Next Experiment – Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

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I think the inspiration came from some Buzzfeed quiz, where there were a bunch of pictures of pizza and you were supposed to pick one you relate to. Not that I can relate to Chicago Deep Dish, but at that moment it looked the most appealing of all the slices. I have made homemade pizza, but I have never attempted that style.

One of my best friends is a Native Chicagoan and upon asking him if he has made it, he said he did once, but messed up the crust. This was disconcerting, as the crust is the aspect I am most concerned about executing right. Another friend who loves to cook said he loved eating it when he lived in Chicago, but never made it. Gee, that helps!

So I do not have enough Chicagoans in my life, nor has anyone in the NYC area that I am close with made it. Probably because we already have awesome pizza around here and do not need to. Oh what a culinary conundrum I am now faced with.

In scouring the web (ok, Pinterest), I think I found a recipe I liked from a blog called Sally’s Baking Addiction. Instead of doing two 9-inch pies, I’m going to do a 14-inch pie. I liked the crust recipe, especially the incorporation of butter. As for the sauce and filling, it’s pretty basic, but I do appreciate the tip about shredding a block of mozzarella yourself as opposed to pre-shredded. We will see what happens….

Boiling Rice Like Pasta Has Just Changed My Life

IMG_5132With all my cooking experience, I still cannot master rice. I mean, I do well when it’s a fried rice or rice balls or something that should have a sticky/mushy consistency. But when it comes to fluffy, individual grains that can stand up on their own, I suck.

A few years back I even thought I had discovered the secret. Alas, my rice usually came out crunchy, especially brown rice.

Now I read somewhere to boil your rice al dente like pasta. And…after trying it…I’m a believer!!! If you’re down to seasoning the rice after it boils, this method can work for you, too!

Another thing that is great about this method is you can throw measuring out the window. The best things to do is soak the rice to take away excess starch, rinse like crazy, and add the rice to your pot, using enough water to cover the rice by a couple of inches. Boil, and taste periodically to your desired consistency. Drain, season with oil, butter, spices, etc, and you’re good to go!

  

Cake Mix Brownies…an experiment

  
I’m prepping for Sunday’s dinner party. Menu is set (don’t want to share it all as it’s a surprise for my guests), groceries have been purchased, and I decided to start on the dessert tonight. I want to make ice cream cake because not only is it summer, I probably haven’t made one in about 2 years. Looking back on my own recipe, I swore it was Oreo-bottomed, but turns out it is brownie-bottomed. 

Thinking I had all the ingredients for brownies, I sought out to make it, but alas, I’m out of sugar. Since I don’t feel like bugging any of my neighbors (I don’t really know them), I figured surely I have a mix somewhere in my pantry. I was stoked when I saw a box of No Pudge!, but alas, it was open as I was making a serving at a time.

I saw a box of chocolate cake mix and looked to see if there was a recipe for brownies. Alas, there was not. So I googled….I prefer chewy brownies so I did a search and settled on a recipe that sounded super easy – just an egg, some oil, and water.

I put the mix together and the texture was super thick and gooey – almost like peanut or almond butter. It also tasted a bit off, so I added a tinge more oil, some salt, and some vanilla extract.

  
I had some trouble spreading it in my springform pan. It is baking as I write this….wish me luck! 

Update – it came out looking right, but rose more than regular brownies. I hope it shrinks down a bit because I want a thinner base. Worst case, I’ll saw some off the top.

  

Dinner Party Menu Planning

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I hit a pretty big milestone at work. Big for me, at least, and it warrants celebration. I had told my team if we reach our goal, I would make them dinner. The time has come, and I am ready to show off my culinary skills. However, I am at a loss of what I feel like making. I know for sure what I want for dessert, some version of my Ice Cream Cake.

Appetizers is also not hard – I figure Focaccia, cheese/charcuterie/crudite, maybe some Greek tyropita or spanakopita.

Where I am struggling is with my main course. My favorite things to make for a dinner party are a bit more “wintry.” Lately I have also been cooking a lot of fish, but one of my guests is not a fan of seafood, so why torture the celebration?

Some of my faves for a crowd:

Maybe I’ll revisit the Chicken Roulade with a different stuffing. Or maybe I’ll do a steak and feature my mashed potatoes. So many decisions!

Any thoughts out there?

Greek Maroulosalata

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One of my favorite salads is a simple Greek salad primarily comprised of Romaine lettuce, scallions, and dill. I love it so much more than the traditional Greek salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta.

One of the keys to nailing this salad well is white wine vinegar with the dressing. The vinegar complements the flavors without overpowering, brightening the ingredients.

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It’s simple to prepare, just some cleaning and chopping. It’s a great summer salad, but can be enjoyed year round.

MAROUSALATA
Romaine Lettuce, chopped
Fresh Dill, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Olive Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Feta Cheese, optional

Quantities for this salad is up to your personal preferences. I usually use about 1 head of lettuce, 1/2 cup of scallions, 1/4 cup dill, and a 2:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. I am not a huge dressing fan so I lightly dress the greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and topped with crumbled feta if so desired.

Summer Lentil Salad

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I love lentils. I believe I have mentioned this numerous times. They are healthy, a great source of protein, and versatile.

This time of year as the weather gets warmer and I like to cook a bit less, I like batch cooking once or twice a week to have lunch for work or a quick meal to share. In comes Lentil Salad. You can put pretty much what you want and it will last about a week in the fridge.


Another great thing about it is that I don’t have a precise recipe. It’s really something I whip together. I think the only constant is lentils and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Here’s what I used in my salad:

  • Greek Lentils (cooked al dente and cooled)
  • Chicken Sauasage (sliced, browned in a pan with a little oil and cooled)
  • Scallions
  • Diced Cucumbers
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper

Toss it all together and you have your meal! It can be served cool or room temperature. Feel free to experiment! Veggies, goat cheese, ham, other meats, different dressings…just have fun with it!

Not Cooking With As Much Innovation Lately

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The past few weeks at work have been a blur and I found that I am not doing anything particularly exciting in the kitchen, which makes me a little sad because I committed to keeping up with my writing and cooking.

Some highlights of what I have done lately:

  • Breakfast smoothies – almost every morning for protein and vitamins – usually a mix of frozen fruit, almond milk, Greek yogurt, and some sort of berry juice. I bought my Vitamix just over a year ago and use it several times a week
  • Eggrolls – I have done baked steak eggrolls and fried pork eggrolls. I am enjoying frying in my cast iron skillet. An easy and quick dipping sauce is taking store bought duck sauce and thinning it with a bit of Sriracha. It effortlessly elevates the quality and complexity of the sauce
  • Baked Potato Soup – revisiting my old recipe using my new Staub coquette

More inspiration to come soon as I am going to visit London and Paris in less than a month!