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Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

  1. Five Recipes to Win Friends and Influence People

    December 20, 2011 by faith

     

    Some foods have a deserved amount of prestige associated with them. They are hard to make; or take time and special rare ingredients. And then there are some foods that are all hype. Everyone oohs and ahs over them, but in reality they are super easy to make. So, if you want to seem like a kitchen diva with none of the drama, try these five not-so-hard things.

    1. Chicken Broth– Buying a whole chicken is a great deal. Per pound it’s usually much cheaper than buying breasts or some other part of the bird by itself. You can easily get three or more meals out of it- beginning with a roast dinner and ending with soups made from your very own broth! All you have to do is after dinner throw the picked over bird carcass (I’m not making this up. This is what the cookbook calls it.) in some water with onions, celery, carrots and spices. Two hours later you’ve got your very own broth to freeze in two cup portions to be used in your homemade soups.

    2. Soufflé– I can remember as a child watching a rerun of the Brady Bunch in which Alice tries to keep the kids from making too much noise and causing her soufflé to fall. This impressed upon me at a young age that soufflés are hard and should only be attempted under perfect non-sitcom conditions. This seems to have been a popular idea, according to the website TV Tropes.  So, when I made a blueberry soufflé the other day, I expected the worse. But it was super easy! No more difficult or precarious than making brownies or cake. So give it a try and impress your friends with a dessert with a fancy name!

    3. Pizza Dough– I’ve already pretty extensively covered this topic in two blog posts (Pizza and Good-bye and It’s All About the Dough) but it bares another mention that pizza dough is very, very easy, particularly if you have a Kitchen Aid to do the mixing for you. No matter how good your local pizza place is, your homemade dough will be better. You can even impress your guests by telling them that you throw it in the air and spin it around like the professionals do.

    4. Hummus– I have a really hard time bringing myself to buy hummus in the store. All it is is chickpeas, garlic, olive oil and tahinni and yet it’s quite pricey. If I used it just as a dainty dip rather than inhaling it, this might not be so much of a problem but I have control issues when it comes to chickpeas. Thankfully, hummus is really easy to make in a blender or food processor. I just use whatever recipe I have laying around and then adjust the amounts of ingredients to make the hummus exactly the consistency and taste I want. One good tip is to reserve the liquid from the canned chickpeas in case you need to thin the hummus a bit. This won’t water down the taste, but it will make it smoother.

    5. Brownies– This is a new thing one for me. I was feeding a group a people and one of them had a soy allergy. The boxed brownie mix I had listed soy as one of the ingredients. So, I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and made one of their brownie recipes. It took just a little time to melt some bakers chocolate and measure a few things into a bowl, but was not difficult or too tedious. The brownies came out great and people were very impressed by fact that you can make them without Betty Crocker.

    I’ve spilled my secret easy as pie recipes with you. Now it’s your turn. What impressive culinary creations have you made that turned out super easy?


  2. It’s All About the Dough

    September 28, 2011 by faith

    After my last post, I had several people ask me about the recipe I use for my pizzas.  So, for the curious, here it is.  Due credit should be given to the lovely Mennonite ladies from More With Less, from which this recipe is drawn.

    Let me reiterate, don’t be scared.  It’s not that hard and it really is worth the little bit of time and planning that it takes to make your own dough.  I use a Kitchen-Aid mixer to kneed my dough, which saves time and my arms.  The dough from the recipe comes out yummy, fluffy and fresh every time- unlike the pies from the place down the street where you have to use a napkin to soak up the little piles of grease.  The wheat flour gives the dough a richer and pleasantly nutty taste, which I now miss when eating white-flour dough.

    Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

    1. Combine in a large bowl: 1 package/tablespoon yeast and 1 cup warm water. (Usually about 30 seconds in the microwave should warm the water sufficiently.  Don’t get it to hot or you’ll kill the poor little yeast when you dump them in.  The water should be pleasantly warm when you stick your figure in, not burning.)

     

    2. When dissolved, add: 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour.

    3. Beat until smooth. Add: 2 cups additional flour.  You should get a nice stiff dough.  I sometimes add a little bit more water or flour at this point if the dough’s not the right consistency.  It should be not too sticky, but should want to clump together.

    4. Knead until elastic.  The recipe says about 5 minutes, but mine always seems to take a little longer, even with the mixer.

    5. Place in a greased bowl, cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel.  Place in a warm spot (like on top of your fridge) and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.

    6. Form dough into 2 balls and pat and stretch into 2 greased pizza pans.  I usually get some holes in mine during this part, but it’s okay.  Just close them back up and you won’t be able to tell they were there when you bake it.

    7. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.  Add your sauce, cheese and toppings.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.


  3. Pizza and Good-bye

    September 21, 2011 by faith

    Food marks many of the most important moments in our lives- hellos and good-byes. We get cakes on our birthdays – a hello to ourselves. An ice cream cone on Memorial Day weekend – hello to summer. We have snacks and punch at a baby shower – hello to new life. But for all the happy moments of greeting we mark by eating, there are sad ones of leaving too. The comfort food served at wakes and after memorial services – good-bye to a life. The sandwich eaten standing up in the kitchen after returning from seeing a friend in the hospital- good-bye to life as it was before illness. The catered Greek food at a good-bye meal for a coworker.

    Last week, I said another food-filled good-bye. My brother Jacob had spent the summer living and working at the William Penn House with me. Jacob and I have always enjoyed each others’ company, but being five years older than him, I had gone away to college and then a job in a different city and missed much of the young man he had become. I got to know him as coworker and fellow grown-up this summer, and love the person he is. Even now, I walk through the house and think “Jacob and I should. . .” and then I realize he’s back in Ohio, at school.

    As Jacob’s last day at the William Penn House drew near I asked him what he wanted for his last meal with us and he chose pizza. Pizza has become a bit of a tradition here at the William Penn House. It started with two former interns who instituted a pizza night on Friday nights. There was an open invitation to all. It lapsed after they left, but we’ve recently revived it – with the addition of board games following the meal. All our friends know its a fairly regular thing, and they just let us know when they’re planning on coming by. Some Fridays are just Micah and me and a housemate or two. Sometimes we have a dozen people eat and have fun with us. It’s become a time of welcome and connection that I miss when we don’t have it.

    Before you become to impressed with me and my pizza making skills, I must admit that making pizza is much easier than you think. It just takes a bit of planning if you’re going to make your own dough (which I would greatly encourage). Your homemade pizza (even with store bought dough) is going to taste much better and be much cheaper than anything you can get at a chain pizza place. I usually start making the dough about two hours before we eat. It only takes about fifteen minutes to put together, but then it has to rise unsupervised for about an hour. I only need to start to put together the pizzas in earnest and heat up the oven about an hour before we plan on eating. We usually make a more traditional one with tomato sauce, cheese, veggies and pepperonis and a more experimental one. Jacob asked for a spinach, artichoke and feta pizza for his good-bye dinner. It is a tomato free pie I had made for one of our regulars who’s allergic to tomatoes and is wonderful.

    Most of us like to put as much as possible on our pizzas, but there’s also something to be said for simplicity. Having just three toppings allows you to savor each one. And savor it we did. Our fellow interns and housemates joined us for pizza and a banana cake (that’s a whole ‘nother post) on the night before Jake went. We didn’t rush; we enjoyed each others company and we began to say good-bye. It felt a bit like a ritual of good-bye, a liturgy of leaving. We most pause and eat with each other one last time before we go our separate ways and life resumes.

    Good-bye.