For the past two months, we’ve been hosting weekly pizza parties. Well, truth be told, they have been competitive throw downs where our friends are invited to say goodbye to the week that was and bring their best recipes to battle it out for the pizza crown. We’ve had some pretty fantastic creations. After 8 weeks though, inspiration begins to wane. So we were quite excited to hear of the tastespotting.com Johnsonville Italian Sausage competition. Inspiration, the chance to get our pizza on our favorite food porn site AND the likelihood (albeit remote) of winning a food making competition. How could we not be excited?
Anders had this one on his mind for a whole week and came up with this creation: Johnsonville Italian Sausage Pizza with roasted garlic, Portobello mushrooms and topped with parmesan crisps and toasted pine nuts. Does it get any crazier than this? We hope you like it, and if you do please vote for us when the time comes.
This was a pizza Anders put together during one of our weekly pizz-off’s, where we wave goodbye to the old week… with a friendly pizza competition amongst friends. The goal is not to win, but to have a great time (and win). Our newfound love for smoked paprika once again manifested itself in a generous sprinkle on top, which has the odd side effect of producing some rather red-tinted photos (for which we apologize). As we were all sitting around the table, sipping red wine like the pro’s, we reminisced about our childhood cardboard-pizzas from the nearby Domino’s or local pizza pusher, and wondered why we didn’t make our own pizzas while in college when it’s really not that hard and so much better.
Reason number 1099 why I love living in Southern California: fig season! We don’t have our own fig tree – a gardening oversight that we plan on remedying soon. We have the perfect spot picked out and Wendie has done her research to determine which variety to grow. More on that later. Between the local farmers markets and generous friends we’ve eaten more figs this season than in our entire lives. We love eating them fresh from the tree and have also experimented with making preserves, jams, sandwiches and this latest use – on pizzas. This little configuration was served as dessert in a recent pizza party: fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized figs and onions.
Our friends Shelley and Jens have a thing for stuff that is deep fried. Being from the south, Shelley grew up frying fowl, but Jens is Danish and just developed a taste for it after meeting Shelley (we think). In any case, their love is strong so for Jens’ birthday last month, they had a ‘bring stuff to deep-fry’ party. We had deep fried chicken legs and thighs and wings, battered deep fried shrimp, deep fried Twinkies (Better than un-fried I might add, although still disgusting), and of course we brought; Sandwiches. We were a bit shocked to discover this, but of course someone has done this before, and there is a famous sandwich called the Monte Cristo with turkey, ham and cheese, and served with sugar and jam on top; a sweet, possible dessert, sandwich. So, we made it (and it was good, but fattening like a neutron bomb in your belly). This was an evening party and we forgot our good camera, so please excuse the photo quality…
It’s that time of year in our local farmers’ markets. Our longer than average spring has given way to summer and with it has come one of the fruits that I only started eating when I moved to California – figs, glorious figs. There are some fruits whose appearance and tastes you can describe by comparing it to another. But a fig… Nothing tastes like a fig. It just is. Figs are popping up all over and once again, I am beginning to flirt with the idea of adding a tree to my garden. Until then though, I have kind friends who help satisfy my cravings by sharing from the bounty of their own gardens. This sandwich is the result of one such gift – a basket of black mission pigs.
While there are many ways to add figs to your diet, this is by far my favorite. The saltiness of the prosciutto, creaminess of the Cambazola (a soft ripened triple cream blue cheese) and the nuttiness of arugula – what at taste sensation. If ever a sandwich could be described as sensual, then this is it.
Caramelized onions are such a treat but requires good quality sweet and savory onions to really bring out the best taste of the food. They go extremely well with mild blue cheese, such as the Roquefort we used here. The first time we really discovered the joy of caramelized onions was at a visit to the farmers market in Temecula, Ca. The ‘strawberry lady’ had brought some gigantic onions that she was raving about. She told us to go home and slow-cook them (caramelize), and basically just eat onion for dinner. We did almost that, but added a steak too (man must eat). However, since then we regularly enjoy this often overlooked treat in our cooking. Most people probably don’t realize how easy it is to make amazing food with something as cheap and simple as onions, so hopefully this can server as inspiration.
One of the pizzas from Wendie’s surprise birthday party, this one has some grilled chicken (with a very nice spice blend including smoked paprika), two cheeses, olives, tomatoes, green peppers and onions. The dough is a pizza dough with honey I sort-of invented (based loosely on our Lavash crackers recipe), and the tomato sauce has a wide range of spices, most noticeably a hint of fennel. We had 13 guests and I made a total of 9 pizzas and I was stunned that there were almost no leftovers. I really had expects to fill the freezer too, but at least everyone had a great time. Next time I’ll make more!
Will make enough dough for 4 pizzas. The remaining dough can be frozen until your next pizza craving demands satisfaction. This is a variation of the basic pizza dough in that we have added honey and a little more yeast and salt. This makes the dough just a little sweet, and more tasty, which can be a fun variation when making homemade pizzas. Continue reading Pizza Dough With Honey→
Salad dressing, you say, how does that have anything to do with sandwiches? Well, one of our culinary experiments resulted in a delicious ham sandwich using this dressing as a spread. Anders loves tarragon. I mean, he really loves it. In our love of gardening, we’ve made many attempts at growing this delightful herb but to no avail. As I write this, there is a plant languishing on our patio in complete defiance of all the love, attention and desperate hope that has been directed at. But I digress. Lucky for us, we live close to a neighborhood grocery that sells fresh tarragon when in season, and when not, they sell huge bags of the dried stuff. And when life gives you tarragon, why not make a tarragon salad dressing?
So here’s the recipe:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp whole grain mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tbs honey (or to taste)
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, mustard, garlic and tarragon. Mix well and taste. Depending on how well aged your balsamic vinegar is, you might not need the honey. The one we use is on the lower side of the price point and so does need a little help to soften the flavor. Add honey, if needed. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously. That’s it. We’ve make this dressing quite a lot and find that as good as it is freshly made, it tastes even better the next day after the tarragon has a better chance to infuse the dressing with its flavor. It works great as a dressing, tossed with boiled/baked new spring potatoes, grilled veggies and so many more.
Combining something sweet with something spicy is an old tradition that has come back into fashion. It is no longer uncommon to see chili-infused chocolate in grocery stores, and the reason is of course that it works. We bought some amazing honey in Jamaica, which brings the best out in this great cheese, the Rembrandt extra aged Gouda. The smoked paprika takes it up a notch. The simple life.
We love grilling on the BBQ, and we love sandwiches (obviously), so this sandwich was bound to come about sooner or later. Neither of us has done a lot of grilling growing up, so we’re discovering the joy of barbecuing together. We frequently use chicken, and have learned (after a few… mishaps) to get it moist and tender. Grilling chicken usually involves a marinade or a rub, since chicken by itself can be a bit bland. This particular recipe calls for teriyaki sauce, which is great for marinades.