Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
makes 1 9x13-inch pan
                                                                              Prep time:      30 minutes
                                                                              Bake time:     35 minutes
                                                                              Total time:      1 hour 5 minutes


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound unsalted, sweet creamery butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
12 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
4 or 5 seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers


prepare the batter:

1.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2.  Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl or a 4 cup measuring cup.
3.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until most of the lumps are dissolved, do not over mix.
4.  Add 8 ounces of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos and mix to thoroughly distribute; allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
5.  Meanwhile, place your oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat your oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a 9x13x2-inch glass baking pan.

bake the corn bread:

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining 4 ounces of grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Allow the cornbread to cool and cut into large squares. Can be served warmed or at room temperature accompanied by honey or honey butter.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


makes about 36 pieces
I think the Greeks have a word for a cake that is perfection in taste and that word is Baklava, magnificent flaky little Phyllo cakes layered in chopped walnuts and drenched in a sublime honey/vanilla syrup. 
                                                                               Prep time:  30 minutes
                                                                               Bake time:  45 minutes
                                                                               Total time:   1 hour 15 minutes


1 package Phyllo dough
4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-½ stick butter, melted
2 cups honey
½ cups water
½ cups Sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract


¼ cup finely chopped shelled pistachio nuts


prepare the chopped walnut filling:

Place the whole, unshelled nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts are reduced to a fine chop.  Place the chopped nuts and the cinnamon in a large, resealable plastic bag and toss together until the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Set aside.

prepare the baking pan:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. If refrigerated, remove the phyllo dough package and allow the unopened phyllo to come to room temperature before attempting to use it, about 1 hour.  Most boxes of phyllo contain 2 wax paper packages of phyllo sheets; this recipe will only use 1 of these, so you may return the other to the box and to the refrigerator for later use. 

3. Open one of the packages and lay out the phyllo sheets flat on the work surface in front of you, remember phyllo dries out and soon becomes unusable so when working with the phyllo sheets, only remove those sheets you immediately need and keep the other sheets covered by wax paper and a damp cloth
4. Spray a 9x13x2-inch rectangular glass or metal baking pan with butter flavoured cooking spray or thoroughly butter it. Commercial sheets of phyllo will generally fit this size pan, if the sheets are significantly bigger trim them to fit with a sharp knife.

build the baklava:

1.  Lay 2 sheets of phyllo flat in the baking pan and thoroughly brush with some of the melted butter, press lightly into the pan. Repeat this process twice more to form the bottom layer of the baklava, in the end you’ll have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.

2.  Sprinkle enough of the chopped walnuts to thoroughly cover the phyllo.  Place two more sheets of phyllo on top of the walnuts and thoroughly brush with some more of the melted butter, pressing this layer lightly into the pan. Repeat this process until you are out of walnuts or until you have only 4 sheets of phyllo left.

3. Top the last nut covered layer with 4 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet as you lay it on and pressing each layer lightly into the pan; ending with a buttered top. 

4.  Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife.

bake the baklava:

Bake the baklava in the middle of your preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the baklava is very golden brown.

prepare the baklava syrup:

Meanwhile, while the baklava is baking, combine the butter, honey, water, sugar, and vanilla in a medium sized saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low to keep it warm.

combine the baklava with the syrup:

When the baklava has finished baking and is golden brown remove it from the oven and drizzle half the syrup evenly all over the top. Allow this portion of the syrup to be absorbed for a minute or two then drizzle on a little more until you think it’s thoroughly moistened. Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered, for several hours. 


Once the baklava has cooled thoroughly retrace the diagonal cuts to insure the diamonds of baklava are separated.  Once you've done that carefully remove the individual diamonds of baklava from the pan garnished with the finely chopped pistachio nuts and serve.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Green Pepper, Onion, Mushroom and Ham Pizza

Green pepper, onion, mushroom and ham pizza
This recipe starts with a New York style pizza dough which produces a very thin, New York style, pizza base which has a slightly charred, crispy bottom yet is tender enough to fold a slice as New Yorkers do.  The recipe includes a note with the "baker's ratio" which allows one to easily increase the number of pizzas one can make, of course the sauce and toppings will need to be increased proportionally.

Makes 1 – 10 to 12-inch pizzas
                                                                               Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
                                                                               Sauce cook time: 20 minutes
                                                                               Pizza cook time: 8 minutes


authentic New York pizza dough*: 

8 ounces warm (105 ° F) water 
.18 ounces active dry yeast  
.24 ounces honey
12 ounces bread flour, plus additional for work surface 
.6 ounces extra-virgin olive oil 
.18 ounces Kosher or sea salt

note: to make more than one pizza the bakers ratio is: flour=100%, water=67%, honey=2%, yeast=1.5%, salt=1.5%, and olive oil= 5%

Spicy pizza sauce:

14.5 ounces crushed tomatoes or 14.5 ounces commercial tomato sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil\
2 heaping tablespoons dehydrated onions
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

note: any leftover sauce can be placed in a seal-able container and frozen for your next pizza.


1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and ¼-inch diced
5 small cremini mushrooms, cleaned and caps (stems still attached) sliced into ¼-inch slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices of ham, roughly torn
1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and 1/4 –inch diced
8 (3 ¼-inch diameter round) slices of provolone cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

note: a cup of shredded mozzarella or a combination of shredded or torn mozzarella and provolone can be substituted for the sliced provolone and the other topping amounts can be adjusted to your preferences.


authentic New York 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 low 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 (if the dough is really sticky sprinkle with flour until it is just a little tacky) 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.  

note: At this point the dough can either be used immediately or it can be placed in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerated for 24 hours or more to allow the dough to develop more flavour.  Just allow the dough to come to room temperature (about 1 hour) after taking it out the frig.

Spicy pizza sauce:

1.  While the dough is raising, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, bring the olive oil to the ripple state, add  the dehydrated onions, the basil, the oregano, the crushed red pepper flakes*, and the granulated garlic  and cook, stirring constantly, until the  herbs are fragrant, about 2 minutes.

2.  Reduce the heat to low and add the crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce, stirring constantly until the tomatoes combine with the herbs and begins to caramelizes, about 3 minutes.  Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.  Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, black pepper, and additional red pepper.

3.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  

note:  if you're not sure of how spicy you like your sauce start with ¼  teaspoon of red pepper flakes and adjust seasoning during cooking.

Constructing and baking the pizzas:

1.  Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the middle shelf of your oven and preheat the oven to 550° F.

2.  Place the dough ball 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 four over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings”, allowing the pizza to move easily over the surface of the peel and will produce just the right amount of char on the bottom) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel insuring that the lightly floured side is on the bottom.  Evenly spread 4 to 6 ounces of the spicy pizza sauce over the pizza base leaving an about ½-inch un-sauced margin around the edge for a crust, now sprinkle ¼-cup of the grated  Parmigiana cheese over the sauce, then evenly arrange the provolone slices around the pie, distribute the sliced mushrooms over the pie, next evenly distribute the diced green bell peppers, followed by the diced onion,  the torn ham and finally sprinkle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the pizza.

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 flourl until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza for about 4 or 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly, then turn the oven to broil and bake the pizza for another minute or two (watch the pizza closely) until the crust chars slightly.  

5.  Remove the pizza from the oven, slice into 8 wedge shaped slices and serve.

6.  If making more than one pizzas, repeat with the remaining dough and  toppings and cheeses. 

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