Archive for the Category ◊ Pizza and Tarts ◊

11 Sep 2013 Caprese Garlic Bread (with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil)

caprese bread

It’s just garlic bread, folks, but it’s garlic bread with an upgrade! After running across this recipe at Two Peas and their Pod,  I decided I needed to make it! I quickly sent texts to a few friends and invited them to come over for a light supper and four replied “YES”!  I served this bread, a platter of cold shrimp, some sliced melon, iced tea and lemon meringue pie. It’s  great having friends who are good with spur-of-the-moment things 🙂

The bread was very good!  The Balsamic Reduction highlighted the simple tomato, cheese, and basil topping.  I made a few changes to the original recipe:  I used my own garlic bread base, I adjusted the cooking time for the balsamic reduction and I baked the tomatoes on the bread instead of laying them on after cooking.  BTW, do not skip the balsamic reduction, it’s fabulous!

I hope you have some backyard (or farmer’s market)  tomatoes on hand, because store bought tomatoes just aren’t invited to this party! And the photo above shows a bit too much cheese.  I bought fresh mozzarella from Costco and it came pre-sliced, so I just went with it.  Turns out I used double the cheese!  Oooops!  No one complained though 🙂  The recipe below has the correct amount of cheese listed but if you want to up it a bit, that’s up to you. One other piece of advice, the tomatoes shrink when baked, so pile them on the bread.  I think I could have added another slice of tomato to each row!

Caprese Garlic Bread

AKA: Garlic Bread with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, horizontally cut in half (french bread would work, too.  The original recipe called for ciabatta, but I am in the SF Bay Area and sourdough rules around here!)
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus and extra tablespoon or so for garnish)
  • 3 Tablespoons dried onion, if you have it
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  1. While you are getting all the ingredients together and doing the prep work, make the balsamic reduction. Place 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about half. How do you know when the vinegar has been reduced by half? Keep the measuring jug near the pan.  Every once in awhile pour the hot vinegar into the measuring cup.  If it’s not at 1/4 cup yet, pour it back in the pan and continue boiling. Keep doing this until the vinegar has been reduced to 1/4 cup. This will take about 10-15  minutes. Set the reduction aside to cool.  You won’t  need to use it until just before serving.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, dried onion, basil, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  
  4. Cut the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Place both sides of the loaf on a large baking sheet with the cut side up. Spread the garlic butter mixture over both sides of the cut bread.  Spread to all the corners and completely to the outer edge of the bread.
  5. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the bread, making sure the cheese covers the bread completely.
  6. Top the cheese with the sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper, to taste. If desired, sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese over the tomaotes.
  7. Bake the bread at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  8. Remove the bread from oven.  Sprinkle fresh basil over the top of the bread and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
  9. Cut into slices and serve.

That’s all there is too it!  Enjoy the last of your summer tomatoes!  They are special, aren’t they? And thanks for dropping by today!

19 Jul 2011 Corn Dogs

I am sooooo bad.  I KNOW I shouldn’t cook like this.  I know it. I know it. I know it.  But I did.  And my little experiment turned out wonderfully well.  Who knew homemade corn dogs were so easy to make?   I guess there is no need to go to the fair now, or to make that once every other year stop at the Hot Dog On A Stick outlet in the mall.

I made mini corn dogs, so that counts for something, right?  I cut each bun length hot dog into 3 pieces, speared each piece with a good quality toothpick, rolled it around in the cornbread batter, and then placed it in the <gasp> hot fat to <gasp, gasp> deep fry.

Bad girl, BAD girl.

Delicious outcome though.

We–my son, my daughter, my grandson, and my houseguest–ate them standing at the stove, putting the mustard and ketchup on the paper towel I was draining the corn dogs on.Dip, bite, mmmm, dip, bite, mmmmm, dip, bite, mmmmmm…

Tes At Home led me astray. Her Tastespotting picture showed up in my RSS feed right at lunch time. I followed her directions exactly.  The only thing I have added in is a suggested temperature for the hot oil (I know, I know, it’s a sin that I know such things), and I did increase the salt a bit <gasp>, and I rewrote the directions just a bit, just to make them sound more like me…, BUT! The recipe is ALL Tes At Home 🙂

Mini Corn Dog

  • 6-8 hot dogs, your choice…all beef, turkey, Kosher, vegan, super premium, ultra bargain discount, regular length or bun length, it doesn’t matter…, whatever you prefer or have on hand
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • additional flour for coating the hot dogs (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • Oil for deep frying
  1. Cook the hot dogs in boiling water for few minutes.  (I know they are already precooked, but do it anyway so they can get all that plumping business out of the way.) Remove cooked hot dogs from the water, drain,  and set aside.
  2. Combine corn meal, flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk egg and sugar until sugar is dissolved,  then stir in milk.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir well.  Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in the deep fryer over the medium heat.
  6. If desired, cut hot dogs into halves or thirds. Spear each piece with a good quality toothpick.
  7. Roll  hot dog pieces in flour and then dip into the corn bread batter, coating well.  (The cornbread batter coats surprisingly well.  No worries here!)
  8. When the oil reaches 365 degrees, place the cornbread covered, toothpick skewered, hot dog into the hot oil. (I have a small pan for deep frying, so I could only cook two mini dogs at a time.)
  9. Deep fry until golden brown. Serve hot, with ketchup and mustard for dipping, of course.

Note: I had enough batter for six bun sized hot dogs cut into thirds, 18 mini hot dogs–and I put the batter on pretty thickly (the corn bread batter is my favorite part).

Aren’t you glad you stopped by my kitchen today?  Just what you needed to know…, how to coat a hot dog in a corn bread batter and deep fry it!  Deeeeeelicious!!!  Serve with a green salad and a glass of orange juice.  My daughter sees no reason why these can’t be frozen and then reheated in the oven as needed.  I don’t either.  Costco sells them twenty four to a box just that way!

Now for all my Facebook, “Polly, Julie and Julia” friends.  YES,  to make matters WORSE I then cut some Reese’s Peanut Butter cups in half , wrapped each half in that roll out crescent roll stuff, baked at 375 for 10 minutes, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and ate.  Ummm, no.  That refrigerated crescent roll stuff is bad news.  The rolls tasted and smelled like chemicals. That being said, of the eight I made guess how many are left?  ZERO.

Now, aren’t you glad to know you can make killer corn dogs at home any time you want?!  I’ll try to post something a little more sane tomorrow….

22 Oct 2010 Breakfast Biscuits

These homemade breakfast biscuits are bigger, better, prettier and tastier than anything you’ll find at a fast food place or diner, and probably have a lot less fat. How can you resist these?  Don’t be scared.  They go together pretty quickly, and the payoff is enormous. Make customized versions, and you’ll fast become a legend in your own kitchen!

Start with this  recipe as a guide, then customize, customize, customize. Use whatever meat you have on hand, with bacon, sausage and ham being perennial breakfast favorites (and seem to make most people swoon).  The Breakfast Biscuit pictured above has no meat, only onions, peppers, and tomatoes. I’ve made the Breakfast Biscuits exactly like the ones below,as well as sausage and olive breakfast biscuits,  Honey Baked Ham breakfast biscuits, and the veggie biscuits above.  I want to incorporate asparagus and mushrooms in the next ones. Note, most veggies will need to be precooked (leftover from dinner?), but the tomatoes can be fresh picked.  Now, I am not endorsing this, but one of my friends told me she made these with refrigerated biscuit dough and they worked out very well…

This recipe makes 6 breakfast biscuits, and they are big. If you have a chance to get medium eggs, do so, I found the large eggs were just a tad too large, some of the whites spilled out of the biscuits, but no biggie.

Breakfast Biscuits

For the topping:

3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips (or substitute any cooked veggie, or none at all)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely diced cooked ham (or sausage, or bacon…salmon?)

For the biscuit dough:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into bits (I grate frozen, or very cold, butter into the flour)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 cups grated Münster, Monterey Jack, or Cheddar/Jack mix or Mozzarella mix (or whatever you have on hand, use it all up!)
6 eggs (medium or small work best)

In a large skillet cook the bell peppers (or other veggie) and the onion in the butter over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, stir in the ham, and remove the skillet from the heat. (This can be made 1 day in ahead, if needed.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the biscuit dough:

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it just forms a dough. Gather the dough into a ball, on a lightly floured surface knead it gently 6 times, and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an approx. 7-inch round, form a 1/2-inch-high rim on each round by turning in the edge of the dough and pinching it until the shell measures approx. 5 inches. This does not have to be perfect, but a high outer crust will help contain the egg. The rustic look is great! Transfer the rimmed rounds to 2 buttered large baking sheets.

Divide the cheese among the shells. Top with veggie/ham mixture. Now, make a well in the center by pushing the filling to the rim (this step is important!).

Original directions: Crack and drop an egg carefully into the well of each shell. Bake the bicuits in the middle of a preheated 425°F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the egg yolks are just set.

My directions: Following the original directions produced  hard-boiled eggs, which made the biscuits easy to eat (and pleasing to the kids because they were, most definitely, finger food–they turn out like small pizzas!) BUT, I like soft eggs, so I cook the biscuits without the eggs for ten minutes.  Then I carefully crack an egg into the center of the biscuit and continue cooking until the egg yolk is set, but still soft (usually 3-4 minutes more), and the white is completely cooked.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this morning. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

20 Oct 2010 Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

I’ve posted this recipe before, on my Polly, Julie, and Julia Facebook page.  I think this is one of my Top Ten Posted Recipes 🙂

When asked what his favorite kind of pie is, my son always answers, “meat” and then gets those raised eyebrow are-you-kidding-me looks from Americans not familiar with Great British cooking. Meat pies are one of the delicious cornerstones of British cookery. That being said, this is a very American recipe from Epicurious.com (but it stays true to the spirit of a great British meat pie). This meat pie uses boxed pastry crusts (although you could make your own), ground turkey, grated apple, grated onion, and sage. The pies can be eaten hot, warm or cold. Whole trays of unbaked pies can be frozen to be baked later. Baked pies can be frozen to be reheated in the oven, oven or microwave . Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies can be a quick snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner, they are good for game day parties, buffets, and picnics, and they are tasty all the time. My grandson giggled his way through his first Cupcake Tin Turkey Pie and that meant he liked it a lot!

I have two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies in the freezer. At my house, one never can tell when a gaggle or bevy of college students will stop by.

Try these! They are so much better in taste, nutrition, lack of preservatives, and cost-per-serving than Hot Pockets and other similar packaged food products. Don’t eat those nasty things! Try these instead! They’ll become a staple at your house, too.  BTW…, how much would two dozen Hot Pockets cost?  Waaaay more than two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies, that I am sure of.

I have made a lamb version of these pies, but I didn’t likethem nearly as much.  If you want to try Cupcake Tin Lamb Pies, change the herbs and spices to 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

¾ pound ground turkey
1 medium (or ½ large) onion, peeled and grated
¼ cup applesauce or ½ grated, peeled apple
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or ½ tsp dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried…or omit)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 boxes pre-rolled, refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)or a double batch of your own pie crust

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients but the dough and 1 tablespoon of the eggs; refrigerate mixture while you prepare the pastry. Unroll the dough and cut out twelve 4-inch circles with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass. Line the bottoms and sides of the tins with the 4-inch rounds. Remove the bowl of filling from the refrigerator and divide evenly among the pastry filled muffin cups. Press the 2-inch rounds on top, pinching the edges together to seal. Poke a hole in the center of each pie. Brush tops with the reserved egg. Bake until the tops are browned and puffed slightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Loosen pies with thin metal spatula, place into a paper or foil cupcake/muffin liner. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Eat with hands. Serve warm…although my kids eat them hot, cold, warm and at room temperature. Can be frozen before baking-when ready to bake just follow directions above but bake for 40-45 minutes. Makes 18 cupcake sized turkey pies. Can make mini-muffin size for an appetizer buffet (but the mini pies have too much crust, and not enough filing,  for my taste.)

If these become a frequent item in your home, you might want to dedicate one cupcake pan to them, because a few batches do mess up the pans. I have two older pans for meat pies, and three pans for cupcakes. The pans stack and store easily, and you can buy a cupcake pan on sale for $3.99 sometimes.  OK, so I might have a few too many cupcake pans…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you again, soon! (Pssssst…! Vegan version to be posted shortly.  Yes, it’s true, veganized Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies!)

10 Sep 2010 Crockpot Pizza Sauce (and yummy extras)

I’ve finally found something that the crockpot (slow cooker for those of you offended by the term “crockpot”) excels in.  Excels in!  This is not just a recipe that can be cooked in the crockpot. It’s a recipe that should be cooked in a crockpot.  Yes, a recipe that tastes best cooked in the crockpot!  I found this recipe in “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann (San Joseans!), on page 250.

I have made my fair share of pizza sauces and this is, by far, my favorite.  The flavor is so rich and consistent.  I’m in love!  What’s more, one batch of this recipe makes about 6 cups of pizza sauce.  Use one portion, freeze four! That’s my type of batch cooking.

Crockpot Pizza Sauce

2 12 oz. cans tomato paste
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed (to taste)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leafed parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan (or similar) cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Place everything but the cheese, salt and pepper in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for at least 10 hours and no longer than 14 hours.  If at all possible, stir the sauce every few hours.  If you are sleeping, don’t worry about it.

Unplug crockpot.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cheese.  Let cool to room temperature.

I use just over 1 cup of sauce in my pizza.  Depending on the size of your pizza pan and your personal preference regarding the quantity of  sauce you might more or less than I do.

Sauce will keep, refrigerated, for at least four days.  Freeze for longer storage.

My Favorite Cheese Blend for Pizza

Like I said, I have made my share of pizza over the years.  I am finally getting good at it!  Last night’s pizza was fresh veggie…, sliced tomatoes, zucchini and basil, from my garden, and sliced fresh mushrooms and green onions.

Two of my three kids would holler, “Where’s the meat?”, but they are not home so I get to choose everything!

Whatever pizza I make, I always use this cheese blend.  I no longer have the cookbook I got it from, nor do I remember the name of the book, which is unfortunate now that I am going public with this blend.

2 parts shredded mozzarrella
1 part shredded smoked gouda
1 part shredded Italian Fontina
1 part freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Enjoy your creations! OH, you need a recipe for pizza dough, too?  Here you go… I hope you have a bread machine 🙂

Pizza Dough (for the bread machine)

1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine.  Press “Quick Dough” or “Pizza Dough” cycle. Use immediately (as directed below), refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to three months.  Let frozen dough defrost overnight in refrigerator.  Let refrigerated dough rest for 20 minutes at room temperature before using.

Remove dough to a work surface sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Divide into 2 parts (for large pizzas).  Roll or press dough into a circle about the size of your pizza pan.

Use dough immediately to make a pizza, or let rise 30 minutes or so for a thicker crust pizza.

When you have it all assembled, bake in preheated HOT oven (500 degrees) for 12-15 minutes.

Have fun assembling the perfect pizza!  Thanks for stopping by my pizzeria today. See you tomorrow!  Remember how much I like feedback.  I’d love to read your comments about this, or your experience making pizza at home.

02 Sep 2010 Fresh Tomato Tart

Fresh Tomato Tart

It’s been a long, cool summer here in California.  I’ve enjoyed it, loved it actually, but I did begin to wonder if we’d EVER “suffer” from our usual abundance of garden grown tomatoes.  Finally, the end of August, beginning of September 2010, we have an abundance of tomatoes.  My neighbors and Facebook friends have been asking for recipes to use up their tomatoes.  I have two good ones.  The Fresh Tomato Lasagna that I posted earlier this week, and this Fresh Tomato Tart which was a staple at our house last summer.  This year I’ve made it once, this afternoon, to welcome my daughter home for a quick 18-hour visit. I used 6 of my dry-farmed garden tomatoes.  I had better make another one, like I said, we finally have an abundance of organic, garden grown, dry-farmed tomatoes.  (I dry-farm my tomatoes every year.  The tomatoes are smaller, but oh so sweet and flavorful.  To dry-farm your own tomatoes, as soon as the fruit begins to set, stop watering.  YEP. No water. At all. Ever.) BTW…, I made this once without the feta cheese (not something I always have on hand) and it wasn’t nearly as good. My older daughter has substituted goat cheese for the feta, and she likes that.  But I hate (no, I loathe) goat cheese, so that doesn’t work for me. The inspiration for this recipe was from a 2009 Cooking Light magazine.  I used the cheese mixture from one of their recipes (can’t, for the life of me, remember which recipe), but then I changed everything else to get this…

Fresh Tomato Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed 2 cups thinly sliced tomatoes (five or six medium tomatoes, discard the top and bottom slices) 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves 1 Tablespoon thinly sliced fresh oregano (or pinch of dried) salt, pepper 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 1/2 cup crumbled feta 1/4 cup grated Parmesan AND 1/4 cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano (OR, 1/2 cup of just one cheese) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat an unrimmed cookie sheet with cornmeal, oil or spray (I prefer to use the cornmeal). Unroll puff pastry, thin out a bit by rolling, then prick all over with a fork. Place in hot oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towel. Roll towels with tomatoes, and set aside for tomatoes to drain while you mix the cheeses, basil and oregano together in a bowl. Remove puffed pastry from oven. Sprinkle 2/3 of cheese/herb mixture over hot pastry. Place drained tomato slices on top of cheese. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sliced green onion, and remaining cheese/herb mixture. Return to oven and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Thanks for stopping by both my kitchen, and my garden, today.  It’s been a fun summer, but I am ready for fall.  If you make this, let me know how you like it!