Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

My first disclaimer is this: I have never been to Chicago. Therefore, I have never eaten authentic pizza in Chicago. A few years ago, I bookmarked the America's Test Kitchen version of this pizza, because it looked so good and I really wanted to make it!

One of my former student's, who is from Chicago, was lamenting that finding authentic Chicago style pizza in California has been  fruitless, for her. She described the pizza as being buttery and crunchy on the outside, with ooey gooey cheese in the middle. Her eyes took on that dreamy look that I get when I recall, and describe in great detail,  one of the best things I've ever eaten. That was it. It was time to make the pizza.

What's missing are my usual step-by-step photos. In the winter, I lose the natural photography light, during the dinner hours. So sorry... The pizza crust ingredients include all-purpose flour, of course (I use King Arthur Flour unbleached), cornmeal, yeast, salt and a few others (printable recipe is at the end of this post).

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Monday, January 18, 2016

How to make your own "Gravlax" - Simple Citrus Cured Salmon

I love English tea luncheons. There's something about eating dainty finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and clotted cream that makes me feel like royalty-- if just for a short while. One of my favorite finger sandwiches is smoked salmon and cream cheese or cucumber and cream cheese.  Hold that thought, please.

I took a holiday appetizer class at our local adult school, and one of the recipes that our culinary teacher demoed for us is making a Citrus Cured Salmon.    She made canapĂ©s of fresh cucumber, whipped cream cheese and topped it with the cured salmon, thinly sliced.  I was smitten, at first bite.  I wanted to grab the entire plate and devour them.  But, that would be rude. So, I made up my mind to make my own, at home.

I was able to find some beautiful salmon, imported from Ireland.  It was pricey-- at $20.00 per pound, but I reasoned that if I was going to cure this salmon, I wanted to buy quality fish that isn't farmed and fed all kinds of crazy food.  

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Easy Homemade Bagels

I love bagels. I especially love freshly baked bagels.  I don't buy them at my supermarket, because I don't know how old they are-- and I don't think they taste all that great.  To me, they have a spongy texture and taste stale.

There are only two bagel bakeries in the area where they live. Both bakeries do a great job producing the kind of bagels I like-- crispy on the outside, and chewy in the middle. So good!
Learning how to make my own bagels has been on my recipe bucket list for a very long time.  I've bookmarked several versions of bagel  recipes on King Arthur Flour.  I even bought the non diastatic malt powder (per King Arthur Flour:  A sweet derivative of roasted barley. Add it to the dough, then again to the boiling water to give bagels their distinctive shiny crust.).  Had I known how fast and easy it is to make this recipe, I would have accomplished that a long time ago!

Sometimes, necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, I had made a Citrus-Cured Salmon from a beautiful piece of Irish salmon that I couldn't resist (at $20.00 a pound. Ahem. NOTE: recipe for this will be my next post.

I made a delicious canapĂ© with the salmon, and loved them. Still, I wanted one of my favorite ways to enjoy a bagel-- with cream cheese and gravlax (or smoked salmon). The only problem was, I didn't have any bagels in the house, and it was New Year's Day.  It was time to commit to baking my own bagels.

At first, I was put off by making bagels, because the recipes that I found required a dough starter that I needed to make the day before.  Nooooooooo! I wanted them NOW. It was 11:00am and I wanted these for lunch. I was determined to find a quicker way.

Fortunately, I found another trusted recipe source "Mel's Kitchen Cafe" who made a King Arthur Flour bagel recipe and she had success without making the starter.  Hurray! That's all it took. I plugged in my stand mixer, gathered my King Arthur Flour bread flour and other ingredients, and got to work. (Actually, my stand mixer did all the hard work for me.

The ingredients list is short-- bread flour (has more gluten than all-purpose flour), brown sugar, instant yeast (I use SAF instant yeast), salt and warm water.

TIP: For the longest time, I used to panic when my dough wouldn't come together. It would look shaggy and dry.  I finally learned that I needed to be patient and allow the gluten to form.  The end result, an elastic, pliable dough that is easy to work with.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Overnight Blueberry French Toast


Happy New Year - 2016! 

We spent a quiet evening, at home, making Swiss Fondue with a bottle of chilled Prosecco. I made our traditional dinner of tender Filet Mignon, fresh veggies and falling asleep long before midnight. I wouldn't want it any other way. New Year's Day is our 10th wedding anniversary, and that's when we go out to dinner to celebrate.  I wouldn't want that any other way!

I go through spurts of emptying out our two freezers. In one of my rummaging sessions, I discovered a large container of California frozen blueberries. I also found a package of Brioche hamburger buns, that I buy at Whole Foods.    I've lost count of how many "Overnight" French Toast Casseroles I've seen all over the internet, but that's what I decided would be the fate of these two ingredients. 

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