Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stayin' Home Pizza

D and I were going to go and see a friend play with his band at a Lower East Side club this evening, but at some point, we just decided we'd rather stay in. Earlier in the day, I'd unpacked the freezer to see what we could use for the week and found a small ball of whole wheat pizza dough we must have made a few months ago. I scavenged some vegetables that were leftovers in the fridge and made a small pizza for lunch. It was so good that D asked if I'd make pizza again for dinner. I found this great recipe for whole wheat pizza crust, and it turned out great. It was much thicker and and puffier than the dough I usually make, but it was very good.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

2 tsp honey
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour

In a large bowl, dissolve honey in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the white flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 balls for 2 crusts.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Shape the dough into a circle. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

We topped our pizza with homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms, kale, green bell pepper, onion, mozarella, salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mimicking Muhammara

The last time D and I went to Tanoreen in Bay Ridge, just before Christmas, we asked for a double order of Muhammara. I'd been looking forward to the trip to Tanoreen for weeks, thinking of the slightly crunchy, garlicky sweet mystery. It didn't occur to me until the end of the night, after sopping up the last juicy specks on the dish with a piece of pita, that I could probably learn how to make it at home. If not as good as Tanoreen, I could at least enjoy and entertain others with something like it at home. I vowed I would make it sometime shortly after the New Year.

Epicurious has a great recipe that's simple and ended up being very tasty. I might add more olive oil next time, and try to blend the ingredients in a way that allows it to retain a bit more of the individual ingredients' distinctness, but for a first try, it was very good.

There will never be a substitute to enjoying a warm dish of muhammara with a glass of Lebanese wine surrounded by friends and the warmth of Tanoreen itself, but I'm glad I can whip this up for any occasion.


a 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2-3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
toasted pita triangles as an accompaniment

In a food processor blend together the peppers, the bread crumbs, the walnuts, the garlic, the lemon juice, the pomegranate molasses, the cumin, the red pepper flakes, and salt to taste until the mixture is the consistency you'd like. Add the oil gradually. Transfer the muhammara to a bowl and serve it at room temperature with the pita triangles.

The original recipe, which I adapted only slightly, from Epicurious can be found here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Restorative Kale

After the excess of the holidays, I find myself craving kale. I wrote about kale around this time last year, with a link to all of it's nutritional benefits. It's worth repeating that here. We had a leftover butternut squash that never got made into soup over the holidays, and the Washington Post recently published a recipe that was perfect: Butternut Squash, Kale, and Shitake Casserole. I followed the recipe almost to the letter and it was absolutely delicious. The original recipe is in the link, my modifications are reflected here. (And yes, that is a margarita in the background of the picture above. Everything in moderation.)

Butternut Squash, Kale, and Shitake Mushroom Casserole

1 cup whole-fat coconut milk
4 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
2 teaspoon Chinese chili paste with garlic
1-inch piece peeled ginger root, finely grated or pureed (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 cups of peeled butternut squash, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, cut into quarters
1 bunch (9 ounces) kale, center veins removed, leaves torn into large pieces and rinsed and blotted dry
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Use a whisk to combine the coconut milk, Thai curry paste, Chinese chili paste, ginger, and soy sauce or tamari in a large mixing bowl. Add the squash pieces, mushrooms and kale; stir to coat evenly. Transfer the vegetables to the baking dish and sprinkle the top evenly with sesame seeds. Cover with a layer of parchment paper, then seal tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender and the kale on top is dark brown and crisp. Serve warm all by itself, or over rice.