for a local radio station, and assisted with media buying and marketing for Paramount Pictures at a local ad agency. U
pon graduating she immediately plunged into working as a National Broadcast Buyer while simultaneously completing a MBA at Fordham University with a concentration in Marketing & Management.
After a brief stint in NBC's Marketing Department, Bamberger returned to agency life, where she worked on several blue chip accounts before leaving to take a ground-breaking, a job-share at Turner Entertainment Networks created specifically for her. And, all the while, she simultaneously served on the PTA Executive Board for her daughter's NYC public elementary School, bringing in more than 50% of the funds needed to run the school. Bamberger credits netWorking for her success: She lives and works in NYC with her husband, daughter, and son, getting things done personally and professionally by netWORKING.
Passion for Fashion -Alison Schwartz
With more than 14 years of fashion industry experience at some top department stores, including Bergdorf Goodman and Lord & Taylor, Schwartz is no stranger to the world of clothing, accessories and, of course, trends. Currently, she works as a personal shopper from her New Jersey home, living the dream of mommy and clotheshorse, all in one.
B.B.F.F. (Beauty Best Friend Forever) - Robin Immerman Gruen
A former Beauty Editor for some big-time national publications, including Parents, Seventeen and Shape, Immerman Gruen left the world of magazines and Manhattan to start a family. But, she didn't leave the writing -- or beauty -- behind.
She frequently contributes to publications, which include local-to-Chicago favorites, like Make It Better, Chicago Parent and AOL City's Best, as well as national media outlets, like Real Simple, Parents, American Way and Immerman Gruen is a multi-tasker who tries to do it all, daily, which includes running at the gym in the morning, doing laundry (while working) during naptime, driving carpool in the afternoon, and making too many different dinners each evening.
Chef Daddy - James Wieselman Schulman
A mechanical engineer by trade, a chef by passion, Schulman is a consultant and a stay-at-home-dad in Chicago, who caters dinner parties, teaches informal pizza-making classes and details every kitchen adventure on his blog. Schulman understands that, as life becomes more complicated, providing healthy, creative, and approachable meals, does too. That said, he's on a mission to share his culinary experiences, philosophy and ideas with the BlackBerry Mom community weekly.
About BlackBerry Mom:
The BlackBerry Mom blog ( is a vehicle for imperfect parents to get judgment-free advice from industry experts who are fellow imperfect parents. It is a place to learn, share, and grow in the never ending hunt for the ever-elusive "balance."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Processed pizza..

Ok, so its dough made in a food processor...

Of the many methods that I have been experimenting with lately, I am still somewhat skeptical of the food processor method. The Great Kenji thinks otherwise... here I try out his New York Style pie.

It is definitely easy, but I am become more of a touch and feel guy and this just misses that subtlety that handling the dough allows.

Kenji's New York Food Processor Dough
22 1/2 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

.35 ounces kosher salt (about 3 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

15 ounces lukewarm water

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in bowl of food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times until incorporated. Add olive oil and water. Run food processor until mixture forms ball that rides around the bowl above the blade, about 15 seconds. Continue processing 15 seconds longer.


Transfer dough ball to lightly floured surface and knead once or twice by hand until smooth ball is formed. It should pass the windowpane test. Place in refrigerator in an oiled bowl and allow to rise at least one day, and up to


At least two hours (I prefer closer to 3) before baking, remove dough from refrigerator and shape into two or three even balls, then gathering dough towards bottom and pinching shut to form a tight ball. Flour well and place each one in a separate medium mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at warm room temperature until roughly doubled in volume.

Here on the left is the New York dough and on the right my own recipe with a wild culture, and a much high hydration (percent of water to flour), closer to 73%. You can see the bubbles, which leads to a lighter more open and uneven dough.


1 hour before baking, adjust oven rack with pizza stone to middle position and preheat oven to 550°F or the hottest your oven goes. Turn single dough ball out onto lightly flour surface. Gently press out dough into rough 8-inch circle, leaving outer 1-inch higher than the rest. Gently stretch dough by draping over knuckles into a 12 to 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to pizza peel and top as desired. Here I used a cooked tomato sauce and aged mozzarella.


With the other dough I topped it with Franks Red Hot Sauce, roasted sweet potato, balsamic onions and Buffalo Mozzarella.


In the end, both were great pies, but we agreed that the culture dough tasted better.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hon Tsai Tai... yeah I had never heard of it either

One of the best parts of a CSA is the interesting greens that show up. This week brought Hon Tsai Tai "

"Hon tsai tai is a specific variety of yu choy (aka choy sum) which has a deep purple stalk, dark green leaves and yellow flowers. The entire plant can be eaten - stems, leaves, and flowers. So, eat up!"

As is usually the case, a little garlic and soy sauce works like a charm.


Saute a couple cloves of garlic, then add the hon tsai tai. The tougher stems should be removed, but the rest of the plant is edible.

Saute for a few minutes until the greens are wilted and the stems softened.


Splash with a little soy and enjoy.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I love my sister in law... much so that I shared with her my morels. At $3 per oz... this is not something you just toss around... but they are well worth it.

Morels have a fairly short season in the spring and if you get to the farmers market early enough you can count on River Valley having them.

To clean them cut in half and rinse under cool running water to remove any dirt. Then pat dry.

For this simple orzo dish, I sauteed the mushrooms in oil and butter that was infused with fresh herbs, brought by my sister in laws girlfriend. (She is an awesome gardener, unlike myself, and always brings awesome treats...that is if you could basil and tomatoes as treats. Thanks Noa!)


To flavor the oil, warm in a pan and add fresh herbs, here I used sage and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two until the herbs begin to bubble.


Drain the herbs and put the oil back in the pan, add a touch of butter and add the mushrooms. Saute over medium for a few minutes until the soften. Season with salt and pepper.


I used orzo, though any pasta will work. After draining, toss with oil and add the cooked herbs and mushrooms. I also tossed in some fresh spring onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with fresh Parmigiana. This is great served at any temperature.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Journey continues... with a little help

As my journey to make great pizza continues, I've received some help along the way. My aunt gave me this flour:


Similar to the Italian Coputo 00 flour, this has a very smooth soft feel. The dough did have potential, but I think I need to play with it some more to perfect it.

Also, as time has gone on Auden has gotten more and more involved not only in the cooking process, but also the decision making. I have started to make him individual pies, that way he can have it just the way he likes it... which these days is with mushroom.

Here he is helping to top the dough with garlic oil before adding the mushrooms and cheese.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mushroom Patties

I was looking for another take on mushrooms burgers to make and came across this one. Though I usually don't go for vegan recipes, as they often lack a little something, this turned out great with a few tweaks. Without parsley, I substituted the greens from the tops of spring onions, and used the base in place of the onions

1 1/2 pounds (685 g) cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup (30 g)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, divided

2 large-size yellow onions, finely chopped

3 large-size garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 to 2 cups (165 to 220 g) bread crumbs or cracker meal

1 tablespoons mustard
3 tablespoons (45 g) tahini

2 tablespoons (30 g) hoisin sauce

3/4 cup (85 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped

3 tablespoons (45 ml) tamari soy sauce

1 teaspoon (2 g) dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

salt and ground pepper, to taste

In a food processor, mince mushrooms and greens to form a smooth paste.


Meanwhile, in a pan over medium heat, warm about 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook onions and garlic for until soft, about five minutes.


Toast the nuts. I like to do this in a dry pan over medium high heat. Stirring to prevent browning. Chop when cooled.


Transfer onion mixture to a large-size bowl, and combine with minced mushrooms and parsley, bread crumbs, tahini, hoisin sauce,mustard, chopped nuts, tamari, oregano, sage, salt, and pepper. Add extra bread crumbs to make sure the mixture comes together to form a smooth, but not too wet mixture.


Place mixture in refrigerator for at least half an hour. Mixture will be soft, but you should be able to form patties.


Create patties using your hands. Then roll in more bread crumbs to coat. In a sauté pan, warm remaining oil, and fry patties over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and crispy. Be careful to keep patties intact.

I served them on whole wheat ciabatta with caramelized onion and arugula, and a side of home made sweet potato chips.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spring Garlic pasta

One of the best parts of the farmers market is all the produce that you can not get at the grocery store. Last week brought spring garlic, similar to spring onions (scallions) they have a subtle garlic taste.

For this simple recipe I used thinly sliced spring garlic with a frozen spinach pesto. Simple quick and super tasty.


The pesto I had made several weeks ago and froze the left overs in ice cube trays. Then when I want a little to add to a sauce or soup I can pop it out and mix it in. Not only is this a great way to store left over sauces and fresh herbs, it is how you make your own baby food.


After sweating the garlic, I added the spinach pesto cube and some of the reserved liquid to form a nice sauce.


Add the cooked pasta and top with cheese.