Homemade Pizza

The first time I had Italian pizza was when we went to visit my husband’s family in Upstate New York.  Of course I’d had pizza in California all my life, but except for topping choices, California pizza like French pizza doesn’t hold a candle to New York Italian pizza.  I think the fault lies with sauce and crust preparation.

The best pizza sauce I ever made was cooked slowly all day long.  I guess I had time on my hands or had just looked at The Godfather or something.  The sauce was thick, aromatic and could have been used as a tomato topping for any type of pasta.  Since that first and only time of all day cooking, I’ve cut the cooking time down to 2-3hours.  It works.  What doesn’t work is leaving out herbs (at least oregano and basil), garlic and a generous amount of olive oil.  Since moving to Pennsylvania, I’ve tasted none of this in take-out pizzas.  So that’s why I make my own.  We’re only 10 miles away from the New York border!  Unfortunately, Sal’s in Jeffersonville, NY burned, closed and/or is having difficulties.

When you make the crust, buy reliable dry yeast.  I used  Saf-Instant from France because I had some and it is reliable, but so is Fleischmann’s.  Proofing the yeast in warm water with a little sugar before adding it to the flour will tell the tale; if after a few minutes, it bubbles up to the top in yeast clots, it’s good.

Toppings are your preference.  I used bulk sausage, dry salami, olives, red bell pepper, 2 layers of mozzarella and parmessan cheese on the top.

The dough made two normal thickness pizzas but if you want a thicker crust, just add more dough.

Pizza Sauce

2 large cans of peeled tomatoes

2 large onions, chopped

4 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup of red wine

1 teaspoon each rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

4 tbsp olive oil

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft.   Add the tomatoes, wine, herbs, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 -3 hours, stirring occasionally,  or until sauce is very thick.

Pizza Dough

2 tsp dry yeast

1 1/3 cup of warm water

Pinch of sugar

4 cups of all purpose flour

1 tsp of salt

Olive oil

Mix together the flour and salt.  Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the pinch of sugar. When the yeast starts to clump and rise to the surface of the water, stir and add to the flour.  Blend well.

Knead the dough with the kitchen aid dough hook for 5 minutes or by hand for an agonizing 10 minutes. Divide the dough in half and form two balls.  Oil two bowls with the olive oil and put the dough balls inside, turning to coat with oil.   Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hour.   Punch the balls flat, then form into balls again and wrap with saran wrap.   Allow to rise again for 1 hour.   Spray Pam or spread olive oil onto (2)  12 inch pizza pans.  Flatten each dough ball onto the center of the pan and press the dough outward until it covers the pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Cover the pizza crusts first with sauce, then cheese, then any vegetable toppings, then cheese again, then any meat toppings and lastly parmessan cheese.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

 

 

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Grilled Chicken Shawarma

Shawarmas were one of the few, good fast foods we could find in the countries we lived in and traveled to while overseas.  In West Africa they were usually Lebanese, in England and Ireland they were Turkish or Greek.   The bread was whole pitas with meat and vegetable fillings, topped with tzatziki sauce, rolled and secured with a paper wrapping to hold it all together.  To make it easier for our guests to fill and eat the shawarmas, I cut the pita breads in half, creating pouches to stuff (like gyros)  to reduce messy spills.  I didn’t have shawarma paper wraps.

This is the first time we’ve eaten chicken shawarmas.  The meat was usually lamb/sheep slices flattened, pounded, marinated and placed on a rotating skewer in a large electric shawarma machine.

In restaurants this involves quite a few pounds of meat, sliced and served from the outside in, as the meat is browned and cooked.  They usually have razor sharp knives and it’s lovely to watch.

I considered buying a small shawarma machine for home use but when I was looking on Amazon, I noticed a simple skewer, not very long, screwed into a metal platform that could be used in the oven or on the grill.  Challenged, I bought one!  I sandwiched the chicken slices between fresh pineapple pieces for stability and a cool look 🙂

Unfortunately, none of my knives were razor sharp but he who will not be named did a fantastic job slicing the shawarma with inferior tools.  Thank you, “He”.

This tzatziki sauce is probably the best I’ve ever made.  Why?  I don’t know, but I will always make it like this from now on.

For an outdoor, socially distanced affair involving a grill, I knew I would have to have a potato or macaroni salad, I didn’t care which but my husband voiced his choice.  Probably tired of 44 years of mostly potato salad 😀

I baked 3 small gingerbread loaves to accompany the homemade peach ice cream, slicing one directly from the oven so my husband could eat it hot.

Grilled Chicken Shawarma

12 chicken thighs, skinned, boned, flattened and pounded thin

Marinade

2 cups thick Greek yogurt

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp piment d’espelette

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp black pepper

 

1 fresh pineapple top, about 2-3 inches

1 fresh pineapple bottom, about 3 inches

 

Pita bread, cut into halves to create pouches and warmed on the grill in aluminum foil

Platter of lettuce, sliced tomato and sliced cucumber

 

Tzatziki

1 large winter cucumber, grated

2 cups thick Greek yogurt

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Salt

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.  Screw the skewer into the metal platform and place on a shallow baking pan to catch the juices.  Skewer the pineapple bottom onto the platform, then add the  marinated chicken slices, one at a time, giving each a quarter turn from the last one.  Skewer on the pineapple top and place in a pre-heated 400 F grill for 1 hour and a half off flame.

Mix tzatziki ingredients together and refrigerate.

Thinly slice the chicken from the skewer into a warmed pan.  Stuff some of the chicken into the pita pouches, add lettuce, tomato and sliced cucumber and top with the tzatziki.

 

Posted in African, African, Cooking, Food and Wine, Greek, Lebanese, Recipes, Sandwich, turkish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Duck Breast Aquitaine

This recipe from the Aquitaine region of France is one of my favorites, perfectly blending the flavors of vanilla, balsamic velours/glaze, apples and butter sauteed onions with duck breast.  This enormous duck comes from the preferred duck breed in the U.S., Moulard, a mixture of Pekin duck and Muscovy duck.  Muscovy is mostly eaten in Europe and produces a smaller breast and a richer, meatier taste, I think.

The reason I first made this Aquitaine recipe was because the recipe called for packets of vanilla sugar which I’d seen in the stores before, vaguely wondered why anyone would need mixed vanilla and sugar powder.  Not interested enough to ask, I assumed it had something to to with French baking and immediately lost interest 🙂

I found this recipe in a French Saveurs magazine.  The fat of the breasts are first scored, then sprinkled with the vanilla sugar on both sides.

A balsamic velours is then prepared with balsamic vinegar and brushed over the entire breast.  Preparing the velours is fairly simple but if you can’t be bothered, balsamic velours is sold in bottles in France.  I checked out Amazon for a bottle of the velours but a very small bottle was $41.oo.  Forget that!  Unless in France, just boil and reduce the vinegar by half, then brush on.  Refrigerate the breasts for at least 2 hours but best over night.

It’s apple season, but for the 2nd year in a row, our apple tree couldn’t be bothered.  We assumed this when we saw so few blossoms in spring.  Oh well, the squirrels and birds are enjoying the handful that ripened.  The Gala, Granny Smith and Pink Lady were purchased at the supermarket.   I hate that!  It’s the apple season!

I love this corer and slicer.  I think I have one in France.  It also cores and slices pears.  I miss M. Parret, Vero, Tonio, Toutoune, Bruno, our house, the wine, the food and really, everyone in Sens.  I miss the French.  While I understand why we have been banned, it’s depressing.  Woe is me!!  I know they’re having fun, even with the virus.  I’m not.

Anyway, spiced sauteed apples are a treat and perfect for the duck breast.  My husband and I ate a few directly from the pan 🙂

I don’t know why I can’t seem to find yellow onions.  The red ones, I’ve heard have a problem with salmonella.  I like all onions but prefer to saute with yellow onions.  But these were fine.  I sliced them thin and sweated them slowly in butter.

A fresh baguette with these onions would be more than enough.

And now for the pièce de résistance, magret de canard, perfectly cooked and with a hint of vanilla flavoring.  You could cook this a bit longer, maybe one minute,  but I wouldn’t.

Duck Breast Aquitaine

2 duck breasts, fat scored

3 packages of sucre vanille

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, plus 2 tbsp

2 onions, thinly sliced

6 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

3 apples, cored and cut into 8 pieces each

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp sugar

Score the magrets on both sides in a diamond pattern, sprinkle with 1 package of sucre vanille.  Set aside.

In a sauce pan, boil 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1 package of sucre vanille and 1/2 tsp of black pepper until the liquid is reduced by half.   Cool and brush the breasts with this velours, reserving the rest of the liquid.  Refrigerate the breasts for 2 hours or overnight.

Saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper on a low flame for about 15 minutes.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and remaining package of sucre vanille on the apples and brown in 3 tablespoons of butter.  Set aside.

Sear the magret de canard on the fat side first for 5 minutes, remove the accumulated fat, turn and cook on the other side for 8 minutes.    Reheat the vinegar reduction, the apples and onions, slice the magret, drizzle with the reduction and serve.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Peach Ice Cream

I adore fruit ice creams and frozen yogurts.  Back in the day peach ice cream had peaches in it, in fact,  fruit ice creams had fruit in them, not some approximate, imitation color and flavor of the fruit.  Ice cream was also made mostly with cream, not just milk with added chemicals substitutes for the missing cream.  So that’s why I make my own ice cream or go without.

Mortally disgusted by mushy overripe fruit, firm is my watchword and sometimes I exaggerate, like this time.  These peaches could have been a tiny bit softer, but there was plenty of juice and the peach flesh wasn’t that bad.

The Cuisinart ICE-30 BC ice cream machine makes 2 quarts of ice cream; no salt nor ice needed and certainly no hand cranking.  Except for the fruit, I use the same recipe each time and it is sooo easy!  This recipe makes a little over 1 quart.

1 1/2 lb fresh peaches, peeled, seeded and diced

Juice 1/2 lemon

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

Separate the peaches into  2 bowls of 1/3 and 2/3 of total diced peaches.  Set the 1/3 bowl aside and mix the 2/3 of the peaches, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar together, refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.  Strain the juice from the fruit, add the reserved 1/3 bowl of peaches and refrigerate the fruit, reserving  the juice.

Whisk the eggs together in a bowl for about 1-2 minutes until fluffy.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar a little at a time until blended.  Add the cream and milk and whisk until blended.  Blend in the juice and put this mixture into the chilled container of an ice cream making machine, then turn it on for about 25-30 minutes.  Add the sugared and natural peaches from the refrigerator  and continue to run the machine for 10-15 minutes. Remove the ice cream from the container and freeze for a couple of hours.

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Fruit, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Green Tomato Chicken Curry

My neighbor Caroline gifted me with some lovely, small green tomatoes.  I immediately thought of green tomato curry.  Freshly ground spices lends welcome authenticity to this homemade, normally vegetarian dish, especially where there are no Indian restaurants worth speaking of.

Originally, I intended to serve a small, rotisserie chicken alongside the tomato curry, but the spices and aromatics smelled so good, I cut/chopped and ripped the whole chicken into pieces (not in an attractive manner) and added it to the curry.  Good choice, if not refined 😀

If you don’t happen to have a cooked chicken on hand, poach a whole small chicken, remove bones and skin, then cut into cubes before adding to the pan.

Green Tomato Chicken Curry

1 tsp coriander seeds

3 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/8 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 sweet Italian peppers, diced

1 lbs green tomatoes, cut into bite size quarters/pieces

Salt to taste

2 cups cooked, cubed chicken

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp brown sugar

Add the coriander, cumin, mustard, asafoetida, tumeric and chili powder together in a spice grinder.  Grind until the seeds are powdered and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and peppers, then saute until the onion is translucent.  Add the reserve spices and cook stirring for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and salt to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.  Add the chicken, peanuts and sugar, then continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Indian, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

It’s been a while since I’ve roasted a honey mustard chicken.  I always forget how good it is, especially with the addition of butter and minced shallots.

My husband loves roasted vegetables, as long as potatoes are included 🙂  I also liberally raided the herb garden for sage, parsley and rosemary because fresh herbs are the best.  After mixing the vegetables with herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil, I lined the bottom of a roaster with aluminum foil and poured the vegetables inside.  I topped them with a rack to hold the chicken.

I slathered spatchcocked, small, kosher chicken with the honey mustard mixture on both sides, working some underneath the skin.

 

Yellow roses from the garden.

The finished chicken has crispy skin, a beautiful color and juicy, tender flesh.

Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 shallot, minced

1  2.5 – 3 lb kosher chicken, spatchcocked

3 carrots, quartered

3 celery branches, quartered

2 baking potatoes, quartered

1 onion, quartered

Mixed fresh herbs to taste (parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano)

2 tbsp olive oil

Mix the butter, honey, mustard and shallot together in a small bowl.  Slather the mixture all over the chicken, working some under the skin.  Set aside.

Line the bottom of a roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Mix the carrots, celery potatoes and onion together with the herbs and olive oil, then pour into the aluminum lined pan.  Put the rack on the pan and top with the chicken.

Roast the chicken  in a 425 F oven, skin side down for 20 minutes.  Turn, brush with more glaze and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes.

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Salmon and Parsnips with Ginger Sauce

Whenever I see parsnips, I think of the U.K. ambassador to Rwanda.  He was from Scotland, as was the E.U. ambassador and those two together were quite the thing.  They gave parties consisting of food flown in from the U.K. and, of course, Scotch from Scotland 🙂  We met these two informally at our annual St. Patrick’s Party and were afterward always included in the fun parties!  Neeps (rutabaga), beef and parsnips were usually on the menu and on Burns Night, scotch whiskey splashed haggis.

Today, inspired by Martha Stewart, I roasted the parsnips with salmon and topped them with pan warmed ginger sauce.  A good and easy recipe.

Martha’s recipe called for skinless salmon, but I never buy skinless salmon because we like the skin, especially when it’s crisp.  Crispy skin is not possible with this recipe, so you can either buy skinned salmon or remove the skin or leave it on, as I did, and no harm done.

Thanks Martha, this was a delicious recipe.  However, the next time I will cook and crisp my salmon in a separate pan 😀

Salmon and Parsnips with Ginger Sauce

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 tbsp tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp orange juice

1 lb parsnips washed, ends removed, peeled and quartered vertically

Salt and pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

4  fillets of wild salmon, skin off or on

Mix the ginger, rosemary, soy sauce and orange juice together and set aside.

Season the parsnips with salt and pepper, then mix with the olive oil.  Place in a baking pan and roast in a 425 F oven for 20 minutes, stir, then move to the side of the pan.  Add the salmon fillets, skin side down to the pan, return the pan to the oven and continue to roast for 6 minutes.  Flip the salmon over and roast for an additional 6-7 minutes.

Plate the salmon fillets,  add the reserved sauce to the pan and toss with the parsnips.  Place parsnips on each plate and spoon sauce over both the salmon and parsnips.

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farmers’ Market Peach Cobbler

My neighbor offered to get peaches from the farmers’ market near her 2nd home in Northern Pennsylvania, which was fortuitous because I wanted to make a peach cobbler.

The easiest way I found to peel peaches is to soak them in hot water for about 10-15 minutes and then soak them in ice water for about 5 minutes.  Works for me.

Look for ripe, yet firm peaches.  These peaches were ripe and sweet but broke down more than I liked during the brief cooking time and released too much juice.

Because of the extra juice, I was worried that the cake batter would be slightly gummy and not quite done.

Unfortunately, I worried the entire cooking time, needlessly.  It was fine.

I used the same recipe that I used for the cherry cobbler.  Lots of butter and perfect batter.

Farmers’ Market Peach Cobbler

4 large or 8 small, firm and ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

 

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup hot melted butter

Cook the peaches, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a sauce pan on medium heat until the mixture just begins to boil, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together into a large bowl.  Beat the egg into the milk and then add to the flour, whisking until smooth.

Pour the hot butter into a 12 inch cast iron skillet or pie pan, pour in the batter, then top evenly with the peaches.  Bake in a 375 F preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Spoon the cobbler from the pan into bowls and eat as is or serve with a scoop of ice cream.

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Fruit, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Haitian Style Lamb Boucane

Watching my lucky neighbors go off to their lake side cabins or other getaways, wishing I was somewhere else, I thought about Haiti, our friends’ ocean side beach homes and the feasts  we used to have; lambi, griot, cabrit boucane, fresh grilled fish and rock lobsters from the fishermen’s boats, banane pese, poulet creole with rum punches and whole bottles of Barbencourt rum and Johnny Walker Red on each table.  Our friends brought their house help along who cooked on the beach, bargained for fish  and blessed us with a carefree visit.  I love Haitian food and nostalgically, time on my hands with nowhere to go, I thought about making cabrit boucane (Haitian barbecued goat).

Weiss supermarket, bizarrely I thought, used to have frozen chunks of goat meat in their foreign food refrigeration section.  I guess, no more.  I did have what was called a leg (4.5 lbs) of Australian lamb from Wegman’s in my freezer.  Unstoppable, I decided to substitute that for the goat.

When considering beginning a relationship with a new man, ask to see his tools.  If he doesn’t have any or maybe just a hammer and a screw driver, although it’s not necessarily a deal breaker,  it depends on what you’re looking for; a long term relationship or a date.  My father had tools, my brothers, my daughter and my son have tools.  Just sayin……

A boucane marinade is usually made with sour oranges.  None around here.  I substituted with a mixture of lime, grapefruit and orange juice and used habanero chillies for the usual scotch bonnet chillies.

I marinated the meat overnight but 2-3 hours will work also and give you time to make the pikliz.

To make the spicy relish,  grated carrot, thinly slice onion and cabbage with 4 habeneros/scotch bonnets and spices are mixed together with vinegar and stored in jars on a counter at room temperature for 2-3 days for the best taste, but you can eat some immediately.

Refrigerate after first use.  Advice:  Don’t hurt yourself, use a food processor to grate and slice the vegetables.

The lamb did not make an authentic cabrit boucane, but it was good.  The crusty chunks of lamb/goat with pikliz makes a perfect appetizer for cocktails.

Haitian Style Lamb Boucane

4 1/2 -5 lbs boneless lamb leg, cut into large chunks

Juice from 2 limes

Juice from 1 grapefruit

Juice from one orange

1 habanero chilli, quartered

1 bouquet garni

Small bunch of parsley, stems discarded and leaves chopped

2 large shallots, chopped

4 cups water

Peanut oil

Mix the lime, grapefruit and orange juices together and pour over the lamb.  Stir in the chilli, bouquet garni, parsley and shallots.  Refrigerate overnight.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator, add the water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.  Remove the meat with a slotted spoon into a drainer and lightly rinse with water to remove marinade ingredients.  Dry meat with paper towels.

Heat the peanut oil, then fry the lamb until crusty, golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Pikliz

4 habanero chillies, quartered

2 -3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, grated

1 onion, thinly sliced

4 whole cloves

1 tsp salt

10 red peppercorns

4 cups vinegar

Mix all ingredients together, then store in a jar for a day or two.   Refrigerate after first use. Lasts forever.

 

 

 

Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, Food and Wine, Haitian, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tuna Stuffed Brandywine Tomato

My neighbor Jayne gave me some gorgeous brandywine tomatoes from her garden and, to rise to the occasion, I decided to stuff the tomatoes using my last can of solid albacore tuna from France.  Well worth it!

I topped the tomatoes and made a shell for the stuffing by scraping out some of the pulp with a spoon.

I made my usual tuna salad, filled the shells, sprinkled with grated cheese and popped them into the microwave for about a 1 1/2 minutes until the cheese melted.  A little sprinkle of smoked paprika and it was lunch time!

Tuna Stuffed Brandywine Tomato

2 large brandywine tomatoes

1 400 gram (about 1 3/4 cups) can of solid albacore tuna in water, flaked

1/4 onion, chopped

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 tbsp yellow mustard

2 heaping tbsp mayonnaise (use a soup spoon for this measurement)

Grated cheese

Smoked paprika

Cut the tops off the tomatoes and remove the pulp with a spoon to create a shell.

Mix the tuna, onion, eggs, mustard and mayonnaise together in a bowl.  Stuff the tomato shells with this mixture, sprinkle with cheese and microwave for 1  1/2 minute.  Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika and enjoy.

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments