Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pizza Crust

I wish I could remember where I found this recipe for pizza crust! It turned up on a google search, and was from one of the millions of recipe websites... The reason I tried it was because it only called for a 10 minute "rest", as opposed to an hour or so for rising. It could be that a crust that has spent the time rising would be more flavorful, but I have no complaints about this one. I have made it twice - the first time I didn't roll it thin enough, and it made a very bready thick crust (which would be great if that is how you like your pizza; see photo below.) I prefer a thin crust, with crunchy edges, and I got a lot closer to that the second time (see photo above). I'm not sure if this is relevant or not, but I used active dry yeast in the breadier crust, instant in the thinner crust (which also seemed to have bigger bubbles throughout - also a plus in my book.)

Pizza Dough

- 1 cup warm water
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 packet of yeast (instant, or active dry - see instructions)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar

If using instant yeast: Mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add warm water and olive oil and stir until dough comes together.

If using active dry yeast: Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir together warm water, sugar and yeast until dissovled. Pour into flour, add olive oil, and stir until dough comes together.

Knead until dough is smooth, adding just enough flour so that dough doesn't stick to hands (dough will still be sticky.) Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven and cookie sheet to 500 degrees, and then roll out the dough on parchment paper. Load up the pizza, then slide it onto the hot cookie sheet. Turn down the oven to 425 degrees, and bake it until it looks done.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A bag for work, and some sunshine

I have a mess of craft projects I have been wanting to post about, but I keep getting side-tracked with food. I made this bag a while ago, with no particular purpose in mind - I just liked the fabric, and wanted to try putting a zipper on something. But now that I am in the float pool at work, I need to take all of my stuff home with me every night, and it turns out this bag works perfectly.

In other news: we had a sunny day here in Seattle last Tuesday! I hadn't noticed how long it had been since I had seen the sun until it made its appearance; I could feel my eyeballs cramping up.

I haven't shown you the view out my kitchen window for awhile, so here it is on that sunny day:

I went for a couple walks, first through my neighborhood, then at Golden Gardens, which is a park in Ballard (a neighborhood in Seattle.) Cold, windy, and SUNNY!

Found: lots of barnacles, a tiny orange starfish, and a few sea anemones.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Granola Bars

I had been pondering making some kind of granola bars for awhile when I saw a version of these on Coconut and Lime. I am a sucker for anything with sweetened condensed milk, so even though they probably aren't particularly "healthful", I couldn't help trying them. I swapped around a few ingredients, but kept the ratios the same. The only problem I had was the size of pan - I used a 9x9 (I didn't have the recommended size), which made the bars too thick. They ended up overdone on the outside, and underdone inside, even though they are baked at just 250 degrees. Next time I might double the recipe, and then use one of my large rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Even though these need some tweaking (or at least a new pan), they were still a success - slightly caramely, chewy, and not as sweet as you would think.

- 2 1/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup roasted and salted pistachios
- 3/4 cup dried tart cherries
- 3/4 cup toasted coconut (I only had sweetened and didn't want to make a trip to the store, but I will use unsweetened next time)

In a large saucepan heat the sweetened condensed milk over med-low heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, then spread into a greased pan. Bake for 250 degrees for 65-70 minutes.

In other news...I went to a basketball game last night! I had never been to one before, and it was actually way more fun than I ever would have expected. The Sonics were playing the Lakers, and they had to go into overtime, so the crowd was in quite a frenzy. I now understand all the fuss about Kobe Bryant, but the entire game was almost as mindblowing as he was - like watching figure skating or gymnastics in the Olympics - it is hard to believe what you are seeing.
And the cheerleaders (oops...I mean, "dance team"), while still icky, weren't nearly as disturbing as I would have thought, based on this, and they also had boy cheerleaders! ("Boom Squad").

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I made these almost a month ago, and then completely forgot to do the post (?!). These cookies are near the top of my list of favorites, but they are a little labor-intensive (especially if you don't have a dishwasher, and your kitchen sink was designed by someone with a playhouse in mind).

I saw these popping up on lots of blogs this Christmas. They came from Martha, so here is the recipe. These cookies are really chocolatey and spicy - they have lots of fresh ginger in them. And if you get them out of the oven on time, they stay chewy for days.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Winter Farmers Market Dinner

I had no idea that radishes were a winter food. I went to the U-District Farmers Market today and saw tons of them. Which was lucky for me because I LOVE radishes. I was so impressed by how much you could find at this farmers market in the dead of winter: tons of greens, squashes, brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots, and apples. And every kind of meat you could possibly want, cheese, bread, seafood, honey, jam, and apple cider. And eggs - I bought a dozen.

I also bought some collard greens. I would have gotten a butternut squash as well, but I already had one at home...

I boiled the collard greens in vegetable broth for about 40 minutes, then added a can of white beans and a pinch of red pepper flakes. The butternut squash I baked, cut side down, in a 400 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes. I put the radishes on buttered crackers, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper - definitely my favorite part of my dinner...

I love how many colors there were on my plate - all with local, seasonal food.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins (aka: dinner)

Happy New Year!

I'm not usually one for muffins. But tonight when I saw the bag of wild blueberries in my freezer, I suddenly couldn't survive without some blueberry muffins.

As usual, I turned to Baking Illustrated: the Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker, by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. I'm not going to print out the recipe because I didn't change a thing from the original recipe, except for swapping in whole wheat pastry flour. These muffins rocked - they have 1 1/4 cups of sour cream in them, and it tastes lovely with the blueberries. The texture is nice and cakey too, even with the whole wheat pastry flour. My only complaint about the whole wheat flour is the color - these muffins just aren't very cute.