Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Fast, Easy Homemade Pizza– for weeknights

Warning: this is not the kind of pizza that you would get if you had  a pizza stone (no one-use objects around here) or had hours to spend making an awesome from-starter crust or built yourself a special pizza oven. However, it is a) fast b) delicious c) cheap d) easily adaptable and e) mostly make-ahead-able. Did I mention delicious? I made it last week, and my husband jumped up from the table after his first bite and went to take a picture, because he thought you *needed* to know about it. And make it right now. And preferably invite him. (Please note: he did not take pictures of the accompanying cucumber salad. I thought it was good. Man has some high standards.

The key to making this, for me, is making a double batch of the dough each time. That yields 1 pizza for now– and 3 dough rounds to freeze for later! It’s roughly an hour and a half (15 min of hands on time, 1hr15 of rise and bake time) from starting to make the dough until pizza coming out of the oven, so having extra dough ready to go speeds things up dramatically, making this a 15 minute dinner (conveniently, just enough time to make a salad to go with it.)

Bonus: you can top this with pretty much anything you have around. Sauce or no sauce. Any kind of cheese. Whatever odds and ends you have around, so long as you like the tastes together. Only one warning– when it comes to toppings, overloading is not a good thing. The crust is pretty thin, so gobs and gobs of sauce make it soggy and too dense over-cheese toppings make it hard to taste everything properly. Easy does it. This pizza has ~1oz turkey breast, 1/2 a small onion, and 5 leaves of basil on it. That’s it.

Homemade Pizza
Serves 2 very hungry adults

Dough (makes enough for 2 pizzas):
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 t if you get it from a jar, like I do)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Sauce:
~1/2 cup/ pizza. I generally have some homemade frozen lying around, but good jarred sauce is fine. Or no sauce. Whatever you want.

Cheese:
~1/2 lb/ pizza. I like to buy mozzarella deli slices because I generally make this on days when I’m in a rush, but you can get great results with shredded or fresh.

Other:
Any toppings you like. (1/2-1 c-ish/ pizza. Try not to go overboard)
cornmeal for dusting

For the dough:

Combine all the ingredients together. Mix thoroughly and knead the dough for 5 minutes (or until it’s elastic) if you haven’t made it in a stand mixer. Oil the bowl it’s to rise in, put the dough ball in, put the bowl in a warm place (when my apartment is chilly, I turn the oven on the lowest setting for  minute, turn it off, and let the dough rise in there) and walk away for an hour.

Punch the dough down and knead briefly. Wait at least another 10 minutes (though 1-2 hours is better if you have it.

10 minutes before you want to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 500F.

For Assembly:

Take your pizza pan (I use a 12″ round, but you can do whatever it takes to get you roughly the same area), grease it with olive oil or spray, and dust it lightly with cornmeal.

Roll the pizza dough out on a floured surface. I like to make it a little bit bigger and then fold the edges in, both because that gives more crust and because I have a hard time rolling things out in nice perfect shapes. Whatever floats your boat.

Top however pleases you.

Put the pizza in the oven and REDUCE THE HEAT to 450. Bake ~9 minutes, until the cheese is as melty as you like it to be.

“Thin Mint” Ice Cream (A Girl Needs Calcium)

If you’re following along at home, you’ve just made so much almond cake that you’ve become quite well acquainted with your neighbors and you’re now on the Christmas card list of every friendly person you passed for a week. You also, sadly, have what feels like a million egg yolks.

I can fix that problem– and any other besides lactose intolerance– with ice cream.

The first time I had thin mint ice cream, it was the Edy’s/ Dryer’s variety, and it was so good that I nearly made myself sick– I would have been very sick indeed, if I didn’t store my desserts in a second stomach, a location commonly known as Jupiter. It was that good. Luckily, I’ve had an ice cream maker and David Lebovitz’s brilliant book “The Perfect Scoop” for a few years now, and I can make an even better version, upgraded with local/ organic/ fair trade/ happy/ fuzzy ingredients as my heart desires, in about an hour.

A note about the thin mints: as a former Girl Scouts employee, I’m a little bit worried that they’ll take back my paycheck for saying this… but I like Back to Nature’s Fudge Mint cookies even better. Keebler’s Grasshopper cookies are a distant but more easily accessible 3rd in my book, still beating out just about any other commercially available cookie.

Thin Mint Ice Cream
Inspired by David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Ice Cream in “The Perfect Scoop”

2 C heavy cream (I like Ronnybrook)
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process preferred
5 oz GOOD bittersweet chocolate, chopped into easily meltable bits (semi-sweet is too sweet for me, but might not be for you)
1 C milk (whole preferred, but I’ve never failed w/ skim)
3/4 c sugar
pinch salt
5 large egg yolks (fresher is better)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/8 t mint extract (optional)
2 c crushed cookies

Warm one cup of cream with the cocoa powder in a medium pot, whisking thoroughly. Bring it to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 30 seconds. DO NOT STOP WHISKING. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate, stirring until melted. Add the other C of cream. Pour into a large bowl; if you’re not as lazy and dish-averse as I am, you can strain it as you transfer.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the original pot. In a separate container, mix the egg yolks together, and add a little bit of warm milk into them, stirring constantly. This will temper the eggs, aka keep them from turning hard boiled when you add them to the warm milk mixture. Add the egg-milk mixture into the pot and stir on medium heat with a whisk or spatula, scraping as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. I like it to get to a warm custard texture before I stop, but that’s really up to you; you’ll get slight texture variation in the finished product depending on how long you let it go.  Pour the custard mixture into the chocolate mixture, straining if you’re a strainer kinda person, and stir in the extracts.

Stir until cool– over an ice bath or in a sink of cold water or every few minutes in the fridge for a little while.  Chill in your fridge for as long as you have patience or overnight, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. In the last few minutes of freezing, toss in the cookies.

Eat. Omnomnom. And invite me, please.

Easy Sunshiney Lemon Pasta- for Gray Days

As I mentioned in my last post, I finally gave in and bought Meyer lemons for the first time this month. Easier than I thought, actually: Freshdirect suddenly has them, and who am I to argue with that? I threw a few pounds into my order and hoped for the best. They were delivered just before Brooklyn got 2′ of snow dumped on it, so I had several snowed-in days to experiment.

The first thing I did was make Meyer lemon curd. I know that here’s the place where I’m supposed to gush about how awesomely superior Meyer lemons are to other lemons and blah, blah, blah, but honestly– I couldn’t taste the difference in the curd. It was delicious– as lemon curd always is. However, it wasn’t until I tried it squeezed over my pasta that I could really taste the difference– it’s much mellower than I’m used to, but just as bright. I made up a super-quick recipe that would highlight the flavor– and liked it so much that I made it three days in a row! You can prep and make the sauce in its entirety in the time it takes spaghetti to cook with time left over– and if you choose to make it with angel hair, you can just start it while the water is heating up. I was out of strands, so I used super-fancy unlabeled pasta from a gift basket a friend gave us this time. Strands are better, but anything will work.

As you can see, I tossed a giant handful of basil on top. I was able to get microbasil from a stand at the farmer’s market this week– it was just so cute! Yep, it was an impulse buy, but a nice treat when it’s super gray out; any sweet herb will work in its place, or you could leave it out and the pasta would still be delicious.

Before the recipe, a quick note on my conflicted feelings about Freshdirect: I feel horrendously guilty having my groceries delivered. I have no kids, after all, and individual items are way more expensive. However, I justify it in the following ways: it’s really hard to get fresh produce and high quality meats within easy carrying distance of my apartment (within a mile or so, as I don’t have a car), and being able to see the total in my cart before I check out each week makes it much easier for me to stay within my budget– so I actually spend less in the end… so long as I remember to leave room for the farmers market.

Meyer Lemon Pasta with Basil

(serves 1, but easily scalable)

3 oz dried pasta of your choice
1/2 T butter
1/2 T olive oil (or other neutral oil of your choice)
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 Meyer lemon, separated into juice and zest (or half the equivalent amount of standard lemon)
1 T dairy liquid of your choice (I’ve been using buttermilk, but cream, sour cream, or milk would do fine)
1 T parmesan or romano cheese
1/4 c fresh basil or other sweet herb
Pinch freshly ground pepper

Boil  salted water. Put the pasta in the pot and stir once.

On medium-low heat, melt butter and oil in a mid-sized saute pan. Add crushed garlic and cook ~1 min, until fragrant but not brown. Add lemon zest and stir, then lemon juice. Turn off the burner, but don’t remove the pan.  Add dairy liquid. Stir. Reserve 1/4 c of cooking water for the pasta pot.

When pasta reaches al dente, drain, then dump into the pan with the lemon sauce. Turn the heat on low and toss until the pasta is coated. Add the cheese and pepper, then toss again. If more liquid is needed to coat the pasta evenly, add from the reserved cup, 1 T at at time. Turn off the heat, then toss in your herbs. Toss once more, then serve.