Monday, April 23, 2012

eleven madison park granola.

I like breakfast.  Not sweet maple syrup laden pancakes or bagels the size of a VW Bug overflowing with cream cheese, but simple parmesan scrambled eggs with a side of lightly buttered (salted butter!) jam and toast.  Oh and coffee!  Lots of coffee!  Coffee with frothy milk.  But alas, I work a corporate job that starts rather early and for some reason my cubicle does not include a hot plate for which I can cook those parmesan eggs.  

So until I can figure out a way to transport eggs to the office without them loosing their fluffy texture, I need to find an alternative breakfast food.  One that fulfills my need for nutritious, filling, savory, and sweet food and hopefully one that also feels a little indulgent.  I like to feel indulgent.  

It took a while for me to find something that allowed me to check off all of my requirements.  But last October in a NYTimes article about Eleven Madison Park's Cookbook, I came across a recipe for granola.  It was revolutionary in that in contained olive oil! maple syrup! pistachios! and salt!  This was not the granola I saw in bins at Whole Foods, but rather a salty sweet snack that would be the perfect topping for my morning yogurt.  Since I made it the first time, it's become the only granola I will make.  I've used different nuts and fruits depending on what I have on hand, but no matter how I mix and match in my batch, it always come out perfect.  The kind of breakfast that feels special and indulgent (kind of like a meal at Eleven Madison Park - yes it's that good and yes you should eat there especially at lunch when its quieter and you can bring a magazine and eat by yourself and savor your food and the luxurious surroundings) and out of the ordinary. 

Eleven Madison Park Granola
Recipe from NYTimes

2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dried sour cherries

Preheat over to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl combine the oats, pistachios, coconut chips, pumpkin seeds and salt.  

In a small saucepan over low heat warm the sugar, maple syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat.  Fold liquids into the oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well. 

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking map or parchment and spread granola over it.  Bake until dry and lightly golden, about 35 - 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times a long the way.

Remove granola from oven and stir in dry sour cherries.  Allow to cool to room temperature before storing. Makes about 6 cups.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

spicy honey and sopressata pizza.

There was this one time last December that Tyler I headed to Brooklyn on a cold winter Saturday night to eat at Paulie Gee's.  As an Italian girl I have a soft spot for pizza (and by soft spot I mean I love pizza and eat it at least once a week and it would be my last meal on earth), and because of my affinity for pizza i am very particular about the pizza I will eat.  Making a pizza is a labor of love and when I spend money at a restaurant on a pizza I want to feel as if a lot of time and thought and really good ingredients were put into that pizza - I want to feel pizza love.  Eating at Paulie Gee's was like being surrounded by pizza love.  I was wearing a blanket of pizza love!  Paulie Gee clearly cares about the product he is putting out - it's evident in the room (utterly beautiful, the kind of room you want to eat in every night and what I would love my future kitchen to look like - rustic and cozy), it's evident in the people who work there (they clearly love the product), and it's evident in the food. 

On the evening we dined there, we ordered two pizzas (I am kicking myself for not ordering three or four but all the more reason to go back!) and of the two I found one to be revolutionary - the hellboy pizza.  Fior di latte, Italian tomatoes, sopressata picante, parmesan, and mike's hot honey.  My god was it amazing.  The salty with the sweet with the spicy.  It was everything a pizza should be.  

Of course once I have something I love I set out to recreate it.  And that is what I’ve spent the last several months doing.  I’ve tried many different dough recipes, different cheeses, and different sopressata's.  I finally came up with a version that satisfies my craving and tastes as close to the original that one can get in their home.  It's now my pizza stand by (until I make the trip back to Paulie Gees and try a different pizza that makes me fall in love again).  

Spicy Honey and Sopressata Pizza

Pizza Dough
Recipe From NYTimes

Time: 20 minutes, plus at least 27 hours’ resting

12 ounces 00 flour like Delvina or King Arthur Italian Style (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
10 ounces high-gluten flour like King Arthur’s Sir Lancelot (about 2 cups)
1/2 ounce salt (about 4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Additional flour, for dusting.

Combine flours, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 2 cups of room temperature water, then mix on low speed using dough hook until dough binds, about 1 minute, adding more water as necessary. Let rest for 5 minutes. Knead on second-lowest setting for 5 to 7 minutes, until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth ball. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead and form into a ball, then let rest in a bowl for 3 to 4 hours.

Cut dough into 4 8-ounce pieces. (Or divide into 5 6-ounce pieces for smaller pizzas.) Turn out each piece on a floured surface, folding and kneading each three or four times until it forms a smooth ball. Set each piece in a plastic bin large enough to allow it to double in size, settle a sheet of plastic wrap on the dough, then cover with a lid. Refrigerate for 48 hours, or at least 24 hours, before shaping and baking.

Yield: Dough for 4 12-inch pizzas or 5 9-inch pizzas.

For the Pizza (I usually divide the dough into 4 pizzas - placing 2 doughs in the freezer for a later use - the below amounts are for 2 pizzas, double if making them all!).

1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
1/8 pound spicy sopressata (you will probably not use all of this)
1/2 cup of homemade tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
Parmesan for sprinkling
Basil Leaves
Honey (I ordered Mike's Hot Honey but you can use regular honey and mix in red pepper flakes).

Preheat your over to the highest temperature it can go and slide in your pizza store.  You will want to heat your stone for at least 30 minutes, but closer to an hour is good!  Shape your dough, use your hands!  It doesn't need to be perfect (personally I prefer them looking misshapen) on a floured surface - once its in the best shape you can get it, quickly remove the stone from the oven and place the dough on it.  Add half your tomato sauce to the dough, top with half the mozzarella, some of the sopressata, and a sprinkle of parmesan.  Slide the stone back into the oven.  In terms of baking times it's about 8 minutes.  But keep an eye on it!  Sometimes it takes longer and sometimes shorter.  When the crust is golden and dark in spots remove from the oven.  Top with basil and a generous drizzle of honey. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

crispy pimenton chickpea.

Oh the chickpea!  As someone who tries to eat less meat on a daily basis, I should be offsetting that by trying to eat more legumes.  Beans are good!  They are cheap, they are nutritious, and they have the fiber and protein I need (I sound like a terrible commercial I know but it's all true) - but even with all the being said, they aren't a part of my daily eating's.  Sure I throw can's of beans in chili's and soups.  I've made side dishes of braised vegetables and beans, but they also seem to be regaled as something to just be added to the pot after the fact.  It's such a sad tale, but its true. 

Chickpeas, Garbanzo's whatever you feel like calling them is a bean I love but tend to avoid cooking with - the reason being there may have been an incident where I made hummus from dried beans.  I soaked my beans overnight as the directions indicated and the next day added them to the Cuisinart not realizing I was missing a teeny tiny step involved - the step where one cooks the beans.  And of course, I am making hummus in preparation for my birthday party that I was hosting myself that night.  At that point, I called my mom in tears not understanding why the hummus she makes is smooth as silk with no chunks, and here i was sitting with a chunky mixture of raw chickpeas and olive oil.  Under her mommy guidance I realized there was no way to salvage this one as much as Tyler tried, and into the composter it went. 

The below recipe is my first fore ray back into cooking with chickpeas.  It involves canned chickpeas (no cooking there!) and my favorite spice smoked paprika(!). They can be consumed just as is or they make a lovely topping on rice or added into a salad with tuna.  I've even envisioning them tucked into a frittata. 

Crispy Pimenton Chickpeas
Recipe From Big Girls Small Kitchens
Makes 4 Cups

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas (4 cups), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton)
½ teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Use a dish towel or a salad spinner to make sure the chickpeas are as dry as possible. Lay them flat on a non-stick baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then shake to redistribute, and cook for 10 minutes more. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Add the roasted chickpeas and toss until well coated. Return the chickpeas to the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5 more minutes, until very fragrant. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, April 13, 2012

leftover ham and potato hash.

Leftovers general allude me.  I'm a person who gets bored very, very, easily eating the same thing day in and day out (unless of course we are talking cheese and chocolate - cheese and chocolate can be consumed daily).  So when Tyler came back from Maine loaded down with leftover ham and turkey - I knew I wasn't going to be able to consume it unless I dressed it up a bit by disguising the fact I was eating the same 3 day old ham and turkey.  So I thought about the fact that I had root vegetables in the fridge waiting to be used.  Combining them with my leftover ham to make a hash would be the perfect new dish for a chilly April evening. 

Hash is one of those things that reminds me of the days after a holiday.  My mom has a similar mentality to me - that leftovers shouldn't just be a plate of the same thing every night.  I should be food made fancy.  And changing the way you eat something makes life more exciting.  So that's exactly what I did here.  I dressed the ham up in a little maple syrup and cayenne, mixed in some onions and potatoes, and topped my mixture with a poached egg (which if you ask me is a rather fancy looking egg).

Leftover Ham and Potato Hash
Serves 2

1 medium sized Idaho potato peeled, diced and cooked in boiling water until just tender
1 cup leftover ham, diced (any leftover meat can be used here!)
1/2 a small onion, diced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your level of heat tolerance)
2 tablespoons or so milk, broth, potato water, cream (basically any liquid you have on hand)
2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Eggs Poached or Fried (whatever you like best)

In a large bowl combine the potato, ham, onion, maple syrup, and cayenne.  Add salt, and pepper to taste.  Add a little bit of your liquid to the mixture.  The goal isn't to make a soup in the bowl but just have the liquid be a bit of a binding ingredient.  Smash down the potatoes into the mixture to bring everything together. 

In a frying pan, add your oil.  Turn the heat up so the oil gets hot.  Once its hot enough, add you ham and potato mixture, flattening it with a spatula.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the mixture rest undisturbed for about 5 min.  After 5 min., flip your hash over and cook the other side for another 5 or so min (cook longer if you prefer your potatoes darker).  Watch the temperature you don't want your potatoes to burn!

Slide hash onto your plate, top with an egg and serve with a side of toast. 

south africa.

I am doing my very best to keep the mindset that I am still on vacation.  So far I have attempted to accomplish this by allowing myself to eat the Bouchon Bakery Mint Chocolate Cake for dinner, buying neon necklaces, and turning the TV off as much as possible (except to catch up on Mad Men).  Whether or not it's working I don't know yet - but it feels nice to shake things up a little.  

I continue to longingly stare at my pictures of South Africa - willing my mind to think I am still there.  If you have the stomach to put up with the flight (almost 24 hours!) it's one of the most beautiful places you can ever travel to.  It has a little bit of everything you want on vacation - hiking, lying on the beach, wine tasting, cheese tasting, and of course entering into the world of the safari animals. 

The thing I found myself thinking about most while on vacation was what I was going to cook when I got home.  I usually found myself having the most time for food thoughts on vacation.  I don't know if it's because I am trying new flavors that excite me or if it's because I finally have time to catch up on my Bon Appetit's but whatever the reason it is it makes me happy.  Lists begin to form in my head - flavor profiles develop and ideas emerge.  It doesn't hurt that the arrival of spring produce will be here any minute - soon I can eat asparagus until my heart's content. 

Of everything I ate in South Africa it was perhaps one of the more simple things that really has my mind racing.  One night Tyler and I walked over a block from our hotel (Cape Heritage Hotel which is hands down the best and if you are staying in South Africa you must stay there!) to Brewers and Union.  It was a warm night.  Kids were there drinking beer, waiting for the live music to start and enjoying themselves.  I was content and happy drinking a beer myself and observing my surroundings.  We ordered some food - a sausage and a burger and the sausage was perfect.  Porky goodness stuffed with cheese.  Slathered with mustard and ketchup - I was in heaven.  So now I'm keen on making my own sausage - chorizo, lamb and fennel, you name it, I now want to make it.  Thanks to Tyler I now can.  While he was home in Maine he found the grinder attachment to the Kitchen Aid at a yard sale.  My mind is racing with possibilities but first up will be a cheese filled pork sausage to remind me of late summer in South Africa.