Friday, August 29, 2008

Italian style pizza

We've been asked for this recipe from numerous's the closest thing we can get to real Italian pizza here. Such a yummy and healthy way to eat pizza!

For the dough:
1 TBS sugar1 cup warm water
1 envelope yeast (I use 1 TBS)
3 1/4 cups semolina, or all-purpose flour (We sometimes do all white flour, and sometimes do half and half...I think my fav. is 1/2 and 1/2)
1/4 cup olive oil

In a small bowl dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir gently until it dissolves, about 1 minute (it should be a smooth beige colored mixture, if it clumps togehter and the water stays clear, start over). Let it stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface, about 5 minutes.
Combine 3 cups of flour with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Using a wooden spoon, vigorousely stir the flour into the well, beginning in the center and working towards the sides of the bowl, until the flour is incorporated and the soft dough begins to stick together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 5 mintes, gradually incorporating the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Continue to knead the dough for 10-15 minutes or until it feels smooth and springy. Do not knead longer. After mixing and kneading the dough, place in a oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1- 1 1/2 hours in a warm draft free place.

Roll out and place diced tomatoes (5-6), garlic (a couple cloves minced), salt (to taste), and basil (5-6 sprigs of fresh) on top...then top with mozzarella cheese.

We used a mixer once and the dough didn't turn out quite as well...I would just do it by hand...I think it ended up being easier and better that way. We cook it at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes I think...we just kind of watch it. Timing is never quite as sure with gas ovens, and that is what I've had for the last couple years. The dough will be slightly browned and the cheese will be melted.

In the winter we use canned tomatoes from Eliza's canning recipe:
for quart size: 1 teaspoon salt, big sprig of basil, 2 cloves garlic (put tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, pull out, rinse with cold water, peel, cut in half or quarters, then put in jars)...water bath for 45 minutesfor pint size: 1/2 teaspoon salt, small sprig of basil, 1 clove garlic (same directions as above), water bath for 35 minutes

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Salad Dressing

This is an easy dressing to have in the fridge and tastes wonderful. I like it best on mixed greens with toasted pecans or walnuts, beets or dried cherries, and crumbled feta or blue cheese.

Mix in blender:
1 1/2c canola oil
1c white vinegar
3T sugar
1 1/2t salt
1 1/2t paprika
3/4t dry mustard (or a squirt of regular mustard)
pinch of pepper
1 head garlic
the top section of leaves from three basil plants (or 2T dry basil)

Keeps well in the fridge

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jewish Sweet Bread (Challah)

This bread is so delicious and so pretty because it is braided. It's not terribly hard to make, but takes a few hours because it has to rise twice. (Hint: I fill a sink with the hottest water possible and put the bowl/cookie sheet over the sink with a towel over it. This makes the bread rise much quicker if you don't have a warm place in your house to raise bread in.) You can easily double the recipe and actually make 6 loaves by separating the dough into smaller parts. Also, the butter is very important. If you use unsalted butter, the flavor isn't as good--guaranteed.

1 pkg. yeast
1 1/4 c. warm water (as hot as you can comfortably touch it)
1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
2 eggs
4 1/2 c. flour

Mix yeast, water, and tsp. sugar, set aside. Mix the other ingredients together, then add yeast mixture. Lay out on floured surface and knead 5 minutes. Put into greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise, double, punch down. Cut dough into 3 parts (there will actually be 6 parts because the recipe makes 2 loaves). Make 2 braids and let them rise on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 min. or until golden brown. Pour 1/2 cube of melted butter over bread before baking and 1/2 cube of melted butter just after baking.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

This is a super-easy meal to make, and one of our favorites. It's always a big hit and people can't believe it's as easy as I tell them. Unfortunately I can't find one of the key ingredients in New York, but you can get by with what is listed here.

1 lb. chicken tenders or chicken breast
2 tsp. taco seasoning (or more if you prefer spicier)
1 c. salsa
1 c. water
2 c. minute rice, uncooked
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 can nacho cheese soup (if you can't find it, you can use cheddar cheese soup)

Brown chicken, chopping into small pieces. Bring chicken, taco seasoning, salsa, soup, and water to a boil in large skillet, cover. Reduce heat to low, simmer 10 minutes. Return to a boil. Stir in rice, sprinkle with cheese, cover. Cook on low heat 5 minutes.

Cajun Salmon Pasta

We think you can never go wrong with cajun seasoning. If you need to do something with a less-than-quality fillet of salmon, this is a great option.

2 thin fillets salmon, room temp.
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup milk
cajun seasoning
pasta, enough for 2 plates/meals (we like penne best)
cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, add 2-3 tsp. olive oil to a medium sized skillet. Warm over medium heat. Add onions. Stir fry till they no longer have a "bite". Add bell peppers and garlic - stir fry till veggies are cooked but not limp. Remove veggies. Add 1 tsp. oil to skillet and heat on med-hi. Pour cajun seasoning over salmon fillets, then drop them in the hot skillet - they should smoke. If outside is browning too rapidly, lower heat to medium. When fillets are blackened on one side, pour seasoning on face-up side and flip them over. Meanwhile, once pasta is cooked and drained, immediately add about 1 Tbsp. olive oil and stir - do not let pasta cool. Heat milk to scalding and pour only as much into pasta as can be absorbed. Stir in 1 tsp. of cajun seasoning. When salmon is blackened on both sides, remove from heat. Spoon pasta onto plates and top with stir-fried veggies. With a spatula, break salmon into bite-sized chunks and spoon over top of pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan and garnish with cherry tomatoes (halved) and fresh parsley.

Southwestern Chicken Chili

We like making homemade chili especially because it's easy to keep all of the ingredients around the house. This particular recipe is a little different than regular chili, and it has become one of our favorite meals to throw together when we need something easy and low-key.

1 lb. chicken, cut up and browned with garlic powder
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 c. salsa
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
chili powder, salt, and pepper to taste

Bring everything to a boil then reduce heat and cook until flavors are blended. (Or cook over low heat in crock pot.) Serve with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.