How To... · Pasta

Pizza Dough

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Making pizza on an evening when you are not in a rush is good for the soul.   For us, it is a team activity which means time well spent together.  I prep the dough, we both do the toppings and Kevin cooks it on the grill which avoids heating up the house.

By using instant yeast, rising time is cut in half so we can start the dough around 4 and be eating by 6:30.

So, this Saturday night, when dinner can get to the table ‘eventually’, mix your dough, then maybe mix a cocktail to unwind…  kick back and listen to some great music with your significant other and wait for the dough to rise.

While you are waiting, chop up some fresh herbs and stir them into to can of tomato sauce for a fresher tasting pizza sauce.

And, remember to have fun with your toppings.   What about that leftover brisket, souvlaki or  bbq chicken already in your fridge?  Maybe charred veggies?  Or stick with traditional pepperoni.  Whatever makes you happy.

Cooking time will depend on where you are cooking it – our charcoal grill cooks it in about 6 minutes, but it takes nearly 15 in our oven.  So you will have some experimenting to do, but don’t stress over it, its all part of the fun.

The one piece of specialty equipment you will need for this is a pizza screen or use an upside down pizza pan or cookie sheet.  Using one of these takes all the stress of getting that dressed pizza off of the peel and onto the grill.  Just be sure that if you are grilling this, the pan you choose fits your bbq.

 

Pizza Dough

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

2 1/2 cups flour

6 – 8 oz water

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a bit more for brushing the bowl

In bowl of stand mixer, whisk sugar, salt, yeast and flour together.  Add the olive oil and 6 oz of water.  Using the dough hook, on low speed, mix until dough comes together and forms a rough dough.  If dough looks dry or is not coming together, add more water by teaspoons until it looks right.  Knead with mixer until smooth.  About 5 minutes.  (this can be done by hand if you prefer).

Turn dough onto floured board and knead 3 – 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, place in warm, draft free area and let rise until doubled in size- 30 – 40 minutes.

Punch dough down and place on lightly floured board.  Divide in half for 2 large pizzas or into 3 for 3 medium ones.  Form pieces into balls, place on cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put back in warm place to rise for another 30 minutes. ( here is where we take that 3rd ball of pizza and toss it into the freezer for later use.  Also, if you are making the dough ahead, you can pop it into the fridge now for up to 2 days. Of course, you will thaw and or let dough warm up and rise before proceeding)

Preheat your oven or grill to 500F.

Working with one ball at a time, roll or press out dough on a lightly floured surface to a roughly circular shape, about 10″ across for a mediium pizza.  Place on your pizza screen or upside down pan.  Add sauce and toppings as desired.  Pop the pan into your oven or the grill and bake 8 – 14 minutes, until cheese has melted and crust is golden.

Pour yourself another glass of wine and enjoy.

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How To...

Tzatziki Sauce

Now that you know how easy it is to make this, you will be putting it on everything – fresh tomatoes, your next BLT, salads, dip for that leftover pita bread…

Tzatziki Sauce

1   6″ cucumber, peeled, seeds removed

1 cup greek yogurt (whole milk)

1 clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together, let stand 15 minutes for flavours to blend and serve with anything greek.

Pork

Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Meat on a stick.  What’s not to like?  Bonus points for you all if you make your own pita bread to go with this.

Serves 4

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Pork Souvlaki

2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 red peppers, each cut into 1′ slices

2 Tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients,  EXCEPT for pork and red pepper, in small bowl, mix well to combine.  Place cubed pork in ziplock bag and pour contents of bowl over pork in bag.  Massage bag to work marinade through the meat, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.  (don’t forget to put the bag in a bowl incase it springs a leak)

Assembly:  Toss red pepper with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Thread pork and red pepper cubes onto skewers.  Cook in a grill pan or bbq about 10 minutes, until cooked thru.  Cooking time will vary, depending on how hot your pan/bbq is.

Serve with Pita Bread and Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Tzatziki Sauce

1   6″ cucumber, peeled, seeds removed

1 cup greek yogurt (whole milk)

1 clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grate cucumber and place in strainer.  Toss with a pinch of salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in small bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as possible from cucumbers and add them to the yogurt mixture.  Mix well and serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  1.  If using wooden skewers, soak 30 minutes before using.
  2. The first time I made this, I cut the pepper in half and grilled them separately.  Putting them on the skewers makes more sense.
  3. Tzatziki Sauce can be made 1 day ahead.

 

 

 

 

Pork

Jerk Back Ribs

I recently found an article containing “11 rib recipes that we must make” this summer.   Really???  Who can resist such temptation!?  Certainly no one in this household.

11 recipes all so wonderful that my life could possibly be less than complete until I have tried each and every one?    Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to be missing out on anything, especially when it is food related.

I sent Kevin to our local Sams Club for a gross of back ribs, which we separated into several weekly servings to prepare for this grand adventure.    After reading the list, we decided there were actually some we could live without trying and narrowed it down to 5.  Co-incidentally, the same number of portions we got from that enormous package of ribs.

This one happened to be first on the list.    Of course, there are a couple of tweaks to suit our tastes and what I had in the house: amber rum instead of dark, regular allspice instead of Authentic Jamaican, onions for scallions (they looked terrible at the market last week, and Habeneros for Scotch Bonnet (and fewer!), but basically, the recipe was made as written.   Click here for the link to the original recipe.

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Jerk Back Ribs

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons amber rum

1 tablespoon lime juice

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 habanero peppers, stems removed

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

4 racks baby back ribs

Put all ingredients except for ribs in a blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Place ribs in ziplock bag and pour in marinade.  Gently massage bag to be sure the ribs inside are well coated with marinade.   (See Cooks Note)  Place bag in bowl large enough to catch any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, line a sheet pan with foil and a baking rack.  Discard marinade left in bag. Place ribs on rack on tip of the foil, cover with more foil and seal securely.  Roast at 325F until tender,  2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove top foil and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pour all pan drippings into a sauce pan, bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.  Let mixture cool.  Brush half of the reduced sauce over cooling ribs.

Heat grill to medium heat.  Grill ribs, flipping and basting often with remaining pan drippings until slightly charred and heated thru – 8 – 10 minutes.  Serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  •  It is best if you do not touch the marinade with your hands.  If you want to massage the marinade into each individual rack, wear rubber gloves!   This contains HOT peppers and  your hands will complain bitterly if you don’t.
  • Ribs and sauce can be cooked 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • If you want more spice in these, add a couple more habaneros to the marinade.

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Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

I don’t make a lot of vegetarian dishes.  I was raised a meat and potatoes girl and I don’t see that changing soon.  However, this one caught my eye and I am glad it did.   I have made a few changes from the original recipe to suit our tastes and what could be found in the market.  When you make this, don’t skip the salsa part!  You only need a little dab, but without it, this would be just another bland bowl of rice and beans.

Start to finish, this will be done in about the time it takes to cook the rice.  This recipe makes a nice dinner for 2, with some rice left over.   It can easily be doubled.

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Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped, divided

1 cup raw brown rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, divided

1  15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 Anaheim, or Cubanel pepper, halved, seeds & stems removed

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tablespoon lime zest

1 avocado, halved, pitted and chopped

12 grape tomatoes,  halved, or 1 tomato, diced

2 radishes, thinly sliced

Rice:  Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in pot over medium heat.  Add 1/4 the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let it brown.  Stir in rice and stir for another minute.  Add 2 cups water, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until rice is tender.  About 40 minutes.   Remove from heat and let stand, covered 10 minutes.  (See cooks notes)

While rice is cooking, make the beans and salsa.

Beans:  heat remaining tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the rest of the onion, and cook stirring frequently until onion is soft – about 5 minutes.

Add cumin and coriander to onions, cook, stirring one minute until spices are fragrant.  Add beans and chicken stock.  Bring to boil, reduce  heat and simmer, mashing beans until thickened.  About 10 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Salsa:  Pulse chiles, garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and last of the onion in a blender until a chunky sauce forms.   Taste and season with salt.  Pour into small serving dish.

Remove cover from rice, fluff with fork and stir in half of the cilantro.

Place rice in bowl, add beans and top with diced avocado, radishes and tomato.  Serve salsa and the remaining cilantro on the side.

COOKS NOTES:  Cooking instructions for rice are general.  For best results, check your package of rice and follow instructions on the package for amount of water and cooking times.

 

 

 

Pies

Fresh Mango ‘Pie’

It cant get easier than this.   It is messy, but you get fruit and graham crust all on the same plate.  Maybe I should call it a Mango Mess instead.

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1 graham pie crust (pre-baked)

3 – 4 ripe mangoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup water or apple juice

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

zest and juice from one small lime

In large saucepan over medium high heat, combine juice (or water), cornstarch, lime juice and sugar.  Stir to dissolve and continue stirring constantly to prevent sticking until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.  Remove from heat, stir in mangoes then transfer mixture to pre-baked graham pie crust.  Sprinkle lime zest over top.  Chill in fridge at least 2 hours.  Spoon onto plates and enjoy.

COOKS NOTE:  This does not set up like a regular pie.   You wont get neat  slices from it so you probably shouldn’t make it if you re trying to impress the in-laws, but it is pretty tasty all the same.

 

 

Desserts · How To... · Pies

(Almost) Graham Cracker Pie Crust

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Mango Pie with Graham Crust

We can buy Graham Crackers here but we must go to an import store where we pay more for that little box of crackers than it would cost to buy a whole pie from a speciality bakery.    We can get pre-made “graham” crusts for a very reasonable cost, but they tend to be flavourless.  So, I started experimenting with different types of cookies that  are readily available here and, discovered what most of you probably already know… most any unfilled cookie can sub in for Graham Crackers.

Crush the cookies in a plastic bag using a rolling pin or pop them in your food processor.  The important part is to be sure to add enough butter and sugar so it stays together when you press it into the pie pan.

It isn’t rocket science and some of you are probably wondering why on earth something so common needs to be written down.   The answer?  Because even though this is a no brainer for many of you, I  don’t make pies often enough to have this simple formula memorized.  And, now that it is written it down, I don’t have to memorize it.

(Almost) Graham Cracker Pie Crust

 

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs

6 tablespoons  butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl until well combined.   Press mixture into a 9″ pie pan, making sure it is tight and compact.   Using the bottom of a flat measuring cup to help with this.

If you are making a no-bake pie, chill the crust for at least 2 hours before adding the filling.

If making a baked pie, pre-bake the crust at 350F for 7 – 10 minutes, then continue with whatever directions you have for the filling.