Grilled Pizzas!

Our brother-in-law, Craig, wrote the book on grilled pizzas . . . literally!

Craig's book is colorful, well thought out and creative from start to finish!

Craig’s book is colorful, well thought out and creative from start to finish!

I knew it was going to take me a while to make the dough, grill the crusts, make the toppings, and then put everything together to serve, so I split up my tasks into several days. On the first day, I made the dough, let it rise and put it in the fridge overnight. On the second day of prep, I rolled out the dough and grilled one side. Craig suggests doing this first and then freezing the crust to use at a later date.

At first it was nerve wracking to grill the dough on hot grill grates, but Jen has mastered it beautifully by flipping the dough from pieces of parchment paper, so I borrowed her method.

At first it was nerve wracking to grill the dough on hot grill grates, but my friend Jen has mastered it beautifully by flipping the dough from pieces of parchment paper, so I borrowed her method.

My assembly line went really well, as I grilled one crust at a time and effortlessly shifted it around the grates to achieve nice grill marks. The key is, once you get your dough positioned on the grill, leave it alone for a minute or two, then it’s easier to maneuver. Then, I stack them on a sheet pan, each crust separated by a piece of parchment paper, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then pop them in the freezer. That way, when you plan on serving them to guests, you only have to worry about preparing your sauces and lining up your toppings!  You top the already grilled side and then grill the pizzas to finish them off on the bottom and heat and melt all of the toppings and cheeses on top.  My two favorites from Craig’s book are The Emilian, made with a cantaloupe chutney, gorgonzola, prosciutto and sage.

This pizza combines the sweetness of caramelized cantaloupe with the saltiness of prosciutto and gorgonzola.

This pizza combines the sweetness of caramelized cantaloupe with the saltiness of prosciutto and gorgonzola.

And the other is the simple Margheritan, with a traditional chunky tomato-basil sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil.

Traditional, smoky, garlicky, fresh, perfect.  Margherita Pizza!

Traditional, smoky, garlicky, fresh, perfect. Margherita Pizza!

There are so many more options in the book, but if you had to pick two, these really hit it out of the park! Look for Craig’s next pizza cookbook, available soon!

Here’s a link to this one: Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas/Amazon

Bestie Spring Tasting Menu!

20140614-200107-72067936.jpgThe frost has melted, the grass is green, the trees are blooming, and the Besties have gone Morel hunting!  It’s our favorite time of Spring!  Jen and Jesse always come back from foraging with a huge harvest, and we get to enjoy the bounty! We started the evening off with a “sprucey” Gin spring cocktail made with a few ingredients that “you can’t get here”, a typical theme with the Besties.

20140614-195316-71596547.jpgWe then sat down to our first course, a duo of soups: asparagus and garlic, served with warm, freshly made gougeres! I may have popped a few more of Jen’s deliciously light and airy cheese puffs when no one was looking!

20140614-200314-72194220.jpgNext up, King Crab Stuffed Morels! You take one rare ingredient, like Morels, and stuff them with buttery, decadent King Crab and the result is absolutely divine.

20140614-205207-75127720.jpgAnd the main course, Chilean Sea Bass with Orange Marmalade and Endive was expertly seared and packed a nice citrusy punch. I finished my plate and offered Patrick help with his!

20140614-204218-74538892.jpgJen rounded out the courses with homemade Raspberry Sorbet and Lemon Bars.

20140614-205036-75036568.jpgTruly a perfect ending to a fantastic Spring Tasting! Thank you Besties!

Tuna Salad with Chickpea Purée

This salad made the perfect Spring lunch. Fresh cherry tomatoes, parsley, and Kalamata olives mixed with a can of tuna and a squeeze of lemon juice. The chickpeas were puréed with lemon juice, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. All topped with crispy, fried capers. It made a great, creamy accompaniment to the citrusy salad. It was a standout lunch and a nice change from our old standby, the turkey sandwich.

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You can find this recipe here: Tuna Salad with Chickpea Purée/Food and Wine

Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

I had a boneless pork loin in the freezer and I was looking for a unique way to use it. This slow cooker recipe was just the trick. I love the slow cooker recipes where you just throw everything in, go about your business and then voilá, dinner is ready 8 hours later!

20140422-134645.jpgI was really surprised by how flavorful this dish was with only a few ingredients. The pork was extremely tender and shredded very easily. The green onions, chopped nuts and lime juice were the perfect finishing touch. And the jasmine rice scented the dish beautifully. We do like a bit of spice, so we added a little Sriracha to heat things up. Lots of leftovers made for a quick lunch the following day!

I made this dish from my “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker” Cookbook, (Thanks Jen!) but you can also find that same recipe here: Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

Chicken Goulash with Biscuit Dumplings

There’s something about the name “goulash” that doesn’t usually entice me. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t grow up enjoying Hungarian dishes? But, this simple dish was so flavorful. Make sure you use good, hot, smoked Hungarian or Spanish paprika and not the colored “sawdust” variety. I use Pimentón de la Vera. The gravy is bold and rich with a hint of caraway and thyme with the spiced paprika.

20140415-110634.jpgThe biscuits stayed moist thanks to sour cream and chicken stock in the batter. All made in one skillet, topped with the biscuits, and served table side.

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You can find this recipe here: Chicken Goulash/Food and Wine

Raspberry Clafoutis

I have a freezer full of raspberries from our garden from last season, and another season is quickly upon us! So I try to use them whenever I can; in my yogurt, cereal, smoothies, etc. When I came across this simple dessert recipe, I thought, “How perfect!” Plus, it gave me a chance to use my new gratin dish.

20140410-154830.jpgClafoutis is a traditional French dessert usually made with cherries. The flan-like batter is made with eggs, flour, sugar, and lemon zest. The result is light, fresh and lemony with bursts of tart raspberries. The only downfall was my gratin pan is 10 1/2″ versus 9″, so it came out just a bit flat looking. I wasn’t sure how to adjust the ingredients to accommodate the larger dish. Still tasty and beautiful though!

20140410-160107.jpgDusted with a bit of confectioners’ sugar.

You can find this recipe here: Raspberry Clafoutis/Food and Wine

Nacho Burgers

This burger by Bobby Flay was ridiculous!

20140407-145352.jpgThe patty was simple, just good quality ground beef and a little salt and pepper. The toppings were what made it: a quick salsa of tomatoes, onions, oil and vinegar; a rich cheese sauce made from Monterey Jack and Pecorino; and blue corn tortilla chips. Served with a green salad and French fries, no ketchup necessary! The extra cheese sauce was not wasted!

You can find this recipe here: Nacho Burgers/Food and Wine

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin Soup

This winter I have really been souping it up! It’s hard not to crave a warm bowl when the temperature is below zero. This soup was made with cauliflower that was roasted with cumin seeds and curry powder, then simmered with onions, a little butter, water and a bay leaf and then puréed until silky with a touch of milk.

20140319-170144.jpgServe with crusty bread for dipping and you’ll warm up in no time!

You can find this recipe here: Roasted Cauliflower Soup/Food and Wine

Downton Abbey Girls Night!

The boys were off somewhere on a shoot, so Jen and I took advantage of having a night to ourselves. On the menu, Italian spritz’s, yummy snacks and back to back episodes of Downton Abbey!

First up, Cauliflower-Cumin Fritters with a tangy, yogurt dip.

20140310-100754.jpgThese fritters by Yotam Ottolenghi were packed with flavor. Cauliflower, cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric, crisped up in sunflower oil and served with a tangy, lime-spiked Greek yogurt dip. They were delicious and I was so happy to have enough leftovers for both of us.

In addition to the fritters, I put out some basic happy hour nibbles, like assorted cheeses, salami, peppadews, and Castelvetrano olives. And for something a little different to accompany the crudités, I made a sun-dried tomato and olive dip.

20140310-105416.jpgThis dip was great the next day spread on a grilled goat cheese sandwich!

We enjoyed our snacks while watching Mary juggle her new suitors!

You can find these recipes here: Cauliflower-Cumin Fritters/Food and Wine
Sun-Dried Tomato-Olive Dip/Food and Wine