Pizza Night!

12 Aug

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough from Joy of Cooking (this feeds ~6 very hungry people. Halve it if you want.)
    • 2 2/3 cups warm water
    • 2 packages or 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
    • 7 cups flour (you can add in a bit of white whole wheat if you want)
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • olive oil and cornmeal for baking

Let’s start by making the dough. Sprinkle the yeast into the water so it doesn’t clump.
sprinkled
Stir until the yeast dissolves.
dissolved
Add the flour, salt and sugar.
added dry ingredients
Stir until the dough comes together and dump out onto a well floured board. Knead for 5ish minutes until the dough is smooth (I divided it into two parts so it was more manageable). You can add more flour if you need to.
kneaded
Cover with a damp paper towel and let sit somewhere warm (I just put it outside) for ~1 hour until it has doubled in bulk.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 large baking sheets and one small baking sheets, then sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide the dough into three parts: two big, one small. Coat the dough and the rolling pin in olive oil and roll the dough out onto the sheets. Make sure there’s plenty of olive oil on top so the crust doesn’t get soggy.

Prep your toppings (clockwise from top left: onion, capers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, arugula, garlic, kalamata olives, basil, red bell peppers):
toppings
I also had grated pecorino romano, parmesan, cubed mozzarella, and roughly cubed goat cheese.
Layer on the toppings you want. I made three pizzas with six sets of toppings.
Pizza One: The Victor
the victor
The combos are

  • Mediterranean (the colorful one)
    • Arugula, coarsely chopped
    • Sliced cherry tomatoes
    • Pitted kalamata olives
    • Crumbled feta cheese
    • Minced garlic
  • Three Cheese Mushroom (the one with the mushrooms)
    • Cubed fresh mozzarella (about 1/4-1/2 inch cubes)
    • Grated pecorino romano
    • Grated parmesan
    • Sliced mushrooms
    • Pitted kalamata olives
    • Minced garlic
    • Capers
  • Goat Cheese and Asparagus (the green and white one)
    • Sauteed asparagus, in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
    • Goat cheese, crumbled

Here’s the victor again:
the baked victor
Doesn’t it look delicious?

Pizza Two: The Garden
the garden

  • Pesto
    • Pesto
    • Sliced cherry tomatoes
    • Chopped fresh basil
    • Cubed mozzarella cheese
    • Grated parmesan cheese

Here it is baked:
the baked garden

Pizza Three: The Loser
This one wasn’t really that great. Still yummy, but not shockingly so.
the loser

  • Mushroom, Onion, Olive
    • Pizza sauce
    • Sliced mushrooms
    • Onion in long pieces
    • Pitted kalamata olives
    • Minced garlic
    • Cubed mozzarella cheese
  • Leftovers
    • I just put everything I had left into this. Bell pepper, tomato, arugula, basil, feta, etc. Kinda whatever. Pizza isn’t picky.

Here it is baked:
the loser baked

The favorites were as follows:
Mom and Dad preferred Three Cheese Mushroom
Al loved Mediterranean (and was surprised to like Goat Cheese and Asparagus)
I liked everything except the Loser.

Jon was lame and went to Taylor’s house for not homemade pizza. Sucks to be him.

Honestly, the last two weren’t great. I think I pretty much ran out of ideas and just dumped whatever onto the pizza. Oh well. The first three were the best, but the pesto was pretty respectable.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (at 375). The recipe said 12, but it wasn’t done at that point.

Homemade Pasta (omg, for real!)

6 Aug

Ingredients

  • Pasta (I planned for four people. Jon and Taylor showed up, so we were a bit light on pasta)
    • 1 egg per person
    • ~1/2 c flour per person
  • Sauce
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 vidalia onion, finely chopped
    • 1 28oz can of peeled whole tomatoes
    • a sprinkle of fresh basil
    • Salt and sugar to taste (more sugar than you would expect)

To make the pasta:
It’s not too scary. I promise. A little scary, but not impossibly. Measure the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well and crack the eggs in.
eggs
Stir the mixture together, making sure to scrape the flour off the sides.
stirring
When it comes together, dump it onto a well floured board (or counter, but it sucks to clean up).
dumped out
Knead until very smooth, adding flour as needed. Let it rest for 10 minutes to an hour. If you want more time, put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. If you put it in the fridge, take it out and let it sit for at least 10 minutes to relax.
smooth

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out onto a well-floured board until it’s 1/8 inch thick. It’ll take a while. You might want to try stretching it with your hands. Trust me, it’ll get there eventually.
rolled out
Cut it as thin as you can manage. A tip that I discovered after I made this is to roll it into a tube and then cut into mini tubes from there. When you unroll them, they’ll be well-shaped noodles. Oops.
cut

To make the sauce:
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Saute the garlic and onion until the onion is translucent. Dump in the canned tomatoes, draining it if you have less than 45 minutes, keeping the liquid if you have more than 45 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands or spatula.
sauce
Simmer for around 10 minutes. Add salt and sugar (start with a tablespoon of each, and work up from there). Add a bit of basil. Keep simmering for a while. I had my sauce on the stove for an hour because Al and Dad got home late from work.
sauce

10-15 minutes before the meal is supposed to be served:
Salt and boil a lot of water. Add a bit of olive oil. Carefully lower the pasta into the water. If the noodles are sticking to each other when you’re adding the pasta, separate them away from the pot instead of over it. Boil for 3-7 minutes, until it’s al dente. It’s a bit difficult to judge, but err on the side of hard. Overcooked homemade pasta is super flabby and gross (so I hear). Drain (don’t rinse) and serve with sauce or just olive oil and parmesan. Delicious!
dinner is served

Excellent Huevos Rancheros

4 Aug

Excellent Huevos Rancheros
Ingredients:

  • Corn Salsa (served hot, not especially spicy)
    • canola or vegetable oil
    • 1 yellow onion
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 bell pepper
    • 3 tomatoes
    • 2 jalapeño peppers or one can (I think it was 4 oz) of green chiles
    • sprinkle of crushed red pepper
    • 2.5 cooked ears of corn
    • cilantro to taste
    • cumin to taste
    • salt
  • refried beans
  • 2 fried eggs per person
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (to serve)
  • tortilla chips
  • salsa
  • guacamole

To make the corn salsa:
Chop the jalapeño pepper (if you’re using it) and garlic, and dice the tomatoes and onion.
veggies
Heat oil in a pan on low heat, and add the onion and garlic.
onion and garlic.
When onion is mostly translucent, add the bell pepper and the tomatoes and sprinkle with crushed red pepper (not too much. This shouldn’t be super spicy).
added red stuff
Add the green chiles or jalapeños [remember to heat the refried beans now!].
added green stuff
Remove corn from the cob and add.
added yellow stuff
Add cilantro. Increase heat and cook for a few minutes. You can continue to simmer this for up to an hour. Move the corn salsa into a bowl. Add butter to the pan and cook eggs in corn salsa oil. Or don’t. Whatever.
Layer tortilla chips, beans, eggs, corn salsa, bell pepper, guacamole, salsa. Delicious!
dinner is served

By the way, for dessert, we had chocolate cake. To make any chocolate cake taste appropriate for the meal, add cayenne pepper and cinnamon in fairly generous proportions (like, a few teaspoons. To taste). I sprinkled powdered sugar and cinnamon on top because, really, who wants to wait for cake to cool for the icing to stick?
Cake is delicious!

Pasta with mushrooms in white wine

4 Aug

Mushrooms adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • ~20 oz (1.25 lb) button mushrooms
  • 4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 clove garlic

First, rehydrate the porcini mushrooms. Rinse them thoroughly, then boil for 3 minutes.
Porcini mushrooms boiling
Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse again. You may want to chop up the porcinis a little bit. Wash and slice your button mushrooms.
slicing
Chop the onion, too. Sorry this cutting board looks gross. I had already cut the mushrooms at this point.
chopped onion
Heat olive oil over medium heat, and add the onion. When the onion is mostly translucent, add mushrooms.
added mushrooms
Salt and pepper the mushrooms. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. They also shrink down a fair amount.
shrunk down
While the mushrooms are cooking, make your pasta. After the 10-15 minutes are up, add wine. Taste it and see if you want a few more glugs (it’s a real unit, I promise!). Let simmer for a minute, then turn down the heat to medium low. Add one clove of garlic and stir. Dump the mushrooms into the pot with the pasta, and stir over medium heat to get the flavors of the mushrooms all through the pasta.
mushrooms and pasta
Serve (I did it with bruschetta and sauteed spinach)!
Dinner is served

Bruschetta

4 Aug

From “A (Mostly) Healthy Kitchen”

Ingredients:

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • a handful or two of basil
  • toasted french or italian bread
  • This is even better when you make the bread yourself. Yum! Dice everything.
    diced ingredients
    Combine the tomatoes and garlic. Add basil until it looks/tastes right. Add a fair amount of salt, a little pepper, and a “drizzle” of olive oil. Refrigerate for as long as you can handle. Put bread in the oven and toast it for a bit. You want it to be lightly golden. You can brush olive oil and sea salt over the tops of the bread. I didn’t, but that’s because I was impatient.

    The only picture I took was of it with the rest of dinner. That post is coming soon.
    bruschetta with the rest of dinner
    Doesn’t it look delicious?

Deep Fried Tofu

27 Jul

Ingredients:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • a splash of milk
  • bread crumbs
  • oil for frying (sesame is best, canola is fine
  • teriyaki sauce to serve

Warning: This recipe involves hot oil. Oil burns suck. And don’t pour hot oil down the drain. Be careful and don’t give this recipe to your teenager.

Drain and press the tofu to release excess moisture. Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes.
cubed tofu
In a bowl, combine the egg and milk.
egg and milk
I was a little overzealous about the milk pouring. You probably only need half that much. This much worked anyway (about an inch).
stirred egg and milk
Put bread crumbs on a plate. This is a super exciting picture.
bread crumbs
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dip tofu cubes in the egg.
dipped in egg
Then in the bread crumbs.
dipped in bread crumbs
Place them gently into the oil. Don’t let your fingers get burnt (like mine may have….)
in oil
Turn the cubes over when the bottom has fried to a light brown. Remove the cubes when they’re light brown all over. This picture looked slightly more appetizing before I ate a few cubes. I promise it’s delicious.
Yummy!
Serve dipped in teriyaki sauce. Or Soyaki, my favorite dipping sauce ever, available at Trader Joe’s.
sauce

Pressing Tofu

26 Jul

Pressing tofu is the key to making it taste like anything. After you press it, you usually cut it into cubes and marinate it. Or use it for the super delicious deep fried tofu.
Cut three sides of the top of the package open and release all the water. You’ll want to do this over a sink.
cut open
Flip the tofu onto several paper towels.
flipped out
Wrap it up tightly. If you don’t want your counter to get wet, you’re going to want to put a plate under the tofu.
wrapped up
Put another plate (or baking sheet, or something flat) on top of the tofu, and something moderately heavy on top of it. As you can see, I used bags of rice and lentils.
weighted down
Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, up to a few hours. Then, do with it what you wish.

French Peasant Bread

26 Jul

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water (About 90-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups flour (I used 3 cups all purpose, 2 cups white whole wheat)

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the water, yeast, sugar and salt. If you want, you can add rosemary or other herbs to the water.
water, yeast, sugar, salt
Measure flour(s) into a large mixing bowl.
Flour
Pour liquid in and stir to combine. You don’t need to knead. The dough should be tacky. If not, add some more water.
Covered
Cover and let rise for around an hour.
Risen
Preheat oven to 425. Shape the loaf into a large round. At this point, you have the option of drizzling olive oil on top of the bread and sprinkling with sea salt. I just put on olive oil.
in a round
Bake bread for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
all done!

Chocolate Chip (and butterscotch and toffee) Cookies

25 Jul

Recipe adapted from Worst Cook Ever. Guest poster: Allison, twin sister of 181c co-founder Christine.

Today, I was craving chocolate chip cookies. After making the dough, I realized that we didn’t have quite enough chocolate chips…thus, the chocolate chunk, butterscotch, and toffee cookies were born.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Unsalted butter--not margarine!

To start, soften–do not melt–a stick of butter. I microwave the butter for 30 seconds at 50% power. Softened butter will hold a fingerprint, but it’s not melty. If some accidentally melts, pour that part out. It’ll mess up the texture later. Please, for the love of all things edible, use real butter. Cookies come from the magical world where butter is better in every possible sense.

The next step has no picture, but it’s important: cream the butter and sugars. I don’t do it as long as I should. For a good tutorial, go to eHow.com. At the very least, make sure that the mixture is homogenous. Adding the egg will not make butter clumps less clumpy.

This is how much vanilla to add.

The egg comes next. If you double the recipe (which I recommend if you plan on feeding more than four people), use three eggs, not two. The cookies will be slightly chewier. If you aren’t confident about your ability to crack an egg without getting eggshell all over everything, you can either break it into a bowl or fish the bits out with another piece of eggshell. Don’t start stirring until you’re sure there is no eggshell in the bowl. Eggshell-y cookies are sad cookies.

Add some vanilla. A couple of splashes will do.

The flour mixture

Set aside the buttery mixture for a moment, and put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix. It’s not especially complicated.

Add the flour in steps.

If you care about the clothes you’re wearing, put on an apron now. Or change clothes. Flour is to black clothes what spaghetti sauce is to white clothes.

Now, you want to combine the butter mixture with the flour mixture. Don’t add all of the flour together. You’re trying to spend as little time as possible mixing the flour with the wet ingredients to avoid activating the gluten.

All of the flour has been added.

Notice that there are still some white specks left in the dough. Don’t worry about them. When the chocolate chips are being added in, the flour will all be fully incorporated.

The cookie-friendly morsels in my cupboard

Normally, I make this recipe with half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and half a bag of white chocolate chips. I realized after I made the dough that we didn’t have any white chocolate chips. We had butterscotch morsels and heath bar toffee bits in the cupboard, so I used those instead.

Lots and lots of sweet goodness

I put lots and lots of chocolate chips in my cookies, but this is totally a taste thing. I usually plan on using up the equivalent of three-quarters to one full bag of chips. Do what you want. It’ll be delicious no matter what.

Please, make sure your hands are clean before attempting.

I use a hand mixer to combine most of the ingredients, but it doesn’t work quite as well with the chocolate chips. I mix those in by hand.

***

At this point, you can choose to refrigerate the dough for a few hours–up to three days. I have only managed to refrigerate the dough a handful of times out of the hundred times I’ve made this recipe. It does taste better, but it takes so much longer. Make sure that you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap–if air gets in, the dough gets gross and crunchy. If you preheated the oven, please turn it off now.

***

Ready to continue? The wait is almost over.

Parchment paper is your friend.

If you have parchment paper, now is the time to put it on the baking sheet. If you don’t have it, buy some. It’s wonderful. Baking is so much easier with it. If you choose not to use parchment paper, then you can place the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Greasing the cookie sheet will cause the cookies to spread out more than they should.

Scoop the cookies out.

If you must, use spoons to transfer the dough onto the sheet. Each ball should be about one inch in diameter.

Look at all the cookies!

There’s usually enough space to put 12 cookies on one sheet. Space between the cookies is important for proper air flow. You should have enough dough to make two sheets worth.

Put the cookies in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Every oven is different. I always start out with ten minutes. This batch took fourteen.

Take them out now.

Take them out when they look ready–not very shiny, and mostly set.


Three minutes later...

Serve the cookies, preferably with milk. I had taken a picture of the full batch, but it didn’t look especially appetizing. Three minutes later, I wanted to take a cute picture with a glass of milk. There were three cookies left. These do go fast. Luckily, there were another twelve still in the oven.

Enjoy!

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes per batch, for a total of 20-30 minutes

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted sweet cream butter
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark will work–I used dark)
  • 1 egg
  • vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I’m a fan of King Arthur’s unbleached)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (you will be sad if you use baking powder)
  • 3/4 to 1 bag chocolate chips or other delicious morsels

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Soften the butter. Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add the egg and a splash of vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in steps. Add the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough, if desired.  Form the dough into balls one inch in diameter, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Orzo Salad

25 Jul

Rachel’s recipe. I didn’t measure, so the numbers might be a little off. Start by stirring in a little, then add more until it matches the picture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb orzo, cooked
  • Olive oil, sea salt, pepper
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (aka pignolias)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup craisins
  • ~1 cup arugula
  • ~1/2 cup feta cheese or ricotta ensalata

Make the orzo. Put it into a 13×9 pan and stir in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly (you can add more later).
Orzo in the pan
Toast pine nuts in a pan. Don’t use oil. Just shake them a bit so they don’t burn. When they’re very lightly brown and toasty, take them off the stove and stir them into the orzo.

Stir in the craisins.
Craisins and pine nuts in.

Wash the arugula and tear it into pieces. You want them to be somewhere between 1/2 inch and 1 inch big.
Arugula.

Stir in the arugula and then the feta. Taste and season (probably with more salt). Can be served at room temperature or cold. Or a little warm if you’re impatient like me.
Dinner is served.