Friday, January 8, 2010


I have been on a homemade pizza kick lately. Once you get the hang of making your own pizza dough it becomes an easy, affordable, and delicious meal to make at home. Making your own dough is especially easy when you can use a electric stand mixer like the Kitchen Aid my wife got for Christmas this year. Here is the basic pizza dough recipe that I use.

1 package active dry yeast ( or 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2-1/2 -3-1/2 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a warmed mixer bowl. Add salt, sugar, olive oil, and 2-1/2 cups of flour. Mix on low speed using dough hook attachment for 1-2 minutes.
Allow the mixture to rest for 15-20 minutes before adding additional flour.
Continue to mix on low speed adding the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the mixture starts to clean the sides of the bowl and stick to the dough hook. Continue to knead on low speed for 2 minutes more.

Place the dough in a bowl greased with olive oil, turning to grease the top of the dough as well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. The dough can also be placed in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours for future use. This recipe makes enough dough to make 2-14" pizzas.

To make one pizza, half of the finished dough gets turned out onto a floured surface and made into your desired pizza style. For my first pizza I was going for a very thin and crispy crust so I just worked pressing down from the center to the edges until it was about the size of the pizza peel that I was working with. Using this method will press some of the air out of the dough and allow you to get a think and crispy texture. I put the dough onto a pizza peel that is dusted with corn meal before beginning the topping process. The corn meal is needed in order to allow your finished pizza to slide on and off of your pizza baking stone. Another option is hand tossing the crust which will give you a thicker airy crust with a little more body to it.
A pan pizza is also easy to make if you have a cast iron skillet. Grease the pan with several tablespoons of vegetable oil and pat your dough into the pan to spread out the dough and bring edges all the way up the sides of the pan. Baking will take a few minutes longer than normal because the pan is not been pre-heated prior to baking.
Instead of a traditional pizza sauce, I roasted fresh chopped garlic in olive oil and used that as the spread for the pizza. The dough was then sprinkled with a little dried oregano and the toppings were added.
Roasted chicken, mushrooms, red onion, fresh tomato, and parmesan and mozzarella cheeses were added.
These pizzas were baked on a pre-heated pizza stone at 475 degrees for about 12 minutes.For the second pizza I hand tossed the crust to maintain the round shape and it was topped with spinach, mushrooms, grilled chicken, and roasted rosemary potatoes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Beef Tenderloin Roast

For Christmas dinner this year I made a stuffed beef tenderloin roast. It was a whole beef tenderloin that I butterflied open and stuffed with a mixture of herbs and vegetables.
I started by sauteing chopped crimini mushrooms, onions, and garlic in a mixture of butter and olive oil until they were softened. I then de-glazed the pan with some red wine, added some fresh rosemary and thyme, and cooked the mixture until it was slightly reduced.
The beef was seasoned on all sides with salt and pepper and then the mixture was spread out on one side. With the some help, I tied up the beef with butcher string to close it up and create a roast.
The roast was then rubbed with a little vegetable oil to get it ready for the grill. I prefer to use vegetable oil over olive oil when I am going to cook something over very high heat because its smoke point is so much higher and it will hold up better during the cooking. I cooked the roast over lump charcoal on my grill. I started by searing all sides of the roast over high direct heat to develop a crust. Then the roast was moved off to one side and cooked with indirect heat until my remote thermometer registered 135 degrees. The roast was then pulled from the grill and wrapped in foil. Once wrapped in foil to rest the temperature continues to climb 5-10 more degrees.

We chose some simple side dishes for this meal. I made roasted broccoli and criss- cross potatoes.
The broccoli was made by marinating it in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and rice wine vinegar. It was roasted on a foil lined sheet pan at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes until some of the edges started to get a nice char on them.

The potatoes are made by first slicing large baking potatoes in half. Then you can slice shallow cuts through the potato in opposite directions. Rub the potatoes with salt pepper and good paprika and then baste very liberally with melted butter. The potatoes get baked at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until crusty and tender.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coconut Shrimp with Mango-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Coconut Shrimp are a popular appetizer that is easy to make at home.

For this recipe I used one pound of fresh wild caught pink gulf shrimp in the 15-20 count size range (15-20 shrimp per pound). I highly recommend using fresh shrimp for this recipe if you can get your hands on them. There is a huge difference in the taste between wild caught gulf shrimp and some of the frozen farm raised tiger shrimp you may find that are a product of Thailand. One pound of shrimp will be more than enough as an appetizer for 6-8 people.

Start by cleaning your shrimp if needed. The fresh shrimp will need to be peeled and de-veined. I remove all of the shell except for the last part of the tail. Removing the veins on these shrimp was a easy step because I was going to butterfly them anyways. After removing the shell, just slide your knife down the back of the shrimp about 1/8"-1/4" deep and this will expose the vein that can be removed and washed away under some running water.

With the shrimp washed, I seasoned them lightly with salt and fresh black pepper. I then began the breading process by rolling the shrimp in flour. The flour is followed by a egg wash, and then our breading mixture. For the coconut breading I used a 2/3 mixture of shredded sweetened coconut and 1/3 panko or Japanese bread crumbs. After the shrimp are breaded they can be covered and placed in a cookie sheet in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them.

The shrimp are fried in enough vegetable oil to cover them at 350 degrees for about 4-5 minutes. Cooking times will vary based on the size of your shrimp. When the shrimp are golden brown remove them and place them on paper towel to drain.

A simple and delicious dipping sauce for these shrimp is reduction of mango and ginger. Peel a fresh ripe mango and cut up all the flesh into small cubes. Place the mango into a stock pan with 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (any vinegar on hand will do), and salt to taste. Cook the mixture to boiling and let it reduce and simmer for about 15 minutes. Finish by blending the mixture in a blender until smooth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homemade Egg Noodles

With cold and flu season upon us, there is likely to be homemade chicken soup in your future. The best accompaniment with chicken soup is some nice thick egg noodles. They are very easy to make and turn your soup into the ultimate comfort food.

Start by making a mound on a clean surface consisting of 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix the dry ingredients well and make a well in the center of the mixture. To the well add 2 whole eggs and 3 tablespoons of water. Scramble the eggs with a fork gradually working the eggs into the flour. Bring the mix together with your hands and knead for a few minutes until it all comes together as a workable dough. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of water to make this possible depending on conditions. Move the dough to a floured surface and roll out to your desired thickness. I rolled my batch out to about 1/8" thick. We like our noodles a little thicker, almost on the verge of being a dumpling. Keep in mind that the noodles are going to just about double in size when they are cooked. Slice your dough with a pizza cutter into your desired width of noodle. Drop the noodles into boiling broth or soup and cover to let simmer for about 8-10 minutes until they are done. The end product will blow away any store bought noodles, and its a great way to add a little comfort to your meal.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jaeger Schnitzel

To help celebrate Oktoberfest this year I was in the mood to try to make a traditional German dish called jaeger schnitzel. The recipe consists of cutlets of pork, veal, or beef that are pounded out thin, breaded, and fried. The cutlets then get topped with a rich and creamy mushroom gravy. Schnitzel translated to English literally means chip or cutlet. The word jaeger translates to hunter, which my pay homage to the act of hunting the wild mushrooms that were traditionally used in the recipe.

I made this recipe using slices of pork tenderloin. The pork was pounded out to about a quarter of an inch thick and seasoned with salt and pepper. I then used the traditional breading method of flour, followed by beaten egg, followed by bread crumbs. I used panko bread crumbs for a little extra crunch. I then shallow fried them in a cast iron skillet a few minutes on each side until golden brown. The schnitzel were then topped with a creamy mushroom gravy that I made using crimini mushrooms.

For side dishes I made some traditional roasted potatoes and some not so traditional roasted broccoli. The potatoes were large diced, tossed in olive oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried rosemary. The potatoes were cooked at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes and tossed about every 15 minutes during cooking.

The broccoli was a new twist that I felt like trying out. I tossed the large broccoli spears with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, crushed garlic, pepper, brown sugar, and sesame seeds. The end result was a basic teriyaki marinade. I cooked the broccoli at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes turning half way through cooking. It really turned out well as the sesame seeds toasted nicely lending a nice nutty flavor to the broccoli.

I served the dish with traditional German garnish of fresh lemon and chopped parsley.