BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS: Gluten-Free, Chewy, & Oh So Good!

brazilian rolls10 textBrazilian Cheese Rolls – where have these been all my life?!  Crusty outside, stretchy inside. An added bonus for those of you who have a problem with gluten: they’re gluten-free!

I recently watched an America’s Test Kitchen episode that featured these yummy rolls. The gluten-free aspect caught my attention. Even though I’m not gluten-free myself, I like to expand my horizons and post recipes for people with a variety of needs.

Note: It can be a little tricky to find the tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch). It, most likely, will be found in the area where the alternative flours in small bags are kept. I was only able to find Bob’s Red Mill brand in my area.

Note: Weighing flour is always the best way to go – especially with tapioca flour. It’s very powdery (like cornstarch), and using a measuring cup will give you vastly different amounts, which may make a difference.

Note: If you like, you can try different cheeses.

BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS – makes 8  3″ rolls

  • 12 oz (about 3 cups) tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp of table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup + 2 T milk (175 ml)  (I used 1% milk)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, too)
  • 1½ T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3½ oz (1¼ cups or 50 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3½ oz (1¼ cups or 50 grams) Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
  • optional:  egg wash – 1 egg + 1 T water + pinch of salt), beaten together

In the large bowl of your electric mixer (if you don’t have an electric mixer, just use a large bowl and mix by hand), put the tapioca flour, salt, and baking powder. Gently swirl together to blend. brazilian rolls1Put the milk, olive oil, and butter in a small saucepan. Over a low/medium flame, bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately pour into the flour.brazilian rolls2 Turn the mixer on low and beat until all the flour is incorporated – about 1-2 minutes. (It will look rough and crumbly.) brazilian rolls3Add in the eggs and mix on low speed. Once it looks creamy (like frosting), continue to beat another minute.brazilian rolls4 Add in the cheeses, and mix just to blend on low. brazilian rolls5Scrap down the dough and smooth top. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours – this will firm up the dough, making it easier to work with. brazilian rolls6

Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit, rack in the middle position. (Don’t short-change the temperature.)

If using an egg wash, beat together 1 egg with 1 T water and a pinch of salt. I highly recommend using an egg wash – it gives the rolls an appetizing sheen.

Score the dough into 8 even wedges. brazilian rolls7Using a large spoon, scrap out each wedge and roll into a smooth ball (it helps to have one of your hands wet so the dough doesn’t stick). Place each ball on a parchment lined baking sheet. They’re going to rise as they bake, so make sure to space them. One large sheet will hold all 8 rolls.brazilian rolls8 Using a pastry brush, paint the sides and tops of rolls with the egg wash. brazilian rolls9I’m going to use all caps because this is important!: PLACE SHEET IN OVEN, THEN IMMDEDIATELY LOWER TEMPERATURE TO 375º F. (The initial high heat is important to give the rolls a spring, but you need to lower it so they don’t burn.) Bake for about 40 minutes (yes, this is a long time). Remove to wire rack to cool enough to handle – about 5 minutes before eating.brazilian rolls12

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

 

ANGEL FOOD CAKE – Devilishly Delicious!

angel food cake2 text haloDue to my frugal nature (some may say, ‘cheap’), I found myself with an abundance of frozen egg whites. It turns out there are many more recipes that call for an extra egg yoke than an extra egg white. Due to my aforementioned frugal nature, I froze the unused whites rather than throw out perfectly good food.

I’d always scoffed at the humble angel food cake – it just seemed so blah. However, I had an America’s Test Kitchen recipe that called for 12 egg whites in their angel food cake. This would make a significant dent in my frozen egg white stockpile, so I made it.

I was stunned at how good it was.  A bonus being there are a lot less calories in an angel food cake compared to an equal sized slice of an iced butter cake.

Note: Ideally, you should use an angel food cake pan because it’s tubular, thus providing more surface area for the batter to climb and attach to. Also, it has little legs to allow air to flow underneath as the cake cools. (Angel food cakes are cooled upside down so they don’t collapse.) Use a bundt pan, if you don’t have the proper pan and elevate it.angel food cake1ANGEL FOOD CAKE

  • 3 oz (1 cup) cake flour
  • 10 oz (1½ cups) granulated sugar,  divided
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 egg whites
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325º Fahrenheit.

Make a liner for the cake pan bottom by placing the pan on parchment paper open side up. Run a pencil around the outside of the pan bottom and cut out the circle. Flip the pan so the bottom of the pan is up, and place the cut-out circle on top. Firmly hold the parchment in place and trace the center tube outline with a pencil. Cut out and discard this inner circle. Very lightly grease the BOTTOM ONLY of the cake pan. (Don’t grease the sides – the batter needs to be able to grip it in order to rise.) Line the bottom of the cake pan with the parchment and press it down. The parchment will help the cake release.angel food cake4Into a bowl, sift together the cake flour and 5 oz (3/4 cup) of the sugar. Set aside.

Into another bowl mix together the remaining 5 oz (3/4 cup) sugar, the cream of tartar, and the salt. Set aside.

Into a small bowl, mix together the vanilla, lemon juice, and almond extract. Set aside.

Pour the egg whites into the large bowl of your standing electric mixer. Beat on medium. Large bubbles will form at first, then they’ll decrease in size after about a minute. angel food cake8With the mixer still running on medium, start adding the sugar/cream of tartar mixture to the whites 1 tablespoon at a time. angel food cake5Once all the sugar/tartar has been added, increase mixer speed to high until soft peaks form. Turn off machine, pour in the vanilla mixture, then quickly mix together on low. angel food cake6Here’s where your jaw may drop. If you read other angel food cake recipes, they’ll tell you to FOLD in the flour mixture gently in order not to deflate the meringue. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to bother. Simply add 3 T of the flour mix to the batter through a sieve, then turn your mixer on the lowest speed for a few seconds to incorporate the flour, running a spatula along the sides and bottom of the bowl.angel food cake7 Turn off the mixer, then add another 3 T flour to the batter, turn on the machine to low and mix to incorporate for a few seconds. Continue until all the flour is added and incorporated.

Once all the flour is incorporated, gently pour batter into the cake pan, smoothing top. Rap pan a couple of times on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles (I’m not sure if this is a myth, but it can’t hurt.)angel food cake9 Put into the oven and bake about 45-50 minutes – until golden brown and cake springs back when you press it with your finger.angel food cake10 Remove from oven and immediately turn upside-down. Let cake remain like this until completely cooled – about 3 hours. angel food cake1When cool, run a dull knife around the sides of the cake (including the tube), making sure you get all the way to the bottom. Flip the cake onto a plate – hopefully, the cake will fall out. (If not, run the knife around again.) Carefully, remove the parchment and let cake sit to completely cool before serving.angel food cake11 fixed

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.

 

STUFFED SQUASH SOUP: Hearty & Filling!

stuffed squash soup textThis soup started out as a Stuffed Squash recipe I was developing. I had a lot of leftover filling and, as it was on the bland side, knew we weren’t going to eat it. But as regular readers may know – I HATE waste!!! There was no way I was going to throw it out.

So, I put on my thinking cap. The filling was a mixture of butternut squash, mushrooms, chickpeas, rice, dried cranberries, pecans, and a shallot. An omelette was my first thought…but, no.

Then it occurred to me – SOUP! One can of whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and an onion later I had an amazing dinner. The result was a delightful blend of textures and flavors.

When life sends you lemons, make lemonade.

STUFFED SQUASH SOUP – makes about 10 cups

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice (I use Trader Joe’s 3 Rice Medley)
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 T pressed garlic
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Wash and dry the butternut squash. You’re going to need to cut it in half lengthwise. In order to prevent injury, soften the squash a bit by microwaving it for 3 minutes ONLY. (You don’t need to pierce it.) Turn it over and zap it for another 30 seconds. Slice it in half lengthwise and place halves cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in 375º F oven for about 25 minutes – until flesh can be pierced with a knife. butternut squash soup9Let cool enough to handle. Scrape out and discard seeds and fibers. Cut into 1/2″ slices, then cut away the peel. Cut flesh into 1/2″ cubes. butternut squash soup10While squash is cooking, cook the rice.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add in onions and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. skillet 5Add in shallot, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes over medium/high flame, stirring often. stuffed squash soup2Add in squash, rice, garbanzo beans, cranberries, pecans, thyme, chopped tomatoes and it’s juice, tomato sauce, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.stuffed squash soup1 Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.

 

MASHED POTATO CAKES: Crunchy Outside, Creamy Inside!!!

mashed pot cakes textI’ve rarely met a potato dish I didn’t like. However, I was never very happy with homemade potato cakes. There’s a slight difference between potato patties, latkes, hashbrowns, and pancakes. I’ve tried making them all and never been very happy with any…until America’s Test Kitchen came to the rescue.

Their idea was to NOT use leftover mashed potatoes because the consistency will vary from batch to batch – ranging from dry to mushy.  Rather, use a recipe specifically developed for patties. Another brilliant idea was to coat the cakes with panko, which gives them a nice crunch without all the oil.

MASHED POTATO CAKES – makes 8 patties

  • 2½ lbs russet potatoes
  • 1 T + 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 whole egg
  • about 2 cups panko crumbs
  • about 6 T vegetable oil for frying
  • optional:  toppings such as sour cream, ketchup, aioli sauce

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4″ slices. Put into pot and add enough water to cover potatoes with 1″ water. Add in the 1 T salt. Bring to boil and cook 10 minutes. mashed pot cakes6Drain, then return potatoes to pot or large bowl. mashed pot cakes7Mash potatoes until smooth and let cool about 10 minutes.

Add the Parmesan, egg yolk, chives, 3/4 tsp salt, and pepper to the pot and mash all together. Let cool 1 hour. mashed pot cakes8Form 8  3″ patties – they’ll each need about 1/2 cup’s worth of potatoes. Make sure to press the patties together firmly so they don’t fall apart. mashed pot cakes9Beat the whole egg with a fork and pour onto a plate. Pour the panko onto another plate. Dip each pattie on both sides into the egg, followed by the panko. mashed pot cakes3mashed pot cakes4Set all the patties aside for 5 minutes before frying.

Preheat oven to 200º Fahrenheit oven.

Heat 3 T oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet and place 4 of the patties. Fry until bottom is golden brown (about 3 minutes), then flip and fry until golden brown. mashed pot cakes5Place on a cookie sheet and keep warm in the 200º F oven. Cook the remaining 4 patties in the same manner. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven until ready to eat.

 

 

CHEWY BROWNIES: The Very Best!

brownie 3 textI’ve been on another quest. (For some reason, my quests usually involve chocolate.) This time I was on a search for the perfect brownie recipe.

The three adjectives most often used with brownies are: chewy, cakey, and fudgy. People have their preference, but I’m guessing we all switch teams in a pinch. While I didn’t want a dry cakey brownie, I didn’t want a gooey fudgy one either. I wanted something in between – chewy.

It’s taken me the past year and MANY batches to get it right, but worth the effort!

CHEWY BROWNIES – made in 8″ x 8″ pan (or the equivalent)

  • 1½ oz (1/2 cup) pecans
  • 2¼ oz (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 8 oz 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar, broken (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 2+3/8 oz (1/3 cup) butter
  • 5+1/8 oz (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 3/8 oz (1 T) water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz (2/3 cup) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestles)
  • optional:  fleur-de-sel to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 325º Fahrenheit. 

Grease and flour an 8″ X 8″ glass baking pan (I use Pyrex).

NOTE: If you want to have neatly sliced brownies (which I never do), then line your baking pan with parchment paper, grease and flour the paper, then pour in the batter. That way, you can lift out the baked brownies and peel down the parchment so a long knife can be used to slice evenly.

Chop pecans and lightly toast them in a toaster oven or dry skillet. Set aside.toasted nuts

Place broken pieces of 60% chocolate bar in a medium sized bowl. (The smaller the pieces, the better for melting quickly.)brownies2

In a small saucepan, over very low heat, melt together the butter, sugar, and water, stirring often until bubbles start forming around sides of pan.brownies3Immediately pour hot liquid into bowl with chocolate, stirring to melt chocolate completely. Allow to cool 10 minutes, stirring now and then. (You’re going to be adding eggs, and don’t want to cook them.)brownies4

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda – set aside. bundt2Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, stir in approximately half of the eggs and mix in completely. Pour and mix in the remaining egg. Stir in the vanilla.brownies5Add in the flour mixture, pecans, and mini chocolate chips. Mix just until all the flour has been incorporated. brownies6Pour into prepared baking pan, smoothing batter flat. If desired, sprinkle on fleur-de-sel.brownies7 Bake at 325º F for about 28 minutes. (They start to look done at around 25 minutes in my oven, but I let them go a few minutes more – otherwise they’ll sink too much as they cool and be a little too gooey for my taste.)brownies1Remove from oven and let brownies completely cool several hours before cutting. (This takes a LOT of self-control!!) Note: They’ll still sink a little at 28 minutes, but not as much as they would at 25 minutes.

WHITE BEAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ SOUP: Perfect For Those Chilly Nights!

sausage soup textLet me start by pointing out the quotation marks around the word SAUSAGE mean imitation. (For you carnivores, you can use real sausage.)

White Bean & ‘Sausage’ Soup is one of those recipes that can be made in 30 minutes – ideal for those nights when you have little time and/or desire to cook. This has become one of my family’s favorites, especially when served with a homemade Italian Bread Loaf.

WHITE BEAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ SOUP – makes about 7½ cups

  • 1 T olive oil
  • about 1 lb imitation sausage – my favorite for this recipe is made by Beyond Meatsausage soup5
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 cups vegetarian stock (homemade recipe: vegetarian stock)
  • 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
  • 1½ cups canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (about 3 oz) fresh spinach, chopped
  • optional – Parmesan cheese, grated

Chop imitation sausage into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and cook ‘sausage’ over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.sausage soup1 Add in onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes – until onions are softened. sausage soup2Add in stock, beans, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boil, cover, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes.sausage soup3 Stir in spinach off heat and check for seasoning (I add another 1/2 tsp salt). sausage soup4Sprinkle servings with Parmesan, if desired.

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