Category: Food

This Week’s Bountiful Basket

I just returned from picking up my baskets of produce courtesy of bountifulbaskets.org. My $34 contribution included the conventional basket, an Italian pack and an assorted cookie pack.

Look at all we got:

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Posted to WordPress from the Sprint HTC EVO 4G.

Coffee in a Pinch

Making the Switch

Almost a year and a half ago, in January of 2009, we decided to stop using our electric drip coffee maker and start using a French press. This was after recommendations from several people and reading the following in one of my favorite cooking magazines, Cook’s Illustrated:

For a more full-bodied brew, we recommend using a French press, which not only reserves the coffee’s oils, but also allows you to control water temperature and brewing time.

We ended up buying an 8-cup Bodum French Press and after a short time, were hooked. It was easy to use (despite the rumors I’d heard) and took up almost no counter space (unlike our old electric coffee maker). Other benefits were the energy saved and less waste when brewing coffee. Ultimately, we said farewell to the old electric drip coffee maker in our last garage sale.

A Broken French Press

Unfortunately, the spout on the glass beaker part of the French press cracked two weekends ago. Rather than taking a chance at drinking chunks of glass, I threw the broken press into the garbage and ended up brewing some Earl Grey tea for myself.

I haven’t had time to get a new French press and this morning, I wanted to have some coffee without having to go buy a cup somewhere. I started thinking of ways I could brew some coffee and remembered the coffee percolator I have in my camping supplies. Why not give it a try?

Turns out that the percolator will definitely work in a pinch. But I’ll still be shopping for a new French press.

It's Just Pancakes

Pancake frustrations.

Two weekends ago, I was up early on a Saturday morning, getting started with my regular weekend routine. After having some coffee and messing around for an hour or two, I decided it was time for breakfast. Pancakes sounded like a good option. With a box of Bisquick from the pantry at hand, I threw together the standard pancakes recipe from Betty Crocker (found on the side of the Bisquick box).

While I was cooking the pancakes, I found I was having a tough time getting them to flip without the batter getting all smeared on the cooked side. I was getting frustrated with myself and wondering what I was doing wrong. I thought I was following the recipe on the box. It calls for three things: Bisquick, water and eggs. Turns out I forgot to add one of the ingredients. What’s funny is, I didn’t realize this until today, two weeks later, after glancing at the recipe on the box again.

Looking at my pictures that documented the final steps of cooking the batch of pancakes in question, can you guess which ingredient I forget?

Eggs. I forgot the eggs. I guess getting two out of three ingredients isn’t bad, right? And guess what? Although the pancakes were dense and not as airy as I’m used to, they still tasted surprisingly good.

It’s just pancakes.

The moral of this story is there is no using getting all worked up over the little mistakes and mess ups in life. An easy thing to say, I know. For me, it’s really hard to live up to this. I always seem to be my worst critic and I can get pretty grumpy when a recipe, project or plan doesn’t come together like I expect.

Since this pancake cooking experience, if I need to remind myself of this lesson and get some perspective when things don’t go according to plan, I’ve begun using my new mantra:

It’s just pancakes.

Margherita Pan Pizza

This week I was reading the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated American Classics published by America’s Test Kitchen. What I love about America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated magazine is how the test cooks explain how and why certain recipes work and how to arrive at the best version of each. Better yet, they explain in a way that someone like me can duplicate the steps AND achieve the same results.

I’ve been making my own pizzas at home for a couple of years now with very satisfying results. In the issue I was reading, an article titled “Perfecting Pepperoni Pan Pizza” caught my eye. A thin crust baked on a pizza stone is usually my go-to homemade pizza of choice because pan pizzas are usually doughy and too greasy. But according to this article, their version of the recipe solved those problems.

I figured I’d give it the recipe a try – with some modifications. I’m a big fan of Craig Priebe‘s method of grilling pizza. One of my favorite recipes of his is The Margheritan. Rather than go with pepperoni, I decided to top my pan pizza Margheritan-style. Aside from the use of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil, I followed the Cook’s Illustrated recipes for Pepperoni Pan Pizza (minus the pepperoni) and Basic Pizza Sauce.

Shown here are my finished pizzas. They were DELICIOUS.

Pepperoni Pan Pizza

Pepperoni Pan Pizza

The recipe you choose for making dough is the key to a successfully baked pan pizza (or any pizza for that matter). With the recipe below, the finished pizza is airy, has the right amount of chewiness and great flavor. All without the greasiness you often experience with a pan pizza.

from America’s Test Kitchen, Episode: Pizza Party

Makes two 9-inch pizzas serving 4 to 6

Dough
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup skim milk plus 2 additional tablespoons, warmed to 110 degrees
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for counter
1 package  instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Topping
1 (3.5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1 1/3 cups tomato sauce (see related recipe, “Basic Pizza Sauce”)
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Step-by-step instructions:

Read more

Basic Pizza Sauce

Basic Pizza Sauce

I recommend this recipe for it’s simplicity and great taste.

from America’s Test Kitchen, Episode: Pizza Party


This recipe makes enough for four pan pizzas, so you will need only half when making Pepperoni Pan Pizza (see related recipe). Freeze the remaining sauce for future pizza making.

Makes 2 2/3 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

Cook oil and garlic in medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, increase heat to medium, and cook until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.