Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pizza My Heart or Smitten, How I Love Thee

Shaved Asparagus Pizza, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
My love affair with pizza threatens to consume me. I've been thinking about SK's Shaved Asparagus Pizza since it magically appeared before me several weeks ago. I'd even managed to print it out for my to do stack (which is by the way becoming a bit unwieldy).
The only thing I needed was asparagus. Check.
I also had her recipe for Simple Pizza Dough and decided to try it as it made up a smaller batch than the one I used last week from the big Italian book. Slight differences besides the proportions was no sugar was called for, something I recall seeing in all recipes involving yeast and the addition of olive oil.
I bought a new type of yeast, feeling all inspired I got a pound bag from Smart and more amateurish pre-measured packets for me thank you. Once opened, I put it in a mason jar and it's been in the refrigerator.
I mixed up the dough in the food processor and let it to rise in the dutch oven in the oven. An hour later it didn't seem to have risen much at all. Where did this all go wrong? It was getting very late and my shaved asparagus was sitting there marinating in olive oil, salt an pepper begging to just be eaten like a salad...being perfectly delish all on its own.
She does call this a thin crust pizza and as per the recipe I used a scant amount compared to last weeks dough...check the yeast package, was I right to refrigerate it? Did I kill it? No...refigeration was recommended for optimum results.
I take the dough out of the dutch oven and deflate what little rise it took and as per instructions it goes into a greased bowl for another 20 minutes covered in plastic wrap. In the meantime I make another batch of dough using the old recipe but it comes out much dryer than it did last week.
My confidence is waning and it's closing in on 11p.m. and  I've still not eaten. 20 minutes later with two doughs on the (fingers crossed) rise...wait it appears that my first batch has noticably risen, it's light and airy and ready to roll. I pile on the cheese and I mean pile...a half a pound of mozzarella and a quarter cup of parmesean goes on top of this little disc of dough. Though I hesitated after dumping half that amount on top I just kept longer doubting SK's word, the asparagus shavings get lovingly spread over the cheese and into the very, very hot oven 500 degrees hot and timer set for 15 minutes. Those exact minutes later the most gorgeous pizza emerges from my oven. I can not wait to dive into this one. Lo and behold another perfect Little Kitchen production.

Pretty Citrus Salad

Citrus salad, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

I spend many hours a day in a dangerous place, surrounded by temptation and easy access. Fresh hot tortilas whenever I want them, the lightest flakiest melt-n-your-mouth tortilla chips and cheese and cremas and sauces and all manner of Tex-Mex goodness. I'm pretty good at maneuvering my way through the mire. I've decided to take a new perspective and find new ways to make my own meals making the most and the best of my work ingredients.
I saw this gorgeous citrus salad on SK while bouncing through some archives and I had just bought some Cara Cara's. Blood Oranges are our current promo and we always have oranges there, fresh mint and makings for the citrus dijon dressing. So I packed up my cara caras and chopped up some red onion though I forgot to bring feta I used some cotija that was on hand.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pizza Night...again

Pizza Night...again, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

This was the second attempt at the White Pizza with Mushrooms and Broccoli. I'm not all that wild about the quality of the picture but the pizza looked much, much better.
The first pizza tasted better.The frozen dough didn't rise as much in the oven as the first one. I think it needs more mushrooms and less broccoli next time. I used one 8 oz. Trader Joes package of creminis and a fairly small head of broccoli. In spite of it's round two deficiencies, this is a pizza definitely in my keeper file. Dough from scratch is sooooo easy with the food processor...oh! and next on the wish list is a pizza stone


Peanutella, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

Holy Crap! This might truly well be Kitchen nirvana. This was SK's latest post. It was a pretty picture, but I wasn't all that intrigued...then I started to read. That little lady has a way with the words I can only dream of. I don't think I even finished reading when I high tailed it out the door and pedaled off to my local chinese market for some peanuts and peanut oil.
In her post SK laments the purchase of what she considered her inferior peanuts due to inhospitable weather thus requiring expediency in her shopping excursion.
I'm not sure what constitutes a quality nut and somehow I don't think my package of vacuum packed roasted nuts were all that great but the result was pretty damned awesome.
Last night I drizzled it over bananas and topped it with vanilla ice cream. I was delirious!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Pizza!, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
First time making pizza from scratch. I had gotten a big package of vacuum packed yeast from Smart & Final last week in an effort and incentive to advance my bread baking skills.
I was tooling around the library looking for something to read on a train ride and spied a Vegetarian Times magazine with a gorgeous veggie pizza on the the cover. It called for store bought pizza dough...meh! Pizza dough in the food processor could not be easier with instant yeast I came to find out. So dough rising in the dutch oven inside an unheated oven...50 minutes later resulted in the perfect rise. God I love that dutch oven!
This is a White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms. The sauce is a bechamel-my new favorite thing. The mushrooms are sauteed then the broccoli is tossed in with 1/4 cup of water and steamed for a few minutes over the mushrooms.
Yes, I cooked the veggies too long as they all became kinda manky looking but in the end the pizza tasted absolutely brilliant. I finished the whole thing in two days.
I'm gonna make this again tonight and it will look beautiful.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back to Basics

Breakfast Burrito, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
A new year and the same old resolution. Drop some weight! I'm not trying to revolutionize anything or anyone.
Black beans, salsa, cheese, scrambled eggs and a large flour tortilla.
These are tasty as all get out but don't pretty up very well.
I haven't made these in a while but since I finally got my butt back to Weight Watchers I figure it's time. Nothing satisfies me like one of these do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Parsnip & Ginger Soup

Par but snip & Ginger Soup, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I know a whole lotta nothin' about parsnips. Thus in my attempt to try  something new  I gave this one a test drive. Oh my this is really great! I'm still not sure what a parsnip actually tastes like, I'm really loving the ginger. The soup is very gingery. Nuthin' wrong with that.
So after last nights venture into making veggie stock I looked up some new soup recipes and found this one for Parsnip and Ginger Soup from Jamie Olivers Kitchen Revolution cookbook I'd gotten from the library a few weeks back. Seeing that I had every element on hand for this one except for the parsnips I skipped on up to the produce market and snatched up a little pile of parsnips (they look like pale carrots) and voila! my first soup conjured up from the homemade vegetable stock and score! This is really really good. My first attempt at cooking with fresh ginger was at Thanksgiving with Dorie Greenspans carrots. Seeing as the kids even liked it I was motivated to try it out elsewhere. I picked up some fresh ginger a couple of weeks ago at the farmers market and it's just been sitting there waiting for its moment and here it is.
Ever since I picked up the Olivers Twist DVD's at the library several months back I've been in love with Jamie Oliver. I mean, not only is he as cute as all get out, he is brilliant with just a simple kind of guys approach to the kitchen. Nuthin'fancy. Simple local ingredients. Delish and hearty meals. He's just some footballer who likes to spend time in the kitchen. Of course he's so much more than that but he exudes a real simple kick ass approach to the kitchen...something any guy could do with minimal effort. I love how he just snatches stuff up and bashes it around a bit and comes up with these awesome meals. Nothing fancy or pretentious.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme...

Vegetable stock!, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
...and a whole lotta veg. My very first time attempting to make my own vegetable stock. 18 cups of stock made tonite. 4 1/2 quarts. About $12 spent on vegetables and about $6 worth of wine (that was just bad planning since I'd forgotten to pick up wine earlier I had to go to the pricey market on the corner). So that's $1 a cup. $4 a quart. I'll bet it beats the $2 a quart stuff you get from Trader Joes or the powdered stuff I usually use. Now the trick is to use it. That'll be about 3 batches of soup. So now I gotta get the storage part right. To freeze it in 6 cup batches. Now I gotta find some new soup recipes to test drive this stuff.
So into the first week of the new year and lordy what an ordeal. I mean this is work. I spent last night roasting up the vegetables that took a couple of hours getting it all chopped up and roasted in two tedious batches. Then tonight cooking up the soup. I may have gotten a little heavy handed in the sachet of aromatics. I just used up the remainder of my old sage, thyme and rosemary. It's a little sagey but good. But next time I've got to plan better. Pots and more pots, collanders and cheesecloth and straining...then what to put it all in. The house here doesn't have much in the way of storage containers or fridge space and freezer? Fuhgedabouddit!
I'm gettin' my veggie game on to start the new year off on the right track.

Ringing in the New Year - Veggiepalooza

Whole Lotta Veg!, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I usher in the new year with a couple of healthy resolutions: of course fruits and vegetables need major attention. It was a busy night in the Little Kitchen Annex. I've been noodling around in a kitchen not much bigger than my own but certainly more well equipped. It's the supersized stove top with it's groovy grill. The burger never got so much love.
 Last night I revved up the veggie cookery. First up was the Mushroom Bourguignon again. I made Cream Biscuits in the morning and the 'Shroom Bourguignon was one of those triumphs that begged an encore asap. Got back to May Wah and picked up more shrooms last night. Lessee price wise two large caps weighing in at 6oz total were 1.99 (about $5 lb.) Perhaps I should start considering costs here. Not to be cheap but just to know for comparison purposes. The shrooms were the only purchase for this batch. To do this again wine and shrooms should be all I need.
So As soon as I get back home the Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone gets attacked. This is gonna mean not only do I chart my course on this here wee blog but I also intend to foist my Veg Attack shenanigans on my poor old Weight Watchers chums. Free registration means I've not excuses now. Oh and I'm gonna do the salsa thang. 
Anyhoo I got this wild hair up my butt and decided I would make my own vegetable stock. Where this goes? Who knows. I found a recipe at the food network. Emeril. A lot going on. Oh well...what the hell. Yes there were simpler recipes out there but I latched onto this for some crazy reason. Was it the wine? Too bad I drank it all before I got a chance to put it into soup. So here's what I bought tonite to go into this hot mess:
tomatoes, leeks, yellow onion, yellow squash, carrots, turnip, parsnip, more rosemary, more thyme and basil. I already had on hand some celery, mushroom parts, garlic, shallots and pepper parts. Umm $15 later. Perhaps the carton stuff ain't such a bad idea after all. So I got home and I chopped and diced and roasted it all up as per Emerils instructions and BAM! Four baking sheets loaded with veg and what took about 2 hours and I don't have anything to contain my herb sachet. No string. No cheesecloth and no wine! oh and I forgot the bay leaf. I've got a whole fresh jar at home but I'm current still in the kitchen annex with pooches at my feet waiting for me to dro\p something on the floor so they can snarffle it up.
Last up was finally cooking up the apples that were serious ready to shrivel up and die. Applesauce! brilliant.