Pizza night!

April 18, 2012

Margaux says…

I’ve always wanted to do a “pizza night” regularly in our house, but never got around to it.  Whenever I think of it, it always seems like too much work, so I figure I’ll just do it another time.  And until I get better at it, it is kind of a lot of work.  But let’s be honest, not much more than any other meal that I prepare on a regular basis.  So tonight, I’m starting a new tradition of making pizzas once a month (or so)!  Because with this new pizza dough recipe that I got from last month’s issue of Bon Appetit, these pizzas are REALLY GOOD.  Like, as good as a fancy Italian pizzeria good.  And it’s a lot easier than other recipes I’ve used, where you have to knead it and stuff (probably one of the main reasons why pizza night hasn’t happened regularly yet).  You just have to remember to make the dough the night before, and you’re good to go.

I’ve always been one of those, “pizza isn’t pizza without a ton of sauce” people, until recently.  I loved my pizza drenched in tomato sauce, and would be happy with some on the side to dip it in.  But lately my pizza tastes have finally grown up, and I’m actually preferring “white” pizzas, no sauce included.  Tonight I made a couple of these sauceless pizzas, and they were fantastic.  My topping suggestions that we tried out tonight are below.

Basic Pizza Dough

from Bon Appetit, March 2012

This makes three 10-12″ pizzas.

Make this dough 18 hours before use.  You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerate it (just make sure you take it out 2-3 hours before using).

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups room temperature water

Whisk flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl.  While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add water; stir until well incorporated.  Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball.  Transfer to a large clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature in a draft-free area until sufrace is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours.  Transfer dough to a floured work surface.  Gently shape into a rough rectangle.  Divide into 3 equal portions.  Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds.  Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust dough with flour, set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining portions.  (If making ahead of time, wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate until using).  Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.

To make the pizzas:

During the last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven:  preheat oven to hottest setting, 500-550 degrees, for 1 hour. Working with one dough ball at a a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface.  Gently shape dough into a 10-12″ disk.  Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with toppings (see ideas below).  Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a work surface to slice.

Kale, marinated tomato, and kalamata olive pizza

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped into 1-2″ pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

kalamata olives

shredded mozzarella cheese

To prepare kale:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add kale and minced garlic, and saute until greens are bright green and softened.  Set aside to let cool.

To prepare marinated tomatoes:

**best if made night before, or at least 2-3 hours beforehand**

Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 tsp salt until emulsified.  Pour over halved tomatoes in airtight container, cover with a lid and toss until tomatoes are all coated.  Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

To build pizza:

Spread sauteed kale over pizza dough, then cover with desired amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Arrange tomatoes and olives over the top, and bake.

Italian sausage, caramelized onion and marinated tomato pizza with basil and parmesan

1 mild italian sausage

marinated cherry tomatoes (see recipe above)

caramelized onion (I used one onion, and I like this recipe)

several basil leaves, chiffonaded

shredded mozzarella cheese

grated parmesan cheese

To prepare sausage:

Remove sausage from casing and roll into small balls.  Saute over medium-high heat in a large skillet until cooked thoroughly and browned slightly.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Set aside.

To build pizza:

Scatter sausage and onions over prepared pizza dough.  Top with mozzarella cheese, then scatter tomatoes and basil over that.  Add a little parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake.


Margaux says…
Happy Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, I don’t get to host Thanksgiving dinner yet. I suppose I could, but I don’t know that anyone would come besides my husband and son. And that would be a lot of food for the three of us. So until I get the pleasure, which isn’t going to be for years, I will make something ridiculously rich for breakfast (setting us up for a day of rich food, of course!).

This year I made a coffee cake from the November Bon Appetit. I heeded their advice and made it the night before, and I’m so glad I did! Not only was it ready to eat first thing in the morning, but the flavors had melded together into perfection overnight (full confession, we had some tastes last night before bed). This cake is absolutely delicious, and it will feed a crowd! I highly recommend trying it this holiday season for your overnight guests.

We had a hard time getting it out of the pan, and ended up breaking it in half, actually. It’s really hard to get it off the bottom and center tube of the pan. I was thinking that next time I may just leave it on the tube, which won’t make for a pretty presentation, but we won’t have a broken cake. My mom suggested cutting out a cardboard round that is the exact same size as the cake (or maybe an inch wider all around), sliding it onto the center tube, and inverting the cake onto it. I think that will probably work…you’ll just have to have someone help by holding the sides in place as you flip it over. If anyone tries this, let me know how it works!

Brown Butter, Ginger, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake
from Bon Appetit, November 2011 issue

Brown Butter

2 cups plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (possibly more)

Topping

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Cake

Unsalted butter (for pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (or I used sliced)

Grease a nonstick 10″ tube pan with removable bottom with butter. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brown Butter

Simmer 2 cups plus 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned bits form, about 6-8 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup. If needed, add more butter to measure 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (added butter will melt).

Topping

Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown butter (reserve remaining butter for cake). Stir until moist clumps form. Stir in ginger. Set aside.

Cake

Butter pan generously. Whisk all-purpose flour and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup browned butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and thick, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture just to blend.
Spoon half of cake batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Scatter 1 cup of topping over. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over, smooth. Add almonds to remaining topping; squeeze to form 1/2″ clumps and scatter evenly over batter in pan.
Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides; let cool completely. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

Cincinnati Chili

March 12, 2011

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Aunt Suzy got me a subscription to Bon Appetit, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot of posts with recipes from it. I love this magazine! It gives me tons of (much needed) ideas for weeknight dinners, and this one was one of them. The minute I saw the photo of it when I turned the page, I knew I had to make it. See, I grew up in Steak N’ Shake country, and this looks exactly like one of my favorites, Chili 5-Way. Of course, once I looked at the ingredients I knew that Cincinnati chili is much different from the Steak N’ Shake classic…I’m sure S N’ S doesn’t put cocoa powder in theirs…but that made me want to make it even more. And it is DELISH (I hate to say it, but worlds better than S N’ S Chili 5-Way)!

There’s only one small change I made to the recipe-I’m not from anywhere near Cincinnati, so I’m not sure if this small step makes it unauthentic-but the recipe calls for mixing the beans with the spaghetti noodles, and I’m recommending stirring the beans into the chili mixture instead. The small beans did not mix well with the long noodles, and it was difficult to get a good ratio of beans-to-noodles going in each bowl.  Also, because I was on a budget, I made it with ground beef instead of ground lamb, which is what the original recipe calls for.  I’m sure that would be fantastic, and I will be trying it sometime!

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux’s post inspired me to run right out and to get the ingredients for this so I could make it immediately!  The recipe had also caught my eye in Bon Appetit – I’m a Steak N’ Shake girl, and I’ve loved Skyline Chili when I’ve had it in Cincinnati .  This is a “fancied-up” version – you can see more about authentic Cincinnati chili on this episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  I made some adaptions as well.  I cooked the meat first without the olive oil, then removed from the pan, sauteed the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, put the meat back in and proceeded with the recipe from there.  I used a combo of ground chicken/ground turkey and chicken stock.  It worked out well, which I thought it would since I do the same for sloppy joes. Be careful about the spices!  I inadvertently added 1 teaspoon of cloves, so the whole thing had slight clove overtones – it’s one strong spice!  I agree with Margaux that this is delicious and a fun Saturday or Sunday supper.

Cincinnati Chili
adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, lamb, turkey or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • scant teaspoon ground allspice
  • scant teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • scant teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 2 1/3 cups (about) low-salt beef broth or chicken stock, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • scant tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • Coarsely grated goat’s-milk Gouda cheese or goat’s-milk cheddar cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add the meat; cook until browned, breaking into pieces, about 15 minutes. Add cocoa and next 4 ingredients; stir 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups broth and next 6 ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until thickened, stirring often, about 1 hour. Spoon fat from top of chili. Season with salt and pepper. Thin with broth by 1/3 cupfuls. Stir in beans and 1 tablespoon parsley.
  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with chili. Garnish with cheese, onions, and parsley.

Spiced Chocolate Torte

January 30, 2011

Margaux says…

It’s my birthday!! My husband asked me if I wanted him to get me a cake, or if I wanted to make it myself. I’m a total cake snob, and have yet to really find a bakery in Chicago that has cake as good as homemade. I’ve found decent ones, but still not good enough, so I usually make my own cake. This year was no exception, and I’ve been really wanting to make the cake that was featured on the December cover of Bon Appetit…it looks heavenly!! Maybe a little labor-intensive, even when not making the white chocolate and milk chocolate ribbons to wrap it up in, but hey, it’s my birthday!  Totally worth the work.

The cake part is actually pretty straightforward and easy.  The batter was a little weird before you put in the egg whites…it was more like cookie dough.  But once you put in the egg whites, it’s much more what I’m used to for cake batter.

The buttercream was another story.  I’ve always wanted to make a real French buttercream, but always put it off because it seems too tedious.  It took me two tries, but the second time around I had the hang of it, and it actually turned out pretty perfectly.  I don’t have any photos of the process because you really have to buckle down and stay focused on the task, but if you follow the instructions carefully, it’s actually not that hard.  I added one note to the recipe…the first time around, I used my stand mixer, and I definitely advise against that.  I was pouring the cooked sugar mixture into the eggs with the mixer running, like you should, but because the syrup hardens immediately as it cools, it was splattering into hard crystals on the sides of the bowl.  It was pretty, and looked like spun sugar, but almost half of the syrup didn’t end up in the eggs like it should have!  So the second time around, I used a hand mixer, which was more labor intensive but did the trick.


The glaze was very easy.  The only thing is that I don’t think I stirred it enough to thicken it, so a lot more than I wanted slid off the cake.  So make sure you follow the instructions, and not get too antsy to eat the cake.  🙂


Spiced Chocolate Torte
(without the chocolate ribbons)
from Bon Appetit, Dec 2010 issue

I made this as a 6″ cake, since I wasn’t serving 12-14 people like the original recipe states.  You can halve any recipe for a 9″ cake to make a 6″ cake.  Some of the division is a little tricky, so you’ll have to use a calculator or conversion chart on the internet.

cake
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
8 eggs, separated, room temperature
10 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted, lukewarm
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, sifted (measured, then sifted)
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

buttercream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 jumbo egg yolks
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted and cooled (but still pourable)
1/4 cup dark rum
pinch salt

glaze
12 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate(do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 tbsp honey
3/4 tsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder

cake
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter three 9″ cake pans with 1 1/2″ high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Blend in melted chocolate. Slowly mix in pecans, vanilla and spices. Gently fold in flour in 4 batches (batter will be very thick and dense).
Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar in another large bowl until medium peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of the whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining. whites. Divide batter among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake until tooth pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Run knife around sides of each cake. Let stand 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Cool to room temperature. (Cakes can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Wrap tightly and freeze.)

buttercream
Stir sugar and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in medium bowl until pale and thick. Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup; continue beating until mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes. (I used a hand mixer for this because with a stand mixer, when adding the syrup mixture half of it ended up on the sides of the bowl like spun sugar. I had to scrap a batch and start over.) Beat in butter one piece at a time, incorporating each piece completely before adding next. Blend in melted chocolate, then rum. (If buttercream looks broken or curdled, place bowl with buttercream over medium heat on stove burner and whisk 5 to 10 seconds to warm mixture slightly, then remove from heat and beat mixture again on medium speed. Repeat warming and beating as many times as needed until buttercream is smooth.) Chill buttercream for 30 minutes to firm it up before spreading it on the cake layers.
Reserve 1/2 cup buttercream. Set 1 cake layer, flat side up, on rack; spread top with half the remaining buttercream. Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining buttercream. Top with third cake layer; use reserved 1/2 cup buttercream to fill in seam where cake layers meet. Freeze cake until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours (I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap so that it wouldn’t dry out).

glaze
Place strips of waxed paper under the sides of the cake to catch extra glaze when it runs down the sides.
Stir all ingredients in top of double boiler over gently simmering water until mixture is smooth. Remove from over water. Stir until glaze is thickened, about 5 minutes (do not allow glaze to set). Pour 3/4 of the glaze over the top of cake. Carefully and quickly tilt cake back and forth so glaze coats sides; smooth sides with spatula, adding some of remaining glaze where necessary. Chill cake until glaze is set. Remove pieces of waxed paper.

Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.