Saturday, November 22, 2008

tomato sauce? yawn.

I'm going to try to start this off positive. Pizza is one of those things that always tastes great, even at its most predictable. A hot steaming cheese pie, let's face it, really hits the spot sometimes. But. BUT. I really kind of hate pizza. Well, maybe not pizza but the lackadaisical attitude with which many approach it. Yeah, slap on some tomato sauce, some cheese, a meat or veggie, you're done. No! Not me.

In honor of this sentiment, I have been making efforts to stretch the yeasty dough canvas beyond its wildest imagination. I started, of course, with the sauce. Because some things just don't go that well with tomato, I wanted to explore other options, and I came up with this awesome sauce whose leftovers can be used in many a creative way.

pizza with caramelized onion sauce, chicken, and goat cheese

1 recipe basic dough (see below)
4-5 onions
2 tbsp butter
4 oz goat cheese
1 large chicken breast

Make dough. *NOTE: Extras freeze well; I especially enjoyed the texture of dough after it had been frozen. Simply thaw for an hour or so to use. Preheat oven to 400.
Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, stir to coat, then turn heat to med. low. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring only a few times, until goldenly beautiful brown. Transfer to food processor and blend, adding water if needed to thin to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Coat chicken breast in spices (your choice! simply salt and pepper, or i used Emeril's Essence). Saute in pan over med. heat until cooked through.
Spread onion sauce over prepared dough.
Tear chicken into pieces and distribute over pizza.
Sprinkle goat cheese evenly across. Give it a couple of grinds of black pepper for good measure. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges of crust are golden.

pizza dough

1 1/3 c warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Combine yeast and water in bowl until dissolved. add the remaining ingredients and mix for about one minute. knead for about ten minutes. transfer dough to a bowl coated w/olive oil, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. preheat oven to 475, grease baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. punch down dough, divide in half. roll each half into a ball and let rest for 10-15 minutes. flatten and roll out balls and let rest for ten more minutes, top, and bake about 12 min. from Joy of Cooking

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the chocolate chip cookie.

The search ends here.
This is my favorite kind of post: when a beloved food has been perfected and I get to share it with you. The chocolate chip cookie, for all its simplicity, is a difficult one to nail. I would venture to say the chocolate chip cookie is probably featured in more bad recipes than any other food. But here we have an amazing cookie: crunchy around the outside, chewy in the middle, with a crisp crust whether you eat it out of the oven or two days later. There are subtle hints of toffee; the chocolate is not an intrusive chip but a layer of cocoa heaven.
Now, disclosure here, the day that I can perfect something to this level will be the day that I am too famous and busy and wonderful to have anything to do with a little old blog. This recipe is courtesy of the New York Times. You can read the several-thousand word article about the journey to this recipe on their website. I followed it to a t, and some hints for you are: splurge on the specified chocolate (find it at whole foods), let the dough rest for the full amount of time!, and make sure the ingredients are at room temp. But enough-- here it is:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons

(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lily Confit: un recuerdo

I don't have a photo of this, since I made it for a dark bonfire at my friend mat's house, but here is a facsimile of the lily confit from dell'anima in New York (an amazing restaurant, pictured above, which everyone should eat at). So named because all the ingredients are members of the allium family (like lilies!), this is a brilliant topping for bruschette. At the restaurant, we paired it with their delicious housemade ricotta with sea salt, but ricotta from Whole Foods was just fine for a casual outdoor gathering.

3 cipollini onions (sliced)
5 large shallots
5 large heads of garlic
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Chop off top of garlic heads, drizzle with olive oil. Peel shallots, drizzle with olive oil. Roast until golden brown.
Pop garlic cloves out, into a sauce pan, along with shallots and onion. Cover with olive oil (mix half and half with canola, if desired) and bring to a boil. Add some generous pinches of salt. Put heat on low and simmer for at least 45 minutes, longer if possible, until tender. Serve in a bowl with liquid alongside toasted Italian bread and ricotta with sea salt.