Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thin Crust Pizza

Edit: I just re-tested this recipe 9 (!) years later and made a few changes:

There's a time for thick, doughy pizzas and a time for thin, crispy pizzas. This is for when you have a hankering for the latter. It takes some forethought, since the dough rises overnight in the fridge, but is well worth the patience and planning. I got the dough recipe from this site and it works great if you follow the recipe just the way it's written (makes 2 pizzas). The sauce recipe is my own.

The day before:

1 lb. high protein unbleached white flour (ie bread flour)
3/4 c. warm water (or more*)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients and mix by hand or with a stand mixer. The dough will be extremely stiff and a bit lumpy. Do not knead any more than necessary to combine the ingredients. Place the dense dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise for 24 hours in the refrigerator. It will not get much bigger, but it will have a nice yeasty smell.

*Depending upon your flour, you may need more. I used a specialized high-protein pizza flour and needed a full cup of water. The goal is for it to just come together. It may be a bit lumpy, but shouldn't be shaggy.

Pizza Day:

Preheat your oven to 500 an hour before you plan to bake the pizza and remove the dough from the fridge so it can warm to room temperature. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the cold oven so it can preheat too. Meanwhile, make the sauce:

1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, ideally Red Gold brand
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil or oregano, chopped
1 tsp. sugar
salt and black pepper

Heat up a couple tablespoons of the oil and cook half of the garlic until it just starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a low boil. Simmer until the sauce reduces in volume by half. Stir in the remaining olive oil, fresh herbs, remaining garlic, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble your remaining pizza ingredients. I recommend keeping these minimal and pre-cooking anything chunky.

Now for the fun part!

Divide the dough into two parts. Roll as thin as you possibly can, using a lot of flour on your rolling surface. I'm talking 1/8"-or-less thin. Sprinkle your pizza pans with some cornmeal and place the dough inside (or on something flat you can transfer it from if you're using a pizza stone) and cut the overhanging edges off, leaving 3/4" to fold over as your crust. Fold over the overhang and crimp it with a fork. Prick the crusts many times with a fork.

Bake the crusts for 4 minutes in your very hot oven until they begin to bubble up. Remove them and pop any large bubbles with a fork.

Ladle the sauce over and top the pizzas however you like. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the the cheese is bubbly and browned. I usually have to broil for an additional 1-2 minutes to get the look I want. (In my current, more highly powered oven, with a pizza stone, these only needed 5 additional minutes, and no broiling.)

Remove the pans from the oven and immediately transfer the pizza to a cooling rack for a minute or two. This will allow any moisture to escape so that the crust stays crispy. Cut up the pizza and dig in!

About toppings:

  • If using fresh mozarella, don't put more than 3 ounces on the pizza, or it will get soggy.
  • I highly recommend using fresh herbs. Fresh oregano in particular is great on these, especially with salami or sausage crumbles.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Meat Tajine with Golden Raisins

This is a meat tajine (the kind of meat, as long as it's red, is up to you) from a cookbook I got in Morocco. You're kind of free as to what you serve it with - in Morocco, I think you'd mostly eat it with Moroccan bread, but I had it with couscous, prepared American style (boiling water and couscous). It was very delicious.

2 large onions
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch turmeric or dried safflower (for color)
Pinch saffron
1.5 pounds meat, preferably bone in.
2-3 cups warm water

1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 c. (approx.) golden raisins


Saute onions, garlic, cinnamon stick, salt, ground ginger and coloring agent agent for a minute, then add the meat. Mix the saffron into the water. When the onions have turned transparent, add the saffron water, then cover. I cooked it for 40 minutes in the pressure cooker - the directions aren't clear as to whether you should cook it in a pressure cooker or a normal pan. If you don't use a pressure cooker, I think more water should be used and the cooking time lengthened to 1.5-2 hours.

After 40 minutes, uncover and add the raisins, ground cinnamon, and powdered sugar. Let the broth cook down until its stewy rather than soupy.

The picture of the dish from the cookbook is here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cool treat

Copied shamelessly from TableTalk, the blog:

For those who've jumped on the fizzy water bandwagon, here's a new soda.

Rhubarb Soda:
1.5 c chopped rhubarb, 1.5 c water, 1 c sugar -- bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain into a jar. Let cool. Pour a couple of ounces over ice in a tall glass and fill up with fizzy water.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Basic crackers

These are a great thing to keep around for a nosh with some cheese and olives or a spread. I started experimenting with them to have a non-wheat alternative to potato chips. I have added cocoa powder and extra sugar for something between a cracker and a cookie, and it is great with coffee for a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. You can also stir in some finely grated cheese when combining the dry ingredients. Makes enough to last a week or so. If they get limp, bake em again for a few minutes. Sailors lived on things like this. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

From King Arthur Flour cookbook.

Preheat oven to 400. (prepare for a couple rest periods during process)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
4 TBSP butter
1 egg beaten into 1/2 cup milk (or 3/4 cup milk and no egg)
stuff for sprinking on top (salt, herbs, seeds, etc)

Mix dry ingredients together. Blend in the flour quickly until it resembles corn meal. Add milk and egg mixture, 1/2 at a time, stirring quickly with fork.

Turn the dough onto floured surface and knead gently a few times till it holds together. Let dough rest for an hour if time permits. If you are fleeing Egypt, skip this step. Roll dough until very thin - aim for 1/16". If necessary, slide spatula under dough to keep from sticking. A little flour can't hurt for sprinkling.

Cut into your favorite shapes. Squares are the easiest. Separate crackers, lift onto greased cookie sheet (or nonstick) Let them reset for about 5 minutes; prick each one with fork several times and sprinkle with desired topping. It will fall off, just a warning.

Bake for 5-6 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on them. Remove from oven, cool and store in airtight container. I look forward to seeing other variations. These are very forgivable.

Kringlor or Danish Puffs

This evoked an OMFG from a complete stranger - it is mouth-wateringly delicious, and not too sweet for breakfast. (I have considered making it again with a thin layer of apricot preserves between the layers) Lifted directly from Prairie Home Cooking, a must have cookbook. Preheat oven to 375.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour (bleached spelt worked great)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup powdered sugar (sift first)
1 TBSP butter, softened
1/2 tsp almond extract
Light cream or something

In medium bowl, cut 1 stick of the butter into 2 cups of the flour until pea sized. Sprinkle 1 TBSP of cold water over 1/3 of this mixture, and gently toss with a fork. Push this to the side of the bowl. Repeat with the other 2/3. When all the dough is moistened, shape it into a ball and divide in half. On an ungreased baking sheet, pat or roll each piece of dough into a 12" x 4" strip. It will not look right, but trust me. This is where I might add a layer of apricot jam, but it is a pretty crumbly affair.

In medium saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup of water and the remaining stick of butter. Remove from heat, and add the remaining 1 cup of flour all at once. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with wooden spoon after each egg. Stir in the 1/2 tsp almond extract. Spread 1/2 of the dough evenly over each pastry strip. It will still look all wrong; proceed anyway. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and puffy. Transfer to wire rack and cool slightly.

While it is cooling, make the glaze: Combine powdered sugar, butter and extract with enough cream or something to make a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the kringlor. Cut the pastry into 1" slices and serve.

I couldn't snap a picture fast enough and there were no leftovers!

Russian Dressing a la Zamos

So I'm posting already! Lillian gave this dressing a thumbs-up, so here is the recipe. (I think the Russian lady in the photo could use a little more dressing). It was combined from a couple recipes in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook:

1 TBSP paprika
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne
1 1/2 tsp celery seed

Combine dry ingredients in blender or with food processing device.

1/3 cup (vinegar and lemon juice mixture)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup ketchup (or catsup, depending)
1/4 cup grated onion

Drizzle in slowly, beat until thick:
1 cup salad oil

Chill. Delicious on Reuben/Rachel sandwiches