Monday, September 17, 2012


So I've been wanting to tackle pizza - I tried it once many, many years ago and it failed badly.  I got myself a pizza stone (King Arthur was running a nice sale!), found a recipe, and got to it.

My recipe was the Heart Healthy Honey of a Pizza recipe from The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook with a few modifications.  It called for half whole wheat flour, but I didn't have that so I used all unbleached white.  Though I will pick up some of their wheat flour for next time - I'm sure that would be nice.

 First I put warm water, yeast, and the honey in a bowl and let that start working.

Then I added about a cup of the flour and the salt.

A spoon wasn't mixing it well enough for me, so I grabbed my little whisk.

Then I moved on to the dough whisk to pull the rest of the flour into the dough.

Here's the dough just pulled together and kneaded a bit.

I let it rest a few minutes and it smoothed out some.

I turned it into a lightly oiled bowl.  You can let this rise for two hours someplace warm-ish, but I decide to put it in the fridge for all day (about six hours).  This is supposed to develop the flavors more.

Here it is after about five hours.  I let it come to room temperature while I heated my oven and made my pesto.

I heard on a cooking show or I read in a cookbook somewhere about how to make a home oven sorta behave like a pizzaria pizza oven.  Those get up to like 700º or 800º and most home ovens can't match that, so it's hard to get a nice crust on them.  So here's what I did:  I put the rack in the oven on the second rung from the top.  I pre-heated the oven at 500º for about an hour.  Then I prepped my pizzas.  I put them on the stone and turned the heat down to 450º they had heat from below and above.  The strategy worked very nicely!  (corn meal on the spatula made the moving part easier, too.)

15 minutes later - viola!

The crusts came out beautifully!  Crispy on the bottom, just like they should be.

This was my first real pizza attempt, so I wasn't sure how to deal with the dough...I set it up for a thick crust, which my husband and I both like, but these were arguably a little too thick.  I'll handle the dough a little differently next time to get the crust a bit thinner.

By the way, the topping tonight was home-made pesto and mozzarella cheese torn into bits.

I was using a cake lifter, which was ok for little pizzas, but I think if I make a larger one I'm going to need an actual pizza peel.

Tomato Soup I

I got these HUGE heirloom tomatoes at the grocery store and wanted to make a nice tomato soup.  I found a recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook called very simply, Tomato Soup I.

Look at these babies!  They are more than 3.5 lbs altogether.

They were nice and deep red on the inside...tasted good, too.

First I cooked them down a bit - nothing but the tomatoes in here just now.

Meanwhile, I scalded some milk.  Now, I've never scaled milk before - I've always been worried about going to far and burn it, but I just did what Amanda said....heat it on med-high till there are some bubbles around the edge and some steam.  Then remove from heat.  I did so and did not end up burning any milk and the pan cleaned up nicely.

Got to use my food mill!

And was left with about 4.5 cups of cooked tomatoes.

I heated up a little butter, put in some salt, pepper, and five crushed-up saltines.

Then added my hot milk and tomatoes.

It came out more pink than red, but it was very, VERY good.  I think maybe the best version of tomato soup that I've had.  I have to say, the tomatoes themselves were critical to the taste of this.

I love these bowls from Le Creuset.  There are two full ladles of soup in there and I could still carry it to the table without worrying about being burned (which did, in fact, happen to me once before with hot home-made soup and resulted in a trip to the ER. Oouuch.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Baked Pancakes

Actually, these are officially called "The Newcastle Inn Baked Pancakes".   I think they are basically like individual Dutch Baby Pancakes (though I've yet to make those).

This is from The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook.  The recipe is perfect for us because it just makes two!

First you melt a little butter.  

 I found this Lodge silicone handle cover at my grocery store and I like it.  (Wish mine was red, though!)

Then I lightly greased a couple of pans.  It called for two 6-inch cake pans, but I don't have those.  These are cast iron and a little bit bigger than what was called for.  I rolled the dice.

The batter was easy-peasy to put together.  It was very thin.

Divide it between the two pans....

Bake for 15 minutes at 450º and POOF!  Not sure how they would have been in a smaller pan...maybe a little thicker?  But I liked these just fine.

 The recipe says to turn them out right away, so I did.  I turned one over to see how the bottom looked.

A few blueberries, some powdered sugar, and a bit of nice syrup on the side, and I was ready to sit down.

These came out very nice!  I will do them again for us!