Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - October ~ Pizza!

This months challenge was awesome. I actually learned how to toss pizza dough! Sure, I made a mess but it was fun.

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.


2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.


8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.


10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.


11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.


12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.


13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Pepperoni goodness!

Vino Formaggio Sausage

White sauce, Chicken, and Spinach

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


You would think with spending 150K on new clothes she would have picked out the right scarf!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Argentina

This week Teresa of I'm Running to Eat chose Argentina. I was so tempted to grill a steak and make some chimichurri but I wanted to make something I had never had. After some research I decided on Carbonada en Zapallo (pumpkin stuffed with beef and vegetable stew). It was so much fun to make. I have never roasted an entire pumpkin! And, I have never served anything out of a big, giant pumpkin. Agnes loved it!

What's inside the pumpkin?

Pumpkin Stuffed with Beef and Vegetable Stew

1 medium pumpkin

6 tablespoons salted butter, melted

2 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes

2 large red onions, sliced thin

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, sliced

5 garlic cloves, chopped

3 dried red chillies, snapped in half

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed or 1 teaspoon ground

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds, crushed or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground

2 large yams, cubed

6 to 10 new potatoes, quartered

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 cup red lentils

3/4 cup dried peaches or dried pears, halved

4 cobs of corn, quartered

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

6 cups water, more if needed

corn or olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, F. Cut a lid off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the insides.

2. Brush the pumpkin, inside and out, with butter and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 50 to 70 minutes. The pumpkin should be cooked through but not collapsing on itself.

1. Place a large heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, pour in two tablespoons of oil and when it shimmers, add the beef. Brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove beef from pot.

3. Add onions, peppers and garlic to pot and saute until onion is translucent. Add spices and saute for 3 minutes. Add chilies and saute for half a minute. Add meat, yams, new potatoes, lentils, tomatoes, dried fruit, salt, pepper and water to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about half an hour until the potatoes are tender. Add more water if needed.

4. Add corn and cook for another 4 minutes. Stir half the cilantro into stew. Pour stew into pumpkin, top with remaining cilantro and bring to the table. Serve.

I will definitely be making the stew again. While the pumpkin was really fun to make I would only make again if we had company.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I am a huge fan of hypnotherapy. I truly believe that it helps people. It helped me accept and deal with the loss of our first child. It helped me get through 48 hours of labor with laughter instead of pain killers. So why am I disgusted? I am disgusted with how hypnosis is portrayed on tv and other media.

I first really noticed this when we were on our cruise last year. There was a hypnotist who had a nightly show. It was fun watching people we know make complete asses of themselves on a stage. Sean and I laughed because we knew it was all an act but it pissed me off. The hypnotist had them clucking like a chickens, dancing like idiots, etc. This is not how hypnosis works. It CAN'T make you do any of these things. Two of the people I talked with after the show told me they didn't remember anything they had done. BULLSHIT!

Then last night on CSI there was a hypnotherapist who could rob banks and the sound of her voice made a woman accidently kill herself. OH. MY. GOD. It was the dumbest thing ever. I think it was dumber than the moron on the cruise.

It makes me sad this is how people look at hypnotherapy. It is such a wonderful tool that can help many people. It can be utilized for grief, weight-loss, stop smoking, stress, and a myriad of other things.

Hypnotherapy may not be for everyone but it would be nice if people knew that clucking like a chicken isn't the only thing it is good for.

Chocolate Fixation ~ October Challenge

This months Chocolate Fixation Challenge was hosted by...ME! I chose one of my favorite brownie recipes by David Lebovitz. I love this man. He has some absolutely amazing recipes.

Dulce de Leche Brownies
12 brownies

8 tablespoons (115 g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 g) flour
optional: 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
Line a 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn't reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Here comes the fun part.
Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

I am so excited. I wanted to lose 20 before the end of the year and I am down 23 pounds! I can't wait to weigh myself on New Years Eve to see how much I lost total. My plan is working. I have finally found my weight loss path. YAY!! I think it just took awhile to get settled into my new life here in the Pacific NW. All my pants are starting to get baggy. It is such a great feeling!

Saturday we are decorating sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. Agnes is having a little friend over to decorate with her. I am decorating skulls for all of my family and friends that are gone for our home altar. I am also making a sugar Our Lady of Guadalupe. I think she is going to turn out really cool. After I finish those I am decorating 24 mini sugar skulls to put on top of the cupcakes that I am sending to work with Sean on his birthday. His birthday is on Halloween so I thought they would make really cool cupcake toppers.

Tomorrow night Sean and I get to go out for happy hour. We haven't been out without Agnes since April. It is definitely time. We are meeting up with a bunch of people at OBA. Their menu looks tasty. The prawn ceviche sounds divine. That will definitely be ordered. How about roasted butternut squash enchiladas with creamy toasted walnut sauce and quinoa salad? Um, YUM!! My stomach is growling now. I just need to remember while I am there "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels!"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Morocco

This week in My Kitchen, My World, Judy of Judy's Gross Eats chose Morocco.
What a fun challenge. There are so many spice combinations with Moroccan cooking. Too bad I couldn't get Sean to do a belly dance for me before dinner!!

I didn't get a chance to take photos but we had Fish Tagine with Peppers and Olives served with couscous.

Moroccan Fish Tagine With Peppers And Olives

Serves 4.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
4 6-ounce white fish fillets (such as halibut or orange roughy)
1 pound carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
24 brine-cured olives (such as Kalamata)
Additional Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Mix first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Add fish and turn to coat. Refrigerate 2 hours, turning fish occasionally.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange carrot slices over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Layer half of tomatoes, half of onion and half of lemon over. Season with half of salt and pepper.
Drain marinade from fish; reserve marinade.
Arrange fish atop lemon slices. Top fish with remaining tomato, onion and lemon slices. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Top decoratively with red pepper strips and olives. Pour reserved marinade over. Cover dish with foil. Bake 40 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
and bake until fish flakes easily and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Garnish with additionally parsley.

Arrange fish atop lemon slices. Top fish with remaining tomato, onion and lemon slices. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Top decoratively with red pepper strips and olives. Pour reserved marinade over. Cover dish with foil. Bake 40 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
and bake until fish flakes easily and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Garnish with additionally parsley.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I am in love!!!

So, we all know that I am old. OLD! I am also kind of stuck in my New Wave/Alternative 80's ways. But as I was watching SNL last night I fell in love. I fell in love with a band called The Killers. OMG. There is something very 80's and very Echo & The Bunnymen (my favorite band of ALL time) about them. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the lead singer is H.O.T. hot!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Equador

I'm back! Well, kind of. I made a couple of really easy things this week. Hopefully I should be back to myself next week and can cook something more challenging.

This week for My Kitchen, My World Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch chose the country of Ecuador. I thought I knew what to expect but I was so wrong. I couldn't believe some of the amazing recipes I came upon. Since I am still recovery from my surgery I decided to make soup and something to go with it. This is what I found!

I made Locro (potato soup) and Pristinos (pumpkin fritters). Can you say YUM?!?! This menu reminded me a lot of my Grandma. When it is cold outside she will make potato soup and grebel. Grebel are a Germans from Russisa (Volga German) doughnut. They are one of then most favorite things my Grandma cooks.

I made this Ecuadorian dinner in honor of my Grandma. :)

Locro ~ Potato Soup

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (Use the best you can find. I use Penzey's Hungarian Sweet. It was perfect)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 cup each milk and light cream
1/2 pound Munster cheese, grated

In a large, heavy saucepan heat the butter and stir in the paprika. Add the onion and saute over moderate heat until the onion is softened. Pour in 4 cups water, bring to a boil, and the potatoes, and simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost done, add the milk and cream and continue to cook, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes begin to disintegrate. Stir the cheese into the potatoes, season to taste with salt, and serve immediately. Avocado slices are sometimes served with the Locro, on separate plates but to be eaten at the same time.

Truly delish. I love that there are so few ingredients. It is the best potato soup I have ever had. Be sure and sprinkle paprika on top before serving. It just adds to the depth of flavors. I doubled the recipe so I could freeze the leftovers.

Pristinos ~ Pumpkin Fritters

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup cooked, mashed West Indian pumpkin (calabaza)
oil or lard for deep frying

2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1-inch piece of stick cinnamon

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Add the cheese. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingers, then the pumpkin with a fork. The pumpkin should supply enough moisture to make a soft but not sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a floured board and roll out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut it into strips 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. Form each strip into a ring, pinching the ends lightly together. Deep fry in hot oil or lard (350 F to 365 F.) until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve with cinnamon syrup.
CINNAMON SYRUP: In a saucepan combine the sugar with 1 cup water and the cinnamon stick. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar and simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

I McGyvered the pristinos. I wanted something kind of sweet so I substituted the cheese with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. When I brought them out of the oil I sprinkled them with a cinnamon/sugar mix. So good. I can't wait to have more with brekkie tomorrow.

It is rainy and cold here today. We ate in the living room tonight in front of the fire place. What a perfect Autumn dinner.