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    Entries in think outside the box (3)

    Thursday
    May072015

    Welcome to May (hem!!!) - Pizza Edition!

    Well, the traditional Mayhem hasn’t managed to find Seeley and me this year. I’m not moving across the country and she’s not completely lost in math. Well, here at Authors Kitchen, May just isn’t May without the hem, so we’ve decided to create a bit of our own.  Not only is Seeley sure to stir things up with her impending return (Yay!!), but we’ve decided to have a pizza off! Ok, so it’s not exactly your typical competition, but you know how we feel about rules. Basically, you're just going to get some recipes for some fantastic pizzas!

    First up, a thin crust, honey mustard pizza. Somewhere in New York right now, someone is yelling at their screen about how honey mustard and chicken don’t go on pizza. Just wait until they hear about the crust.  I would say this falls into the category of what I call “cracker pizzas”. You know those crispy, thin ones with a crust that almost resembles the consistency of a cracker? The ones in the freezer section of your grocery store for like a buck? The ones you occasionally enjoy in private but would never actually admit to? Yeah, those. Did you know you can make your own, in less than 30 minutes, with no preservatives and other scary ingredients, and that tastes amazing?

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 – 5 Tablespoons warm water 

    Toppings I used: 

    • Cooked chicken
    • Red bell pepper
    • Green onion
    • Feta cheese
    • Mozzarella Cheese
    • 2 Tablespoons honey
    • 2 Tablespoons mustard 

    Before you start you’ll probably want to turn your oven to 425°.  Then, into a mixing bowl go the flour, salt, and baking powder.

    Stir them together and add the olive oil and 3 Tablespoons of water. 

    Mix, continuing to add water ½ Tablespoon at a time until all of the flour is incorporated and you have a soft, but not really sticky, dough. 

    Knead the dough for about a minute just to bring it all together and get rid of any bits of flour or lumps. Form it into a round disk, cover it with a damp towel (paper or cloth is fine) and set it aside.

    While that’s resting, slice your bell pepper into thin slices.

    Then, the green onion.

    Next comes the sauce.  In a small bowl, combine two Tablespoons honey

    And two Tablespoons mustard.

    Stir them together until they're completely combined.  I’m not sure why, but when you mix honey and mustard you end up with something much thinner in consistency than either of them on their own. If I were a chemist, I’m sure I could explain why, but well…

    Now for the crust. Grab your rested dough and begin rolling it.  Be sure to keep moving it as your roll so that it doesn’t stick to your countertop.  You want the end result to be about 1/8 inch thick and 12 ish inches in diameter. 

    Lightly brush your pizza pan with olive oil before transferring the crust. I just put a little on a paper towel and rubbed it over the surface. With a fork, poke the entire surface of the dough.

    Into the oven for 4 minutes. Yes 4. Not 3. Not 5.  It should look something like this.

    Sprinkle on some grated mozzarella.  Wait, I was supposed to measure that? I don’t know, a cup? Enough to lightly cover the surface.

    As for the chicken, I just used some leftover rotisserie chicken, but you can, of course, cook your own. Just make sure you do it before starting on anything else.  Whichever you use, slice it thin and place it around the pizza. Follow that with the red bell pepper, green onion, and feta.

    Cover with a light sprinkle of mozzarella, just to help hold everything in place. Then, drizzle over the honey mustard. You probably won’t use it all. 

    Back into the oven for another 12 minutes. When it’s ready it should be nice and bubbly on top and starting to brown around the edges. 

    Remove it and allow it to cool on a rack for at least 2 or 3 minutes before cutting. Then just slice it like you would any other pizza.  I know, often times pizza places cut their thin crust pizzas into square pieces. Why? It makes no sense. The shape of the pizza hasn’t changed. I just don’t get it.

    So there you have it, a delicious, thin, crispy crust pizza you made all on your own. Feel free to use the same crust with more traditional toppings or these toppings on a more traditional crust, as well.  This is more of a guide than an actual recipe. 

    So, Seeley, what kind of pizza are you bringing to the May-hem party? 

     

    Sunday
    May112014

    Butterscotch Cookies

    I’ve got all the ingredients on the counter, all stacked up nicely, and I’m thinking to myself “What am I missing??”

    Um, camera. Right. Cooking requires pictures, remember?? In particular, a portrait oriented pretty one of the final product for our Pinterest page. You did know we have a Pinterest page, didn’t you?

    Not sure if you remember me, but I used to cook here a while ago, until I went totally crazy with school and got so bad at cooking that I barely managed to make cereal for dinner 3 days a week (the other 4 were cheese and crackers). But, I’m done with the 5 classes a semester thing, and I’m now mere months away from a degree, and someone at work asked me to make Butterscotch cookies.

    So I found my camera, bought a hand mixer (it’s been a while, my Popeye arms are out of practice) and started cooking!

    Butterscotch Cookies

    • ¾ c unsalted butter
    • 1 ¾ c darkest brown sugar you can find, like Demerara
    • 2 tbsp cream
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • ½ tsp sea salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 ¾ c flour
    • ½ tsp baking soda

    We’re going to do something a little different than the usual old “cream the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs” with this one. Butterscotch originated as a hard candy of cooked butter and sugar, so that’s where we’re going to start.

    Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, and let it get all foamy and bubbly.

    We’re going to *cook* the butter a bit before we add anything to it. After a minute or two the foam will subside (lifting the pot and gently swirling the butter from time to time will help

         

    Once you’ve got a nice clear top, swirl the butter every 30 seconds or so until you start to see little brown spots on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and the burner off.

    What you’ve just done is made “beurre noisette” or browned butter. It’s called noisette, the French word for hazelnut, because the aroma gets a little nutty as it browns. You know how when you sauté something until it gets that delicious golden brown colour to it? You just did that to butter.

    Dump in the brown sugar and the cream and start whisking. I put mine back on the burner as I whisked, and let the residual heat from the burner help melt the sugar as I decided whether or not I wanted to be risky in the next couple steps.

    I was considering proceeding as if making a pate a choux like Taneasha did with the cream puffs. Dump the flour into the hot butter mixture and then add the eggs later. But my Popeye arms are out of practice, and I’m not sure my new little hand mixer can deal with that serious a pastry, so I took the safe route, and dumped the almost butterscotch sauce (add more cream, cook it 10 minutes, pour it over ice cream) into a big bowl.

    Beat in the vanilla and salt.

    Once it’s cool enough that you can hold your hand on the bottom of the bowl, add the eggs one at a time. Cracking them into a measuring cup first lets you pour them in without risking shells and without stopping the mixer.

    Same thing with the flour. Measure into a giant cup, stir in the baking soda, and pour bits at a time into the bowl until you have a sticky ball of dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but that relaxes and puddles a bit when it’s left alone.

    In a small bowl, mix about

    • ¼ c dark brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp plain old boring regular sugar
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt, if you’re into that kind of thing

    Recipe Guy’s sister is all over the salted-caramel trend, but I find most people over do it on the salting part so I generally stay away from it. If you’re not sure you want to go all in, try sprinkling a few grains of salt on top of each cookie after you’ve dipped them. If those work for you, add the salt next time.

    Roll tablespoon or so sized balls of dough and dip the top into the sugar-sugar(-salt) mixture.

    Bake them at 350 for 11 minutes for cookies that are not browned on the bottom, and have chewy middles. If you want them slightly crisp all the way through, let them go for 13 minutes, but be careful not to let the bottoms get too dark.

    The butterscotch flavour is subtle in these; it kind of creeps up on you. It’s a lot more noticeable next to a sip of coffee though. Wow, is it ever! Definitely a breakfast cookie.

    What do you think of the salted sweets thing?