This is the first time in a long time that Joe and i have shared a uniformly topped pizza. Typically, my half has a lot of sauteed/ semi fancy toppings, and his looks a bit like what you might find on a dominos menu. I decided to give his style of pizza a try tonight and really enjoyed the simplicity of sweet peppers (Italian and red), onions, and grape tomatoes. It was especially tasty with some red pepper flakes on top… sweet and spicy.
I used the same crust recipe as usual, but left it on the sticky side while kneading. This proved to be a good thing and made it softer than usual on the inside. After proofing for two hours, dividing into thirds, and shaping one into a disc, i drizzled it with olive oil, covered it with aluminum foil (so it wouldn’t stick) and let it sit an extra hour or so before baking (as the oven preheated).
The sauce was delicious and homemade and contained:
- 6 halved and seeded cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 t garlic powder
- 1/4 t onion powder
- 1 t dried basil
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/4 t sugar
- mix it all with an immersion blender till the tomatoes are completely crushed. Yum.
Or should i call it, ‘Pain in the Tush Pear Tart’?
This was without a doubt the most involved recipe i have ever made – thank you ‘New Basics’ cookbook. As part of my continuing quest to actually use the cookbooks we own, I spent hours in the kitchen yesterday.
I decided it would be a festive fall thing to do/ make and a good way to use up the uneaten pears i bought at the market last week. What I got was just desserts! sorry.
Pear Sauce Tart
- 2/3 C all purpose flour
- 1/3 C ground walnuts (or hazelnuts)
- 1/2 t salt
- 4 T butter (chilled and chopped up)
- 1/4 t lemon juice
- 1 T cold water
- 1 T sugar
- 6 Bosc pears, slightly under-ripe, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1 C sugar
- 2 T Poire Williams (pear liqueur – i substituted butterscotch schnapps)
Pears + Topping:
- 1 slice fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 C champagne (i used white wine)
- 1 1/2 C water
- 1/4 C lemon juice
- 1 C sugar
- 1/3 C applesauce
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 ripe but firm Bosc Pears
- 1 T white vinegar
- 2 T Poire Williams (or butterscotch schnapps =)
- Prepare the pastry shell: Combine flour, walnuts, and salt in a food processor and process for 15-20 sec. Add butter and lemon and process for 15 addt’l sec. Gradually add cold water through feeder tube, 1/2 t at a time – ONLY ADDING ENOUGH FOR THE DOUGH TO COME TOGETHER. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 min.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Butter a 9″ tart pan. After the dough is chilled, roll it out into an ~11″ circle on a lightly floured counter. Transfer to the buttered pan
and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork, cover with aluminum foil (shiny side down) and bake for 15 min. Remove foil and bake addt’l 8-10 min. or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare the sauce (start while pastry is chillin): Combine half the pear quarters and 1 T lemon juice in the food processor and process for ~30 sec. Transfer the mixture to a heavy saucepan and then repeat with remaining pears.
- Stir the sugar and Poire Williams into the pot and cook over low heart until the mixture begins to turn color ~30 min. Then increase to medium low heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until it becomes the consistency of applesauce. Set it aside to cool.
- To make the topping, first prepare the poaching liquid: Cut the ginger into 1/8″ julienne strips and combine with champagne, water, lemon juice, sugar, applesauce, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Peel the pears, reserving the peel, and cut them in half longways. Core them as neatly as possible with a knife or melon baller. Place them in a large bowl and water to cover. Add the vinegar to prevent discoloring.
- Combine the peeled pears, remaining 1/2 C water, remaining 1/2 C sugar, and Poire Williams in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and set the liquid aside. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to the poaching liquid, add pear peel liquid, bring to a boil, simmer for 8 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool in the liquid.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a shallow dish. Bring poaching liquid to a boil and reduce to 1 1/2 C (about 15 minutes).
- Pour reduced poaching liquid over pears and refrigerate till completely cooled – about 4 hours.
- Assemble the tart: Spread sauce into the prepared pie crust. Slice cooled pear halves crosswise into half moons and arrange to cover the whole surface.
- Preheat the broiler on high with a rack at the top shelf.
- Cover the edge of the crust with aluminum foil (really – do this) and place the tart under the broiler until the pears turn golden brown – about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature with a dusting of powdered sugar. I thought it was even better cold the next day.
This was really easy, and nice because i had some broccoli pesto already made up to use in it, but I am not making it again. It was not that good. I was surprised. I really like broccoli, and i usually like Heidi’s recipes. This was just a little too plain. Even with the bells and whistles (avocado, feta, and slivered almonds). While mixing it all together, i taste tested and immediately tried to season it back to life. No avail.
- 4 C fresh broccoli florets
- 2/3 C broccoli rabe pesto
- 1/3 C buttermilk
- 1 C quinoa, rinsed
- 1/3 C slivered almonds
- 1 avocado, sliced
- slice of feta cheese
- Salt + Pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa: combine quinoa and 3 C water in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer 15 min, remove from heat, drain excess water and set aside.
- Steam 4 C broccoli until just barely cooked.
- Heat pesto and stir in buttermilk to give a creamier consistency (use heavy cream if you prefer).
- Stir together quinoa, broccoli, and pesto in a large bowl/ serving dish. season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with almonds, feta, and avocado.
my biggest bread baking blunder yet…
thankfully, this is a resilient recipe and it came out pretty darn good anyway. I will start by saying that i was having people over to our apartment for the first time last night and so i had been multitasking at the time (at least in my head). I was reading along the recipe for the first time while baking. The oven was preheated and I was just about to slide the bread onto the baking stone when i realized i needed a steam pan. The broiler pan i was used to using for this application had to be left behind in DC, and i just grabbed the closest pan i could find. It was glass. Multi-tasking. I was probably only thinking about all of the flour i was going to have to clean up in the kitchen, the food i still needed to buy…
I have been through this before with the Italian bread when my parent’s oven light bulb got a sprinkle of water on it and shattered all over the bread. At least this time, our oven is so narrow that the baking stone had completely protected the baking bread from the glass below. As a testament to the resiliency of the recipe, after i had let the oven cool down and cleaned out all the glass, I reheated the oven and continued baking those three loaves. They came out fine, and were met with many complements!
The last three loaves came out even better (so i recommend following the recipe the first time). WHEN i make this bread again, I will try leaving it out on the counter for an hour or so, to mimic the Ciabatta recipe. I noticed that my oven probably did not make it to the 500°F that it claims on it’s plastic knob. In order to get a good golden brown color, the loaves baked for a rough total of 40 minutes, not the 18-23 that the recipe called for.
- I observed that the recipe called for quite a bit less flour than i found necessary. I found myself repeating this phrase in my head, ‘the dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl but it should release from the sides’ as i kept adding flour and watching the dough hook glop around in the mixing bowl.
- While shaping the baguettes, take extra care to only minimally manipulate the dough and only stretch them. I made a few yo-yo moves with my baguettes, pulling them out too far then pushing back together. While the dough is sitting on a heavily floured counter, this creates some funky, dense areas on the bottom of the loaf.
Click for FLICKR!
Cherry tomatoes were 2lbs/ $1 last week at Haymarket! I have been using them in practically everything lately. Normally we can’t afford them, and they are one of my all time favorite foods, so it has been a big treat! The other night i was loooking to make some comfort food for dinner, and this recipe really hit the spot. We had leftover tofu from out sandwiches the other night, broccoli rabe pesto frozen from a couple weeks ago, and PLENTY of tomatoes.
Here is a link to the recipe. The only difference is that tonight i roasted the tomatoes (tossed in olive oil, salt, and brown sugar) for 45 minutes at 425°F. I will definitely use this roasting technique again!
I can’t believe I’m on challenge #20! I feel like celebrating.
Yet, I could kick myself. Whenever i don’t read a recipe ahead of time (which admittedly happens often) I miss out on some long preparation that i should have started at the beginning. Par example: 3 T cooked brown rice. Ugh. I had little flashbacks to the other night when joe and i cooked brown rice in the rice cooker and it took 45 minutes. I have things to do today! I cannot cook rice right now! Well, luckily i remembered the microwave. With a little improvising, i cooked precisely 3 T of short grain brown rice pretty well in our microwave. Here’s how:
- 2 T brown rice
- 6 T water
- 1/2 t safflower oil
- combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 5 minutes.
- Add a bit more water (2T or so) if necessary then continue cooking on medium power for 4 minutes. DONE!
I made a few small alterations to the original recipe. For the soaker, i did not have any wheat bran on hand, so i just used 3 T millet, 3 T rolled oats, and 2 T cornmeal. I have had a large flour container with 3/4 C of white wheat flour in it for some time now, so i replaced some of the bread flour with my remaining white wheat. While working, i decided to bake two little loaves. One loaf I topped with sesame seeds and flax seeds (most of which fell off while slicing), and the other with sunflower seeds.
Tonight i toasted the bread and used it for triple-decker tofu, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. It is really wonderful toasted
Click for more photos: FLICKR.
I personally thought that this was the best pizza in the past 3 weeks. I have been using the same dough each time, and realizing how much technique influences the results. This week’s crust was crunchy on the bottom, soft on top, and FULL of bubbles. Toppings were roasted garlic, sauteed portabello mushrooms, sauteed onions, cherry tomatoes, and sprinkled sea salt. Perfecto! Here are my steps to a perfect pizza:
- I start by transferring the dough (click for recipe) from the freezer to the fridge the day before baking. The day of baking, i remove the dough from the fridge around 5:30 (or at least an hour before shaping).
- To shape the dough, i coat a sheet pan with semolina flour (coarse grain cornmeal would probably also work) and press the dough into a disc using oiled hands. I have stopped using parchment paper to transfer pizza to the stone, so the semolina helps to slide the crust onto the pizza stone.
- After shaping, i like to lightly coat the dough with oil, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. i think this helps develop better bubbles.
- Now top the pizza with a little sauce (slow cooked from fresh tomatoes is best, but we often use canned crushed tomatoes). Add your choice of toppings (2-4 max) and then top with cheese (we use sargento’s Italian blend). Maybe a little sea salt or basil.
- The temperature dial on our oven here does not go over 500° F and i doubt that the oven even reaches that. The dough is so sticky to start with that i have to bake it on the sheet pan for 5 minutes then use a spatula to slide it off, then continue baking for another 7 minutes to crisp the crust. If you can, bake it at 550° F for a total of 7 minutes.
- Finally, do NOT rinse your pizza stone. Simply wipe it off and let the hot oven do the ‘cleaning’.