Tuesday, November 29, 2011

St. Louis Style Pizza

St. Louis Style pizza is a distinct style of pizza.  Super-thin, yeast-less crust cut into squares instead of wedges.
The original pizza calls for Provolone and Monterey Jack

I used the regular mozzarella here
My main concern was the crust

 Crispy, crunchy wafer-thin
Second pie - the oven really needs to be hot!
The Crust 

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat your oven with a pizza stone (you have one right?)  475 degrees F. for at least 30 minutes to get the stone screaming hot.  Mix all ingredients for dough.  If it seems a little sticky, gradually at a little flour at a time.
When dough is cohesive, knead 3 or 4 times and divide into two portions.  This will make two 12" pizzas.

Make your Neopolitan Pizza Sauce and shred 2-1/2 cups of the cheeses of your choice.  Place a piece of parchment down to roll the dough on.  Makes things much easier to transfer.  Spread dough out on parchment into a circle and roll out to edges.


Top with half of the pizza sauce

Leave some open areas of dough.  This will prevent the cheese from sliding off.

Top with cheese, sprinkle a little Parmesan, some oregano and a drizzle of olive oil.
Slide parchment and pizza onto the stone.
After about 5 minutes, slide off the parchment to ensure the bottom gets crispy.
Bake 9-12 minutes until nicely browned

This style of pizza reminds me of a Pizzeria/Bar nearby when I was growing up.
Picking up the pies in my Dad's 56 Ford, holding the hot pizza on my lap and getting Orange Soda.
Mary's Pizza is long gone, but now I can make it myself.

~Adapted from Cook's Country
   Pizza Sauce - Lidia's Italy
   Pizza Stone available from my Pampered Chef website
Sharing with:  What's Cooking Wednesday
and Foodie Friday 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - Creamed Spinach & Potato Soup

My assignment this month in the Secret Recipe Club was a bit surprising this time!  The chosen blog for me was Chocolates and Dreams.  A dessert blog you say?  Nooooooo.... an interesting array of sweet and savory Indian delights!

A few hard-to-find ingredients, although they were tempting my tastebuds, led me to try Chocolates and Dreams Spinach and Potato Soup.  When I read the list of ingredients, it reminded me of Creamed Spinach - which I love.

There are so many health benefits from fresh spinach!

The 'powerhouse of nutrients' among all the leafy veggies, spinach is one of the most beneficial and healthiest vegetables.  It is filled with vitamins, proteins, and anti-oxidants and essential nutrients.

Now that cold season is upon us, boost your self up with a steaming, hot bowl of goodness!

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 bunches fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
  • 3 cups Homemade Chicken Stock or water
  • 2 Tbsp. Onion and Chive Cream Cheese
  • Garlic Croutons
  • Sour Cream and fresh chives for garnish
Place potatoes, onion and garlic in a 4 qt. soup pot.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Add cleaned spinach and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Puree soup in a blender.  Return to pot.  Add cream cheese and whisk until combined.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Serve piping hot with garlic croutons.
This soup is also delicious cold.

Great for entertaining and quick to make!




Secret Recipe Club

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Improv Challenge - Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

One week until Thanksgiving and you still don't have a dessert?  We are not big fans of Pumpkin Pie, but give us some cheesecake or brownies and we are all set!  This month's IMPROV CHALLENGE   has a new home over at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker .  Kristen has taken over the series so we can continue sharing!
The theme this month is Pumpkin and Cream Cheese.

These brownies are the best of both worlds!  Rich and decadent, these sweet treats will be a welcome change after you've stuffed yourself silly.

These are made-from-scratch and do take a little extra time, but you can make them 2-3 days in advance and wrap in an air-tight container and refrigerate.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Brownie Batter:
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups butter, cut up
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan with foil; extending over the edges of the pan.  Grease and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 1 Tbsp. butter on high for 30 seconds.  Add 1/2 cup sugar.  Beat until will combined.  Beat in 1 egg, pumpkin, 1 tsp. vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.  Stir in 1 Tbsp. flour; set aside.

In a small glass bowl, combine chocolate and butter.  Microwave at 30 second intervals until just melted (about 1-1/2 minutes).  Transfer chocolate/butter mixture to mixing bowl.  Gradually add the 2-1/4 cups sugar, beating on low speed until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour mixture just until combined.

Spread chocolate mixture evenly in prepared pan.  Spoon cheesecake mixture in several mounds on top of the chocolate batter.  Using a spatula or spoon, gently swirl the cream cheese mixture into the batter.
 Sprinkle with walnuts
(I could have swirled them a little more)
Bake 60 minutes or until center is just set.  
Cool on wire rack
Use foil to lift brownies out of pan
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days
These are very rich - I cut them into 1 inch bites
The pumpkin flavor is very subtle and I'll bet your guests will be.....
Gobble Gobbling these up!

Happy Thanksgiving All!
Enjoy!
Makes 36 servings
Joy of Desserts
Mom's Crazy Cooking

Monday, November 14, 2011

Olive Oil and Smashed Garlic Roasted Potatoes

This quick side dish of potatoes goes great with anything!  An additional step of boiling the potatoes for a short time first, cuts the cooking time and the potatoes soak in that roasted garlic flavor.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold and/or red skinned potatoes (unpeeled), cut into large chunks
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Heat oil, garlic, and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium-low heat to infuse the oil.  Do not allow garlic to brown.

Boil potatoes in water for 1 minute.  Drain and transfer potatoes to baking sheet.  Stir to coat with oil and garlic.  Roast potatoes in oven for 20 minutes.  Carefully toss with a spatula, then roast until cooked through, browned, and crisp, another 10 minutes. 

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  With ketchup, these make the best steak fries!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Craft Corner - Tube Cowl Neck Scarf

I love giving handmade gifts for Christmas every year.  I came across this pattern for a scarf that you don't have to tie, just slip it over and scrunch into your desired look!  My lovely niece did the modeling for me.!

I have gotten such a great response from those who I have given these to, that I decided to make these available on line!

A soft, warm blend of Lamb's Wood and easy-care Acrylic.
Machine Washable and Dryable.

These are available from me at Etsy.com

Available Colors:

Apricot

Blossom (shown above)

Barley (Rich chocolate brown with strands of cream)

Claret (Deep purplish Red)

Cranberry

Eggplant

Oatmeal 

Etsy.com is a great place to buy and sell unique gifts.

If anyone is interested just stop by my "shop"!

I have met so many great friends this year!
To celebrate 1 Year of Comfy Cuisine and almost
500 Facebook Fans, I wanted to giveaway a Thank You Handmade Gift from me!
To enter:
Leave a comment below
Post this Giveaway on your Facebook wall
If your on Twitter - Tweet it!








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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Manchego Cheese Broccoli Roll

Sometimes I get carried away with my cooking ethic:  Never throw any food away, and sometimes watching Food Network's "Chopped" can come in handy and spark your imagination!  This next recipe came about with what I had left in the fridge.  Worthy of a holiday appetizer I'd say.

  • 1 pkg. Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli
  • 2 Tbsp. dry red wine (just take it out of your glass)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 hot Italian sausages, cooked and diced
  • 1 cup (1/2 shredded and 1/2 diced) Manchego cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coarse salt
  • Sesame seeds
In a large frying pan, heat 3 Tbsp. of the oil.  Add the garlic and saute until soft.  Add the broccoli and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the wine and oregano and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Let cool.

Unwrap refrigerated pizza and dough and stretch to fit your pan.  Lightly oil your baking sheet.  Brush the dough with the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Spread the broccoli mixture over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge.  Scatter the diced sausage and cheeses over the dough and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  Starting with the long side, roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll.  Pinch the seam to seal and position the roll so the seam is on the bottom; tuck the 2 ends under the roll.

Brush the top with a little olive and sprinkle with coarse salt and sesame seeds.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool slightly and cut into thick slices.
Of course you can substitue any ingredients in this recipes.
Pepperoni would be great, and of course, mozzarella or provolone.
The Manchego cheese adds a nice, sharp bite to this roll.

Have I been chopped?
Suggested Wine Pairing with Manchego - Merlot 
~Adapted from Ciao Italia
Sharing with Melt in your Mouth Mondays

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Phyllo Chicken Pot Pie

Here's a new twist on a crust for Chicken Pot Pie - Phyllo Dough!  Light and flaky layers replace the usual pie crust or dumplings.

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups diced red potato
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 6-1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth or Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (from cooking chicken stock)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat; add oil.  Add potatoes and next 6 ingredients, and saute 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low; sprinkle flour over vegetables.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in milk and broth and bouillon; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Add chicken, peas and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon mixture into a 3-quart baking dish.  Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surfact and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Repeat layers with cooking spray and remaining phyllo.  Place phyllo layers loosely on top of mixture in dish.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or until top is golden.

~Adapted from Cooking Light
Sharing with:  What's Cooking Wednesday - Turning the Clock Back
The Country Cook Foodie Friday

Monday, November 7, 2011

CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE - Bubble & Squeak

This month's CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE  is Mashed Potatoes! 

Mashed potatoes are a comfort food in and of itself, so I decided to cross the pond and make Bubble & Squeak.
Traditional British comfort food - aka as Colcannon in Ireland and Rumbledethumps in Scotland (how cute a name is that?)  The name comes from the bubble and squeak sounds made as it cooks.  It was meant to use up leftovers from Sunday Dinner but I'm told "Mums" make it from scratch because it often requested and a way to get kids to eat their veggies.


3 or 4 large potatoes, boiled and mashed with 2 Tbsp butter and 1/4 cup milk
Salt and Pepper
1/2 small savoy cabbage, boiled and drained
1/2 large onion, chopped and sauteed in 2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. Country Dijon Mustard
Any leftover vegetables, carrots, peas
Fried bacon pieces (optional)
Sharp Cheddar (optional)

In a large frying pan, saute onions in 2 Tbsp. butter until softened and caramelized.

Mix mashed potatoes, cabbage, onions and mustard. (and any other additions).
Mix well to combine.


Heat an additional 2Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp olive oil.
You can form these into potato patties as I did or traditionally fill the pan with the potato mixture pressing lightly into the pan.

Fry for ten minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp.
 Bubble and squeak makes a lovely lunch with a fried egg on top.
Photobucket

Have a go at these mate!





Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vidalia Onion Soup with Vermont Cheddar

I belong to a Cookbook of the Month club and the latest addition to my collection is Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook.  His recipes personalize French brasserie classics with American ingredients.  A hearty crock of onion soup is sure to warm you up.  Break through the crust of sharp Vermont Cheddar into the molten interior and devour!

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. Vidalia onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (or store-bought)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 thin slices baguette, lightly toasted
  • 1 pound aged cheddar cheese, grated
  • Parsley Pesto (recipe below)
Melt the butter with the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally until caramelized, about 40 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the brandy and sherry and boil until almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Sitr in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Whisk in the stock and thyme, bring to a simmer, and cook until the soup is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat your broiler.

Place crocks on a baking sheet.  Put a slice of bread in the bottom of each crock.  Fill until three-quarters full with soup.  Place another slice of bread over soup and divide the cheese on top.  Broil 2-3 minutes.  Top each with a dollop of parsley pesto.

Parsley Pesto

2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Combine the parsley and garlic in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
With the motor running, slowly add the oil.
Add the cheese, season with salt and pepper.

Sharing with:
Sunday Night Soup!

~Adapted from Bar Americain



Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Homemade Chicken Stock

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, homemade chicken stock is a must for my stuffing and gravy.  It's easy to make on a day when you're around the house; you throw the ingredients in a big stockpot and just let them simmer away for four hours.
  • 2 (3-4 lbs.) roasting chickens
  • 2 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
  • 3 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 20 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 15 thyme sprigs
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, garlic, salt, and peppercorns in a 16 to 20-quart stockpot (I used my canning pot).


Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Skim any foam that comes to the surface.  Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 4 hours.

You can see how rich this stock is!

Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the solids. I can't see getting rid of all those veggies in this stock.  Maybe some chicken and dumplings are in order?  Or a Chicken Pot Pie?   Pack in quart containers and refrigerate.  When stock is cold, remove surface fat and refrigerate or freeze.

Containers of chicken stock will last for 5 days refrigerated and for 6 months in the freezer.
Freezing Tip:  Freeze some in 1 cup containers for quick meals or in ice cube trays to add to sauces.

Turkey Tip:  Check out the recipe for Roasted Turkey Stock.  Make it ahead for your Thanksgiving recipes!
We never have enough gravy for leftovers, so I'll make this a few days ahead.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Porcini Chicken Cacciatore Pronto

Dried porcini mushrooms are one of my favorite ingredients.  The first recipe I made with dried porcini was Giadia's Mushroom Risotto with Peas .  So delicious!  I always keep them in the pantry now - you can add one or two to soups or stews or your favorite pasta sauce.  They add a rich, beefy earthiness  to any Italian dish.

This recipe is a little unusual for "cacciatore", as it contains very few ingredients and none of the peppers and onions found in most recipes.  This was a very tasty recipe.  I served it with tagliatelle to soak up the delicious gravy.

  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 6 chicken thighs - bone-in, skin removed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken broth
Soak porcini mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes.  Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and finely chop.  Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth to catch any dirt or solids, reserve.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the chicken and cook 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.  Transfer chicken to a platter.  Remove all but 1 Tbsp. oil from the pan.

Add garlic to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until fragrant.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. parsley and cook for one minutes.  Stir in mushrooms, tomato puree, chicken broth and reserved mushroom liquid.  Heat to simmer.  Add chicken, reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer gently 40-50 minutes or until chicken is tender.

This can be served with pasta or polenta.  I choose tagliatelle.  This is not a tomato-ey sauce.  The porcini turns it into a rich, beefy tasting gravy.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan chesse if desired.

~Adapted from Michael Chiarello - Casual Cooking
 
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