July 31, 2009

Majorly Delicious Potato Pizza

This pizza takes the prize of THE BEST PIZZA I'VE EVER MADE.  Especially the blue cheese half of it.  It's a little on the decadent side, but it is so very worth it.  I sometimes wonder what my life would be like without carbs, and after eating this pizza I refuse to let my mind wander in that direction.  My personal hell would probably involve all of the carbohydrates in my diet being replaced with cooked mushrooms and wilted lettuce.  Miley Cyrus would probably be singing in the background.  

I had some cooked red potatoes in the fridge, a leftover strip of bacon, and plenty of cheese, and the result of throwing them all together on a piece of dough was incredible.  Blue cheese takes on a slightly different flavor when it melts, and it is to die for.  The bacon gave it a little something more, but I think it would still be a solid pizza without it.  

Blue Cheese + Potato Pizza

Pizza dough
3-5 cooked red potatoes, sliced to about 1/8"
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 strip bacon, crumbled (optional)
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
A few basil leaves

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a saucepan.  Add a clove of garlic and a little basil, and let it sit over the heat while you're getting the rest of the toppings ready.  

After rolling out the dough, brush it with the garlic oil.  Top with a generous layer of potatoes and a sprinkle of blue cheese and bacon.  For some reason I decided to do half blue cheese and half mozzarella, and it didn't take long to realize that I should have just stuck with the blue cheese.  The mozzarella half wasn't bad at all - it just wasn't as awesome as the blue cheese side.  

Bake at 450 until it looks a little something likes this.  Enjoy!

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July 29, 2009

Dill Turkey Burgers

Turkey burgers are the perfect way to go when you're craving a burger, but you want something a little on the lighter side.  After making several batches of less than stellar turkey burgers, I finally made some good ones the other night.  They were neither dry nor flavorless - a turkey burger success!  These can be made in about 20 minutes from start to finish, so they're great when you don't want to spend hours in the kitchen.  

Dill Turkey Burgers
Adapted from Martha Stewart 

1-1.25 lbs ground turkey
2 shallots
1/4 cup dill
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper
Olive oil for cooking

Finely chop the shallots.  

Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat, and then add the shallots.  Sauté for a couple minutes until they are soft and translucent.  I usually skip the step of cooking shallots or onions before mixing them in with the meat because I am lazy and don't want to have to wash more dishes, but I realized that the cooking really does make a difference.  After being cooked they are much less noticeable to certain people who complain about the presence of shallots and onions in burgers.  The same thing goes for chopping them as finely as you possibly can.  

While the shallots cook, rinse a good handful of dill.  

Then finely chop it.   

Combine the turkey, shallots, dill, and mustard.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Form into 4 patties.  

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat.  You could also grill them, should you be so fortunate to possess a grill.  

Cook for about 5 minutes on one side or until the bottom is browned.  Flip and cook for another 5 minutes or so on the other side or until cooked through.  The Martha Stewart recipe suggested cooking them for 3-1/2 minutes on the first side then 4 on the other side, but mine took longer than that.  Just keep an eye on them because they dry out quickly.  

One of the most important things I learned while living in France for a summer was that baguettes make excellent burger holders.  Hamburger buns are fine and all, but a chewy, crusty baguette takes it to another level.  Try it with hot dogs or brats, too.  


July 25, 2009

Raspberry + Nutella Pizza

First off, I have to apologize for the abysmal quality of the photos (and I don't mean abysmal in the way that Joey used it in that episode of Friends).  This was the fourth pizza of the night, and the daylight was pretty much gone at that point.  On the bright side, this pizza was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!  I'm fairly certain you can spread Nutella and raspberries on anything and enjoy it.  Try to prove me wrong on that one.  

Raspberry + Nutella Pizza

Pizza dough

I'm not even going to make up measurements because it all depends on how big  your pizza will be, how much Nutella you have, and what kind of fruit you're using.  I was scraping the bottom of the Nutella jar, which is probably a good thing in hindsight.  Knowing me, I would have slathered on a quarter-inch of Nutella if I could have gotten my hands on it, and then I would have to guiltily run an extra mile or two the following day.  I used raspberries because I had just picked some up at the farmers' market, but strawberries or blackberries would also work.  Apples might work well if you're making this in the fall, but I'm only basing that on my history of dipping apple slices into jars of Nutella. 

Start by rolling out the dough like you normally would.  This might be a good time to roll it out on a floured surface instead of a cornmeal-covered surface, but that just dawned on me now.  You'll probably be too distracted by the delicious chocolaty-hazelnutty flavor to even notice whether there's cornmeal stuck to the bottom of the crust.  

Here's a fun fact: hazelnut in German is haselnuss.  My friend Kathryn and I learned that on a boozy flight to Ibiza in college.  In case you were wondering what the German word for cornflakes is, it's knusperflakes.  It's amazing what you can learn from a chocolate bar wrapper. 

Bake at 450 on a sheet pan or pizza stone until it looks a little something like this.  

Then try to refrain from eating the whole thing.  

And finally, Happy Wedding Day, Kelsey! 

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July 24, 2009

Bacon Jam Taste Test

On my weekly check of the mail the other day, I was beyond thrilled to discover that my jar of skillet bacon jam had arrived.  My mailbox is usually filled with grocery store ads and letters telling me it's my very last chance to renew my subscription to Vanity Fair, so you can imagine my excitement when I was greeted with a jar of spreadable bacon.  After a little brainstorming with my brother, I conducted a little breakfast taste test yesterday.  Kyle suggested eating the bacon jam with maple syrup or honey, and I added fruity jam and butter to the mix.  The medium for the taste test was a whole wheat english muffin.  Watermelon and blueberries were served for dessert.  

First, the unveiling of the bacon jam itself...

Bacon jam is made by skillet street food in Seattle.   

According to their website, bacon jam is made with rendered down bacon...

...combined with spices and onions...

...and simmered for about 6 hours.

Then it's pureed, blast chilled, and shipped to little people like me.  

Doesn't it kind of look like barbeque?  I think so.  I think that might have had something to do with my inability to get barbeque out of my mind with every bite, and it wasn't in a wow-I-could-really-chow-down-on-some-ribs-today kind of way.  It was more of a wow-this-kind-of-tastes-like-pulled-pork-and-I-wasn't-expecting-it-when-I-combined-it-with-honey/syrup/jam kind of way.  

A quick aside, you should buy some of this jam.  It's called Traffic Jam, and it's my favorite jam in the world.  I was introduced to it on my first visit to Matt's parents' house, and it's what gets me out of bed every day on return visits.  

If you don't live anywhere near Milbank, South Dakota, you can order some from their website.  I'm generally of the belief that food labels are not an appropriate place for bible passages, but I will gladly make an exception for Traffic Jam.  It's that good.  

I thought long and hard about the order in which the spreads would go on the english muffins.  For ease of spreadability purposes, I concluded that the bacon jam should be the bottom layer for the honey and maple syrup slices, and the jam and butter went on first on the other two slices.

The second layers were then added with the utmost precision.  Clockwise from bottom left: bacon + jam, bacon + honey, bacon + syrup, and bacon + butter.

Bacon jam is, um, interesting when combined with sweet things.  I'm going to do more experimenting in the savory arena and see how that goes.  The makers of bacon jam serve it on a burger, and I'm thinking a grilled cheese with tomato and bacon jam would be pretty good.  My first savory experiment, however, just might be a bagel with a little cream cheese and bacon jam.  When I was growing up my mom would occasionally treat us to bagels with cream cheese and strips of bacon, which is a heavenly creation.  I'd like to have a combination of cream cheese and bacon coursing through my veins in the near future.  Maybe I'll treat myself tomorrow after my long run.  

If I had to pick a winner, it would be bacon jam + honey.  

More bacon jam updates coming soon.  If you have any ideas, let me know! 

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July 23, 2009

Green Goddess Dip

On my first attempt to replicate the green goddess dressing that they serve on the cobb salad at Salut, I ended up with more of a white-with-green-flecks goddess dip.  I suppose it could be mixed with a little vinegar and watered down to make a dressing, but the consistency as is better lends itself to use as a dip or spread.  I have to admit that I was anything but impressed by this dip once I finished all of the chopping and mixing.  Frustrated  is a much more appropriate word.  I ended up throwing the bowl in the fridge for an hour or two while I messed around with other things, and the little break paid off.  The flavors had melded to make a tasty dip, and I finally came to terms with the fact that I had created a dip rather than a dressing.  If anyone has a good recipe for green goddess dressing, please send it my way!  The quest continues...

Although my creation was far from the creamy, green dressing I was trying for (maybe a spin in the food processor would have helped?), this is a pretty solid dip.  It's great for dunking fresh green beans in or as a spiced up alternative to sour cream on baked or boiled potatoes.  It also works nicely dolloped on chilled, roasted beets.  

I wasn't too precise with my measurements, so these are all estimates.  Feel free to tweak the ingredients to your liking.  

Green Goddess Dip

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chives
1/4 cup tarragon
2 anchovies (optional)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper

Note: Unless you're having a party or feeding a family of 10, I recommend halving this recipe. 

Start out with roughly 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup mayo.

Finely chop or press a clove of garlic.

I started with a small bunch of chives, but I ended up using at least twice this amount.  

Same goes for the tarragon.  I probably used twice this amount.  I don't think I'd ever used fresh tarragon before making this dip.  At first the smell reminded me of the grass my friend Manda and I would eat out of our neighbor's yard, but once I started chopping it up it reminded me more of fennel or anise.  A lot of recipes I found for green goddess dressing call for tarragon vinegar, which I might try next time.  

Finely chop the herbs.

Next come the anchovies.  

Chop the little guys into the smallest pieces you can get them.  The smaller the better.  I got a big bite of anchovy last night, and my taste for anchovies has not developed enough to have made that a tolerable experience.  If you're really terrified by anchovies, just leave them out.  It's not a deal breaker.  

Squeeze about half a lemon into the mix as well as a little bit of cider vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Give it all a stir, and add more chives or salt or pepper or lemon juice or whatever until you're content.  Then cover it and let it hang out in the fridge for an hour or overnight.  

I think the potato-topping use is probably my favorite so far.  Enjoy!


July 21, 2009

Coconut Macaroons

I'm really good at justifying the baked goods I eat.  I think I learned it from my mom who eats two cookies for breakfast after her daily run.  She also eats a big bowl of fruit, which cancels out the cookies, right?  

I made macaroons on Sunday, but I ran 18 miles on Saturday, so I kind of earned my right to eat them.  Let's just not worry about the fact that I also ate a giant carnitas burrito and half of a vanilla milkshake to reward myself for the run.  Oh, and a big cup of root beer.  Ooooooh do I love root beer.  The thing is I never really had any dessert on Saturday, save that half of a milkshake, but that was more like a snack.  Or maybe I'll consider it dessert after lunch, and I didn't eat dessert after dinner.  And I ran 18 miles!  And I walked at least a mile after that, wanting to cry with every step and trying hard to refrain from asking every passerby if they had any ibuprofen.  That's got to count for something.  Then on Sunday I went to Mall of America, and spending time in any shopping mall, let alone an enormous one, earns me a macaroon.  Don't even get me started on the Renaissance Fair people who were holding court at the mall.  The payoff for having to witness that is at least four macaroons.  I guess this logic explains why obesity is such a problem in America, but I ran 18 miles!  I've earned myself a macaroon or two.  
The macaroon recipe I used comes from a wonderful book that I just finished reading and highly recommend: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.  You should read the book and check out her blog.  Then you should make macaroons.  

Coconut Macaroons
Adapted from Orangette

3 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
3/4 cup egg whites 
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the coconut, the egg whites, and the sugar in a heavy saucepan.  It takes about 5 large eggs to get 3/4 cup egg whites, unless a couple of your eggs are frozen, in which case you'll need 6 or 7 eggs.  

Cook the coconut mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  It will initially become kind of creamy and look like the mixture in the picture below.  

After maybe 10 or 15 minutes it will start to dry out a little and the individual flakes will emerge.  At that point, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla. 

Spread the mixture out into a baking dish or pan of some sort, then stick it in the refrigerator to cool for about 30 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 300, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  If you don't have parchment paper, just grease the cookie sheet.  Use your hands or an ice cream scoop to form balls of coconut a little larger than a golf ball.  

They remind me of little Muppets or Fraggle Rock guys.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until they're browned.  Eat immediately or...

...drizzle them with chocolate.  I recommend option 2.  

The original recipe calls for a mixture of chocolate and cream, but I didn't have any cream so I stuck with straight chocolate.  And I didn't feel like waiting for water to simmer to use the double boiler, so I melted a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave.  Sue me. 

Use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over the tops of the macroons, or if you have more chocolate to work with you could dunk each one in the bowl of chocolate.  Send me an email if you need help justifying that kind of behavior.  I'd be happy to help. 

How good do those look?  

This one is the Denise, the most chocolately one of the bunch.  I stuck it in the freezer so my mom can eat it the next time she visits.  

The more I look at this picture, the more convinced I am of the chocolate-dunking method.  

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