Archive | August, 2010

Grilled Flatbread Pizza

31 Aug

WHO SAYS PIZZA ISN’T HEALTHY??

The other night, as my stomach started to rumble and I looked up from my 3 zillion Google Chrome Tabs to a clock that said “8:45”, I realized that I had not gone grocery shopping any time recently, but I knew we still had a drawer full of veggies in the fridge (I tend to overestimate the amount of vegetables to buy but yet it seems like we need an endless supply of fruit).  There was a bunch of Brocoli Rabe, or, the more fun way to say it, RAPINI, which I had bought after reading how much higher it is in things like vitamins A,C, and K, potassium, iron, and calcium than most other dark leafy greens.  I’m not actually sure if its considered a dark leafy green or a cruciferous vegetable.  Anyone know? Either way, high in soluble fire and packed with anti-cancer properties. So YAY RAPINI. Scream it in an Italian accent.

I’ve always loved those flatbread pizzas that you can get at various farmers markets and cafes.  The Saturday market at Prospect Park comes to mind.  Luckily, a I have been on a making my own bread kick and have tons of packages of yeast in the cupboard.  So I decided to whip up a half whole wheat-honey pizza dough and make a flatbread pizza with all the leftover veggies I had. That was broccoli rabe, broccolini, red onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and red peppers. I added some goat cheese and prosciutto for a kick of flavor, but as long as the veggies are spiced well you can leave these out, or try feta or other meats instead.  You can use pretty much whatever you have in your fridge.

Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

for dough

4 cups flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup additional water or milk

for topping (vegetables may vary)

1 red onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 red bell peppers

1 zucchini, sliced into manageable pieces

1 yellow squash, sliced like zucchini

few handfuls of goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 lb prosciutto, roughly torn or cut

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°.

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Mix in the honey, then let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.  Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a “well” in the middle. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and yeast mixture into the center of the flour. Using your hands, or a spoon if you wish, slowly stir the mixture by gradually bringing the flour to the center in a circular motion.  When it is a good consistency (you may need to add a bit more flour depending on the type you are using), flour a clean surface and knead the dough fora bout 5-8 minutes until the dough feels elastic.  Place in a bowl, drizze with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in a warm place and let it rise for about an hour.  The more warm and moist the location, the faster the rising process will go.

While the dough is rising, prepare the vegetables. Blacken the red bell peppers like you did for the Couscous with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Herbs. Slice all the vegetables so they are a manageable size. Put them all in a large bowl (including the garlic), drizze with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  (you could also use some thyme, basil, or whatever herbs you are in the mood for.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness and stretch over the pan you are using. This recipe made me one 18×13 inch flatbread and one 9×13 inch flatbread.   Cover the dough with all the vegetables, then spread the goat cheese, prosciutto, and parmesan evenly across the pizza(s).

Bake 12-14 minutes, and keep your eye on it.

SO GOOD. and so fibrous. And great for lunch the next day (if it doesn’t all get eaten…). I know I always say that. But leftover dinners are the best lunches.


Crispy-Sticky Oatmeal Cranberry Coconut Cookies

27 Aug

This recipe came from making tons of tons of batches of chocolate-lace cookies, getting sick of the chocolate, trying different fillings, omitting the filling altogether, to finally adding some ingredients to the cookie itself.  What I LOVE about chocolate lace cookies is the thin, cripsy-sticky “outer” part of them, so it just made sense to keep that as the cookie base, rather than use a classic oatmeal, which tends to more of a “cakey” cookie.

Crispy-Sticky Oatmeal Cranberry Coconut Cookies

Ingredients

2/3 cup butter

2 cups quick oats, uncooked

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup flour

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup dried, dried shredded coconut

Prehat oven to 375°. Melt the butter in a saucepan and remove from heat. Mix in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix well. Fold in cranberries and coconut.

Drop level teaspoons onto a foil lined baking sheet approximately 3 inches apart. Flatten each cookie with a rubber spatula. Bake 5-7 minutes. Let cool 10 mins, then peel cookies from foil and enjoy!

My next experiment: Putting vanilla bean ice cream between 2 of them!!

What are we Eating?

24 Aug

Via Visual Economics

Flank Steak Sandwiches with All the Right Fixings

24 Aug

Sometimes you just need a good meat fix.

Flank Steak Sandwiches on Ciabatta

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs flank steak

ciabatta or similar crusty bread, sliced

sharp white cheddar, sliced roughly

handful of baby arugula

handful of mushrooms

red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

handful mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary), chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper

horseradish

Wrap bread in foil and place into a warm oven to heat while you prepare the rest. Start with the mushrooms. Wipe any dirt off them and slice thinly.  Sauté with 1 clove minced garlic in olive oil on medium-high heat. Put them aside onto a plate with a couple paper towels to soak up any extra oil.  In the same pan, sauté the onions.  (add some fresh olive oil if necessary) After about 1 minute, add the sugar to the onions then continue to cook.  This will brown and caramelize the onions for a sweet contrast to the salty-savory-spicy bits of the sandwich.

Next, prepare the steak.  Pound it down if it is now evenly sliced, then generously rub in the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour a bit of olive oil and balsamic over the top.  If you have a grill available, by all means, use that! Otherwise, set your broiler to its highest setting and cook (briefly!) on each side.  For medium-rare, sear about 3 minutes on each side.

juicy!

Finally, put the sandwiches together! The bread will be warm and crusty, so smear it with some fresh horseradish, and stack up the cheddar, arugula, steak, mushrooms, and caramelized onions.  So, so good. And the leftovers are the best!

Spinach and Feta Dip

20 Aug

I promised that the recipes for the dips and tapas that I served with the Moroccan Chickpea flatbreads were to come: so here is 1 of 4.

Anything containing spinach, feta, or both is generally high on the top of my favorite tastes list.  I love me a good Spanakopita (of course adding puff pastry never hurts, either). I used baby spinach but you can use really any type, and I recommend using a ‘real’ feta, made of sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk, rather than cow’s.

Spinach and Feta Dip

Ingredients

2 large bunches spinach

1/4 – 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1/4 cup chives, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steam spinach in a saucepan in 3/4 cup water on medium-high heat for 1 minute. Drain excess water. Place spinach, yogurt, feta, most of the chives, garlic in a blender or food processor and puree. Add fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper as desired.  Blend once more, then transfer to a bowl or serving dish. Sprinkle with remaining chives and serve!

Couscous with grilled summer vegetables and herbs

16 Aug

I made this the other night with Crackled pork and Arugula Watercress salad for a friend’s birthday dinner.  It is a GREAT recipe for the summer–savory but not too heavy, and loaded with fresh summer vegetables to take advantage of the fact that they are in season (my asparagus was from NJ, my red bell peppers from upstate NY!)

Couscous with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Herbs

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef Takes Off

Ingredients

9oz couscous

1 1/4 cups water

3 red bell peppers

1 handful of asparagus, trimmed

2 or 3 small firm zucchini and/or patty pan squash, sliced vertically

1 small bunch of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced

2-4 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely sliced

3 good handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, flat-leaf parsley)

2 olive oil and lemon juice dressing recipes (see below)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

red wine vinegar

For Olive Oil and lemon Juice Dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil saucepan, stir in couscous.  Cover and remove from heat. While the couscous is softening, blacken the bell peppers.  I did this by placing them directly on the flame of my gas stove, but if you don’t have a gas stove, you can use your broiler. The peppers should be blackened on all sides, so turn when needed. When fully blackened, let cool, then remove the seeds (and skins if you wish) and roughly chop.

On a very hot ridged skillet, lightly char the asparagus and squash on both sides, then toss them into the bowl of couscous with the peppers, scallions, chillies, and ripped up herbs. Mix-well. Add the dressing and toss. Finally, season with salt and black pepper to taste, and dribble a bit of red wine vinegar for a slight twang.

Moroccan Chickpea Flatbread

10 Aug

While I was in Vegas this year, I spent a lot of time at the Rio sweating whoever was playing a tournament at the WSOP. Toward the end of the trip, that was Jay, during the Main Event.  They only had an hour and a half break for dinner, so we usually ended up going to the closest and most decent restaurant: which was Gaylord Indian Restaurant.  Usually I am really not up for Indian food-it is definitely low on my list of preferred cuisines (although Amanda tells me that will change once I eat good Indian in London), but one item I did love was these cracker rounds with olive oil and cumin seeds they give you when you sit down.

So, naturally, when I was home and settled back in NY, I wanted to try to make something similar.  Well, these aren’t  THAT similar, but they are better. The flatbread has whole cracked cumin seeds, which gives it that distinctive nutty taste, and chickpeas, which adds some protein and moistens the texture. I found the recipe toward the end of Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef Takes Off. They are so easy to make and this recipe makes a big enough batch to have leftovers for a couple of days! I served these hot with a bunch of dips and tapas (Warm Spinach-feta, olive tapenade, tabbouleh, and curried lentils: Recipes to come!!!)

Moroccan Chickpea Flatbread

From Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Takes Off

Ingredients

1 oz fresh yeast or 3/4 oz active dried yeast (three 1/4 oz packages)

2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)

just over 2 cups tepid water

just over 2lb bread flour (6 to 8 cups)

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly cracked

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly cracked

one 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and mashed

some extra flour for dusting

Stage 1

Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.

Stage 2

In a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture.  With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the center moving outward, slowly bringing in more nd more of the flour until all the yeast mixture is soaked up.  Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the center and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough.  (Some flours need more water, so don’t hesitate to adjust the quantities.)  At this point you should add the cumin, coriander, and chickpeas to the dough.

Stage 3

Kneading! Just rolling, pushing, and folding the dough over and over for 5 minutes.  This will develop the gluten and structure of the dough.  If any dough sticks to your hands, just rub them with a bit of flour.

Stage 4

Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of the dough.  Make it into a roundish shape and place on a baking tray.  Deeply score the dough with a knife–allowing it to relax and rise with ease.  Leave it to rise until it’s doubled in size, preferably in a warm, moist environment for the quickest rise (cover it with plastic wrap to speed things up). This process improves the flavor and texture of the dough and takes around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

Stage 5

When the dough has doubled in size you need to punch the air out of it by bashing it around for a minute.  Divide your bath of dough into 10-12 pieces.  Roll  out each of these to 1/4 inch thick and gently pull out into a slightly irregular oval shape. Cook 1 or 2 at a time, depending on the size of your oven, directly on the rack of a preheated oven at 450°. They take about 4 minutes to cook and puff up quite a bit.  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.