Saturday, February 26, 2011!

Par-baking crust
Last night was pizza night in our house.  This time, I baked the pizza in the oven on the baking stone.  (My baking stone lives on the bottom rack of the oven.)  I am a bread baker, so I always make pizza dough from scratch (it really doesn't take long).  Last night was a plain white crust with some pizza dough flavor added.  I go back and forth on using the pizza dough flavor.  (For those of you who have absolutely no intention of making pizza dough from scratch - you are short changing yourself again - I have friends who rave about the bags of pizza dough from the grocery store bakery section.)  I par-bake my crust (on parchment paper) so it is nice and crispy.
Reduced tomato sauce

While the crust is par-baking, I make my sauce.  Really, it is a breeze to make pizza sauce from scratch.  You can add the ingredients you want and don't have to worry about crud you would prefer not to feed your family.  I start with a small can of tomato sauce.  Pour the sauce into a fine mesh sieve.  Stir the sauce gently and allow it to drain about 1/3 of its volume.  I stir in pizza seasoning to my desired intensity.  After using a baker's peel to move the crust in and out of the oven, I spread the sauce over the par-baked crust (about 10 minutes at 450F).
Par-baked crust with sauce
Ready for the oven

Now add the toppings of your choice.  Last night we had pepperoni pizza.  I am rather particular about the foods I buy for my family.  Yes, I am one of the people you see in the store reading every label.  I choose Applegate Farms pepperoni because each 28g serving has 7g of fat vs 13g in most pepperoni!  I can't stand my pizza swimming in grease.  Plus, there is no need to eat all that grease in order to have a tasty pizza.

After topping the pizza, I place it back in a 450F oven for about 15 min or until the cheese is melted and has reached the desired stage of browning.

Dinner was fabulous!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bon Appetit!

Literally.  I love Bon Appetit Magazine.  I look forward to each month's issue because it is a mini cookbook and food reference delivered right to my door!  I know some people become intimidated when they see an ingredient list with more than six or seven items.  Honestly, you are psyching yourself out and feeding your fears.  Take a chance and I can almost guarantee you will come out with more confidence and a greater sense of adventure in the kitchen.

Each issue has a theme and corresponding recipes.  Beyond that, there is always a featured ingredient for you to learn more about.  There is a focus on travel and food for at least one destination.  Not to mention the r.s.v.p. column where readers write in and Bon Appetit tracks down the recipes of the requested restaurants.  Furthermore, there is a column on an ingredient that is fresh in the market each month.  We really enjoy the wine & spirits column which has tastings and reviews.  There is also a prep school showing step-by-step instructions for a recipe in the issue.  Each issue ends with a celebrity interview focused on the role of food in their lives.  At the back of the issue is an index of all the recipes so it is quick and easy to look for desserts, starters, drinks, etc.

I try to cook something from each issue.  Rarely has the family not enjoyed a Bon Appetit recipe.

This past Sunday, we enjoyed the Pork Chile Verde which is a tomatillo-based chili made out of a Boston butt roast.  It took a bit of time to prep, but was FABULOUS.  Once the prep work was done, the chili slow cooked for 3.5 hrs.  We will most likely enjoy the Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts this weekend.

Another great thing about Bon Appetit:  it makes a great gift.

If you have a friend who is a foodie (or likes to think they are one), you can't go wrong with a $15 annual subscription for 12 issues!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sinful indulgence

Chocolate is a fickle thing.  Either you are a chocolate person or you aren't.  There seems to be no middle ground.  Those who are "chocolate people" fall into a range of categories.  Our offspring is perfectly content with a mini Nestle Crunch.  Personally, I think they are similar to eating brown wax.

Several years ago, my husband stumbled upon what is now our favorite chocolates:  Gearhart's.

A couple of times a year, we indulge and order the 32 piece assortment.  A beautiful box of sinful goodness.  I have considered switching us to the custom assortment (it is only $1 more) over the years, but realize that between the two of us, we enjoy all 16 flavors.

I'm not a big fan of liquor in chocolate.  My husband, on the other hand quite enjoys such combinations.  Personally, my favorites include:  vanilla bean brulee, malted milk hazelnut, brown butter caramel and almond mocha.

Our most recent orders (yes, that is plural - my husband ordered one for us and I ordered one for a friend's birthday) shipped the day we ordered and arrived at their destinations in about two days.  These are high end chocolates and will not handle excessive heat.  Please bear that in mind if you are considering ordering during warmer months.  Artisan chocolates are also designed to be eaten quickly.  They should be stored at room temperature (cold changes the chemistry of the chocolate) and eaten within a few days.  (This will not be a problem.)

No, we have not shared with our offspring.  He did have a mini Nestle Crunch bar though.

What just left the needles:
Swirl Scarf
Spun Northern Lights/Kid Seta

Spun single
I spun my Spinning Awesome Good December 2010 fiber club batt ( 4 oz. Northern Lights - merino) on my Louet Victoria as a single.  To make sure I had enough fingering weight yarn, I plied with one strand of Cascade Kid Seta in silver.  The finished total was approximately 600 yds.  I used just under half for a two row Swirl Scarf.  I am very happy with the results.

So it begins....

I have opinions.  Lots of opinions.  LOTS.  I also love to share my opinions, particularly when I think something I have discovered will help or bring someone happiness.  Recently, a dear friend mentioned that I should write down the random things I come upon - this blog was born.

My intent is to share my favorite things (and perhaps a few that I don't care to come across a second time).  Most items will fall into at least one of the follow categories:  great food, kitchen tools, luscious yarn, knitting, spinning fibers, family.  I hope you find the information presented helpful and perhaps even entertaining.