Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I got a rock...

Ok, so that was Charlie Brown's Halloween. Well, this Christmas has been a budget Christmas, so HP got me a rock.
"What would motivate such a gift," asked The Girl when told of this.
"Well," I said, "I hate to break this to you, but your father had a very selfish motivation. He wanted more baked goods."
And so I got a rock.

At least it is a pretty one!
Granite counter tops were not part of our great kitchen makeover, but I could at least pretend in one little section. I have wanted a granite section ever since I started making my pizzas & kringla, it is wonderful to have a good surface for rolling out doughs! Our idea in finding the right rock proved to be the best. We called up a guy who does granite counter tops & made a deal on a scrap. (Our "scrap" was almost 2' x 3' that is a decent sized scrap!) In order to break in the new rock, I happily made two loaves of bread and a big batch of pizza dough. For my bread choice, I decided on an easy Oatmeal Bread, almost exactly as written on the back of the flour bag. A scant teaspoon of cinnamon gives this the added depth you love in a home made bread.

The pizza dough is something that I have been working on & tweaking since I discovered my love for grilled pizza. I always make a large batch so I can stock some in the freezer for those pizza cravings. And what does the recipe look like these days? Well, I'll tell ya.

The very best way to do this is to plan in advance (yes, every once-in-a-while I do that) if you can do this the "cold way" the dough is generally a little better & easier to work with, and the method is more relaxed. Also since the yeast is sleeping, it is more relaxed as well and really lets the flavors come through. I'll show ya what I mean.

Pizza Dough, the cold-way:
2 cups water, cold. Really cold, put it in the freezer for a little while.
to that add
1 Tablespoon honey

In a separate bowl, gently mix:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast. (skip the envelopes, buy a jar. It is more cost effective even if you only occasionally bake with yeast. I promise.)
3 Tablespoons Corn Meal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups white flour (plus more as needed) Can be All-Purpose, or if you prefer Bread Flour. Bread Flour will give you a slightly lighter, airier dough. If you have room in the freezer, you can chill your flour for a little while before mixing, it helps prevent shock to the yeast as you mix it all together.

Slowly mix in the water and stir until you get a wet dough. I don't have a kitchenaid, so I do this by hand. It isn't difficult, I swear. If it is more wet than dough, add a little more flour (no more than 1/2 cup), but really it is ok for it to be wet ( The more flour, the thicker the crust, so if you like it thick you can add about 1/4 cup early on). Now, put that in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine or clear up a good spot on the counter for kneading. Make-out with your husband. or wife. or significant other. Whatever, after about 10 minutes go back to your dough and take it out of the fridge. While the dough is still in the bowl, add
2 Tablespoons olive oil (plus more as needed) and
2 teaspoons sea salt
Mix that into the dough and then turn out on to a well-floured rock. (Or other workable surface) Oil your hands well (yes, oil them not flour them) and begin kneading. If you really think your dough is soggy & sticky after a little kneading, then add just a little more flour. Once you have kneaded this into a good dough, put the whole thing into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. It will rise, I promise you.
The next day,
turn dough out onto floured rock. Oil your hands again (really, it is great moisturizer, I promise) Divide dough in half, or thirds or whatever you feel like working with. squish it into a disc, then shape out from there. I have no patience for shaping dough, so mine are rarely circles unless I am willing to make an additional effort. If the dough is rebelling and trying to shrink back, give it a few minutes. Wash the bowl, chop some toppings, whatever. At this point, I will roll it out with a rolling pin if I feel like it. This is great for making a thinner crust. If you like your crust thicker, don't roll it out so much or just stretch to shape.
At this point, I will sometimes freeze the rolled out dough. I put it between layers of parchment paper and stick it in. If I am doing pizza on the grill, it is sometimes easier to deal with the colder dough. I will also only partially freeze, then roll the dough up around the parchment paper and put into a zip-loc bag to freeze for later use. (The above method is adapted from KitchenMage's pizza dough on A Year In Bread. The recipe is my own, after adapting several to suit my tastes)

Now if HP reads this, he'll laugh, because I rarely plan this far in advance for dinner, so I'll give you a quick run-down.

All the ingredients & amounts are the same, the changes are in the method:
  • The water should be warm. (Not hot, but about what you would feed a baby)
  • Add the yeast to the warm water
  • After mixing, don't rest, add the oil & salt
  • After kneading, put the dough in an oiled bowl in warm (about 70-75) place with slightly damp towel over it. Let rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Roll out as above.
This method is not quite as relaxing, but gets the job done when you want your pizza for dinner that night!

As for cooking on the grill, this is the way to do it. (And yes, we had a warm day this week, so my pizza was cooked on the grill!)
Preheat grill to very hot, then turn down to low.
Scrape & oil grate as needed
Put the naked dough on the grill, cover and let sit for a couple minutes until bottom is lightly toasted.
Flip dough, put toppings on, cover and cook for about 10 minutes (or less depending on your grill)
If your dough is not frozen and is well formed, you can also create your pizza with your toppings and put it on the hot grill. (I still recommend chilling the dough so it doesn't stick) If you do that, be sure to spread cornmeal on your pizza peel (or cookie sheet if you don't have a peel) and put onto the grill with a quick jerking motion.

With all the the pizzas, don't go too heavy with the sauce. Just trust me on that. Besides, with crust this good, who needs to?

Our favorite toppings:
Goat Cheese & Parmesan Alfredo with shrimp and caramelized onions (we've also been known to add roasted red peppers to this)
Fresh Mozzarella with garden tomatoes and olive oil (no sauce). Add fresh basil just prior to serving (so it doesn't over cook) it may work better if blanched, but I'm not organized enough to think about that until its too late
Mixed "Mexican cheese" with leftover beer-can chicken, red onions & a swirl or two of Sweet Baby Ray's.

So what will you put on your pizza?


Monday, December 29, 2008

A very non-traditional winter holiday to you!

We did not get into the traditional Christmas at our house this year. The Kids left a few days before for Florida with mom & grandma and we were running behind in everything. We were lucky enough to go to my sister's so we could spend Christmas eve & Christmas day with her family and my dad & his wife. Christmas is much more fun when you have small children who still get caught up in the excitement of it!
Our cork Christmas tree was the only tree that went up in our house. It seemed wasteful to spend money on a tree just for the sake of having a tree, but I did take the time get my annual ornament. I have gotten an ornament every year since my husband & I were engaged and plan to continue this regardless of the tree situation. This year, I went a step farther & made an ornament. One of the benefits of working at an arts center is that you get to experience art every day and even try something new if the mood strikes. This year, I decided to try blowing a hot glass ornament. I had lots of help (Thanks Ben!) but this is what I made

If ya have a chance to do this, I totally recommend it. I had a blast & have a great ornament!

Since the kids were on their way to warmer climes, and we were going over the river & through the woods, we didn't want to do a traditional Christmas dinner. We chose instead an warming winter meal from my latest library book.
In this case, the "Balti" is they style of cooking, Indian-by-way-of England, and the way it is cooked, in that large wok-like pan. We chose most of our menu from this book.

  • Balti Butter Chicken
  • Balti Baby Vegetables
  • Naan
  • Tandoori Style Salmon from my own collection of recipes
Do ya wanna see?

The Butter Chicken was unbelievable (ok, they had me at "butter") It was marinaded in a thick yogurt and spice mixture for about 8 hours then cooked on the stove top in a traditional wok with, you guessed it, butter (I couldn't find a Balti at the local kitchen shop). In looking at other recipes on the world wide web, I think I could have done a version cooking directly in the clay dish and been equally as traditional. This was a flavorful, but mellow chicken dish that was super easy and will hit the table again soon!

I loved the tenderness and bright flavor of the baby vegetables (I used new potatoes, baby zucchini, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and chick peas) This was tasty, the sauce was a little over-zippy, but mellowed to a nice level on the leftovers (usually it goes the other way, hmmm). Not sure I would do this again unless I can find cheaper baby vegetables. It seems that you pay for the cute factor. Maybe in spring!

The naan was a decent bread, (seen here pre-oven) it didn't look or taste like naan to me. That is something that I will work on for the next time, though I think I need to forgo the oven in favor of the grill for this.

Oops, no picture of the salmon. It was very tasty and went quickly though. We had a blast doing a non-traditional dinner and will likely hit this cookbook a couple more meals before the due date! I can't wait.

So, what kind of food did you eat over the holidays? Any new favorites?


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a very

Merry Christmas


Monday, December 22, 2008

As promised

A post about Kringla!

Now, if you followed the link below, you'll realize that my Kringla doesn't look anything like the traditional Norwegian Kringla. It does, however, somewhat resemble the Kringla that Grandma K. brings the kids when she visits. Mine is not as even or as pretty, but ohhhhh does it taste good!
Due to the time & mess involved in making it, Kringla is a "special occasion" cookie. It comes out for Christmas, maybe Easter. It is not a spur-of-the-moment, lets-bake-coookies cookie, it is a 2 day process. It is also something that I like to keep special, and when you take a bite of these, you know they are special.

Kiki's Kringla, adapted from MBPG on
Day one.
Mix two cups sour cream & two cups heavy cream in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Put in the fridge until tomorrow. Have a glass of wine & contemplate cleaning some counter space in order to actually make these.

Day two.
Take sour cream mix out of the fridge. Let it come to room temperature. (At my house, that isn't much different than fridge temp, but lets pretend it is!) Preheat the oven to 475. (Yes, that is 475, very hot) Then, line up your baking sheets. You'll need several.

Mix 2 teaspoos baking soda & 2 teaspoons real, pure vanilla extract into the cream mixture. It marbles up very pretty; see: Next, in a very large bowl beat 1/4 cup softened butter with 2 2/3 cups sugar and 2 egg yolks. Add the new improved cream mixture to the butter mixture & beat some more.
In another bowl, sift together 6 cups of flour & 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Then gently dump in your flour mixture mixing as you go until fully incorporated.

Now, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, make sure your apron is tied & hair out of your face. Curse at yourself that you drank wine instead of cleaning counter space. Clean some counter space and find a good workspace. On a floured surface, with floured hands, grab a hunk of (very sticky) dough about the size of those yummy Ferrero Rocher balls, (you know the ones with a crispy coating over a hazelnut with chocolate-hazelnut filling) roll your ball of dough out to a coil and then attempt to shape into an infinity symblol or a figure 8 depending on which way is up. This is easier said than done, but this dough fluffs up enough that the detail is lost. (The kringla my mother-in-law brings from Iowa is always beautiful, but not as puffy as mine. I'm not sure if that is good or bad, but I like these so I'm not going to mess with it) put your infinity, figure 8, letter B, ... shaped dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat process with freshly floured hands. The dough is very sticky, so if the phone rings, let the machine get it. In between kringla you can try to get some of the dough off, but you may look like a dog trying to get peanut butter off the roof of its mouth. Give the kringla enough space to puff out like a pomeranian and put into the oven. Bake for about 4 minutes, then turn cookie sheet. Bake for another 4 minutes or so until the tops have just a hint of brown.

Usually, I put HP in charge of the oven & baking portion while I am busy attempting to make my infinity signs. (Really, the dough sticks to your fingers and you get some odd shapes).

These taste best fresh out of the oven, with a small pat of butter on top. They melt in your mouth! They are also good if you microwave it for about 10 seconds & put butter on it. And they are also good just on their own or with a cup of hot cocoa, or coffee...


Saturday, December 20, 2008


Well the first half of this post is a big rerun. But it is from sometime in '07, so hopefully you won't remember it.
I'm doing a rerun, because on Thanksgiving I got a comment on the post from Unni E. in Norway. I don't know if she continues to read, but if you do, Thanks for coming across the pond & I love your name!

So the original post was on Kringla, a Norwegian cake-like cookie. Unni also sent me a link to what real Norwegian Kringla looks like
Well gosh, that doesn't look anything like mine! And when I used google translate to translate the page, it told me to "melt the butter and milk in hell" and also told me to "Paint with whisk together eggs and steak." I'm not sure I know how to do that. So, today you get the rerun. Tomorrow, or the next day, you get my Kringla in a post. For now enjoy, and remember, if you are melting your butter in hell, "Let the mixture will be lukewarm, and the hell of ferment. Rør til gjæren er oppløst."

I'll have to clean & clear every spare inch if I'm going to follow through with my plans to make Kringla for The Girl as an Easter treat. Kringla is a Norwegian soft cookie (normally in the shape of an infinity sign, but this was the pic I found), and she loves it. Since she gave up sweets for Lent, I thought it would be a nice reward, as it is a very rare treat. I've only made it 2 times, though her grandmother will occasionally send it (store bought as it is a major project to make & grandma has enough going on).
A bit of history: HP's family is partially of Norwegian origin (you can't tell by looking at him though), when they emigrated to the US, his great grandfather (a former member of King Olaf's Royal Ski Patrol. I swear, I can't make this stuff up) changed the family name. Seems he thought Sveergard was too hard to spell. (In fact, I'm willing to bet I spelled it wrong) When he changed his last name, he picked something shorter, and translates roughly to "By the Fjord." Sadly, my husband didn't pay much attention to genealogy, he thought his name meant "Buy the Ford" and now we have a "Crapmobile" Contour that has started once in the past 3 months. (ok, I did make up the "buy the Ford" part, but the rest is true, including the dead crapmobile)
Kringla is labor intensive as well as space intensive. Last time I made it, I destroyed the cheap little hand blender that I used. The kids, worried that that could end my Kringla making career, got me a lovely little kitchen-aid hand blender for Christmas. Tragedy averted!

So, I feel that the kitchen-aid is up to the task, the real question is am I?

I'm not sure what this image is, but it came up when I was trying to do an image search for Kringla, does it mean No Kringla?


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Honest Injun

I was tagged for an "Honest to God" meme by Sarah Louise, so here I go. 10 points of honesty.

  1. I didn't like the title "Honest to God." I don't really like that phrase.
  2. I ate the last brownie & it was good
  3. I also ate the last cheese stick. I didn't realize it was the last one.
  4. I wish I had that cheesestick now.
  5. I try to be helpful, but really sometimes I'm a pain.
  6. I have too much time on my hands & not enough gumption to use it wisely.
  7. If I know that, I haven't figured out why I'm not giving myself a kick in the pants to get get off my pants.
  8. The pants I'm wearing are too big. Unfortunately it's not because I've lost weight. They were "hand-me-downs" that were just a little big to begin with
  9. I think I'm a very honest person. Unless I think honesty is going to hurt your feelings, then I'll sugar coat sometimes. Sometimes I do that when I shouldn't & sometimes I don't do that when I should.
  10. I'm not good at "tagging" people, so I'm not going to. I'll leave it to you "injuns" to be honest.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

I bet you thought I was kidding...

when I mentioned the stuffing, didn't you?

Really, what do you do with a heap of left over stuffing? We had 2 kinds at Thanksgiving & this was the "savory" it was cooked in pan, not the bird. It was good stuffing with cornbread & sausage along with a little apple & onion & celery, but really; I only eat stuffing at Thanksgiving. So, I was perplexed, but I am also pretty frugal, so I didn't throw it away immediately.

And then one day last week a friend said, "Hey, J doesn't have a budget for food at his opening. We thought we would all pitch in and make something. Are you in?"

Of course I was!

Then it dawned on me, that my grocery money hadn't quite recovered from Thanksgiving. But I wanted to make something tasty. So, of course, I went through the pantry & fridge. What did I find? A large container of stuffing.

So, of course I did what I always do when in doubt, add cheese
To my cornbread & sausage stuffing, I added about 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend ( CHEDDAR, MONTEREY JACK, COLBY AND MOZZARELLA CHEESES-- not the stuff with the icky spices & salt & MSG) and some (4 oz?) GOAT CHEESE and about a 1/4 cup grated pecorino. I mixed that in with 3 beaten eggs and rolled them into balls.

I put them in a hot oven (I believe it was 375) for about 35 minutes. When I pulled out these little puffs? I had almost 4 dozen puffs of yumminess

(see the cheese? that makes it for me!) They were snapped up pretty quickly, these little stuffing wonders, and the taste was a hit. One person even told me I should definitely try the "crab puffs" So the stuffing was a hit. And I was relieved!

I've already realized that the stuffing would also be perfect to put into mushrooms as another appetizer. Because I hate wasted food--especially when it's good food!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

You'll Laugh, You'll Cry, it's better than # 11

From the fabulous fellows over at, I had a good laugh this morning.

17 Fabulous Prequels To Broadway Musicals

by Lydon, Toon, Norman, & Rutledge Wednesday December 3, 2008 3:20 PM

1. Kate, We Haven’t Been Introduced
2. Bar Mitzvah of La Mancha
3. Sand And Primer Your Wagon
4. A Chorus Dot
5. Fiddler Borrows A Ladder
6. Little Business Plan of Horrors
7. A Star's Mom Allows A Handsome Stranger To Buy Her A Drink
8. Indian Territory!
9. The Guy Who Is A Little Intense But Keeps To Himself And Isn’t Really Bothering Anyone Of The Opera
10. Annie There’s A Waiting Period
11. Kittens
12. Brand New Acquaintance Joey
13. Handshake Of The Spider Woman
14. Jesus Christ Waiter
15. Starlight Right-of-Way Allocation And Environmental Impact Study
16. Vocal Warm-ups On A Cloudy Day
17. West Side Backstory

Can you guess them all? I had trouble with # 7, I have to admit it went right over my head at first.

Can't get one? Need to know? Go to their discussion page, it has a cheat sheet. While you are there, check out what they have for sale. Don't like it? It will change at midnight. (I figure if I'm stealing their blog post, I should give them a plug)


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So what have you done with your leftovers?

I have not gone to the grocery store or farmers market since before Thanksgiving. At that time, I was primarily shopping for, well, Thanksgiving. We ate left overs as they were left. The turkey did not go into any tettrazinni, spring rolls, enchiladas or casserole. (In all truth, with 8 of us, all above the age of 16, there wasn't much in the turkey bin). The mashed potatoes, of course, went first, and then the leek tart, and bit by bit other items. There are still a couple bites of veggies, a little taste of cranberry & plenty of stuffing. The sweet potatoes, which I found very tasty, were made to serve 12, but untouched the under 20-crowd (as well as some of the over 20 crowd) and had sufficient amount to be served with another meal, so into the freezer they went. And now that you have the status of my leftovers, we'll continue on.

Last night's dinner was a definite departure from the holiday meal. I made a big pot of black beans & rice. I sautéed some onions & shallots in pot, added some hot & some sweet turkey sausages (I'm a turkey sausage girl, not into the fatty pork stuff) and sautéed some more. I added that to my big pot of pre-soaked beans along with a little stock, and some cumin & some ancho powder & the regular salt & pepper thing. After about an hour, I went down to taste. It was pretty good, but something was missing. It had the spice end right, but needed just a touch of sweet. So, into the fridge I went. And into the pot went the last bit of my caramelized onion gravy. It was sweetened with wine while cooking, and had the sweet of the onions. It also served to slightly thicken the broth in the beans and create more of a stew than a soup. The result was a richer flavor in the beans, and one less container in the fridge!

Did you know that in many Spanish & Latin American cultures, black beans & rice were called Moros y Cristianos or Christians & Moors, with the beans representing the dark-skinned Moors and the white rice representing the lighter-skinned Christians. I believe my Uncle told me that, and now you know too!

Now, if I could only figure out what to do with the stuffing (another item I made too much of!) Any one up for dumplings?


  © Blogger template Blogger Theme II by 2008

Back to TOP