Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pear Gorgonzola Pizza

Oh why why California Pizza Kitchen?? Why must you introduce me to these delicious taste sensations and then take it off the menu?  Oh, don’t worry, I’ve convinced them ( I won’t say how) to put it back on the menu.  But now, I don’t live anywhere near a CPK!!!  When they took their pear gorgonzola pizza off the menu, I all but bribed the manager of CPK to make it for me.  They told me it wouldn’t be necessary, they would just make it because they’re nice. 
I tried a version of my own and have to say, I believe I came close to nailing it! This pizza is covered in field greens smothered in creamy gorgonzola dressing. I’m sure you can buy that, but it’s fairly easy to whip up a batch.
Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing (only makes a little bit):
 ¼ Cup Mayo
¼ Cup Sour Cream
2 tsp lemon juice
Garlic and onion powder (my house seasoning J )
Salt and Pepper
1-2 TBS crumbled gorgonzola cheese (it’s strong so it’s a personal taste)

Mix all ingredients.  I tried to break up the cheese as much as possible in the dressing to infuse the flavor and get rid of big chunks .  Cover and refrigerate.

Refrigerated pizza crust
1 tbs butter
2 yellow onions
1 tbs sugar
Olive oil to brush on crust
2 pears sliced thinly
½ cup toasted hazelnuts chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 TBS crumbled gorgonzola cheese
A couple handfuls of field greens J

First thing we need to do for this pizza is caramelize the onions.  They cook down quite a bit, which is why we’re using 2 whole onions.  Slice the onions thinly and set aside.  Meanwhile, melt butter in large pan over medium heat.  Add onions and sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and lower heat to medium low.  This is a process that takes patience.  There is a point you might think the onions have cooked long enough, but unless they are a true Carmel color, they haven’t.  They won’t be as sweet as you want them to be.  Give them time to release their sugars.  This took me about 20-25 minutes over low/med. Low heat. 
While the onions are getting sweet, unroll the pizza dough onto a pan brush with olive oil and set aside.  Preheat oven according to package directions.
Hazelnuts:  Toast in a dry pan over medium low heat.  The skins will start to slip off.  You can transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub in order to remove the lose skins.  Don’t worry if they don’t all come off.  Give those a pretty rough chop and set aside.
Pears: Core and slice thinly
Once onions are done, it’s time to assemble the pizza.  Place pear slices on the pizza dough so they’re touching. They will shrink while baking. Spread the onions over the pizza, sprinkle with hazelnuts, mozzarella cheese and crumbled gorgonzola.
Bake according to package directions.
While baking, mix a tsp or so of the creamy gorgonzola dressing with the field greens.
Pull from oven and cool just slightly enough to cut.  Plate up the pizza and top with the creamy gorgonzola salad.

Better than "you know who's" fried pickles. With Pinch and a Dash Horseradish Dip

WOW thats a long title. 
I’m going to let you make these pickles and fill in the quotes above.  In our town almost every restaurant serves fried pickles.  Some have better pickles and some have better dip.  In order to get exactly what we wanted, by we I mean what I wanted,  I decided to give these a shot.  I had my two pickle guru’s here, (husband and son) as well as a good friend and self proclaimed pickle expert.  They all gave two thumbs up.  That’s like…6 thumbs!!!
These will absolutely be a hit at your Superbowl party  I urge you to give them a try.  They were even good warmed over the next day!
A Pinch and  a Dash Horseradish dip
1 Cup Mayo
¼ Cup Ketchup
½ Cup Creamy Horseradish
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of Garlic Powder
Dash of Onion Powder
Hot sauce to taste.

Mix all ingredients.  Give it a taste. If it’s not hot enough for you, add more hot sauce.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Fried Pickles
2 Jar Dill chips or Bread and Butter chips.  We used one of each Most popular are the dill, but I love B&B
3 eggs
Flour for dredging
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
2 Cups Cornmeal
2 Cups Breadcrumbs
Peanut oil for frying.

Place peanut oil in heavy bottom pan, deep enough to cover pickles completely with room to spare.  About 3-4 inches of oil.  Heat oil over medium heat to 350 degrees on a candy/fry thermometer.   Keep a close eye on your temperature and adjust head as necessary to keep it at 350 Degrees.
Time to get your production line ready.  The order of breading will be to lightly coat pickles in flour, dip the pickles in the eggs, then bread them with the cornmeal mixture.
First, break the eggs into a bowl and beat. Set aside.  Then combine the breading mixture of: cornmeal, breadcrumbs and ranch dressing mix in a large bowl or platter. Mix until well combined.
Now, drain pickles and coat lightly with flour.  You can add the pickles to a baggies with your flour, zip closed and shake to coat.  Then pour into a small sieve over the trashcan, to get rid of the flour.  Shake until any excess flour is off the pickles.  It’s important to do this step before continuing with breading process or your pickles will form a gummy paste me ;) 
Once your pickles are lightly floured, add to egg mixture. With one hand turn pickles to coat. With the other, remove pickles and add them into the cornmeal mixture. Turn pickles again to coat well. Then remove to a plate.  (Remember to check your oil, adjust stove temp as necessary to keep it at 350 until you’re ready to fry)  Repeat breading until all pickles are done.
I’ve found its easier to get all of the pickles completely breaded before you start frying. 
Gently add pickles, one at a time, into the peanut oil. Try not to overcrowd the pan as the temperature will drop.  Try to keep it between 330-350 degrees.  Once the pickles begin to brown on one side, turn with tongs and continue to brown on the other side.  It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes on each side to get them a dark golden brown.  Remove pickles to a paper towel or brown paper bag lined cookie sheet.  It’s not necessary to add salt to the fried pickles as the mix and the dip is salty enough.
Eat as soon as they’re cool enough to handle..with the pinch and a dash dip of course

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Meat and Potato Poppers

I really do have a love affair with slow roasted meats.  Tender fall of the bone meat is my comfort food.  I recently entered a recipe contest and the ingredient was short ribs.  I looked over all of the other recipes and they looked amazing.  I created this as a way to use any leftovers you might have.  But, the recipe for the ribs are included.  It seems like a lot of work, but you have plenty of time to get everything together while the ribs are in the oven. This would be a great recipe to jazz up a super bowl party.  It's like a two bite dinner and you don't need utensils!! 

Ingredients for ribs, pickled onions and potatoes:

  • 2 pounds Short Ribs
  • 2 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon Both salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Chopped Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 pieces Bay Leaf
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 pounds bite size Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cups Thinly sliced red onions
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 5 pieces Whole Cloves
  • 6 tablespoons Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
Cooking instructions :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in large, heavy bottom pot with tight fitting lid. Meanwhile, pat the ribs dry and season with salt and pepper
  2. Brown meat over medium high heat until meat releases from pan. Be sure to not overcrowd the pan to ensure proper browning. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to do this in multiple batches.
  3. Once all pieces are browned on all sides, remove to plate and set aside
  4. Drain most grease from pan reserving about two tablespoons. Lower heat to medium. Add onions and sweat for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add tomato paste and cook about a minute.
  6. Time to add the wine, be sure to reserve enough for the chef! If using a gas stove,for safety, remove the pan from the flame and add wine, return to heat. Take care to scrape the yummy bits of brown from the bottom of the pan. Add the water. Simmer the mixture for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add the meat and it's juices back into the wine mixture. Cover with tight fitting lid and bake until meat falls off the bone and shreds easily. About 2 hours. While ribs are baking, prepare the pickled onions.
  8. Blanch thinly sliced red onions in boiling water for one minute, drain and run under cool water.
  9. In another saucepan, heat the white vinegar, red vinegar, sugar, cloves and one of the bay leaves. Boil for five minutes. Add the onions. Continue to boil for another minute. Transfer to glass dish, let cool. Then refridgerate.
  10. To prepare the potatoes, boil them whole in salty water until easily pricked with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool enough to handle. Once cool, cut the ends off just slightly so each one is flat. Then cut in half. With a melon baller scoop out the insides of each half, leaving a small "rim" around the potato to make a bowl.
  11. To assemble poppers: Once ribs are done, remove from oven, let cool slightly. Turn the oven to Broil. Place meat on cutting board to shred meat and get rid of any fatty parts.
  12. Fill the potato bowls with meat. Top with the pickled onions, a bit of the crumbled cheese. Place under broiler for about a minute to melt cheese. Remove and add sour cream if you wish.
  13. Plate up and enjoy!!!