Tag Archives: pizza

Smoked Mozzarella and Truffled Mushroom Pizza + Blog Tour!

Blog Tour! I was so flattered when the amazing Bethany from My Fake Food Blog asked if I would participate in a blog tour. We’re all writing about our creative process and I was happy to be considered because I’ve been so MIA lately.

Keep reading for a quick and easy pizza recipe that will blow your mind…

1. What are you working on?

Catching up on my blog archive! I have a number of dishes ready to post – just need to carve out 30 minutes here and there to get the job done. I find I’m most creative on the weekends, when I have more time for “me” and to be inspired by the light and warm air.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I try to keep it strictly about the food and rarely share personal photos or stories. I’ve had blogs in the past that were more like personal diaries. I learned the hard way that it sucks putting yourself out there and inviting anonymous people to judge you. I think the best blogs offer a little personal touch to keep it unique – readers want to get to know you, personally – but stay “on brand” when it comes to their content and artistic point of view.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Food preparation is one of the last pieces of artistic expression that I regularly practice. Being a grown up is so much more complicated and clouded – creating things with food is very simple and allows your brain to refocus and be peaceful. I’m always a happier, more balanced person when I have time to cook.

4. How does your writing process work?

Trial and error. I work within the normal limits of my life – food that is easy and affordable. The sad truth is that I often repeat recipes throughout the week for my family, so when it comes to blog-recipes, I sometimes have to be extremely creative and force myself to do something different. That challenge is what keeps life interesting.

Next up on the Blog Tour: Please visit the inspirational Teri at A Foodie Stays Fit – arguably one of the most popular blogs in the Triad.

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There’s not much to this post except a few ingredients that work together to create something elegant and robust with favors atypical for a regular weeknight meal.

My plan was simple. Smoked mozzarella was on sale. So were Cremini mushrooms. I try to keep store bought pizza crust on hand for those just-in-case moments. So I went to town …

Smoked Mozzarella and Truffled Mushroom Pizza

Ingredients

  • One ball of pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 6 oz of Cremini mushrooms (or more/less to taste and use your preference), sliced medium
  • 2 T garlic olive oil
  • 1 ball smoked mozz, sliced thin
  • Truffle oil (optional)
  • Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease pizza sheet or baking sheet.

Heat butter over medium in large pan, then add mushrooms, sautéing until lightly browned around the edges, 5-7 min.

Roll or spread dough on prepared pan and brush with olive oil. Spoon mushrooms over top, then evenly distribute pieces of cheese.

Bake until crust is golden, crisp and cheese is melted, 10-15 min.

Out of the oven, drizzle pizza with truffle oil, salt and pepper. Slice. Serve with a peppery arugula salad.

Enjoy, friends! Xoxo

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White Pizza with Arugula and Prosciutto

In the universe of hand-thrown pizzas, I’m the first to turn to the experts for that crispy-yet-chewy crust, perfect cheese blend and whatever magic they put on top.

But that all changed recently, when I made my version of Ina Garten’s White Pizza with Arugula salad on top.

White pie with arugula is a popular pizza – the peppery arugula, tossed in a vinaigrette, adds a crisp bite to the ooey gooey cheese. My addition of thinly sliced prosciutto adds a veil of salty pork to the party that makes all the other ingredients have more fun.

I made the dough the day before (veering from the recipe), which I think made it easier to work with. The garlic-chili-thyme oil is brilliant – be sure to spoon some of the soft garlic bits onto the pizza as you drizzle – they get all sweet and smooth. And the simple lemon vinaigrette for the arugula just brightens the greens. If I could marry a pizza, it would be this pizza.

Grant said this is the best pizza he’s ever had. And he’s lived in NYC!

White Pizza with Arugula and Prosciutto

Ingredients:

FOR PIZZA

  • 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:

  • 2 cups grated fontina cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (7 ounces) – I forgot to get this, so just used leftover manchego – use up your leftover cheeses here!
  • 8 ounces creamy goat cheese crumbled
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto

For the VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces baby arugula

Mix the dough: Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved and fizzing (10 min.), add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes (or longer, if you go out).

Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into equal portions (we made two, but you can make up to six). Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours (Note: I instead just punched the risen dough down and left covered in the fridge overnight).

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Top with prosciutto slices.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and serve immediately.

When you slice in, the cheese will be delightfully messy, the prosciutto will be blooming with that slightly gamey flavor and the arugula will be starting to wilt. Yum.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Cold pizza

(DIY fast food)

Cold pizza brings me back to college. You wake up from a night of heavy socializing and eat a remaining slice of pizza that may have been stuffed (with box) into the fridge, or maybe was just left out all  night. The breakfast of university coeds.

Now I am older and much more mature. Instead of eating leftover frozen or delivery pizza, I eat leftover homemade pizza. The process of making pizza appeals to both the adult and child within – you get to play with dough and decorate it and have the satisfaction of knowing that you made everything with your own two hands.

Last night, Jesse and I had a little DIY pizza night. I made the dough the night before (recipe below) and then we rolled it out for pies.

Mine was margherita style: topped with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan, fresh diced tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. I also sprinkled it with cracked pepper and sea salt (and red pepper flakes). It was yummy and salty and scratched my itch for some fresh basil.

Jesse really hit a homerun with his. First of all, he shaped his into a perfect sphere, whereas mine was a sort of random shape, which is totally what I was going for. Secondly, the boy made his own marinara sauce! I told him I could buy him some, or he could just make it himself:

Saute a chopped yellow onion in olive oil, add 2 cloves chopped garlic, stir, then add one can of diced tomatoes, simmer, season with S&P and dried oregano. Puree in a blender to make smooth.

I didn’t expect him to actually do it, but something lit a fire under him and I am still amazed by how good it turned out! I’m not a big marinara fan myself, but I tell you it looked and tasted at least as quality as the stuff you can buy.

Next, he topped his with a ton of Boar’s Head pepperoni and shredded mozarella cheese.

His took a little longer to cook because of the mounds of meat on top, but it was so, so good. Hot, or cold. Jesse declared that he is “never going to buy pizza again!”

We now have dinner for two nights and the leftover ingredients to make pesto-tomato-mozarella panini tomorrow night. All I have to do is make the focaccia…

Recipe for pizza dough, adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Baking book

(If you don’t have a KitchenAid, use a wooden spoon)

2 packages dry yeast

2 1/4 c. warm water

2 tsp sugar

1/4 c. olive oil

5 c. flour, plus more for kneading

1 T sea salt

Semolina flour, for shaping (or corn meal)

Note: this is best made a day in advance.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast and sugar in water and let stand until foamy, 5-10 min. Add oil, flour and salt. Using a dough hook, stir on slow until smooth and elastic, 8-10 min. Turn out on a floured work space and knead another 5 min., adding flour as needed. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place, until it doubles in size. Punch it down, cover again and place in the fridge. Let it come to room temp. before shaping.

Preheat oven to 500. Turn dough out on floured surface and cut in half. Shape each half into a ball and let rest for 10 min. Lightly dust each ball with flour and roll or stretch into your crust shape. Transfer to a pan sprinkled with semolina flour and shape it as needed. Brush away extra semolina, as it will burn.

Top with your desired toppings and bake until everything is melted and the crust is browned and cooked all the way to the middle.

Serve hot, and enjoy, friends! xoxo

Stars and stripes forever

Now I can die happy…

Me and Julia!

Speaking as someone who 10 months ago didn’t know she would be moving to the east coast and/or visiting our great nation’s capitol…I am beyond excited about living an easy five-hour drive from DC. Not only is that city full of a diversity of food and restaurants, but it is rich with history and free entertainment to the history-lover’s content. As you can see from the photo above, I did indeed visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This is the  museum that houses all the First Lady inaugural gowns, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Carrie Bradshaw’s Mac and…Julia Child’s entire kitchen!

Le sigh…

Insert me here

I  had read about them building this exhibit, but forgot all about it until I was in the museum and the clouds parted and I saw it…

It looked so bright and warm, I could just imagine sitting at the table while that giant of a woman stomped around preparing fragrant delights.

When I wasn’t doing all the touristy stuff, I ate a lot. On New Years Day, I attended a DC blogger meet-up at a hotel near Dupont (Carlisle Hotel?), where we had a beautiful buffet of gourmet foods. All-you-can-eat food and cocktails for $20 each! It was a yummy way to get over the New Years Eve headaches.

Vanilla pudding with a sugar-cookie spoon

Lox with capers

Baklava

But better than the food, I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of rad DC-area blogger femmes, many of whom I’ve been following for years. They included the likes of Flipflops in the Rain, I Hate So Much, Live It Love It, Lemmonex, SlapTheBag, Alice’s Wonderland and Marie’s Blog Cafe. Now, what isn’t awesome about a bunch of broads at an all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch? Nada.

Later that day, Cari from Flipflops in the Rain, me, Rebecca and Maxie from I Hate So Much went to this amazing pizza place near Chinatown, called Matchbox.

Maxie got the dessert pizza, which had a mascarpone drizzle, balsamic vinegar, basil, fresh berries and shortbread.

I ordered a half white-pie, half sausage and sundried tomato. Next time, I’ll get the white anchovy and arugula pizza…so many to choose from! I just love a good woodfire pizza, and that restaurant has a great ambiance – a sure bet for DC residents.

The next day, we took it easy and ate pho for lunch at this little Asian shopping center. I realized that the secret to good pho is in the broth. This was not just chicken broth – it was deeper and richer than any stock I have ever made from scratch! So perfect on a chilly day.

My last night there, I made my perfect roast chicken with roasted vegetables, and cheesy broccoli on the side. Sometimes it’s nice to NOT eat out. 🙂

Hope everybody had a happy and healthy New Years! On to 2010, friends! xoxo

Christmas in the Empire State

This always happens to me. I get all excited about Christmas, make all these plans for the delicious dishes and cookies I will be making, promise to blog about all my seasonal exploits and start listening to holiday music nonstop. This year was a record – I tired of all that stuff by Dec. 9.

I’m trying to reinvigorate my culinary sensibilities, however, and tomorrow’s tacky Christmas sweater party might give me an excuse (I’m bringing garlic-sizzled chicken wings and eggnog cheesecake squares).

Meanwhile, I spent last weekend on a dreamlike mini-vacation with a bunch of my girlfriends in New York City. We saw the city in all its holiday splendor, shopped ’til we dropped, stayed up way too late and abused our feet. I even lost my voice!

We also ate a ton of amazing food. Let me take you on our Big Apple culinary adventure:

The best pizza I have ever had in my life was at Artichoke, near Union Square. It was $4 a slice and worth every overpriced bite. Creamy cheeses oozed out of it – we were in heaven as we ate, standing on a dirty sidewalk pocked with old gum.

Artichoke/spinach pizza

While waiting to meet up with friends, Heidi and I enjoyed a few drinks and an appetizer of gnocci at Aroma, a wine bar in lower Manhattan. The wannabe actor-waiter was nice eye candy. 🙂

Cocktails and an app. at Aroma

All weekend, my two girlfriends and I stayed with my cousin, who lives in an Italian neighborhood (Guidos and Guidettes). She was surrounded by Italian delis, bakeries and markets. We had brunch at one deli/bakery (I couldn’t help saying, “leave the gun, take the cannoli”):

Pastries like you wouldn't believe!

They had a menu full of cured meats that I hadn’t even tasted of before. This is the sandwich menu…

We all ordered sandwiches piled high with fresh ingredients. I got house-made prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes.

Later, we wrote Christmas cards at The Little Cupcake Shop (when in Rome):

Lemon cupcake

They had apple cider, cookie dough, gingerbread and pumpkin flavors!

Later that night, we went out to eat in Little Italy, where an old man told us that we all looked like “flowers, sent down from God.” Then he blew us a kiss and touched his heart. Gotta love older Italian men! After that, we went to a bar that was serving all-you-can-drink mojitos for $20 a head (drinks were normally $9 each)…which of course we took advantage of, and then got the crazy idea to go to Times Square at 2 a.m. This was a good seven subway stops away, and like an hour away from home. Still, we carried on, some of us ate hot dogs and we slunk back, too tired to do much more than giggle.

The next morning, we slept it off and had bagels from a shop down the street that had a bunch of neat cream cheese flavors.

Bagel as big as my head

Our last day, we ate at a French cafe near Rockefeller Center…

Fresh berry tart

Tea and espresso

This was one of my very best vacations in a long time. Just goes to show that the company you keep really impacts how your vacation experience will be. I think all of us need to have a lovely weekend in New York City at least once in our lives – it is at once exhilirating and utterly exhausting.

Just stay away from Macy’s – that place is madness. Cheers, friends. xoxo