So the big day is right around the corner..Super Bowl, yay! I’m not really partial to either team and am not even a huge football fan, but i LOVE LOVE LOVE the Super Bowl simply because of the fun parties, the commercials, and the food and drinks, of course.
So in spirit of the football party season, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite game day recipes that are perfect for a crowd. Finger foods, appetizers, dips and spreads and small bites to party in style! Stay tuned later this week for some fun cocktail ideas for the big game too..may the best team win! #gopanthers #gobroncos
So here it is, the last day of the year 2015..oh how time flies, and so much has happened! I’m so thankful for all the wonderful opportunities that have come into my life and the lessons learned along the way. Here are some of my Top / Most Popular posts from The Artful Gourmet blog this year — and wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year 2016!
So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.
I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some redgrapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarellacheese, and some thin cut Italianham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.
I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.
This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.
I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.
Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)
Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge
1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Honey for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.
I’ve been on a spicy food kick lately. Maybe it’s the pseudo-Spring weather. Or maybe I’m just addicted. I decided to make a fun twist on pizza and make a seriously delicious Taco Pizza. Yes, TACOS. And PIZZA. All baked into a bubbling pile of goodness. This Taco Pizza is the easiest thing to make, and the best tasting thing on the planet. Like a fiesta in your mouth.
I had a bunch of Pillsbury Crescent Dough in the fridge, as well as a ton of fresh ingredients I wanted to use up. Yes, I could have made Nachos. Or Burritos. Or Enchiladas. Or even a Taco Salad. But why not make a Taco Pizza? It was Friday after all. And Fridays are made for FUN FOOD, arent’ they?
The crust is super buttery and flaky and a delicious canvas for this Taco Monster creation.
The pizza is topped with all the goodies you would make tacos with – salsa, ground beef, taco seasoning, black beans and onions,
with a layer of fresh veggies like black olives, tomatoes, jalapenos; and of course plenty of shredded cheddar cheese.
Just layer all the goods on the dough, pop it in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 13-16 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is melty-ooey-gooey.
Then, top it with some chopped cilantro, a few dabs of sour cream and some wavy corn chips for extra crunch.
Serious YUM. And perfect for a Friday afternoon. With a margarita or two, of course. 🙂
A seriously delicious Taco Pizza made with ground beef, tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, black beans and cheese, topped with sour cream, cilantro and crunchy corn chips baked on a crescent dough crust.
2 cans (8 ounce) Pillsbury crescent dough
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 tablespoon minced dried onion)
1 package taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 cup chunky salsa
10-12 cherry or plum tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup wavy corn chips, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Separate dough into 2 long rectangles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press perforations to seal into one large rectangle of dough. Repeat for second pizza.
In a large skillet, saute ground beef, onions and black beans until cooked through and meat is no longer pink. Drain grease, and add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water, mix together well and keep warm, covered.
Prep the veggies and pizza topping ingredients.
Layer the dough with the salsa, 1/2 cup for each pizza.
Top dough with the taco beef and bean mixture, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos and shredded cheese on both sheets.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
Garnish pizzas with corn chips, sour cream and fresh cilantro.
Cut each pizza into 6 squares and serve hot.
You can also substitute shredded chicken, ground chicken or turkey or pulled pork for the ground beef.
A regular pizza dough crust can also be used in place of the crescent dough.
Pizza is probably one of my most favorite things on the planet. Seriously. Who can resist that crispy crunchy crust topped with melted gooey cheese and fresh, savory baked toppings? A pizza is a creative endeavor that is only limited to your imagination. The pizza dough is like a blank canvas just waiting for the artist to paint a masterpiece on.
Speaking of dough, you can certainly take a stab at making your own – here is a basic pizza dough recipe that’s easy enough to make. If you don’t want to bother making your own and want to save time, you can use pre-made refrigerated pizza dough from the grocery store (I get mine from Fairway stores, or you can try Pillsbury pizza dough which is inexpensive and easy to use. They even have Artisan, thin and gluten-free crusts now which is kinda cool.)
I made these rustic pizzas the other day in an attempt to use up some fresh veggies, pizza dough and ingredients from my kids cooking show I taped last week – we made all kinds of fun pizza on set but i couldn’t bear to waste the leftovers!
So here’s how easy these babies are to make…I divided the pizza dough and patted out the dough on to pizza pans to make four rustic pizzas – one of them topped with sauteed garlic, spinach, olive oil, savory chicken, sun dried tomatoes and plenty of mozzarella gooey cheese. The other one I made with sauteed bell peppers in different colors, broccoli, pepperoni, ham, tomato sauce and two gooey cheeses – mozzarella and muenster, great for melting. The trick to a great pizza in my experience is to saute your veggies in some olive oil and garlic BEFORE you put them on the pizza (the chicken too!). This gives them a deeper flavor and keeps them from drying out in the oven when you bake the pizzas. Throw them in a preheated oven on 400 degrees for about 15-17 minutes, let them cool on a baking rack for about 5 minutes, and then top them with some fresh torn basil, some extra parmesan cheese and pepper flakes and you’ve got some serious deliciousness going on.
We sat around a big table in a private room upstairs and learned the techniques, traditions and passions behind producing a perfectly thin crispy Neapolitan pizza while sipping on Italian wines and making new friends.
We learned the intricacies behind making and kneading our own dough accustom to the Neapolitan style by making wells of flour filled with yeast water and the patient process of kneading using only 2 fingers as the dough slowly came together by kneading, mixing and adding more flour and water.
We watched Chef Chris toss pizza dough in the air and even tried it ourselves (too fun!).
We then made our own Margherita sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, and topped off the pizzas with cubes of fresh cow’s milk Mozzarella and fresh basil before our pizzas were thrown delicately into a 900 degree oven on a pizza peel to reveal a perfectly crispy gorgeous pizza of bubbly cheesy goodness.
Layer the dough with sauce…
Add some delicious Fresh Cow’s Milk Mozzarella and Basil…
Patiently waiting for the oven…
And let the deliciousness devouring begin.
The story behind Neapolitan pizza goes like this: In June 1889, a Neapolitan tavern owner Raffaele Esposito served the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, a special dish named in her honor. The wood-fired Flatbread was topped with Melted Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce and Basil leaves, symbolizing the colors of the Italian Flag. The Queen was so pleased with her meal that she had a wood-fired “flat-bread oven” built into the palace. And history was made.
The art behind making a perfect, true Neapolitan pizza has become a standard practice with strict rules of approval. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is a non-profit official governing association in Italy that maintains the standards and regulations of all Pizzaioli and Establshments serving Vera Napoletana Pizza. It was founded in Naples in 1984 by the oldest and well-known Neapolitan pizzaioli, and according to the “rules” proposed by them, there are specific ingredients and techniques that must be used to pass the official Italian seal of approval.
So just what are the secrets behind making that crispy crust with gooey cheese and succulent sauce? Here’s a few secrets from Restaurateur/Chef and native New Yorker, Nick Accardi of Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen:
Measure by weight rather than volume to get the perfect water to flour ratio for your crust. Many elements can change the density of ingredients such as age, storage temperature, or environmental climate. Measuring by weight assures the perfect hydration ratio.
Use double zero (type 00) flour which is a highly refined flour that has been milled to a standard “00” and completely free of bran or germ.
Use natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water. (New York City tap water is the BEST secret ingredient in making the perfect pizza dough!)
Keep yeast refrigerated and check the expiration date on the package to make sure it’s fresh.
The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
Allow the dough to rise for 24 hours at room temperature. The bare minimum standard is 6 hours (after mixing let the dough rise for 2 hours, then hand cut and roll into small balls, let rise for 4 more hours).
After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. Use your hands to gently work the dough from the center outward.
Use San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, for the pizza sauce like a bona fide pro (easy to find in grocery stores or Italian markets).
Vera Napoletana Pizza must be made using only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients including Fior di Latte (Cow’s Milk) or Bufala Mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled with real Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can find Genuine imported EVOO also at Italian markets such as Eataly or Tavola in NYC.
Less is More: Don’t drown a pizza in sauce and toppings. The most delicious pies use smaller portions of the highest quality of fresh ingredients.
A thin crust is the signature trait of Neapolitan pizza. While having a wood fired oven at home is not common these days, making your crust as thin as possible will allow for fast cooking time, which intensifies and seals in the flavors of each ingredient. Note: The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana requires the thickness of the crust to be 1-2 cm.
The pizza must be baked for 60-90 seconds in a 905°F stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant.
There are three official variants to Neapolitan pizza: Pizza Marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, Pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and Pizza Margherita Extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed with juices through a food mill
12 ounces Mozzarella di Bufala (see note) or mozzarella fior di latte cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 large or 8 small basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Medium coarse sea salt
Special equipment: a pizza stone and peel
Make the dough: Sprinkle yeast over water; let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If yeast does not become creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt; form a well in center. Add yeast mixture and warm water; stir until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously, for 10 minutes. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then knead vigorously for 10 minutes more. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Punch down dough with your fist (dough will be stiff), then fold sides over one another, turn dough, tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Divide dough into 4 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface, leaving a few inches between balls. Loosely cover with a damp dish towel (not terry cloth) and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours; time may vary depending on room temperature and freshness of yeast. If skin forms on dough while rising, lightly spray surface with water.
Heat Stone While Dough Rises: Position rack in lower third of oven. Place pizza stone on rack. At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, heat oven to maximum temperature (500 to 550 degrees).
Assemble Pizza: On a lightly floured work surface, press 1 dough ball with your fingers to begin to shape into a round. Use your fist and hands to gently stretch dough to a 10-inch round. (A floured rolling pin can be used to help roll out dough.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured peel; gently shake peel to make sure dough does not stick.
Working fairly quickly, spread a 1/3 cup sauce over dough, leaving about a 1/2 -inch border. Tear 3 ounces cheese into pieces and arrange on top of sauce. Tear 1 or 2 basil leaves into small pieces and arrange on top. Drizzle very lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Slide pizza onto stone. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in spots and edge of dough is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Using the peel and a large spatula or pair of tongs, transfer pizza to a plate and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Note: Soft “00” flour produces a pliable, easy-to-work-with pizza dough and a tender yet sturdy crust with a crisp yet not too dry edge. Mozzarella fior di latte has a firmer texture than Mozzarella di Bufala, which falls apart when cut, though both cheeses are creamy when melted. You can find “00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella fior di latte at Italian markets, specialty stores, and online.