Monday, September 28, 2015


I’m always on the lookout for more veggie pizza recipes, especially ones that can work as somewhat light, summery fare—since pizza is about the only thing I’ll suffer turning the oven on for during even the worst heatwave. This recipe from Annie’s Eats meets both criteria, with a colorful confetti of seasonal bounty. You could use goat cheese, feta, or another crumbly cheese instead if you must, but I love the creamy-garlicky Boursin here. (A is not a fan, however, so I’ll be scarfing this one solo.)

I highly recommend using a mandoline to get the summer squash slices as thin as possible; I was always too scared to use one, but I recently acquired this Oxo slicer/grater set and only belatedly realized it was basically a mandoline in disguise. Surprise, surprise, I love it! The cheese graters are just OK, but I could slice and julienne things all day long. However, you’re going to have to slice your cherry tomatoes by hand, and it’s just as much of a pain as you think it would be. If you want to use Roma or another larger tomato instead, I’d understand.

The only change I’ve made to the recipe is to thinly slice the red onion. Against my better judgment, I followed the original instructions to chop it, and the oniony flavor ended up almost overwhelming the whole pizza. Thin slices are less intrusive—and as a bonus, you can use your mandoline for that too! I also garnished with more basil, because nothing beats that fresh green taste with summer vegetables.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound pizza dough
1 very small zucchini, very thinly sliced
1 very small yellow squash, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 ounces soft garlic herb cheese, such as Boursin
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let the oil infuse for about 5 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the garlic starts to brown. Remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place the zucchini and squash slices in a colander and toss with the salt. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes to allow excess water to drain from the vegetables. Lay the slices out on a clean kitchen towel and blot the surface to remove additional water and the salt.
  3. To make the pizza, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the pizza dough on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Brush the center of the dough with the garlic-infused oil. Evenly sprinkle on the mozzarella, then layer the zucchini and squash slices in concentric circles over the cheese. Top with the tomatoes, red onion, Boursin and basil.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, slice, and garnish with additional fresh basil.
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Good.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Is it too late in the summer to talk about strawberry shortcake? Too bad. I’ve avoided baking traditional biscuits for most of my life, my irrational fear of making pie crust extending to any recipe that involved cutting butter into other ingredients. I made drop biscuits and cream biscuits, and even made “shortcake” using Bisquick in the very early days of this blog. That was all fine, but as soon as I successfully overcame my pie fear, it was time to unlock the top level of buttery flakiness in one of my favorite desserts.

There are an overwhelming number of strawberry shortcake formulas in the world, so I stuck with the always straightforward and reliable Simply Recipes, and was not disappointed. Because I was home alone for the week, I ate one biscuit straight out of the oven and froze the rest. Each night I’d defrost one, macerate a single serving of berries, whip a single serving of cream (Did you know you can do this? Immersion blenders are magical), and enjoy my solo dessert. Thus I can’t vouch for the exact accuracy of the berry and cream quantities listed here, since I was winging it from day to day. I suspect I used more than 6 cups of berries—I like a lot of fruit on my shortcake. I even used peaches once, when the berries ran out, and that was also tasty.

I took the opportunity to try Food52’s nifty recipe for yogurt whipped cream, which is as tangily delicious as promised, but you can of course use regular whipped cream too.

3 pints (about 6 cups) strawberries
½ cup sugar, or to taste
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Yogurt whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
½ cup plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise, full-fat or otherwise, chilled
A few pinches of sugar (optional)
  1. Cut the stems away from the strawberries and discard. Cut the strawberries in half, and then in either quarters or thick slices. Put the cut strawberries into a large bowl and sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar. Taste, and add up to another ¼ cup sugar depending on how sweet your strawberries are and how sweet you want them. Gently stir until coated and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, until the berries soften and begin to release their juices.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the biscuits, vigorously whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, either using your fingers, a pastry cutter, a fork, or a food processor, until the largest pieces of butter are pea-sized.
  3. Mix the vanilla and cream together. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the cream into it. Mix with a fork until the mixture is just combined. It should look rather shaggy and feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand a few times to form a loose ball of dough.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and form it into an 8-inch square, about ¾ inch to 1 inch thick. Place it on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Mash about half of the berries in the bowl and stir to mix. Let sit while you bake the biscuits.
  6. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the biscuit dough from refrigerator, cut into 9 even squares, and spread them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake until medium golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk (or using a hand mixer or immersion blender, or by hand), beat heavy cream and yogurt (with a little sugar if desired) on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. To serve, slice each biscuit in half horizontally and place cut side up in a wide, shallow bowl. Ladle strawberries over each biscuit and add a dollop of whipped cream.
Serves: 9
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. Biscuits are best freshly baked, but they can be frozen and defrosted in the microwave; the texture will suffer a bit, but the flavor is still good and macerated strawberries hide a multitude of sins. (You might also try freezing the unbaked dough squares and baking them in small quantities as needed.) If eating them singly, use about 1/3 to ½ cup macerated with ½ to 1 tablespoon sugar per biscuit. If you have an immersion blender, it’s easy to make whipped cream in small quantities; per serving, I use a few tablespoons of cream whipped with a heaping tablespoon of yogurt.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


 September still feels like summer here in L.A., but I know the rest of the country will be moving on to apples and pumpkins soon, so I’m going to make a push to clear my backlog of summer recipes ASAP, and save you from having to read about strawberries and stone fruit while you’re busy raking leaves and building bonfires.

I missed the boat on posting this one last year, which is a little silly because it’s so simple it barely needs writing down at all, but it’s well worth noting as an easy, colorful, produce-showcasing, super-summery side to have in your back pocket. The basic recipe, which I believe I found by simply Googling peach-arugula-prosciutto salads on a whim one day, is from Papawow. I used feta instead of goat cheese, varied the quantities slightly, and crisped my prosciutto on the stovetop because it was too damn hot to turn on the oven. The result is more than the sum of its few parts—a perfect blend of sweet, peppery, tart, and salty notes that’s almost enough to make me wish summer would stick around even longer.

2 to 4 slices of prosciutto
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 5 ounces arugula leaves
1 or 2 ripe peaches, sliced
2 to 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lay prosciutto slices on a parchment-lined sheet pan, and bake until crisp, about 8-12 minutes. (If you prefer, you can crisp the prosciutto slices on the stovetop instead, in a very lightly oiled skillet over medium heat.) Let cool, then crumble into small pieces.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper, then slowly stream in olive oil, whisking until dressing is well combined.
  3. In a large bowl, lightly toss the arugula leaves with dressing, then top with peaches, feta, and crispy prosciutto.
Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Not great, unless you store all the components separately. The dressing will keep in a jar in the fridge for the better part of a week, and the salad is so easy to assemble you may as well just make as much as you need and put together another batch later if you have extra ingredients.