Sunday, September 30, 2012

Savory Sunday-Grilled Pizza with Corn Pesto Sauce

 I am coming into fall kicking and screaming.  The weather here finally snapped. it seemed like just a week ago it was still 80+ degrees outside and the cooling down to just sweatshirt weather at night.  Now I am waking up huddled beneath the covers with the cats piled on top of me wondering why I failed to shut the window the night before.

For those of you still eking the last tomatoes and scrappy basil leaves out of your garden, I urge you to try this pizza.  For those whose garden is already gone, save this until next year, it is worth it.  The pizza crust on the grill crisps up perfectly and the fresh garden ingredients make this pizza a refreshing modification to a traditional pizza.

Rumor has it, that at least here in Illinois, it will be warming up again to at least the 70s for a couple of days.  The perfect weather to top off grilling season.
Corn Pesto adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2012
2 cups frozen sweet corn
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 tablespoons olive oil

Martha recommends using fresh sweet corn.  I am lazy and use frozen.  It makes this recipe a LOT less work and you can make it any time of the year.

Cook frozen corn for a couple of minutes in the microwave to defrost.  Pour off the water and then put into a food processor.  Add garlic and Parmesan cheese and process away until everything is mixed together and coarsely chopped.  With the processor on low speed, drizzle the olive oil in until just combined.

Pizza Dough adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
makes 2 full sized pizzas or 4 personal sized pizzas
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (I use Kosher)
1 teaspoon instant yeast

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together whole wheat flour, instant yeast and all purpose flour.  Drizzle in olive oil over the flour and stir to coat the flour in oil.  Add in a cup of water and stir until dough is combined.  Use a dough hook to knead dough for about 8 minutes on low speed.  If dough seems dry, add more water.  I tend to prefer my pizza doughs a bit on the loose side since I always add flour when I roll them out.

Cover and allow to raise for 1-2 hours.  If using that day, turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes.  Cover again and allow to raise for another hour.  If you are not using the dough right away, wrap tightly in plastic wrap after the first raise and then put in a freezer bag and freeze.  To use frozen dough, remove from freezer the morning you want to use it and allow to thaw on counter until evening.  The dough will have its second raise while thawing.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Divide dough into 2-4 pieces.  My husband and I find that pizza on the grill is easiest if you make individual sized pizzas.  Roll dough into a pizza shaped round.  This dough is very stretchy so you may have to roll it and then let the gluten relax for a few minutes and reroll it.  I roll my dough to approximately dinner plate size and about 1/4 inch thick.

To make Pizza on the Grill
  • Heat the grill
  • Take rolled out pizza dough and brush one side liberally with olive oil
  • Put olive oil side down on the grill.
  • Close grill and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Oil top and flip dough 
  • Place sauce and toppings on pizza
  • Close lid and allow to cook until cheese is melted or crust is looking too dark:)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cider and Tea

I am fortunate because within a 20 minute drive from me there are at least two apple orchards that sell fresh cider.  Last night, I drove past one and got my first of what I hope is many 1/2 gallons this fall.  The weather is cool and rainy and the perfect time of year to curl up the a good book and a mug of warm cider.

Last year, in a fall issue of Martha Stewart Living, it was suggested to steep a bag of black tea in hot cider.  I tried it and it was fantastic.  The black tea lends an extra round of complexity to the tangy sweetness of the cider.  Plus I get just a tiny bump of caffeine.  Oh, and a little spoonful of this caramel sauce didn't hurt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Seasame Street Cupcakes

My nephew turned 2 recently and my sister had a Sesame Street birthday party for him.  When she asked me to make the cake (and by asked, I mean that I told her I was making these super cute cupcakes whether she wanted them or not) I was thrilled.  I had seen these babies awhile ago on Annie's Eats and had stored them away in my brain for a rainy day.  Or my nephew's birthday, you know, whichever came first.  Sorry for the lack of photos.  Typically when I make something really fun, I am also in a time crunch so the photos end up taking a backseat to the baking project.  Also, I am having computer problems, so my photos are all edited on my phone.  Awesome.

These cuppies were really easy (minus Big Bird, who was not easy).  Go to Annie's blog to see a step by step tutorial.  I made a few changes to her exact plan.  I used Wilton Candy Eyes instead of making my own from fondant.  They worked well, however, they are not as big and you could not make Cookie Monster's eyes googly because of the fixed pupil.  I also piped the mouths of Oscar and Elmo with black buttercream using a Wilton #3 tip before I piped the fur.  Oscar's tongue was a dab of red buttercream added with a Wilton #2 tip.  

For Cookie Monster's cookie, I used Chips Ahoy mini cookies.  I didn't even know they make little chocolate chip cookies like that, but they are perfect for this project.  Oscar and Cookie Monster's fur was piped with the Grass and Hair Tip.  Elmo was piped with a #16 star tip and Big Bird with a Leaf tip.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Makes My Life Easier-Canning Rings on a String

So my tomatoes are in full swing and I have been canning like a mad woman for about a month now.  When I went to assess what I had and what I didn't, I realized that my canning cabinet was a crazy mess.  The biggest problem?  These canning rings.  They were everywhere!  So, to make my life a little easier, I took a long string and knotted loops into 2 ends.  I then strung my canning rings onto the string and clipped them together with a little carabiner.  Now when I need a couple of rings, I just unclip the string and pull off what I need.

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