Sunday, July 31, 2011

Como se dice

Being European, I haven't been exposed to Mexican cuisine until I arrived in the US and had my very first burrito at the Minnesota State Fair. This southern food did not spark my interest until college, though, when I came across every barbecue gathering's staple - chips, salsa and guacamole. Although most people buy the salsa and guac from their grocery store, there is so much more flavor when you just make it yourself. And it's so easy!
Traditionally salsa that we eat at gatherings should be called pico de gallo, as salsa just means "sauce", whereas pico de gallo implies that it is a sauce made of fresh ingredients (not cooked). Chop up a few tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Add chopped hot peppers - I used banana pepper. Salt and black pepper and voila - take out those tortilla chips from the pantry and start munching!
Traditional Mexican guacamole is made of mashed up avocados, chopped tomato and onion, lime juice and salt and pepper. You don't need a recipe, just make it the way it feels right to you.
And trust me, it is way better than the store bough version. Just look at how happy Sam looks.

The bread

I often buy the Tuscan bread from Target, as I love my carbs. But making your own bread is not very hard. It may be a little time consuming, but the majority of time required is spent on letting it rise, when you can also do other things. That's why I often will pull out this old recipe that a friend's mom gave me and make my own and healthy batch of goodness. I can just visualize the fresh and steamy piece of bread with butter on it... Now, let's get to work! You will need:
1/2 c hot water plus 2 T active dry yeast
2 1/4 c hot water
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c honey
2 Tablespoons molases
1 Tablespoon salt
7 1/2 whole wheat flour and 2 Tablespoons gluten

Combine water and yeast in a bowl, cover, set on top of another bowl with hot water in it, this will keep it warm. Give it a few minutes to bubble. In the meantime, combine the wet ingredients together. Add 2 c flour and mix. Add the bubbly yeast. Then add 4 c of flour and 2 T gluten ( don't add gluten if you're using bread flour) and mix. Keep adding flour in 1/2 c increments until you reach 7 or 7 1/2 c , the dough will be pretty sticky! Cover the bowl and let rise for 20-30 min, in the winter you can set it on top of a preheating over, in the summer I just set it outside. After the time lapsed you will see the dough seemingly larger, take it out of the bowl and knead it again on a floured surface, cut in half and place in 2 bread pans. They will seem flat:
...but after covering them in a plastic wrap and setting them in a warm place to rise for 20-30 min they will look just like the ones on the photo below.
Bake the raised dough at 350 for 36 min!
Warning: Please try not to eat it right away when out of the oven. It's still hot. Restrain yourself until it cools for few minutes and then you can devour it...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The cowboy way

It may be hot outside but my craving for pizza never leaves me, only now, it is joined by BBQ and grilling cravings. What's a girl to do? Perhaps employ her husband to cook a BBQ and smoked chicken pizza on the grill, that's what!

Take any raw pizza dough (we used the Betty Crocker that you mix with water) and put it on the grill. I think it's easier to divide the dough in half, or even in four, as one large pie may be a little too difficult to handle when turning sides. Make sure to check frequently to prevent burns! Turn to brown the other side too. Now turn down the grill temperature, as to not burn the crust further when you try to melt the toppings. Apply BBQ instead of marinara or olive oil, since not only delivers more flavor, but also is lighter is calories for those who like to stay in shape!Toppings may include smoked chicken, mozarella and Asiago cheese and home grown banana peppers for some heat! Some websites recommend broiling the pizza with raw toppings in the oven for a nice brown top. As you may see, we opted for the grill all the way, which did leave the toppings a little pale, but they were melted just enough!