Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quick tomato sauce

This sauce takes no more time and effort than opening a jar of something store bought, and it is much more flavourful. It tastes like something that has cooked for hours. It is great served plain with pasta. You can also add cooked ground beef, or simmer mushrooms in it until soft. Makes a great pizza sauce too.

1 large can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 olive oil
1 t oregano
1 t sugar or honey
1/2 t salt

1. Cook the garlic in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook just until soft, do not let it brown.
2. Add everything else.
3. Bring to a gentle simmer and let it rest there for 5 minutes.

Quick pizza dough

This dough uses baking soda instead of yeast as the leavening agent, so no waiting! It is a fast alternative to dough that requires extensive kneading and rising. When baked, this is a more bread-like dough, which I love, and it's perfect for things like stuffed pizza or calzones. I found this recipe online somewhere years ago and I've been using it ever since.

2 1/2 c. flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 - 1 c. water

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add 3/4 cup water and oil. Stir with fork until blended and forms a soft ball. If dough is too stiff, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. It should be soft, but not sticky. Knead about 3 minutes on lightly floured surface until smooth.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stuffed pizza

I was imagining something healthier than one of Pizza Hut's stuffed pizzas here. It came out pretty nicely. I'd like it to slip out of the pan once cooled, and this did not happen. I will experiment with sprinkling cornmeal on the bottom of the pan next time, as this works well for ordinary pizza, and also gives the crust a nice, extra bit of crunch.

1 batch Quick Pizza Dough (or a store-bought, whole wheat pizza dough)
1 cup Quick Tomato Sauce (or whatever you like)
2 cups toppings, see below for ideas
1 cup grated cheese of your choice
olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 400.

1. Cut 1/4 of the dough from the ball and put it aside.
2. Roll the other piece of dough as thin as you can and drape it over a well oiled pie plate, leaving some to hang over the edges.
3. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the dough and put your toppings, and 3/4 of the grated cheese on top.
4. Roll the other piece of dough thinly and place on top of your pie.
5. Pinch the bottom piece of dough and the top piece of dough together, as you would a pie crust.
6. Cut a couple of small slits in the top of the pie.
7. Spread a thin layer of sauce on top of the pie, followed by the rest of the cheese.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes.

The possibilities for fillings are endless. Just be sure to cut everything small. I used the first idea last night:
  • Roasted vegetables such as peppers, zucchini and onion, goat cheese.
  • Crumbled, cooked sausage, artichoke hearts, provolone cheese.
  • Chopped spinach, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, feta cheese.
  • Cooked, herbed ground beef, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, mozzerella cheese.

The best way to cook quiona

To make enough quinoa to serve 4 people as a side, or to make a large salad:

1. Choose a large-ish pot with a tight fitting lid.
2. Place 2 cups of quinoa into the pot.
3. Cover with 3 cups of water.
4. Add about 1 T of boullion* powder, or 1 or 2 cubes to the pot.
5. Bring the pot to a rolling boil, cover with the lid, turn the heat off and leave it for a 20 minutes.

Quinoa is cooked when the grains have sort of a little "tail" and it still has a bit of bite to it.

*I have used vegan vegetable and vegan onion boullion for this, and both are excellent. You can find vegan boullion at most health food stores.

5 ideas for quinoa

1. Serve in place of rice with soups, stews or stir fry.
2. Use in place of bulghar wheat in tabouli salad.
3. Mix with good pesto sauce while still hot, throw in a handful of nuts and goat cheese.
4. Mix with roasted vegetables and a few splashes of good Italian salad dressing.
5. Throw in a few handfuls of herbs and use it for a stuffing for peppers, tomatoes, chicken or fish, and cook as you normally would.

Quinoa with sundried tomatos, spinach and feta cheese

I started using Quinoa about a year ago when I became interested in ancient grains as alternatives to wheat. I have since found that I actually prefer it to rice, and will serve it plain with stews or thick soups. I also put together this kind of side dish, which you can change in many ways. You can also serve this as cold as a salad for lunch.

1.5 cups of quinoa
2 cups water
2 t vegetable boullion or 1 cube vegetable boullion
2 T olive oil
3 T chopped sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 handfuls of chopped fresh spinach or other greens
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

1. Add the quinoa to a pot and cover with the water. Stir in the boullion.
2. Let the pot come to a strong boil, cover tightly, turn off the heat, and let stand for about 20 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when the grains have a little "tail" and they still have a bit of bite.
3. While the quinoa is still hot, stir in the olive oil, sundried tomatoes and spinach.
4. If serving hot, serve now and crumble the feta on top. If serving later cold, let cool and crumble the feta on top when serving.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2 for the road

Strange things also happen on our street.

1. Yesterday, a kid was standing outside our dining room window, talking to our cat. 10 minutes after that, a woman was standing outside our dining room window, blowing kisses to another cat. Sometimes it feels like we're living in a pet store here.

2. I went into a hardware/housewares store just up the street. Immediately after I stepped in the door, a man with an African-sounding accent said to me: "I don't understand why these microwaves are more expensive than Wal Mart." I said "well, I'm sorry to hear that..."