Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Case of Panzanella

The great thing about being a foodie is the potential for growth. Not in waistline...uh...I mean the subject of food is so large, I'll never stop learning. For example – I was aware of the Italian salad Panzanella, and thought, Yuck, bread salad. The word soggy came to mind. Then I saw an Italian making it with love, and decided to give it a try.

Revelation! Comforting, healthy, simple, delicious. The pieces of bread taste like wonderful, chewy Italian loaf you've chosen from the bread basket at table, and moistened in a tiny bowl of olive oil swirled with balsamic vinegar. Panzanella reminds me of bruschetta even, because the bread morsels soak in some of the tomato juices as well.


Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette (Recipe in my next post.)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
8 diagonally sliced pieces Italian bread
4 cups multi-coloured grape tomatoes, halved
2 sprigs fresh basil

Whisk the Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette in the bottom of a large bowl. Drop in the red onion. Break the bread into bite-size pieces over the onion. One by one, squeeze the grape tomato halves over the bread, then add to the bowl. Tear the fresh basil leaves into the salad as well. Toss. Serves 4.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Case of Pizza Dough

This dough bakes up thin, mi-crispy/mi-chewy, and redolent of yeast. I sprinkled it with 1/4 cup shredded light mozzarella and 1/8 cup grated Parmesan (per pizza), instead of the sliced bocconcini of Vegetarian Pepperoni Pizza.

Pizza Dough

1 cup very warm water (120ºF - 130ºF)
1 rounded tsp salt
1 envelope instant yeast
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
olive oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the water, salt and yeast. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour until a loose batter forms. Stir in the remaining 2 cups flour and mix until a dough forms. You may need to add more water, up to 1/3 cup. Start kneading the dough in the bowl and then transfer to a flat surface and continue kneading for a total of 6 min. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a deep, oiled bowl. Turn the dough a few times until it's coated in oil. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap. You can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point, or allow it to rise in a warm place (which can be your oven – heated for 5 min. at the lowest temperature – when it's cold outside and a sunny window just won't cut it) for 2 hours until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 500ºF. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 smaller balls. Shape each ball into a disk with your fingers. On a flour-dusted surface, roll each disk into a 12" circle about 1/8" thick. Lay on an oiled pizza pan (pans with ventilation holes in the bottom crisp the crust). Bake for 5 min., bottom rack. Remove from oven and poke any air bubbles with a knife. Spread with sauce, cheese, toppings...oh, the possibilities...and bake again for another 7 min. Makes 4 personal 12" pizzas.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Case of Chilli (Update)

The last update I got from Samsung inexplicably deleted the driver for my Samsung notebook's touchpad. Oops! The following Chilli update is much less painful. Promise.

What I found was my Chilli was sticking to the bottom of the pot. I had to stir it often to prevent burning. So I said to myself, "Yves Original Ground Round is already cooked, so why not stir it in near the end of the cooking period, just so it has time to warm up?" Low and behold, the package advises the very same thing. 

And how about replacing the 28-oz-can tomato sauce with a 14-oz-can tomato sauce and a 14-oz-can diced tomatoes to give the Chilli a more rustic look and mouth feel?

Lastly, 5 jalapenos is a lot. And you can buy some pretty hefty jalapenos! It might be wise to call for 4 jalapenos. Or better yet, 3 chillis for a spicy, red-speckled look. Yup, I'm going back and changing my original post. I mean...I could leave my original Chilli recipe post alone, but when I cook, I want to refer to a single recipe with all revisions incorporated, so here goes...