While Lucy Baker called this Chocolate-Almond-Hazelnut Spread in her book Edible DIY, she suggested that it was more like a grown-up version of Nutella. We like to pretend we’re grown-ups, so we’ll call it Grown-Up Nutella. Nah! Nah! And you can’t make us change it (unless you’re Nutella’s lawyers, in which case…). Continue reading “Grown-Up Nutella”
Here’s a nice little Christmas gift for you: Chili-Lime Peanuts. They are fast and easy to make up (yay!), really tasty (bet you can’t eat just one), and perfect snacking for New Year’s Eve (they’ll pair nicely with the finest Champagnes, and even the Champagne we buy)! Continue reading “Chili-Lime Peanuts”
You and I both know people who buy hummus. And while that may work for a quick little snack (it’s difficult to make just a small batch of hummus), when you’re going to need enough for a few dozen people you’ll want to scratch it up yourself. Fortunately, it’s easy. Continue reading “Scratched Hummus”
Everyday pizza is pretty easy. Just some dough to make a crust, some sauce, and whatever toppings you want, bake and in 15 minutes you have fresh hot pizza made to order. A lot better and a lot cheaper than ordering out.
Today, we’ll give you some tips that we’ve found for improving you home scratched pizza.
- 1 pound basic bread dough
- 1/2 cup pizza sauce
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- Your choice of toppings
We know, we know, you’ve seen a lot of recipes for pizza dough. Well, look at them and you’ll see that they are all just slight variations on bread dough, so, if you’re baking bread, just save some of that and use it for pizza crust. We do coat the dough with a little olive oil on the day we will be using it. It makes the dough a bit more supple and easier to shape. Other than that, use what you like.
Oh, we always use a baking stone for pizza. The crust turns out better, and, if you use baking parchment there is minimal clean up — win-win!
Line your stone. Cut a piece of parchment to cover your baking stone.
Center a rack in your oven and place a baking stone on it.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Shape dough on parchment. We like to get our dough so it’s about 1/4-inch thick, with a little lip around the edge. Our stone is round, so the pizza is, too.
Mise en place. Grate your cheese, wash and slice your toppings, get everything ready so you can work quickly and efficiently when it’s time.
If necessary, wait. Wait until the oven has heated for about 30 minutes. You want the oven and the stone hot! Do NOT put your toppings on during this time! The sauce will soak into the crust and you’ll get soggy crust.
Top the pizza. Now that the oven is hot, work quickly, spread the sauce, add cheese, and all your toppings.
Bake 15 minutes. Immediately slide your pizza into the oven and onto the hot stone. Yep, include the baking parchment. If you have a pizza peel, feel free to use that. Or use a cookie sheet, or even a stiff piece of cardboard. Once the pizza is in, bake for 15 minutes.
Enjoy your freshly scratched pizza (you might want to let it cool for five minutes; prevents those pizza burns on the roof of your mouth). Easy as pizza pie, isn’t it? Five stars.
Life’s uncertain, post dessert first!
A lot of people won’t try to tackle chocolate mousse because it seems too difficult. Not you, of course, you’ve been champing at the bit to whip up a batch for dessert, and so we’ll provide the easiest recipe we know. It comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table.
Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a mean mousse, so you should definitely keep it in mind when you want a nice light dessert, but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
- 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
Eggs: free range. Chocolate: best you can buy; we use Valrhona 71% cacao. There are basically two ingredients here, they’ll have to stand out.
Separate eggs. Do this while the eggs are cold, it’s easier, then let them warm to room temperature. We separate each egg into a small bowl, then pour the whites into our mixing bowl; that way, if one yolk breaks, we don’t get yolks in the entire batch of whites — they wouldn’t whip. We really suggest following this technique (we had a scrambled egg the next morning).
Whip egg whites. Add a pinch of salt and whip the egg whites. When they are starting to stiffen and form peaks, add the sugar, and whip until you have stiff but glossy peaks. Set aside.
Melt chocolate. In a microwave, heat chocolate in 1 minute intervals at 50% power until the chocolate melts. Stir briskly.
Add egg yolks. One by one, add the egg yolks and whisk them into the melted chocolate. The chocolate will start to thicken up and stiffen a bit.
Fold in egg whites. Here’s the tricky part. Since the chocolate is thick, take 1/4 of the egg whites and try to fold the into the chocolate to lighten it. You might just have to whisk the egg whites in. We did. Now carefully fold in the remaining egg whites using a wide rubber spatula. Scoop up the chocolate and cover the whites, push down through the whites, and repeat. Be gentle, you do not want the egg whites to deflate. Fold until you’ve incorporated most of the egg whites. It’s okay if a few flecks of egg white remain visible.
Serve. Scoop into fancy serving dishes and refrigerate until serving. We used martini glasses as our fancy dishes. Looks nice, huh? Tastes better! High Five!
If you are like us, you probably have some heavy cream left over from the various treats that you made for the holiday season. Now, what to do with it, what to do with it? Hmm. What’s made from cream? Of course, sour cream! Don’t just let the cream sour, that probably won’t work, but the following instructions will.
Sour cream, like yogurt, cheese, and most buttermilks, is a cultured milk product. So we just need the right culture. And if you’ve been scratchin’ up your buttermilk like we have, you have that culture. So let’s get started.
- 1 cup cream
- 2 Tbs cultured buttermilk
If you’re not scratchin’ your buttermilk you could use store-bought buttermilk.
Measure buttermilk into a clean glass container.
Let stand overnight. Yep, leave it out on the counter so those cultures can work their magic and turn your cream into thick, rich sour cream. Then refrigerate.
Yep, so easy anyone could do it. We know, we know, it seems scary to leave a milk product to sit out at room temperature overnight. But what happens when you add the buttermilk as a culture, is that the live culture grows so rapidly in the presence of food, the other microorganisms get crowded out, leaving just sour cream.
Once we learned that making sour cream is a no-brainer, we stopped buying sour cream.
Okay, even though we posted this the next day, it is probably easiest to make the caramel the same day. Sorry, but with the Internet on computers these days, you kind of get what you pay for.
This is such a great holiday treat, and we often make them during the holidays to give away. While we could get a something crappy at Dul-Mart, we find that making these takes about the same time, and most people just love ’em. Besides they pay homage to bears, the coolest animals on the planet, so you got to make them at least once in your life, right?
We use a modified version of the recipe provided in The Joy of Chocolate by Judith Olney.
Makes 24 bear paws
- 48 pecan halves ( about 1/4 lb)
- 8 ounces cashews
- Cream caramel, freshly made
- 6 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate
Buy the best chocolate you can find. These are treats. Not something you just stuff down your gullet. Live a little! Sure, it’ll cost more, but it’ll be so worth it. Nuts: use unsalted, or roasted and lightly salted. The contrast between the salty and sweet is sooo good.
Arrange the nuts. On two parchment lined baking sheets, place five cashews and two pecans to make “paws.” Do this over and over until you have 24 “paws.”
Cover each paw with caramel. After making the cream caramel, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then spoon a glob over each “paw.”
Don’t bother scraping the pan out for the bear paws. That’s for you to eat; after all, you’re the chef here. Think of it as quality control.
Refrigerate. Let the “paws” cool for an hour or two.
Melt chocolate. Break the chocolate into small pieces and microwave at 50% power for a minute, stir. Repeat the microwaving and stirring until the chocolate melts. Don’t go over a minute, and don’t go past 50% power. You do not want to burn the chocolate. Patience.
Cover “paws” with chocolate. With a rubber spatula, scoop up a glob of chocolate and thickly smear it in the “paws.” When you’ve covered all 24, feel free to do something with any chocolate left over. We won’t tell.
Refrigerate. Let the paws cool until the chocolate hardens, about an hour.
Test one out. Then package the rest to give away. You must share treats this good. It involves chocolate, so, well, you can guess how many stars.