Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This pizza dough challenge marked my third Daring Bakers' Challenge and the second challenge in a row of savoury instead of sweet. I've made pizza dough before, but never this easily. Our hostess, Rosa from chose a recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and it will be one that I use again and again. So excited was I to try this new recipe--and so busy multi-tasking (I made ale-sauced ribs, cranberry walnut salad dressing, and chocolate cake simultaneously) that I grabbed the wrong bag of King Arthur's flour. Not to worry, my whole wheat pizza dough worked very well. Next time, however, I'll go for the bread flour.

The basic recipe goes together quickly and makes 6 small pizza crusts or 4 larger ones--I opted for the larger and froze 2 for future use. I like whole wheat pizza dough for my Reuben strombolis (stay tuned, I'll make them soon).

4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 oz) unbleached high-gluten (14%) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 oz) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 oz) ice cold water
1 tbs sugar
cornmeal for dusting

Method -- Day One

  • Mix together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a big bowl

  • Add the oil, sugar, and cold water and mix well to form a sticky ball of dough

  • On a clean surface, knead for about 5 - 7 minutes, until dough is smooth

    (If dough is too wet, add a little flour; if too dry, 1-2 tsp more of water.)
  • Flour a work surface. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and oil the paper

  • Cut the dough into equal pieces--4 or 6 pieces
  • Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Flour your hands and gently round each piece into a ball

  • Tranfer the dough balls to the lined jelly roll pan and mist them generously with spray oil

  • Enclose the pan in a plastic bag or cover with plastic food wrap

  • Put the pan in the refrigerate and let the dough rest overnight or up to 3 days (or freeze)

    Method -- Day Two
  • On the day you plan to eat the pizza, 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the work surface with flour. Place the dough balls on the floured surface and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with flour, mist with oil, and loosely cover dough balls with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 2 hours.
  • At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees

  • Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly roll pan with cornmeal

  • Flour your hands and place 1 piece of dough carefully across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion; move to a full toss when the dough has expanded outward

  • When the dough has the shape you want, lay it on the floured surface and shape; you may use a rolling pin, if necessary; let dough rest a few minutes

  • Lightly top the dough, remembering that the best pizzas are not topped too generously

  • Slide the garnished pizza onto the baking stone or bake on the inverted pan for 5-8 minutes
  • I made 2 pizzas, my Turkey Alfredo Pizza and a simple Three Cheese Pizza.
Turkey Alfredo Pizza
1 cup shredded smoked turkey breast
1 cup chopped cooked spinach (I used fresh, but defrosted, squeezed dry frozen works)
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz sliced mushrooms sauteed in 1 tbs butter
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce (I used jarred)
3 oz shredded Fontina cheese

Combine the first 4 ingredients. Spread the Alfredo sauce evenly over crust. Top with turkey mixture. Sprinkle on cheese. Bake as directed above.

For my 3 Cheese Pizza, I spread 1/2 cup pizza sauce evenly over crust. Season with oregano, garlic powder, and grated Asiago cheese. Top with 2 ounces each of shredded Fontina and shredded mozzarella cheese and bake as directed above.

AND NOW, for a little FOODIE FUN:

Gloria from Cookbook Cuisine passed this challenge on to Teresa at after getting it from Camille, at Croque-Camille. Teresa passed it along to me.

Follow along and join us on our phenomenal gathering. We're stranded on a deserted island; or, as Teresa rethought it, a “desserted island”? What 5 foods would you bring? This didn't require too much thinking on my part since I know what I love:

  1. Chocolate-of course I'd bring dark chocolate so that not only would I be feeding my soul, I'd be getting important antioxidants that wouldn't be available since the island is deserted and has no cosmetics' counters.

  2. Pizza-I just can't conceive of a life without pizza. Preferably this would be brick oven pizza with the thinnest of crusts, topped with the freshest buffalo mozzarella and basil and just a touch of tomato sauce, thickened with sun-dried tomatoes. See above for a glorious recipe.
  3. Bread-if I could have just one kind of bread, foccaccia would be my choice. If I could add a few favorites, my bread basked would include a few loaves of ciabatta, semolina, and baguettes.

  4. Soppressata-or salami, or both. I need to have something to put on the bread. Maybe there'll be some leftover mozzarella from the pizza and I can put them BOTH on the bread; yum!

  5. Wine-I'd like to have a combination of reds and whites--a nice Santa Margherita and a really good Sangiovese.

It may not be your food pyramid on a good day, but I would find sustenance in this combination. And now I'd like to "tag" a few more of our fellow foodies to play:

Kathy of and I share a love of our Breville Ikon panini grills. Her photographs and recipes always make my mouth water. I challenge you not to want to run right out and buy a grill to try one of her happy concoctions.

Rachel, The Crispy Cook of is living one of my dreams. In addition to being a foodie, she owns a used and rare book store in upstate NY. I met her at where we're presently reading Lily Prior's La Cucina. Rachel's recipes inspire me to eat healthier.

Deb of has been living in paradise for 7 years. Another foodie friend living out one of my dreams--my 13 trips to Hawaii instilled a deep love for this magical place--Deb's recipes are always something that I want to eat...right now! Deb is one of the 3 creators of Cook the Books.

So, Kathy, Rachel, and Deb, what 5 food items would you need to survive on your deserted island?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


If you live in the country, as we do, you almost give up hope of ever being able to visit a farm on the weekends. That is because nearly every city dweller within one hundred miles has had the same idea. Larry and I passed a half dozen of our favorite, large farms this past weekend. One had traffic backed up for miles; another had a person on the main road directing traffic. We really wanted a just-made apple cider donut and some apple cider as well as some apples for a homemade apple pie. After driving for an hour, we discovered a smaller farm, apparently as yet undiscovered, and were able to score on each count.

At the recommendation of the cashier, I bought Northern Spy apples, a departure from my usual Macoun or Gala. As she described them, they would soften, but retain their shape. While Larry would have preferred them softer--he'd probably like applesauce pie--I thought they were perfect. I saw no good reason to make a pie crust when they sell perfectly good sheets of crust. About the only time I'll make homemade is if I need a pate brisee. The pie was classic...and perfect!

Servings 10

1 pkg refrigerated rolled piecrusts (I swear by Pillsbury)

1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it; Larry likes sweet!)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

3 tbs cornstarch

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

pinch allspice

4 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 tbs unsalted butter

2 tbs lemon juice

1 egg, beaten with water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  • unroll 1 piecrust onto work surface; it into bottom and up sides of 9 inch deep pie dish and prick bottom of crust all over with fork; refrigerate

  • in small bowl, blend sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and allspice; set aside

  • prepare apples

  • in large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add apples, lemon juice, and sugar mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until juices thicken; cool on rack for 25 minutes

  • pour cooled apple mixture into prepared pie plate, then unroll top crust, fit over, crimp and seal; cut 1 inch vent in top

  • brush egg over top and sprinkle with a teaspoon of granulated sugar

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool at least one hour before serving.

This apple peeler is an antique; it belonged to Larry's Aunt Ruth, a wonderful woman whom we miss. It makes quick work of peeling apples. I'm told she and Larry's mom used to peel mountains of apples for their church fair. I love having a remembrance of Aunt Ruth.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Fall is the season to braise, roast, and make soup. Nothing beats the aroma of soup simmering on the stove. It's the one food whose leftovers may be even better than the original meal. One of my favorite soups is pasta e fagioli, but not the nasty stuff they serve in most restaurants. When I am tempted to order it out, I always get a "look" when I ask the waitress if it's red or brown. I hate the stuff that is loaded with tomato sauce. A true pasta e fagioli has just a touch of tomato to enhance the beans. I also find that when you order this dish out, it usually has fat floating in the broth and it tends to be thin. My soup is so thick you have to thin out the leftovers. As delicious as it is, you can have it on the table in under an hour and that includes cooking time.

4 Hearty Servings
3 15-oz cans of cannelllini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 oz pancetta, diced
1 tsp each parsley, oregano, rosemary (you can use dried)
4 cups beef stock
2/3 cup diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb small pasta shells

  • Place 2 cans of the drained and rinsed cannellini beans in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the remaining can of beans

  • In a deep skillet over medium heat, warm half the olive oil and saute the onion for about 5 minutes

  • Add the garlic, pancett, parsley, oregano, and rosemary and saute for another 4 minutes

  • Add the rest of the olive oil, the beef stock, the diced tomatoes, and the bean mixture and bring to a boil

  • Season with salt and pepper (some people like to add a dash of red pepper flakes)

  • Add the pasta shells and cook until the pasta is tender (about 15 minutes)

If the soup is too thick, add water or additional beef broth. I served this with a salad of mesclun lettuce and garlic bread. We enjoyed the leftovers for the next 2 days.

Friday, October 17, 2008


There are so many recipes for chocolate chip cookies out there that it's sometimes easier just to follow the directions on the bag of chips. But, if you're looking for something with a bit more body and a lot more taste, cowboy cookies may be for you.

This is one of Martha Stewart's Cookie of the Month recipes and it is going into my permanent collection. Larry loved them and wasn't even troubled by their smallish size (he of the opinion that bigger is better when it comes to food). The recipe is straight-forward and my only adjustment was a few minutes longer in the oven.

Cowboy Cookies - makes about 5 1/2 dozen
nonstick cooking spray--I like the baking spray with flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
6 oz (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 oz (3/4 cup) pecans
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray parchment with nonstick spray. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium high until pale and creamy (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined. You can refrigerate dough at this point for up to 3 days (but why would you want to???).

Using a 1 1/2 inch scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.

Bake until the edges begin to brown. The recipe states 11 - 13 minutes, but my cookies took from 15 - 17 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, Wow! An eAward

I'm so excited! Natasha over at Healthy and Gourmet ( was so sweet to pass on an eAward. It's wonderful to know that there are people who read my blog and try my recipes. I spend lots of time blog-hopping and pick up so many delicious ideas from the food blogging community, but getting recognition from one's peers is always a morale booster.
I've come across hundreds of wonderful food blogs in the 6 months that I've been blogging, but there are a few that I return to again and again. So I'd like to pass on this eAward to Kathy at PaniniHappy ( and Teresa at Mexican American Border Cooking ( Two of my favorite things to eat are paninis--my Breville Ikon gets more of a workout than I do--and Mexican food--this month I really had lots of cravings in that direction.

Thanks for visiting my blog, fellow foodies, and I'm sure I'll be hopping over to yours sometime soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Sometimes a recipe just pops out at you and you know it's going to be good. I've learned to trust my instincts when it comes to culling recipes from the many books, newspapers, magazines, and internet sources out there. Since discovering crockpot cookery, I've been on the lookout for good recipes to try and came across one in our local newspaper recently. What I especially liked was that there was no pre-browning (I hate dirtying an additional pot). You do need to plan this out because it requires a day of marinating. Marinating foods before slow cooking allows the seasonings to develop more fully. You can get away with a few hours of marinating, but I think a full day is better.

I followed the recipe exactly--this time--but will probably cut the cooking time by a half hour or so next time since the ribs looked done before I shut off the crockpot and will use regular carrots and not baby carrots since I prefer their texture. The dish was cooked perfectly and reheated beautifully and without drying out. In fact, I forgot to take a photo the first night; these were Larry's leftovers the next night.


2 1/2 - 3 lbs bone-in country style pork ribs

1 12-oz bottle dark ale or stout (( used Fosters)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs lemon peel, grated or shredded

1 tbs dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

Place ribs in a large, self-sealing plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Add all marinade ingredients, seal bag, and turn to coat. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.


1/2 lb small red or Yukon potatoes

12 oz fresh carrots, cut into pieces

Place potatoes and carrots in bottom of a 5-6 qt crockpot. Transfer ribs to bed of vegetables. Pour ale marinade over all. Cover and cook on high heat about 4 hours (or low heat for 8-9 hours).


2 tbs cornstarch

1/4 cup water, if necessary

Remove pork and vegetables from crockpot. Measure and strain 2 cups of cooking liquid (use some water, if needed). Add cornstarch to water, mixing to make a slurry. Add strained liquid to a medium saucepan and stir in slurry over medium heat. Cook until thick and bubbly. Serve sauce with ribs and vegetables.

I think this recipe and method would work equally well with beef short ribs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


With this sudden chill in the air, I decided I couldn't wait for a ham bone to make some split pea soup. This soup is a meal with very little effort. I happened to have 2 stale cheddar dill scones hanging around, so I cubed them and baked them for a hour or so in a very slow oven. Voila! savoury croutons. My recipe comes from the back of the package with just an adjustment here or there.

Serves 6

1 lb. dry green split peas (soak peas overnight or boil in 8 cups hot water for 2 minutes, then set aside for an hour before using)

1 chicken bouillon cube

1 packet Sazon (seasoning)

1/2 lb smoked ham, cubed

1 white onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 carrots, diced

6 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Skim. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Top with croutons.

All I needed with a bowl of this soup was a cheese-topped English muffin. Leftovers--if there are any--can be frozen. If soup becomes too thick, dilute with some water or chicken broth.

Monday, October 6, 2008


You've seen the Omnivore 100, but have you seen Cakespy's Sweet 100 ? This is a fun one to do. If you'd like, include it on your blog by following the directions in the next section.

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten--or make them a different type color.
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.
5) Optional: post a comment regarding how many you've tried or what you're going to try next! I'd love to hear from you.

I hit 83 of them (many more than once). There really isn't anything on the list that I wouldn't try at least once, but there are a few that I'd like to track down soon.

Sweet dreams!
6.Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
Fried Fruit pie--yech! Larry eats these all the time
12.Macarons--a favorite
Banana pudding with nilla wafers --I just don't get what all the fuss is about
14.Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
15.Dixie Cup
16.Rice Krispy treats
Croquembouche--I made one; that spun sugar is hard to work with
Girl Scout cookies
21.Moon cake
22.Candy Apple --haven't eaten one in ages; would love one, but would probably pull out a tooth
23.Baked Alaska
Brooklyn Egg Cream
25.Nanaimo bar--would love to try one of these
26.Baba au rhum
King Cake
Tres Leches Cake
Shoofly Pie--way too sweet
33.Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)--I've made plenty and sampled lots
Panna Cotta--yech!
35.New York Cheesecake --nobody does it better (than NY)
36.Napoleon / mille-fueille
Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake --make them every Christmas
Anzac biscuits
43.Moon Pie This is a Southern classic eaten with a Dr. Pepper (with peanuts in the bottom).
Dutch baby
Boston Cream Pie
46.Homemade chocolate chip cookies --is there anyone who hasn't had these?
Gooey butter cake
51.Green tea cake or cookies
52.Cupcakes from a cupcake shop Mrs. Pumpkin's & Dewey's Bakery qualify, I think
53.Crème brûlée
54.Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake) --had the Twinkie; gross!
55.Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
Jelly Roll
57.Pop Tarts --yech; Larry loves them
Charlotte Russe
59.An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or
Tarte Tatin)
Hummingbird Cake
61.Jell-O from a mold --can definitely live without another
Black forest cake
63.Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie) --it wasn't dreadful, but why?
65.Linzer torte
Stollen --learned to make them at the CIA; do them right after Thanksgiving
72.Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail --a childhood favorite; love to peel and eat
Pain au chocolat
74.A piece of Gingerbread House
Rainbow cookies --someday Larry will bring me the birthday cake version from Little Italy
78.Religieuse --just learned what these are from Daring Bakers' challenge
79.Petits fours
80.Chocolate Souffle
82.Rugelach I know it isn't traditional, but I love chocolate rugelaach
83.Hamenstashen --love the poppy seed one the best
84.Homemade marshmallows
85.Rigo Janci --I want to track this one down
86.Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
Divinity --too sweet
92.Bananas foster -- a favorite
98.Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
100.just fried, still hot doughnut

Sunday, October 5, 2008


A house filled with incredible fragrances and a truly home-cooked meal don't get any easier than this.

I had forgotten about this wonderful dish until I was placing a few new recipes in my file last week. I first made it when I invited a group of teachers to our new home shortly after my retirement. While you can buy bottled mojito sauce, I very much doubt that it would be as flavorful. The marinade/sauce is so simple to put together, I don't know why you'd want to buy it ready-made anyway. My suggestion is to make the marinade and soak the chicken in it the day before you want to eat the dish, though 4 hours in the marinade will produce a great deal of flavor as well.

You will have lots of sauce left over. In fact, the next time I make this, I believe I'll use half the mojito sauce and freeze the other half. I served this with yellow rice to soak up some of the wonderful sauce. Larry is having leftover shredded chicken on savoury scones for lunch tomorrow (I had frozen half the dough for my cheddar dill scones and made them this morning).

Mojito Marinade

1/4 cup chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups orange juice

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

4 tsp sea salt

1 tbs black pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Mix together the garlic, onions, orange juice, and lime juice in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until just smoking. Now very, very carefully do something you generally know to be a bad practice: cover your arms and use mits to slide the contents of the bowl into the hot oil. Be very careful because the liquid will spatter, but this will produce great flavor release. Simmer for 5 minutes, season with the remaining ingredients. Now pour everything into a blender and pulse 3 times to combine. Cool to room temperature. May be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Oven-roasted Mojito Chicken

3 1/2 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup Mojito marinade

cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Spread the chicken in a baking dish and pour the marinade over all. Rub some of the marinade right p under the skin. Marinate overnight--or at least 4 hours--in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces and roast for exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and garnish with lime wedges. This is finger-licking good!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I get on "kicks" with food and you'll no doubt discern on your own that this week it's Viva Mexico! Seriously, we both love Mexican food, though we don't eat it out that often because it can be loaded with landmines--fat, salt, margaritas (don't tell Larry this is why I won't go for Mexican more often). I've been trying out recipes for Carne Asada for a few years. One of the big problems I've encountered is that most recipes call for tri-tip (a cut of beef) which is virtually unattainable in this part of the country. In the May issue of Bon Appetit, I found a recipe that called for skirt steak, which is available here, so I tried that. A word of caution: skirt steak can be tough. When I make this again, I will use flank steak, which is what I generally use. The taste was excellent; it was just necessary to slice very, very thinly. You'd better like heat or do as I did and serve the chiles on the side. I cut the recipe in half and it still made dinner one night and leftovers for Larry another. I served the carne asada with yellow rice and some yummy and good-for-you black beans that I jazzed up with sauteed onions and Sazon seasoning. If you haven't used Sazon, you're missing out. I use the one with saffron in my fritattas all the time.

Carne Asada (from Bon Appetit, May 2008)
8 poblano chiles
2 bunches scallions, dark green tops trimmed
2 lbs skirt steak, cut crosswise into 6-inch-wide pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
coarse Kosher salt, pepper (I added cumin, BBQ spice, and chipolte chile powder)
flour tortillas (or corn)
2 avocados, pitted, peeled, sliced
lime wedges
Salsa Mexicana

Prepare barbeque (high heat). Grill chiles and onions until charred all over, about 3 minutes for onions and 5 minutes for chiles. Transfer onions to a plate and tent with foil. Transfer chiles to a large bowl, cover with plastic, and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel and seed; cut into 1 inch wide strips. Transfer to plate; tent with foil.

Rub steak with garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper and additional spices, if desired. Grill until desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to work surface and cooll 5 minutes. Grill tortillas until warm and slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side. Cut steak crosswise into strips; transfer to plate.

Serve steak with tortillas, chiles, scallions, avocado slices, lime wedges, and Salsa Mexicana (recipe follows).
Salsa Mexicana
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tbs fresh lime juice
coarse Kosher salt
(I omitted the 2-8 chopped serrano or jalapenos called for in the recipe; too much heat for me)

Combine first 4 ingredients. Season to taste with salt.

Serve your Mexican feast with yellow rice and some kind of beans and very, very, very cold Corona. Ole!