Posts made in October, 2013

Vanilla Pear Jam, Apple, and Roquefort Cheese Pizza

I swear, I do eat “normal” American-style pizza. You know, the cheesy kind topped with black olives, hot peppers and pineapple (ok, ok, so maybe my taste isn’t completely normal). But more often than not, I like unusual pizzas, or at least unusual in comparison to the greasy, cheese and pepperoni topped pizza that has conquered most chain pizza joints across the United States. I’m drawn to the ones topped with ricotta cheese or roasted vegetables or fig jam, prosciutto, and gorgonzola (amazing combination, by the way). So when I bought one of my favorite seasonal jams from the market (Vanilla Pear from Sweet Thing Gourmet Jams), and the owner recommended pairing it with gorgonzola cheese, I knew it was time, once again, to make pizza.

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I made a similar pizza late last winter using apples, caramelized onions, and gorgonzola (which is a delicious combination), but this jam, combined with the spiciness of the pepper flakes, gives this pizza an extra punch. I used roquefort cheese instead of gorgonzola, just for something different, but the taste is so similar that you could easily use either one. And of course, I don’t expect everyone to have access to such a unique jam, but I’m sure many other jams would work as well.

So to begin (and I apologize for the lighting in some of these photos. Dark kitchen.). You will notice in the below photos I’m using a pizza pan. It was my first time using one. Usually I use a pizza stone, but I found that the pizza pan works quite nicely as well.

Shape your pizza dough. Spread a thin layer of the vanilla pear jam onto the dough (a little goes a long way). Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, fresh garlic (about one small clove), and oregano or other Italian herbs. 

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Next add slices of apple and slices of banana peppers or another pepper of your choice.

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Between the peppers and apples, drop small chunks of roquefort or gorgonzola cheese. It spreads when it melts, so you don’t need much.

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Sprinkle the top of the pizza with a combination of asiago cheese and pecorino (or one or the other). Add a tiny pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

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Bake at 475 for about 8-10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and drizzle balsamic vinegar on top. (I used a specialty vinegar I received as a gift: Vanilla Fig. Plain vinegar will do, as well. Just make sure it’s a thick, high quality vinegar).

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It’s sweet. It’s spicy. It’s creamy and crunchy. It’s delicious. Enjoy!

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Homemade Apple Sauce

It’s fall and time for apple season! One of the most wonderful parts of living in Ohio is picking apples at the many beautiful apple orchards. And what’s one to do with so many apples? Why, make apple sauce, of course.

This recipe is a rather old fashioned one. It’s the way my grandmother made apple sauce, the way my dad still makes it, and the way I make it as well. You need one specialty item: a food mill. I suppose you could use a food processor, but if you can get your hands on a food mill, I recommend it.

You begin by picking apples. Or buying them at the store, if that’s your thing. I’ve tried a few different varieties. My favorite apple to use it Jonathan. In the photos below, I was using a combination of Ida Red, Fuji, and Jonathan. I’ve also used cortland and mcintosh in the past. Note the color of my sauce. That pinkish color is caused by the red skin of the Jonathans. Depending on the type of apples you use, the color will change.

And so to begin at the apple orchard:

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Select a pot large enough to easily fit about twenty apples at a time. Rinse the apples well and then core and quarter them.

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Work quickly so that they apples don’t brown too much. Once done, place the apples in the pot, fill 1/4 of the pot with water, and bring to a boil. Once the apples are boiling, turn the heat down and place a lid on top, leaving a slight opening. Continue to boil the apples and stir them every few minutes so that the apples on top will cook as quickly as the ones on the bottom. Once the apples are all soft, remove from heat. (If you’re using multiple varieties, one variety may take less time to soften than another. Don’t worry. Just be sure to stir and get the harder ones down towards the bottom of the pot).

This is how they look when they’re done:

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Next place a food mill over a large bowl, like so:

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Using a slotted spoon, scoop the apples, one spoonful at a time, into the food mill. Turn the handle until all of the flesh has fallen through into the bowl and only the skins are left. Discard the skins and continue until all of the apples have been processed. Do not discard any water left in the pot. It’s flavored from boiling the apples and will help prevent the sauce from being too thick.

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Place the apples back into the pot with any of the leftover water and place the pot over low heat. Add a touch of cinnamon and about a 1/4 cup of raw sugar. (Both are optional)

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Boil for a few minutes. (Have the lid ready. It’ll splatter and apple sauce burns!)

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Once done, serve warm or cold or freeze it/can it for the winter. Enjoy!

 

 

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