Tag Archives: mozzarella

The Little Things: Artisan Pizza Topped with Figs, Buffalo Mozzarella, and Truffle Honey

This past weekend was lovely. Not because of any spectacular event, but because of all the little things. The kind that are easy to miss, and so important not to. Lazy mornings in bed drinking tea and eating croutons. Soaking up the sun at the park while the dogs run as though their hearts might burst. Dinners that creep into the wee hours with new friends. Rediscovering a song you loved back when life was simpler, but didn’t seem as such.

A perfect Sunday breakfast.

Similar to how some create a sound track for their lives, I inevitably find myself creating meals. Breakfasts that comfort or inspire, lunches that speed along or stop to pause, dinners that celebrate simplicity or boast grandiosity.

No weekend is complete without eggs..hard boiled, deviled, scrambled, over easy. I like them all.

This pizza somehow manages to span nearly all of these. While making your own dough might seem intimidating at first, it is surprisingly easy and delivers a much more complex and affordable canvas than the store-bought variety. Easily enjoyed over a long dinner with lots of wine, it is also perfect for a bite on the go, and while there is something undeniably impressive about anything involving the word “truffle”, the minimal number of quality ingredients makes this weeknight friendly as well.

What are the little moments that you most enjoy?

Artisan Pizza Topped with Figs, Buffalo Mozzarella, and Truffle Honey

The drizzle of truffle honey is really what takes it to the next level.

  • 2, 1-lb loaves Olive Oil Dough (recipe follows)
  • Olive Oil for Brushing
  • 1/2 lb sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella
  • 1 cup figs, cut in half
  • Truffle Honey for Drizzling

Utter simplicity, and yet so good.

  1. At least twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven with a baking stone to 550 degrees or whatever is your oven’s maximum.
  2. Dust one of your loaves with flour and dust a work surface as well.
  3. Flatten the dough with your hands to produce an 1/8-inch-thick round.
  4. Place round onto a liberally cornmeal-covered pizza peel (note…if you don’t have one pre-cooking the crust slightly is helpful)
  5. Brush with olive oil, and top with half the mozzarella and half the figs.
  6. Slide the pizza directly onto the stone (I find this scary AND I’m bad at it, so I usually try to coerce someone else into doing it). A number of back and forth shakes may be necessary.
  7. Check for doneness after 8 – 10 minutes, rotating if browning unevenly. Continue cooking until light golden brown, up to another 5 minutes.
  8. While pizza one is cooking, prep pizza two to minimize time sitting (and therefore STICKING) on the board.
  9. Allow to cool slightly, drizzle with truffle honey, and serve.

Olive Oil Dough
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Makes four 1-pound loaves. Recipe easily halved or doubled.

  • 2 and 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 packets granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one.
  2. Mix in the flour until well incorporated.
  3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
  4. You can use it immediately after that, although it’s easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.
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Filed under Entertaining, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Spectacular, Spectacular: Grilled Bruschetta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil, and Shrimp

This past weekend my Uncle Daniel took us on a boating adventure up to the San Juan Islands. It is truly breathtakingly beautiful up there, with vistas you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the States. We boated, we kayaked, we laughed, and of course, we ate. Happily bobbing along on the Moon Dance II, a handmade wooden craft by the renowned Sam Devlin, we enjoyed cooking up feasts in the boat’s galley, aptly named the Moon Dance Diner for all the impressive creations Daniel whipped up there.

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

A little pre-trip prep…slow roasting the tomatoes.

Day 17 of no buying groceries, coupled with boat friendly cuisine made this one a little tricky, but no less spectacular. The robust and bright flavors of the slow roasted tomatoes come to life when paired against the sizzling buffalo mozzarella. Basil freshly picked from the garden just the day before provides a welcome depth, and when topped with one impeccable grilled shrimp helps elevate an otherwise generally standard antipasto to an elite affair.

Mt. Baker in the distance.

The gents determining where the afternoon kayak should go.

Sunset at Sucia Island up in the San Juans.

We may have briefly lost a kayak, but it resulted in a midnight paddle where the phosphorescent were absolutely extraordinary, lighting up the water as we paddled through its stillness.

A cup of coffee, a morning kayak ride, and returning to Daniel cooking up omelets in the Moon Dance Diner. Doesn’t get better than this.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.

Grilled Bruschetta Topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chopped Basil, and Grilled Shrimp

  • 2 Ciabatta loaves, cut in half
  • 1 TB butter
  • 4 slices buffalo mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slow-roasted-tomatoes, room temperature (I’m loving the Smitten Kitchen recipe, right now)
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, raw and tail on, tossed in 1 TB Olive Oil
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Using either a grill pan or skewers, cook the shrimp until pink and cooked through. About 2 minutes a side. Once done, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, butter ciabatta loaves and grill until nicely marked, buttered side down, about 5 minutes
  4. Remove ciabatta and top with mozzarella over grill marks. Return to grill and cook until mozzarella melted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Cut loaves in half and top with basil, slow roasted tomatoes, and shrimp.
  6. Enjoy!

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Appetizers, Entertaining, Seafood, Uncategorized

The Classics: Knife and Fork Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

I almost never make the same thing twice. Perhaps it is because the ever-growing pile of cookbooks and magazines in my kitchen creates a minor level of anxiety that “I don’t have time to make that again!!! Do you have any idea how many recipes there are in the world??”

And yet, as I look at the search terms that consistently drive people to Shut Up & Cook, it’s the same few items over and over again.

There are also the slightly ridiculous search terms. A few favorites include:

  • “shut up and cook chili”
  • “how to pronounce seared”
  • “big butt cupcakes” (isn’t that awesome?)

So yesterday when I was starving and thinking about what to make, what I really wanted was a good ‘ol fashioned Chicken Parmesan Sandwich. And without fail, the little voice in my head went off, “You can’t make that!! You just got a new Food & Wine. Do you have any idea how EASY and BORING that is?!?!”

Fortunately for me, sheer hunger took over as did our impending trip to Ikea and I threw my culinary snobbery to the wind, grabbed the bag of prepared Chicken Tenders from our freezer (yes, gasp, I know) and made a massively delicious sandwich.

To be fair, I dressed it up with slow roasted tomatoes and cilantro pesto, but it was still damn easy and damn good.

Sometimes we need to remember it’s okay to stick with the classics, and not always reinvent the wheel…remind me of that when I forget, would you please?

Knife and Fork Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Knife and Fork Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

As the name implies, this is definitely a knife and fork sandwich. Delicious with a glass of red wine such as a Syrah.

Serves 2.

  • 4- 6 Breaded Chicken Tenders, pending on size. Costco has some good options here
  • 2 Ciabatta rolls, cut in half
  • Cilantro Pesto – Recipe coming soon or store-bought would be fine
  • Slow Roasted Tomatoes – Recipe coming soon or store-bought would be fine
  • 2 Slices Mozzarella
  • Handful of Arugula
  1. Preheat oven to 450. On a cookie sheet lined with foil place tenders and cook for 20 minutes until beginning to brown. Turn half-way through.
  2. Meanwhile, spread approximately 2 TB pesto on the top half of each ciabatta. Top with a slice of mozzarella. Spread approximately 1/4 cup slow roasted tomatoes on the bottom half of each ciabatta.

    Slow Roasting Tomatoes

  3. Pull the cookie sheet from the oven, and leaving the chicken tenders on there, add the bread next to the tenders, with the pesto/cheese and tomatoes facing up.
  4. Add back to the oven and cook until bread is toasted and cheese is bubbling. About 10 minutes.
  5. To assemble sandwiches take the bottoms, add the chicken tenders, add a handful of arugula, and top with the upper halves.
  6. Enjoy with a knife and fork!

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Filed under Comfort Foods

Fit for a King: Summer Caprese Salad

You’ve probably noticed that things have been a little quiet at Shut Up & Cook this past month. But I have a good excuse…I’ve had royalty in town. And I’m not talking Will and Kate.

No…I’m talking about His Royal Highness…the Duke of Tacoma. Or just Duke for short.

His Royal Highness...the Duke of Tacoma

His Royal Highness...the Duke of Tacoma

Last September, we had to put our best friend Lucky the Dog down. He left a hole in our lives that Matt and I did our best to ignore with over-rationalizing and good ‘ol fashioned New England denial, but the truth was our little family was missing something. So this Spring we (okay I) started to make lists. “Pros and Cons of Getting a Puppy”. The cons list is long and easy…the pros list is longer and easier. Enter Mr. Duke. He was abandoned on the streets outside Tacoma, near death with parvo and severely stunted by rickets. Turned into the Tacoma Humane Society, they got him healthier and then given his breed (the ferocious Pit bull) gave him a short sentence to euthanasia unless someone adopted him. Enter, The Pit Stop, a terrific small rescue group that was started to be a voice and a safe haven for the very misunderstood, neglected and abused American Pit Bull dog breed.

Duke was a lucky one. He was picked up by a great rescue group and then placed in an amazing foster home that understands the breed and delivered to us a 4 1/2 month old dog that was already more trained than most people’s children.

The last month has been one of such fun and discovery. Onca is a brilliant older sister and I am an undeniably overly proud (read bragging and obnoxious) Mom. Duke has proven to be a sterling representation of the breed: friendly, smart, funny, inquisitive, utterly devoted, and goofy. We do have to deal with some people picking up their little dogs to walk by us at the park due to their ignorance, but it’s a small price to pay. I wouldn’t want a chihuahua anyway.

And such is my long-winded excuse of why I haven’t been cooking. I’ve been too busy gushing about Duke to anyone who will listen. But this sunny Fourth of July weekend I decided to get back into it. First step…the ultimate summer salad: Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato with Olive Oil and Balsamic. This is so easy it hardly requires a recipe, but it’s guaranteed to impress.

Serve it when you’ve got His Royal Highness in town…just don’t let him beg.

Summer Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  Extra yummy paired with grilled crostini and Prosecco.

2 vine-ripened tomatoes

8 oz fresh mozzarella

1 bundle fresh basil

2 TB Good Olive Oil (the best you can afford)

1 TB Balsamic

Coarse Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Slice the tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Slice the mozzarella in circles and then cut in half so that they resemble half moons
  3. Thinly slice the basil.
  4. Alternating back and forth, put the tomatoes and mozzarella in a round on a plate.
  5. Sprinkle with the fine basil and then coarsely grate salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with balsamic.
  7. Allow to come to room temperature before serving so the flavors are really bright and fresh.

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Entertaining, Make ahead, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

A dear friend, and fellow blogger, recently described her great accomplishments of the past month as:

  • “I did not cry in the past four days even though sometimes I was really drunk.”
  • “I went to the beach everyday in August and did not get burned.”
  • “Yesterday, at the grocery store there were free samples of cake and I did not eat one.”

Because of how my life has been going, I’ve been measuring my triumphs in a similar scale. Take today for instance:

  • Upon waking, my hair only moderately resembled a rogue bonsai.
  • I did not once sign one of the 200 work emails I fast and furiously sent out with ‘xoxo’. (this is a deep seeded fear of mine, even though it has only happened once).
  • I successfully managed to wear one of those chunky chic necklaces that are so popular right now without anyone openly mistaking me for a kindergarten teacher.

Yes…today was a good day.

The real triumph of the day however, undoubtedly, and per usual, came in the kitchen.

My tomato plants, having been seriously stunted by our lame summer, finally kicked into gear and produced a whole slew of beautiful, tomatoes. Add to that a bit of stale bread in my freezer, and a shameless desire to recreate the oh-so-delicious panzanella salad I recently had at Rowhouse and we were in action.

This is very easy and quick to make, and is beautiful when presented. A perfect way to use the last of summer’s bounty.

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Serves 4-6

1/2 pound (about 5 cups)  stale bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes.  You want the bread to be substantial; think french bread or sour dough.

1 lb ripe tomatoes (about 3-4 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

1/2 cup olive oil, + 3-4 TB

3 TB Balsamic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 3 TB olive oil. Add the remaining 1 TB to a cast iron skillet, bring to medium heat, and brown the bread as if making croutons. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In the same serving bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper and whisk to make a dressing.

3. Add to the bowl the tomatoes, the garbanzo, the red onions, the kalamata olives, the mozzarella (optional), the basil, and the bread.

   
   

4. Toss to thoroughly combine.

5. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed the tomato juices without losing its texture.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Lactose Free, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

I dream of pizza: Zucchini Pizza with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade that is…

I work with a tremendously impressive group of people who I know for a fact regularly stay up thinking about how to improve the human condition. They think about how to eradicate polio, how to improve the education system in America, and how to ensure that the poor in developing countries have access to the financial services they need to get ahead. The most interesting fact about these people, is that they’re actually doing it. They actually are finding ways to get vaccines to the people who need them most, developing ways to measure teacher effectiveness, and designing mobile banking programs that are helping people put their kids through school. They actually are making a difference. Which is incredible…and very humbling.

As for me when tossing and turning late at night? I dream of pizza.

This morning, while laying awake having been woken up by both dogs who were now promptly snoring away, I couldn’t fall back asleep. At 4a I began thinking about what to make for dinner tonight. Doing a mental checklist of what was in my fridge, I came up with the perfect idea. Grilled pizza with an olive tapenade base topped with grilled zucchini, buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and homegrown basil.

This one may not save the world…but it certainly will make it more enjoyable in the meantime.

Make this when your garden is exploding with zucchini and you don’t know what to do with it. The smokiness from grilling it makes it much more complex and paired with the mozz/basil/tomato/olive combination is quite delicious.

Zucchini Pizza with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade

Serves 4. Pair with a moderate red wine such as a Moltepulciano

1 pizza dough, store-bought is fine. I like Trader Joes

6 ounces red pitted olives

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 3 TB

1 garlic clove

Salt and Pepper

1 large zucchini (about 1 – 1.5 lbs)

1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, thinly sliced

1/2 cup packed fresh basil, coarsely chopped

Tapenade -Add the olives, garlic, and lemon juice to a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil in a steady stream while pureeing the mixture, and continue until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Zucchini – Thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise, with a mandolin if you have it. You want pieces to be fairly thin. Brush with remaining 3  TB of olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini over high heat for about 5 minutes or until tender and slightly charred. Set aside.

Zucchini, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil

Zucchini, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil

Pizza Dough – On a floured surface, stretch out the pizza dough to about a 10-12 inch circle. If you like, you can divide the dough before spreading it and make two smaller pizzas which will render it easier to manage on the grill. Brush one side with the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the dough to the grill, oil side down, and cook over high heat with the lid closed until dough has set and is beginning to bubble. Note: You’ll want the grill quite hot when you add it so that it immediately starts puffing up versus falling through the grates. Once the first side is crisp and golden, add remaining sun-dried tomato oil to top side (the un-cooked side) and flip over. Cook 2-3 minutes, just until firm enough you can pull it off the grill.

Assembly – Spread the tapenade on the pizza (the side you cooked first). Layer with the grilled zucchini, mozzarella slices, and sun-dried tomatoes. Return to grill and cook another 5-7 minutes or until dough is completely set and cheese is bubbling. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh basil.

With toppings, before being returned to the grill

With toppings, before being returned to the grill

Voila

Voila

Note: You’ll see in these admittedly mediocre pix that I did fresh tomatoes the first time I tried this. They over-powered the smokiness of the zucchini, so I made it again with sun-dried which I think were much more successful.

The postings on this site are my own and do not represent the positions, strategies or opinions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

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Filed under Vegetarian

The Culinary WonderBra: Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Flatbreads

Sometimes we all need a little pick-me-up. Something to make us feel like a million bucks. These moments can happen in our personal lives, in our careers, and if you’re a passionate, but albeit, untrained cook, in the kitchen.

If ever there was a comparison to the WonderBra in the kitchen, these grilled flatbreads are it. They are easy, fun, delicious and sure to impress a crowd.

Make them when you’re looking for the culinary equivalent of a double take. These babies are guaranteed to deliver it.

Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Flatbreads

Serves 3-4. Can easily be doubled for a crowd.

Pair with a champagne or sparkling wine for the ultimate gourmet, chic, (and effortless) meal.

Ingredients:

One 12-ounce ball of pizza dough, at room temperature (the plain dough from Trader Joes is super cheap and easy)
All-purpose flour
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fig jam (from a 6-ounce jar)
1/4 pound Mozzarella
3 ounces sliced prosciutto
2 cups arugula

  1. Turn your grill on and allow to get quite hot (about 500 degrees).
  2. Divide the pizza dough in half and on a floured surface roll out into two, 12-inch circles. Lightly brush one side of the dough with olive oil.
  3. When the grill is to the desired temperature, put the pizza dough rounds on the grill, oil side down. It may look like they are going to do terrible things like fall through the grates or make a big sticky mess, but they won’t. Close the grill and cook until bottoms are golden brown and beginning to puff up. Flip the dough and allow to just slightly cook on the other side (you’re essentially just getting it firm enough that you can handle it). Remove from grill and transfer to a plate.
  4. Top the pizza (the first side you cooked) with a thin layer of fig jam, prosciutto, and mozzarella.
  5. Return to the grill and allow to finish cooking (the dough should be slightly blackened in spots and the cheese should be fully melted and bubbly).
  6. Remove, top with arugula (allowing to slightly wilt) and serve.

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Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Entertaining, Uncategorized