Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baked Chocolate Tart

By now, you’ve probably noticed I am a HUGE fan of chocolate, in the form of bars, melted, in custards, cakes, warm cozy drinks... for me the list goes on and on.  So, when I know I need a chocolate fix this tart is my go to recipe, and is an adaptation of Jamie Oliver's Baked Chocolate Tart from his book, the Naked Chef.  The short crust pastry is flaky, and tender which complements the super indulgent buttery chocolate filling with the addition of orange zest that adds a subtle citrus flavor that I love.  To serve, I top off the slices with a dollop of fresh whipped cream enhanced with orange liquor and finished with orange zest making this a superb dessert unlike any other chocolate tart recipe!  The addition of orange flavors in this dessert are my nod to the classic Italian inspired combination of orange and chocolate, the two married together create an unbelievable heightened flavor the chocolate.

This tart easily serves 10 to 12
For the chocolate tart you will need;

one 10-inch short crust pastry with the zest from one orange added, I use Jamie Oliver’s Recipe 
4 eggs
¾ cup unsalted butter
8 ounces of good quality dark chocolate pieces, 70% or more cocoa preferred
3 tbsp unsweetened good quality cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp agave syrup
sliced almonds
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and start by blind baking the pastry until just set about 12 to 15 minutes, remove from oven and set aside while preparing the filling, then lower your oven temperature to 300 degrees. 

In a double boiler, or heat proof pan over simmering water, slowly melt together; the chocolate pieces, butter, agave syrup and vanilla mixing with a spatula until smooth, then remove from the heat and set aside.  In a bowl, cream together the eggs and sugar, once fluffy, add the sour cream, salt, and cocoa powder until thoroughly combined.  While whisking continuously drizzle the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until completely combined, pour into the tart shell, sprinkle the top with the almond slices and bake for 45 minutes.  The top of the tart should become crackled.

For the whipped cream;

2 cups heavy whipping cream
zest of one orange
1 tbsp orange liquor
3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or a hand mixer; beat the heavy whipping cream on medium then increasing to medium high until it reaches soft peaks.  Add the orange zest, vanilla bean paste, orange liquor and confectioners’ sugar, and then beat until the mixture doubles in volume and holds stiff peaks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Christmas Chocolate Truffles by Joseph Morris

Is there any other chocolate treat that’s as luxurious as a truffle?  With a rich dark chocolate on the outside and a luscious creamy filling on the inside, they definitely beat stale sugar cookies.  


This recipe makes 30 large truffles.

Ingredients

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 
chopped finely

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/4 cup brandy

1/2 cup cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely

Directions

1. Put the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium-size bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture, then microwave for another 30 seconds.

2. Heat the cream and corn syrup over medium heat until simmering. Then add this to the melted chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes.

3. Gently stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, starting in the center and working out to the edges until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the brandy, then pour into a square baking dish and set in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

4. Use a melon baller or ice cream scoop to spoon the chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put the baking sheet back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

5. While waiting for the mixture to cool, put the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan or bowl and set aside.

6. Put the other 8 ounces of chocolate in a mixing bowl on a heating pad, or in a double broiler. Stir the chocolate occasionally and continue heating until the chocolate is about 90 degrees F. Maintain the heat and don’t let it go over 94 degrees.

7. Take the truffles out of the refrigerator and roll them into balls with the palms of your hands

8. Dip an ice cream scoop into the warm chocolate and turn it upside down to remove excess. Carefully place the truffles into the scoop one at a time to coat them. Then put them in the cocoa powder, nuts, coconut, or other desired topping if you wish. Make sure you move each truffle around in the coating and leave it there for 10-15 seconds. Then move it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

9. Once all the truffles are coated, let them set in a cool dry place for an hour or put them in an airtight container in the fridge. They are served best at room temperature.

Now that you have the basic truffle recipe, you can experiment with other flavors like white chocolate, mint, mocha, orange, almond, pistachio, rum, or even chili! To make them more festive, you could decorate them with Christmas sprinkles or powdered sugar to look like snow.


Joseph Morris has been a professional chef for over 20 years. He also owns the site Culinary Arts College for students interested in getting a degree in culinary arts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: Oh My Omelets!

Foodbuzz 24 x 24 - 24 meals in 24 hours... bloggers from around the world, selected by the submission of proposals, create and hold dinner parties on the same night, then present the details on their blogs giving readers insight into their culinary creativity.  Needless to say I was more than excited when I received notification that my proposal had been selected for the November 24 x 24 feature!!

After a run of marathon eating during the holidays, we lighten up dinner in my house with a menu of omelets and mimosas.  Everyone creates their own omelets from a variety of toppings that include veggies, meats and cheeses.  Simple cheese, to the combination of spicy chilies with a mixture of meats, egg whites with mushrooms and thyme, the varieties are endless and washing it down with a light, crisp mimosa made with fresh squeezed orange juice and spumante, what could make for a better no-so-common dinner?!  


Create Your Own Omelets
Meats: ham, sausage, bacon, chorizo
Vegetables: bell peppers, chilies - fresno red and jalapeno, spinach, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, broccoli
Cheeses: parmesan, jack, cheddar and mozzarella

Sides
Home-Style Potatoes
Mini Quiches: bacon cheddar, chorizo chilie, mushroom thyme and spinach with jack

Drinks
Mimosas
Bloody Mary's

Making omelets shouldn't at all be intimidating, I use a few simple tricks that results in turning out a perfectly light, fluffy omelet every time no fail!

To make a basic three egg omelet using whole eggs or egg whites; start by whisking your eggs together with a couple teaspoons of cream or milk, [This is to keep the eggs moist when cooking so less is better otherwise your eggs will become runny.] and whisk as much air as you can until the mixture becomes aerated, the eggs should lighten in color and the mixture should increase in volume.  When making omelets I like using a heavy bottom omelet or non-stick pan.  Heat the pan on a low flame about five minutes before adding the eggs, and saute your toppings using clarified butter, a little olive oil or cooking spray.  Once the toppings have cooked slowly add the beaten eggs, cover the pan and allow to cook just until the eggs start to set on the bottom, then using a spatula run along the edge all the way around to ensure the omelet isn't sticking, and at this point I also like to swirl the pan allowing the uncooked egg on top to fill in the spaces on the sides, then allow the omelet to cook covered for a few more minutes.  Once the omelet starts to rise, this is the point where I like to add the cheese and any other toppings such as chilies, fresh herbs, cover once again and cook just until the cheese melts.  Using the spatula as a guide turn out the omelet onto a plate and serve immediately.

I can think of no better side dish to an omelet than home-style potatoes, there is something about the combination of butter crisp potatoes, onions and bell peppers that kicks off a breakfast inspired meal such as this one perfectly.  My recipe for home-style potatoes, using only a few ingredients and is super simple to make and packed with flavor.

six russet potatoes
one yellow onion, peeled and chopped
one green bell pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

I like using a cast iron skillet when making home-style potatoes or hash browns primarily because they disperse heat more evenly than other skillets, which allows them to cook evenly, resulting in a crispy outside and smooth, buttery inside.

In a cast iron skillet, start by melting the butter along with equals parts olive oil.  Once heated through, start browning the onions and potatoes, when tender and the potatoes start to brown, add the bell pepper and cook until the potatoes are crisp.


These mini quiches are all very easy to make, using the convenience of puffy pastry and making them in muffin tins allows everyone to have a taste of each without over indulging.

To prepare the crusts; allow the puff pastry to thaw in the refrigerator a few hours or even over night before using.  Rolling each sheet of puff pastry to the desired thickness, then using a four inch cookie cutter (or glass) cut enough rounds to fill standard sized muffin tins.

Flavorings for quiches, traditional and not-so-traditional are endless and the ones I chose to serve a good mixture of both from mushroom with thyme and parmesan, to chorizo with chilies, bacon cheddar and spinach with jack cheese.

Last but, most certainly not least we cap off our meals.. and the night with mimosas and bloody mary's, both of which are really easy to make and the perfect beverage to go along with our breakfast for dinner feast!  For the mimosas using asti spumante adds a subtle sweetness that I really like but, they can be made with any variety you prefer, even using prosecco is a great addition to this refreshing beverage.  Mimosas are best made using two parts spumante to one part fresh squeezed orange juice.  

Mimosa Recipe 
Serves 1

Two parts asti spumante sparkling wine
One part fresh squeezed orange juice

Bloody Mary Recipe
Serves 1

1 ounce vodka
3 ounces tomato juice or bloody mary mix
3 to 4 dashes Tabasco®
1 dash worcestershire sauce
half ounce lime juice
a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
a dash of A.1. optional

Serve over ice in a salt rimmed glass.

The focus of this dinner is to keep it simple so as to have more time to spend with friends and family, playing games or watching movies, and just spending time together.  The menu is straight forward, with home cooked items, tasty and not complex, down home and relaxing.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lemongrass Infused Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I found inspiration for the flavors of this soup from an episode of Anthony Bourdain's a Cook's Tour where he visited Thailand.  There was brief mention of a "Pumpkin Lemongrass soup" as he and his boss at the time dined together at the end of their trip.  For me, the thought of pumpkin and lemongrass combined together sounds delicious, and while never trying them together, the combination stuck in my mind which inspired me to come up with a recipe as a way of experiencing those flavors.  The addition of lentils, I felt, would add a heartiness to the soup, with the idea that it could be used as the main focal point for a dinner rather than just a starter.  The ingredients are pretty straight forward and meld together very well.


Ingredients


2 medium size butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
one stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and bruised
32 ounces low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup puy lentils, picked through and rinsed
one head of garlic
2 inner celery stalks with leaves, chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped fine
one bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by roasting the butternut squash drizzled with olive oil in a preheated 400 degree oven for an hour, then turn off the heat and allow to rest in the oven.  Bring the stock with the bay leaf and lemongrass added to a boil, then turn off the heat and allow to steep until ready to use.

In a heavy bottom pot; saute the chopped onion and celery seasoning with salt and pepper until tender, scoop out the butternut flesh and add the pot, along with the roasted garlic, season with cayenne, sage and nutmeg, then allow to lightly saute for a few minutes.  Strain the stock over the pan, and mix to combine, bring to a boil then lower heat and allow to simmer until the lentils have cooked.  In the same sauce pan used to heat the stock, bring water to a boil then cook the lentils until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes, rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking.  Using an emulsion blender blend soup until smooth, finish by seasoning with salt and pepper, then stirring in the butter and lentils.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slow Cooker Pot Roast & Roasted Yukon Potatoes

This is a really simple recipe for pot roast cooked in a crock pot set to low for 8 1/2 hours that comes out tender and flavorful every time, no fail.  In addition to seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, I like to give it a good rub with Italian seasoning and packaged minced garlic packed in olive oil which gives the meat excellent flavor.

Ingredients
 3 to 4 pound chuck roast
the stems from one bunch of parsley
one onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
8 peppercorns
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
minced garlic
Italian seasoning
2 tbsp minced garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
15 oz can diced tomatoes

Preheat your slow cooker on high for 30 to 45 minutes to get the heat going.  Scatter the onion, carrot, celery, parsley stems, pepper corns, bay leaf and tomatoes on the bottom of the pot.  Season all sides of the roast liberally with salt, pepper and a good sprinkling of Italian seasoning, then rub with the minced garlic.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables and tomatoes then drizzle with worcestershire, cover, turn heat to low and allow to cook for about 8 hours checking every couple of hours for tenderness.

I like to drain the left over juices, skim off any excess oil from the top then reduce it down on medium high flame, thicken with a slurry of one tablespoon cornstarch and one tablespoon hot water, then finish with a pat of butter.  The seasoning will be concentrated so make sure to taste the gravy before adding any additional salt.
Potatoes are a classic accompaniment to pot roast, any potatoes are fine but, I like using Yukons simply because I love their texture and buttery taste.  The trick here to get a crispy coating keeping a moist smooth center is to preheat your oven and roasting pan to 400 degrees.  To make the roasting process quicker, I par boil the potatoes whole until cooked no more than half through, then cut them into chunks, season with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, drizzle with olive oil then dot with butter, and roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Simple and delicious!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spicy Tomato Hash

Towards the end of the week, our fridge is usually filled with no so full portions of various ingredients used the previous weekend through out the work week.  Last night, I decided would be a throw together kind of meal, using simply what I had on hand, throwing away the task of grocery shopping for components to make dinner.  A great way to use up odds and ends left over ingredients is to make my Spicy Tomato Hash.  Buttery crisp potatoes, spiced with red pepper flakes and thyme, are bulked up with the addition of sliced baby bella mushrooms and sweet peppers, that are brightened by the bursts of fresh tomatoes scattered through out, then topped off with a lightly fried egg.  Now, putting this hash together is probably one of the simplest in that I do everything is one pan, even at times eating out of the same pan it was cooked in to avoid dirtying dishes… I know very lazy of me.


For this version, I used the following ingredients;

a handful each of baby bella mushrooms, sweet peppers, and cherry tomatoes
1 potato, rinsed, skin left on
1 free range organic egg
about ½ tsp each of dried thyme and red pepper flakes
butter
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Anytime I am cooking home-style potatoes I like using cast iron, the regulation of heat allows the potatoes to cook evenly and crisp up perfectly.  So, in a cast iron skillet, melt a little butter with olive oil (or grapeseed or vegetable or...) on medium heat.  For the potatoes, use whatever kind you like best or already have on hand, in this case I am using russets, rinse the potatoes thoroughly and slice into quarters lengthwise, then cut each into quarters and chop into ¼ inch pieces, add to the pan, season with the thyme, salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly in the butter and oil.  Allow the potatoes to fry until golden and tender partially covering the pan if necessary, they should take about 10 minutes to cook through.  Next, clean the mushrooms, removing the stems if tough and thinly slice, do the same with the sweet peppers removing any seeds, then toss them into the pan with the potatoes and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. At this point, I added the red pepper flakes.  Last, throw in the cherry tomatoes and sauté just until the skins start to blister.  Pour the hash onto a plate to cook slightly.  In the same pan, crack your egg(s) and gently fry just until the egg white has set, flip once then immediately turn out over the hash.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Peas with Onions and Thyme

While I will be the first one to say "pass the butter!", when it comes to cooking, I am not one to drown the food I cook in unnecessary fat as a means of adding flavor.  I find that staying authentic, and enhancing other elements of a dish can create flavor profiles unlike what is accomplished by adding loads of butter or oil.  Something as simple as a side dish of peas, is dressed up by addition of slow cooked onions, bringing out their natural nutty sweetness, then enhancing the flavors even further with the lemony fragrance of thyme.

3 cups of organic sweet peas
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp unsalted butter
olive oil
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large, deep sided pan, melt the butter with a little olive oil [to keep it from burning]; add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook slowly until they begin to caramelize.  They should smell fragrant and nutty by this point.  Add the thyme and garlic and allow to sauté just until the garlic softens, then add the peas and stock, simmer for 15 minutes and serve.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I absolutely love the cool, rainy weather that comes along with the fall season because it paves the way to try all of the warm, cozy recipes I have wanted to try.  One I know you will love is my Chicken Tortilla Soup, flavorful and comforting, I top each bowl with chipotle dusted crispy tortilla strips and serve jalapeno cheddar mini corn bites on the side. 

Ingredients

2 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups hot water
15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
4 pasilla peppers
4 jalapeno peppers
1 yellow bell pepper
2 green bell peppers
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen is fine
15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp pimenton
1 tsp chipotle powder
2 to 3 avocados, peeled and cut into cubes
Corn Tortilla, cut into small strips
3 to 4 limes cut into wedges
cilantro
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a small roasting pan; lightly coat the poblano and bell peppers with olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and roast until tender.  Remove from the oven and put into a zip lock bag then allow to rest 5 minutes before peeling and removing the seeds, cut the peppers into strips and set aside.

In a bowl, toss the tortilla strips lightly with olive oil and season with chipotle powder, then bake until crisp, set aside on a plate lined with paper towel or on a cookie rack to keep crisp.


Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then roast until cooked, about 45 minutes to an hour.  When finished cooking, set aside and allow to cool completely.  Then remove the meat from the bone, and remove the skin, then shred the chicken using two forks.

In a large pot, heavy bottomed preferred; sauté the chopped onion, carrots and garlic on medium heat and once tender, add the thyme, cumin, pimenton, tomatoes, stock and hot water, season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in the kidney beans, corn and chicken, allow soup to simmer another 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top each bowl with the crispy tortilla strips, cilantro, avocado and a lime wedge.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spicy Chocolate Ganache Cake

A few weeks ago while at a BBQ with family and friends, I was given a chili dark chocolate truffle which inspired me to experiment with recipes to come up with my version of those flavors, a chocolate dessert kicked up with the flavors of chili.  This recipe came about by simply flavoring my basic chocolate recipe with the flavors of cinnamon and cayenne pepper.  With a mild sweetness, and hint of spice that hits the back of your throat at the end, this cake recipe hits a home run.

Cake
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup hot water

Ganache
2 cups semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp agave or honey
1 tbsp confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixer using the whisk attachment; cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in one egg at a time until completely mixed.  Switching to a paddle attachment; stir in sour cream, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon.  When thoroughly mixed, add flour half cup at a time then turn paddle to 4 speed and beat in hot water.  Last, stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into a 9-inch buttered and floured spring form pan and bake for 1 hour, leaving the oven door closed.  Let cake rest 20 minutes before removing spring form pan side then allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze; bring one cup of heavy cream to a simmer, remove from heat and add chocolate, vanilla, one teaspoon cayenne pepper and honey then allow to sit 10 minutes.  Using a whisk, blend the mixture until smooth then add the confectioners sugar.  Taste to glaze and adjust spice with cayenne pepper to taste.  Pour over cake then top with mini chocolate chips.  Allow the glaze to set by refrigerating the cake for 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chipotle Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

A great way of getting the most out of the pumpkins, squash or other various gourds used during the holidays is by spicing the seeds with various flavors and slow roasting them.  The hardest part is separating the seeds from the stringy flesh and even so isn't to daunting of a task.

To make these spicy chipotle roasted pumpkin seeds; rinse the seeds thoroughly in a strainer under running water to remove any pumpkin flesh still attached, then toss with a sprinkling of chipotle powder, salt and pepper.  Then spread them in an even layer on a cookie sheets and slow roast in a 250 degree oven for an hour to hour and a half until crisp. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dark Chocolate Amaretto Cake

My intention with this recipe was to create a dense intensely chocolate cake with a hint of amaretto flavor in the back ground, and that is exactly what I got.  The original idea was to then top it off with a rich dark chocolate ganache glaze which I decided later it doesn’t need, a little powdered sugar was just the right touch.  

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
½ cup almond flour, sifted
1 tbsp dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
6 ounces of dark chocolate melted
½ cup molasses (or honey)
1 1/3 dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ tsp almond extract (pure not imitation)
¾ cup boiling water

I find that this cake is best baked in a 9-inch spring form buttered and lined with parchment.

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a food processor); start by creaming together the beaten eggs with the brown sugar, as the mixture comes together, melt 6 ounces of chopped dark chocolate over a double boiler until silky.  Once the eggs and sugar are fluffy, add the chocolate and molasses continue mixing to fully incorporate.  Next add the salt, baking soda, almond extract, and cocoa powder.  Once the mixture is thoroughly combineded and smooth add the almond flour mixing until completely absorbed, then add the flour a half cup at a time.  Finally, on a medium high speed beat in the boiling water until the mixture is smooth and has an almost runny consistency.  Immediately pour the batter into the spring form and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for an hour and a half.  ** While the cake is baking it is very important not to open the oven door before the cake has set, otherwise it will sink in the middle (as mine did.) **  After an hour and 15 minutes it is okay to check to see if it is finished baking, if the sides have pulled away from the pan and the center is set remove and allow the cake to cool completely before serving.  This can be stored at room temperature for up to five days or in the refridgerator for up to eight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mixed Roast

This mixed roast could not be simpler to make, using only one tray, this is a great throw together anytime of the year meal since the components can be altered as you like, and roasting brings out amazing flavors.  This version uses chicken and sausages with vegetables, I choose ingredients based whatever looks good while I’m shopping.  Aside from a light drizzle of olive oil, the moisture that develops from the sausages and chicken create an amazingly rich broth that can be reduce down into a sauce which further compliments each element. 

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.  In a large roasting pan, toss all of the vegetables including the garlic cloves, and herbs with olive oil, salt and pepper seasoning to taste.  [Go lighter on the olive oil then you would think because the sausage and chicken juices will keep the dish from getting dry.]

one whole, organic, free range chicken
one pound of your favorite sausages
three of four handfuls small sweet peppers
one onion, quartered
one eggplant, quartered, seeds removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
one large carrot - thickly sliced
one large or two small fennel bulbs - quartered
two bulbs of garlic - broken apart, skins left on
two potatoes, cleaned and cut into half inch pieces
half stick plus one tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
fresh or dried thyme
fresh or dried basil
fresh or dried sage
28 oz can of whole tomatoes
salt and pepper

Using a good pair of kitchen scissors or if you prefer, a knife, cut out the back bone from the chicken, the turn over and press down on the breast to flatten.  Rinse then pat dry with a paper towel, season liberally with salt and pepper, then put in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.  In a small bowl, combine the room temperature butter with one teaspoon each of thyme, basil and sage, and spread the mixture underneath the chicken skin, then layer the sausages around the chicken and give both a light drizzle of olive oil.  Bake in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes or one hour until everything is cooked through.

When finished baking, move the chicken to a plate to rest, put the sausages and vegetables on a serving platter, skim any excess fat that may have settled on the top of the juices left in the roasting pan, then pour into a sauce pan and simmer on medium high heat until the broth starts to thicken and reduces by half, finish with one tablespoon of butter.

Once the chicken has rested for at least 15 minutes, cut it into pieces, at the joints and arrange on the serving platter with the sausages and vegetables, then pour the sauce over the top before serving.

Foot note: this dish is great served with rustic crusty bread or my Parmesan Pancetta Scones.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pizza

Cooking My Way Through Jamie Oliver's Food Writings

Recipe 6          PIZZA
It has been awhile since I last posted recipes from Jamie’s Italy and on the menu is pizza!  I have chosen four varieties;

-       Pizza Fritta
-       Pizza with Smoked Pancetta, Mozzarella, Red Chili and Tomatoes
-       Pizza with Egg, Prosciutto, Artichokes, Olives, Mozzarella and Basil
-       Pizza with Green and Red Grapes, Rosemary, Pine Nuts and Ricotta

I have also included the recipes for Jamie's pizza sauce and dough, both of which I have found to be the tastiest versions out there.  
Pizza Sauce

28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh basil and stems, torn
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil on medium heat, then add the garlic and basil, fry until fragrant then stir in the tomatoes, bring sauce to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.  Next, strain the sauce pushing through as much as you can back into the pan, season with salt and pepper then reheat.

Foot note; this is a great basic marinara sauce that can be mellowed out by adding a carrot to balance the acidity.  While you may have more then you need from the recipe, this sauce also freezes really well for use in the future.


Pizza Dough

The addition of olive oil to this recipe not only adds richness in flavor, but also helps to create a silky texture to the dough that only enhances the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside concept. 

4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 ½ tsp dry active yeast
4 tbsp olive oil
2 ¾ cups warm water
corn meal

In a stand mixer, using a dough hook, sift in the flour and mix together the yeast, sugar and water.  Once incorporated, add the salt and olive oil, then transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and set aside in a warm place and allow to rise for at least an hour or until it has doubled in size.  Once it has risen, punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface and roll out to desired shape, thickness etc. 

Pizza Fritta “Fried Pizza”

Pizza Fritta is pizza dough fried in oil until the base is crisp, then topped with simple ingredients.  The result is a simply delicious cheese pizza with an intensely crisp crust.

pizza dough
tomato sauce
mozzarella
dried oregano
olive or vegetable oil

Heat oil on medium-high flame, roll out the dough to your desired size and shape, fry until the base is golden and crisp.  Smear the top with tomato sauce and layer with mozzarella and dried oregano, then grill or as I did, place under a broiler until the cheese has melted.

These next three pizzas are baked pizzas all following the same baking concept; cooked in a preheated oven  [for one hour at 450-degrees if using a pizza stone, or 400-degrees if cooking pizzas on the oven racks] until golden and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Also, the topping amounts are left unspecified because the pizza sizes you chose may vary.  Since I was indulging alone, I made six inch pizzas therefore using substantially less ingredients then I would if I were making pizzas for a group.

Pizza with Smoked Pancetta, Mozzarella, Red Chilies & Tomato Sauce


Such a great combination of flavors.  I used sweet red chilies and added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.

pizza dough, rolled to desired shape and size
tomato sauce
mozzarella
fresh basil, torn
thinly sliced pancetta
salt and freshly ground pepper
red chilies, sliced thin
red pepper flakes

Pizza with Egg, Prosciutto, Artichokes, Olives, Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce & Basil

If you have never tried the addition of egg to pizza it is definitely worth taking a chance on, the slightly under cooked yolk creates a rich balance to the salty prosciutto and olives.

pizza dough, rolled to desired shape and size
tomato sauce
mozzarella
prosciutto
sliced olives, I used green, kalamata are great also
fresh basil
marinated artichokes or baby artichokes prepared


Top the pizza dough with a thin layer of sauce, then add the mozzarella using it to build sort of a wall around the center, add the rest of your toppings then crack an egg in the center of the pizza.  If the whites run, position your toppings to seal it off.  Bake in the oven until the crust crisps and the egg is cooked to your liking.

Green & Red Grapes, Rosemary, Pinenuts & Ricotta

A subtly sweet twist on a "dessert pizza", the macerated grapes develop a wonderful juice with that when mixed with the wine and vanilla sugar create a tasty syrup.  They do not loose their moisture at all during cooking leaving bursts of juice that balances the creamy ricotta perfectly.

a couple handfuls of green and/or red grapes, rinsed and halved
1 tbsp pinenuts
a few rosemary leaves picked and chopped fine
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp white wine ricotta
extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, mix together the grape halves, vanilla sugar, rosemary and white wine allow this to sit, room temperature about 15 minutes.  When ready, pour evenly over your pizza dough, then top with ricotta cheese and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake until golden and crisp.