I had been dreaming about this pizza every since I got back from Italy, when I walked into Carrie and Mike's cozy kitchen. Carrie was just slicing up a pizza smeared with fig jam, topped with prosciutto, and piled high with lightly olive oil-dressed arugula.
What a welcome sight on a cold winter's night, a friend making you pizza.
There's something for every taste bud on a pizza like this: sweet, salty, crispy, grassy, creamy, tangy, lemony, meaty. It must be eaten piping hot to fully enjoy the contrast of the sweet figs and the salty prosciutto, the hot crust and cold arugula.
Carrie's Breakfast Pizza, with potatoes, bacon and eggs.
Carrie just celebrated a birthday this month; let me tell you a little bit about my friend. Not only is Carrie a great pizza-designer, she wears many other hats as well: mother of boys, artist of note, ripping skier, and Director of the Jackson Hole Public Art Initiative
. She is the creative muse of our small Western town, which sometimes struggles with diversification and breaking out of the "Western Art" cliche. You can view a sample of her paintings at Tayloe Piggot Gallery
, here in Jackson.
One of Carrie's paintings hangs on the wall of her living room decorated with books. Piles of books in my house look like clutter; in Carrie's house, it is art.
She is also an amazing cook, the kind of home cook who elegantly pulls off feeding a hungry crowd with ease. I love her Breakfast Pizza, topped with potatoes, bacon and sunny side up eggs. Thanks for the inspiration, Carrie!
Making pizza for a crowd can sometimes be a time-consuming endeavor. Taking a tip from Mario Batali, I decided to try par-baked pizza crusts at my last pizza party. The crusts are formed ahead of time, browned stove-top on a griddle pan, then finished off under the broiler just before serving.
I was lucky to have uber-energetic 6th grader Riley helping me make pizza apres ski one day.
You can make the pizza dough and par-bake the crusts earlier in the day, or even a few days ahead of time. Then when your guests arrive, all there is to do is top the crusts and give them a quick spin under the broiler.
I like to stash away a few crusts to make Carrie's Breakfast Pizza later in the week. Breakfast pizza is a sure way to put a smile on a tired kid's face as he gets ready for school.
A peak into my freezer shows I always have some pizza dough from Jackson Whole Grocer. And Alexia Hash Browns, which are a seriously delicious addiction.
No time to make pizza dough? Look for good quality frozen pizza dough made in-house at Jackson Whole Grocer. Some pizza restaurants, such as Rocky Mountain Pizza Pie (in Jackson, WY) and Wildlife Pizza (in Victor, ID) will also sell you freshly made dough.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Arugula topped pizza with figs and prosciutto
This recipe, from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto cookbook, makes eight 9-10 inch pizzas. You may want to make them all arugula topped with figs and prosciutto, or use some of your favorite toppings.
If you want to make the pizza crusts ahead of time, the crusts can be shaped, pan-fried and rested. Up to 2 days later, they are topped and finished off under the broiler. Or you can wrap them well with plastic wrap, and freeze them for up to 2 months.
For the pizza dough:
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- a 1/4 ounce packet of active dry yeast, or about 7 grams.
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 3 1/2 cups "double 00" flour, or all-purpose flour
- Scant 2 Tbsp. salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Semolina flour, for dusting
Doppio zero (double '00') flour imported from Naples is ideal for making pizza dough. But all-purpose flour works just fine.
For the toppings:
- 1 large or 6 small balls of fresh mozzarella (about 3 slices per pizza)
- 1 large bunch of arugula
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp. fig jam per pizza
- kosher salt, a generous pinch
- Juice from half a lemon
- 12 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin
To make the pizza dough:
- First, proof the yeast. Place the water (warmed to 95F), yeast, and sugar together in a bowl. Let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes, until the yeast is foamy. HINT: 95 degree F water will feel warm to your touch, but not hot. Warm tap water works fine. If the water is too hot, it will kill off the yeast; if it is too cold, it will not proof. Either way, there will be no foam and you will have to start over.
- If using a standing mixer, fit it with a dough hook, and place the flour and salt in the bowl and mix well. With the mixer on low, add the yeast mixture and oil, mixing well. Slowly increase the mixer speed to medium-high, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and give it a few turns by hand to finish kneading it. The dough will be slightly sticky. (Skip to step 7).
- If mixing by hand, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the yeast mixture and oil.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix the wet and dry ingredients until the mixture is too stiff to stir. Then mix with your hands in the bowl until the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding only as much flour as needed to prevent it from getting too sticky. The dough should be smooth and elastic a only a bit sticky when it's done.
- Transfer the dough to a metal or ceramic bowl coated with olive oil, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
Foaming tells you that the yeast are activated by the addition of the sugar and the warm water, and they are dividing.
It can be difficult to find a draft-free place in my kitchen, so I like to let the dough rise in the microwave oven.
Doubled in size and ready to be divided into balls.
8. Punch down the dough, and turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Divide it into 8 pieces (about 4 oz. each) and shape each into a ball. Cover with a towel and let stand for 15 minutes. Or place on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for later use.
9. To shape the dough, press and stretch it out to a 9-10 inch round. If the dough starts to stick, add small amounts of semolina flour and water.
Riley presses the dough in the center....
and uses the palms of her hands to flatten out the ball of dough.
Riley's heart-shaped pizza turned out perfectly thin and crispy; she's a pro!
10. Quickly stretch the dough out into a 9-10 inch round, being careful not to
overwork the dough.
11. To par-bake the pizza crust: Heat a griddle pan or a nonstick pan to medium heat. Carefully place the pizza round on the preheated pan and cook until barely tan on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Flip the crust over and cook until the second side is completely dry, about 1 minute longer.
12. Transfer the crust to a wire rack or a baking sheet, brushing off any excess flour, and allow to cool. At this point, the par-baked crust can be cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated overnight, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.
You can use more mozzarella than this if you like, but I don't like my pizza that cheesy.
13. Prep the toppings: Rinse the arugula in cold water, and spin in a salad spinner, or carefully dry on a dish towel. Toss arugula with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Keep cool in the refrigerator.
14. Slice the mozzarella slices.
15. Finish the pizzas: Preheat the broiler on high. Spread a few Tbsp. of fig jam on the crust. Top with a few slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.
16. You can also top with slices of prosciutto at this point if you like it hot and crispy, or you can wait and place the prosciutto after broiling, if you like it warm and soft.
17. Slide the pizza about 4 inches under the broiler, and broil for 7-8 minutes, watching carefully so that the pizza doesn't burn.
18. Immediately top with the folded slices of prosciutto, and pile high with arugula. Serve immediately.
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Ooh, I just love this pizza. Make some soon.
I love Dalmatia Fig Spread smeared on thick slices of toasted 460Bread and topped with feta cheese. My idea of the perfect breakfast.
Pizza Making Tips from Mario Batali
- Get out all the equipment you will need first: a standing mixer, a large bowl, a wooden spoon, a whisk, and a griddle. (Remember Mis en Place?)
- Get a pizza peel. It will make the process easier and more fun.
- Use a whisk to mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.
- Work quickly when shaping the dough; pizza dough becomes limp and sticky the longer it is stretched.
Here's your culinary word for this week:
Semolina: Semolina is ground from durum wheat, a hard wheat high in protein. It comes in both coarse and fine grinds; fine semolina is sometimes referred to as semolina flour. Semolina is used to make pasta and a version of gnocchi; it is also sometimes used in tortas or other desserts. (You can find Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour at most grocery stores)
from Molto Gusto, Easy Italian Cooking, by Mario Batali
Jacksonholefoodie.com was proud to sponsor the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club Moose Chase this year!
The Moose Chase in Jackson, Wyoming is the quintessential community nordic ski race. Yesterday at The Moose Chase, there was something for everyone on skinny skis, from the former Olympic nordic ski racer to the littlest kid.
Nick tries to focus at the starting gate of the 4th Moose Chase of his life. And he's only 10!
There was a grueling 30k nordic course, zipping up and down those notorious hills, for the hardcore skate skiers amongst us. The 15k was perfect for the more moderate recreationsists, as was the 5k Mini-Moose for the youngsters and the uber-energetic sprinters. There was even a 0.5k Mini-mini moose chase for the 6 and unders.
Mini-mini-moose chasers Nico, Natalie, and Mimi, enjoying a Moose Chase Power Bar after their 0.5 K race.
The Moose Chase even had real moose blocking the track, keeping the volunteer "moose patrol" busy trying to avert a disastrous collision between moose and racer.
Mike and Brian were working the Moose Chase this year; Mike took photos and Brian got to chase Moose.
A pre-race sword fight helps calm the race jitters for Jack and Nick.
There's free lunch by The Bunnery and The Mangy Moose, free swag by the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club, and lots of community spirit.
Tammy with Libby before she starts the 15k. You've got to admire a mother of 3, (including a 2 year old) who makes time to race a 15k on the weekend!
The only thing the Moose Chase was lacking was it's own Power Bar. Wanting to do something special for my favorite nordic ski event, I tackled the challenge of making a delicious, healthy, highly quaffable power bar for the nordic racers.
The look on Jack V.'s face says it all. He is obviously thrilled to be in his first Moose Chase, skiing next to Moose Chase veteran Riley.
Thus was the inspiration for the Moose Chase Power Bar, an addictive no-bake bar packed with lots of quick-burning carbohydrates and a good dose of protein.
Chris was pumped to have finished the women's 30k...what an accomplishment! Chris was the mastermind who helped me name the bars.
Using my endurance athlete friends as Taste Testers, I was able to come up with what a good power bar should be: easily swallowed, soft, chewy, salty, a bit crispy, and nutty. It should stay soft even when the temperature is hovering around zero.
Larry liked the chewy power bar. His wife, Shannon, was featured on jacksonholefoodie not long ago. Hey, it's a small town.
Erich suggested adding bacon. Mmmm, this could be difficult.
More importantly, my Taste Testers told me what a power bar should NOT be: too sweet, too crunchy, too chewy, too chunky.
Lars, Peter and Riis were the top 3 finishers in the 5k.
My own criteria included a bar that is easy to make, with whole food ingredients, and cheaper than a store-bought power bar. And it had to include ginger. And figs. And chocolate. And almond or peanut butter.
Nick is pushing hard in the last lap of the 5k.
After 10 or so recipe versions, a kitchen covered head to toe with honey, peanut butter, agave nectar and chocolate, and many backcountry and nordic ski work-outs to test them in the field, we arrived at a formula that fit everyone's criteria (except for the bacon, sorry Erich).
Erich took 2nd in the men's 30k. He couldn't remember how many Moose Chases he's done...14? 15? 20? The old-timers often forget.
The Moose Chase Power Bar was finally ready to be handed out at the aid stations to the real Moose Chasers as they power up and down the hills of Trail Creek Nordic Center.
Getting a moose sucker at the end make's it all worthwhile for Nick.
Along the way in the test kitchen, another bar was born: The Moose Chase Apres Ski Bar. Too chocolatey and crispy for a power bar, yet tasty and chewy and decadent enough to have when the race is over.
Ellen took a break from ladling chili to sample the Moose Chase Apres Ski Bars.
The Moose Chase Apres Ski Bar is a layered bar with an oatmeal crust, a layer of rich chocolate, topped with chopped figs, crystallized ginger, and chopped almonds. Actually, you should probably refrain from getting addicted to these yummy calorie-replenishing bars unless you've burned a few thousand calories nordic skiing.
Congratulations to Jenny, the kids' nordic coach, for winning the women's 30k. This was the first Moose Chase that she wasn't working to support the other athletes.
I'd like to thank all my super-athletic friends for their input on the many versions leading up to the final Moose Chase Power Bar and Apres Ski Bar.
I'd especially like to thank Len for providing me with the recipe from his obscure cycling magazine, on which I based one of my bars. Once the power bars were finally ready for the Moose Chase, he noted that they tasted like Rice Krispie Treats for grown-ups. I like that.
Julie was running around like crazy working the race, but did stop by to enjoy a Moose Bar.
Nico was an enthusiastic Mini-mini-moose chase participant. If he skis like his Mom, he'll be a champion for sure.
Moose Chase Power Bars (above) and Moose Chase Apres Ski Bars. Like skiing, they are a healthy addiction.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Moose Chase Power Bar
I based my Moose Chase Power Bar recipe on one that appeared in VeloNews, by Caley Fritz and Nick Legan. I liked their mix and match approach to ingredients, which lets you customize the bar with your favorite stuff.
I found agave nectar to be too sweet, and preferred the flavor of good honey. If you use agave nectar, you may try reducing the amount slightly.
By using a gluten-free puffed rice cereal, I was able to offer these bars to the gluten-free nordic athletes at the Moose Chase.
Almond butter is the ultimate nut butter for these bars, but peanut butter makes them more economical.
- 1 cup peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter
- 2/3 cup honey or agave nectar
- 1 1/2 cups almonds, cashews, peanuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup crystallized ginger slices (found in bulk at Jackson Whole Grocer)
- 1/2 cup dried Mission figs
- 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups puffed brown rice cereal (I used Erewhon, a gluten-free brand)
I like to cut the stems off the mission figs. Don't ask me why, I just do.
- If you are using raw nuts, toast them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
- Place peanut butter and honey in a large saucepan, and warm until melted and bubbly, stirring until smooth. Add salt and vanilla extract.
If you use a large saucepan, you'll be able to mix it all up in the same pan.
Be generous with the salt. I used a heaping 1/4 tsp.
3. Add dried figs and crystallized ginger to a food processor, and process until finely minced.
4. Add the nuts, and continue to process until coarsely ground.
Small piece of ginger and figs are fine, but you don't want any big chunks.
5. Add the fruit/nut mixture to the honey/peanut butter mixture and mix well.
6. Add puffed rice cereal and mix well.
7. Scoop mixture onto a 9x13 inch pan lined with wax paper. Place another piece of wax paper on top, and firmly press down evenly. Use a rolling pin to flatten and compress the bars.
This is a double recipe. I made 4 double recipes for the Moose Chase and they all got eaten. Whew!
8. Wrap tightly with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
9. Remove bars from the pan by lifting the wax paper underneath. Cut into small bars, any size you like. They will keep for about a week wrapped up, or can be frozen for a few months.
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The Moose Chase Apres Ski Bar
This is a layered bar designed to replenish some of those calories expended at the Moose Chase. First, you'll bake an oatmeal crust. Then, you'll spread it with a melted chocolate layer, sprinkle it with dried fruit, and top it off with chopped almonds.
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Lyle's golden syrup
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. almond extract
- 2 1/3 cup quick (1 minute) oats (not instant)
- 1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger slices (found in bulk at Jackson Whole Grocer), chopped into small pieces
- 3/4 cup dried mission figs, chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup almonds, lightly toasted and chopped into small pieces.
We are ginger lovers over here. We put it in our granola, our chocolate chip cookies, and sprinkle it on ice cream. The best crystallized ginger can be found at Jackson Whole Grocer in the bulk foods section.
Lyle's Golden Syrup can be found at most grocery stores next to the other syrups. It gives the oatmeal crust a butterscotchy caramelly flavor.
- If using raw almonds, toast them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Chop the figs and ginger with a sharp knife (spraying it with vegetable oil will make this job easier), or whiz them in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Make the oatmeal crust. Place the butter, brown sugar, Lyle's golden syrup and maple syrup in a saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, and stir until smooth.
- Add oats, salt, and almond extract, and stir well.
- Scoop into an 8x8 inch pan lined with foil, and sprayed with vegetable oil.
- Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 18-22 minutes, or just until starting to brown. If they brown too much, they will not be chewy.
When the edge of the crust is getting brown, take them out of the oven. They will firm up as they cool off.
7. Cool pan on a wire rack, or stick it outside for a few minutes.
8. While the crust is cooling, melt the chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl for 30 second spurts, until melted and smooth.
9. Stir the chocolate vigorously with a spatula, and then spread it evenly on the still warm oatmeal crust.
10. While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle chopped figs and ginger evenly over the top of the chocolate layer. Now sprinkle with the chopped almonds.
11. Place a piece of wax paper over the top, and press lightly.
12. Once completely cool, lift foil liner from the pan, and place the bars on a cutting board. Cut into small squares and enjoy!
The chopped fig and ginger pieces are sprinkled on top of the chocolate layer. They don't need to cover it completely.
The toasted, chopped almonds are the final layer. You could use any nut you like.
Wax paper works nicely to gently press the fruit and nuts into the chocolate layer. I love wax paper; it makes me feel like I'm in my Grandma's kitchen.
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Up at 6, whipping egg whites to fold into chocolate waffle batter, I have only myself to blame. Ten year old Nick brokered a deal in which I have to make his "Breakfast of Choice" for 7 consecutive days.
Love the tram in the background; the famous Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Tram.
He earned this privilege by documenting his reading minutes on his "Reading Blitz" poster. Shaped like a terrain park, he gets to color in a square for every 30 minutes spent reading (not including reading at school). Each "jump" is associated with a little prize, the first of which brings me to the breakfast deal.
If he fills in the bonus prize, I'll have to make his choice of dinner AND dessert.
To make matters worse, he designed a menu that vaguely resembles those room service cards that you hang on your doorknob at a nice hotel. Room service, by the way, that young Nick has never been allowed to order at those rare nice hotel stays.
As you can see, today's breakfast order was Chilaquiles and Hot 'Choclate'. I do love a Mexican breakfast that uses up stale corn tortillas.
No, I do not have to serve him breakfast in his room; I do have my scruples and a small amount of negotiating power left.
The one bright spot in this deal, agreed to in support of his literary education, is that Broiled Grapefruit has made his short list of favorite breakfasts.
Broiled Grapefruit is so easy that it barely requires a recipe. You only need a gentle reminder to make it now and then, to perk up your morning, and make you feel like you are having breakfast at a fancy hotel.
I like my broiled grapefruit a little burnt, just like my marshmallows.
The first time I made Broiled Grapefruit for Nick, he called it "exotic". I guess a caramelized tropical fruit is a pretty exotic breakfast for a kid from Wyoming, who normally subsists on oatmeal and pancakes.
The best part, of course, is squeezing the juice into your spoon once you've eaten the fruit. That part always reminds me of my Dad.
Once I have survived the demands of the Reading Blitz, I'll have to ask Nick to make me one of his famous breakfasts, usually involving Nutella, crepes and an impressive mess in the kitchen.
Nick making crepes from his friend Will's recipe.
Nick learned some crepe-making tips from buddies Holden and Will. Who says 10 year old boys only talk about soccer and skiing?
Jack with his Nutella banana crepe and Chunky Monkey Smoothie. Now maybe he will put on some weight!
- one big juicy grapefruit
- 1/2-1 tsp sugar
- Cut grapefruit in half. Cut around the edge and each grapefruit segment.
- Sprinkle with sugar.
- Place under broiler until nicely caramelized.
First, a gift idea. Then, a Valentine's menu for carnivores, if you are so inclined to cook a special meal for your sweetie.
I just received this exquisite box of chocolates. "Made by girlfriends for girlfriends", the card said. I was intrigued, and so was my 13 year old son who kept peering at the nude on the front.
Teton Chocolat is the collaboration of local gals Kristen Simpson, a chocolatier, and Shannon Troxler, a fine artist.
A limited edition print of Shannon Troxler's gorgeous nude adorns the refurbished cigar box. Shannon Troxler
is an accomplished local artist famous for her beautiful images of women.
'Art and chocolate. The bare necessities of life', according to the women at Teton Chocolat.
Look inside, and you find the most beautiful chocolate flowers, dark and milk chocolate, with almonds, all in various iridescent shades of flowers.
Live Simply. Eat Chocolate. I love the mission statement of Teton Chocolat.
Teton Chocolat: to order call (307) 413-6109, or email email@example.com.
Now, we can get down to business. If you are in love with a carnivore, this is the Valentine's Day menu for you.
Short Ribs of Beef with Red Wine and Port
and Cilantro/Orange Gremolata
Celery Root Puree
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
French Green Beans with Bacon
Cocoa Brownies with Brown Butter and Walnuts
Your carnivore will adore eating Short Ribs of Beef in Red Wine and Port; the aroma alone seeping through your home will signal something special is in the works. The tender beef falls from the bone, and the red wine and port-infused sauce pools over the creamiest celery root puree, all brightened with an unexpected dash of cilantro and orange.
Short Ribs of Beef with Red Wine and Port, Celery root puree, and Cilantro/Orange Gremolata
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad will make the impossible possible: rich and ripe tomato flavor in the dead of winter. When's the last time you had a good tomato? Oh, so long ago for we Wyomingites.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
French green beans with bacon are so handsome standing straight up on the plate, they no doubt will put you both in a good mood.
French Green Beans with Bacon
And for dessert....brownies. Not just any brownies, but my new favorite brownies, Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. These brownies adorn this month's Bon Appetit magazine. Is anyone else susceptible to the power of suggestion? I've been making them every other day since my issue came in the mail, and now I've got it perfected for altitude.
How to tackle the menu without destroying your ardor by having a kitchen full of dirty dishes? The Short Ribs of Beef are actually better if made a day or two ahead. The celeriac puree can easily be done while the Short Ribs are being prepped (both take about an hour), or can be replaced by mashed potatoes from your favorite take-out emporium, buttered noodles, or rice.
The French green beans with bacon are awfully cute, but you could also prep the beans, then toss them in a pan later with chopped crispy bacon; it will be just as tasty.
See my last post "Fear of Celeriac" for the recipes for celery root puree and French green beans with bacon.
The caprese salad is also great done ahead; the tomatoes will roast in a slow oven for 2 hours, and the rest is a snap. Or you could buy some slow-roasted tomatoes at Jackson Whole Grocer in the deli case.
The brownies....well, you just have to make the brownies.
Short Ribs of Beef with Red Wine and Port and a Cilantro/Orange Gremolata
This recipe serves 6, but you could easily reduce all ingredients by half if you are preparing dinner for two, and have leftovers. You will want leftovers!
I've adapted this recipe from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan, my new favorite cookbook of all things French.
To save time, you can chop the vegetables very roughly; they will be strained out of the sauce at the end, so they need not be pretty.
This recipe looks long but it is very straightforward. You will broil the ribs, cook and reduce the sauce, then braise the ribs in the sauce in the oven for 3 hrs. If you have time, you can chill and reheat later, or you can proceed to remove the ribs, strain the sauce, and finish by broiling the ribs again to glaze them with sauce. Whew! It's really not that hard!
Ribs are broiled under a hot broiler until browned on all sides. Foil keeps you from having to scrub the pan!
- 2 sprigs each of parsley, thyme and rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 star anise
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced roughly
- 12 short ribs of beef, each with one bone, about 9 lbs.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 parsnip, trimmed and roughly chopped
- fresh ginger, 1 12/ inch piece, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 5 big cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 750 ml bottle of red wine, such as an inexpensive crianza, rioja or syrah
- 1 1/2 cups ruby port, likewise an inexpensive brand
- 4-6 cups of beef broth, unsalted
For the Gremolata:
- Finely chopped zest of 1 orange, or 2 tangerines
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
I have coarsely chopped the vegetables to save time. They will be strained out of the sauce later anyway.
Stir for 2 minutes after you add the tomato paste.
I know it is hard to sacrifice an entire bottle of wine in the name of cooking, but you won't regret it. This was a $10 Syrah Red Biciclette.
It can be even harder to sacrifice a nice port; just don't use the expensive vintages.
I didn't have any cheesecloth to make a proper bouquet garni, so I just wrapped the herbs in twine and through them in the pot. They were easy to retrieve later.
Place the broiled ribs bone end up into the pan in a single layer.
Add enough beef broth to almost cover the ribs. Now cover the pan tightly with foil, then with the lid, and braise in the oven for 2 hrs, and then another hour without the lid.
- FIrst, broil the short ribs. Line a baking sheet with foil, then place the ribs bone side up on the sheet. Broil for 5 minutes each side, until all sides are nicely browned. Transfer the ribs to a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
- Lower the oven rack to the middle or lower third, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Now, gather your herb sprigs, star anise, and celery leaves into a piece of cheesecloth wrapped in twine to make a bouquet garni. No cheesecloth? Just bundle them best you can and set aside.
- Pour the oil into a large casserole large enough to hold all the ribs in one layer. Toss the vegetables, garlic, and ginger into the pot and cook, stirring now and then, until all are soft and brown, about 10 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir well, cooking for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and the port, add the bouquet garni, and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat until reduced by about one third.
- Return the ribs to the pot, placing them bone-up in a single row. Pour in 4 cups of beef broth. The broth should be almost to the top of the ribs; if needed add more broth.
- Cover pot with foil tightly, then place lid. Cook, undisturbed, for 2 hrs.
- Remove the lid and let some steam escape. Return to the oven with just the foil loosely on the pot for another 1 hour.
- If making ahead of time, cool and set aside. Once ready to reheat, carefully remove the ribs from the sauce, and remove any congealed fat. Skim the fat from the sauce, then pour the sauce into a saucepan over a large fine mesh sieve to separate off all the solids. Press with a spoon on the solids to get out all that great sauce. Warm over medium heat to reduce and thicken a bit. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Prepare the gremolata by finely chopping the orange zest, garlic and cilantro, and set aside to serve at the table.
- Preheat the broiler, and place the ribs into a foil-lined roasting pan. Spoon some sauce over, and broil to warm them up and glaze them with the sauce. Turn over to broil both side.
- Transfer the ribs to a platter, and spoon some sauce over. Sprinkle with gremolata at the table.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
This version of caprese salad makes good use of those uninspiring plum tomatoes available all winter at the grocery.
FIrm, mealy tomatoes such as these are de riguer here in the mountains in mid-February.
This recipe comes from the genius of Ina Garten in her Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. It serves 6, and feel free to make just half for your Valentine's Day dinner.
- 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, but leave cores intact
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (not your best, it will cook off in the oven)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/2 inch thin
- 12 fresh basil leaves, julienned
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Farenheit.
2. Prepare the tomatoes: cut out the stem core, and halve lengthwise, keeping the core intact.
Theses tomatoes still don't look too promising, but just wait.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with garlic, sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
Starting to look a little more appetizing.
4. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramalize. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
These homely plum tomatoes become irresistible after slow roasting in the oven for two hours.
5. Cut the mozzarella slices into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange the tomatoes on a plate topped with the mozzarella and the basil chiffonade. Drizzle with more olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. and more freshly ground pepper if you like.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad. You could just have this for dinner and skip the rest.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
Recipe by Alice Medrich, author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, one cookbook I do not have (but maybe I should get it!) This recipe appeared in the February 2011 issue of Bon Appetit.
I have made some minor adjustments for altitude, which I will note. Also, I have made these brownies with chocolate chips instead of walnuts with great results.
The brownie of my dreams.
- nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cup sugar (reduce to 1 cup at altitude)
- 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned into a measuring cup, then leveled
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, chilled
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all purpose flour (add another Tbsp. flour at altitude)
- 2 tsp. water (4 tsp. at altitude)
- 1 cup walnut pieces, or chocolate chips
Sadly, I have used up the last of the Perugina Cocao I brought back from Italy in my suitcase. Does anyone know where I can get some more? I have also made these brownies with Hershey's cocoa with great results.
1. Position rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat to 325 degrees Farenheit. (345 degrees if you are at altitiude).
2. Line a 8x8x2 inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing firmly against the sides of the pan, and leaving a 2 inch overhang.
3. Coat foil with nonstick spray.
4. Now to make the browned butter: Melt all the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. First it will foam up, and then it will settle down, leaving bits of brown butter at the bottom of the pan. Stir constantly while this happens for about 5 minutes.
Butter foaming up as it heats.
The foam subsides, and the browned butter solids settle to the bottom of the pan. Time to take the pan away from the heat.
5. Remove from the heat. Immediately add sugar, cocoa powder, water, vanilla, and a heaping 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir to blend. Let cool for 5 minutes.
The browned butter flavor is what makes these brownies so special.
6. Add eggs to the warm sugar mixture one at a time, stirring vigorously to blend after each addition. When the mixture looks thick and shiny, add the flour and stir until just blended. Beat vigorously for 60 strokes.
7. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
The foil overhang that you lined the pan with becomes important here, as you lift the cooled brownies from the pan.
8. Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack. Using foil overhang, lift cooled brownies form pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies.
9. Store airtight at room temperature. Try not to leave yourself home alone with the brownies! Believe me, I know how dangerous they can be.
Happy Valentine's Day! Happy Singles Awareness Day! Whichever you are celebrating, a brownie is always appropriate!
Bouquet garni: a bundle of herbs: thyme, parsley and bay leaf, for flavoring soups, stews, sauces and braised meat and vegetables. If the herbs are fresh, the parsley is bundled around them and tied with a piece of string. If the herbs are dried, they are tucked into a piece of cheesecloth and tied. If others herbs or vegetable are to be added, then it will be specified in the recipe.
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck.
For years I have passed by celeriac at the grocery store, unable to fathom how I would tackle this gnarly, unattractive root vegetable. My family doesn't even like parsnips, so how could I get them to eat celeriac?
Celeriac, also known as celery root, is the darling of French cuisine. You may find it tucked under Coq au Vin as a buttery puree at the Rendezvous Bistro
, or as a little torpedo on your plate at a fancy French restaurant.
After many days of foraging at the local grocery stores, I found this very fresh batch of celeriac at Jackson Whole Grocer. It is more commonly sold as just the root.
It took a French-trained chef to make me appreciate the simple, sweet, and subtle flavor of celeriac, and convince me that it was easy to make at home.
Alan Luther, straight from the Cordon Bleu in Paris, where he earned a Certificate in Cuisine, generously demonstrated how to prepare a celery root puree, and many, many other dishes, to a hungry group of cooking enthusiasts.
Alan showed us the proper way to dice a shallot. Keep the root end intact so that you can hold onto it while you finely slice in two planes.
Elly and Rachel hosted the night of cooking and learning, eating and drinking, oohing and aahing over the delicious French food. I was also oohing and aahing over Alan's tool box: filled with knives, a chinois, molds, tart pans, and all sorts of unique and essential French cooking tools.
Rachel with molds of lemon filling, that will be frozen and then tucked inside a warm orange cupcake, creating a soft creamy filling.
To make the celery root puree, we cut the gnarly brown skin from the celeriac, and chopped the root into 2 inch chunks.
Then, we simmered the celeriac pieces in equal parts milk and water with a little salt, until soft, about 30 minutes.
Cindee is tossing rather large pieces of celeriac into the pot, to simmer gently in equal parts milk and water.
Once the celeriac was soft enough to pierce easily with a fork, Alan showed us how to make a smooth puree using a food mill. He then added salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
The Puree de Celeri-Rave (celery root puree) was then plated with the L'Agneau En Croute (herb crusted lamb loin wrapped in lamb saddle) and Haricots Verts au Lard (French green beans with bacon). Oui, oui, c'est bon!
It was finished with a drizzle of reduction sauce made from the lamb scraps, white wine, port wine, and a mirepoix (see below for your culinary word of the week).
Erika is a pro at assembling the Haricot Vert au Lard. Let's just call it Green Beans wrapped in Bacon, and leave the Lard for the French.
The easiest dish we learned, by far, was the French green beans with bacon. The green beans are trimmed, and boiled in salted water until done but still crisp, then plunged into an ice water bath. They are towel dried, then bundled with bacon. Then reheated in the oven just until the bacon is done. Skewers are removed, and the bundles are cut in half, so they stand up straight on the plate.
French green beans wrapped in bacon are baked just until the bacon is done.
As the dishes are plated, Dottie takes a much needed water break.
Lovely to look at, delicious to eat, and so easy. Easy-peasy, as Elly would say.
Elly is a wonderful, intuitive cook. I have enjoyed so many amazing meals at her house, made even more enjoyable by her famous Southern hospitality.
The celery root puree was easy to re-create at home, although I opted to masquerade mine as "mashed potatoes" to make it through the gauntlet of the family dinner.
Short Ribs of Beef in Red Wine and Port, with a Cilantro Orange Gremolata, with Celery Root Puree.
Served beside a man-friendly, kid-friendly dish of Short Ribs of Beef in Red Wine and Port, no one suspected they were gulping down a root vegetable. Our family dinner was punctuated by "Great potatoes, Mom", and "Yummy mashed potatoes", and "Can I have more mashed potatoes, Mommy?" Hee, hee, hee.
By the way, if you are cooking for your sweetie this Valentine's Day, and he or she is a meat-and-potatoes enthusiast, the recipe for Short Ribs of Beef in Red Wine and Port would be the perfect entree, served with celery root puree, of course. And maybe some of those French green beans if you have the energy. Look for the recipe in my next post.
Celery root puree (Puree de Celeri-Rave)
My recipe is a bit different than Alan's, since I added a potato and an onion to make it more kid-friendly. I also made my puree thinner so that it felt more like mashed potatoes. It is easy to make a thicker puree like Alan's by adding less liquid.
I also used a food processor instead of a food mill (don't have one of those!), which worked fine, but be careful not to over-process the puree, or you'll end up with a gummy dish.
My version was inspired by Dorie Greenspan's recipe for "go-with-everything celery root puree", in her book Around My French Table.
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups water
- 1 Tbsp. salt, for boiling, and more for seasoning
- 2 celery roots, about 1 1/4 lbs each (without the attached celery), cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1 large Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
- dash of nutmeg (optional)
- snipped fresh chives, or pistachio oil for garnish (optional)
Celeriac has many names: celery root, celery knob, turnip rooted celery, knob celery, and of course.....celeri-rave. If you can't find it at the market, ask the grocer. They may have a fresh bunch in the back.
- Warm the milk, water, and 1 Tbsp. salt to almost boiling in a large pot.
- Add the celery root, onion, and potato, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork.
- Drain, reserving some liquid to thin the puree if necessary.
- Puree the vegetables in a food processor with the butter until perfectly smooth, but not so much to make them gummy.
- Taste. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg (if using).
- Puree a bit more. Taste. Add more seasoning or butter if needed. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to thin to desired consistency.
- Keep warm until serving time. Drizzle with pistachio oil, or top with chopped chives, if you wish.
Alan also showed us how to make Aumonieres de St. Jaques, Sauce Vin Blanc. Translation: Crepe Purses filled with Scallops, in a White Wine Sauce. Want the recipe? Another time...
Mirepoix (mihr-PWAH): A mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs sauteed in butter. Sometimes ham or bacon is added. Mirepoix is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, such as meats or fish. A white mirepoix omits the carrots and often incorporates mushrooms and/or parsnips.
From The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion, by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst.
It recently occurred to me that we go through a lot of Bob's Red Mill pancake mix. Bags and bags of it, especially during prime pancake weather, like now.
We don't all agree on the pancake mix of choice: the kids favor plain old Buttermilk; Mountain Man prefers the Buckwheat variety; and me, I go for the Cornmeal pancake mix every time. With fresh blueberries, please.
You may have heard that it was 27 below zero at my house last week. Even the moose wanted to come inside to warm up.
When the temperature is below zero in the valley, we head to the tops of the mountains. A temperature inversion can mean it's balmy and warm up top. Darcy and Chris skinning up the South Side of Teton Pass.
When it's cold outside, I mean really cold outside, we do eat a lot of pancakes. We need carbs and protein and sugar and berries to keep warm. And happy.
Please do not feel sorry for us because we live in a frigid, harsh environment. When the temperature dips way below zero, we have bluer-than-blue-can-be skies. Even the kids stop to marvel at the color of the sky, and the silhouette of the frozen branches against it. This often makes us late for school...but let's get back to those pancakes.
I have tried mixing Bob's Red Mill Buttermilk pancake mix with the 10-Grain variety, but I fooled no one. The pancakes were less than good, and left to languish on the breakfast table, uneaten.
This bull moose possessed only one antler. Mountain Man says it's not unusual to see a one-antlered moose this time of year. I say it's a sign of good luck. Especially when he is peering into your mudroom and wanting to try on your Uggs.
Plunging into the archives of my recipe files, I found a recipe for Multigrain Pancake Mix. Make it yourself in bulk. Mix up as much as you need. Customize it to the degree of graininess you desire (and your family will tolerate). Could be cheaper, too. A lot cheaper than premium pancake mix.
Darcy, Sue and Chris at the summit. Chocolate covered almonds fueled our ascent. That, and a breakfast of Multigrain Pancakes.
Homemade multigrain pancake mix is a great way to use up odds and ends of flour in your pantry, which appeals to the frugal Sicilian in me. Old World Sicilians were famous for never letting a morsel of potentially edible food go to waste. My Grandma Barranco would be so proud of my Multigrain Pancake Mix.
This recipe begs to be customized. Swap out the almond meal for buckwheat flour. Add cinnamon, cardamom, or pumpkin pie spice. Use quinoa flakes instead of instant oats. Just keep the ratio of flour/grains to baking powder/soda/sugar/salt the same.
No buttermilk on hand? You can make your own in 5 minutes. Place one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a one cup measuring cup. Add milk to total 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes. Now you've made buttermilk, or at least a reasonable substitute good enough to leaven your pancakes and give them that special tang.
It is amazing how much my handwriting has improved since I retired from being a doctor.
Multigrain pancake mix with blueberry compote
The Master Mix is adapted from a recipe by Elaine Khosrova, which appeared in Real Simple years and years ago. It needed no adaptations for altitude.
The Blueberry Compote is an original recipe that came to me while peering into the freezer, and finding my stash of frozen berries from last summer.
For the Master Mix (enough for 24 four inch pancakes):
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (or try white whole wheat flour)
- 1/2 cup almond meal ( or 1/2 cup buckwheat flour)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup quinoa flakes (or instant oats, such as Quaker 1-Minute Oats)
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (or customize with your own spices)
For the pancakes (to make 6 four-inch pancakes):
- In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.
- Transfer to an airtight container, or a Ziplock bag.
This recipe makes enough pancakes for 2-3 hungry people. In my family, a double recipe feeds 4 just right.
- 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk (no buttermilk? see above)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup Master Mix
For the Blueberry Compote:
- Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vegetable oil until blended.
- Stir in 3/4 cup Master Mix just until blended. Do not overmix.
- Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a pat of butter.
- Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet for each pancake.
- Cook until golden brown, a few minutes on each side.
- Serve with warm maple syrup, or blueberry compote (see below).
- 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
- 1 cup maple syrup
- Warm syrup and berries in a small saucepan until bubbling.
- Remove for heat, and pour on your pancakes while still warm.
I almost forgot to give you the culinary word of the week. Here you go...
Quinoa (KEEN-wah): Quinoa is a grain staple of the ancient Incas. Dubbed a "complete protein" because it contains all 8 essential amino acids, it is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most other grains. Quinoa is a subtle-flavored protein-rich grain that expands to 4 times its original volume once cooked. Quinoa is great for breakfast, as a hot porridge topped with fruit and brown sugar.
It is always a treat to be asked to cook with the Journeys School kids here in Jackson, Wyoming. These kids are into experiential learning, so it isn't difficult to get them to jump in and get their hands dirty.
In the past, we have made gnocchi, pesto, and pizzelle for a class on Italian heritage cooking. We have made a full ranch-style breakfast at their makeshift "Great Grey Cafe", when they were studying owls, which included a breakfast biscuit called "What The Owl Dragged In". They ate every last bit.
Oh, and of course there was the time we made forts out of vegetable crudite in celebration of their "fort-building" culture at recess, which takes place up in the woods, in gorgeous Coyote Canyon. Stealing sticks from others' forts used to be the ultimate mischievous past-time during recess.
Last Thursday it was my turn to cook for these 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, on an overnight journey at the Coyote Canyon campus, and their turn to guess the ingredients.
The Upper Elementary girls are a lively bunch!
Jill with Journeys kids deep in concentration over the Secret Ingredient.
First they started guessing the spices: Nutmeg? Nope, no nutmeg.
Cinnamon? It didn't take Lyla long to tease out the cinnamon from the other spices in the hot chocolate. She knows her cinnamon.
Cardamom? Very impressive, Sydney; I'd be hard-pressed to pick out cardamom from a spice melange.
Ginger? No, but that would be good. I made a mental note to add that next time.
Then they got to guessing what made the hot chocolate so creamy. Broccoli? Nope. Apples? No way. Basil? Carrots? Pumpkin? Leila was getting warm, very warm.
Squash!!! Chase was very pleased with his answer, until I made him decide which kind of squash. Butternut Squash, of course.
Daniel with the elusive secret ingredient.
Secret Ingredient Spicy Hot Chocolate was not quite as tricky for them to figure out as I had anticipated. Sure, these kids are smart, and they are creative, that I know. But I did not realize that they also possessed amazingly accurate palates.
Guessing my secret in just under 5 minutes left us some time to enjoy the thick, creamy, spicy hot chocolate, and talk about writing, blogging, and cooking.
Now that they all knew they'd been drinking squash, there were funny faces all around, especially amongst the boys. Most admitted that they might not have tried my Secret Ingredient Spicy Hot Chocolate if I had divulged the secret vegetable. Most were glad that they had tried it, and wanted to make it at home.
Homework: make some Secret Ingredient Spicy Hot Chocolate of your own, play with the spices, and report back. If only school was like this when I was a kid...
Secret Ingredient Spicy Hot Chocolate
This recipe comes from Chef Jesus Gonzalez in Tecate, Mexico. The consistency of the hot chocolate is similar to a traditional Mexican atole (see word of the day, below), but with squash instead of masa.
Ibarra Mexican chocolate makes this an authentic Mexican hot chocolate, but I think it would be good with any quality chocolate product. If you want to add some spice, throw in some crushed red pepper flakes too.
- 2 cups cooked butternut squash pulp, from 1 large squash
- 3 tablets of Ibarra Mexican chocolate, or 9 oz of another chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 8 cups milk, any milk you like
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- pinch red pepper flakes
Make sure to puree the squash to a very smooth consistency. You don't want any tell-tale lumps in your Secret Ingredient Spicy Hot Chocolate!
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and place on an oiled foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down.
- Bake the squash at 375 degrees Farenheit for 40 minutes, or until the pulp is very soft.
- Scoop out the seeds and discard, and scoop out the flesh. Puree with 1/2 cup of the milk in a blender, a food processor or with an immersion blender.
- In a large saucepan, mix the milk and the spices.
- Place the chocolate into a bowl and microwave on low for 30 seconds at a time, until it is slightly melted.
- Add the melted chocolate to the warming milk, and whisk vigorously.
- Add the squash puree.
- Continue to warm over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes. Do not let the milk come to a boil.
- Once heated through and smooth, turn off the heat and whisk by hand or with an immersion blender until frothy. Serve, trying not to divulge the secret.
You may also strain the hot chocolate through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the pulpy bits of squash for a smoother drink. Whisk again after straining.
Here's the culinary word for today....
Atole (Ah-TOH-lay): Dating back to pre-Columbian times, atole is a very thick beverage that's popular in Mexico. Milk or water and masa (a type of cornmeal) are combined with honey or sugar, and sometimes fruit.
from The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst