Sunday, August 30, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: White Pizza with Arugula

Forget the coconut cupcakes. This dish must be the single-best recipe ever published by the Barefoot Contessa. I have to thank Andrea of Nummy Kitchen for enlightening me in ways I would never have discovered if left to my own selection process.

You ask, what makes each bite of this pizza so incredible that you think you just made something Michelin-star worthy and think that you have what it takes to become the next Food Network star? As noted by the Contessa, it is the contrast of the warm-goat cheese-garlic-infused-olive oil-pizza against the cold, lemony arugula.

This is seriously good stuff.

Better yet, there is something so organic and beautiful about making homemade pizza; it brings out (the fractional interest of) my Italian heritage. I love working with my hands and the smell of the yeast in the dough. I am still marveled by the entire proofing process. Making homemade pizza or pasta is such a wonderful way to love on your friends and family. So even though the weather was about a buck-o-six on the day I prepared this amazing dish, I happily turned my oven onto 500 degrees for this little slice of heaven.

White Pizza with Arugula
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

For the pizza:
1 ¼ cups of warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 packages of dry yeast
1 Tbsp. of honey
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
4 cups of AP flour
4 garlic cloves
fresh thyme
red pepper flakes
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 cup of fresh mozzarella
1 cup of crumbled goat cheese

For the salad:
Good olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt
Fresh ground peppter

For the dough:
Combine water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of the electric mixer. When yeast is dissolved (and using the dough hook attachment) add 3 cups of flour. Mix on low-medium speed. While mixing, add up to 1 additional cup of flour to get the right consistency to be able to knead dough. Knead dough in bowl for approximately 10 minutes, sprinkling with flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to bowl. When dough is ready, turn it onto a floured surface and knead it by hand again. Place dough in well-oiled bowl and cover with kitchen towel. Let the dough proof for at least 30 minutes.

For the garlic-infused olive oil:
Place ½ cup of olive oil in small saucepan. Add sliced garlic cloves, thyme, pepper flakes (to preference). Simmer on low temperature for about 10 minutes. Don’t burn the garlic!

When dough is ready, roll out to desired circumference. Brush the garlic infused olive oil onto the pizza. Add salt, pepper and cheese. (The cheese can be adapted in a number of ways according to preference. I substituted out the Fontina and some of the mozzarella for more goat cheese. You could also use Feta.) Then drizzle a little more of the oil on top of cheese. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meantime, make arugula salad. When the pizza is done, pull out of the oven and top with the arugula salad. Eat immediately.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Mango Daiquiris

Two weeks ago, I was re-acquainted with an old standby, the vodka soda. I have to tell you that after years of beer and wine, I found this cocktail more refreshing and dazzling than ever before! Perhaps it was the sweltering 100-degree heat on the day of our long overdue reunion or the economy of this reduced-calorie cocktail. Either way, we’ve been meeting once a week ever since! My latest adaptation of this delightful carbonated cocktail is a splash of Grey Goose L’ Orange with a slice of orange.

With my renewed appreciation for the “see-through,” I was thrilled when my fellow Barefoot Blogger Veronica of Supermarket Serenade chose a fruity cocktail for this month’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe. What a way to start the weekend! (I take most Friday’s off.) I decided to load it up with a bunch of fresh summer fruit: peaches, strawberries, mango and banana. This cocktail was thick and yummy, but would have been much better as an afternoon cocktail sans la nourriture. Unfortunately, my husband and I drank it with wild-caught salmon and an heirloom tomato salad. While delicious, I’m uncomfortably bloated right now…

Mango Daiquiri
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

1 cup of chopped ripe mangos (About 1 ½ mangos)
½ ripe banana
1 cup of fresh strawberries, cut in half
1 cup of chopped peaches
¼ cup of simple syrup
1 cup of rum
Add 2 cups of ice

(While I would highly recommend mixing this in a blender, I will note that I broke my blender a few months ago and used my food processor instead)

Peel the mangos. Rough chop all fruit and put into blender. Add simple syrup and rum. Blend until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and blend until smooth and thick.