VEGETARIAN DOLMA: Satisfies The Craving When My Armenian Roots Call!

Holidays in my house were always spent with my Armenian father’s side of the family. As it so often is with immigrant gatherings, food played a major role. The main meal was served in the early afternoon. Then came the clean-up, followed by a second round of the main meal. Armenians love to eat!

Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) was a favorite and always plentiful. My grandmother’s recipe was the absolute best! (My Lebanese friend, Deborah, claims her grandmother’s is the best…but we’ll have to agree to disagree.)

Of course, once I became a vegetarian, my grandmother’s beef and lamb filled dolmas became a happy memory, testing my willpower at holiday dinners. Oh, yes, I made many attempts at a vegetarian version, but they never came close.

Finally, food technology caught up. Imitation meats were getting better and better. When Impossible Burger became available at my local market, I decided to substitute it in for the beef and lamb (there doesn’t seem to be any imitation lamb yet). I added in a few shiitake mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce for the umani flavor, plus some flour to bind the filling logs so they don’t fall apart. After much tweaking of my recipe, I’m now prepared to serve them to my dolma-loving brother.

Note: I’m recommending Impossible Burger brand for this recipe. (No, they’re not paying me!) This product forms a firmer log so it mimics the filling made with beef and lamb.

Note: While you can grow and brine your own grape leaves, it’s much easier to buy them. Most supermarkets carry them, but you have to search. They’re usually in with the olives, and packaged in glass jars. You may not have much choice in brands. Be aware that they can be very difficult to remove from the jar – quite often I end up tearing a third of them, which makes them unusable. A brand with a wide mouth is best. To remove the leaves, you have to grasp a roll, then gently pull up while twisting. It’s very maddening.

Queen of Freeze note: Unused leaves can be stacked, rolled, and frozen for future use.

VEGETARIAN DOLMA – makes about 26-31, depending on leaf size

  • 340g / 12 oz / 3/4 lb Impossible Burger
  • 3 T parsley, chopped
  • 62 g / 2 oz shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 50 g / 1/3 cup / 1.75 oz uncooked Chinese-style rice (or any white rice)
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz onions, chopped
  • 286 g / 10 oz canned tomatoes plus their juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 T vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 30 g / 4 T all-purpose flour
  • at least 40 grape leaves (you won’t use them all, but it’s good to have extra)

To get 286 g (10 oz) of the canned tomatoes plus juice, you’re going to have to buy a larger can and weigh out the amount. (Using the entire 15 oz can is too much for this recipe.) Pour the juice into a 4qt (4 litre) or larger cooking pot. Remove and discard the stem area of the tomatoes, and any skin or defects. Chop into small pieces.

Thoroughly wash mushrooms, discarding the stem (it’s too woody). Chop cap into 1cm (3/8″) sized pieces.

Into a large bowl, put the tomatoes, Impossible Burger, parsley, mushrooms, rice, onions, pepper, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. (You’ll add the flour later.)

Stir mixture to blend.

Before adding in the flour, prepare the grape leaves. Depending on the brand, it can be very tricky to remove them from the jar without tearing many. Torn leaves are pretty useless. So, do your best. You’ll need between 20-40 intact leaves. (The number is dependent on the size of the leaves and how generous you are with the filling.)

After removing the grape leaves from the jar, unroll them and cut off the stems to the nub. Some people rinse off the brine, but I don’t – I like the salty flavor.

Depending on how much room you have, lay out several leaves, vein-side up, to work in an assembly-line manner.

Add the flour to the filling and mix in. (I like to wait until the last minute to add in the flour.) Spoon out some filling and form a tight log. The amount will depend on the size of the leaf. If you over-stuff, the roll will come apart in the cooking – you need plenty of leaf to fold and roll as you can see from the photo below.

Wrap one of the lower flaps around the filling, tucking in the flap. (Don’t wrap too tightly – the rice will expand with cooking and you don’t want them to burst.)

Wrap the other lower flap around filling as before.

Wrap one of the side flaps toward the center (this seals in the side of the filling).

Fold in the other side flap.

Finally, roll up the dolma starting at the filling end. (Again, don’t roll too tightly.)

Place rolled dolmas in the pot with the tomato juice.

Line them up as you go, creating a second layer, as needed.

Once all the dolmas are wrapped and placed in the pot, cover with water. Place an upturned plate on top to weigh down the dolmas – otherwise, they’ll float.

Bring to a boil, cover pot, and reduce heat to just maintain a simmer. Cook 1 hour. Remove plate and let dolma cool about 15 minutes or more before serving. In my family we eat them plain. You might prefer a dipping sauce, such as tzatziki.

POTATO-MUSHROOM PASTY

I love hand-pies, be they piroshkis, beureg, empanadas, potstickers, or pasties. They’re perfect for an on-the-go nosh and picnics, as well as at-home eating.

Yes, they’re a little bit of work since you have to roll out individual dough circles, fill them, and fold them. But prepare them in an assembly-line fashion and/or get a helper or two, and you’ll have them done in no time.

I prefer a hot-water crust for my pasties, but if you have a crust you like better, use that.

You may notice that I don’t refer to my pasties as CORNISH pasties. They take their pasties very seriously in Cornwall and have a list of rules that must be followed in order to use the term, ‘Cornish’. Two of the rules that I will never be able to follow are that they be prepared in Cornwall, and they are made with meat. Oh, well! A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. And my Potato-Mushroom Pasties are delicious!!!

POTATO-MUSHROOM PASTY – makes 6

Filling

  • 140 g (4.75 oz) shiitake mushrooms
  • 190 g (6.5 oz) onions
  • 260 g (10.25 oz) waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold)
  • 1.25 tsp vegetarian Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Dough – makes 6 discs, 20cm/8in diameter

  • 400 g (14 oz) (3 cups) bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 173 g (12 T) butter, cold & cut into 12 or more slices
  • 166 ml (2/3 cup + 1 T) very hot water

Egg Wash: beat 1 egg with 1 T water

Make the filling first: Chop the shiitakes and onions into 2.5 cm/1/2″ pieces. Cut the potatoes into .25 cm/1/8 in thick slices, then chop these up into small pieces. Mix the shiitakes, onions, potatoes, Worchestershire sauce, salt, and cheese in a bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200° C/400° F.

Prepare the hot water crust once the oven is preheating and the filling is mixed: Into your food processor put the flour and salt. Pulse 1 or 2 times. Scatter the butter into the flour and pulse until you don’t see any large blobs of butter – about 8 pulses.

Pour in the hot water all at once. Pulse to incorporate the water. You should be able to form a soft, pliable ball. Add a tsp at a time of water if the dough seems too dry. Don’t worry if it’s too wet – you’ll be adding flour when you roll out the circles.

Lightly flour a flat surface and empty dough onto it. Knead the dough 3 or 4 times to bring it together. Cut into 6 equal pieces and roll into balls. Keep them covered until you roll them. One at a time, roll a ball into about a 14 cm/5.5″ circle.

You’re going to roll the dough into a final 20 cm/8″ circle, but rather than placing the rolling pin on the center and rolling outward, place it a little closer to the side it’s going toward and roll. (This keeps the center of the circle from getting too thin, which can allow leakage in the oven.) Try to make them as circular as you can, but don’t stress too much (you’ll be folding up the edges which will hide small imperfections.) You can use a 20cm/8″ template (such as a plate) and cut around it, if you like, but I can’t be bothered.

Keep the dough circles covered after you roll them out to prevent them from drying.

Divide the filling equally between the 6 circles. Place the filling mostly on one side of the circle, leaving a border of 2 cm/.75 in. Cover the dough circles you’re not working with with a tea towel so they don’t dry out. Working with one pasty at a time, dip your finger or a pastry brush in the egg wash and wet the border. (This will act as a glue to seal the sides together.)

Carefully fold the dough in half, making sure the filling stays 2 cm/.75″ from the edge. Firmly press the border together so it’s completely sealed. Fold both corners in.

With your non-dominant hand, hold down the folded corner with your index finger. With your dominant hand, grasp the dough next to the fold and fold that in, pressing down. Continue along the entire border. The idea is to form a ropelike crimp. I’ve never managed to get that look, but I’m happy with my version. Find your own way, if you like. The point is to seal in the filling.

Lay the folded and crimped pasties on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.

Once all the pasties are formed, paint the exposed surfaces generously with the egg wash.

Using a knife, make 2 slits in the top near the fold to allow steam to escape.

Place in the preheated 200° C/400° F oven on the middle rack. Bake until well-browned – 30-35 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly before eating.

ORANGE TOFU BALLS: Tender and Tangy!

Sometimes all it takes for a recipe to go from ‘meh’ to marvelous is one thing. This is usually an ingredient. But, every now and then, it’s a technique. With my Orange Tofu Balls: it was both.

In developing a new recipe, I generally start with a recipe that catches my eye. I make the recipe as written, then tweak it to suit my taste. In this case, I started with Moosewood Cookbook’s Buddha’s Jewels – Asian style tofu balls.

The recipe instructed to drain the tofu by sandwiching it between 2 plates and pressing out as much liquid as would come. After chopping the drained tofu and mixing it with the remaining ingredients, I formed golf-ball sized balls and baked. However, the uncooked balls were never really firm and had to be dealt with gingerly or they’d fall apart. During the baking process they sank into a mound rather than remain in a tight ball.

It finally came to my attention that there was too much moisture in the tofu. The plate pressing was not enough – I had to squeeze chopped tofu in a tea towel to properly extract the water. Then, I added some flour for good measure. Success!

ORANGE TOFU BALLS – makes about 15

Balls:

  • 397 g (14 oz) extra firm tofu
  • 2 T peanut butter (I use creamy)
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 scallions, white and green part, sliced thin
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) red pepper, chopped fine
  • 111 g (4 oz) mushrooms (I’ve used shiitakes & white common – both worked)
  • 61 g (1/2 cup) water chestnuts, chopped fine
  • 33 g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour

Orange Sauce

  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 T water
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup) orange juice
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 garlic, pressed or minced

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius).

The first thing to do is extract as much water as you can from the tofu. You can either begin by sandwiching the tofu block between two plates to get it started (you can use this time to chop the remaining ingredients), or go straight to squeezing it in a tea towel. Either way works.

Chop the tofu block (drained or not) into very small pieces. Spoon a fistful onto a clean tea towel.

Wrap the towel around the tofu, forming a sack, and twist to extract as much liquid as you can. (Do this in small batches – if there’s too much, it’s harder to twist out the water.) Empty tofu onto a bread board. Continue until all tofu has been squeezed.

Use a potato masher to smash the drained tofu.

In an empty mixing bowl, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, scallions, red pepper, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and flour – blend well.

Add in the mashed tofu and blend well.

Oil a rimmed cookie sheet with a very light coating of oil. Form about 14-15 compact balls with the tofu mixture and place on sheet spaced well apart to get good heat circulation. (A 3-T scoop, packed tightly, forms just the right size.)

Bake in preheated 375° F (190° C) oven for 45 minutes.

As the tofu balls are baking, prepare the orange sauce: In a small bowl combine the 1 T cornstarch with 1 T water to form a slurry. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar, 2 T soy sauce, and garlic. Bring to a boil.

When the liquid begins to boil, drizzle in the slurry – stirring as you pour. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

When the Tofu Balls are darkened, serve immediately with the warmed orange sauce. I like to serve it over rice.

CHEESE CRUSTED SPINACH PIE: Easy-Cheezy!

Cheese Crusted Spinach Pie is a tasty quiche-like pie that incorporates cheese into the crust rather than the filling. It’s quick and easy to put together (unless you’re like me and insist on washing EVERY spinach leaf thoroughly), but do allow an hour from the time it goes into the oven to when it can be served.

CHEESE CRUSTED SPINACH PIE

Crust

  • 173 g (1.5 cups; 6 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 97 g (3/4 cup; 3.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 99 g (7 T; 3.5 oz) butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 cup milk (I use 1% or 2%)
  • 14 g (1 T; 1/2 oz) butter
  • 66 g (1/2 cup; 2.25 oz) onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 227 g (8 oz) fresh spinach, stems discarded, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius).

In a mixing bowl, combine cheese, flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and dry mustard.

Using a fork, mix in the 99 g melted butter – dough will be clumpy. Pour into a 9″ pie plate, spreading evenly.

Using your fingers, press dough firmly into the bottom and sides, pushing tightly into the corners (this will allow more surface area for the filling).

Into a large pot (when you add the spinach, you’ll understand why you need a large pot), add the milk, 14 g butter, onion, nutmeg, and 1 tsp salt. Bring mixture to a simmer. Turn off heat but leave pot on burner to keep the liquid warm as the spinach wilts.

Add in spinach, occasionally stirring until spinach wilts.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed cookie sheet to catch any spills. Mix beaten eggs into the spinach mixture, then pour into the crust to just below the brim. Arrange cherry tomatoes around top, cut side up.

CAREFULLY place in preheated oven – trying your best not to spill. (You can also place the unfilled crust on a cookie in the oven and then pour in the filling, if you prefer.)

Bake pie at 400° F (200° C) for 20 minutes – SET TIMER! Then decrease oven temperature to 350° F (175° C) and continue cooking pie until filling is set – about 15-20 minutes. (This is is bold to remind you!) Remove from oven and let gel for, at least, 15 minutes before serving.

LEFTOVER PASTA FRITTATA: ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ Is My Favorite Motto!

leftover pasta fritatta1 textI hate waste – particularly of food. Unless it’s gone bad, I find a way to use it or save it (thus my self-proclaimed moniker of Queen of Freeze!) So I often find myself with bits and bobs which need to be eaten.

The bane of my cooking is getting it right with pasta. I often over-estimate how much to cook, then find myself with too much cooked pasta (which can’t be frozen). Finally, I decided to Google ‘leftover pasta’ and found a frittata recipe which sounded promising. Once I had this idea, I looked around for other things to put into it. At that time I had a little pesto, part of a red pepper, a couple of mushrooms, and a few scallions that were on the verge. I mixed it all up with a few eggs and cooked it up in a cast iron skillet.

The base of this frittata is pasta and eggs (you really need at least 4). Go from there, using your imagination and what you have.

LEFTOVER PASTA FRITTATA

  • 4 or more eggs
  • leftover cooked pasta (I use about 1½ cups of cooked spaghetti)
  • peas (I always have frozen peas, so I toss them in)
  • olives (I always have Kalamatas)
  • scallions, shallots – these don’t need to be pre-cooked, which I like
  • some sauce (pesto, bbq, go-chu-jang), if you have it
  • cheese (I like to use Feta & Pecorino-Romano)
  • whatever else you’d like to throw in
  • oil for frying (I use olive oil)

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Heat oil over medium/high heat in a cast iron skillet (I use a 10″). Pour in the batter and let cook until starting to set and bottom is well browned – about 7 minutes. leftover pasta frittata3Here comes the tricky part – you’re going to need to flip the frittata to brown the other side. Loosen the bottom using a metal spatula. Once the bottom is no longer stuck, carefully slide the frittata onto a large plate.leftover pasta frittata4 (Or, you can place a plate on top of the skillet and, using oven mitts, flip the skillet letting the frittata drop onto the plate.) Cover with another plate and flip. leftover pasta frittata2Then, slip the flipped frittata back into the skillet and cook until the bottom is well browned. leftover pasta frittata5Let set about 5 minutes before slicing.

BROCCOLI GARLIC PASTA: Fast & Easy

broccoli garlic pasta9 textBroccoli Garlic Pasta is a new addition to my list of favorite dinners. It’s one of those recipes that I create in order to use up an ingredient that would soon be going bad – in this case, it was mushrooms. I threw in other items I had on hand – the pièce de résistance being the Feta cheese, which made all the difference.

Note: If you make your own pasta (which I do), use a 1 cup flour recipe – more than that is too much pasta for the sauce in this recipe.

BROCCOLI GARLIC PASTA – makes about 6 cups or so

  • 6 oz uncooked pasta (I use spaghetti noodles)
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 cups raw broccoli, bite-sized pieces
  • 2 T garlic, pressed (use less if you don’t like a lot of garlic)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 5 oz (2 cups) mushrooms, chopped (I use white mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup (about 4) scallions, green & white part, sliced
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I use vermouth)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 6 oz Feta cheese (I use fat-free), crumbled
  • 2½ oz (1 cup) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (or any hard cheese)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

In a large pot, cook the pasta until almost done (al dente) – you want it undercooked so it can absorb the sauce. Drain.

Into the now empty pot, heat the butter and oil. Add in the broccoli, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms, scallions, and red pepper flakes. Over medium/high flame, sauté veggies for 1-2 minutes. broccoli garlic pasta8Kill heat and sprinkle on flour. Over low flame, stir 1-2 minutes to slightly thicken the liquid and cook-off the flour taste. broccoli garlic pasta7Add in the wine and cream. Cook over medium heat about 1 minute. broccoli garlic pasta1Stir in the Feta, Pecorino, and parsley. Stir in the pasta and heat through. Pour into serving bowl (or let remain in pot), cover, and let set for about 5 minutes to allow pasta to absorb the liquid and thicken up.broccoli garlic pasta3

 

FOCACCIA-OMELETTE SANDWICH: A Mouth Watering Meal!

focaccia sandwich2 textA new family favorite is my Focaccia-Omelette Sandwich, which makes a tasty breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

While it’s extremely easy to make, the focaccia needs at least 5 hours of rise-time, so planning ahead is crucial. You don’t want to short-change this time period since this is when flavor and gluten development occur.

Note: Use a metal pan to bake the focaccia, if possible, to promote a crispy crust.

FOCACCIA – OMELETTE SANDWICH

  • 3¼ cup (400 grams) bread flour
  • 1½ tsp (4 grams) dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 14 oz (1+2/3 cup) (380 ml) water, room temperature
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt (or 3/4 tsp table salt)
  • 6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • toppings such as olives, sliced shallots
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 6 oz Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, sliced

Place the flour, yeast, and sugar in the work bowl of your food processor. Turn machine on and drizzle in the water through the pour-spout. Mix for 2 minutes, then let rest for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the kosher salt and run machine for another 2 minutes.focaccia sandwich8 Pour 2 T olive oil into a rectangular or square container with sides at least 3″ high, covering the bottom and sides. (The square corners train the dough somewhat and help it fill the corners of the baking pan. If you don’t have a container like this, just use an oiled deep bowl.) The dough is going to rise very high, then collapse somewhat. Cover container and let rise 5½ – 6 hours. Note the low height of the dough when I pour it in. focaccia sandwich16Here’s after 2½ hours:focaccia sandwich5 After about 4 hours it starts to collapse a bit – this is normal. focaccia sandwich6After dough has been rising for 5 hours, preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit, rack in the middle position. If you have a baking stone or steel (I use a steel), place it on rack as the oven preheats.

After dough has been rising for at least 5½ hours, spread 2 T olive oil on the bottom and sides of a metal 9½” x 13″ metal pan. (I know, I know – the pan has, obviously, seen better days!) focaccia sandwich9Note how bubbly the dough is: focaccia sandwich7Gently pour the dough into the prepared pan, nudging the dough into the corners – try not to deflate the dough. focaccia sandwich10If you’re using toppings such as olives or slices shallots, sprinkle them on, lightly pressing them into the dough. Let dough set uncovered for 20 minutes. focaccia sandwich11Brush 2 T olive oil over dough, then sprinkle on 1 tsp oregano, pepper, and salt. focaccia sandwich12Place in 500º F preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until well browned on top and sides have pulled away from the edges a bit. Remove from oven and let rest in pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.focaccia sandwich13Decrease oven temperature to 350º F, leaving oven door open to expedite the oven temperature drop.

During that 10 minutes, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add in the red pepper, basil, Feta, table salt, and the remaining 1 tsp oregano. Beat mixture to blend. After removing focaccia from pan, line the bottom and sides of the empty pan with parchment. Brush a light coating of olive oil on the parchment, then pour in the egg mixture. Place in the oven at 350º F and bake until egg mixture is no longer wet – about 12-15 minutes.focaccia sandwich15 While omelette is baking, remove focaccia to a cutting board. Using a long bread knife, very carefully slice bread in half horizontally. (Take your time – the edges are crispy, making it difficult. I’ve found it best to cut into the bread only – not in and out, which tends to tear the bread.)focaccia sandwich14 Once the bread is completely sliced through, leave it together to retain its heat.

After removing the omelette, let it rest in the pan for 15 minutes to set. You can use this time to slice the tomatoes and shred the Fontina.

When the omelette has set, remove the top of the focaccia and set it aside, cut side down. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Fontina cheese over the bottom half. (The cheese is going to serve as a glue to hold everything together.) Remove the omelette from the pan by using the parchment to lift it. Set it beside the bottom half of the focaccia, long sides next to each other. Carefully peel the parchment away from the sides – I use a knife help separate the egg from the parchment.

Fold the long side of the parchment that’s next to the bread under to get it out of the way. Using the 2 short sides parchment ears, lift and flip the omelette on top of the focaccia bottom. Peel away and discard the parchment.

Sprinkle 1/2 of the remaining Fontina on top of the omelette. Layer on the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle on remaining Fontina and cover with the focaccia top.

If you like, you can place the entire sandwich on a cookie sheet and heat at 400º F for about 10 minutes to crisp it up, or you can go ahead and slice it up as is.

 

SPEEDY THIN CRUST PIZZA: My Very Favorite!

one hour pizza textSpeedy Thin Crust Pizza has become my go-to pizza recipe not only because I can have it on the table in a little over an hour, but because it’s REALLY good. It’s a very thin pizza with a nice chew.

Pizza in a little over an hour, you question? That’s right!!! This is my variation of America’s Test Kitchen’s 1-Hour Pizza. (I’ve made this pizza many times and could never make in in 60 minutes – more like 70 minutes.) Of course, the first time or two you make it, it will take longer.

SPEEDY THIN CRUST PIZZA – makes 2 pizzas

  • 6.25 oz (1-1/3 cup) bread flour
  • 2.75 oz (1/2 cup) semolina flour
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 T) warm water (about 110º F)
  • 1-5/8 oz (1/4 cup) beer (I like a pale beer)
  • 1/2 oz (2 tsp) white distilled vinegar
  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • toppings of your choice

Preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit. Place the oven rack with a pizza stone or steel  4″ from the top heat source. It will take at least 30 minutes to bring the oven up to temperature, so I turn on my oven when I begin making the dough. 

If you have a scale (which I highly recommend), place the workbowl of your food processor with the steel blade in place on top. Turn the scale on if it’s battery operated so you start at ‘0’. Weigh the bread flour, semolina flour, water, beer, and vinegar. Add in the yeast, sugar, and olive oil. one hour pizza12Set the workbowl on the processor base and run the machine for 10 seconds.one hour pizza15 Let mixture set in place for 10 minutes. Add in the salt and process for 30 seconds. one hour pizza14Empty dough onto a floured counter and fold the dough onto itself a few times to bring the dough together. one hour pizza7Divide the ball in half and place each one on a piece of oiled (I use olive oil) parchment paper approximately 12″ wide. DO NOT USE WAXED PAPER – IT’S TOO THIN!!!one hour pizza9Rub the tops of the dough with a little more oil then top each with another piece of same-sized parchment. Press down with your hands to smoosh the dough into a square to get it started. With a rolling pin roll both dough balls to about 13″ x 10″ using short strokes, working from the center outward. (I find it easier to keep the parchment from sliding on my counter if I place it on a dry tea towel.) Let set 30 minutes.one hour pizza10 Use this time to get your toppings ready.

After 30 minutes, place one of the parchment covered pizzas upside down on a dry pizza peel or rimless cookie sheet. (The reason you flip the pizza upside down is that it’s easier to peel away the oiled parchment.)one hour pizza16 Carefully peel away and discard the top parchment (which used to be the bottom parchment). one hour pizza4bTop pizzas with your choice of sauce and toppings.one hour pizza17 Slide the pizza with bottom parchment onto the preheated stone or steel. one hour pizza18Bake for 4 minutes. Rotate the pizza 180º, then remove and discard the parchment by securing it in place with a spatula with one hand and pulling out the parchment with the other. (The parchment won’t burn your fingers, so you don’t need to use an oven mitt as long as you don’t touch anything else.) one hour pizza19Let bake another couple of minutes, until it’s browned to your liking. Remove from oven, let set a minute or two, then slice it up and serve. (This is not the same pizza I placed in the oven in the above pictures.)

NOTE:  If you want to sprinkle top with basil, do this after it’s baked – otherwise, the basil will burn.

one hour pizza6

 

GREEN CHILI STEW: Fast, Easy, and Delicious!!!

green chili stew textGreen Chili Stew is an incredibly tasty blend of flavors that’s quick to put together. The little pop of lime is my favorite part!

You can tailor this recipe to your needs: roast the chilis yourself or buy canned, use the type of chilis I recommend or amp it up (or down), use fake chicken (nowadays known as “plant-based”) or use tofu. It’s up to you!!!

As Queen of Freeze, I always encourage people to make large quantities of something that freezes well (after trying it first). However, this stew is so delicious that there’s never any left to freeze so I’m not sure how well it would do. I suspect it would be fine.

GREEN CHILI STEW – makes 11 cups

  • 1/2 lb corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 jalapeño chilis
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 New Mexico or Anaheim chili
  • optional in place of fresh chilis: 2  4-oz cans diced mild green chilis                                                                                                 1  4-oz can diced hot green chilis
  • 1½ tsp vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1 large (about 3 cups) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1/2 T coriander
  • 1 tsp + more salt if needed, divided
  • 1  15-oz can hominy, drained
  • 1  15-oz can white beans (I use cannellini beans), drained
  • 14 oz fresh tomatillos, chopped
  • 3½ cups vegetable stock (I use homemade vegetable stock)
  • 8½ oz fake chicken (I’ve used Worthington frozen ‘chicken’ log & Beyond Meat frozen seasoned ‘chicken’ – they’re both good)
  • optional in place of fake chicken: 1 block of tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit, rack in upper third.

Spread corn out on rimmed cookie sheet and bake in preheated 400º F oven until corn starts to brown (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven. green chili stew3If you’re using fresh chilis, turn oven to broil. Wash and cut pepper and chilis top to bottom. Discard seeds and ribs. Lay cut side down on cookie sheet.green chili stew1Broil until skin starts to blacken. (It only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on it!!!). Remove and discard blackened skin. green chili stew2Chop skinless pepper and chilis into bite-sized pieces.

Remove and discard paper-like green cover of tomatillos.green chili stew11 Wash tomatillos well (they feel kind of waxy) and chop into bite-sized pieces. green chili stew6In a Dutch oven, place the oil, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1 tsp salt. Sauté over medium/high heat 4 minutes, stirring often. green chili stew4Add in corn, chilis, and pepper – cook 3 minutes, stirring often.green chili stew5 Add in hominy, beans, tomatillos, vegetable stock, and fake chicken or tofu. Turn burner to medium/high heat, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to keep a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and additional salt, if needed (I usually add in 1 tsp salt).green chili stew8

 

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS: A One-Pot Wonder!

Belezian rice and beans textThis is probably the easiest meal you’ll ever make. Simply chop the onion, cilantro, and red pepper, then throw everything into the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

This recipe is a lovely combination of subtle flavors. Try not to leave out any of the spices – I know most are only 1/8 tsp, but they’re important for the overall effect.

NOTE: Belizean Rice & Beans is super good topped with Avocado Sauce!

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS – makes about 5 cups

  • 1  15-oz can pinto beans, including liquid
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 T butter
  • 1  15-oz can coconut milk (or 1/2 cup powdered coconut milk plus enough water to make 15 oz)
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Belezian rice and beans3Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for a total of 30 minutes. At first, stir now and then – until it’s been cooking for about 20 minutes. At this point most of the liquid will have been absorbed into the rice. Stir more often now to prevent burning. If all the liquid has been incorporated before the 30 minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the covered pot sit on the hot burner. This is to make sure the rice is completely cooked. belezian rice and beans2Eat as is, or do something crazy (like I do) and serve as an open faced sandwich on a homemade English Muffin or arepa, topped with avocado. Yummmm!