Archive for the 'appetizers' Category

Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Pear & Brie Flatbread 2

People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time.

pear brie pizza 3

Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer to chill fast.

(Just make sure it’s not in the vicinity of any bananas. Which in our freezer is impossible.)

pear brie flatbread 2

Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

1 pkg. (2 tsp.) active dry yeast
pinch sugar
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. (or a good glug) olive oil
1 tsp. salt

canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 ripe but firm pear, thinly sliced
4 oz. Brie, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Put 1 cup warm water into a large bowl, add the sugar and sprinkle the yeast overtop; let stand for 5 minutes, until it gets foamy. Add 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, the olive oil and salt and stir until you have a shaggy dough. Let rest for 20 minutes, then knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if you need it – the dough should be tacky, but not too sticky.

If you like, place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place – if you’re in a hurry, it only needs to wait for about an hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. If you have time, leave it. When it gets too big, punch it down. If you’re going out or to bed, cover it and put it in the fridge, which will slow the rise. Or freeze it. Take it out to thaw or warm up before you use it.

When you’re ready for pizza, heat a generous drizzle of oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft and turning golden. Preheat the oven to 450F.

Divide the dough in half and roll or stretch each out into a 9-inch circle or oval. Place each on a parchment-lined or floured baking sheet and top with half the caramelized onions, half the pear slices and half the Brie. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until deep golden. Let rest for a few minutes, then drizzle with honey before slicing.

Makes 2 pizzas; serves 12-16.

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January 28 2015 | appetizers and bread | 10 Comments »

Cauliflower Fritters with Lemony Mayo

Cauliflower Fritters 1

I know, it (kind of) defeats the purpose of eating cauliflower to deep fry it and serve it with lemony mayo. (Then again, if you’re going to eat fried food, you may as well get a cauliflower out of it.)

cauliflower 1

Parka season = beer batter season, right? And when everyone has planted themselves on the couch for a hockey game or movie or rousing game of Munchkin, they inevitably want to eat something. And I like it when that something can fall simultaneously into multiple categories: 1) salty, 2) dippy, and 3) edible with fingers. (And truly, a platter of crudites and dip never gets a welcome response on a snowy Saturday night.) Cauliflower florets have a lovely creamy texture and mellow flavour, but if you’re like me, once you have a bowl of batter and a pot of oil at your disposal, you may go a little nuts, deep-frying anything you can find in your fridge. (I imagine a zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced, would also make a great candidate.)

cauliflower fritters

I got this recipe (more or less – it did require some finessing for home use) from my pal Paul from the much-loved Rouge and Bistro Rouge, where apparently the majority of tables down an order of these before dinner. I’ve made them a few times since, because a) they’re awesome, and b) don’t require you to get dressed and shovel off the car.

In other news, I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with a new web designer! For real! It’s my resolution (new year or not) to say no to all extra things until I give this place an overhaul. I’m sorry the design is so dated, and that the Index hasn’t been updated since 2009. Is there anything you’d like to see, in terms of design, content or functionality? And on the home front, the kitchen is almost ALMOST done – it’s functional, but still needs a backsplash, which is being cut and painted now, and is scheduled to be installed on Friday. I’ll keep you posted and do a proper update… likely on Monday, when a photographer is coming to shoot it for the cover story of the spring issue of Flavours Magazine! It’s a good thing my life revolves around deadlines, or I’d never get anything done.

Cauliflower Fritters with Lemony Mayo

With thanks to Bistro Rouge, where they serve these babies with Hollandaise for dipping.

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 cups beer (I used Wild Rose Velvet Fog)
2 cups all-purpose flour

Lemony Mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
finely grated zest and juice of a lemon (or to taste)
1 garlic clove, finely crushed
1 tsp. grainy mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Steam cauliflower florets until tender; cool and refrigerate until needed. In a deep bowl, whisk flour with beer and a big pinch of salt until smooth, dip cooked cauliflower florets in the batter and carefully place one at a time in a deep-fryer, preheated to 360?F; cook until golden brown. (Alternatively, heat a couple inches of canola oil in a pot until it’s hot but not smoking – a scrap of bread should sizzle when dipped in. Cook a few at a time, without crowding the pot.) Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.

To make the mayo, stir all the ingredients together in a bowl, adding enough juice to keep it thick, yet tangy, and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the fritters immediately, with the mayo for dipping.

Serves 4-6.

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January 14 2015 | appetizers and vegetables and vegetarian | 21 Comments »

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