December 10th, 2008

pizza! pizza! pizza!

pizza 13

is it really worth making your own pizza? i’ve had some friends that have gone completely cold-turkey on places like pizza hut and dominoes and others that just can’t be bothered to go out and get their own ingredients and try it themselves. i’ve also heard arguments over the cost of making your own versus ordering out, and for me, it’s got to come down to taste. i don’t mind shelling about a bit more for a great pizza, and i especially don’t mind shelling out a bit more if i can make it myself. kramer was really onto something.

pizza dough 1

the cost of making your own pizza really balances out when you consider that making dough ahead of time can save you a ton of trouble.  peter reinhart’s dough uses just a few simple ingredients and can keep in your fridge for days or freezer for months so you can whip up a pizza whenever it strikes your fancy. it’s a never-fail dough that handled better than i could have anticipated. plus, you can just empty your cabinets and pile on whatever weird combination of toppings that you’d like without fear of being judged by the delivery guy.

pizza dough 3

the key to homemade pizza is getting the dough to cook quickly and at an extremely high temperature. pizzeria ovens hit 800 F, you can still get a great crust at home. most commercial ovens only reach 500 or 550 F, but using a baking stone or baking tiles definitely helps.

pizza 2

my first pizza attempt included caramelized onions (flavored with a bit of balsamic vinegar), mozzarella and white sauce (recipe below). after it came out of the oven i quickly topped it with fresh arugula. feel free to pile on the greens, as they’ll wilt a bit once they hit the hot pizza.

pizza 4

over the past few years, i’ve really developed a taste for white sauce pizzas over traditional red. i also like my pizzas swimming in mozzarella cheese.

pizza 8

after i added the arugula, i grated some fresh parmesan reggiano that immediately melted into neat little pools of deliciousness. you can also see above where i cut the pizza and sliced directly into my wooden peel. whoops.

pizza 10

pizza number 2 was the same as pizza 1, except i added some crumbled and lightly fried sweet italian sausage. let me just say: BEST PIZZA EVER. since these pizzas, i’ve made 3 more: 1 with sun dried tomato pesto and basil, one with traditional red sauce and lightly fried crispy eggplant, and another with sausage and pineapple. i’m looking forward to trying out squash and bacon as a combo. what are your favorite toppings?

pizza 12

continue reading and get the recipe »

December 8th, 2008

deep fried apple pie

fried apple pie 8

there are only a few absolute rules of food. for example, everything will always taste better with bacon. another rule is never turn down pie. take this to heart and your life will improve dramatically. but what if you already love pie but it’s just not extreme enough for you? default to another absolute of food, namely that everything can be deep fried.

fried apple pie dough 2

deep fried pies are basically fruit empanadas. the filling is cooked ahead of time and then wrapped inside a simple pastry dough. apple pie is my all time favorite, and the filling is so good that it’s hard to not just dump it all on a big bowl of vanilla ice cream…or forget the ice cream and just walk around the house eating the filling with a spoon. to be totally honest, i went the easy route with the dough when i made these, using pillsbury biscuits that i rolled out into rounds. i have provided a recipe for a great dough below though in case you want to use it.

fried apple pie 3

now while i’m over my initial fear of deep frying (everything i can get my hands on), i can understand why this could be a little too extreme for some (wusses). whether it’s for health reasons or a phobia of hot oil burns, i won’t judge you too harshly if you want to bake the mini pies instead. either way, there won’t be any left at the end of the day.

fried apple pie 5

continue reading and get the recipe »

December 3rd, 2008

pita bread

pitas 5

we didn’t have pita bread around the house growing up, but i had a friend who always brought sandwiches on it to school. we were only about 6 or 7 at the time, so when i asked what he was eating, i swore i heard “peter bread.” for years i seriously thought it was called peter bread. and even though it’s not actually named after me, i’ve grown to love it over the years.

pita dough 2

the dough is a cinch to make, and you can just keep a big bowl of it in the fridge and bake up batches whenever you’re in need of a sandwich to take to school or work. pita bread pretty much goes with anything, but fits especially well with middle eastern dishes. side note: i had my first falafel just over a year ago. why was i not told about them sooner?

rising pitas

the thinner you roll out the dough, the puffier your pitas get once they heat the heat. no matter how many times i make them, i have to sit right in front of the oven and watch them blow up. it’s pure magic. they work very well on the baking stones, but a baking sheet works just as well. alternatively, you can bake your pitas right on the stovetop on a skillet. they don’t always puff quite as much as in the oven but are still soft, delicate and delicious.

pitas 3

pitas 2

as a quick snack, i usually pair a pita up with a parsley and red onion salad with a little greek yogurt. also i like that if you open up the pita it looks like the jaw of a shark. awesome!

pitas 4

continue reading and get the recipe »

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