Monday, August 30, 2010

Deep Dish Pizza (Test: Does It Pass The Breakfast Challenge? Answer: Yes!)

Cold pizza for breakfast is one of seven wonders of the world in my opinion.

I'll take a good, homemade pizza over a frozen box of cardboard any day. I think the last time I had a frozen pizza was over five years ago. I am in constant search for THE pizza dough like I search for THE chocolate chip cookie recipe. A deep dish pizza dough has to have crunch on the outside, chewy on the inside and has a bit of a "sour" bite in your mouth after. Thin or thick crust--the be all, end all to fine pizza is the crust.
 
Here's what doesn't work for pizza dough for me: soft dough after baking, drooping crust allowing all the hard work of "dressing" the pizza up fall into a clump on the center of a plate. Nothing is worse than staring at a naked pizza dough! Toppings are important, but I'm pretty traditional in my wants as far as that goes--sausage, onion, pepper, red sauce. What really takes a good pizza to great is how much raving goes on not the evening it is served hot from the oven--but the next day as breakfast!
 
Having been raised just outside of Chicago, I was smitten with the "deep dish" variety of pizza from an early age. If you have a food memory this profound, your quest for perfection will lead you down many paths in replication attempts--at least that's true for me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Buckle (Weekend Full of "Framily", Cookbooks, Sewing, Meeting Sophie, Etc.)

I am a pushover when it comes to anything remotely in the "coffee cake, crumb cake, buckle, tea cake" category. Just say cinnamon crumbles and I fall in love instantly. If you've got a few minutes to bake today, make this "raspberry chocolate chip buckle/cobbler", now! This recipe didn't start out as a raspberry chocolate chip kind--I really wanted a blueberry buckle. With no blueberries in the house, I settled for raspberries--then the chocolate chips make an appearance, too. To me, this version is possibly better than the blueberry version. The jury is out on that and I'll let you know when I make the other. I'd say this cake is in the same camp as the coffee cake--but would be pulling double duty in this house as I wanted something with just a hint of chocolate, some fruit (for sure) and that oh-so-delightful cinnamon crumb topping. (My favorite part, personally.) With the summer winding down, it makes perfect sense to dive into the last vestiges of ripe fruit in the seemingly little time we have left. Hard to believe our summer fling will be over soon--not soon enough for me, thank you very much. This treat will take you through the week, and even steps in nicely as dessert duty if you warm it slightly and top it off with some vegan vanilla ice cream. My buckle adaptation is from one of the best cookbooks ever published: The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I turned their Blueberry Buckle into this winner, making the following changes--vegan unsalted margerine sticks, Ener-G Egg Replacer for eggs, a bit of nutmeg in the crumble--plus I added a bit of almond extract in the batter, too. I used frozen raspberries--two cups, and 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips--folding in at the end of the mixing of the batter because to "overmix" this sort of cake treat would be bad karma.  
Right after we dug in. This is truly a sublime any-time-of-year treat.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vegan Blackberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (Me And Ice Cream Go Way Back)

Vegan Thyme: Vegan Blackberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (Me And Ice Cream Go Way Back)
Our house requires a pint of ice cream--minimally--for proper functioning. If there is no cake, there is ice cream. If there are no cookies, there is ice cream. I have always had a special relationship with ice cream. Recently hubby and I had been on a tear with our ice cream needs. Like needing it every. single. night. This hateful summer weather had taken its toll on us both. It's much nicer today--like in the upper eighties. . . I know, not resort weather yet, but because the entire Midwest has been on the brink of losing it--we'll take it--no complaints from this girl.

My first job EVER was working for Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop. The thirty-one flavor center of the universe was my life when I was a wee fifteen years old. I got hired by sheer luck and happenstance. My mom refused to let me take myself down the road to the Sonic Drive-In for my first job as one of my best friends had done. No daughter of hers was sporting a short skirt, roller skates and delivering food at a drive-up window joint. Blah. Blah. Blah. She had a total hissy fit over the very thought. (To this day, I am still sort of steamed about it because my friend that got a job there totally loved it and I was always and forever jealous of the fact that she got to roller skate at work while I got tennis elbow scooping hard, VERY hard ice cream!) So, when I told Mommy Dearest I had an option at BR--wearing, NOT a skirt and roller skates, but rather a cute pink baseball cap and polyseter pink and striped ice-creamy-colored top with brown polyester pants--life got much better. I got hired to scoop ice cream. I was paid $2.50 an hour. Did I just "date" myself there? So to say that I have a "special relationship" with ice cream, well, you can see, I really do. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Savory Wheat & Cornmeal Flatbread or "Tikkar" (Where Dinner Became The Flatbread)

Sometimes dinner dictates the bread. Pasta: Ciabatta. Sandwich: Sourdough. But sometimes the bread dictates the dinner--enter flatbread love. I was covered in flour, smelling of garlic, ginger and onions, rolling pin working--it was pure kitchen heaven. I could have made a meal of this bread on its own. Easily. But then I got busy making an entree decision, finally settling on a red and brown lentil curried stew with a cucumber salad to accompany. (We all know that the cucumber was not a problem because I have the mutant cucumber plant in my garden--ten paces out the back door with scissors in hand and salad was done!).
You simply must try this. It's a fast meal. . .  sort of. (I will admit to using my pressure cooker to crank out the lentil stew in fifteen minutes in what might have taken over forty-five minutes sans the pressure cooker.) It bears repeating: my pressure cooker rocks.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vegan Mississippi Mud Cake (Sing "Me and Bobby McGee", Take Two Aspirin, Call Me in The Morning)

Vegan Mississippi Mud Cake {Vegan Thyme}

The Mississippi Mud Cake is hands down one of my all time favorite cakes. I know. . . I have many cakes I LOVE--this one is truly on top of the list. I've been a tad depressed lately. Who isn't?  This heat. This long summer. Will it ever end? Will fall EVER get here? This cake may not be what a doctor would order for the blues, but it's what has lifted my spirits quite nicely. It's chocolate for crying out loud--it works, what can I say?

There's probably as many versions of this classic southern chocolate cake as there are bottles of blonde hair dye (trust me, I would know). If you guessed this cake may have gotten its name from the muddy waters of the mighty Mississippi River, you'd be correct. And the river right now is very muddy, especially in this heat we're having. God bless the cat fish living in it.

So this cake is just now having its debut on Vegan Thyme--a blogger in love with all things chocolate. . . all things cake? It's the heat. I've been miserable I told you. However, I'd been without cake long enough. Let's turn on some music, and turn ON the oven. One hundred degrees or not--it was time for cake. Plus, it was the vegan marshmallow. I was stumped. And for me to turn out a "I-swear-to-Pete-this-cake-is-good" southern gem like this, I had better have my marshmallow issues in order or this cake attempt would be all for not.
Some say the Mud Pie is a close relative of the Mississippi Mud Cake. I say, I don't think so. I've never craved a pie like I crave a cake and I don't know any true cake lover who would take a pie over a cake when the mood strikes. I just say someone down the history chain was in a pinch to create something chocolate, yummy and gooey and solved it with a roll of pastry dough and pudding. Don't get me wrong, I've never met a pie I didn't love. But if the two were placed in front of me--I'd jump for cake every time and would not find any Mud Pie tasting remotely like this cake. This above shot of the cake was taken right after I gave it my five-finger method of frosting with the ganache. Seriously. I used my entire hand for this! I think I saw it done once on Baking with Julia or was it America's Test Kitchen? Either way--one of the baking women I was watching took their hand and slathered it in ganache, using the fingers for drizzling said ganache over said confection. It was brilliant! That image has forever stayed with me and I doubt I will ever try to drizzle anything with a spoon again. (The hands are a baker's best tools.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Say Pistou, You Say Pesto Soup (The Cookbook Gods Were Looking Out for Me)

My once-spindly, little squatty basil plants are now goliath, aroma-filled b-u-s-h-e-s! Sitting atop my soup here is a dollop of my garden fresh "pistou". It IS what makes this soup so special. You could quite literally take nearly any favorite fresh veggie summer soup recipe and add this pistou to it and you will have something quite incredible. My basil plants were begging to be shorn of their most edible leaves. And I have to say, I have done literally "nothing" to them. Almost been neglectful of them given that I am so disgusted with the rest of my hidden valley veggie patch. Whatever it is I am not doing, I will continue to not do so as to enjoy the harvest of my most favorite herb of all time for these last few months of it's too short life. Into the soup my basil must go! A pistou was called for. Had I ever made a pistou before? No. . . well, yes. I had made a pesto. Which for all of those as clueless as I was, pistou is the French version of pesto--it's that simple. (I wish I had more interest in exploring French cooking, but beyond catching Julia and Jaques's television escapades on PBS, I have zero interest. Does this make me a culinary lackey?) I'm Almost Fifty, do you think I care?
The basil here is from one plant! One! I have six of these guys scattered throughout my yard. I freeze my basil, too. There is nothing more enticing than pulling a bag of green crinkly basil leaves from the deep freeze in the dead of winter and crushing it over a bowl of pasta or using it in a layered lasagna. Nothing.

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