Grandma Pizza

Grandma Pizza
The first thing I do when I walk in the door of our building is check the mailbox. I always get excited when a food magazine sticks out between the junk and bills, but ever since W. was born, I haven’t been able to keep up with my subscriptions. No surprise that taking care of a baby leaves time for only select reading. I try not to think about all the unread articles and uncooked recipes in issues that have landed in the recycling bin.

The image of a blistered crust pizza baked in a sheet pan was far too irresistible to pass up, and I knew I had to cook the cover of October’s Bon Appetit. Known as grandma pizza, this Long Island classic screams old school pizza parlor complete with red and white checkered tablecloth. The simple sauce was just pureed canned tomatoes and garlic. The chewy crust was so tasty that I didn’t even mind having a center piece.

Grandma Pizza
Grandma Pizza

Adapted from Bon Appetit October 2014

For dough
1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for work surface

For sauce
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled
6 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For pizza
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
4 ounces Provolone, grated

In a large bowl, combine the yeast with 1-1/2 cups warm water. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil and then the salt and half the flour. Stir in the remaining flour until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10-12 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to rise for 24 hours.

Coat an 18-inch x 13-inch rectangular sheet pan with the remaining olive oil. Gently stretch the dough to fit the entire sheet pan. If the dough springs back, let it rest for 10 minutes before trying again. Tightly cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm spot (about 70 degrees) until the dough has puffed up, about 30-40 minutes.

For the sauce, combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Spread the sauce in a thin layer on the dough and sprinkle both cheeses on top. Bake 20-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.

Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella
Certain foods taste better eaten straight from the container. That does not include milk or anything else better poured into a glass. I am talking about spreadable delights meant to be scooped and smeared on something. Peanut butter is the most obvious example and my absolute favorite. I have no shame having a post-dinner spoonful of peanut butter for a simple snack.

Craving a sweeter, more decadent treat that could be slathered on graham crackers or eaten with fruit, I used my blender to whip up homemade nutella. The first step was to toast the hazelnuts in the oven to remove their skin and to bring out even more nutty flavor. After that it was a few minutes blending the ingredients and my from-scratch version was ready to be devoured.

Homemade Nutella
Homemade Nutella 

Makes about 1-1/2 cups 

2 cups raw hazelnuts
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the hazelnuts on a sheet pan. Toast for 6 – 8 minutes in the oven until golden brown. Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove the skins.

Transfer the hazelnuts to a blender or food processor and blend until they turn into a paste and release their oil. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, oil, salt and milk and blend until fully combined and smooth.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Herbed Turkey Burgers

Herbed Turkey Burger
I am not sure why I made the split second decision to buy ground turkey instead of ground beef at the market. Perhaps my inner voice was telling me to go with the healthier option even though ground turkey, like most poultry, can be rather bland and boring. Lots of additions are necessary to give it some personality.

With a couple onions, fresh rosemary and thyme, I made herbed turkey burgers. I caramelized the onions mixing half into the patties and using the rest as garnish. The flavor of the herbs balanced the sweetness of the onions and honey-spiked Dijon mustard. Melted Swiss finished off these tasty alternative burgers.

Herbed Turkey Burgers
Herbed Turkey Burgers

Serves 4

For burgers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium sweet onions, sliced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices Swiss cheese

For honey mustard
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey

For serving
1 tomato cored and sliced
1 handful arugula
4 buns

Place the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, stir in the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for an additional 30 minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. If the onions start to burn, lower the heat and add a tablespoon of water. Finely chop half onions and reserve the rest for garnish.

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, chopped caramelized onions, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.

For the honey mustard, combine the whole grain mustard and honey.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Grill the burgers until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side. Melt a slice of Swiss cheese on each of the burgers in the last couple minutes of grilling.

To assemble, spread the buns with honey mustard and top the burgers with tomatoes, arugula and the remaining caramelized onions.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls
I am usually not a fan of decadent weekend brunches that are essentially dessert posing as a breakfast. In what seems like an instant, guilt and an empty stomach replace that sugar rush and feeling of fullness. The best of both worlds for me is 75 percent savory and 25 percent sweet. All I need are a few bites of a baked confection to be satisfied.

This batch of cinnamon rolls required a little more effort than a basic breakfast treat like muffins, so they were an ideal weekend project. As the rolls baked, an irresistible scent filled the kitchen. After taking the pans out of the oven, I let the rolls cool off before drizzling them with glaze, and then I devoured a delightfully sticky, warm cinnamon roll.

Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Epicurious September 2014

Makes about 16 rolls

For dough
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
2-1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing pan
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Non-stick cooking spray

For filling
1-1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

For glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt

For the dough, combine the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the eggs on low speed.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk, butter, cinnamon and salt until the butter has melted. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture is between 120 and 130 degrees F. Add to the bowl of the mixer and beat on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium, beating until the dough is elastic, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a large bowl greased with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Cover the bottoms of the pans with parchment.

To make the filling, combine the dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl.

For the glaze, stir the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract and salt until combined.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a rough 16-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Use a spatula to spread the butter in an even layer on the dough. Sprinkle the filling and pecans on top. Roll the dough into a log and slice crosswise with a sharp knife into 16 equal pieces.

Place the rolls cut side up in the prepared baking pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown. Turn out the cinnamon rolls on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Flip the rolls right side up and drizzle with glaze. Serve warm.

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