Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pizza Again?

I had some dough left from the Southwestern Pizza prepared about a week ago.I was prepared to throw the dough away thinking that after a week it can't be good any longer. Well, I was wrong. The texture was the same and after letting it warm to room temp, it showed signs of rising again. Not letting it go to waste, I made Pizza for dinner tonight utilizing some other refrigerator leftovers.
I added some left over store bought pizza sauce and about a 1/4 cup of a cheddar and jack cheese blend. In my refrigerator I had a mozzarella, basil and proscuito roll which I sliced and added to the pizza along with some leftover bbq chicken.
Next I added sliced roma tomato and diced tomatilla.
After baking in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes, ooey-gooey goodness.

After a Rainy Day- Garden Progress

Three weeks after planting tomatoes and they are progressing nicely. A little help from Mother Nature doesn't hurt.

People are Talkin' About 4Q BBQ

BBQn' at the Autry is a little more than a week away, April 7-8 and the 4Q BBQ Team is ready to compete. Thanks to all of you who have passed the word around that we fellow food bloggers are participating. See posts at Slashfood and Weekend Variety.

Also see my previous posts related to this event.
Smokin'
What's Cookin'
Team's Logo
4Q BBQ

Team Posts:
BBQ Junkie
Survival Gourmet
Professor Salt
Survival Gourmet

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Plugra

During one of my recent visits to Surfas Restaurant Supply to my joy I found a jar of clarified Plugra. I was actually looking for ghee when I made this discovery. Noting that it was actually less expensive than the ghee, the decision to purchase it was a no brainer.

What is (Clarified) Plugra? Nothing more than a European style butter. It is 99.8% butterfat and the idea of "no mess, no labor, no waste" also appealed to me. It requires no refrigeration. The only downfall was the jar expiration date is April 06 which doesn't give it a very long shelf-life. Many of you are use to purchasing the 1 pound cubes of Plugra available from stores like Trader Joes, well now another source.

I love to bake with it and I use the clarified butter to saute with or simply just to spread on toast. I also use Plugra in place of regular butter when cooking seafood or as the label says, a dipping sauce for shellfish.




Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pizza

Homemade Pizza Crust

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups - Warm Water (110° -115° F)
2 Tbsp. - Sugar
1 - 1/4 oz. Packet or 2 1/4 tsp. - Active Dry Yeast, (Fresh, not out-dated)
1 1/2 Tsp. - Salt
2 Tbsp. - Olive Oil
4 Cups - White, All Purpose Flour (I used 5 cups because of extreme stickiness)

Instructions:
I deviated from the given recipe by preparing the dough in my Kitchenaide mixer using the dough hook.

Pour the warm water in mixing bowl. Add the sugar and package of yeast. Stir the mixture slowly until yeast and sugar are dissolved. Let sit to allow the mixture to "mature" for about ten minutes or so. The mixture will begin to react; clouding and forming a foamy "head" on the surface of the mixture.

Add the salt and olive oil and turn mixer to low setting to combine and dissolve the ingredients. Add 1 cup of flour and turn mixer to low setting until dissolved. Add the second cup of flour and mix it in. Add the 3rd cup of flour and combine. By now the dough mixture should be fairly thick. (mine was still very sticky so I added an additional cup of flour. )Add the last cup of flour (5th cup) slowly in 1/4 batches kneading in the mixer until it becomes a smoothly-textured ball slightly larger than a large grapefruit. This will take 5-8 minutes.

Coat the dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl which has also been coated on the inside with olive oil. Stretch a piece of kitchen film over the top of the bowl and set it in a warm place such an as un-lit oven, (ambient temperature of 70°F to 80°F). Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed, for 60 to 75 minutes. The dough will have grown to at least twice its original size.

Take the dough out of the bowl and cut in half with a knife. You now have two pizza dough balls, enough to make two (2) 12" deluxe pizzas. Take each raw dough portion and hand-mold them into balls. Press each doughball flat to squeeze and release any air trapped inside. Form the portions back into balls, smoothing the outer surface and tucking each ball "into itself" from underneath, (like folding a sock into itself), before storing or going on with the next step.

If you wish to store the dough, by either freezing or refrigeration, you can place the dough balls in zip-lock bags. Squirt a little olive oil into each of the bags to keep the balls moist and pliable and to ease removal when ready for use. If you choose to freeze or refrigerate: the dough balls may continue to rise until they are substantially cooled down or frozen, which is OK as long as they don't break out of their bags. If they do, mold them back down into balls and re-bag them.

If you choose to continue with making the pizzas now, here's how. Some dough experts like to "proof" their dough balls at this point. They can be set in a bowl or plastic tray, covered, to "rest" for an additional 15 or 20 minutes if you wish. Some recipes call for up to an additional hour of rising. For practical purposes, pizza dough does not have to be put through a complete second rise cycle.

Southwestern Style Pizza (adapted from)

Topping:

2 anaheim or other mild green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 jalapeno sliced
1/4 cup each red, green and red bell pepper
1/4 cup slice green onion
2 tomatillos (or substitute green tomatoes), husked, rinsed, sliced
2 small plum tomatoes, sliced and drained on paper towels
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 cup grated jack cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Sauce

1/2 cup store bought pizza sauce
1/4 cup chipotle in adobo sauce (more or less depending on how hot you want your sauce)

Mix together and spread on pizza crust.

Build your pizza. I first layered the sauce, then cheeses then toppings and then another layer of cheese. Bake in 450-500 degree oven fo 18-20 minutes. Another touch would be to grill on your BBQ. Watch the heat as dough can burn before pizza is ready. The dough will also puff a lot.







Garden Update

Earlier this month I started working on my garden. After a lot of digging and weeding, I finally progressed to incorporating some invigorated garden soil with my old dirt and planting the first of this years vegetables.

After venturing to the local Home Depot, I found a variety of tomatoes. I guess it was too early in the season to stock anything else other than seeds. I'm not up to that so I'll wait for the eight packs to become available.
I left some volunteer cilantro growing and relocated four pepper plants (cayenne, habanero and jalapenos) which continued to thrive over the winter. A little fertilizer might get them to produce.
My herb garden is also making a comeback. The parsley is vibrant and green. With the rain we recently had, the oregano and thyme are starting to flourish again. Of course, the rosemary plant is stronger than ever and required that I cut it back some.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ziggy Gets A Treat - 4 Q BBQ Practice

WDB #26
This weekend the 4Q BBQ Team got together for our official practice session prior to the BBQ competition coming up April 7-8th at the Autry. After we pulled the pork butt, Ziggy got a large bone which kept him occupied for quite a while.

I'll post more on our successful practice session later this week.

Sweetnicks is hosting Weekend Dog Blogging (WDB) #26.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Practice Session with 4Q BBQ

Well, I'm getting ready for a practice session with our 4 Q BBQ Team tomorrow. The team will be meeting at my place with WSMs and kettles ready. I put two pork butts on about 2 hours ago and now I am just watching the temperatures with vent control.

We will be posting more as the weekend progresses. The only problem is that there is rain in the forecast. L.A. is already in the midst of scattered sprinkles and downpours in certain areas. So far I am still dry. It will be a real learning lesson trying to do this in the cold rain.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hmmm - What's Cookin'?

I spent Sunday practicing my final recipe on a new smoker(WSM). After previously developing my skills on a New Braunfel and a tried and reliable Brinkman, my hubby thought I needed a change.

Charcoal is ready and apple wood has been added.
I cooked this one fat side up in that I didn't use any liquid in the water pan. I did inject with my blend of seasonings and liquid.
Smokin'
Finished Pork Butt.

I think I could have kept it in the smoker another hour or so in that though it was tender, tasty and came off the bone, it didn't fall apart like I desired. I didn't glaze the meat at this point. I will probably use a apple juice reduction seasoned with the rub seasoning. I also need to pay more attention to the cayenne heat and its distribution. Some pieces had more fire than others. Next practice will be the presentation box.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

WDB #25

Another busy week filled with getting ready for our team's first BBQ competition at the Autry in addition to the rigors of my day job. "Four Q BBQ", a group of fellow food bloggers. We all met doing this blog thing and now we are a team. Our team logo is shown in the previous post. The event date is April 7-8, 2006 at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. For all of you in the L.A. area, we would like to meet you so come on by our booth.

Despite being so busy, I always find time for my Ziggy. Here we are horsing around with his favorite ball. Sweetnicks gives us the opportunity each week to show off our best friends.














Four Q BBQ Team:
Soul Fusion Kitchen
Survival Gourmet
BBQ Junkie
You Gonna Eat That

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Four-Q"

We are gonna be BBQ'n at the Autry, April 7-8 Our team, the Survival Gourmet, BBQ Junkie,Professor Salt of You Gonna Eat That and moi, Sylvie are the "Four Q" BBQ Team.

This will be the first competition for all of us. I'm so excited. We have been practicing and trying to finalize our recipes, cooking times and presentations. I'll keep you updated with more on this event.

For a fun time, come on out and join the fun at the Autry National Center . The schedule of events includes a Friday night jam session, cooking demonstrations and other fun filled activities highlighted by a team of fellow food bloggers from the Los Angeles area.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I Need To Go Back Outside!

We spent most of the day outside working on getting my garden area prepped. Ziggy spent the time helping me dig in the dirt. I wasn't too uptight about him getting dirty because unbeknownst to him, he was headed for a bath today anyway. I was surprised when immediately after the bath he indicated that he needed to go back outside. I let him out and focused on keeping him out of the garden. When you gotta go you gotta go as Ziggy so obviously let me know.
Garden after months of neglect since the past summer.
The only things flourishing are the Rosemary plant which has gotten far out of control, weeds and surprisingly, I have lots of curly leaf parsley. Also hanging on for dear life are some volunteer Cilantro, a Jalapeno plant and a few garlic plants.

After lots of sweat from digging, pulling unwanted growth and tilling I was dead tired but Ziggy still has energy to dig.
Well, I'm on the road to getting ready to plant. Just one more weekend of getting the final prep in and I'm on schedule.

Another weekend of dog Blogging with Sweetnicks.