when dough meets grill

bread flour

So early yesterday morning it suddenly became quite clear to me – I needed grilled pizza!   Once I’d made up my mind I quickly mixed up a simple dough for the crust.  I was quite excited because I always make a focaccia style crust but this time I changed it up!  I skipped the all-purpose flour and used bread flour.  I tossed equal parts salt and sugar in a bowl along with some yeast and warm water (no olive oil)- mixed it all up and set it out on the counter to rise.

The hubs and I headed out for some ice cream- well, fro-yo for me, at J.P. Licks!  One of my favorite things to do ever!  They have hard mint chocolate chip fro-yo and FAT FREE hot fudge! HELLO!!! What’s not to love?  Then, we headed over to my most favorite store in all the world, The Whole Foods!

I bought some beautiful Maine grown hot house tomatoes, some fresh locally made mozzarella and vino.  I like the vino with pizza.  Then I looked at really expensive cheese and pined over a container of black truffle infused butter.  I WILL have you black truffle infused butter.  I WILL HAVE YOU!!!

seriously good maine tomatoes

When we got home, I cut up some chicken breasts and set them to marinate in a bowl of that balsamic vinegar I’m so crazy about and then I infused a little dish of olive oil with garlic, sea salt and some tri-colored peppercorns.  Infused, sounds bothersome? It’s not- it’s easy peasy!  I just poured about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a glass custard dish, sprinkled in a bit of salt, threw in 10 little peppercorns and dropped in two cloves of garlic that I pealed and smashed with hammer- then popped it in the micro for 25 seconds.  You can do the same thing on the stove top- just warm the oil and additional ingredients over a low flame for bit and let it sit and soak in all the good flavors!

After the chicken had bathed in the balsamic for an hour or so I plopped it into a cast iron pan, covered it with a piece of parchment paper and then foil and popped the chicken into an oven preheated to 350 for 1/2 an hour.  Then I started the fire in the grill and got busy with the other pizza toppings.

I thinly sliced up a red onion and put that in a pan with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt over a medium/low flame, stirring occasionally, until they had softened and caramelized. In another pan I tossed some chopped red pepper, salt, olive oil, again, over a medium/low flame until they’d softened a bit, but still had a little bite to them.  By now the chicken was ready to come out of the oven…

Once the chicken was out, the veggies cooked, the oil infused, the mozzarella torn into bits and the tomatoes thinly sliced….guess what happened next!!!  Hello! Mise en place!!!!

mise en place, grilled pizza style!

It is imperative when grilling pizza to have everything you need out on a table next to the grill- you have to move quickly!  Other tools you will need next to the grill are a metal skewer or fork (when the pizza is cooking it will bubble up and you will need to poke the bubbles) and a heavy duty metal bbq spatula!

If you’ve made the pizza crust yourself roll it out and place it on a peel or un-rimmed cookie sheet which you have heartily sprinkled with coarse cornmeal.  Have your pizza mise en place out next to the grill and make sure the fire is SUPER low!  I use hardwood charcoal when I grill and the charcoal should basically be burned down to embers- pretty much gray with a little orange.  Before you put the dough on the grill, clean the hot grill surface with a metal brush and spray some grilling oil on the surface- then, quickly and with great confidence, vigorously slide your pizza dough off the peel/cookie sheet  and onto the grill!  Sometimes you’re going to have to pull here or there once it lands.  Now there is a good chance flames will erupt!  If this should happen, quickly shut the lid of your grill.  Now, grab your brush and infused oil, wait a minute or two, open the lid and brush the top of the dough with oil.  If the dough is getting bubbly, pop the bubbles with your skewer- if flames shoot up cover the grill for a couple of seconds.

bubbly pizza brushed with infused oil

Now, take your spatula and kind of lift the edges of the pizza up and take a peak and see if it’s cooking up.  If you think it looks good, use a peel/cookie sheet, spatula to flip it over. This time the coals will flame up because of the oil on the dough- shut the grill, give it a minute, open it, brush the dough with oil and start adding your toppings-

first cooked side

My first layer of toppings-

delicious tomatoes

2nd layer-

caramelized onions & sweet red pepper

3rd-

balsamic marinated chicken, mozzarella, fresh basil

Once you have all your toppings piled on, close the lid and let the cheese turn into lovely melty goodness.  It shouldn’t take long.  Once you’re liking how it looks, slide your peel or sheet underneath it and remove it from the grill!

done! first of the year!

Yes, it does take some time and some planning!  But it is so delicious!!!  If you are interested in learning how to prepare and grill your own pizzas I will be teaching a class in this fabulous cooking technique in the spring!  Mangia! Mangia!

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an american in japan

This is a guest post from my first foreign correspondent, my son, Ty.  Ty has been studying in Japan for the past 7 months.  At 16, he is already a very accomplished cook!  His hash browns are to die for, he can cook up a mean steak and he’s also an accomplished pasta and rice-ball maker!  Here’s his recipe for steak and cheese!  Thanks Ty!  You’re awesome!

ty's steak & cheese awesomeness!

It’s my sixth month in Japan, and I have started to develop a serious craving for American food. One of my favorite foods in the world is the Steak and Cheese–so I fired up the grill and made this delicious and simple sandwich for myself and my host family.

Serves 3(about):

300 grams (about 10 ounces) of Delicious Beef, thinly sliced. If you live near an Asian supermarket, you can get pre-sliced meat for either Korean BBQ or sukiyaki. Go with the sukiyaki beef, if you can, it tends to be a little more flavorful and tender.

1 Large red bell pepper, thinly sliced.

1 large golden onion. Cut the onion into slices about a centimeter thick.

1 or 2 slices of cheese per person, to taste. Provolone for a fancy sandwich, cheap American for a greasy diner sandwich–I prefer American.

1 long sandwich roll

One side of your grill should be hot, the other should be warm. I piled the charcoal on only one side of the grill to do this.

First, grill the peppers and onions in a little bit of olive oil–make sure that they’re cooked, but are still crunchy. Set them to warm side of the grill after you’re done.

Next, grill the steak to taste. I like it a little pink, but as a rule you should always cook it a little less than you normally do, because you’ll have to:

Throw your cheese slices over the steak, and your veggies over the cheese. Let the cheese get soft, then mix everything together and let the cheese get liquidy.

I don’t like to toast the bread, but if you want to the best time would be in between the veggie step and the steak step.

Put everything between the bread and serve hot.

The best thing about this sandwich is that it’s wicked easy and you can throw just about anything you want into it with no hassle. Some suggestions:
Jalapenos, Mushrooms, Tomato, Kimchi…etc etc.

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i have learned through fat & thin…

Not only do I hoard buttons, I hoard wee dishes and little bowls.

 

little dishes & wee bowls

So these are like 2o of my 100+ little bowls and dishes- God help me, but I almost bought 4 more today. I mean they were HALL pottery and all that- but $3.99 a piece!!! HELLO, fuggedaboutit. Instead, I bought a Vivienne Tam shirt, a MOTH skirt, a fabulous vintage dress- put $10 bucks of high-test and a quart of oil in the mg and called it a $20 dollar day!  Well, anyhoo.  I got all crazy about little dishes and bowls when I embraced the concept of Mise en place.  Ooo! Fancy pants, speaking french!

Mise en place, a french term or phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as “everything in place.”  That means- reading the recipe all the way through, as many times as you need to- it’s the whole measure twice- cut once groove -bringing the ingredients of any recipe to the desired temperature for optimal success,  preheating your oven, greasing your pans, getting out the needed spatulas and spoons and blenders and mixers, you know, your equipment, your “Batterie de cuisine”  (more on that another time)  and, my most favorite part, preparing, arranging and organizing the ingredients you need for whatever it is you’re cooking and putting said items in little bowls and plates and dishes!

Seriously, I Mise en place my head on my neck and attach it to my shoulders EVERY morning- if I didn’t…. Mise en place really became the way to do things when Auguste Escoffier was being a mad chef and running a kitchen via the “brigade system.”  It is a wonderful thing to have everything out, chopped, whisked, sliced , separated, sifted, melted, preheated, greased and placed in little bowls!  You should Mise en place a peanut butter sandwich, french toast, scrambled eggs- really, try it!  I have learned through fat and thin- Do NOT question Escoffier.  Google the Escoffier.  Escoffier is THE SHIT!!!  Do as Escoffier says- Mise en place!!!

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sole of the border

So, I am still all over that Dover Sole!  I was at the Whole Foods the other day and bought some more.  I am on a Dover Sole binge!

hello my lovely dover sole

The other day I tossed some sole into a bowl with a little froth of egg white, salt, pepper, cumin, fresh coriander and fine ground cornmeal- I was going for a Mexican vibe-

sole of the border

I tossed some roasted red peppers and grape tomatoes with a bit of olive oil about in a skillet until they were heated through, perhaps for a minute or two.  Then, using tongs, tossed the pieces of fish in with the mix-

I stepped away from the stove to chop up a bit of red onion, set it aside, stepped back to the stove and flipped the fish about.  Stepped away again, grabbed a piece of lavash and got it ready to accept the fish!

ole!

I tossed the the mix right from the pan to the lavash, sprinkled it with a bit of aleppo pepper, a smattering of chopped red onion, a spritz or 2 of fresh lime juice and rolled it up!  Muy Delicioso!!

Today, I whipped up a plate of Mediterranean goodness by adding oregano, salt and pepper to the egg white and tossing in some kalamata olives along with grape tomatoes and a dusting of parmesan! Molto Bene!

Healthy, yummy goodness in under 10 minutes!

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sectioning a grapefruit

Here’s a little tutorial for you all.  Take your time and have fun!

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sometimes i think i’m the luckiest girl in all the world!

So, This morning I dropped off some vintage aprons to my friend Amy and she had a surprise for me!  She said she had some old “sewing things, some lace and some buttons.”   And, then she gave me this big old pile of stuff….

oh joy!

And then, I got to go home and paw through it!!!  And, there’s tons of cool stuff… especially buttons!!  I love buttons!!! I have button issues. I’m a button hoarder person minus the cats and piles of newspapers blocking the doorways of my home!  Anyway, I wouldn’t block my doors with piles of newspapers, I’d block my doorways with piles of The New Yorker.

look, look, look!!!

Can you believe some of those buttons!!  They are just a small sample of the fabulousness of the 100s of fabulous vintage buttons in the box Amy gave me!  YAYNESS!!!  Sometimes I think I am the luckiest girl in all the world!

And then I went through the lace!!! OOOOO! Pretty!!!

loves!

I have so many ideas for all my wonderful new treasures!!!  As soon as I get something done I will share it with you all!

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getting ready for oscar. a cocktail is not a cocktail if it has cream in it. a cocktail with cream in it is a milkshake.

watching the Oscars with Al

You know, I’ve been reading a lot about all these fancy cocktails they’ve been busy inventing for the Oscar parties this year and frankly who wants to drink something named after some one who sawed his arm off with a piece of twine or something.  I seriously could not go see that movie because I knew I’d have a seizure or something if I did. Plus, James Franco is back on GH playing a murderous psycho for a couple of weeks so I’m geting my Franco fix there for the time being.

And then, it’s all Black Swan this and Black Swan that!  Not that I did not love that movie, it was crazier than Mommy Dearest!  No matter what Wolfgang Puck says I am not drinking a cocktail with cream in it.  A cocktail with cream in it is not cocktail.  A cocktail with cream in it is a milkshake.  And another thing, once you have a line of frozen foods in the supermarket, unless that supermarket happens to be the Whole Foods, you may no longer call yourself a chef.

When it comes to Hollywood and cocktails I am old school.  Unless you’re the Coen brothers, I do not want to see a remake of Jaws or The Great Gatsby or The Wizard of OZ.  If you make me a Manhattan, it had better be made with rye.  Do not tell me rye and bourbon are the same thing- they are not.  It’s just like when people say “well semi-sweet chocolate and bitter-sweet chocolate are the same thing.” NO, they are not.

Gosh, I sound so bossy!   Well, anyhow, here are some old school libations followed by some new school nibbles to celebrate OSCAR-

America's Sweetheart, Mary Pickford

This is Mary Pickford. Isn’t she lovely? She was one of the greats among the first generation of silent movie stars.  She was a co-founder of United Artists Film Studios AND she was one of the 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences…. hello, THE OSCARS!!!

The Mary Pickford Cocktail

from Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide, copyright 1935

Created in the 1920’s in tribute to one of the greats among the first generation of silent movie stars.

Into an ice filled cocktail shaker mix:

1&1/2 oz. white rum

1&1/2 oz. pineapple juice ( I strongly suggest using fresh pineapple juice which you should  strain)

1/4 teaspoon grenadine

a dash of maraschino liqueur (a must for this cocktail)

Shake it baby, shake it!  Strain into a cocktail glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with cocktail cherry.

Call Me Elizabeth

17 year old Elizabeth Taylor

The first time I saw this photo I was 15 years old sitting in my high school library.  I know, you see this photo and you just take a breath inward, don’t you?  Really.  Now let’s get shallow and catty, shall we.  I know it’s wrong- but I can’t help it…Ok, it’s all like Angelina this, Angelina that!  She adopts babies, she steals husbands, she wore a vial of Billy Bob Thorton’s blood around her neck, gross!  And, she made out with her brother, ewww!  She’s THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN EVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD EVER.  Well, I say whatever. Please.  Now, I know I am more than partial to my Elizabeth, she does NOT like to be called Liz, but seriously look at that photo!!  Angelina should go put two paper bags over her head in case one breaks.

Call Me Elizabeth

courtesy of me

This is a pale violet colored cocktail in honor of the color of Miss Taylor’s beautiful eyes!

Into a champagne flute pour 1 oz. Creme de Violette sprinkle with edible gold leaf, top off with ice cold brut champagne.

Colin Firth

I’m kidding, that’s George, George the VI.

It’s all about the Brits and the Brits are a bunch of sots who like their gin.  So let’s go with a classic martini with added pizazz!  After all, we are celebrating!

Into an ice filled cocktail shaker pour:

2 oz. stone-cold Bombay Saphire Gin

1/2 an oz. dry vermouth

Shake it!!!!

Pour into a chilled cocktail glass over one of those GIANT olives stuffed with blue cheese!  CHEERS!!!

Rooster don't drink no damn White Russians!

The Rooster

courtesy of me

Get your self a pint sized glass, fill it with ice, pour Jack Daniels over it, have a cigarette- pray Jeff Bridges wins another Oscar.

Moving on,  Nibbles-

You know it’s Oscar night, live a little-  Truffled Popcorn:

6 servings

In a small pan melt 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon white truffle oil

In a large, heavy pot, heat 3TBLSPs of vegetable oil, add one cup popcorn kernels, cover and cook over moderate heat until they start popping.  Keep shaking the popcorn over the heat non-stop, until the popping almost stops.  Pour into a large bowl, add the truffle butter, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper- serve!

Marinated Olives

1 pound of assorted olives-  get pitted olives, especially if you’re drinking.  Seriously, who needs to lose a tooth or ruin perfectly good dental work on Oscar night.

Put the olives in a good sized bowl, give them a nice drizzle or two of olive oil- toss about.

Add 3 or 4 cloves of crushed garlic,  sprinkle some hot red pepper flakes (to your taste) on them, sprinkle with some time, some rosemary, grate a little lemon and orange zest over them- let them sit in the fridge and marinate for as long as you can, then toss them in a cast iron skillet turn the burner on medium and toss them about until they’re warmed thru- serve promptly!

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

2 cups unsalted mixed nuts

1&1/2 TBLSPs unsalted butter

2 TBLSPs firmly packed brown sugar

1&1/2 TBLSPs white sugar

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

Line a cookie sheet or rimmed sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper

In a small bowl mix the sugars, peppers and salt together.  Omit the peppers if you just want the nuts to be sweet.

In a heavy skillet cook the nuts in butter over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes or so- then sprinkle the bowl of sugar and spices over the nuts- cook and stir constantly until the sugar caramelizes and pretty much coats the nuts. Transfer nuts to prepared pan and cool- break nuts apart. serve.

Go out and buy some chocolate truffles to serve too!!!

I am dying, DYING to see who’s wearing who!!!

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