Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pizzas on the Grill

I am still waiting to visit the Pizza Farm.  It has been on my summer date bucket list for two summers now, but taking time off to go, and on a beautiful day, has proved to be quite challenging.  In the meantime, we make pizza on the grill at least once a month.  Here are a few of our pizzas we made this past month, and my go-to basic pizza dough recipe (sorry, I don't remember where it is from).

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of warm water (105-110 degrees)
1/2 teaspoon yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Mix water, salt, and yeast in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes to proof.  Gradually pour in 2 cups of flour and stir to mix.  Mix for 1 minute to form a sponge.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour.  Put sponge in a mixer bowl with a dough hook and add 1/2 cup of remaining flour to dough while kneading until all flour is added.  Remove from the mixer and put into a large bowl that has been oiled.  Roll dough in bowl to cover with oil.  Cover and let stand 2 1/2-3 hours.

Roll dough to desired thickness (puffs up a bit  when it hits the grill) and oil both sides.  Turn grill on to 400 degrees and oil grates.  Cook on both sides 3-4 minutes.  Add toppings to the done side, once you flip it.

Makes 4 large pizzas.

Pizza fixings

Being a purist with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil


Grilled corn, bacon and blue cheese, what can be better?


No those aren't worms!  They are caramelized red onion, chicken apple sausage, apples, and gouda.  My new favorite!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer of Soup: Potato and Leek

When I think of potato soup, I think of a hearty and hot cream soup with chunks of potato to be enjoyed in front of my fireplace.  However, after watching Alton Brown prepare a blended version, and my husband introducing me to the word, vichyssoise, I had to give it a try.  They make perfect little cold shots to be enjoyed at a party, garnished with some chives.  

Alton Brown's Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 14 ounces, approximately 3 small, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives

Directions

Chop the leeks into small pieces.
In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week in Review: July 9, 2012

This past week was filled with lovely baked goods and cool eats. Here's a round-up of what we made this past week.  More details to follow.

  • Four different pizzas on the grill; recipes will follow later this week
  • Alton Brown's Leek and Potato Soup 
  • Brown's Grilled Braised Leeks I didn't braise them long enough, but we still weren't a fan.  They were too limp, hard to cut, and lacked depth for my taste.  

  • I have been wanting to find a great super-thin crispy flatbread recipes for weeks.  Then I stumbled across Martha Stewart's Basil Flatbread Crackers.  OMG, they are so delicious.  I ate a whole one as soon as it was cool enough to handle.  Next time we make pizzas in the oven I am going to use this herby dough as the base then add toppings to try to duplicate my fav flatbreads in the world at Ciao Bella in Edina.  Trust me, make these crackers!  So easy and so delicious!  

  • After swimming with my nephew at my in-laws we had oyster cracker trail mix.  My niece and nephew played cleaning ladies the rest of the afternoon. I wonder if we can bribe them with sugary candy to clean our house. (Yes, I have the cutest nephew and niece ever!)




Look auntie, I have my rags and am ready to work! 
All tuckered out from cleaning!  

Oyster Cracker Trail Mix Recipe
16 ounces oyster crackers
1 ounce ranch salad dressing mix
3/4 cup oil -- scant
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 bag of m&m's
1 small can of nuts of your choosing


Stir all ingredients except crackers, m&m's, and nuts in a bowl. Add crackers and stir well. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake at 275F degrees for 15 minutes. Once cool, toss with m&m's and nuts.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Soup of Summer: Gazpacho

Nothing tastes like summer than a ripe tomato.  It's a little early for homegrown tomatoes, but the farmer's market had some last weekend that inspired us to make gazpacho.  Here's our staple recipe at the Mastel household:

Gazpacho
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion
 1/2 green pepper
5 large tomatoes, peeled
1 piece of sourdough soaked in water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
dash of hot sauce

If you have never peeled a tomato before, here's a quick photo tutorial.  Once cool, slice tomatoes into medium sized chunks, along with the green pepper.  Quarter the garlic, so you don't have large chunks floating in your soup.  Rip the bread into pieces, and add to a blender with all the other ingredients.  Please use a blender; a food processor just doesn't give you the right texture.  Puree until you have a smooth soup.  Refrigerate at least three hours to let the flavors meld, and completely chill before serving.
Serves 4

Note: Our basil is out of control, so I decided to add a small handful to our last recipe.  Tomatoes and basil are so natural together, so why not?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beat the Heat

Record heat is stretching across the US, and Minnesota is no exception hitting a record 99 degrees today, with a stretch of at least 5 days ahead in the 90's.  Here are a few of our favorites to beat the heat.

  • Frozen grapes: My husband went to Arizona State University, and a little trick he did to beat the summer heat was to freeze grapes.  When you bite into them it's a little slushie.  Yum!
  • Cold coups: We love gazpacho and chilled cucumber; recipes to follow later in the week.
  • Flavored water: Everyone in my family knows I hate drinking water.  To keep hydrated I love throwing some slices of lemon, cucumber, or berries into my water.  
  • Homemade popsicles and ice cream: I have tested a few from Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones, along with Jenni's, both destined to be regulars in the freezer. 
  • Ice cubes:  My Grandma Peg didn't have air conditioning until we all begged her when she retired.  She taught me the trick of spritzing water or putting an ice cube on your inner wrists for at least the illusion of it being cooler for a moment.  
  • Smoothies and coolers: A new favorite today is the cucumber cooler, thanks to my coworker Megan! Perfect to use the last of my English cucumber today and some of our overgrown mint. 
Cucumber Mint Cooler

1/2 a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces
8-10 mint leaves
1 lime, juiced
1/2+ cup of water (I used lemon water)
1/4 cup of honey
A tray of ice cubes

Add all ingredients into a blender and whirl away.  Add more water if blending is difficult.  Add more honey to taste.  Garnish with a slice of cucumber or mint leaf. A simple and healthy summertime drink to sip on the patio or while playing bocce ball.