Thursday, 29 March 2012

Homemade Spicy Pizza

Hey guys, time for another real meal as opposed to dessert! These are rare posts, as I enjoy nothing more than something sweet (and cute) to bake. Pizza isn't sweet, and it really isn't cute. But it's still delicious. And I wasn't in this alone, my co-cook Taylor came over to help out too. First shot at homemade crust and it worked out! Not that there seems to be much room for screw-up's, but still. I must admit though, there was a dessert pizza made too. This, shockingly, was not my idea to attempt to turn the entire post into a dessert-y one, it was Taylor's idea. However, due to aesthetics and the reputation of this blog, the recipe will not be part of this post ;)

Homemade pizza crust:
2 tsp quick rise yeast
a pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups of warm water
4 cups AP flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until it looks foamy (TIP: I am still not super familiar with yeast, so I bought a packet of regular dry yeast to try first in this step. There was no foam. None. Then I tried with the quick rise I already had and voila! FOAM! ... I suggest using quick rise but perhaps this was a fluke.)

2. In a second, large bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture & olive oil into it. Using a knife or spoon, make cutting motions to mix the wet & dry together (I used a pastry blender for this part)

3. Use your hands to form a ball with the dough. At this point, if you have a stand mixer, you can use this to "knead" the dough for 10 minutes. If you are not lucky nor rich enough to own one of these (*cough* me... christmas mom?), place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead manually for 10 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and elastic after.

4. Grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

5. At this point, depending on how large your pizza is, you can divide the dough into two for 2 small-medium pizzas or use it all for a ginormous one. By gently pulling/stretching the dough, shape to your desired size and place on a lightly greased pan.

6. Now, you can brush the dough with olive oil and add whichever toppings you'd like. Bake it at about 400*F for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling.

Here are our toppings:

Pizza Sauce

drizzle of olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ripe tomatoes
1/3 onion chopped
*2 serano peppers (those tiny bright red ones- totally Taylor's influence)
a few basil leaves

*these peppers are obviously optional... they added a good amount of spice to the sauce, which was toned down by the cheese, but it could have stood to have another one or two peppers depending on how much spice you can handle. We decided on these as opposed to the habanero peppers we picked up, which are supposedly much hotter, which is pretty terrifying considering how hot these serano ones are.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a pan and sauté on a low-medium heat for 10 minutes (ish) until tomatoes, onions and peppers are all very soft. Then using a blender, blend the mixture for a couple seconds until it is a sauce consistency. Spread onto your dough!


sliced onions
chopped green peppers
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella, sprinkled
a small "log" of goats cheese, cut into medallions
basil leaves
sprinkle of oregano
also can't really resist posting this... we had fun "kneading" the dough...

Monday, 26 March 2012

White Chocolate Grapefruit Cookies

We've been taunted by Summer weather lately in Ottawa, but today it's back down to below zero. What am I to do but bake cookies that beckon Summer to come back and stay a little longer? These were a bit of an experiment... "what would grapefruit taste like in a cookie?" .... and I can tell you, it tastes pretty good. However it's a very subtle taste. I would add zest of two grapefruits next time instead of just one. Happy baking.

2 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one (recommended: two) grapefruit(s)
2 tsp grapefruit juice
1 cup of white chocolate chips, or a good quality white chocolate bar chopped up

1. Preheat oven to 375*F
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, mix well.
3. Cream butter and sugars in a large bowl on medium speed, add the egg and vanilla.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients slowly while mixing.
5. Add in the zest, juice and chips to the dough and mix to ensure it's all incorporated.
6. Drop 1.5 inch rounds of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
7. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the edges are golden.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Lemon Butter Cookies

You know that whole "when life gives you lemons" expression? I took it pretty seriously. Literally, even. Life gave me lemons (well, technically metro did), and they have been sitting here in my kitchen for the past week begging the question of what to do with them. Some may suggest 'make lemonade' is the typical response to this situation, but for me it wasn't that simple. First, i searched all recipes i had bookmarked related to lemons, then narrowed them down to which recipes i had ingredients for. Following that, I gauged my energy levels and pick a few which best suited my "it's Friday, but it's also very grey outside" mood. Then, with these things in consideration, obviously picked the one in which I would most like to eat. This was the winner. That being said, these require common ingredients you probably all have on hand, they are extremely easy and don't take very long to make, and they taste spectacular. As a side note, it pairs extremely well with earl grey tea.

Lemon Butter Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies (they're small, i'd recommend doubling this)
(Recipe from itty bitty kitchen)

3/4 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon (or two if you prefer zestier cookies)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch


1. Preheat oven to 300*F
2. Cream butter, salt and powdered sugar in large bowl until fluffy (a couple minutes).
3. Add vanilla and lemon zest and continue to beat.
4. Sift in flour and cornstarch and mix at a low setting until just combined
5. Roll these into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Using a fork, press down the cookies.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes.


Monday, 5 March 2012

Coconut cream pie chocolate hazelnut graham bars (CCPCHGB?)

... quite the mouthful.

This weekend I made a coconut cream pie, and it turned out delicious (no proof cause I ate it all). However, there was too much pie filling for the pie shell.... so instead of wasting it, (or sitting down and eating it with a spoon....who me?...) I invented something new.

This was my thought process:

I could make some type of bar with this as a layer. That could probably work.
Graham cracker crumbs would probably go well with it...
Chocolate would also go pretty well with it...
I have a couple IKEA chocolate+hazelnut bars in the cupboard, could probably just melt those?
Yea, coconut cream chocolate hazelnut graham bars. That works.

Here are approximant measurements (I just made this up, remember?)

Coconut cream layer
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp butter

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to almost boiling. Meanwhile, beat sugar and yolks in a large bowl until frothy and pale yellow. Whisky in corn starch until smooth.
2. Whisk in hot milk, bit by bit (if you do this too fast, the eggs will cook and look like scrambled eggs... gross). Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk until it gets thick and bubbly.
3. Remove from heat and add in coconut, vanilla, coconut extract and butter. Set aside.

Graham cracker layer
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Melt butter in a 7x11 inch non-stick pan.
2. Mix together graham crumbs, sugar and coconut. Pour into pan with melted butter and mix around until the crumbs are moist. Press firmly down into the bottom of the pan using a spoon. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Chocolate later
2 large chocolate bars OR ~10-12 squares of bakers chocolate (dark chocolate? milk? white?... mix it up.)

1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate.
2. Pour on top of the prepared graham crust and smooth out the layer, making sure the whole area of the pan is covered. Place pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes so that chocolate hardens.
3. Remove from freezer and pour coconut pie filling on top of chocolate layer. Smooth over & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
4. Top with toasted coconut or whipped cream (or both...) if desired.