28 March 2011, written by jocelin
Since it opened last year, we’ve been obsessed with The Luggage Room in Pasadena; Greg says it’s his favorite pizza ever (a bold statement!). Their pizza is truly outstanding. They use an olive-wood burning oven that reaches super high temperatures to char the outside of their chewy sourdough crust. Their toppings are inspired by local produce, heavy on the Fresno chilis, fennel and arugula. Diners have the option to add a fresh egg to their pizza, a common topping in some regions of Italy.
They inspired me to make this breakfast pizza, and I can’t stop thinking about how good it was. The egg whites meld beautifully into the creamy Fontina cheese. A lot of flavor comes from my favorite replacement for bacon, oven-crisped prosciutto. I love the sunny pop of color from the egg yolk and the vivid green of the squash blossoms and fresh chives. My egg yolks did burst and run a bit over the crust… but we prefer a more well-done egg anyway. Make sure your eggs are room temperature to ensure proper cooking. And don’t try to put the egg on before you slide the pizza onto your stone; have them standing by in small cups and drop them on last minute.
Breakfast Pizza with Squash Blossoms & Crispy Prosciutto
Makes two individual pizzas
1 ball of pizza dough, divided in two
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
large pinch red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
12 leaves basil, chiffonade
16 squash blossoms, stamens removes, rinsed in cool water and dried on paper towels
8 oz Fontina cheese, coarsely grated
2 eggs, room temperature, set aside in individual cups (try to keep the yolk in tact)
3 thin slices prosciutto
3 tblsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
flour for dusting
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
1. At least two hours in advance, place the divided dough in a warm place to rise.
2. Make the sauce: heat minced garlic and red pepper flakes in 1 tblsp olive oil in a small sauce pan for 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and sliced basil. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer over low heat while you prep the other ingredients.
3. Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place another rack in the top third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put the prosciutto slices on it. Place on the top rack of the oven and let it crisp for 10 minutes. Remove to paper towels and break it up into small pieces.
4. Raise the temperature of the oven to 500 degrees. On a large floured cutting board, roll out the two balls of dough into 12 inch discs. Put down a layer of tomato sauce, leaving a half-inch border. Cover with a layer of Fontina cheese. Arrange 8 squash blossoms on each pizza. (while you work, make sure the dough isn’t sticking to the board, dusting with more flour or cornmeal, and running a spatula underneath). Lightly brush the edges with olive oil. In a quick back-and-forth motion, shake the doughs onto the pizza stone in the oven. Pour a raw egg in the middle of each pizza and quickly close the oven. Bake until crust is crispy and brown, cheese is bubbly and egg is cooked to your liking, 7 to 10 minutes.
5. Remove to a cutting board and sprinkle with crispy prosciutto bits and chopped chives. Grate on some Parmesan cheese.
18 January 2011, written by jocelin
This recipe is groundbreaking. It will change the way you think of calzones… and grilling. I’ve considered making pizza on the grill, but the surface area always seemed too unwieldy. But calzones are more compact and can be flipped for even cooking.
This is another recipe from Susan Spungen’s book Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook. A founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living, Spungen know’s how to perfect and simplify a recipe. (fun fact: she was also the food stylist on Julie & Julia and Eat, Pray, Love) I used the same recipe to make four medium-sized calzones, though she makes 8 mini calzones from one pizza dough. I love the combination of fillings in this recipe; salty prosciutto, earthy mushrooms, bitter radicchio and creamy fontina. I also added fresh ricotta, because I can’t imagine a calzone without it. But you can try this technique with any fillings you like.
Mini grilled calzones are perfect game-day party food… basically the Italian equivalent of an empanada. On the grill, the dough gets crusty and charred on the outside, but stays fluffy and moist in the center. Serve with a simple San Marzano marinara sauce.
Makes 8 mini calzones or 4 medium sized
16 oz cremini or button mushrooms
1/2 tblsp olive oil, plus more for coating
1/2 tblsp unsalted butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 store-bought or homemade pizza dough (1 lb),
Cornmeal, for dusting
8 thin slices prosciutto
2 cups shredded radicchio
8 oz Italian Fontina, cut into 8 cubes
1 cup fresh ricotta, drained in cheesecloth if very wet
1. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
2. Trim and slice the mushrooms. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan until hot. Add the mushrooms, a large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Punch down the risen dough and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest 10 minutes. Heat a grill to medium hot.
4. Dust a clean work surface lightly with cornmeal and a few tblsp of flour. With your fingers and palms, flatten one of the dough rounds into a 6 to 8 inch oval, about 1/4 inch thick. Place a slice of prosciutto over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. On half of the oval arrange about 1/4 cup mushrooms, about 1/3 cup radicchio, 1 cube of Fontina, and 2 tbslp ricotta.
5. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling. Roll up the edges with your fingers to close tightly and prevent leaking. Lightly brush both sides with olive oil.
6. Place the calzones on the grill and cover. Cook until the dough is firm and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn and grill the other side, about 4 minutes. If the outside is done before the inside, move to a cooler part of the grill to finish baking all the way through.
San Marzano Tomato Sauce
1 28-oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch red pepper flakes
10 leaves basil, chiffonade
coarse salt and fresh black pepper
1. Heat oil in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add garlic slices and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant and lightly browned. Add tomatoes and basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
15 November 2010, written by jocelin
Autumn calls for certain recipes; mushroom risotto, butternut squash soup, braised meats and greens. Last week I had the overwhelming desire to make an onion tart. I’ve only made pastry dough a handful of times, but this recipe from Susan Spungen was very simple to follow. Because dough-making is mainly a matter of feel (texture and elasticity), I’m sure it will be even easier next time.
Galettes are at once elegant and rustic. There’s something special about their hand-made, freeform shape; you can see the baker’s craftsmanship. I love that Spungen uses grated Parmesan cheese instead of flour to dust the rolling pin and the board while rolling and shaping the dough. This created a golden brown crust flecked with cheese. Sweet caramelized onions and crispy bacon cover a fluffy layer of fresh ricotta and thyme.
Caramelized Onion Tart
From Susan Spungen’s Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
Serves 6 to 8
For the Tart Dough
(Makes two 8-inch Tart Shells)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tblsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a chilled bowl and whisk to combine. Cut the cold butter into the flour using a pastry blender until the largest butter pieces are about the size of almonds. Using your hands, break down the biggest pieces of butter, rubbing them into the flour between your thumbs and fingers until the largest pieces are the size of large peas. Use a fork to stir as you dribble in 2 tblsp to 1/4 cup ice water, a little at a time. To test whether you’ve added enough water, squeeze a bit of the mixture in your hand to see if it holds together. Firmly press down on the dough in the bowl, giving it one or two kneads until it holds together in a mass.
2. Divide the dough in half. Place each half onto a piece of plastic wrap, loosely gather up the wrap and firmly press down into a rough circle about 1 inch thick. Each disk of dough will be just the right size for one 8- to- 10-inch tart. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this point for a month or 2. Slip into a resealable plastic bag for freezing.
For the Onion Tart
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 small onions, cut in half lengthwise and thickly sliced
1 tbslp plus 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh ricotta, drained if very wet
2 large egg yolk
Pinch of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for rolling dough and sprinkling
1/2 recipe Tart Dough, prepared through step 2 and chilled
2 tsp heavy cream or milk
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Cook the bacon in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat until the fat is mostly rendered and the bacon is crisp around the edges. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside, leaving 1 tblsp bacon fat in the pan.
2. Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until they start to brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and add 1 tblsp of the thyme and a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until the onions are meltingly soft and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, egg yolk, 1/2 tsp salt, the pepper, the remaining 1 tsp thyme, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan into a small bowl. Stir well to combine.
4. Dust a work surface with grated Parmesan. Sprinkle more cheese on top of the dough. Roll out into a rough circle about 10 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Turn frequently and dust with more Parmesan as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
5. Spread the ricotta filling on the dough, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border. Arrange the onions on top of the ricotta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Sprinkle the bacon over the top. Gently fold the edges of the dough towards the center, creating a 1- to 1 1/2-inch border. Gently but firmly press the sides of the tart dough down with slightly cupped hands. This will prevent it from unfurling in the oven.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining egg yolk and heavy cream. Brush the edges of the tart with the egg wash then sprinkle with Parmesan. Immediately transfer to oven. After 10 minutes, reduce oven temp to 400°, rotate the baking pan and bake 20 minutes longer. The edges and bottom should be golden brown. Remove from the oven slice the tart, on the parchment paper, onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
15 August 2010, written by jocelin
This year we planted two varieties of heirloom tomatoes and are currently enjoying them in salads and sandwiches… and on this unbelievable homemade pizza. Making a pizza at home is a simple pleasure that will transport you straight to Italy. I dream of the day when I will have an outdoor kitchen with a coal oven, to make pizza in the true Neapolitan tradition.
Nowadays, we use a pizza stone in a very hot oven to achieve a crisp, bubbly crust. Greg made a basic red sauce with garlic and basil for a flavorful base. We complimented the sliced heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil for a classic tri-colore dish.
Heirloom Tomato Pizza
Homemade or store-bought pizza dough (check with your local Italian Bakery)
3 tblsp flour
3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch-thick
6 oz fresh whole milk mozzarella, drained in paper towels, then sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
handful of fresh basil leaves
1 10-oz can tomato sauce (no salt or basil added, just a can of thin puree)
3 garlic cloves, skin removed, and slightly crushed
red pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Heat 1 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a small saute pan. Add smashed cloves of garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) and let the oil infuse for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves when they are golden brown; do not let burn. Add the can of tomato sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Chiffonade 10 basil leaves and add the thin strips to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 500° and place the pizza stone in the middle rack at the outset to let it heat up gradually. Meanwhile, knead the pizza dough for a few minutes, dusting your hands and your work surface with flour as needed. Place your fists in the middle of the dough round and begin to stretch and toss it into a thinner circle. Be careful not to form any holes. Place your dough on the work surface and use a rolling pin to gently roll out the pizza dough; always start from the center and push towards the edges. When your pizza round is even and the size of your pizza stone, begin layering the toppings.
4. Start with a thin layer of sauce. Top that with the mozzarella cheese, then the slices of heirloom tomatoes. Sprinkle each slice of tomato with sea salt (this will help evaporate excess moisture in the oven). Sprinkle some fresh Parmesan on the top and dot with fresh basil leaves. Carefully brush some olive oil around the exposed edges of dough.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crust is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let cool for 3 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan, fresh basil and red pepper flakes.
05 November 2009, written by jocelin
The Bánh Mì is a product of French colonialism in Indochina, combining ingredients from the French (baguettes, mayonnaise) and native ingredients from Vietnam (cilantro, hot chiles, and pickled carrots). We love the bánh mì from Via Cafe in Los Angeles’ Chinatown…it’s so fresh and delicious that you could almost eat two.
This was the first time I made one myself, and it is fast, fresh and easy. I love the way the baguette soaks up the dressing from the pickled vegetables, and the marinated steak is packed with flavor. Normally, I would have used flank steak, but Trader Joe’s didn’t have it, and Greg suggested Filet Mignon. It was a wonderful substitution and because it’s so lean, you only need to marinate for a half hour. You can also substitute sliced chicken or tofu. Do try…
Steak with Lime Marinade
3/4 lb flank steak, or two filet mignons (4 oz each)
juice of 2 limes
1 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp minced fresh ginger
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 tblsp EVOO
salt and fresh black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 tblsp lime juice
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cucumber, seeded and cut in matchsticks
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 fresh baguette
1. Combine all ingredients for the marinade, and coat the steak. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Combine garlic, sugar, red pepper, ginger, vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the vegetables and reserve the rest for the sandwich.
3. Scrape excess marinade from the steak and grill over medium-high heat to desired temperature (for medium-rare flank steak, 5 minutes per side. For filet mignon, 8 minutes per side). In a small saucepan, bring the reserved marinade to a boil and then set aside. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes. Divide the baguette in two, split open, and lightly grill.
4. Thinly slice the meat against the grain. Layer the meat on the baguettes, and drizzle with the reduced marinade. Top with pickled vegetables and extra dressing.
24 October 2009, written by jocelin
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit New Orleans (and aren’t a vegetarian), you probably had this classic sandwich made with Italian meats, cheeses, and an olive salad.
The muffuletta sandwich was invented in 1906 by the owner of Central Grocery, a Silcilian immigrant named Salvatore Lupo. It quickly became a favorite among French Quarter locals and visitors alike. Central Grocery continues to serve muffulettas according to Lupo’s original recipe.
Central Grocery’s muffuletta is on a large, round, loaf of Italian bread…falling somewhere between foccacia and sourdough. Then it is layered with capicola, genoa salami, mortadella, emmentaler and provolone. The final ingredient, and the real star of the sandwich, is the olive salad made with olives, celery, cauliflower and carrots.
In the cold-cut department, we only really like leaner cuts like genoa salami, prosciutto, turkey, etc. So in my version, I cut out the capicola and mortadella. I also added sliced pepperoncini for some heat. This is a great antipasta sandwich… highly recommended.
The California Muffuletta
2 round sourdough rolls, sliced in half
6 pepperoncini, sliced thin
genoa salami, sliced thin
deli turkey breast, sliced thin
fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced in rounds
1. Toast the rolls cut-side down in a dry skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Spread the mustard on the top of each roll. Spread 2 tblsp of tapenade on the bottom of each roll. Sprinkle on the sliced pepperoncini. Layer with turkey, salami, and mozzarella.