Monday, February 29, 2016

Recipe | Two Thumbs Up Pizza | Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, Leek + Red Onion

In honor of yesterday's Oscars I made my favorite award show night dinner, a very old Bon Appetit recipe they published as a suggested Academy Award night dinner back in the 90's.  Ever since, I've associated this pizza with award shows. :)  Of course, it's perfectly delicious anytime and it makes two pizzas so you have plenty for left overs the next day, unless of course you are making it for a party, in which case I wouldn't count on any being around afterwards.  I served it with Jenny's Chocolate Molten Cakes and fresh vanilla whipped cream for dessert.  If we didn't have kiddos or it wasn't a school night, I would have invited a few friends over to join us.  Maybe add a salad and you would have a perfect simple, casual, entertaining menu.  (I made the pizza for a girl's night several years ago.)

Jimmy and I ended up watching the whole 3+ hour show and then wondering why.  It was a bit boring and we missed our sleep.  I had seen quite a few of the nominated films this year, which might be a first  -- Carol (didn't love it, but it was fun to see all the familiar spots in Cincinnati where it was filmed), Brooklyn (my favorite movie this year), The Big Short (I'm still not smart enough to understand shorting the housing market), Spotlight (excellent).  Anyway, it was a good excuse to eat fun food.  

I used to make this recipe using Pillsbury's refrigerated pizza dough which works very well, but in the years since, I've really tried to eliminate food with artificial ingredients, so I now typically use Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough.  There are a couple tricks... One, oil your baking sheet with olive oil before you put the dough on.  Two, let the dough sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before handling it and when you do, make sure you dust your hands lightly with flour.  Try to stretch the dough out as much as possible, the thinner the better.  I bake the dough for about 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees BEFORE I add toppings and finish the cooking.  The dough should be cooked and golden (not brown, though mine does get darker in the middle) before you put it in the oven the second time otherwise you'll end up with soggy crust.  You could also use the thin crust Boboli for this recipe.  Really any crust will work so long as it is cooked before adding the toppings.

  ^^you start with a lot of onions and leeks.  In fact, my version has a bit more than the original recipe^^

^^Here is what they look like after 40+ minutes of simmering with red wine and balsamic vinegar.  Once finished cooking, you add in the prosciutto and basil.  Your kitchen will smell sooo good.^^

Recipe | Two Thumbs Up Pizza
(original source, my version is slightly modified)

3 TBS olive oil
6 cups coarsely chopped red onions (about 3 medium)
5 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 4-5, white and pale green parts)
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup very finely chopped prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
3 TBS finely chopped basil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 purchased, 10 oz fully baked pizza crusts (or use a double batch of fresh dough and bake it.  I used 2 Trader Joe's Pizza doughs and baked them at 450 for about 10-12 minutes)
8 ounces Gorgonzola crumbles (when you sprinkle this over 2 pizzas it will feel like this isn't enough, but once it melts it will be just the right amount, resist the urge to add more.)
1 TBS minced fresh rosemary

Heat olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium low heat.  Add onions and leeks and sauté until tender, about 20 minutes.  Add wine and vinegar.  Cook until almost all the liquid evaporates and the onions are brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes longer.  Mix in prosciutto, basil and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Can be made 2 days ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 450.  Place pizza crusts on 2 large, oiled, baking sheets. (Cook pizza crusts if you aren't using pre-baked versions)  Spoon onion mixture evenly atop crusts, leaving a 1 inch border around edges.  Sprinkle with cheese and rosemary over the onions.  

Bake pizzas until cheese melts and begins to brown and crusts are crisp and golden, about 10-12 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes.  Cut into slices and serve.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Recipe | The Very Best Classic Brownies. Period.

Is it March yet?!?!  February has not been my favorite this year and we are ready to turn the page.  Nothing was terribly wrong, it just felt like a steady stream of things to worry about along with some virus or other making its way into our daily lives.  Enough.  So when life knocks us down a bit, I make brownies. :)   Chocolate cures all!  Actually, I make brownies all the time.  Probably one of my very favorite desserts.  I'd even put this in my top 10 favorite recipes.  So when Andrew was coming out of a week long battle with the flu and he requested brownies I was more than happy to oblige.  When things run amok, I'm just so thankful for that sign that all is returning to everyday normal, routine life.  I have raved about this recipe before, on more than one occasion, and they remain the VERY BEST brownies I've ever made.  Unfortunately, the recipe appears to have been taken off the internet and my old recipe links lead to a dead end, so it was high time I put it on my blog for safe keeping.  Thank goodness I printed a copy several years ago.  You might think the world doesn't need another brownie recipe, but you are wrong.  These are not cake like brownies, they are more dense but not a block of fudge like some richer brownie recipes.  They are thick and chocolaty and will be craved by everyone you ever share them with, promise.  My biggest tip is not to over cook them.  When you test with a toothpick there will be some moist bits of chocolate that come on the tester, it shouldn't be clean.

Recipe | The Best Classic Brownies  
(adapted from a recipe found on Cafe Zupas)
24 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips (I've also done half semi sweet and half dark chocolate too)
1 cup unsalted butter
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 TBS vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven 350. Grease a 9x13 pan with butter.  I add a parchment sheet too to make it easy to lift out the brownies after they have cooled a bit in the pan.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar.  Mix the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture. (mix with by hand with a wooden spoon, never use an electric mixer for brownies)  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mix well.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Makes 24 brownies

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Inspiration | Southampton Cottage

Last week when I was at the library with Charlie, I picked up a stack of old House Beautiful magazines and stumbled on this charming Southampton cottage featured in the April 2014 issue (designed by Justine Cushing).  I have always loved Colefax and Fowler's Bowood chintz (it was a contender when we re-did our bedroom a few years ago).   The entire cottage is covered in this fabric along with what look like gray painted walls (actually source says they are Ben Moore Linen White),  layers of white linen on windows and pretty touches of blue and white throughout.  Throw in a beautiful collection of antiques, a little rattan here and there and you've got yourself a perfect little getaway.

It was great timing to find this gem since I'm in the midst of creating a decorating plan for Jimmy's office.  It has been on my house project to-do list for several years.  I think I've held back on finishing it because it needs new carpet and the thought of clearing out the 3 closets in there and temporarily relocating the furniture is just too tempting to put off and that's exactly what I've done.  The other issue is committing to textiles.  I have about 3, maybe 4, different scenarios for this space.  To wallpaper or not? Patterned fabric covered lampshades (a current obsession of mine.  more on that soon) or not?  Slipcovers for chairs? Roman shade fabric or bamboo?  Since it is the last room in our home for me to "finish" I can't help but consider so many options (Sister Parish top to bottom, Lee Jofa Althea paired with classic ticking, or now I'm reconsidering Bowood). Beautiful textiles are my weakness and often (almost always) my starting point when decorating for clients.  Since this will be it for me for some time when it comes to designing a fabric scheme from scratch for a room of my own, I'm savoring it.    Jimmy's office is connected to our master bedroom (which is all green, white and blue) but I work in it often as well.   I know it isn't very manly for an office to have florals, but it connects with our bedroom and it's a place I use in equal measure, so I think a little floral is ok.