Thursday, January 24, 2008


This is Barbara Kingsolver's family pizza dough recipe, and it's very easy to make. It makes two pizzas about 12" in diameter, but you could also use it to make one giant pizza, or a few small ones. Of course there are infinite topping possibilities, but here are three of my seasonal favorites.

For the dough:

3 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C warm water
3 Tbs olive oil
4 1/2 C flour (BK recommends 2 C whole wheat and 2 1/2 C white)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. After it is thoroughly dissolved, add the salt and oil, and then add the flour, kneading well for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for approximately 30-40 minutes in a warm place. When the dough has risen, divide it into two balls and roll each out on a well floured board. Transfer to a floured stone or pan and top with the toppings of your choice. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Classic Potato Pizza:

3-4 medium yukon gold potatoes
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Grated mozzarella cheese, to taste

Steam the potatoes until they are just tender. Let cool and then slice into thin slices. Drizzle the pizza dough with olive oil and then arrange the potatoes on top, allowing a little overlap. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, and drizzle with more oil. Top with the cheese.

Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pizza:

4 oz soft goat cheese
1 C sun-dried or roasted tomatoes, packed in oil
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Grated mozzarella cheese, to taste

Drizzle the pizza dough with a little olive oil and top with the tomatoes, goat cheese (crumbled or sliced), and herbs. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little more oil, and top with the cheese.

Sweet Potato and Proscuitto Pizza:

1/2 onion, sliced thin
2 Tbs butter
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/8 lb proscuitto di parma
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
Grated mozzarella cheese, to taste
Olive oil
Ground pepper

In a small pan, cook the onions in the butter over a low flame, stirring constantly, until caramelized. Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until tender. When the onions are finished, spread them over the pizza dough, and add a little bit of olive oil. Layer the potato chunks, the proscuitto, and the thyme, and season with ground pepper. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Add the mozzarella and sprinkle the parmesan on top.

Lemon Curd

This recipe is from Alton Brown. I used the wonderful Meyer lemons that are in season right now, and I was really happy with the result. I recommend spreading a little on a warm, homemade scone- delicious!

4 lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 C juice)
1 C sugar
5 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pats

Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring to a simmer. In a medium metal bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, and then add the lemon zest and juice. Whisk until well combined, and place the bowl over the pot on the stove to create a double boiler. Reduce the heat to low and make sure that the bottom of the bowl sits above the water, not in it. Continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens and becomes pale yellow, about 8 minutes- it should coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, one pat at a time until they melt. Transfer to a clean container and refrigerate. You can preserve the curd in jars processed in a steam canner for 15 minutes, or keep it in the refrigerator for a few days.

Makes one pint.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spaghetti with Meatballs

My mother always served spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, rather than with meatballs, but Eric asked me to make it this way the other night, and I think I might be a convert! I based the recipe on one from Tyler Florence, with a few adjustments of my own.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup milk
4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups heated tomato sauce (Bolognese without the meat or Vegetarian )

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and herbs and cook until the onionss are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan - you'll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Shape the mixture into meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the tomato sauce over. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and serve immediately along with extra cheese.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Third Degree Potatoes

Believe me, I hate Rachel Ray as much as anyone, but I have to admit that I occasionally do take her tips and recipes to heart. This recipe is one that she adapted from Jacques Pepin (who is near and dear to my heart), and I have further adapted it, hence "three degrees." These potatoes are flavorful and buttery, and would be lovely alongside almost any meal.

3 lbs small Yukon Gold potatoes
3 C chicken broth (you could also use vegetable broth)
3 Tbs butter
Small bunch of fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot or skillet. Add the chicken broth and butter, along with several whole sprigs of thyme and the whole garlic cloves (you can leave them unpeeled). Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium-high heat until the potatoes are just tender.

Remove the lid and with the back of a spoon, or the bottom of a glass, press down on the tops of the potatoes just to crack them open (don't smash them too hard!). Continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated, and then brown the potatoes on both sides. Garnish with a little thyme and sea salt and serve.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grilled Sea Bass with Fennel and Olives

I made this last night and it was quite good. I served it with a piece of garlic crostini, which gave a little crunch to the dish.

2 sea bass filets
1/2 pint good Greek olives, pitted and smashed
1 medium bulb fennel, sliced thin
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, halved
1/4 C fennel fronds, chopped
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 C olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Combine the lemon zest, herbs, and olive oil. Season both sides of the filets with salt and pepper and rub with a little olive oil. Place on the grill and cook until the fish is beginning to flake and turn opaque. Flip over, drizzle with half the herbed oil, and cook through.

Meanwhile, sautee the fennel, olives, and onion with the remaining herbed oil and garlic until soft. When the fish is done, serve over a bed of lightly dressed greens and top with the fennel and olives.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jamie's Goulash

Jamie Oliver has a new show on the Food Network!!! It's all about using fresh produce, straight from the garden (or, in my case, the farmer's market). You know, even if he wasn't kind of cute, and even if he didn't make cooking look like a walk in the park, I would watch his shows because his producers make his food look GORGEOUS. Seriously, it is like pornography! Everything just glistens and the colors are brilliant, and you just salivate watching it. Or maybe that's just me. I'm a little jealous of the Brits, who are currently getting to watch Jamie's other recent effort, "Jamie's Fowl Dinners," which is about where our poultry comes from. What a guy!

Anyways, the show premiered this week with an episode devoted to chilis and peppers, and this is one of the recipes that was demonstrated. Goulash seems perfect for the cold, rainy days we've been having, so I thought I'd give it a go. I cut the recipe in half because I was only cooking for two of us, but we still have leftovers. I think it came out delicious, but I would add more of just about everything except water next time; it was a little runny, and a little bland. Also, I served it over egg noodles, which seems appropriately Eastern European, but Jamie recommends rice. I think a spaetzel would also be really good, but I was feeling lazy.

4 1/4 pounds pork shoulder off the bone, in 1 piece, skin off, fat left on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 fresh red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
2 generous heaping tablespoons mild smoked paprika, plus a little extra for serving
2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
Small bunch fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
5 bell peppers (use a mixture of colors), sliced
1 (10-ounce) jar grilled peppers, drained, peeled and chopped
1 (14-ounce) can good quality plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
14 ounces basmati or long-grain rice, washed
2/3 cup sour cream
1 lemon, zested
Small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Score the fat on the pork in a criss-cross pattern all the way through to the meat, then season generously with salt and pepper. Pour a good glug of olive oil into a deep, ovenproof pot and add the pork, fat side down. Cook for about 15 minutes on a medium heat, to render out the fat, then remove the pork from the pot and put it aside.

Add the onions, chili, paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram or oregano and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Turn the heat down and gently cook the onions for 10 minutes, then add the sliced peppers, the grilled peppers and the tomatoes. Put the pork back into the pot, give everything a little shake, then pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Add the vinegar - this will give it a nice little twang. Bring to the boil, put the lid on top, then place in the preheated oven for 3 hours.

You'll know when the meat is cooked as it will be tender, and will break up easily when pulled apart with 2 forks. If it's not quite there yet, put the pot back into the oven and just be patient for a little longer!

Stir the sour cream, lemon zest and most of the parsley together in a little bowl. When the meat is done, take the pot out of the oven and taste the goulash. You're after a balance of sweetness from the peppers and spiciness from the caraway seeds. Tear or break the meat up and serve the goulash in a big dish or bowl, with steaming rice and your flavored sour cream.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chicken Soup

This recipe is from "The New Basics Cookbook." It's perfect for a cold day. I've added some fennel, and I think it would be nice with mushrooms if you wanted to add them at the end. I also set aside a couple of diced carrots to throw in at the end. I recommend serving this with either rice or noodles.

1 chicken (4 lbs)
2 large onions, halved
4 whole cloves
4 ribs celery, with leavs
4 carrots, peeled
3 parsnips, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 small bulb fennel, quartered
6 sprigs dill
6 sprigs parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 quarts water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 C cooked peas
1/4 C chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs chopped fennel fronds
1 C chopped carrots

Rinse the chicken well and ploace in a large soup pot. Stud each onion half with a clove and add them to the pot along with the celery, whole carrots, parsnips, fennel, garlic, dill and parsley sprigs, and salt and pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for two hours. Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top.

Remove the chicken from the soup and allow it to cool. Strain the soup, discarding the vegetables, and return the liquid to the pot. Add the bouillon cube and adjust the seasonings. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat. Set aside.

Cook the rice or noodles in the broth with the diced carrots. Before serving, stir in the chicken and the peas, chopped dill, parsley, and fennel. Heat through and serve.