Thursday, July 26, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, and Pear Pizza

Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, and Pear Pizza
Makes 2 – 10 to 12-inch pizzas
                                                                                  Prep time: 3 hours
                                                                                  Pizza cook time: 12 minutes


authentic pizza dough:

2½ cups Bread Flour, plus additional for work surface
1 cup Warm (105° F) Water
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil
4 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt


2 pounds onions, sliced
½ stick butter
2 or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of sugar
3 large pears, sliced length-wise, core section removed
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Balsamic Vinegar
2 ounces of Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese, crumbled
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


authentic pizza dough:

1.  In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.  If the yeast doesn't "proof" (get "foamy") pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.
2.  Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl  of a stand mixer.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the "proofed" yeast mixture.  Turn the mixer, fitted with dough hooks,  to knead  and turn it on.  Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).
3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.
4.  Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5.  After the dough  has doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 12-inch log.  Divide the log in half and form each half into equally sized dough balls.  Lightly oil a 2 large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place each dough ball into its own bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover each bowl with plastic and set in a warm, draft-free place until the nearly double in size again, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


1.  In a large sauté pan melt the butter and add the olive oil so the butter doesn’t burn.  When the oil and butter mixture is hot add the sliced onions, and sprinkle with the sugar.  Sauté the onion slice until they begin to brown.  
2.  Stir in 4 tablespoons of the Balsamic vinegar and continue sautéing until the onions are caramelized.
3.  Slice each half pear in half and slice the resulting quarters length-wise into thin slices of pear.  Gently toss the pear slices with the lemon juice so they don't turn brown. 

Constructing and baking the pizzas:

1.  Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the middle shelf of your oven and preheat the oven to 450° F.
2.  Place one of the dough balls on a lightly floured work surface and flatten it into a thick disk then,  with your fingertips and palms and  working from the center of the disk out to the edges, press it into a thin disk of dough approximately 10 to 12-inch round and about 1/8 inch thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness [don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy]).  If you're really brave you can try the spin and toss method of forming the pie (this dough is perfect for it) just remember to use your knuckles when spinning and tossing . . . fingertips can cause holes).  Sprinkle flour over the surface of this thin disk (this will become the bottom of the pie when you place the pizza base on the peel  in the next instruction).
3.  Distribute some corn meal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough rounds to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel insuring that the lightly floured side is on the bottom.  Evenly spread ½ of the caramelized onions over the pizza, evenly arrange ½ the pear slices on the pie,  evenly crumble ½ the Gorgonzola over the pie and finally evenly distribute ½ the shredded mozzarella.
4.  Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edges of the pizza and distribute additional corn meal until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 12 minute in a 450°F oven. Remove from the oven, slice into 8 wedge shaped slices and serve.
5.  Repeat with the remaining dough and remaining  ½ toppings and cheeses. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Perfumed Soba Noodle Soup

Perfumed Soba Noodle Soup
serves 4
A delicious, fragrant pork soup based on Asian traditions and flavours.
                                                                   Preparation time:  15 minutes
                                                                  Pork cook time:  40 minutes
                                                                  Broth cook time: 30 minutes
                                                         Total  time: 55 minutes


4  boneless pork chops, 3/4 –inch thick
½  cup Char Siu Sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce)
8 cups chicken broth
1 fresh ginger finger, peeled and sliced into 6 quarter sized coins
3 star anise
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1/2 pound soba noodles (dried)
1 pound baby spinach


2 cup fresh bean sprouts
4-5 scallions, sliced, white and green parts
4-5 white mushrooms, caps only, diced into ¼-dice
2-3  Thai red chilies, seeded and thinly sliced, to taste
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1-2 fresh limes, cut into quarters


Sambal Oelek or Sriracha sauce
Soy Sauce


Preheat oven to 350° F.

cook the pork:

1.  In a small glass baking dish brush the pork with Char Siu  and roast it in middle of the oven preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the chops registers 160° F.  
2.  Remove pork from the oven to a cutting board  and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.   After the  pork has rested, slice the chops crosswise into thin slices and the slices in half diagonally, keep the chops together for a better presentation.

prepare the broth:

Place the chicken broth, ginger coins, star anise, soy sauce and garlic cloves in a large saucepan bring broth to a boil  over high heat.  Once the broth comes to a rolling boil, remove the pan from the heat and allow the broth to seep, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Pour broth through a sieve into another large saucepan, discard the solids.

prepare the noodles:

1.  While broth is steeping take the opportunity to prepare the soba noodles.  in a large pot  bring 3 1/2 quarts salted water to a boil and add noodles.  When water returns to boil add 1 cup cold water and bring to boil again. Repeat procedure one time and, when the water comes to a boil the second time, reduce heat to simmer and simmer the noodles for 5 minutes, or until they are just tender.
2.  Drain noodles into a colander  and rinse under cold water.  


1.  Place the bean sprouts, the cilantro, sliced chilies, sliced scallions, diced mushrooms and quartered limes into separate bowls for the guests to add to their broth along with Sambal Oelek or Sriracha sauce and soy sauce as condiments .
2.  Bring the broth back  to the boil and add the baby spinach and reduce the heat to simmer.  Simmer the broth for 2 to 5 minutes until spinach collapses.
3.  Divide the noodles among 4 large soup bowls, and divide the broth amongst the soup bowls.  Invite the guests to garnish their individual soup bowls with the accompaniments of their choice, including a squeeze of lime and place their sliced pork chop on top of the garnished soup and enjoy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
serves 4
Spaghetti all'Amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta dish based on guanciale(dried pork cheek) and spicy tomato sauce found on the menus of many high-end Italian restaurants.  While guanciale may be hard to come by pancetta or even thick-cut American bacon make acceptable substitutes.  When I prepare this dish I follow my mother's tradition and include a 2-inch cube of Parmigiano-Reggiano to the sauce while it's cooking, it adds great flavour to the sauce and makes a great snack for the chef . . . . just remember to remove it when you remove the sprigs of Rosemary and Sage and before you puree or mash the tomatoes!

                                                                             Prep time:  15 minutes
                                                                             Cook time:  2 hours 15  minutes
                                                                             Total time:   2 hours 30 minutes


1 pound dried spaghetti, cooked al dente according to package directions
12 ounce of  Guanciale*  cut into ¼-inch strips (or substitute pancetta or thick-cut American bacon)
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, micro-planed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh sage
½ cup red wine
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes, roughly crushed by hand and including the juices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
¼-1 teaspoon red chile flakes, to taste
grated Pecorino Romano cheese

roughly chopped fresh Italian flat leaved parsley

* un-smoked Italian bacon prepared from pig's jowl or cheeks


render the Guanciale:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the Guanciale (bacon) and cook it until its fat renders and the bacon is crisp, about 15 minutes.   Transfer the rendered bacon, using a slotted spoon,  to a dish lined with paper towels to drain.  Leave the rendered fat in the pan.

prepare the sauce:

1.  Add butter, the  carrots and the onions to the pan.  Season with salt, and saute, stirring, until soft, about 6 minutes.
2.  Add half the garlic, the rosemary and the sage, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
3.  Add wine, and cook, stirring, until it is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4.  Add the crushed tomatoes and their juices, and bring the contents of the pan to a boil and immediately reduce the heat under the pan to medium-low and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 2 hours.
5.  After the sauce is thickened remove and discard rosemary and sage stems.  To puree the sauce American style, allow the sauce to cool slightly to prevent an unpleasant blender accident and transfer the cooled sauce to a blender.  Puree the sauce and then return it to the pan. If, however, you prefer your sauce as Italians like, slightly chunky, use an old fashioned potato masher to mash (crush) the roughly crushed tomatoes further into chunks you prefer.  Stir in ¾ of the reserved bacon, along with remaining garlic and oil, pepper, and chile flakes; keep warm.

cook the pasta:

Cook the pasta per package directions in heavily salted water until it is al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. 

Add the drained spaghetti to the pan with sauce; toss to coat.  If the pasta seems too tight (dry) for your taste, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water, a little at a time, until the sauce loosens up.  Divide the  sauced pasta  amongst warmed serving dishes,  garnish each service with some of the remaining reserved bacon, some of the pecorino cheese, and parsley.  Serve immediately accompanied by the grated Pecorino-Romano cheese 

Foodie Blog