I haven’t met a homemade pizza I didn’t like. Well… that isn’t 100% true. I do have a few favorites (with the burning and the dough rising too much or not rising at all…) but there is something completely satisfying about working the pizza dough with your own hands and using fresh ingredients from your own garden (or your friends’ gardens in my case).
Mister and I first tried these specific pizza ingredients at a local chain. I don’t know what they do, but Proto’s Pizza has a one of the best Napoleon-style pizza crusts ever to exist. Their crust is thin but not too thin and it’s crisp but not too crisp. I must learn their secret!
Pesto Pizza with Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Tomatoes
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: One medium-sized pizza, enough for 2-4 people
Pizza dough (if you buy your dough at the grocer, I recommend grabbing one of their pre-made pizza dough balls in the freezer section. These are usually a lot tastier than dough a pressurized can or dry mix)
Prep your dough. Make sure your dough sits at room temperature for about twenty minutes or so before you work with it. While your dough is warming, roast your red pepper. Preheat your oven to it's highest broil setting, place your pepper in a pan and put the pan toward the top of your oven. Roast for about 2 minutes, until the top is almost black. Turn your pepper over and repeat. Let your pepper cool a bit, then cut it into strips.
Heat a small saute pan and add your butter and a little oil. Saute your onions until they sweat (only a few minutes). Remove the pan from the heat.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. You want your oven very hot to imitate a stone pizza oven (sort of). Place your pizza stone at the bottom most part of your oven or on the oven floor if possible.
Sprinkle a thin layer of flour on your countertop. Work the dough until you have your desired thickness. Keep your crust as evenly distributed as possible to help ensure even cooking time. Move your dough to a flat floured surface so that you can easily place your pizza on your pizza stone (I like using a pizza peel).
Add your toppings. (Mister did most of the beautiful handy work here. Mad pizza cred!) Spread pesto and onion all over the pizza, add sliced fresh mozzarella, and sprinkle grated parmesan everywhere (and I mean everywhere). Then meticulously added the tomato and roasted red pepper slices. Delicately slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone and turn the oven light on. Watch in anticipation. You want your dough to rise but not too much. If bubbles begin to form open your oven door and pop them with a fork. Some bubbles are okay (heck, I think they're really tasty!!) but sometimes if the bubbles are too big, they will start to move your topping around and your beautiful handy work will be lost to gravity. Your pizza is cooked when both the top and bottom of your crust are golden brown and your cheese is melted.
Combine the mango, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno, onion and lime juice. Add a couple tablespoons of fresh cilantro and taste test. To me, cilantro gets overpowering very quickly. Add more until you are satisfied with the result. Add salt, pepper, and minced garlic, to taste. Serve immediately and keep chilled.
The other day at the farmer’s market in Denver I picked up these beautiful cherry tomatoes (among other finds). Inspired by all the market’s fresh ingredients, I decided to make a Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad using their tomatoes and peppers.
This pasta salad turned out great. It was light and satisfying, perfect for the summer. Plus this recipe makes enough to share with a large group. I brought a big bowl of this pasta salad to a big BBQ for the 4th of July.
If you can manage, try making this day before your big event. I noticed that the flavors melded better as time went on.
1 cup organic Italian Dressing (Tuscan is my favorite to use)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1/2 diced yellow bell pepper
1/4 to 1/2 diced red onion (according to your tastes)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the dressing, mayonnaise and sugar.
Drain the pasta well, transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, salt, to taste, and the black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add parmesan cheese to top and serve.
As my good friend Willis would say, “It’s all about the saauuuuuuwwwwwssss!!”
Making a red sauce from scratch might seem intimidating but it really is a simple process. The key to a good red sauce is time. Allowing everything to simmer long enough for the flavors to really meld and build is extremely important. I’ve heard of some Italian recipes that require you to simmer you sauce all night. I have yet to try doing this (in a crock pot) but it’s on the “to-try” list!
This is one of the best marinara sauces I’ve ever tasted. I love using wine, a bit of heat and the balsamic to add depth to this sauce. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
1 (28-ounce) can Plum Tomatoes or San Marzano, crushed
1/2 cup red wine, Chianti preferred
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large sprig fresh basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
dash of garlic powder
dash of onion powder
dash of paprika
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
dash of salt and pepper, to taste
dash of red pepper flakes, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (to cut down acidity)
Mushrooms, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium/low heat. Toss in onions and red pepper (if using) and salt. Saute until onions begin to sweat. Add in any optional vegetables.
When onions are translucent, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Pour in the wine and turn up the heat to boil off any alcohol. Add the tomatoes, remaining seasonings, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Top with fresh basil sprig, cover and let simmer on very low for 30-60 minutes. Stir your sauce occasionally or it will stick to the bottom of your pot. Remove the basil stem and serve with your favorite pasta or with crusty bread.
The following are two dishes that make me feel more French than I’ll ever be (both recipes are from the brilliant Julie Child):
First and foremost, Ratatouille.
Other than a delightful Pixar movie (“Rat and patootie…RATPATOOTIE!!”), ratatouille is a traditional french vegetable dish. Typically roasted, ratatouille has strong flavors and a butt load of variations. This dish makes a great accompaniment to roasts or chicken or any dish really.
In the words of Julia Child, “A ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated.” Cool with me.
Peel and cut the eggplant into 3 inch long slices. Cut the zucchini into slices and peel. Place those vegetables in a bowl, cover with water and let rest for 30 minutes. Drain.
Saute the eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and a little salt in a skillet. One minute on each side until browned. Set aside.
Cook the onions with the olive oil in the same skillet for 10 minutes over moderate heat. Stir in the garlic and add salt and pepper.
Peel the tomatoes and boil for 30 seconds. Cut into slices. Lay them over the onions in the skillet. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover. Pour the juice from the skillet over the tomatoes. Raise heat and boil for several minutes until the juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Put a third of the tomatoes mixture in the bottom of a casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of parsley. Then put half of the eggplant and zucchini on top. Then the second third of the tomatoes and so on until you have three layers of vegetables and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more, basting several times, until the juices have evaporated. Be careful to not let your vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
Set aside uncovered and add a tablespoon of olive oil for flavor. Serve hot, reheat slowly at serving time, or serve cold.
Crepes are essentially very thin pancakes. You can eat them how with a little syrup or fruit. This is the way I usually eat them. There are versions that wrap a crepe around sweet fruit filling or savory fillings like meats, cheese and vegetables too.
It takes some time to perfect the art of the French crepe. Don’t get discouraged. Practice makes perfect, right? Keep on trying. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. I’ve killed many crepes to get to the point I am at today.
Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of the jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time.
Brush the skillet lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke. Immediately remove from heat and pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl. You want your crepes to be about 1/16 inch thick.
Return the pan to the heat for 60 to 80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula. If the underside is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.
Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan (some day, I will master this skill!!)
Brown lightly for 30 seconds on the other side. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate. Crepes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in an over set to low heat.
Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and repeat with the rest of the batter.
SERVE with practically anything - Butter, cinnamon and powdered sugar, or berries and fresh whipped cream, or make it a savory feast with spinach and cheese, or nutella and bananas and chocolate drizzle.
I’m a burger ADDICT. Lately I have experimented with healthier burger options. I have this belief that with meats like turkey or buffalo, you sacrifice a lot of flavor in a burger patty. Lordy, lordy, he hath proven me wrong!
I never thought I would see the day when I, Foodie McBooty, falls in love with a turkey burger! I am happy to announce that HEALTHY and FLAVORFUL characteristics do exist in one entity. (Who knew?) This (incredibly) messy burger is packed full of southwestern flavor. Granted, I have never been to the “Deep South”… but if Texas had a taste I’d imagine this is what it would taste like.
Because these are so messy, I recommend carving out the guts of the top part of the bun. That should help control some of the damage and save the salsa and crema from falling onto my lap.
I dream that some day I will have a decent picture of this absolutely amazing turkey burger. Until then, trust me here and let your photo imagination run wild!
Combine the onion, avocado, tomatoes, and cactus. Add the garlic, cilantro, cumin and chipotle pepper sauce. Mix well. Add lime juice and combine. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
For the burgers:
In a large bowl, combine turkey, chorizo, tortilla chips, soy sauce, pepper, parsley and Worcestershire sauce. Form into large balls, flatten and shape into a size that is slightly larger than your buns (they will shrink a bit when they cook!)
Place burger patties on the grill. 6-8 minutes on each side. After turning place the pieces of monterey jack cheese on each burger -- Once cooked, the internal temperature should be 170 degrees. Put the rolls on the grill and close the lid until the cheese is melted and the rolls are toasted.
While these cook whisk together a few scoops of crema and chipotle hot sauce (to taste).
Put the burgers on roll bottoms, top with salsa and crema and cover with gutted roll tops.