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Sourdough Thin Crust Pizza Dough

A recent request by someone on one of my FB groups for a thin crust pizza recipe got me thinking.

I’ve made a delicious thin crust pizza using sourdough tortillas as a base but, was it possible to use the sourdough starter directly to get similar results?

I used the Genius Kitchen recipe, with some minor adjustments posted below, for my first attempt.

Underside of the pizza crust on the metal baking sheet (not preheated)

Sourdough Pizza Crust – makes enough dough for 2 12 inch pizzas

1 1/2 cups (365 gm) fresh sourdough starter*
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus another 3-4 tbsp more for brushing the crust with before pre-baking and before topping
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (154 gm) all purpose flour**, more as needed

* If possible, make sure your starter has been freshly fed, 2-4 times if possible, before using it, if you’re keeping it in the fridge, like I am.
** Start with one cup of the flour if your starter is on the thick side

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mix together one cup of flour and the salt. Add the sourdough starter and the EVOO and stir together until it forms a homogeneous mixture. Gradually stir in more flour, as needed until the mixture starts to gather into a ball. Transfer onto a very lightly floured work surface and knead until you get a pizza dough consistency.

Cover your ball of dough with the bowl you used to make it in and let rest for 30 minutes, so it will be easier to roll out. (It won’t rise much, if at all, but will get a bit softer.)
Roll the dough out into a circle using the minimum amount of flour needed to prevent sticking.

Brush with extra virgin olive oil and use the tines of a fork to dock (prick all over the dough) to prevent excess bubbling up of the crust during prebaking.

Bake the crust for 5-7 minutes, depending on your oven’s performance. (I decided to pull the crust out after 5 min.)

Remove the crust from the oven and brush on a bit more oil to prevent the toppings from soaking into the crust and making it soggy.

Add the desired toppings and bake the pizza until the crust browns on the top and underside, and the cheese melts, ~10 minutes.

REVIEW: The dough was very tasty. I fed my starter with a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour early on in rehydrating it from dry, so the texture was nice and chewy. The dough could have been rolled out a bit thinner but the amount of dough used (260 gm) was pretty much spot on. I didn’t get dark brown spots on the edge of the crust, like in a wood burning pizza oven, but it was crispy enough on the underside for my taste, even without a pizza stone or preheat the baking sheet, a cheap black pan that’s more than 30 yrs old.

The second half of the pizza dough was baked without prebaking. The result: The crust was NOT as crispy without prebaking. Perhaps because the toppings were fully cooked after 10 minutes so the total baking time was only 10 minutes compared with the 15 minutes total for the prebaked crust. And, even though it was expected that baking the pizza with the toppings on (without prebaking or docking) would prevent the formation of bubbles, that was not the case. Four large bubbles developed during the 10 minute baking period. They deflated somewhat once the pizza was removed but did not disappear completely.

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Boneless Pork Loin Roast

A simple recipe that will give you a moist and tender pork roast with minimal hands on time.

Pork Loin Roast with pan juices, quinoa, roast carrots and salad

Perfectly Moist Pork Loin Roast – serves 4-6

3 lb boneless pork loin roast
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of the oil, the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Stir together until you get a somewhat runny paste than can be brushed on the roast with a silicone brush. You may need to add some more oil.

Trim off as much of the fat as you wish from the pork. Cut slashes about 1/2 inch deep, and cross-hatches 1 inch apart into the pork. Brush the seasoning mixture on the bottom, ends, and top of the roast. Place in roasting pan fat side up.

Cook at 400 degrees for 10 min.

Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes per pound, or  until internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

NOTE: If you wish, you may add 1 inch cubes of potatoes and/or carrots to the roasting pan. Lightly sprinkle with some salt. The pork juices will further flavour the vegetables.

Remove the pork roast and put a piece of foil loosely on top. Let the meat rest for 10 min before slicing to serve.

A couple of half inch thick slices will be plenty per person. If the vegetables need more time to become tender, return the roasting pan to the oven.

Fasirt (Breaded Hungarian Hamburgers)

When I was growing up my mom would sometimes refer to something called fasirt. I don’t remember ever equating them with ‘regular’ hamburgers that she would make and bbq in the back yard, but there are many similarities between the two. I recently learned that there is a German/Austrian term, ‘faschiertes’, which refers to minced meat. Since we lived in Germany briefly before we came to Canada, it is possible that she conflated the two words. In any case, the term was vaguely familiar to me, but I didn’t know much more than the word itself.

Since joining a Hungarian food FB group, my memory has been jogged by references to this dish, among others, and I am discovering (or rediscovering) Hungarian cuisine. Note that I have yet to find a Romanian food FB group.

Today’s post shares one of the several versions of fasirt that I’ve run across. Pork is used exclusively in some recipes while a combination of pork and beef is used in others. I had one pound of lean ground beef and one pound of lean ground pork in my freezer. So that’s what I used. For a first effort, I was quite pleased with the results. I would recommend frying the patties just before serving, so you can enjoy the crispy outside and the moist, tender interior. Standing doesn’t affect the taste just the texture.

Fasirt Version # 1 – 1 lb 14 oz meat mixture, makes 15 2 oz patties

For the meat patties

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground pork
3/4 tsp salt (1/2 tsp per pound)
1 tbsp sauteed diced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 oz bread (pulsed in food processor) plus 4 tbsp milk

For coating
~1 cup dried unseasoned bread crumbs

In a small bowl, place the fresh bread crumbs and pour the milk over the top. Let the bread soak for about 15 min. Squeeze out any excess milk. (No excess milk found.)

Mix the patty ingredients together, divide into 2 oz portions, shape into balls and pat out into ~ 2 1/2 inch diameter patties. (NOTE: I didn’t over handle the meat mixture but the patties still rounded up a bit more than I wanted. You may want to pat the meat out to a 3 4 inch diameter.)

 

Lightly coat patties with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess crumbs.

 

In a large cast iron frying pan, heat vegetable oil to medium and then fry the patties about 2 min per side, or until the juices run clear and, if cut open, the center is no longer pink but still moist.

Serve the patties with mashed potatoes, creamed spinach or peas and pickles. Or just dip them in some yogurt based tzatziki.

January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream

 

BBQ Pork Skillet Pasta

Leftover pulled pork in your freezer? There are SO many possible ways of using it up. Like this skillet pasta.

In this recipe, the pasta is cooked in the skillet in chicken broth, but, if you have leftover pasta, you can add it to your skillet and reduce the chicken broth used by at least half. An alternative to the pulled pork, is leftover rotisserie chicken.

BBQ Pork Skillet Pasta

BBQ Pork (or Chicken) Skillet Pasta – serves 2-3

1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion (or 1 tbsp sauteed onion)
dash garlic powder
200 gms Scoobi Doo (cavatappi) or rotini uncooked pasta
1-1/4 cups canned dice tomatoes, with broth
2-2 1/4  cups chicken broth (and water, if needed)
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1 cup pulled pork or shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar  or Monterey Jack cheese
1 green onion, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Optional
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

Heat olive oil in a large skillet that has a lid with it over medium heat. Saute the diced onion until tender.

Add the dry pasta, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, dash of garlic powder and bbq sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine and bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Sir in the shredded pork or rotisserie chicken.

Top the pasta with the shredded cheese and cover with the lid until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

Serve with a scattering of the green onion as garnish, if you have any.

Vietnamese Baguettes (Banh Mi)

PICTURE HEAVY POST:

These tasty breads are a product of the French colonization of Vietnam and similar to the French baguette. They’re usually filled with sweet and tangy pickled vegetables and an assortment of cold cuts or warm grilled meats.

I made a trio of baguettes using the recipe posted on “Danang Cuisine” website. Though I weighed the all purpose flour and water carefully, my dough ended up much wetter than in the pictures posted or on the accompanying video so I added another 1/2 cup (~60 gm) in order to get a dough that was no longer sticky and firm enough to  shape easily.

Pictorial Recipe

Creating the sponge … just mixed, two hours later, and after addition of the reserved flour

Additional flour/kneading, after doubling and shaping

Baguettes ready for proofing, proofed, slashed and ready for baking

Baked baguettes with a shot of the underside

Interior of the baguette

 

Banh Mi filled with flaked Sriracha mayonnaise, basted and baked, salmon, romaine and extra mayo (actually Miracle Whip)

Cross-section and crumb of the baguette

Harissa Chicken Kofta

Kofta are a popular Middle Eastern dish of ground (minced) meat, ie. lamb, chicken, beef or even pork, which may be shaped into meatballs, patties or loaves. Or sausage shaped and threaded onto skewers and then grilled. It’s the latter that I decided to make and bake off in the oven, as winter in Ontario, Canada is NOT a good time to go outside and fire up your barbecue.

Harissa is a spicy chili pepper paste common to the Middle East (Tunisia) which gives flavour to the blandest of dishes. I recently bought a dry spice blend at Bulk Barn and decided to give some zip to my chicken skewers by adding a generous amount to the meat mixture along with some other spice blends from my pantry.

Harissa Chicken Kofta

Harissa Chicken Kofta – serves 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks roughly one inch in size
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Harissa spice blend
1/4 tsp Chicken shawarma spice blend
1/4 tsp Bharat spice blend

Preheat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit.

In a food processor add all of the above ingredients and pulse until you get a relatively homogenous mixture with some texture left to the meat.

Divide into four portions and with wet hands, form into 4-4 1/2 inch sausages. Thread onto soaked wooden skewers and place onto a baking sheet lined with a sheet of aluminum foil generously coated with vegetable oil.

Bake for 20-25 min, turning after 10 minute, until set with some bounce left to the meat. Turn on the broiler and broil for a couple of minutes until lightly browned.

Serve with the starch of your choice … roasted potatoes, rice or couscous as a main dish.

Sushi Condiments (Pt. 2) – Repurposing Mayonnaise Based Sauces

Repurposing leftover Sriracha and wasabi mayonnaise can be a challenge, but the results are sometimes pretty amazing.

Sriracha Mayonnaise – Salmon fillet brushed with mayonnaise, pan-seared in a hot cast iron frying pan on the stove for 3-4 minutes, and then finished in a 425 deg F oven. A brief (1-2 minutes) time under the broiler will give the top a perfect finish. Serve the salmon with your favourite rice dish and a green salad.

  

Wasabi Mayonnaise … Dip for Oven Baked Parmesan Potato Wedges

Oven Baked Parmesan Potato Wedges – serves 4

4 medium potatoes, skin on, cut into 8 wedges, rinsed and dried
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, toss the potato wedges with the rest of the ingredients. Spread the coated potatoes out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 min, or until the potatoes are tender.

Serve with your favourite mayonnaise dip ie wasabi mayonnaise

Home Made Sushi … Preparation and Condiments (Pt. 1)

Making sushi at home is easier than many imagine.

There are a few basic ingredients: short grain sushi rice, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, toasted nori sheets (full or half size). Fillings vary, of course, but the unsung heroes of sushi are the condiments like soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.

And sauces … to include in your roll or to drizzle over the rolls for a garnish.

Sriracha and Wasabi Mayonnaise

Unless you’re planning on a big party, only make small amounts of the sauce shortly before making your sushi rolls.

Basic Mayo Sauce Recipe – 1/4 cup home made or commercial mayo (or Miracle Whip) and 1/2 tsp Sriracha or a rounded 1/2 tsp of wasabi powder. Stir into the mayo and taste. Add more of the add in, or the mayo depending on your preference.

Getting ready to make the sushi rolls: sharp knife, working/cutting surface, rolling mat and a freezer bag to wrap the mat in so it stays clean.

Nori … nori sheets have a smooth/shiny side and a rough side (left of the picture). The rice is placed on the rough side.

Along with making the more commonly known maki sushi rolls, I made something called “gunkan” or battleship sushi.

Instructions for making the Gunkan sushi:

1 1/2 inch wide strip of nori
2-3 tbsp (~40 gm) cooked rice per rice ball, shaped into a 1 1/2-2 inch oval.

Wrap the strip of nori around the rice ball.

 

Top with about a tablespoon of desired filling … like the spicy Sriracha shredded ‘crab stick’ below.

Broccoli Rabe Duo

Lesson Learned… AGAIN: When you buy perishable greens like spinach or arugula, use them as soon as you can. They will hold up for a while, but there are limits, and they’ll yellow, wilt and go bad. Even a sturdy green like kale will yellow, and end up having to be discarded after a week or two.

Just before Christmas, I saw some beautiful bundles of Andy Boy broccoli rabe, on sale, at the grocery store and, although I had no clear idea of what I was going to do with the greens, I brought one home.

Then, I got distracted by other cooking projects, and my poor broccoli rabe got wilted and yellow. Still, I trimmed off the worst of the leaves and used up the last of the rabe in these two dishes. The first is an Italian inspired breakfast or lunch dish. It can even end up on your dinner table. The second is a Chinese/Japanese inspired side dish which can become a main with the addition of sauteed shrimp or even some grilled tofu.

Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta Frittata

The recipe for this frittata is a combination of elements from recipes by Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich. Frittata recipes are often written for 4 people and can use eight to twelve eggs, but for a single person, that’s too much to deal with, so I scaled it down. With the basic recipe below, you can add fresh ingredients and odds and ends of leftovers so each frittata will be a bit different. Instead of whisking in the ricotta, it’s dolloped over the frittata so it stands out.

3 Egg Basic Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta Frittata for One

3 eggs**
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup (3-4 stems) cooked broccoli rabe
2-3 tbsp ricotta
1 tbsp diced sauteed onions
salt and pepper, to taste

Add-ins (amounts are approximations)

3-4 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 sweet pepper (red, orange, yellow, green) cut into strips and sauteed briefly to soften and remove excess moisture.
2-3 medium mushrooms, sliced, sauteed briefly
2-3 strips bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled

** If making this frittata for two, use 4-6 eggs, depending on how hungry you are.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg F.

In a medium sized bowl, break the eggs and whisk in the grated Parmesan cheese, sauteed onions, oregano, a pinch of salt and a grate or two of black pepper.

In a 8-9 inch cast iron frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and stir gently to distribute the ingredients.

Lay the strips of cooked broccoli rabe over the frittata and distribute the ricotta evenly, a rounded teaspoon or two at a time. NOTE: You may want to do this off the heat so that the eggs don’t set before you’re finished. (If using the tomatoes, distribute them, cut side down, evenly over the frittata. The other add-ins may be added to the egg mixture.)

Cook until the eggs begin to set. Transfer the frying pan to the oven and bake for 3-4 minutes, or until the frittata is set. (A minute or two with the broiler on will brown the top, if desired.)

Turn the frittata out onto a plate and serve.

Serving suggestion from Lidia: For a dinner portion, add a green salad and roasted baby potatoes or potato wedges.

Broccoli Rabe Peanut Ramen Noodles

Broccoli Rabe Peanut Ramen Noodles – serves 2

2 (85 gm) pkts ramen noodles**, cooked according to directions and drained

1/2 pound broccoli rabe
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
sesame seeds for garnish
2 wedges of lime, if desired.

Peanut sauce

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp water or dashi stock
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced (or a few shakes of dried garlic powder)
a shake or two red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

** 180-200 gm soba, udon or wheat noodles may be substituted

Prepare the peanut sauce by whisking together all the ingredients in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. It will look curdled at first, but keep whisking and it will all come together. Set aside.

Trim the broccoli rabe by cutting off the thickest parts of the stem (over 1/4 inch in diameter). Trim the outer branches so you have individual stems.

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, add the olive oil and when a drop of water added to the pan bubbles and hisses and then evaporates, add the rinsed broccoli rabe. Sprinkle some salt over the broccoli rabe, toss gently to coat rabe with some of the hot oil. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Toss the broccoli rabe again to make sure that the top leaves and stems get a chance to contact the hot pan bottom as well. Cover and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted and the stems are barely tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Fill a sauce pot with at least 4 cups of water and bring to the boil. Add the ramen noodles and cook, breaking up the rectangles of noodles as much as you can as they soften. Cook as per directions (about 3 or 4 minutes) and drain. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Reserve until needed.

(You may leave the noodles in the cold water until your broccoli rabe is tender.)

Add the noodles and peanut sauce to the saute pan with the cooked rabe. Toss until the noodles are coated with the sauce.

Transfer to a serving bowl or individual bowls and top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you wish. Serve the wedge of lime on the size. The squeeze of lime juice will slightly offset the richness of the peanut sauce and the sweet/sour tang complements the bitterness of the broccoli rabe.

NOTE: I’ve made a similar sauce using tahini (sesame paste) and added cooked shrimp for a heartier, one dish meal.

The broccoli rabe peanut ramen noodles may be served on their own or as a side dish with something like the teriyaki pork chop below.