Recipe Only: Pizza

Pancetta, Pesto, and Pomodoro Pizza

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough – enough for 2 large pizzas or 4 small

  • 500 g all purpose flour
  • 1 g active dry yeast
  • 16 g fine sea salt
  • 350 g filtered water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded bowl (I used a 4-litre plastic ice-cream tub) with your hands or a wooden spoon until no pockets of flour remain.
  2. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature to ferment for 18-21 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is. The dough is very forgiving, so don’t stress about the specifics.

Basil Pesto – makes about 1 cup

  • handful of almonds, toasted
  • 2 strips lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp roasted garlic, or substitute 2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano
  • 120 g fresh basil, roughly torn
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • generous 1/2 c olive oil, plus more for sealing
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until finely textured.
  2. Spoon into a small mason jar and pour in more olive oil to fully cover the top. Seal with the lid and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
IMG_7132edit
Pancetta, Pesto, and Pomodoro Pizza

Pancetta, Pesto, and Pomodoro Pizza – makes 1 pizza

  • 1/2 recipe No-Knead Dough (above)
  • 2 San Marzano tomatoes, fished out from the can
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 bocconcini, halved
  • 5 slices pancetta
  • 1 tbsp Basil Pesto (above)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • finely shredded basil, to finish
  1. Preheat the oven to its highest setting or 525 degrees F. Place one rack as close as low as possible and the other as high up as possible. This will help you control the doneness of your crust and toppings later.
  2. Sprinkle a generous layer of flour all over a baking sheet and fold the dough gently (using more flour as necessary) to form a smooth ball.
  3. Stretch the dough out with your knuckles until it reaches the size of the pan. Fit it onto the floured pan. (This beautiful video will show you exactly what I mean.)
  4. Crush the San Marzano tomatoes between your hands and let the juices drip onto the pizza dough. Break the tomato into small pieces and dot them all over the stretched dough.
  5. Top with the bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, and pancetta slices in the order listed. Dot with pesto. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake on the bottom rack for 5-6 minutes, then transfer to the top rack to bake for another 6-7 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly, pancetta is crisp, and crust is lightly blistered and deep golden.
  7. Top with shredded basil, slice, and serve immediately (with chili flakes if I may add).

Goes well with a massaged kale salad…in the next post!

In the comments below tell me: What are your favourite pizza topping combinations?

the Original Drive-Thru

It’s always in the simplest, purest of ingredients that you notice the biggest difference. This time, I’m shining the light on a local farm that treats their hens right. And of course, happy hens => happy eggs => happy eating.

What’s even better? I don’t even have to stand in line at the farmer’s market to get them. They have a drive-through right at the farm, and literally all you need to do is “honk for service”. Yup, an egg drive-through. Where do I even come from, right?

Maple Ridge, British Columbia. And the adorable farm is called “Never Say Die” Nursery. See? Adorable.

But back to the eggs, gorgeous doesn’t describe them. And the term #yolkporn disgusts me. Seriously, don’t adulterate something so natural and nourishing. Whenever I come across a good egg it always makes me momentarily breathless. It must be the combination of the yolk’s bright tangerine color (#f28500 hex color code, look it up), the way the yolk stands so proudly in a visibly distinct sac of albumen when you crack it open that inspires me to treat it well.

This time, it’s poaching. There’s something about the tenderness of spring asparagus, the whimsy of sweet peas, and the viridity of a jiggly poached egg that makes them, together, instinctively irresistible.

As for those limp, watery eggs that have a sad, deflated, pale yellow yolk swimming inside of them, hide them in a box-mix cake or something. Do not attempt to serve them in their form. Also, never buy them again, for those eggs are from caged, drugged hens (in the name of mass economical production! oh joy!) and should not even be produced.

Hopefully you’ve seen the light as far as the topic of eggs, now go and convince your taste buds!

Take no part in

the unfruitful

works of darkness,

but instead

expose them.

Ephesians 5:11

IMG_3599edited2

 

Believe it or not, this is my very first time poaching an egg. So as you can see, it really is nothing to be scared of. To be honest, I was pretty terrified right up to the point I lowered in the egg, but immediately I realized that you are physically incapable of messing this up so long as you follow along this little tutorial. Also, as if I have not drilled it into your kitchen backsplash, a good free range egg is not negotiable – you and your family deserve at least that.

So here goes:

How to poach an egg

Step 1: If your egg has been sitting in the fridge, bring your egg to room temperature by submerging them in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes. Pat your egg dry and crack it into a small bowl. If your egg’s already at room temperature, just crack it into a small bowl. Take care not to break the yolk. (This should not be difficult as fresh free range eggs have very robust yolks!)

Step 2: Add 2 tbsp white vinegar to a large pot of water and let it come up to a rolling boil.

Step 3: Turn off the heat and use a spoon to stir the water quickly in a clock-wise direction to make a whirlpool in the pot’s center.

Step 4: While the current is still strong, gently tip the egg into the middle of the whirlpool.

Step 5: Cover and let it poach for 150 seconds (2 1/2 minutes), then carefully lift it out with a slotted spoon.

At this point you can either serve it immediately, or place it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Now let’s get on with the recipe!

Ingredients for the Penne with Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Pesto, and Caramelized Lemon

serves 4

340 g organic corn penne, or your preferred chunky pasta (I like penne because it’s the same shape as the asparagus)

1 large lemon, scrubbed clean and halved

3 tbsp olive oil

600 g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch sticks on the diagonal

1/2 c basil pesto (recipe follows)

2/3 c white wine (whatever you have on hand, I used chablis)

1 1/4 c frozen sweet peas

lots of fine sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil to season

To make the asparagus penne, cook the pasta as directed on the package.

Meanwhile, heat your cast iron on the stove until very hot. Place the lemon halves, cut sides down in the hot pan and hold them down firmly for 30~60 seconds, or until the surface is well-browned and caramelized. This will completely change the flavour profile of the lemon and give it a sweeter, deeper dimension. Slice off and reserve the caramelized parts only. (Use the rest for lemon water or something.)

Keep the pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp of the oil just to coat the bottom and add the asparagus. Season generously and let it sit undisturbed for 20 seconds or so to get some browned, crispy bits. Stir a couple times, just until all the pieces are bright green.

Transfer the asparagus into a large salad/mixing bowl. Stir in the frozen peas to stop the cooking process. By now the pasta should be cooked. Drain and toss it with the vegetables.

Keep the element on and add the remaining oil to the pan and stir in the pesto to wake up its flavour. Deglaze with the white wine and stir until the alcohol burns off. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and stir through. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Divide between four plates. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, top with an optional (but definitely recommended) poached egg, and serve with a slice of caramelized lemon.

Enjoy!

To make a vegan pesto, throw 50 g sweet basil, 2 garlic cloves, 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts, 3/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil in a small food processor and whiz to a textured puree. Store in a glass jar, pour a thin film of olive oil over top to seal and cover with the lid. This will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

 

 

Caught

Like everyone, I use filters. Oh how we adore them. We filter our lives through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s fantastic – it’s like Sephora, except not just for the female visage – it’s for everyone’s cyber avatar (which could arguably be a disturbingly independent, distinct identity from its owner).

But filtering is more than selectively publishing life statuses and photographs. Filters obscure, and make mild of perception. They deceive and dismiss the reality, the rawness of things.

Do you agree, that the heart is felt with more reality, above all else?

Do you agree, that the heart is beautiful?

But we filter the living breath out of it.

I’m far from perfect – I’m me, and I know better than anyone that I am despicable – but I try.

I try to be the person I want to become, and stop trying to become the person I want to be, else I’ll always wallow in self-loathing and self-pity because I will always be a step behind.

Let’s be honest. With ourselves and those around us. (This does not equate with being nasty.)

And keep hashtagging edited photographs with #nofilter. You wanted real, didn’t you?

Therefore let us celebrate the feast,

not with old leaven,

nor with leaven of malice and wickedness,

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity

and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:8

Also, raw is beautiful, just look at this beauty of a feast.

IMG_2793edited

 

This is honestly the best fish I ever had, and what’s even better is that it’s part of my 7-Ingredient series. I originally wanted to bake it en papillote, but the four-pound beauty has outgrown the paramenters of my parchment paper by an unsalvageable margin.

What I ended up doing was even simpler. Basically, from what you see above, I just covered that whole thing with aluminum foil, pinched down the sides tightly, and put it in the oven at a really low temperature. The result was phenomenal – the flesh was incredibly buttery and tender. And because I love all parts of fish, I ate the skin too, which was also extremely rich and creamy. That’s not all, the few roasted, sweet lemon slices basically worked magic and managed to permeate the entire fish with their vibrant perfume.

Ingredients for the slow-baked trout:

1 fresh trout, 3-4 lbs, cleaned (I had mine freshly caught and I highly recommend that)

4 tbsp coarse sea salt

1 small lemon, thinly sliced

3 tbsp basil pesto

1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size half-moons

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

few rounds freshly ground black pepper

To make the slow-baked trout, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, with the rack placed in the center. Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan with aluminum foil. Drizzle it all over with 1 tbsp of the olive oil.

Meanwhile, prepare the fish. Trout have a slimy protective coating that also happens to be the source of its “fishy” taste. To remove this slime, rub the skin of the trout generously with 2 tbsp of the salt – that’s right, massage it with lots of love. Leave it for 2 minutes and rinse off the trout under cold, running water. Pat as dry as possible with paper towel, and repeat the process again with the remaining salt.

Place the cleaned, dry trout into the prepared pan. Smear the pesto onto each of the lemon slices and fit them snugly, overlapping slightly, into the abdominal cavity. Add the zucchini to the pan and season everything with black pepper and a little more salt. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, turn off the oven, and let it sit in the hot oven for another 45 minutes, up to an hour.

Serve with boiled new potatoes and/or a light green salad.

Enjoy!

 

why am I always in a curry..

Two weeks into university and the new people I’m meeting have already thrown at me a  stupefying sum of questions.

What’s your name?

Jen, but you can call me Ann, whichever works.

Why did you choose this program?

Well, for the longest time I wanted to be a plastic surgeon, but then one day Jesus told me to go into ActSci and PoliSci so..

Are you vegetarian?

Um, I’m actually closer to vegan (and wheat-free) since I don’t consume dairy, but I do eat meat on occasion.

Then what are you?

(**What kind of question is that!?**)

Well, it’s not that I’m contre-cruelty or pretending to be a health fanatic, because I do thoroughly love food and the rich stories that go along with it. So basically, I’ll eat with respect.

Huh?

For example, if it’s a piece of local, organically farmed short rib, carefully and patiently cooked with the most simplicity such that the natural deep earthy flavour of the marrow and fat permeates every fork-tender strand of flesh, then yes I do. I do very much want to consume that piece of meat.

So in the end, I guess I found my answer.

I don’t have a problem with “meat” – the concept.

Rather, I am appalled by inhumain farming practices, and the greed for money that is the root of this evil.

After all this, it’s only fitting that I dish up some heart-warming breathing space.

IMG_0694

Ingredients for the thai basil pesto:

30 g thai basil, woody stem trimmed

2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped

handful raw whole almonds, roughly chopped

generous pinch of sea salt

60 ml avocado oil, or other mild oil

To make the pesto, put all ingredients in the food processor (a small one will work better, or use a mortar and pestle) except for the oil. Pulse until evenly chopped and mixed, then slowly stream in the oil until incorporated. Store in a small glass jar and pour an extra layer of oil to seal, then cover and refrigerate until needed, up to two weeks.

Ingredients for the curry:

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp minced ginger root

1 small onion, chopped

3~4 cups cut-up vegetables of choice, such as broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, water chestnut, etc..)

3 tbsp thai basil pesto (above)

1 can coconut milk

ground chili pepper, optional

sea salt, to taste

water

lime wedges, to serve

To make the  curry, heat the coconut oil in a hot wok or large saucepan. Add the ginger and onions and saute on medium heat until fragrant and the onions are softened. Add the vegetables and stir in the pesto. Saute for 1~2 more minutes. Add the coconut milk, chili, sea salt to taste, and enough water to barely cover the vegetables. Turn the heat to high and cover, until brought to a rolling boil. Check the seasoning, and the vegetables should be tender but still vibrantly colored.

Serve as is or with brown jasmine or basmati rice, and a wedge of lime should bring the whole plate alive with its fresh brightness.

Enjoy!