Friday, August 6, 2010

Pizza with Panache

Pizza is a dish that lends itself to creative thinking. You can make it traditional, innovative, sweet, or savory. My favorite pizzas are light on sauce with a few great tasting toppings. Whenever I go home to St. Louis I try to get a St. Louis thin-crust pizza with hamburger and onion (sometimes black olives too). The best part of St. Louis pizza (and salads at the pizza places) is provel cheese. Provel cheese comes in ropes, it was created about 50 years ago for the purpose of topping St. Louis pizzas. It’s a combination of provolone, white cheddar, and Swiss. It melts well, doesn’t get stringy, and stays hot (watch out for burned mouths).

When I’m here in Boston and thinking about pizza, I prefer to make it at home. It’s faster than delivery and we can make it exactly the way we like. Homemade pizza is also a great way to use up all those leftover ingredients in the fridge.

We had picked up some premade pizza dough and the grocery store and set it out on the counter to warm up to room temperature. Like the start of most of my kitchen adventures, I looked in the fridge and pantry to see what we had on hand.

From the freezer I pulled out at tin of Pestos with Panache’s Succulent Strawberry Pesto. I’ve enjoyed corresponding online with the pesto maker, Lauren, and had a chance to meet her in person at the SoWa Market earlier this summer. The strawberry pesto isn’t sweet – it’s a fabulous traditional pesto with the addition of bright red strawberries.

To top of the pizza, I chose shredded Monterey jack cheese and a few golden delicious apples.

This is a quick meal and perfect for a light dinner. You could also make the case for serving it at breakfast accompanied by some fluffy scrambled eggs and a cup of tea.

Pizza with Panache
1 container/bag of prepared pizza dough (or a pre-baked crust like Boboli)
1/4 cup Pestos with Panache Succulent Strawberry Pesto
1-2 golden delicious apples, cored and sliced into thin slices (I did not peel my apples)
Monterey Jack cheese, as cheesy as you like
Sprinkle of corn meal for the baking surface

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Measure out pesto (it is frozen) and warm for about 10 seconds in the microwave to make it more spreadable and set aside (don’t completely melt it)

Stretch out, toss, or roll out pizza dough to desired shape and thickness
Place the dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet covered with the cornmeal, this helps to prevent sticking
Bake the crust for 6 minutes

Remove the prebaked dough from the oven
Using a silicone brush, spread pesto all over the crust
Top with the apple slices, spreading evenly over the crust
Top with as much cheese as you’d like

Return pizza to the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and the edge of the crust is golden brown
Remove from oven and let the pizza sit for a minute or two, so you don’t lose all the cheese when you slice it

Serve with a lightly dressed salad and try to save a few pieces for lunch the next day!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 16-20 minutes
Pizza stone, cutting board, knife, bowl, pizza cutter, serving utensils

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When He Fends for Himself: A Confession and A Pledge

I haven't contributed to the blog in awhile, and there isn't a good reason why. The wife took evening MBA classes from last September through the end of June, which left me on my own at twice a week. For all those lonely dinners (probably in the range of 50), I couldn't create something in the kitchen worth writing about. I look back at those nights in front of TV and can't account for how I got by. I survived those 3-4 hours alone during dinner time, but looking back on it nothing stands out. What the heck did I eat? What I write about today is a confession and a pledge. I confess that not one of those 50, or so, meals was balanced or an appropriate dinner. And because I feel some shame and some embarrassment, I promise to change!

This fall the wife goes back to school and I'll get a second chance! When she had class last year, I obviously knew well in advance which days I was responsible for my own dinner and still I had no strategy or plan on how to feed myself. Every time I got home, I had to try to come up with something while wanting to use as little energy as possible. I tried to wing it the best I could with leftovers, "snack dinners", some skipped meals, take out orders, and old standbys. I made mac and cheese a couple of times, and probably another pasta or two. But I already wrote about those and who wants to write about, much less read about, boiling water more than once? (Even though I can boil water with the best of them!) None of the meals left me satisfied, none of the meals left me proud.

As soon as I plow through the 7 unopened boxes of Mac and Cheese in our pantry, you will see a transformation. I will move on from boiled and microwavable foods to produce nutritious meals that are healthy and worth writing about. I'll use the oven and the saute pans and maybe even the food processor. Every time I learn something new I'll share it with you. We will be on this journey together. "When He Fends for Himself" will again be a regular feature, so get ready!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Good Cookin' in Montana

Just over a year ago, we were in Montana to celebrate the wedding of my cousin Kyle and his wife Tasha.  The whole family headed west (and north) for a really great trip.  We celebrated, laughed, and of course ate our way through Billings and the surrounding area.

One of my favorite things to do is visit farmers' markets and food markets when we're travelling.  Our trip to Montana coincided with the first Billings Farmers' Market of the season last year.  There were fruits, veggies, baked goods, roasted nuts, jams, meats, eggrolls and more.  We had a wonderful time!

To read more about our Montana trip, check out my post from last year. I guarantee you'll want to head to Montana after reading.

My uncle in Billings sent me an email over the weekend about his farmers' market find at the Billings market.  Since he helped design my fun Good Cook Doris header, I'm happy to include his find as today's post.

From Uncle Rick:

This lovely tidbit is from the Farmers Market here in Billings. It is a turkey sausage breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, sausage of course, cheddar cheese, tomato and onion, all on a cheese and onion bun. Yummy!  I’ll go out and get a cookie or pastry for desert in a little bit.

Thanks Uncle Rick for sending the delicious photo and post!  Readers, where have you found great food markets or farmers' markets in your travels?


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