Sunday, May 10, 2009

Eastern Parkway Pizza

Saturday evening pizza, prep time is overnight, but actual pizza to mouth time is about 20 minutes. Feeds several happy and hungry friends.

My brownstone-mates and I get together and eat. It's the best thing ever and I am happy to have a living community that likes each other/eats together.
Yesterday was impromptu, but I had started a 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour cold fermentation pizza dough recipe on Friday night (since I had purchase flour and yeast the at the local Fine Fare, the place where everyone calls you "baby" or "mama"). I riffed a bit off of Heidi Swanson's post of Peter Rhinehart's cold fermentation pizza dough recipe. She did a white and a whole wheat one. But I didn't have "white whole wheat" King Arthur flour as she used, so I went halvies and added a wee bit more liquid. And we played around with the toppings, and the 4 of us ate four pizzas (and later and great dessert. food coma). Reading 101 cookbooks introduced me to the joys of home pizza baking, especially the hardcore and amazing Jeff Varasano, who broke the self-cleaning lock on his home oven to get it at 800degrees. Our oven goes relatively comfortably up to about 525 degrees (F), and that turns out pretty great pizzas in about 10-12 minutes (as opposed to 90 seconds). Evidently, any home pizza baker worth their salt uses a stone, which we don't have. I've read that an untreated ceramic floor tile works as well. Some people keep them in their oven even when not baking pizzas as way to ensure more even heat distribution.

"Crown Heights Hipster* Hovel Pizza"
*(I'm not the hipster, the artists and young people I live with are).

2 1/2 c. Whole Wheat flour (chilled)
2 c. white all purpose flour (chilled)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 3/4 c. COLD water
1 teaspoon of instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
more oil and flour for dusting, etc.
cornmeal for lining pan

Mix the dry ingredients. Then add the water and oil slowly, stirring to incorporate. When it gets to hard, roll up those sleeves and knead and punch and slush together for about 5-6 minutes (having a mixer with a dough hook can simply this step, but oh well). When you are done, it should still be a shaggy and wet ball, just barely clearing the bowl. Next, divide up in to 6 approximately equal balls (or 4 if you like a bigger pizza or thick crust), cover in olive oil, place in individual baggies, and stick in one large ziplock. Refridgerate at least over night, but 2 nights is even better.
Take out the dough about 2 hours before eating pizza. Take out of baggies, place on an oiled cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel (not paper towels, a mistake I only made once). Place in a warm place until read to use.
Preheat over to as high as comfortable. Prepare toppings (we used very little canned marinara sauce, sauteed garlic and mushrooms, fresh basil, fresh mozzerella and pecorino, and roma tomatoes. Less is probably more). When ready, pul apart the dough to desired thickness (it pulls quite thin and don't worry if it tears a little, you can fill it back in). It doens't have to be pretty or symmetrical, it will still taste good. If you can, preheat the pan/stone while prepping ingredients, sprinkle cornmeal on top, and place the stretched out dough onto the pan. Quickly place toppings and stick in the oven, about 10-12 minutes.
Take out, cut up, and eat (not to fast, as its hot).
This dough is crispy outside, soft on the inside, with a great texture from the half whole wheat/half white flour mixture. At high temperatures, the crust cooks as the cheese caramelizes and it looks great (doesn't last long with four hungry hippos, though).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

workers' granola

This is Sampson, whom I am kitty-sitting for another professor this week. I call him Henry, George, and sometimes Thomas because I like colonial English style names. S/h/G/T's a magnificent beast. He lives uptown and has been slowly taking in the sights of Eastern Parkway, and he likes to supervise me on my cooking projects. He seemed pleased with yesterday's breakfast project.

I love granola but I can't find natural style granola (minus high fructose corn syrup or soybean oils) anywhere in this town for less than $5.50 for a little bag that barely lasts a week. But granola is so simple, I tried my hand yesterday morning.

"There's a bleeding financial crisis going on" Granola recipe

5 cups of old fashioned oats (not the steel cut kind)
1 cup of raw almonds
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of wheat germ (didn't use, but this stuff is amazing for you)
1/4 cup of honey (or brown rice syrup or agave nectar)
1/3 cup of orange juice
1/4 scant of neutral oil (safflower oil would be good)
cinnamon (or any other spices you might like: cloves, cardamom, ground ginger)
brown sugar (to taste)
other add-ins: pumpkin seeds, flax seed (ground or whole)

Preheat oven to 350. Measure oats in a large bowl. Warm the honey over low heat in a small sauce pan (for pourability), add juice and oil. Drizzle over the oats while mixing slowly, until well coated. Add cinnamon and spices (maybe 1 teaspoon total). If it doesn't seem sweet enough, you can add a bit of brown sugar (but it will likely be quite sweet, but that's OK. It gets less sweet in the baking procers).
Arrange on baking sheet and cook about 20-25 minutes, opening every 5 minutes to stir. Take out when golden and crispy.

granola after five minutes

The end result is a well toasted, not too sweet granola that's perfect for eating with plain yogurt and fruit in the morning. Beats the $5.50 Bear Naked business I've been buying.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dr. J's detox

I am all Protestant guilt when it comes to food, fun, work, etc. So you can imagine what my Thursday was like. Alot of dry, whole grain business, beans, fresh vegetables, and anything that a rabbit might enjoy ingesting. Hence, Thursday's dinner resembled what my buddy J told me was the appropriate diet after a week of socially binging on cheese.

Dr. J's "I should start caring about my long term health" Brown Rice pilaf and roasted Brussels sprouts.
serves 2, but I ate all the sprouts in one sitting. They taste like artichokes when they are roasted like this. Not a hint of bitterness, only golden roasted goodness.

1 c. basmati rice (I used brown, its good for your insides)
olive oil (1 1/2 Tbs.)
1/3 chopped onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp. cumin
salt to taste
broth or water to cook

Brown onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan with a lid, until soft. Add cumin until fragrant. Add rice and stir gently, until each kernel is coated with oil. Add appropriate amount of chicken or veggie broth, or water (usually 1 1/2 c. for white basmati, 2 cups for brown). Bring to boil, then simmer with lid for 20/40 minutes (for white/brown respectively). In the mean time, make the sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts:
about 1 lb of Brussels Sprouts, with the ends cut off and cut in half, lengthwise, rinsed
olive oil (1 -2 Tbs)
2-3 garlic cloves, slivered

Heat oven to 400 degrees (It's still a bit cold at night in Brooklyn). Add oil to a cast iron skillet (or any oven proof relatively shallow pan). Add slice and cleaned sprouts and garlic and toss until well covered. Roast in oven about 20 minutes, until the sprouts are golden and slightly browned/blackened. You may open the oven after 12 minutes or so to stir.

Almost done teaching, almost puttanesca pasta

Who wants some steamy goodness?

I made this Wednesday night, when I was exhausted and had lugged "buy one get one half off" bottles of pinot noir from an Upper West Side wine shop (very nice workers, somewhat jerky and entitled customers. They thrilled that I smiled and made polite noises). I needed filling, fast, and salty. I made this (probably went overboard with the pecorino cheese. oh well).

Whole Wheat pasta with tomato basil spinach sauce
about 20 minutes, serves two people generously (or one very hungry hippo, named Professah S, who had nonstop teaching and meetings all day.)

Pasta (about 1/2 a box works for the sauce amount)
Boil water and cook pasta (I did a whole wheat spaghetti) according to directions until a little bit shy of al dente. While that's cooking do the following

1 can (14 oz) of crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen's fire roasted, for pure decadence)
1/4 onion, minced
1/2 bunch of fresh parlsey, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic
handful of basil, chopped
olive oil (substitute: use store bought pesto sauce to replace last 3 ingredients, but damn, that shit usually has less delicious oils in it. avoid unless its only olive oil).
1/4 bag of spinach
1 Tbs capers (I buy the Goya brand)
dash of cayenne
black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon (or some good vingar, like a balsamic or good red wine vinegar)
pecorino/parmesan cheese for garnish

1. In a larger (i use a 12 inch with tall sides) sauce pan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil, until softened, over medium heat. Add crushed tomatoes, and heat until bubbling. Turn heat to low to simmer, and add basic, parsley, and spinach. Cook until wilted.
2. Add cayenne, black pepper, lemon juice, and capers. Taste sauce. Add more of each as desired.
3. After draining pasta, add to sauce and allow to cook a couple minutes, to finish cooking and get it to stick to the sauce.
4. Serve and try not to eat all at once, and garnish with grated pecorino cheese. (drink with a dry red wine and be happy with the neighbor drops by).
Why yes, I'd like some pasta with my cheese mountain, thank you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ginger-garlic kale

Serves: 2-4 as a side dish (one if you're starving and desiring a large, leafy snack)
Time: about 15-20 minutes

This is a really simple, quick side that you can make after endless days of cheese on carb type lunch and dinners (oh but its so good). It goes well with brown rice and a can a chickpeas mixed in. I ate it for my later lunch and stunk up the whole apartment, but those kids like me for my body, not my cooking smells.
Kale is cheap, great for you, chock full of iron, vitamin C, and fiber (every [former] grad student's friend. You can stir fry it, you can crisp it in the oven (like chips), you can boil it to a mushy death (OK, it's not that bad), put it in curries, etc. Versatile but if you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend. I tried to woo the Fella early in our relationship by serving him my version of a North African style soup with kale from FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

(this was very fresh on Saturday)

2-4 cloves garlic (minced)
bunch of kale (pick crisp and bright green leaves, with no wilting or soggy bits)
1" gingerroot, minced
soy sauce (about 1 Tbs)
sesame oil (about 1 Tbs)
olive oil
lemon juice (optional)
toasted almonds (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)
pepper (cayenne or black) also optional

(sometimes my ginger root dies a slow death in our fridge)

Wash and break kale into bite sized pieces. They recommend that you remove the ribs, but I am too lazy to do that well. Since the leave if curly, I suggest that you wash it in a big pan first to get the dirt to sink to the bottom and then transfer to the colander.

Add about 2" of water to a large pot. Set to high heat until it simmers, lower heat, and add kale. Cover and cook about 5 minutes, and then drain.
While this is cooking, add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat, add garlic and ginger and let brown. When this is sufficiently fragrant, add the partially cooked kale and stir over the ginger and garlic. Add soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring to coat the leaves. Taste and add more as per you preference. Season with pepper and lemon juice (if you want some acidity, but I didn't use it this time). Spring sesame seeds or almond slivers on top. Serve, eat, and feel redemption for your many nutritional errors.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vegetarian migas with Chipotle-tomato sauce

This weekend, I attend the Brooklyn Food Conference which was pretty cool. I am quite familiar with lot of the policy and educational stuff I already knew, but it was great to hear about the activities local NY activists, especially in low income neighborhoods. I especially enjoyed the Young Culinary Masters, a program that teaches local NYC students how to cook, the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food (dunno why Heather Mills is a spokesperson) and the Q&A session with state representatives. It ties in nicely with what I've been trying to teach my students about trade, international relations, and inequality in regards to food production and agricultural subsidies.
Most exciting was meeting the lovely and sweet local celebrity blogger Cathy Erway, who lives in Crown Heights with me! Her equally adorable blog Not Eating Out in New York is both political, anti-consumerist, green and health/fun oriented. She asked me during a cooking demonstration if I had a blog, and I was embarrassed to say, "yes, but it's spotty." Since I cook more second semester, have joined the Crown Heights CSA, and have a flexible and hopefully productive summer in front of me, I think its time to resurrect this blog.
I decided to try a modified recipe from one of my favorite other NY food bloggers, Smitten Kitchen. Deb has gorgeous photos, but her recipes are usually meatier than I like. Plus, that anti-obesity panel I attended made me realize I send eat more greens, I tried to make it some what more heart healthy (although I used eggs, added guacamole, etc.) Her original recipe, with uses tradition chorizo, can be found here.

Vaguely more healthy Vegetarian Migas with Tomato-Chipotle sauce (she calls it a choltis, but I don't know what that is).

Serves 2 (although I cut down on the eggs and saved the rest for tomorrow)

oven chips: (if you don't want to buy tortilla chips)
6 corn tortilla cut into 1/6 wedges
Heat oven to about 400 degrees. Arrange wedges in a single layer (I had some lean against the tray "walls"). Cook about 15 minutes, opening around 1/2 way to flip, until gold brown (you can spray or brush with oil).


(feel free to add salt or seasoning, but this works better if you've brushed with oil)
4-5 chipotle peppers (from a can with adobo sauce)
4 plum tomotos, roughly chopped
1/3 white onion
2-4 cloves garlic
Place on the above into a blender and pulse until incorporated. Add to saucepan and heat until bubbling; simmer for 15 minutes (to remove excess water) (I had to use a spoon as its quite thick). This business is spicy, even for maschocist Korean-American girls. You can cut it with yogurt/sour cream during the eating stage.

(apologies, I need to 409 that wall)

3-4 eggs (or 5-6, cholesterol is good for the brain and moods), beaten
a bit of chopped onion
2 handfuls of bagged spinach (or any green or veggie that complements black beans- carrots, summer squash, etc.)
a little more than 1/2 can of black beans, drained (maybe just less than 1/4 cup dried and cooked?)
optional garnishes: shredded cheese (Deb recommends feta, but I like queso fresco or boring cheddar), a simple guacamole
olive oil

In a larger frying pan, warm up oil on medium heat and add onions. After they brown a bit, add spinach until it begins to wilt, and then add black beans. Push the spinach and black beans to side and scramble the eggs, adding the oven chips, until just a little wet (one of Mark Bittman's tips for perfect scrambled eggs) and incorporate with the other ingredients in the pan.
At this point, you can add cheese, as much sauce as you'd like, move to your plate, and eat (with leftover chips as garnish).
For a vegan alternative, stir fry 1/2 container of firm tofu that (with most of the liquid squeezed out with a cheese cloth, a process that makes the tofu look eggy) and add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes, and a pinch of cayenne. maybe some prepared mustard. Cook this with the spinach/beans a few minutes, and then add the chips and sauce on top (to soften chips)
This doesn't look anything like Deb's dish at Smitten Kitchen, but damn it was pretty delicious.

(apologies for the blurriness, as I was really excited to eat it)