Nom Nom Nom

We had another beer butt roasted chicken the other day.  I’ve been limiting the seasonings on the raw bird to just a generous sprinkle of granulated garlic.  I wanted to make gravy and if you go overboard on salt the gravy will suffer.  Delicious!  Steamed broccoli and home fries rounded out the meal.  It was a big chicken so there was plenty left for……pot pie!  I made rather a hash out of the the crust.  Rookie mistake – I used a same sized pan to cut the rolled dough to size instead of laying it out over the fillings and trimming.  Plus I wasn’t sure whether to tuck the crust inside or make a lip to cover the edge.  “Plan ahead and work to the plan!” – Yeah, now you tell me!

I ate my mistake.  It was good.

Mmm… Apple Pie!

Gabe is showing some interest in the prep.  Mrs J is bringing him up right.20160811_150500(1600x1200)He likes apples, or maybe it’s just the cinnamon that has his attention.  It does smell good!20160811_155614(1600x1200)Mmm… apple pie!  We bought a bag of raw sugar that works as a sprinkle atop dessert pies and we really like it.  It has the same size granules as kosher salt.

Pizza Pr0n – Roasted Garlic White Cheese Sauce

DSC_8301 (1600x1060)These may be my favorite pizzas.  For today, anyway.  I roasted three heads of garlic and squeezed them into the white sauce along with fresh grated pecorino.  The dough used up 3-1/4 cups of bread flour so there was plenty for a 14″ pie.  The edges puff up so that they are like soft pretzels, especially when they are brushed with butter and sprinkled with kosher salt.  I rolled string style mozzarella into the edge to make it a cheese crust.  I gave the crust five minutes in a 400 oven before I added the toppings.  I’ve done it both ways, par-baked and not, and I have yet to decide which method works the best, my practice hasn’t really been rigorous enough and the time between pies is playing a role.DSC_8311 (1600x1060)I par-boiled the broccoli for a couple of minutes and cooled it in running water prior to assembling the pie, the chicken was sauteed to just barely done as well.  The completed pie baked for about 12 minutes then finished under the broiler until it looked good enough.  I like to see a little crust on the cheese topping and the edge should be browned nicely.  Let the finished pie sit for a few minutes before slicing to give the cheese time to settle a bit.DSC_8309 (1600x1060)I have to wait to get my slice to the plate before I can add the red pepper flakes.  I usually give it a grind of black pepper, too.

Sammich Pr0n – Carnitas on a Bun

DSC_6734 [1600x1060]We’ve pretty much destroyed that last pork shoulder, this is the last of it.  Carnitas is, for me, a description of method as much as it is of the result.  You want to put a brown crust on braised pork and to get that you can cook the drained meat in a skillet over medium high heat in oil or roast it in a hot oven.  Strictly speaking you want to cut the pork into cubes before you braise it, thus the name: “little meats”.  This batch of pulled pork I fried in olive oil.  The browner the crust the better the taste, so long as you don’t go overboard.  I dressed this sammich with my pepper relish.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pizza, Pizza

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JeffreyW tempts us with yummy-ness.

I thought with Valentine’s yesterday, we’d keep things simple tonight. I’ve been wanting to highlight all of JeffreyW’s pizza stylings for a while. The man does know how to decorate a crust.

Making your own pizzas can be pretty quick and definitely much cheaper than ordering out as long as you plan ahead a bit. Things to keep on hand for the weekly Friday night pizza: shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, tomato sauce, and some type of crust, which I’ll address below. Then you can top with your favorite things. Let your imagination run wild.

My idea of pizza is a good crust, spicy sauce and cheese. Pepperoni is a plus.  Nothing more.

What’s a good crust varies by personal preference. I’m as happy with a Chicago-style flaky crust as I am a thin New York-style.

Pizza seems like a good place to have a lively discussion. I bet everyone has a favorite they’d argue for, what’s yours? Is pizza a treat or a weekly item on the menu?

JeffreyW seems to have one for every occasion. For your viewing pleasure: JeffreyW Pizza Gallery.

Now let’s run through a few ingredients.

Sauce is pretty easy, you can use leftover spaghetti sauce – I always make a double batch and freeze half (recipe here).

Or try some of JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce™ (recipe here)

A simple sauce of one 15-oz can tomato sauce, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic and dried oregano, with a dash of dried basil will deliver a nice pizza. Skip the dried basil if you’re going to use fresh basil as one of your toppings.  Always crush the dried spices between your fingers to release the flavor. You can keep a jar of pizza seasoning if that’s easier. Oregano is the key to restaurant style pizza, that’s the signature flavor of a traditional pizza.

So for a quick pizza crust, this one from my Men Who Cook Series works really well:

Todd D’s Pizza Crust

(enough for two large cookie sheets)

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. white flour
  • 2 c. warm water
  • 2 pkg yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ c olive oil

Mix together and knead. Add enough flour so that it’s not sticky. The dough should be elastic.

Roll out and place on greased cookie sheets. Top with chopped tomatoes, pizza seasoning and parmesan cheese. Then add your favorite toppings and cheeses.

Bake 25 minutes at 400.

Instead of using a baking sheet, how about using a cast iron skillet. It worked great (see here)

Or try JeffreyW’s (photos of the process here):

I’ve been adding stuff to my pizza dough lately.  It may be overkill, given that the sauces and toppings are what a pizza is all about, but if I have fun doing it-why not?

Tonight’s dough got thyme, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, and fennel seeds.  The candidates for inclusion are limited only by whether they might taste good on a pizza.  The dough recipe isn’t anything special or “to die for”.  You can find hundreds of “the best dough ever” recipes-just pick one and go with it.  I put this one together on the fly, some sourdough starter, perhaps a half cup, then a tablespoon of sugar and one of yeast, about a cup of water, four cups of flour, a half tablespoon of salt, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and the additions mentioned above.  Mix in the stand mixer for ten minutes, then a turn in a greased bowl for a first rise.  After the first doubling, divide into eight portions, form them roughly into balls, and let them rise again, covered, on a tray.

I roll them out on a plastic mat.  Let them rest for a few minutes after a first roll to relax a bit, then finish rolling.  I manage to get them to about ten inches in diameter.  Poke holes all over with a fork or they may balloon out like pocket bread.

I “par bake” them on a stone in a 375 oven for about two minutes a side.  You don’t really want them to brown, they will finish cooking when you use them for a pizza.  I let the first one tonight get too brown, I had the oven a bit high, and left it a wee bit too long.

They are ready to use right away-freeze what you don’t use for a quick pizza anytime!

You don’t have to make your own crust, you can do what friends of  mine do, and keep frozen, store-bought crust dough in the freezer, or you can use pita bread, which JeffreyW does frequently, use refrigerator tube dough, or make french bread pizzas with loaves from the grocery. Now why would you order out? But if you do, you’ll probably find your best pies with a small, local vendor instead of a chain.

The Official Festivus Pie

I proclaim it so.

Mrs J bought some apples a while back, huge Honey Crisps if I remember correctly, and two of them were still in the bowl last night when we decided to use them up before they turned on us..  I had a store bought pie crust so the bottom was easy but a crumb topping just sounded good so we went to the web for a recipe.  This one looked good.

I thought the two big apples may have been too much…We popped it into the preheated oven per directions for 25 minutes under a foil cap then looked at it.  I was afraid the crumb topping wasn’t working so I added another couple tablespoons of cold butter and let it go uncovered for another 40 minutes or so.  Maybe just a tad too much butter now.  LOL, too much butter?!  I kill myself.

We sat this bad boy out on the patio table to cool for a little while.  Mmm… I like pie!

Mmm…Blueberry Pie!


Link goes to inspiration for the crust design.  The crust recipe was the same as for the cherry pie.  We did use the filling recipe at that link with very minor changes.  Splenda instead of sugar, some fresh grated cinnamon in there as was suggested by several other filling recipes we looked over.  I think we used closer to 5 cups of berries than the 4 mentioned.  Took a few tries before we were completely happy with the crust lay out.  There s an egg wash on it, and some sugar and ground cinnamon.

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