I have invented Pizza Scones

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The other night I wanted to make pizza. Unfortunately, I realized this after 17:00, so I didn’t have time for real pizza dough to rise. I checked the freezer and found some pitas—saved! Pita would make a fine pizza dough.

20 minutes later I have some toppings ready, and pull apart the pitas—and find some blue mold. Eeeeeewwwww! Also, now what? Now I really really don’t have time to make dough, even with a shortened rise. What can I do?
The (otherwise not very useful to me, since I never have the right ingredients) Betty Crocker 30 minute cookbook has a bunch of pizza recipes that use Bisquick… maybe I can use biscuit dough?

So I made up a batch of biscuit dough in the food processor and put the pizza toppings on that:

“Pizza” #1
Olive oil
Tomato paste
Penzey’s pizza spice
Grain-meat Italian sausages
Mozzarella cheese
More pizza spice and sausages

“Pizza” #2
Olive oil
Sage, cinnamon, and ginger
Chopped Braeburn apple
Mozzarella
More spices and apples
Pecan halves

I baked them for about 20 minutes at 450F, until the cheese started to bubble and brown a little. Served with the world’s simplest salad (romaine, carrot, kiwi) they came out really tasty, though (like all scones) heavier than they look.
They keep and reheat well in the toaster oven—I made them Tuesday and they were still good for dinner Thursday.

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Date-Ginger Charoset with Almonds, Raisins and Cardamom

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Even though I am not Jewish, I have been attending my friend’s Passover Seder for the last 12 years.
For this year, I promised to make date-based charoset with no apples or walnuts, to accommodate some guests with allergies. I looked at lots of recipes, and decided on something vaguely Egyptian: cooked dates, raisins, cinnamon, and ginger. Then I saw a recipe with cardamom, and thought that was a great idea.

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs pitted dates
1 cup raisins
1.5 cups almonds
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 tbsp cardamom pods
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Water

Put the dates and raisins in a saucepan. Put in enough water to cover (about 2.5 cups) and heat over low. Add the cinnamon and stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, put the ginger in the food processor and pulse until it is finely diced. Add to the pot.

Crush the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle and remove the outer pod. Add to the pot.

Cook the dates, raisins and spices until the dates are very soft, about 25 minutes. Process the almonds until they are finely chopped (around the size of a big pin head) and stir into the date mixture. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Potato Corn Barely-any-Rutabaga Soup

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I was invited to my first-ever soup swap last week. I ended up improvising a recipe after reading a few potato soup recipes and a few rutabaga soup recipes.

I started with 3lbs of potato and about 1 lb of rutabaga. That became .5lb of rurabaga when one of the two turned out to have black spots inside. I sautéed four little onions in olive oil, and then cooked the potato and rutabaga with 4 quarts of water. Although this got me 6 quarts (really 7) of soup, it was pretty thin. I’d like to have just added another 2 lbs of potato, but I was running out of time and was completely out of root vegetables, so instead I added 1/4c of cornstarch and then a pound of frozen corn.

The corn starch did help, but I didn’t like the mouth feel of the soup as much after I added it. The corn kernels were brilliant and I would use them again. I think if I chopped up another 2 lbs of potato I could have cooked that in the soup without puréeing and had a chowder-like experience. The saving grace of this soup was the tablespoon of Old Bay, added on B’s advice. That really rounded out the flavors without a lot of messing around picking good combinations. I guess this is why people like premixed spices.

I did eat the 3/4 quart I had left after the swap containers were all filled, and it was good with crackers, would have been great with thick bread, and was tasty with cheese, which is all one can hope for from a soup :-). I just hope the other swappers liked it!

Oatmeal Anything Cookies

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I have been craving cookies all weekend while E was sick, so on Monday when she started feeling better, we made some together (with extra hand washing just in case of lingering germs). My favorite cookie recipe is this one, modified from the recipe that was on the inside of the Quaker Oats boxes in the 2000-2005 range. The original recipe was for raisin cookies, but I have made these with chocolate chips for years, and occasionally with craisins or other dried fruit and different spices.

We made today’s batch two ways: oatmeal raisin for Daddy, and oatmeal chocolate chip for me and E. Usually I put salt in the base batter for chocolate chip and cinnamon for raisin, so this time we used both. (More cinnamon never hurt anyone). We also used dairy-free margarine (Earth’s Best) because I was imagining sharing them with a friend who is dairy-allergic, but since that friend is also Jewish and Pesakh started Monday night, they probably won’t survive long enough for him to have any.

These baked up a little stiffer with the margarine than they do with butter, and of course without that buttery flavor, but I do like them both ways. The cinnamon and the whiskey-based vanilla I use have more than enough flavor to make up for anything lacking from not using butter. (Ed: they seem to have staled faster than the butter version)

Recipe:
Cream together:
1c butter or margarine, softened
1c brown sugar, firmly packed
.5c white sugar

Add:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (or more)

In another bowl, mix:
1.5c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. When they are well-mixed, add 3 cups of rolled oats. Divide the batter into two bowls, and add .5c of chocolate chips to one and .5c of raisins to the other.

Roll into 1″ balls and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until just a little brown on the craggy edges. Cool on a rack before storing.

3 Bean, Kale and Carrot stew

I decided to pick up some dried beans, rather than canned, at the store last week. Dried beans take more planning, but I’d like to do meal planning more than an hour in advance anyway, so maybe this will help. (Or we’ll starve, but that is what Foodler is for.)

I soaked them the “quick soak” way: a pound of beans (I mixed pinto, kidney and black) under about 2″ of water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, then let soak for 2 hours.
I drained and rinsed the beans, and then covered them in new water. When that started to boil, I put in two (very small) whole onions, skins and all. I set that to a low simmer and left it for an hour.

An hour in, the beans were not yet tender, but I added salt based on (essentially all) the recipes in “How to Cook Everything” and covered them back. About 100 minutes in, I added six blocks of frozen blanched kale (about a pound, I think), three chopped carrots and removed the onion. I also added a heaping tablespoon of garlic powder and a heaping tablespoon of ground cumin (to taste, so I wasn’t being precise). If I hadn’t been planning to share with a toddler, this is where cayenne would have gone in, but I omitted it so it wouldn’t be too spicy.

The beans and carrots were finally tender after the beans had been on for two hours. I served the stew over rice, which took up the flavors nicely. It was good both with and without cheddar cheese.

I froze one quart of the soup (I think it made about three) and kept one in the fridge. We will see how the frozen beans defrost and reheat.

Review: Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Each grocery store has different dangers for the unwary. At Whole Foods you may accidentally pick out a $4 tomato. At Costco you may accidentally buy more than fits in your pantry. At Trader Joe’s, you may buy frozen prepared meals you totally don’t need. This is a review of one of those.

Don’t get me wrong, I love gnocchi, and I don’t actually ever make them myself. But I also don’t need them…

Anyway, the other night I went looking for dinner ideas in the freezer and found these. Since it was just me and E for dinner, I made a salad and sautéed these up.

The first thing I noticed is that you cook them from frozen, and they are quite starchy on the edges. This lead to a lot of sticking and starchy mess, even in an oiled pan. They are not going to win awards for presentation:

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But not every meal is pretty, and I was hungry and therefore committed, so in we went.

They look a little better on a plate:

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but still not company-quality. The sauce also totally disappeared into the starches in the pan.

The flavor and texture were pretty good—light and fluffy rather than belly bombs, with good sweet potato flavor and some garlic, but I was not terribly impressed. I could do better—if I bothered to make gnocchi in the first place.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

We were up earlyish waiting for a contractor this morning, so we needed a distraction. Since my bag of frozen bananas in the freezer was nearly full, Jr Baker E and I made a double batch of banana muffins. They ended up being chocolate chip banana, because B mentioned something about chocolate and then it was in E’s head, so she insisted. Not the end of the world 🙂 (Mmm, chocolate)

These are based on the Cooks’ Illustrated recipe, which uses 5 frozen bananas, microwaves them to defrost and get them juicy, drains the liquid and then reduces it in a stock pan. Not the fastest recipe ever, but totally worth the extra effort.

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