Every once in a while, when dining at a restaurant, I’ll pull out a pen and paper (oh fine, I pull out my iPhone) and jot down the ingredients of whatever delicious thing I’m eating so that I can recreate it at home. I’ve done this twice in the last couple of weeks - once at Rick Bayless’(!) Frontera Grill in Chicago, and then again at Back Forty in the East Village. My homemade version is usually not exact, but I like getting inspired by other people’s food.
I hadn’t had a Sunday night dinner in a while, so I invited over Kasey, Noel, Mads and Bjorn tonight to help me test these recipes out. Then we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and tried not to fall into a food coma. Success!
Jicama Salad (inspired by Frontera Grill)
Jicama is insanely difficult to find in New York. I looked at three grocery stores before giving up and going to the Whole Foods. Bjorn was able to find one at C-town, so now I have enough Jicama to last me through the summer. Or at least the next two weeks.
1 Jicama root
Juice of 2-3 limes (I used a lemon too, cause my limes weren’t being as juicy as I wanted.)
salt to taste
Peel the Jicama and julienne. Toss with lime juice, cilanto and salt.
Homemade Foccacia Croutons
Foccacia bread, cubed (I bought a small chunk from Whole Foods for less than $2)
2 tbls butter
Melt butter in a saute pan and add bread, tossing to coat. Let bread begin to brown and crisp, and sprinkle with garlic salt.
Chilled Pea Soup (inspired by Back Forty)
The soup I had at Back Forty was mind-blowingly good and I must accept the fact that I will never be able to recreate it.
2 bags of frozen peas
4 cups of vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups of plain yogurt
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
white truffle oil (just a drizzle!)
In a large saute pan, combine peas and stock and heat on medium. In a small pan, saute scallions in olive oil until soft. Transfer peas, stock and scallions to a food processor, add yogurt and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
I garnished with the croutons and mache lettuce, which I bought on a whim today.
Spaghetti with Artichokes, Lemon and Ricotta (via Paris and Back)
1 lemon, halved
1 can or jar of artichoke hearts
1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound of spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 cup ricotta cheese (homemade perhaps?)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Bring pasta to a boil
Place the oil and garlic in a large skillet. Drain artichokes and pat dry. Add to pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the artichokes begin to crisp and lightly brown. About half way through, add the juice from both lemon halves over the browning artichokes.
Before draining your cooked pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case you need a little moisture later. Drain the pasta when it reaches al dente, but do not rinse.
Once the artichokes are browned, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pasta with the artichokes and parsley, adding the reserved pasta water as needed. Serve immediately with a heaping spoonful of the ricotta on top or other grated cheese as you like.
(I only loosely followed this recipe.)
Kasey made a watermelon and feta salad that was super delicious, which I failed to photograph. So refreshing!
For the last two years, I’ve spent Memorial Day weekend with my friends Melissa and Sean in Chicago. They both appreciate eating as much as I do (Mel and I discovered our mutual gluttony in college) so I told them we had to make a special post while I was here. We settled on a traditional deep dish pizza (which, according to wikipedia, was created in 1943 at Pizzeria Uno.)
To be completely honest, we weren’t crazy about the dough recipe we used - it kept its structure pretty well, but wasn’t as flavorful/flaky/deep dishy as we’d hoped (EDIT: dough was much better when reheated for lunch the next day!)… plus it took FOREVER to make! Three hours from start to finish! We ate at 10pm (and then promptly fell asleep on the couch in the 80 degree weather.)
Deep Dish Pizza Dough Recipe (via Cooks Illustrated)
3 1/4 cups (16 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups water (10 ounces), room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions (THIS IS INTENSE!!)
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (Dough will only pull away from sides while mixer is on. When mixer is off, dough will fall back to sides.)
Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.
TO LAMINATE THE DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to lower position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15- by 12-inch rec-tangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18- by 4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with 1 half, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.
Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
(see what I mean? Where’s a Bobeli when you need one?!)
The dough is enough for two pizzas, so we made one more traditional and one non.
Toppings for Pizza #1
1 can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I buy these tomatoes all the time and use them for pasta, pizza.. everything. Super tasty.)
2 cups sauteed spinach
5 cloves roasted garlic
3 cups of grated Mozzarella
3/4 grated Pecorino cheese
Toppings for Pizza #2
1 cup of sliced and roasted baby red potatoes
2 cups Mozzarella (1 cup regular, one cup smoked)
3/4 cup Pecorino cheese
1/2 cup caramelized onions
5 cloves roasted garlic
2 tbls rosemary
(Traditionally, most of the cheese goes on the bottom, with the other ingredients piled on top of that, but we sort of forgot that rule, as you can tell by the pictures.)
Bake pizzas at 425 degrees until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Poorly sliced for your enjoyment:
What an epic preparation! We were so full from snacking while we cooked that we barely touched the pizzas (but will be eating the leftovers for lunch.) I’m not sure how soon I’ll be making pizza again, but I’m glad we had this adventure.
I’m sad to be leaving Chicago today, especially with Melissa and Sean moving back to Seattle this summer. I’ll no doubt want to return again next year, but I won’t have my lovely hosts to show me around! I’ll especially miss this one: