08 January 2011

I am always searching for the perfect beans, or perfect rice side dish to go with Mexican dishes.  This recipe from Fine Cooking combines the two in a very satisfying side dish.  I served it with my own adaptation of Benchiladas from Annie's Eats Blog.  I think they'd make a great one dish meal with the addition of some chorizo.  I used diced tomatoes with jalapeños and skipped the jalapeño.  Next time I'll probably add chopped jalepeno too, it could have had a little more spice.  I also substituted about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano for the fresh.

Mexican Tomato Rice and Beans
Serves 6-8

1 cup uncooked medium-grain white rice
1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably “petite-cut”)
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium fresh jalapeño, cored and finely chopped (if you like spicy foods, leave in the ribs and seeds; if not, remove them)
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano leaves and tender stems
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the rice with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 min. Remove from the heat and let the pan stand, covered, for another 5 min.
While the rice steams, set a fine sieve in a bowl and drain the can of tomatoes. Pour the tomato juices into a 1-cup liquid measure. Add enough water to the tomato juices to equal 1 cup.

Heat a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and stir-fry the garlic and jalapeño until the garlic browns and the jalapeño smells pungent, about 1 min. Add the black beans, salt, cumin, and chili powder; stir two to three times to incorporate the mixture and cook the spices, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato juice and water mixture and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans absorb much of the liquid, 5 to 7 min. Add the tomatoes, oregano, cilantro, and cooked rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is warm, 1 to 2 min. Serve immediately.

05 January 2011

Spinoccoli Pizza

As I stated when I began this blog, I was inspired by Annie's Eats to write about what I'm cooking  as a record for myself, and an easy way to share recipes with friends and family.  I was surprised to find home made pizza on Annie's list of easy dinners, it's easy when Papa Murphy does it, but all that dough preparation easy?  I looked at her recipe, which reminded me of the recipe that I used when I was not working and had lots of time to cook by Jeff Smith in The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian.  I had two of his books and used them often when Kaci was a baby.  I was intrigued to try Annie's method for prepping the dough ahead and freezing it.  I also love white sauce on pizza rather than tomato based sauce and am trying to make as many meat free meals a week as I can, so this pizza fits the bill.

I removed the pizza dough from the freezer in the morning and it was ready to go when I arrived home.  The recipe was on the table in an hour and was the best pizza I've had in ages.  The texture and flavor of the dough was marvelous.  I was concerned that making a white sauce would be a pain, but it went together easily while the pizza dough sat out to rest.  No more Papa Murphy's Pizza or TJ's dough for us, this is just too good.  Can't wait to try other versions on this pizza, and I still have enough for 1 pizza in the freezer!

Check out Annie's Eats for step by step directions for the dough.

Basic Pizza Dough
Yield: enough dough for 2 medium pizzas or 4 calzones
½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.  Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.
Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.)  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.
To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.  Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

Spinoccoli Pizza
For the white sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
¾ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
Pizza Dough
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup very small broccoli florets
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.  Discard the garlic clove.  (Note: This will make a bit more sauce than you need for the pizza, but with a little extra cheese it makes a great dipping sauce for crust.)
To make the pizza, preheat the oven and a pizza stone at 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round.  Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust.  Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce.  Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough.  Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.  Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Source:  Annie's Eats

04 January 2011

I purchased a small spiral sliced ham to take down to Orange County after Christmas and fix for Rob and forgot to take it with us!  Decided I needed to use it as a base for meals this week.  

I had never had a ham loaf until at Christmas Dinner prepared by my mother-in-law  Jane about 30 years ago, she served "Ham Loaf".  It was basically the meatloaf recipe off the Quaker Oat carton with ham rather than pork.  Nothing memorable.  Never having the desire to replicate it at home ham loaf was not part of our diet, until I clipped this recipe from a copy of Bon Apetit in the late 90's.  I found it to be yummy comfort food.  Trying to eat as heart healthy as we can its something I only make once a year, if that often.  I use the leanest pork sausage Jimmy Dean makes, red pepper and cut the recipe in half which makes 2 dinners and left overs for lunch for us.  A friend served a corn pudding a few months ago, her secret recipe.  I think I'll try one on Allrecipes.com and add green chili's and some cheddar cheese as a side to the ham loaf. 


Pork and Ham Loaf with Marmalade-Mustard Glaze

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 pound finely chopped smoked ham (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup finely crushed saltine crackers
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool mixture completely.

    Mix ground pork, ham, crushed crackers, milk, eggs, pepper, salt and cooled onion mixture in large bowl; combine thoroughly. Transfer pork mixture to shallow baking pan. Shape into 9x4x2 1/2-inch loaf. Using long knife, make shallow crisscross (diamond) pattern in top of loaf. Bake loaf 30 minutes. 

    Meanwhile, blend orange marmalade, Dijon mustard and brown sugar in small bowl for glaze.
    Drizzle 1/3 cup glaze over loaf; bake 15 minutes. Drizzle another 1/3 cup glaze over loaf; bake 15 minutes. Drizzle remaining glaze over loaf and bake until thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 165°F, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer loaf to platter; let stand 10 minutes. Pour pan juices into small bowl; whisk to blend.
    Cut loaf crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with pan juices.

    Source:  Bon Appétit  | February 1998