Category Archives: Dinner

2nd Day Black Bean Soup

Black eyed peas are suppose to be eaten on New Years day to bring good luck for the coming year.  But since I didn’t have black eyed peas I decided to go another route and do black beans instead.  This particular soup thickens and becomes more flavorful if you wait a bit to eat it. So I recommend making it a couple days before you plan to serve it to amp up the flavors.

2nd Day Black Bean Soup

Adapted from Cuban Black Beans by Nigella Lawson

2 cups dry black beans
2 yellow onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
11/2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried chili flake
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 can diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf, optional

Toast cumin seed and chili flakes in a small shallow fry pan until you can smell the spices coming up. Pour the mixture into a mortar and pestle and add the garlic and salt, grind into a rough powder.

Sauté peppers and onions until translucent and pop in the aromatics. The kitchen in smelling pretty amazing now.

About now you can pull out the slow cooker if you have one. If not, a cast iron Dutch oven works as well. Toss in beans, no need to soak, stock, tomatoes and your sautéed mixture, set the controls to low for 8 hours and you’re  out of the kitchen for the rest of the day.

White Wine Pizza Dough Recipe, for Cracker Thin Crust

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love pizza! Not everyone is lucky enough to have a pizza oven in their backyard and I have an awesome one by Fontana. The ovens are made in Italy and my model is on wheels so I have the ability to move it! The oven is wood fueled and gets up to 700 degrees, so baking a pizza takes only minutes.

The recipe that follows is my version of a Neopolitan Style pizza crust, super thin and deliciously crisp!

White Wine Pizza Dough

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Wine in the crust and a little to drink with it!

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Super crispy.

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Cracker Crust Pizza Dough

3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Bench flour for rolling out dough

In a microwaveable bowl combine the wine and the water, microwave for 30 seconds just enough to warm it. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast when you add it.

Stir in the yeast and the sugar, let set for 5 minutes or so, and allow the yeast and sugar to mingle. Then stir in you olive oil.

Next add flour and salt, knead mixture into a smooth dough. Divide into four pieces coat in olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Each piece rolled out will make one 12″ thin cracker crust.

If you don’t need all the crusts at the same time. Roll them each out, layer onto parchment paper and wrap in cling wrap and freeze flat. These will keep frozen well for a couple of weeks.

When you’re ready for a pizza simply remove for the freezer. Cover a pizza peel with corn meal and lay the frozen crust on it. Allow the crust to defrost for about 5 minutes. Top and bake as you normally would.

Green Eggs and Ham, Braised Beet Greens with Eggs

 

Some times you just need to take inspiration where you can get it. Otherwise known as leftovers from making roasted beets.  Just like Sam I Am, of Dr. Seuss lore. Some people have a hard time getting their head around eating their greens.  But by adding something as simple as, ham and bacon fat, surprise greens are delicious!


Green Eggs and Ham

Beet greens from 2 bunches of beets, chopped

3 tablespoons bacon fat, or butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 oz. honey cured ham

salt and pepper

4 eggs

Red pepper flake to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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Beautiful color, who could just throw these out!

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Sauté chopped beet greens and garlic in bacon fat for about 15 to 20 minutes, then add the sliced ham.  Allow the greens to become thoroughly wilted.

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Turn the greens mixture into to two greased ramekins. Create a small well and crack two eggs into each dish and top with red pepper flake.

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Lunch is ready!

Bake for 15-20 minutes until eggs are set and serve warm from the oven with a nice slice of sour dough toast for dipping.

 

Three Pepper Soup, Thinking about Peppers!

Working on the Garden…

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Playing with water color pencils!

Yes, it’s only February but I have gotten the garden bug, as usual. So.. John and I are on the road this week and I don’t have a kitchen. But, I do have pencils, paper and a camera! So I’m getting creative. New house and a new garden!

While the new house doesn’t have much of a backyard. There is a great community garden that is just a few blocks away. I signed up with the city for a great little plot that is 15′ x 20′. I can put in raised beds and grow year round, I just have to be a good (garden) neighbor, so they will let me stay again next year.
So here are my ideas for a neat little garden.

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Each square is 4′ x 4′.

Can’t post without at least one recipe idea! Planning on at least five different peppers for the garden! Green peppers, jalapeño peppers, purple jalapeño peppers, Tia peppers, and ghost peppers.


 

Three Pepper Soup

4 cups homemade chicken stock

3 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 eggs, whisked

Bring to a simmer chicken stock, and all three peppers. My stock has a little salt in it already but add a bit for balance if yours doesn’t.  Once the stock is simmering drizzle in your eggs. This is great if you have a cold, it clears everything out!

 

 

 

French Baguette

I have a new kitchen.  I have a new oven that is very nice. But….the new oven vents directly into the kitchen. So need less to say it doesn’t allow any steam to accumulate for baking baguettes, baguettes have to have steam to get their beautiful crisp crust.  This unfortunately isn’t possible with my new oven.  Enter Emile Henry’s new baguette baker it’s awesome!

Emile Henry manufactures some of the most beautiful bakeware from France.  They have three new pieces a cloche, a loaf baker and a baguette baker.  If you have a chance please try these out!


 

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French Baguettes

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Baguette

Makes 3 baguettes, adapted from Emile Henry

3 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Combine water (110 degrees), yeast, flour, and salt.  Cover and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.

Knead well and divide dough into thirds, create the baguettes by rolling into lengths.  Grease and flour the mold and place the dough into the molds.  Cover with the lid and allow to raise a second time, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Brush baguettes with water, and cut slashes across the tops.  Bake for 25 minutes covered, remove lid and bake an additional 25 minutes until golden brown.

Pumpkinseed Focaccia Bread

It was hot outside today, and I wanted to bake bread! I know I’m a goof, but I had a method to my madness! I would just take everything outside and so I did.  The oven came outside with me. You think I’m joking don’t you? I have a secret, I have a portable kitchen. Oven, pizza maker, induction burner, and its all on wheels! it’s awesome.

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Even my oven has a view of the lake!

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Pumpkinseed Focaccia Bread
Adapted from Fabricia L.

This is a great “foundation,” bread it isn’t very salty or too sweet so it is awesome to grill and put wonderfully salty and sweet things on.

1/2 kilo combination bread flour and AP flour, half and half
12 grams yeast
185 ml water
125 ml olive oil
125 ml white wine
1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt

For sprinkling on top:
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 Tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds

Pour flours on to the counter in a mountain. Create a trough in the top for the yeast. Gently incorporate the yeast, salt in the dry flour and the proceed to slowly add the liquid in, to create your dough.

Knead the dough to a smooth consistency, kneading for about 5 minutes.
Place in an oiled bowl and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes covered, and in a warm place free of drafts.

Heat oven to 400°F.

Form dough into a loaf on a sheet pan. Create diverts in the dough with your figures, sprinkle pumpkin seeds, and sea salt on top and drizzle with olive oil. Allow to recast for 10 minutes. Bake for 40 minutes.

So Many Beautiful Meals: Roma

 


The month of October was a busy one.  Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Sienna, Cefalu, and Sicily, 16 days in Italy and I never a bad meal, a couple of very hard beds but never a bad meal.  With so many wonderful dishes it hard to pick just one to post about, so I’m not.  I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks and try to do some of these beautiful dishes justice.


 

Roma

Bread, pasta and pizza are some of my favorite food groups.  So I guess going to Italy was a good idea. Rome is one of my favorite cities. The shear amount  of  history that the city holds is enough to make you take pause.  The other thing that may give you pause are the motor scooters, but don’t pause too long they will cut you off.  Rome is crowded, the traffic is a bear, but going in October did help.  The second ace that I had up my sleeve was my husband, who drove all of Rome and everywhere in Italy and that is saying something. Some of the cars look as though they have been in a demolision derby.  He only hit one mirror and it bounced right back!

One of the other great things about this trip were the friends that we got to share this trip with.  Jen and Joe were great company for this trip, they love food and wine almost as much as my husband and I. Being able to share with them some fo the places we had been to before was great.  Sharing antipasto, pizza and several bottles of wine over a late lunch is pretty awesome too.

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I love pizza!  I have a beautiful Fontana Pizza Oven in my backyard, so I take my pizza pretty seriously.  Everyone has their favorite, I prefer thin crust and a thin cracker style crust is one of my favorites.  The pizzas I have had in Rome are of a thin to medium crust with a nice crunch and chew to them.  I have a number of different pizza crust recipes in my back pocket, this one is a very good representation of the pizzas we had in Rome.

Classic Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar, this helps feed the yeast

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons olive oil, yes Italian!

1 cup semolina flour

2 cups bread, or all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

semolina flour for dusting

Preheat you oven to 400 + as high as it will go…. The use of a pizza stone is a great thing.  Dusted with a little bit of cornmeal too, will help to slide your pizza off and onto the pizza peel.

In a small bowl combine yeast, sugar and warm water.  Allow the yeast to “bloom,” for 5-7 minutes in a warm corner.  Add you olive oil. In a medium bowl pour sift in the flours and salt, pour in wet Ingredients, gently with your hand combine the ingredients in the bowl, working until it is incorporated. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

In a large greased bowl  place dough, cover with plastic wrap and allow to raise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Divide into 4 pieces.  Time to roll. On a pizza peal dusted with cornmeal, flatten the round of dough with the heal of your hand and roll from the center out, rotate a quarter turn, roll center to outer edge. Continue until 12″ inches in diameter.

Time to top.  This is where the sky is the limit.  Olive oil, mozzerella, pancetta,   Is wonderful option.  Pulled from the oven piping hot and then dressed with fresh arugla and shaved Parmesion. Paired with a local chianti life is good!

Bon appetito!

 

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

I’m getting inspired for my trip to Italy soon and thought you might like a little inspiration too.  This recipe is an adaptation of Maiale in Tegame al Latte, from Cooking the Roman Way. This recipe for many Italians is associated with childhood because milk was typically reserved for children. I hope you enjoy it.


 

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

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2 lbs. pork lion or roast
4 sprigs of rosemary

Salt and pepper

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cups whole milk

Rinse and pat dry pork loin.  If it isn’t dry the meat won’t sear and obtain the crust you want to hold in the moisture during the long braise.  Make incisions along the length of the loin. Insert the rosemary and garlic into the incisions. Bundle the remaining rosemary around the loin and bind with cooking twine.
Heat oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the meat. Brown on all sides.
In the mean time heat the milk in a separate pan and bring it to a low boil, remove from the heat.

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After the loin has browned, pour off the fat and gently pour in the heated milk. Pouring in just enough to almost cover the loin. Bring back to a low simmer.  Adjust heat to maintain simmer and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes turning twice.
Uncover, adjust heat to maintain the simmer. Cook uncovered for 1-1 1/2 hours. Turning periodically and add remaining milk as needed. Pork is done when juices run clear.
Remove and allow to rest.
Strain fat from milk sauce and bring to a heat and reduce the sauce. Stirring throughout until sauce has thickened. Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps. Serve with roasted Rosemary red potatoes.

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Buon appetito