I’m not sure why I’ve been so intimidated to make my own pizza dough. It has a quick list of about 4 stand by ingredients and reaped a priceless amount of self accomplishment. I watched the dough ball slowly expand and immediately texted Hugh to mark my success. I used a combination of unbleached flour and whole wheat, resulting in a hearty yet pliable dough.
The attractive thing about pizza to any home cook, is that it is a blank canvas for flavors. You can use whatever cheese you have, maybe some leftover shredded chicken, marinara sauce or pesto. I wanted to wish my beloved figs a fond farewell this season, so a savory flatbread was just the place for final enjoyment. At some point this holiday weekend, I'm sure you'll be eating outside, and likely with other people. I've YET to meet someone who does not like pizza. Unless you're some low carb, gluten free, fat free diner, in which case Hugh will gladly consume your portion.
RUSTIC FIG AND GOAT CHEESE PIZZA // Makes 2 large, or 4 small pizzas
2 Cups Unbleached Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 to 1 1/4 Cup Water
1 tsp./ Half Packet Quick Rise Yeast
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp. Sea Salt
3 tbsp. Fresh Chopped Chives
12 Fresh Figs, Sliced
½ Cup Soft Goat Cheese
½ Cup Fresh Shaved Parmesan Reggiano
¼ Cup Red Onion, VERY thinly sliced
¼ Cup Fresh Chives
2 Cups Organic Mache (Lambs Lettuce)
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Turn your grill to medium high heat.
1. Make the dough according to instructions on Mark Bitten's blog. Please note I used 2 Cups Unbleached Flour and 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour which provided both a chewy and crispy texture when pulled thin enough, I also added fresh chives for a bit of color and zing. This needs to be done 2 hrs. in advance.
2. Once you've made your dough, divide it and pull it out to desired size. With your hands, rub a little bit of oil on one side, and put the oiled side down on the grill. Close the lid and grill for about 3 minutes.
3. Flip the dough over and push the dough down with a spatula to create a thinner flatbread (if you desire... I desired). Evenly distribute the sliced figs, goat cheese, parmesan, chives and sliced red onion across the dough. Give it all a generous grind of pepper and sprinkle of salt. Close the lid and grill for another 6 to 8 minutes untill all toppings are melted and there are grill marks on the bottom of the dough.
4. In the meantime, toss the mache lettuce with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper.
5. Remove the flatbreads and top with a hefty handful of the dressed mache. Chomp away while its hot!
In a dream world, money grows from a branching tree somewhere in my expansive and flourishing vegetable garden. It comes out in hundred dollar bills and blooms year round. From that tree, I'd make dinner for people all the time. There would be a long wooden table with bench seats and I would get to watch people savor fresh foods and enjoy each other’s company. Lots of candles, mason jars, big white roses and lilies. I’d host brunch after church on Sundays, and kids would chase the chickens that laid the eggs we were eating. People would be real. We would talk about how we’re really doing and eat slow. Something I certainly need to practice before this fantasy plays out.
Bringing it back. This week I started cooking for a family and have a dinner party tomorrow. Intimidating, yes, but I think the flavors I have going on below are crowd pleasers. As mentioned, I like feeding people and Hugh likes being the test bunny (what?), so these side jobs are a pleasure. If you find yourself in a position of feeding a group of people, and I hope you do, this recipe is affordable, and can be easily doubled or tripled. The colors contrast beautifully with a crispy green salad.
My mom has always been good with plants, I'll be working on that tree.
Love by giving.
GRILLED CORN POLENTA AND LEMON FISH (Serves 2)
I used Pacific Cod as the fish, which is easier to find at a fish market than a grocery store. Remember that polenta expands like rice, so use a big pot for ample stirring.
3/4 Cup Polenta/Corn Meal
3 Cups Organic, Low Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Good Quality Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Organic Whole Milk
2 Ears of Corn
1 Large Yellow Onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
Juice and zest of a Lemon
Handful of Fresh Chives, Chopped
Garlic Salt and Fresh Pepper
2 6oz. Pieces of Pacific Cod (or what is sustainable and available near you)
1/4 Cup Good Quality Feta Cheese
3 Tbsp. Cup Lowfat Greek Yogurt (sour cream or mayo work as well)
1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley, divided
1 Lemon, Sliced VERY Thin and a bit of juice
Turn on the grill and oven to 475’.
1. Peel back the husk and silk of the corn, discard. Give it a little drizzle ½ tbsp. olive oil and a bit of garlic salt and put on the high heat of the grill. Continue to rotate, cook for ten minutes. Remove to cool. Cut the kernels off.
2. Heat the other ½ tbsp. olive oil. Add the sliced onion and sauté on medium until light brown in color, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat.
3. Prepare the fish topping. In a small bowl, mix the feta cheese, yogurt, garlic salt, lots of pepper, lil lemon juice and 2 tbsp of the chopped parsley. Mix.
4. Coat with cooking spray either a small baking dish or baking pan, put the fish skin side down.
5. Sprinkle fish with pepper and a pinch of salt. Divide the feta topping on top of both fish pieces and lay a few slices of lemon on top, slightly overlapping. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Put in on the top rack of the oven and keep an eye on it while you proceed with the polenta. Fish should take about 12-15 minutes depending on thickness.
6. Continue with the polenta while fish is baking (if you read recipes prior, start heating the stock while prepping the fish). Bring the stock to a simmer. Slowly add in the milk. Pour in the polenta and continue to whisk until it begins to thicken, this should take about 15-20 minutes, you want it a bit thinner than mashed potatoes. Take off the heat. Gently fold in the caramelized onions, grilled corn kernels, juice of half a lemon, handful of chives and salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, fold in the 1/2 cup of feta cheese.
7. To serve, put a good portion of polenta on the plate, top it with the lemon fish and sprinkle with a generous amount of parsley.
Sometimes there are weeks when a series of events, small as they may seem when isolated, get the best of you. I appreciate reading my favorite blogs, where their authors willingly discuss cooking failures just as poignantly as tough aspects of their lives that tug at heart strings. In an attempt to change the course of my week, I filled my room with fragrant white flowers and set forth on making this tasty treat inspired from a picture in Bon Appetit, as my heart melts for cookie crust. As for the rest of the week, it did not turn out as planned.
This recipe, my friends, is precisely why I consider myself more cook than baker. I don’t like measuring, and when it comes down to baking science, the ‘little of this, more of that’ tactic does not fare well. I changed the proportions to more creme fraiche and less lemon, not taking into account that those measurements explicitly stated in the recipe played a role in the final product. Who'd have thought? The proportions given in the recipe below, do not correlate with the melting mess we had to take pictures of. So should this intrigue you, your luck may be better than mine. I think this pie would be great for entertaining, as it's fridge/freezer time gives you good reason to do it in advance.
Chemistry faux pas aside, nearly half of the final product managed to make it's way into Hugh's mouth while he was shooting it. "Clean as you work," he says.
PEACH DISASTER WITH GINGERSNAP CRUST // The science of this pie, is that the lemon reacts with the milk products to help the filling firm up. So be sure to give it ample time to do it’s thing before serving.
The Crust //
10 oz. Gingersnap Cookies
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 14 oz. Can Organic Sweetened Condensed Milk, lowfat optional
½ Cup Crème Fraiche
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 ¼ Cup Ripe Peaches, Peeled and Diced
1. In a food processor, grind the gingersnap cookies. Add the butter and pulse to combine.
2. Press the cookie mixture evenly into the sides and bottom of a 9’’ glass pie pan. Pop this in the freezer while preparing the filling.
3. In a bowl, whisk the condensed milk, crème fraiche, lemon juice, and cinnamon together. Give the peach pieces a good squeeze in your fist to crush them up a bit, and add to the cream mixture. Whisk together. Add the filling to the chilled cookie crust.
4. Let the pie firm up in the fridge for at LEAST 4 hours. We put ours in the freezer, and then let it sit for a bit before serving.
I really like free things. I’m the girl who tries multiple flavors at the frozen yogurt place, has a collection of toothpicks in hand at a farmers market and shoves all toiletries in my bag when leaving a hotel. Whoever said 'there is no such thing as a free lunch', has never been to Costco/Sam's Club on the weekend. When POM Wonderful sent me a box of 100% POM juice, I felt all blog efforts had paid off. I’ve seen the nubby bottles in the produce section, but breeze right past, as juice doesn’t tickle my fancy. I will start by saying it makes a refreshing slushy after a short stint in the freezer. This grain salad however, packed with bold flavors, is a perfect way to take advantage of the end of cherry season. Wheat berries are easily found at Whole Foods or a local health food store. They look like plump brown rice, but have a nuttier flavor.
The recipe below makes a great vegetarian side dish, and Hugh mentioned he thought it would be great along side of a burger. I made this for a dinner party at my parent’s house and added some crispy, salty bacon into the final toss. I hate to admit this, seeing as bacon doesn’t have a seat in the Sprouted Kitchen, but it was a layer of flavor that put this salad over the edge. The recipe below does not include the pound of crispy bacon I added in for my parent’s party, but if you partake in eating little piggies, just make sure it’s extra crispy. Eish, can't believe I suggested that.
WHEATBERRY SALAD WITH ARUGULA, CHERRIES AND POM DRESSING // Serves 4
1 Cup Wheat Berries
3 Cups Arugula
2 Cups Bing Cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 tsp Kosher Salt
Zest of one Lemon
POM DRESSING // This will look like a lot of dressing and seasoning, but the wheat berries are very dense and soak up a lot of the liquid from the dressing while in the fridge. Use less if you prefer, but it is what gives the wheat berries any flavor.
1 Shallot, roughly chopped
Big Handful of Fresh Fennel Fronds or Dill, Chopped
3/4 Cup Soft Goat Cheese
1/3 Cup POM, 100% Pomegranate Juice
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
2 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
Rinse the wheat berries in a strainer. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the wheat berries. Boil for about 45 minutes or until tender and split open a bit, add water if they dry out before cooking. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
While the wheat berries are cooking, make your dressing. In a processor or blender, add the shallot, fennel frond/dill, POM, cumin and pepper. Blend to combine. Add the goat cheese and olive oil and give another whirl.
While the wheat berries are still warm add the dressing and mix. Let it cool for a few minutes. Add the arugula and cherries (and bacon if you please) and mix again. At this point, add the lemon zest and taste for salt and pepper. Don't be shy with the seasoning.
~You can either serve at room temp, or chill in the fridge to let the flavors saturate and serve it as a cold side salad.
I have been in love with breakfast before the health industry beat to death the breaking news that 'eating breakfast is healthy'. I know I am not a pioneer in this, and that there are many of you who, like me, think about breakfast as you're falling asleep the night before. You pour into your favorite coffee mug, the one you always use, despite the many you have to choose from. You are partial to a smoothie with either a straw OR spoon and know the tipping point where scrambled eggs go from perfect to overcooked. It is worth waking up early to experience the charm that is breakfast.
Some of my best, most heartfelt conversations are at breakfast time. It’s before you brain becomes trafficked with the to-do lists and clutter of the day. The comfort found in a warm beverage breeds shared thoughts with good company. Though my efficient, productive self tends to be in motion first thing, my dream world would always start off with a nice breakfast. I don’t like them to be laborious, or involving a plethora of ingredients, which is why this panini is ideal. Just enough flavor, minimal effort. I humbly admit that my panini skills are one of the reasons Hugh fell in love with me. So here’s to my favorite person to spend breakfast with <3
BREAKFAST PANINI // Makes 2
If you don’t have a panini press or grill pan, you can use a saucepan and wrap something heavy in foil, to use as a weight to press down on the sandwich.
4 Slices Whole Grain Bread
½ Cup Fresh Spinach Leaves
2 Scallions, Chopped
3 Eggs, 2 Egg Whites
2 tbsp. Milk
½ tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
1 tbsp. Grainy/Dijon Mustard*
3 tbsp. Basil, Chopped (any green herb of choice will work)
1 tsp. Milk
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper
1. Heat a nonstick skillet to medium heat. Combine eggs and egg whites in a bowl, add milk and garlic salt and whisk them until well combined and frothy. Spray the pan.
2. Add the scallions to the eggs and pour them into the pan. Let them cook about 2 minutes with the lid on, lift up on the edges with a spatula and let the liquid egg drain beneath, cook another minute. You are trying to make a rectangle of this egg mix, like an omelette.
3. When it begins to set, fold over both edges towards the middle and flip it over, cover the eggs and turn off the heat.
4. In the meantime, add the spread ingredients to a bowl and combine with a fork.
5. Toast your bread slices on the panini or grill pan for a minute for a very slight toast. Evenly spread a generous tbsp. on each slice of bread. Divide the spinach leaves on two slices. Cut the egg rectangle in half so you have two squares, and put one half on the spinach leaves. Press the other slice of bread on top of the sandwich goodies.
6. Heat your panini press/ grill pan, rub a lil olive oil on the outside of the bread and sprinkle with salt, put in the panini and warm through for about 6 to 8 minutes. If you are using a grill pan, flip the panini half way through.
*Dijon has more of a ‘mustard’ flavor while the ‘whole grain’ is more delicate. Hugh prefers the delicate, I think it would have been better with Dijon, but that’s you’re call.