Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Pizza's Made for Grillin'!

I'm trying to maximize every sunny evening by getting out the BBQ and grilling! I know I will really miss it when October and November roll around and it gets chilly by 7pm. Ah, those summer nights.

I suppose this summer I have really attacked grilling big pieces of meat. Big. Pieces. Of meat. Which has been fun, and let me tell ya - really tasty! But one thing I've really wanted to try is to grill pizza! So the challenge was set - I'd find a recipe for an appropriate dough, gather some ingredients and friends and grill away!

Luckily the mothership and I had visited a produce market earlier that day and I was loaded down with fresh veggies - including some beautiful baby eggplant and zucchini. They made a wonderful accompaniment to our pizza and an even more delicious antipasto-inspired salad for the next day.

(Right on the grill; 10 minutes on the grill)

But the pizza, ah yes, the pizza. It was good. Really good. The recipe can be found here - on the amazing Kitchn site. The link is for the entire dissection on grilling pizza, which includes a recipe for the thin crust dough. If you're interested in grilling pizza, I highly recommend following their instructions. I amped up the crust a bit by adding some fresh and dried rosemary and thyme and of course, a generous pinch of lemon salt and freshly ground pepper. It made a world of a difference! The herbs infused their delicious oils and aromas into the dough which created the most delicious base to some summer fresh toppings and buffalo mozzarella! The herbs also add an extra element to the crust - making it less pizza and more like flatbread. I would be totally comfortable topping this with little oil and salt, cutting it into strips and serving it with some dip.

It was THAT good. The top and bottom were crispy with that slight chewiness and bite. Yum. And it took about 5 minutes to cook. Granted, they were small pizzas - but this is a manageable enough feat that you can eat a pizza while your next one cooks!

One tip the Kitchn site encourages (and I do too) is to push your dough out on an oiled surface. I used a cutting board and it made it easy to push out into shape and much easier on the grill. So have some olive oil and a brush handy.

Some of our goods:

(grilled peppers, fresh stripped corn, pesto, green onions, buffalo mozzarella)

In case you're wondering, I was using the mothership's awesome pimp camera. Oh yeah.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Dream of Ice Cream

After months of dreaming of this idea and procrastinating - it's finally done!

My ice cream labels!

I had wanted to do custom labels and containers for a while now. I finally sourced a great company that sells small quantities of cardboard pints (Sweet Bliss Containers) and it was really up to me to  make up the labels. I struggled to think of a name...I mean - this is IT! Well, not exactly, but I wanted to pick one theme and stick with it. Then it came to me, "I dream of ice cream" (which I do!) - in pink and brown, of course. Each container has the "i dream..." label and then their "fanciful flavour:" complement.

A couple of shots of my new labels - post-print & cut and pre-stick! Let's hope the glue is good enough to adhere even in the freezer! 
Check out the awesome selection in my deep freeze! It really looks like I have my own operation now...

My latest creation, "Sweet Cookie Caramel Swirl"...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dinner in a Flash

Ever had one of those weeks that practically crawl by? Mine was the complete opposite! So much seemed to happen and in such little time - and I still had things I wanted to do! As a result, a lot of my dinners were crammed into pockets of the evening - usually between the gym and running out the door again or right when I walked in and back out 20 minutes later. I am still trying to keep up with my Kitchen Resolutions and make-what-I-buy-and-eat it! As a result, I've taken to keeping an inventory of what is in my fridge - and it's worked! I usually try to plan in advance (based on what I have)  my meals for the week, lunch and dinner.

The topic for this post is based on one of these recipes - a spicy tofu salad made from some pantry staples and whatever was lurking in my fridge.

Spicy Tofu Salad

2 cups of tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
(I used the deep-fried tofu 'pop', as I like to call it, but I think this would work very well with a pressed tofu as well)
1/2 cup sliced sweet pepper
1 green onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili oil

Toasted black sesame seeds to garnish

In a medium bowl toss all the wet ingredients together until integrated. Grind a little fresh pepper into it if you like as well. Add in the tofu, peppers, and green onion and mix until all the dressing has been soaked up by the tofu.

Serve as a side, main, or as a salad topping!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So I suppose photos would help.

Haha, it's Thursday and I just realized that I might not have included any photos in the last post. I tried to snap a few during the process too.

 My pie post-press. I had to go around and crimp the edges with a fork anyway. Those lattice holes? Not easy to remove.

My new tortilla press put to good use pressing out ALREADY CUT pastry rounds. In the next picture, you'll see that the edges of the pastry don't quite meet the edge. As you can see, I am really packing in the fruit as well!



My adorable pocket pies ready to be egg-washed and baked.

The finished product! Delicious - but a lot of work.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

P-p-p-p-pocket pies!

I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets. Not a big surprise to anyone, I know - but I can never pass up the coolest and latest epicurean toy to hit the market! One new (to me) toy is the pocket pie mold/press from Williams Sonoma. From what I gather, they have had this product out for a few seasons now and introduce different shapes every once in a while. I have a gyoza mold/press (works horribly - as all good Asians should know - gyoza skins should be pinched, not pressed!) so I know how the concept works. Basically two shell molds are joined with a hinge. The centres of the mold sides are concave (or convex depending on the angle, I suppose) to leave room for the filling and the edges are flush so that they will 'press' together and seal.

So here is my combined review/recipe for the Williams Sonoma pocket pie press:

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Own Full-Time Kitchen Duties

I get asked every once in a while, "why don't you work in a kitchen?" My answer is honest - it's a tough life with long hours, high demands, and in many environments - very creatively stifling. Obviously there are examples of the complete opposite where people have made it happen and still wake up inspired. I'd still like to be there in 10 years. But this long weekend, something dawned on me - I work full-time in my own kitchen! That's the thing with long weekends (or weekends in general) when you've got no set plans - all I have is my own hands with devices and a kitchen coyly inviting me to spend some time exploring some new ideas - and let's face it, I don't have someone to cook for me - so if I want lunch, I've got to work for it! Yes, I can go out and pick up something quick, but I have all week to eat out - and I like to control and observe what goes into the gullet.

I'm posting a recipe I made last week - but I was definitely busy these past three days. I told the mothership that even when I have a quiet weekend where I rarely see anyone, it's a nice change from the people-people-people work environment I spend 40+ hours a week in. I like the quiet (or BBC Radio 1) as I shuck summer peas or roll out pie dough. It's contemplative, and I like it. I've always been a spoon that needed a fair amount of personal time just to reflect.

I recently read an article (or saw something on TV, I dunno - on some medium!) where a family decided to relocate themselves in the country (from their city lives). The mother noted the satisfaction and contentment she had watching a roast on a rotisserie for 5 hours (hey, I'd be happy too!) - she actually had a moment of stillness, of doing 'nothing'. I'd like to be able to do that one day - but even on my 'quiet' weekends, I feel the need to pack in as many activities or projects as I can - and in the summer I'm busy harvesting all the goods to be found!

Anyway - the recipe this post is for japchae! "What's japchae?" you ask! It's a Korean noodle delicious, and it's absolutely delicious! It's on par with a typical Chinese chow mein - noodles mixed with meat and veggies. But the real kicker is the noodles - when they are cooked, they are almost transparent, but in fact they are purple! They are made of sweet potato starch which gives them their distinctive color and taste (not too noticeable, really). But when you add in the sauce, they become brown-ish, but still fairly transparent. They are also a bit...jiggly, which I admit can be a bit off-putting. Did I mention that they can get kind of slimy and difficult to pick up? (LOL) Don't let this scare you! The dish is very easy to make - although depending on how many veggies you decide to add in, it could get a little labour intensive (as it did for me). I opted with:
  • snow peas
  • red peppers
  • zucchini
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • green onions
  • carrots
  • beef

After soaking the noodles in boiling water for about 15 minutes they become really soft and workable. Stir fry some protein in the marinade (recipe to follow) and then the veggies and then add in the noodles. That's how I did it at least - I'm sure everyone has their own method. Anyway - if you're looking for a nice side dish or noodle alternative, I recommend japchae as an option!

(adapted from original from Epicurious)

12oz sweet potato starch noodles
(soak for 15-20 min until soft)
1/2 lb lean sirloin cut into strips
*veggies - julienned*
(I am leaving this up to interpretation, the original recipe only had about 1/3 of the veggies I used! Go crazy!)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Combine all the ingredients!

Noodles Method:

In a wok add 4 tablespoons of the sauce and fry the beef. Remove
Add another 5 tablespoons of the sauce and 1/4 cup of water and add the noodles. Set aside
Cook the veggies in batches and combine with noodles and beef.

Garnish with green onions & sesame seeds - bon appetit!