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Cooking with Fel – Wheat Pizza Dough

September 1, 2011

Doughs and I have a rough relationship. Batters (whether it be for muffins or pancakes or other baked goods), I can do – I mix, I bake, I eat, it’s good times all around. But dough? I have a tough time with dough. Something about the flour and kneading…It’s still very hit or miss with me, although I am slowly getting better.

One day in the near/far future, I would like be a dough master, making pasta and bread from scratch. For now however, I’m setting my sights on a lower goal: pizza dough. I’ve been messing around with a couple recipes – Some are clear misses; dense, floury discs whose recipes will never make it onto this blog. However, some are pretty good (if I may say so myself).

This is one of the recipes I actually like and is quite easy to make, even for a beginner like me. I’ll admit, sometimes I find the texture to be just a smidge too bready for a pizza crust but that’s probably my fault – I don’t roll my crusts very thin as I don’t want to overwork the dough. (Next time, I’ll give it a good pounding and see how much it can take.)

Wheat Pizza Crust
From: Amazing Whole Wheat Pizza Crust at Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups whole wheat flour
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

Cooking with Fel – Ratatouille

August 1, 2011

By this point, you should know that you should never believe me when I say I’m going to blog more often. It’s just never going to happen.

No, I haven’t cooked anything from that William and Sonoma cookbook.
Yes, I know I said I was going to.
Yes, I said it was going to inspire me.
No, it didn’t.
Yes, I suck.

However, in the past week or so I have started cooking things that I actually WANT to blog about! Therefore, Cooking with Fel is back in action! At least, for now…

———-

I’ve had ratatouille on my mind for the past couple of weeks for multiple reasons. First off, it’s summer – if you haven’t noticed, there are crates of beautiful zucchini and squash and tomatoes floating around the markets. If you’re looking for a dish that fully embraces summer vegetables, look no further than ratatouille. Secondly, I recently bought a Japanese mandoline slicer and this baby can SLICE. Piles of paper-thin vegetables, with no effort at all!

Ample summer vegetables + a slice happy Felicia = a recipe for ratatouille.

Its presentation might look tricky but honestly, ratatouille is so very easy to make, especially if you have a good slicer. If you don’t have a mandoline, you really should think about getting one – my mandoline is easily one of my top 3 kitchen investments ever, behind my Global knives and tri-clad pans.

Just to note, I did make a couple modifications to the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which I’ve incorporated below. Rather than chopping the onions, I just sliced the onions extremely thinly on my mandoline (almost to the point of being transparent) and layered it into the sauce. (Really, I was just lazy and didn’t want to wash another knife, but it worked out pretty well!)  Additionally, since I was baking it in a very small casserole dish, I created three or four layers of vegetables, rather than just the single layer in the original recipe. (From a cross section, it almost looks like a vegetable lasagna rather than individual slices of squash.)

Plated over a some warm quinoa, this was a great vegetarian dish!

Ratatouille
Modified From: Ratatouille’s Ratatouille by Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

* 1/2 onion, very thinly sliced
* 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
* 1 cup tomato puree
* 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 1 small eggplant
* 1 smallish zucchini
* 1 smallish yellow squash
* Salt and pepper

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour tomato puree into bottom of a dish. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and sliced onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.

Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.

Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. (You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.) Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. 

Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.

Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.

Cooking with Fel – Time to Cook the Books

April 17, 2011

Now I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve done a Cooking with Fel post and it’s not because I haven’t been cooking or that I’ve been lazy (which always seems like the reason I don’t post) – I’ve just been uninspired recently. Although it’s spring, the weather in NYC has been very fickle recently so I haven’t been able to explore the farmers markets as much as I would like.  Without my farmers markets, I’ve just been buying and cooking the same old stuff and…well…honestly, I’m bored of it all.

To get myself pumped about cooking again, I’ve decided I’m going to do two things:

  1. I’m going back to the farmers market once the weather starts warming up again.
  2. When I really feel uninspired, I’ll try to cook my way through the Williams Sonoma Cooking at Home cookbook.

Why this particular cookbook? Well, quite honestly, it’s the only cookbook I own right now. But, I think it’s a good one to work from – the techniques are straightforward, the recipes don’t involve a gazillion ingredients (which is one of my pet peeves about most cookbooks, seeing that I’m typically just cooking for myself and can’t afford to fill an entire fridge for one recipe) and the book is 640 pages long, with recipes for salad, dessert and everything in between, so I doubt I’m going to run out of things to cook anytime soon.

So let’s see how this new project of mine turns out! Hopefully this will get me back into the cooking groove again…

Cooking with Fel – Potato and Leek Soup

February 3, 2011

I have a slight obsession with leeks. Ever since I bought one when making chicken stock for an ex, I’ve wanted to buy a big ole bunch and cook with them. However, at the start of this obsession, they were $2 a stalk (I remember the local Ralphs only carried organic ones, which is why they were so freaking expensive) and they definitely were not as pretty as the ones you find at the farmer’s market in the fall. So, when I discovered cheap leeks, I went insane – Leek tarts! Leeks in frittatas and quiches! The possibilities were endless!

My first leek recipe ended up being a simple, easy-to-make potato and leek soup. It uses no cream and very little butter so it’s nice and light and healthy. However, be sure to use fresh leeks and salt and pepper liberally or else you might find the soup to be slightly bland. Also, if you’re feeling extra leek-y (as I typically do), double the number leeks for twice the flavor!

Potato and Leek Soup
Modified from: Gourmet, March 1992

Ingredients:

* the white and pale green part of 2 large leeks, split lengthwise, washed well, and chopped
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 2 1/2 chicken broth
* 1 pound boiling, potatoes
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

Directions:

In a large heavy saucepan cook the leeks in the butter with salt and pepper to taste, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are softened but not browned. Add the broth and the potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. In a blender purée 1 cup of the soup, stir the purée into the remaining soup with the parsley, and season the soup with salt and pepper.

Yield: About 4 cups, serving 2 generously.

Cooking with Fel – Beet Cake

January 12, 2011

I think I’m picking up bad habits from the mother.

I love the mom – she’s a generous, giving person and one of my biggest influences in life – but her attitude towards food cannot be any further from my own. I’m willing to splurge on tasting menu at a nice restaurant whereas she will cook a gigantic pot of rice and eat it every day for a week. She also has a tendency to never follow a recipe completely.

“Sugar? Do we really need that much? I think I’ll cut that in half.
Butter? That much butter can’t be good for you – I’m just going to cut that out entirely.
Now to add in some nuts and bran and oats and for nutritional purposes…”

Well, I definitely pulled a mom on this recipe.

I had this beet lying around my kitchen that was starting to go soft and I didn’t feel like roasting it. I had seen recipes online for a beet cake and thought it couldn’t hurt to give one of them a try. Most recipes call for chocolate to accompany (mask?) the beet flavor but this particular recipe by Tyler Florence was a pure beet cake. However, I made a few swaps…

“The recipe calls for brown sugar? I have none, so I’ll just use white.
Buttermilk? I only have non-fat – that’ll do, I guess.
Molasses? Do I need to buy molasses? I’ll just use maple syrup.
Now to incorporate some whole wheat flour in the place of the all-purpose flour and use applesauce instead of oil…”

(Sound familiar?)

Honestly, I was expecting this cake to fall flat but surprisingly enough…the end result wasn’t half bad! The beets give an interesting touch to the final product – similar to carrot cake or zucchini bread, you get a hint of earthy vegetable in every bite, which does take a little bit to get used to. I’d imagine the real deal is a smoother flavor, which is why I’m including the original recipe below for you to try yourself. However, if you start swapping this for that, don’t worry! You’ll still be okay.

Beet Cake
From: TylerFlorence.com

Ingredients:
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, to grease baking pans
* 1 1/4 cups finely chopped red beets
* 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* a pinch of kosher salt
* 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 cup buttermilk
* 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Begin by lightly greasing 4 individual baking dishes with butter (oven proof ramekins or cocotte dishes work well). Peel beets and cut into pieces so they can fit comfortably in a food processor.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, mix molasses, eggs, buttermilk, oil and sugar together. Now mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients and then fold in the processed beets.

Set ramekins out on a roasting tray. Divide batter amongst ramekins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they have puffed up and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.


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