For Lizzie, It’s Amore

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“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore” Ok, so these lyrics have never really made sense to me, but I can see Cher and Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck, with his wooden hand making pizzas, a big sweaty mess, and Cher with her absolute coolness, being well, Cher. I used to love that movie. I just realized that it is kind of an odd movie to like when one is 8, perhaps it was just the song, It’s Amore, by Dean Martin, that stood out to me the most. There is something about Pizza. I love it. I loved my mom’s homemade pizza growing up. When we lived in Europe, there was not a word to describe the thrill my taste buds endured. Absolute wonder. I am excited to share a pizza dough recipe that was introduced to me when I visited my lovely friend Renata and her family in the state of WA. This recipe is from a blog called Not Without Salt. I find making this dough therapeutic. The kids love watching the process as well, especially when it rises and we poof it down. There is an atmosphere of begging, “Can I touch the dough, can I touch the dough.” Seriously, it is the most exciting thing for them. The most freeing thing is, is that you can top the pizza however you like. I am still on my radicchio and truffle oil kick, but the kids love these different types of toppings:
mozzarella cheese with ricotta and Parmesan
mozzarella cheese with pizza pepperoni
mozzarella cheese with ham and pineapple
and then there is me with spinach,feta, peppers, mozzarella cheese, and radicchio in there somewhere…
But for all who are in great need of a snazzy pizza dough, I truly hope this helps in some way, I have been so pleased with it.

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The Greatest Pizza Dough I Know

From Not Without Salt

Pizza Dough
makes enough for 3 or 4 pizza

4 cups all purpose flour (1 lb 4 oz.)
1 T salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups water, room temperature
Additional flour, for dusting.

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 2 cups of room temperature water, then mix on low speed using dough hook until dough binds, about 1 minute, adding more water as necessary. Let rest for 5 minutes. Knead on second-lowest setting for 5 to 7 minutes, until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth ball. (I don’t have a stand mixer, I just use a wooden spoon.)
Turn out onto a floured surface, knead and form into a ball, then let rest in a bowl for 3 to 4 hours.

By this point the dough should have doubled in size. Punch down and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. It is possible to use this dough the same day with great results although the long rest in the fridge improves the texture and becomes much easier to stretch.

Take it out of the fridge two hours before you want to eat dinner and let rest on counter. After approximately 90 minutes, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and cut into 4 8-ounce pieces. Fold and knead each three or four times until it forms a smooth ball. Let rest/rise for 30 minutes.Working with one ball at a time, using your hands, slowly stretch the dough to your desired size leaving a bit of a crust around the outer edge. If the dough becomes tight and hard to work with, let it rest for a few minutes while you move on to the next ball of dough. Sometimes the dough just needs a moment to relax. Preheat your oven for at least 45 minutes with a pizza stone inside, to 485 – 550 degrees. Create 12” round using your dough. We then place it on a floured piece of parchment paper, place it on the stone or baking sheet, cook for 6-8 minutes until cheese is bubbling and the crust is to your liking.

Enjoy.

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Greek Red Lentil

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I was first introduced to this soup 4 years ago. I was 6 months pregnant with 2 when I traveled to Calgary in early December of 2008 to visit with my good friends Sarah and Brian. It is hard to believe that we have been friends since TWU days, which seem like just a couple of years ago. Truthfully it does not at all feel like 12 years have gone by that fast. We used to laugh when I would pick her up in my dad’s massive Ford truck with my hair out of control and No Doubt’s ‘Hella Good’ blaring as we would enter the school grounds, slowly going over the zillion speed bumps. We reminded ourselves of Janey and Lynne from the 1985 most awesomeness movie ever, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Anyways, back to the soup. On a beautiful crisp winter day, Sarah made this soup for dinner and it was just so yum. I love to serve it with really fancy loaf. I had good intentions of picking one up this evening, but decided the sourdough bread in the freezer would be just fine, and it was.

Greek Red Lentil with Lemon, Rosemary, and Feta Cheese

Inspired by Rebar

Ingredients:
2 cups red lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion diced
2 tsp salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp cracked pepper
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
1 tbsp minced rosemary
2 tbsp minced oregano
2 bay leaves
8 cups (2 litres) vegetable stock (I used organic chicken stock)
zest 1/2 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp minced rosemary
cracked pepper to taste

How To Play:
Rinse lentils thorough in a colander under cold running water. Set aside to drain. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat and saute onion with 1 tsp salt until translucent. Add garlic, carrot, pepper, chiles, herbs, bay leaves and remaining salt. Stir well and saute until the carrots are just tender. Add rinsed lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart. If you like, the soup can be pureed or left as is. If you choose to puree, remove the bay leaves first.
Season the soup with lemon zest, lemon juice and more salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, stir together the feta cheese, rosemary and pepper. Sprinkle over hot bowls of soup and enjoy.

Coconut Wonder Bars…

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I am not a huge fan of the word magic, so I often say wonder instead. An example, would be 1 asking me how a microwave cooks food and me replying, “It’s wonder!” Everything used for magic is wonder. These tricky, sticky, so awesome little bars are really called Lightened Up Magical Coconut Bars, but we are calling them Coconut Wonder Bars. Thanks to Oh She Glows, she has once again impressed me with at hit of sweet tooth goodness!

Coconut Wonder Bars

Inspired by: Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

1 can light coconut milk*
2/3 cup coconut sugar*
2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs*
6 tbsp (65g) coconut oil*
3 tbsp maple syrup
3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used real chocolate chips and didn’t measure, I always go abit over board with chocolate)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup pecans, chopped (I mixed it up with pecans and hazelnuts)
pinch of flaked sea salt, for garnish (optional)

How To Play:

1. Prepare condensed coconut milk: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper (one going each way). Add entire can of coconut milk into a medium-sized pot, and whisk in the coconut sugar. Increase heat to medium and bring to a low simmer. Watch closely as it can boil over very quickly! Simmer on low-medium heat for about 12-14 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly. If film develops on the top as it condenses, just whisk it back into the mixture. Remove from heat to cool while you prepare the crust.

2. Prepare graham cracker crust: In a pot, soften coconut oil over low heat until mostly melted. Add to a mixing bowl along with graham cracker crumbs and maple syrup. Stir very well until thoroughly combined. Spoon graham mixture into prepared pan. Starting at the centre of the pan, press the graham cracker crumbs as firmly as you can, moving outward from the centre. The harder you press the crumbs into the pan, the better the bars will hold together.

3. Assemble: Pour warm condensed milk over the graham crust. Now, sprinkle on the chocolate chips, followed by the coconut, and finally the pecans, evenly over the condensed milk. Press the mixture down lightly with hands until the coconut milk soaks upward into each layer. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt (optional). I used Himalayan Pink Sea Salt…mmm!

4. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 27-31 minutes at 350F, until the edges are golden. Remove pan from oven and place on cooling rack for about 30 minutes. Now, transfer the pan to your freezer for 2 hours (quick-set method). Or chill the bars in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. When set, cut into squares (thaw at room temp first if removing from freezer). Bars can be wrapped up and left on the counter, or in the fridge or freezer.

Substitution notes: 1) You can use full-fat coconut milk instead of light. 2) Coconut sugar can be subbed for any granulated sugar (Sucanat, natural cane sugar, brown sugar, etc). 3) Two cups of graham cracker crumbs produced a fairly thick crust. You can probably reduce the amount to 1.5 cups if you want a thinner crust. 4) You can probably sub non-dairy butter for coconut oil.

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Enjoy.

Old Photo.

jamie

This photo was take in 1981. It is of me and my three cousins. I was 2 years old. That was 31 years ago, is that even possible? The other day when I was running, “Today” was on the radio, by Smashing Pumpkins. It instantly reminded me of being 14, getting The Siamese Dream album for one of my Christmas presents and Germany encountering the worse flood, from the Rhein River, it had had in years.
Koln

I thought as I ran, wow, I can’t believe that was 9 years ago, and then ran a bit further to realize, no, Jamie, that was 19 years ago.
It is sentimental seeing my cousins like this, because this is how I remember them most. This was when we lived on the Island and as soon as we moved away, we didn’t see each other as much, and before long, my family moved to Europe and time just continued to slip further away. There is a connection between families that remains untouchable. Only the untouchable are able to feel it. It is ancestral history, carved in our DNA, a link, a bond, a graphing that can’t be escaped. I miss these early years of my childhood. It entailed many days on the beach, nights by bon-fire, and playing with our black wolf- dog, Yogi. My heart only knew what my eyes could see and invisible to my eyes, my naked heart remains challenged by time.