Pizza Two Ways

I love experimenting with pizza toppings. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a classic plain cheese pizza now and again – I’m not a bougie monster. But there’s something to be said for un-basic toppings. For inspiration I love to look at Gjelina’s menu (I also have their cookbook). Some of my pizza bucket list toppings include: brussels sprouts and burrata, smoked mozzarella and jalapeno, feta and blistered tomato, and castelvetrano olive and caramelized onion to name a few.

Sometimes when the stars align just right some of these ingredients happen to be in my fridge. (OK, maybe I am a bit bougie?) Leftover ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and some Trader Joe’s Soyrizo were the heroes this time around. A stray can of whole plum tomatoes served as the super simple sauce on one side of my pizza and on the other side I opted for just olive oil and minced garlic. I always keep store bought pizza dough in my freezer – it opens up so many doors.

It’s easy to order a pizza (thank you, Seamless) but it’s also surprisingly easy to make extraordinary pizza at home. Forage your fridge for some interesting topping ingredients and use whatever cheese you have on hand – feta, mozzarella, goat cheese – it’s all fair game! If you want to replicate my half and half pie, just halve each of the below recipes.

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Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out with a paper towel
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in the pan and drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle minced garlic on. Using a tablespoon, dollop some ricotta cheese blobs around the dough surface. Take clumps of spinach and scatter on the dough next. Finally tear apart pieces of the mozzarella and place in areas that are devoid of ricotta or spinach. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza with Soyrizo and Mozzarella 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • Tomato sauce (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes that I pureed in the can with an immersion blender)
  • 1/2 package of soyrizo, browned
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Arugula

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan. Place dough in the pan and spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the soyrizo on top of the sauce and finish with torn pieces of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with arugula and serve.

Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Sometimes winter needs a dose of bright, summer flavor to remind us that the ground will eventually thaw and longer, sunny days are on the horizon. I’m partial to making barbecue brisket sandwiches in January, muddling mint in my cocktails in February and sprinkling out of season (but readily available) berries on my yogurt in March. Call me a dreamer but sometimes I just want a hot dog and an ice cream cone for dinner. These blackberry cornmeal pancakes are the perfect antidote to summertime longing. Pockets of juicy blackberries nestled in a fluffy cornmeal pancake – these are not your run of the mill limp pancakes. The flour and cornmeal give the pancake a lovely, rich texture and bonus – these are super quick and easy to whip up. Make a batch and keep them in the fridge for a quick weekday breakfast!

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Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Yield: About 13 pancakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup ricotta

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the skillet

3/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup blackberries

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine 3 tablespoons butter, milk, followed by the eggs. Stir in blackberries. Combine mixture with dry ingredients and stir until ingredients are incorporated.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into skillet for each pancake. Flip the pancakes when bubbles begin to appear all over top, about 2 minutes. Cook for another minute until golden on the other side. Keep pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

I recently bought a 5 pound bag of carrots and let me tell you – those suckers are resilient! I used some carrots in my chicken soup. I brought carrot sticks to work to munch on. I made my favorite carrot soup. Despite my efforts to incorporate more carrots into my diet, there was still a hefty number of carrots left in the fridge.

I decided to go big with my carrot swan song.  I chose a dish that really elevates the humble carrot.  A spice rub, comprised of smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, mustard powder and sugar, adds a delightful smokey and sweet flavor to the carrots when they caramelize and the harissa yogurt is the perfect creamy accompaniment. If you find yourself flush with carrots, make this recipe. It’s super flavorful and way more interesting than your run of the mill carrot dish.

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Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

From Bon Appetit

  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pepper
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add carrots and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Remove carrots with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Using a paper towel gently remove the carrot skin and pat the carrots dry.

In a medium bowl, combine the spices and add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss everything together and add salt and pepper to the carrots. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots in batches and cook turning occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the carrots are golden brown. Salt and pepper the carrots when they are done cooking.

In a small bowl, gently fold the harissa, lemon zest, salt and pepper into the yogurt, stopping just before the yogurt turns pink. Spoon the yogurt onto a plate and top with carrots and additional lemon zest.

 

Cranberry Gin Fizz

Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of all time for the obvious reason, i.e. stuffing) can be tough for many people under the best of circumstances. Hectic travel. Black Friday fatigue. Bumping into old frenemies from high school. Trying to explain your millennial job to your great aunt. And my personal favorite, responding to the question “OMG, did you lose a ton of weight?” Yes, I have indeed shed a few pounds since my Bat Mitzvah, Mrs. Goldberger. I have also groomed my caterpillar eyebrows, thank you very much.

But this year, after, shall we say, a divisive election, things have the potential to get downright ugly. Especially if you’re leaving your East Coast Liberal haven for the heartland. To avoid igniting a live Facebook comments war at your Thanksgiving table, you’re going to need alcohol.

How does a seasonal cocktail to unite the whole family sound? We’re stronger together with a Cranberry Gin Fizz in hand. Made with a tart, fresh cranberry simple syrup with notes of rosemary, the Cranberry Gin Fizz will get you through Thanksgiving. It’s festive and colorful. And after all, Booze Trumps No Booze.

Bite your tongue, take down a few Make America Great Again lawn signs and sip your Cranberry Gin Fizz this Thanksgiving. And remember, when they go low, we reach for a seasonal fall cocktail and start drinking to dull the pain. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

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Cranberry Gin Fizz

Makes 1 cocktail

1 ounce fresh lime juice

2 ounces gin

1 ounce cranberry simple syrup

1 sprig of rosemary for garnish

a few cranberries for garnish

splash of club soda

ice

Cranberry Simple Syrup:

6 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

sprig of rosemary

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to burst. Remove from heat and add in rosemary. Allow mixture to cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Combine lime juice, cranberry simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of club soda, a few fresh cranberries, and a rosemary sprig for garnish.

 

Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

 

I never made it apple picking this fall. I know fall isn’t technically over yet, but let’s get real – it’s not happening. And even if it did, sweater-clad families lining the East Coast have already picked the trees clean.

Instead, I’ve lived vicariously through friends and relatives … on Facebook. Scrolling through pics of newly married couples in matching vests posing in a pumpkin patch moved me. Seeing photos of my rosy cheeked nieces and nephews in Ohio chomping down on apples while their parents tried to pull off the elusive family selfie was heart warming.  But what really piqued my interest even more than the apples themselves were the fresh doughnuts my sister-in-law raved about. Fresh, hot apple and maple doughnuts that crowds lined up for. She said the whole family fell silent in the car (not an easy feat with two kids under 5) while they each devoured their doughnuts. Eating doughnuts and apple picking (secondary to the doughnuts, come on) are on my fall bucket list for next year.

In the meantime, here’s a fall baking project for utilizing those glorious fresh picked (or grocery store) apples. Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice infuse these scones with classic, delightful fall flavoring. Whole wheat flour and oats create a really nice texture and the maple icing is quite simply – on fleek.

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Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 pound cold butter, diced

3/4 cup chopped apple (I used half of a medium sized granny smith apple)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water for egg wash

Maple glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp maple extract

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an electric mixer combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add to the flour and butter.  Mix until the dough just comes together.

Place the dough on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough about 1 inch thick. Using the bottom of a glass or small bowl, cut the dough into little circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the top of the scones with your egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Let the scones cool for about 5 minutes before topping with icing.

For the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, maple extract and milk. When the scones are done. Drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. You can sprinkle the top of the scones with a few oats.

 

 

 

 

Rose water grapefruit cocktail

Rose water is a love-it-or-hate-it ingredient. You either appreciate the delicate floral notes or it makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the face with your grandmother’s perfume. It’s a fine line. A subtle amount of rose water can transform baked goods, jam, ice cream and, of course, cocktails. The first time I fell in love with rose water was at Balaboosta in New York City. I ordered the knafeh for dessert — a Middle Eastern cheesecake made with thin shreds of phyllo dough. It was served with this delicate rose water ice cream and topped with pistachios. I promptly ordered a bottle of rose water and began plotting ways to use it.  Check out my article on SheKnows.com!

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Rose water grapefruit cocktail recipe

Makes 1 cocktail

  • 1-1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1-1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water
  • splash of Campari
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • lemon peel for garnish

Mix vodka, grapefruit juice, honey and rose water in a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice and top with club soda and a splash of Campari. Garnish with lemon peel.

Strawberry Scones

Summer is flying by, and everyone I know is scrambling to knock those bucket-list items off. Go to the beach, picnic at the park, swim at the pool, host a backyard barbecue and eat all the ice cream. (Items not featured on the bucket list that I have accomplished: get eaten alive by mosquitoes, receive a sunburn and sweat profusely at all times.) For me though, it’s all about enjoying and making the most out of that beautiful summer produce. Have I made enough pies? Have I eaten a more-than-healthy share of tomatoes? Has corn on the cob been featured as a side dish at every meal? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

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Strawberries are a summer staple in my fridge, so I decided to bake them into a delicious breakfast treat that is a true crowd-pleaser. These are perfect for a summer brunch. Check out the full recipe on sheknows.com!

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Watermelon Margaritas

On a recent trip to Costa Rica I had some magical watermelon margaritas. The fruit there was out of this world and I took every available opportunity to mix my booze with fresh fruit juice. My first drink there was a watermelon marg and it was love at first sip. Using fresh juice in a cocktail makes a huge difference and it’s super easy – especially if you have an immersion blender. You can use any juice you like here – I’ve done blood orange juice and grapefruit juice. Make it spicy by muddling in some jalapeno and adding chili powder to your salt rim.  Puree peaches, strawberries, mangoes – the sky’s the limit here. Enjoy your weekend!

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Watermelon Margaritas 

  • 2 cups watermelon chunks, seeded
  • 4 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Salt, optional
  • 2 lime wedges

Using an immersion blender puree the watermelon chunks. In a cocktail shaker (or in my case a plastic soup container – works great!) combine tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and watermelon juice. Shake vigorously. Salt your glasses if you like using a lime wedge to moisten the rim. Ice your glasses and pour the drink into glasses. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.

Blueberry Galette

In need of a supremely easy summer dessert that will impress your guests? Or just yourself? Look no further than the galette.  Not into artfully arranging fruit in a symmetrical pattern? This recipe is a straight mix and dump situation.  Top with vanilla ice cream for sheer perfection.

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Blueberry Galette

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick cold butter
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons sugar plus extra for the crust
2 tablespoons milk or almond milk

Filling:

2 cups blueberries
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using two forks, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes course in texture.  Slowly pour in the ice water, a little bit at a time until the dough starts to stick together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and form into a flat round disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl.

Roll out your dough into a 12-inch diameter circle on a piece of parchment paper. Dump the fruit in the center of the dough. Fold the edges toward the center of the galette. Brush edges with egg wash.

Rice Noodle Bowl

What do you make for dinner when your apartment is hotter than a sweatshop but the thought of eating cereal and milk as a meal erodes your soul? Cold rice noodle bowl to the rescue! Full disclosure here – while this has the semblance of being a cool oven-free dinner, I did in fact turn on both my burner and oven to make this dish.  But, once those were turned off and I was sitting pants-less  in front of the AC unit – it was cool sailing! Aside from the oven usage – this really is the perfect summer dish. The rice noodles keep things light, the mint, basil, and cilantro add a delicious herby-freshness and who doesn’t love a peanut sauce? All you need to do is cook the chicken and some noodles and it’s din din time.

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IMG_1893Rice Noodle Bowl 

Adapted from The New York Times

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (I subbed worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • tablespoons brown sugar
  • teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli 
  • 2 small cucumbers, cut in half moons
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in thin matchsticks
  • Small handful basil sprigs
  • Small handful mint sprigs
  • Small handful cilantro sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons slivered scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts 
  • Lime wedges

For Peanut Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (again I subbed worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1-inch chunk ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Puree the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and chili garlic sauce in a small food processor. Place chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Whisk together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl.

Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Grill or broil the chicken thighs until browned. About 5-6 minutes a side. Let cool and slice into strips. Reserve the pan juices.

In a small bowl,  place a nice handful of noodles in the bottom of your bowl. Spoon some of the chicken pan drippings on top of the noodles. Top with cucumbers, carrots, and sliced chicken. Add the basil, mint and cilantro. Drizzle peanut sauce on top of everything. Sprinkle with the scallions and crushed peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.