Sunday, January 29, 2012

perfecting homemade pizza

 being a New Yorker i was always spoiled by amazingly delicious pizza... every New Yorker says its one thing that makes the pizza, the artisan breads and the bagels stand way above the rest... the water...
so whats a part-time Mainer to do... one of two things...  (1) suck it up and get use to "pizza" or (2) try my hardest to make some really good homemade pizza-pies... do i sound snobbish... i truly apologize to the wonderful and sweet people of Maine if i do (i really do like it here, it's a beautiful place full of really nice people)... but... it's just hard to beat NY pizza...
 so... i have been working with different kind of dough... simple 5 minute doughs (blaahhhh)... and dough's that need to rise 24 hours (i'm too impatient)... and then there is the standard 2 hour yeast doughs... now these are more my speed...
here is the recipe i have been using lately... it's not perfect but it's pretty darn good and easy to make...
basic pizza dough (makes a single pizza)
prep: 10 minutes  rise: 2 hours
1 cup warm water (about 110)
2 1/4 tsp (or one package) of active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

1. place water in a bowl and add the yeast (let it bloom for 5 minutes)
2. in a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt, and the sugar... make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and the olive oil... with the dough hook attachment stir the dough until it comes together, adding in as much of the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, until the dough forms a ball
3. place the dough in lightly oiled bowl (turning over so the dough is coated with olive oil), and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until 2 hours
4. punch down the dough, place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into desired diameter

 one of the things i like to do, is right before i put the pizza in the oven, i brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and a bit of grated parmesan cheese... this makes an amazing almost bread stick like crust... my boys love it...

the quest is still on for the perfect pizza dough... i'll let you know if i find it... either that or i'll be asking my family to ship me up bottles of new york tap water :)

the boys are strictly plain cheese pizza guys... but i love anything on pizza... fresh spinach, red wine sauteed mushrooms and onions... lots of fresh mozzarella cheese... creamy melty goat cheese... the sky is the limit...

so... we are still looking about our surrounding area of Maine looking for a good pizza joint... and hey, if any of you know of one between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine let me know...

mangia! mangia!

Friday, January 20, 2012

the spanglish sandwich :)

we have all heard of it... we have all seen it... and we have all drooled over it... the "Spanglish Sandwich"... or also known as the "World's Greatest Sandwich", or the "Thomas Keller" sandwich... and if you have no idea what i am even talking about... well just google it!!! NOW!!! then make it... and slip away into a delightful food coma...recipe for this awesome sandwich:
monterey jack cheese
toasted rustic country loaf (pain de campagne)
1 tbsp of mayo
tomato slices
leaves of lettuce (i used arugula)
avocado slices
butter for frying
1 egg

1. cook the bacon until crisp, set aside on paper towels...
2. place slices of cheese on one side of the bread, then place it in toaster oven or under broiler to melt...
3. spread mayo on other slice of bread top with bacon, sliced tomato, lettuce and avocado...
4. on non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat and fry an egg... turning over briefly when the bottom is set (you really want to keep the yolk runny... it adds to the taste sensation)
5. place fried egg on top of lettuce, top with other slice of bread...
6. plate sandwich and slice in half, letting yolk run down sandwich...
7. serve with any side you like... we opted for sweet potato fries... yummmm...

Friday, January 6, 2012

black bean and zucchini burgers

so... i know i've been absent for a couple of months... and there is no excuse except for pure laziness and a lack of motivation... you see, when the hubby is out on patrol, i sometimes fall in a funk of simple dinners that i know my two little guys will eat... but that is all over now... it's a new year, and i've gotten my motivation back, and i'm pretty sure i'm not going anywhere for a long time :)
so lets start the new year with a healthy and delicious dish... black bean and zucchini burgers... it's such a simple recipe, made with a few ingredients... and... it's healthy for you too...
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped zucchini or summer squash
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 heaping tbsp of fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
salt, pepper and cumin to taste
hot sauce (or red pepper flakes) to taste

1. place all ingredients (except about a 1/4 cup of the black beans) into a food processor and pulse to combine, then add in the remaining whole black beans... then shape into patties
2. heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat... arrange patties in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes total
3. top with anything you wish... we topped ours with shredded colby jack cheese, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and a bit more fresh cilantro...
look at those babies fry.... mmmm....

the only change i will make will be to use a heartier bun... ciabatta or a nice whole wheat bunky roll... and maybe some pepper jack cheese... otherwise this was amazing...

until next time...

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients - julia child

Thursday, October 27, 2011

almost as good as take out... almost :)

we all know the delights of amazing quality take out... and being a new yorker i was always spoiled with an abundance of delicious food at the touch of my fingertips... italian, mexican, thai, japanese, fatty american, and chinese... but now... it's not that simple... and as of right now, the hubs and i are on a hunt looking for our "go-to" take out places... so far we've found a pretty decent pizza place a few blocks away, but it's nothing compared to new york pizza, nothing is... well, at least not in the US... (i admit it, i am a pizza snob)

now, the other day the chinese food mood hit me hard... and unfortunately for me, i haven't found the perfect take out place to fulfill my needs... so... after a little bit of research on the computer and flippin through some of my cookbooks, i finally settled on a recipe... the only thing that i had to change was the spiciness level... i had to think about the kids you know... i can't always be selfish when it comes to feeding the family...

as for the outcome... it was pretty darn tasty... fresh crunchy veggies, a sweet honey sesame sauce coating the lightly breaded chicken, and soft fluffy rice... all in all... a satisfying meal :) and the leftovers were just as tasty the next day!!

honey sesame chicken:
3 pieces chicken breast, cut to bite size pieces
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tbsp of cooking wine
1/2 tbsp of sesame oil
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
Salt & pepper to taste

for the sauce:
3 tbsp of sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp of tomato ketchup
1- 2 tbsp of honey (depending on how sweet you want)
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
2 tbsp of light soy sauce
1/4 cup of water
some toasted sesame seed

1. marinate the chicken with soy sauce, wine, sugar, sesame oil, salt and pepper and set it aside for at least an hour... just before frying mix the flour and cornstarch together in a ziploc bag, drain the chicken from the marinade, toss the chicken into the bag and coat evenly
2. oil a pan, and fry the chicken until golden brown, when cooked, remove the chicken from the pan, and remove all the oil from the pan
3. mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour it back into the hot pan, bring it up to a boil and let the sauce thicken a bit
4. add in the chicken and toss it gently until the chicken are evenly coated with the sauce, sprinkle the sesame seeds to the chicken

i used some fresh veggies like broccoli, mushrooms, peppers and onions, then added a crunchy coleslaw mix of cabbage and carrots (without the mayo if course)... and i used an arborio rice instead of a standard short grain rice... the rice choice made this dish nice and filling...

look at that chicken... mmm.... it would have been even better with some(a lot) of sriracha sauce and red pepper flakes in the sauce...

well... the hunt is still on for chinese take out... oh and sushi too... but until then i'll be happy to whip this recipe up now and then...

enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

lobster mac n' cheese... living it up in maine :)

welcome everyone to the debut of my blog "Before Dessert"... i hope it's something you will enjoy as much as i do... so... let me just get down to it... i figured i would kick this blog off with a totally amazing dish... something that is both the epitome of simple comfort food but also a bit on the decadent side... lobster macaroni and cheese...

a few weeks ago, the hubby, boys and i took a trip up to freeport, maine... what an amazing little port town full of quaint shops and restaurants... and while we were there we ate at an awesome restaurant/ brew pub called "gritty mcduff's"... we enjoyed some of their homemade brews, and some amazing pub fare... the hubs had some amazingly flaky fish and chips, and i ordered the lobster mac n' cheese in a white cheddar cheese sauce topped with slices of fried jalapenos... it was... indescribable... just so so good... so good in fact that me and the hubs have been talking about it ever since...

so... finally, we addressed our craving... and man... i'm so glad we finally did... luckily for us, we live in a place where lobster is everywhere... and even luckier for me i found a "lobster pound" where they sold fresh lobster meat... and i'm not talking about just little tiny broken up pieces... it was all huge meaty claws and chunks of tails...

so here it is... please pull up your chair and enjoy :)
martha stewarts mac n'cheese recipe:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole/dish
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups grated gruyère (or you can use 1 1/4 cups grated pecorino romano cheese)
1 pound macaroni of your choice (i used cavatoppi)
1 pound fresh lobster meat quickly sauteed in garlic and butter (yumm... this is defiantly one of the benefits living in maine, lots and lots of lobster)

1. preheat oven to 375, butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside... place the bread in a medium bowl
2. in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter, then pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss... set the breadcrumbs aside
3. warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat... when the butter bubbles, add the flour... cook, stirring for 1 minute
4. while whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth... continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes
5. remove the pan from the heat, stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups gruyère, set the cheese sauce aside.
6. cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil... cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes
7. transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well... stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce
8. add in the sauteed lobster meat (with all the bits of garlic and melted butter too), and stir to evenly distribute it among the cheesy goodness
9. pour the mixture into the prepared dish... sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup gruyère and the
10. bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes... serve and enjoy

how amazing does that look... it was delicious... i felt like a total glutton going back for seconds... and well, thirds...
happy eating everyone :)

“the only real stumbling block is fear of failure... in cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude" - julia child

Sunday, October 9, 2011

a warm welcome to you all :)

hey everyone... it's me, becky over at fat bottom... and i'm here to introduce my other blog, a blog all about my not so sweet side... my sauteed side... my pan fried side... my savory side... my covered in cheese and dipped in gravy side...

you see, not only am i lover of baking and desserts... but i'm also a budding foodie (or atleast i am in my own mind)... i've been cooking for years, and i've always had a knack for it... i guess i'd say it's in my genes... my mom and dad are both fabulous cooks... and through their different styles of cooking, and through my own trial and error, i've developed a love and i'd say a flare for cooking... not to mention i have three hungry boys to feed every day :)

so... this is a start of a different culinary journey... i'll share some my all-time favorites along with tons of new dishes that i find in my search for delicious food...

so... let's eat...