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Archive for March, 2011

Pizza Margherita

I have a confession, dough scares the hell out of me. Something about the yeast and how finicky it can be and the fact that bread is a science and I am more of a reckless cook. I have been dying to try my hand at making fresh pizza dough for some time. After reading food blog after food blog showing off these gorgeous pizzas I decided to throw caution to the wind and just try it. Oh my gawd. Life changing. Why have I not done this before? It is embarrassingly easy.

Pizza Margherita
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Crust

  • 1 teaspoon Active Dry Or Instant Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ⅓ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined. Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it. ***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.

Pizza Topping

  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes (Use a good brand. I prefer Cento or Contadina. If using plain crushed tomato, you will want to spice it with Italian seasoning and garlic)
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano & Basil to taste.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a large baking sheet and use fingers to coat thoroughly. Remove HALF the pizza dough from the bowl (You can  save the other one to freeze or store it in the fridge for another day). Stretch pizza dough into a large rectangle, pressing with fingers to finish forming. Dough will be very thin. Lightly drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and use fingers to spread. Spread a thin layer of tomato on the crust. You want to cover the dough but not put a thick enough layer to make it soggy. Lay mozzarella slices over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and cracked pepper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Top with fresh parmesan and basil. Remove from pan and slice with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately!

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For St. Patrick’s Day, we had our good friends Leslie and John over for dinner. I made corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes for dinner and these cupcakes for dessert. They stole the show!

The cake base is actually my go to chocolate cake recipe. Paired with whiskey ganache and Bailey’s frosting, they pack a powerful punch.

Guinness, Whiskey and Bailey’s Cupcakes
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Baileys Frosting
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar. Ice and decorate the cupcakes.


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