Friday, August 21, 2009

I Love Pizza!

I make a pizza almost every week. For me, pizza is the ultimate meal. It can be both healthy and fun to create a delicious pie at home. Making pizza is simple, anyone can do it with fantastic results - no recipe required. I aim to never make the same pizza twice, with the exception of a few favorites...

The key to a fun-filled pizza making time is pre-made dough - Trader Joe's makes a few tasty ones that are around $1.50 each and contain enough dough to stretch into a 12" pie. My personal favorite is their Almost Whole Wheat Dough. Here is my personal favorite to get you started on your pizza making journey:

Tasty Pear Pizza with Bleu Cheese, Arugula, and Walnuts

1 Almost Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Trader Joe's
2 Tbsp Olive Oil (i like to use rosemary infused, but plain ol' Extra Virgin will work just fine)
4 cups fresh Arugula
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 medium-sized ripe Red D'Anjou Pears, sliced thinly
2-4 ounces Stilton Bleu Cheese (can be found in most grocery stores with a cheese counter), depending on your taste
1 cup chopped Walnuts
About a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (if you will be using a pizza stone, now is the time to put it in the oven)

1. Take pizza dough out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes for optimal stretch (your patience will be rewarded, I assure you)
2. Meanwhile saute the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the arugula over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the arugula is wilted. Set aside.
3. Roll out the pizza dough to about 1/4" thickness (don't worry if it isn't round, my pizzas often resemble Texas or Nevada)
4. Place pizza dough on parchment paper sprinkled with flour
5. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
6. Spread the arugula mixture evenly over the dough
7. Place pears in a single layer over the arugula mixture
8. Crumble the bleu cheese and sprinkle it over the pears
9. Top the entire pizza with the walnuts and parmesan
10. Place the pizza and parchment on a pizza stone or cookie sheet and place in the center rack of oven
11. Bake at 450 for 12-16 minutes

*Our secret to a perfect crust is cooking the pizza on the stone for 8 minutes, then transferring to a cookie sheet and cooking on the middle oven rack for an additional 8 minutes. Try it out, you won't be disappointed!

Coming Next Week: Buffalo Sausage Pizza with Cilantro and Mandarin Oranges!

Fresh Corn Chowder

This recipe was created by Mollie Katzen and is included in her cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It is incredibly delicious as-is, the only alteration I made was increasing the amount of celery as it gives the soup a fresh, crisp flavor. Everyone loves this chowder. Even Pablo the dog (posing here with the final product) can't resist the delicious scent that fills our house whenever I make this soup!

1 medium potato, peeled and diced small (about 2 cups diced)
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 medium stalks celery, finely minced
1 small red bell pepper, finely minced
5 cups (approximately 4 to 5 cobs' worth) fresh white corn
White pepper to taste
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 cup skim milk, at room temperature

  1. Combine the potatoes and water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, thyme, and salt, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring. After about 5 minutes, add celery. Five minutes later add the cooked potatoes with all their liquid, the red bell pepper, the corn, and a few shakes of white pepper. Stir well, cover, and reduce heat. Cook quietly for about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Using a food processor, purée about half the solids in some of the soup's own liquid. Return this to the soup pot, and let it rest until serving time.
  4. Stir in the basil and milk about 10 minutes before serving time. Heat the soup to serving temperature. Serve immediately.