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    Entries in traditions are lame (15)


    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? 



    Braised Pork Shoulder with Creamy Polenta

    As you probably know by now, Hubby and I are somewhat anti tradition.  For instance, at Christmastime, rather than getting a tree and decorations and exchanging gifts, we take a nice trip to the ocean.  The past two years we went to Virginia Beach and Atlantic Beach, but this year we were back in Utah, so we went to our very favorite place, San Diego.  Why is it our favorite?  Well, because of this,

    And this,

    And this,

    Well, you get the idea. San Diego is beautiful, and at that time of year, it feels like paradise. In addition to enjoying the perfect weather and taking in the awesomeness that is the Pacific Ocean, there are a couple other things that are a must on our to do list. We always go whale watching, because seriously, why wouldn’t you?

    And we always eat lots of fabulous food. Most mornings, we eat breakfast at the Broken Yolk Café. Their food is fantastic, and because oranges are in season that time of year, I never pass up the fresh squeezed juice. 

    For dessert, Extraordinary Desserts is THE place. You’d think a place with a name like that would be your typical pretentious, overpriced, disappointing dessert café, but you would be wrong. Their Au Chocolat is simply to. die. for.

    When it comes to dinner, however, we eat all over the place.  We’ll usually go into Little Italy a few times during our trip and wander into some random restaurant. This year we wandered into a little place called Davanti Enoteca.  Their menu items are served family style, so we got a couple of things to share.  One of them was the mascarpone polenta + ragù of the day.  The day we were there, it was made with pork shoulder, and it was one of the most amazing dishes I have ever eaten.  When we got home, I had to try to recreate it.  To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes of being able to match the fabulousness from that restaurant, but the end result blew me away.  Even Hubby said it was every bit as good as theirs, and maybe even better. Now you can make and enjoy this wonderful recipe, as well. 

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1.5 – 2 pounds pork shoulder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
    • 3 teaspoons ‘secret ingredient’
    • 2 – 3 bay leaves 

    The Whole Foods by me sells these pork shoulder steaks which work really well for this, but a whole pork shoulder will be fine, as well.  It’ll just be a little more work. 

    Whichever you use, you’ll need to cut it into small pieces, maybe ¾ - 1 inch.  I removed some of the fat from mine, but you definitely want to leave a good bit of it on because it helps the pork to become nice and tender.

    Place a pan (not a nonstick pan) over medium high heat. When it’s hot, add a tablespoon of oil and the diced pork.

    Sprinkle over ½ teaspoon of salt.  Move the pork about with a spatula giving it a chance to brown on all sides. 

    When the pork and the pan have a nice brown color on them, add the diced onion.

    Give it about a minute to sweat and then pour in 2 cups of water.  It should help you to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

    Go ahead and turn off the heat.  Now it’s time for the secret ingredient, Better than Bouillon’s Au Jus Base.  Sure, you could probably get away with using one of the other flavors, but if you can get your hands on the Au Jus one, I highly recommend it.

    Add 3 teaspoons to the pan.

    Stir until it is dissolved, then sprinkle over the dried parsley. 

    Stir that in and then slide in 2 or 3 bay leaves, making sure they’re completely submerged. 

    On goes the lid, and into a 300° oven for 3 hours.  (I like to turn the temperature down to 275° for the last hour, but I’m not sure it’s strictly necessary.)  When it’s done, remove it from the oven, but leave the lid in place and just allow it to sit while you make the polenta. 

    For the polenta you’ll need: 

    • ½ cup Fine Grain Polenta
    • 2 cups water
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese 

    Add the salt to the water and bring it to a boil.  Keep some extra water handy.  Slowly sprinkle in the polenta while briskly whisking. (say that 10 times fast)

    Turn the heat to low and continue to whisk.  If it gets too thick, add a little more water.  Continue stirring, allowing it to cook for about 5 minutes or so. 

    Turn off the heat and add the butter and cream cheese.  Feel free to substitute mascarpone or goat cheese if you prefer.  Whisk them in until the polenta is nice and smooth and creamy. 

    Spoon a nice puddle of it onto your dish.

    Then, remember the pork? When you remove the lid, scrape any brown stuff from the lid and stir it in.  I know, that doesn’t really sound good, but trust me, it is serious flavor goodness that you don’t want to waste.

    Remove the bay leaves, then spoon the pork, with all its luscious juices, over the waiting polenta.  Prepare to be blown away by what an amazing chef you are. 

    What restaurant dish would you like to be able to replicate at home?