Month: November 2015

Bruschetta con Burrata

bruschetta

Rich, Italian foods are always immensely satisfying and this is one of them. Savory olive oils, tart tomatoes, milky burrata cheese, and fresh basil– it all makes for one delicious bite! Pretty much anyone can make a good bruschetta with a variety of ingredients, but this particular combination has become our go-to. We have tried tons of different kinds of breads and different ingredients, but we landed on this recipe and we haven’t changed it in about a year. We make it probably once a month (it is incredibly delicious, but it’s not really very healthy).

Bruschetta is a fairly traditional Italian dish that has become popularized all over the world. In Italy, there are many, regional variations. The Toscana region often prepares a simplified version with salt, pepper, and olive oil. This fettunta is usually more of a vehicle for tasting the first batches of olive oil for the season. In the Campania region, the dish has been served for a very long time and, unsurprisingly, it has evolved. Often, you will see bruschetta here with mushrooms, squash, and even sausages. There are many other variations, but here in the States, we usually see it with basil, tomatoes, and olive oil. I’ve added burrata in the Campanian style to counter the acidity of the tomatoes, and I believe it works very well.

bruschetta

You can eat these as a snack or a full meal. We usually opt for the full meal with a glass of white wine. It doesn’t take much time, and the full recipe makes about 24 pieces. Each slice is around 115 calories, as I said, it’s a treat! However, every piece does have 3 grams of protein (which is pretty good for a vegetarian bruschetta). Obviously, there are tons of changes you could make to this recipe to spice it up or simplify it!

Enjoy!

Burrata Bruschetta

Ingredients
1 Trader Joe’s herb loaf
1/2 cup olive oil (I use dark, flavorful varieties, but if you prefer a lighter oil, go for it!)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes (I usually do half red cherry, half multi-colored, mini heirloom)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
fresh basil (several stems, enough to chiffonade about 2 tablespoons)
1 carton Trader Joe’s burrata (equivalent of 2 burrata balls, about 8oz total)
optional
truffle olive oil drizzle to finish (adds a nice, savory flavor that works especially well if this is to be an entree)

bruschetta

 

First, prep a baking sheet. Cover it in tin foil and preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the herb loaf into 1″ strips and then cut each strip in half.

Mix the olive oil and garlic salt in a small dish. Brush each side of every slice with the garlic olive oil.

Next, begin chopping the tomatoes. You want to cut them into fairly small pieces that still retain their shape and some of their juices. Either quarter or sixth each one. Put them in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the salt and pepper and stir it all together. Next, chiffonade the basil. Mix it in with the tomatoes carefully. Taste the mixture to make sure it is to your liking, and make any adjustments necessary. I usually add in a bit more basil.

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Bake the olive oil bread for about 5 minutes. Watch it carefully, you want it just lightly toasted but not too crispy.

Next, slice the burrata carefully and arrange a little bit on each slice of bread. Some pieces will have more cheese than others, but that is okay! You can stretch the cheese by spreading some of the creamier inner part onto a few slices. Bake the cheese + bread for another few minutes. Do not wait for the cheese to melt, you just want it to warm up.

Finally, arrange about a spoonful of the tomato mixture onto each slice.

bruschetta

You can also add extra basil and truffle oil to the top! Serve immediately and enjoy!

bruschetta

 

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Cauliflower Tortillas and Breakfast Burritos

cauliflower tortillas

About 8000 years ago someone amazing figured out that if you grind up wheat you can get flour out of it and make delicious things. The original tools used to perform this task were made of stone, and they continued to be made of stone until the 19th century when Europe’s Industrial Revolution instigated the use of metal in mills to grind wheat. Unfortunately, these “modern” processes also take away flour’s greatest, most nutrient-rich components (the germ and bran of the wheat). As usual, I am convinced that the Romans had everything solved perfectly as they used animals or water to power a stone which ground the wheat, leaving the nutrient-dense parts intact… but that is a story for another day!

cauliflower tortilla

Alas, here we are, with a new, cautionary tale every day that demonizes flour and gluten. While I do detest this slander and mourn the loss of my favorite ingredient’s good name, it has lead us to some interesting and exciting discoveries. When we ask the question: what can I use instead of flour, we get many answers (some more disgusting than others). So far, my absolute favorite answer is: cauliflower!

We have made muffins and pizza crusts out of cauliflower with great success. Our most recent use of this oddball veggie is for tortillas. For anyone concerned with calorie or carbohydrate counts, flour tortillas are basically a no-go. They are extremely compact and therefore calorie-dense, it’s just not worth it. However, these cauliflower tortillas make for a darn good substitute. They are only 28 calories per tortilla, with 1.5 grams of fat and carbs, but a whopping 2.3 grams of protein! While they do break apart more easily than traditional flour tortillas, they are much more moist and flavorful. If you’re okay eating your burrito open-faced, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

cauliflower tortillas

As for the process of making them, as far as I can tell they do require a blender. You need to rice the cauliflower, and although I’ve read that you can do that with a grater, it sounds messy and frustrating to me. With the food processor, it doesn’t take but an hour or so to make and bake them, totally worth it!

Cauliflower Tortillas

makes 6-7 tortillas

Ingredients
1 head cauliflower
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

additional items
blender
cheese cloth or tons of paper towels
parchment paper

cauliflower tortillas

Loosely chop the cauliflower, discarding the green stems and leaves.

Place the cauliflower in a blender with one cup of water. Blend it until it looks almost like disintegrated styrofoam floating in the water (that’s a weird simile, but that’s what it will look like). Scoop the cauliflower out and drain it on paper towels or through a cheese cloth. You want to get it as compact as possible. Place it on a plate and microwave it for ten minutes.

When it is done cooking, take it out and carefully drain it again. I took my time with this, as the cauliflower was still very hot from the microwave. I used a combination of paper towels and a cheese cloth to get it (again) as compact and dry as possible.

Measure out two cups of the mixture (this should be essentially all of the riced cauliflower). Combine it with the eggs and spices in a medium-sized bowl.

The mixture should look like thick grits. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully shape six or seven tortillas. We used a heaping 1/4 cup of mixture for each tortilla and pushed it into a circle with the bottom of the measuring cup.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the tortillas for ten minutes. After the first ten minutes, very carefully peel up each tortilla and flip it over. They are fairly fragile, so you want to use the biggest spatula you have! Bake them for ten more minutes or until they are dry and browned! Let them cool thoroughly before enjoying them!

Try not to stack them before they are cooled, as they will stick and break apart. You can treat these like any tortilla, except they don’t wrap up as well because they break apart. If you want to add some extra crispiness and a buttery flavor, you can heat them up in a skillet with some butter! We made breakfast burritos and just enjoyed them open-faced, more like tacos! (Pictured below: open-faced breakfast burrito. Scrambled egg whites with soy sausage, shallots, shredded pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, and parsley. All on a cauliflower tortilla!)

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Homemade Pizza

homemade pizza

It’s a simple fact: everybody loves pizza. Pizza is just delicious, and there’s not much more to say about it.

For some people, fast food pizza suffices- for the Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, and Dominos fans. For others, there’s that local joint that is the only acceptable option and serves the best- albeit simple- pies around. For still others, there is that pizza place that serves flatbreads, or pizzete, using Neapolitan style dough, traditionally prepared, with fancy topping options– fior del latte mozzarella, anyone?? For William and myself, all of these places will do. We don’t discriminate against pizzas, we love them all!

However, making a pizza at home is really something we do for a different reason. There is truly an artistry to making your own pizza, and there is added fun in that creative process.

homemade pizza

It all starts with the dough. You baby this dough, let it rest for at least 48 hours to develop a rich, yeasty flavor. When I prepare the dough for pizza, it gets its own special treatment of toppings: brushed with strong olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, sometimes a bit of garlic powder or onion flakes. The crust of the pizza is often the first thing that touches your tongue when you’re eating it- so you’ve gotta make it good.

homemade pizza

Then, the sauce. We do two variations: homemade pesto, and homemade tomato sauce. I know, it’s weird that I use the same tomato sauce on pizzas as I do for pastas, but it’s really flavorful and it’s thicker so you do not have the problem of all of your toppings sliding off the side of your pizza. Both options are great, but you’re only limited by your imagination. I know some people who don’t like any sauce at all, some who use olive oil- or even infused olive oil. This is a creative experience, so every person making a pizza can do their own thing with it. That is part of what makes it SO fun!

homemade pizza

Next, the toppings!! Oh, the toppings! You have so many options, you can really put anything you want on a homemade pizza as long as you can find it at the store :). My standby is a nice Margherita. It’s traditional, but easy and satisfying. I use buffalo mozzarella, chopped cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil. William loves his salamis. He also enjoys putting minced, fresh garlic on top and placing it under the broiler for a bit.

homemade pizza

There are a few tips I can give about toppings: avoid cheeses that are super soft or too creamy (like burrata) as they will melt all over the place and basically liquefy. Don’t put fresh herbs or greenery on the pizza while it is cooking, wait until after and treat it like a garnish, unless you want them wilted and limp. As for fresh tomatoes, if you wanted a roasted char, I suggest cooking them separately, you are unlikely to get that by simply placing them on the pizza in your standard, home oven. Usually, I place them on the pizza after cooking. Other than that, treat your dough like a canvas and place the toppings wherever you want! You can even try to make actual images out of it. This is a really fun meal and activity when you have a group of people (like your kid’s slumber party) and everyone wants something slightly different.

homemade pizza

A note on tools: I am IN LOVE with my pizza stone, really. It is definitely one of the best kitchen purchases I have ever made (second to my favorite, rubber spatula). Get a good pizza stone. You know you want to. Just do it. I also have a pizza peel and a nice pizza cutter (we make pizza a lot….). They aren’t necessary but they’re fun to have. Also, make sure you have some parchment paper or wax paper on hand for this, especially if you’re going to be making several pizzas at a time. They are perfect as staging areas for a pizza to be made, and it’s super easy to flip the pizza over onto the pizza stone using the paper without damaging the shape of the crust.

homemade pizza

Plan ahead. This dough can be made the day-of, but it isn’t as good. If I want pizza, and I want it now, I am going to go to the store and buy a pre-made dough, or just order take out. This amount of effort is usually reserved for a weekend dinner or special occasion.  However, the dough recipe I use makes four servings, so William and I typically make a full recipe and have homemade pizzas two days later, and then enjoy homemade pizzas again in a week or two with the rest of the dough.

homemade pizza

 

Homemade Pizza

makes enough dough for 4, 12″ pizzas

Ingredients

2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon sugar

5 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Any sauce and toppings you want!

Each pizza will take 2-3 tablespoons of sauce and 1/2 cup shredded cheese (3-4 ounces of sliced, buffalo mozzarella)

Begin by preheating the oven to 200° F. After it has preheated, turn it off and open the oven door.

Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in a glass container, stirring them together gently. Place the bowl in the warm oven and leave the oven door cracked. Let the yeast proof for about ten minutes.

While the yeast is proofing, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and proofed yeast to the bowl, folding everything together until it comes together in a large ball.

homemade pizzaLet it rest in the bowl for ten to twenty minutes.

Next, divide the dough into four even pieces and place them in a large container. Coat them with olive oil and seal the container with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator for 48 hours to finish rising.

homemade pizza

After the dough has risen, you can make each individual pizza. Preheat the oven to 425° F, with the stone inside. After the oven has preheated, let the stone “cook” for ten to fifteen more minutes.

On a piece of parchment paper, flatten the dough into any shape you want (I’m into circles, William loves squares). For a thin crust pizza, you really need to get it super flat, so it might be bigger than 12″. The dough should be 1/4″ thick, as it will rise some in the oven. It should not be too sticky and it should be very elastic. Brush your crust with olive oil and sprinkle it with sea salt or kosher salt. If you would like to add crushed garlic or onion to add flavor to the crust, you can do this now.

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Use the parchment paper to flip the dough onto the pizza stone. Cook it for five to ten minutes. It’s up to you how crisp you want your crust to be. It will not cook too much more with the sauce and toppings, so don’t worry about it burning!

Take the crust out of the oven. Add your sauce and the toppings you plan to cook.

Put the oven on broil and cook the pizza for another five minutes, watching it closely.

Add salt and pepper to the top along with any additional toppings you prefer. A sprinkle of truffle olive oil is great! Fresh basil and tomatoes are also delicious!

homemade pizza

You can easily make these in succession if you’re having a party and everyone is making their own. We are able to do it without any issues with only one oven!

Enjoy!