Monday, March 28, 2011

Pizza - Basil Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes


Week 13 in the Pizza 2011 Project!

1/4th of the way through and no end in sight!  Still haven't talked about Stromboli or Deep dish or Chicago style (not the same as deep dish), and plenty of toppings left to explore for a standard pizza.

Last week, I made a Sun dried Tomato Pesto Pizza.  This week, I finish with the pesto style with a more standard Basil Pesto Pizza (topped with cherry tomatoes).

Basil Pesto is easy to make, big bunch of Basil leaves (minced), combined with a bit of Parmesan Cheese, Walnuts (pine nuts if you prefer) and olive oil.  Play around with the amounts til you get a taste and consistancy you like.  For a pizza sauce, use a bit less oil than normal for a dipping sauce (keep that crust from getting soggy).


OK... Here's how to make a 
Mini Sun Sried Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula Pizza...



Crust of choice, premade or homemade 
My "go-to" pizza dough recipe)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Basil Pesto

thin slices of Mozzarella cheese to line the bottom

a few baby tomatoes sliced

  • Preheat oven and pizza stone (or heavy baking sheet) to 550 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
  • Roll your crust out on parchment paper to your likeness... Thin, Chewy or thick like a bread.
  • Brush Olive oil around the edges to get a beautiful Golden Brown and Delicious looking crust.
  • Salt and pepper the crust at this time
  • Layer the pesto sauce to within 1/2 inch of the edge
  • Top with the cheese and the tomatoes..
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • serve!

A great lunch!




Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cajun Shrimp on Toast with REMOULADE SAUCE



I want to thank you for the continued interest you are showing in CUL dE SAC CUISINE.  


It's coming along, progress is being made, but slow.  Still in the works, still will happen, still close, just making sure everything works before it opens up... Stay tuned, like I said... close.


But meanwhile... we have to eat!




This is one of those easy to make deals if you plan ahead.  I make a batch of remoulade sauce every couple of months.  


The secret is indeed in the sauce...


Remoulade is a French sauce.  The French version surrenders all the extra tastes and flavors that goes into the Creole sauce (I had to think for a few minutes to get the obvious "French and surrender" words in the same sentence).  The French sauce is a white sauce, closer to English tarter sauce.  Originally it was used as a condiment for a meat course.  It is primarily mayonnaise based.


But the Creole's experimented and came up with a spicier, tastier sauce.  It is most often served with shrimp.  Most often as the sauce to pair with a shrimp cocktail.

Like this...

Here's my recipe I use to make my own Remoulade sauce...

3 TBS spicy whole grain Mustard
3 TBS BBQ Sauce (can use ketchup)
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped Green Onions
1/2 cup chopped Yellow Onion
1/2 cup chopped Celery
Juice of 2 Lemons
Zest from 1 Lemon
2 TBS Parsley
2 TBS prepared Horseradish
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

I used a blender, you can use a food processor... Just add everything and process until mostly smooth... about 30 seconds.  You want small chunks of the vegetables in the goo, so do not over process.



Plenty of heat.  The cayenne pepper and the horseradish will power this sauce.


So useful.  Shrimp is the obvious use, but just about anything you would consider using mustard on, remoulade is a spicy alternative.  I am wetting my lips in anticipation of a remoulade encrusted pork loin ran through my smoker.  but that is a post for next month.





...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jambalaya - A little Bit of New Orleans in the Cul de Sac








Late one evening a traveling gentleman stopped by a New Orleans inn which had little food remaining from the evening meal. The traveler instructed the cook, "Jean, balayez!" or "Jean, sweep something together!" in the local dialect. The guest pronounced the resulting hodge-podge dish as "Jean balayez."


Drink a little (or a lot) hurricane or sazerac cocktail and you start slurring your words...  Jean balayez becomes JAMBALAYA!


That's probably not true, but makes a great story.


This recipe is one that I learned during my visit to the New Orleans School of Cooking. By far, it was the most popular of the main course recipes I learned during my trips to New Orleans. Easy Peasy, so lets get to it.

Mise en Place (first, assemble your ingredients)

1/2 cup oil (divided)
2 pounds Chicken boned, cut into 1 inch cubes..
2 pounds Andouille Sausage, cut into 1 inch slices
......Save 1/2 pound to grill and use as accents
4 cups Onion
2 cups Green Pepper (I had a yellow as well)
2 cups Celery
3 Tablespoons Garlic
5 cups Chicken Stock
4 cups Long Grained Rice
1/4 cup Cajun Spices
1/2 cup Green onion
2 cups tomatoes (optional)

  • In a large sauce pan, Season and brown Chicken in 1/4 cup oil. Add sausage to pot and saute with the chicken.
  • Optional - For brown Jambalaya, add heaping tablespoon of Brown Sugar to your roux just before adding vegetables (see next step), for red, add Paprika for color
  • In a large stock pot , make a roux with equal parts 1/4 cup oil and flour. It is VERY important to start with a clean pan. It must be free of food particles to make a successful roux. Add vegetables and later garlic to roux and stir continuously until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
  • Add Chicken and sausage to vegetables, continue to stir for about 5 minutes.
  • Gradually stir in stock and Cajun seasonings. Bring to boil
  • For red Jambalaya, add 1/4 cup paprika and you can substitute 1/2 the stock for 1/2 tomato juice or V-8 juice.
  • Add rice, DO NOT STIR, but push gently on rice to get it under liquid and return to boil
  • Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes. DO NOT OPEN POT, DO NOT STIR.
  • While the pot is cooking, slice 1/2 pound Andouille Sausage and fry in sauce pan till pretty char marks appear.
  • After 25 minutes, turn rice from top to bottom, mix meat and rice evenly. There may be some burnt bits on the bottom, but that is FILLED with flavor, and should be mixed in as well/
  • Dish it up, add sausage and green onions as accent.
  • Have Hot sauce and additional seasonings available for people who want to taste the Cajun experience to their fullest.





...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A CARROT-Carrot Cake - Dramatic but AMAZINGLY Easy!





Food Network MagazineAlright, credit due...  


This is (visually) almost a 100% copy of the cake that is shown in this months FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE.


This month is their Easter/Spring issue.  As always, this month is packed full of recipes, stories and a couple of contests.  Said it before, worth repeating, this is my favorite of all the foodie related magazines.  Largely because of recipes like this...


To the right is a photo of their version of the carrot cake.  There were a couple of glaring problems that separate theirs from my version. First, their carrot cake is a pound cake inside.  How they missed the obvious of making a carrot-carrot cake is beyond me; but I decided this screamed a real CARROT-carrot shaped cake.  Next is something they found that I could not...


Their greenery is a "5-ounce bag green apple sour straws".  I went to two different candy stores, but was not able to find the candy that looked like this.  I was surprised, and I am sure that once I stop looking, I will be seeing bags of this candy everywhere, but this weekend, there were no "5-ounce bag green apple sour straws" to be found.  


BUT... I was making up a nice big batch of Jambalaya (because much as I wanted, I knew it would be rude to just serve the cake to company).  I was pondering my alternatives to the candy straws.  If I had more time, I probably would have made candied Orange Peels and used some food coloring to get the right look.  


Instead, I just saved the leafy greens from the celery I was going to use in my Jambalaya.  Not perfect, as it wasn't candy like the Magazine.  But I think it added to the authenticity of my CARROT-Carrot Cake.


SO, if you like, take a look at their version by clicking THIS LINK.  It is very simple, as it uses a frozen pound cake and a "tub of icing", which I assume means store bought.  Nothing wrong with that, easy, fast and dramatic is a good thing.  But that's not how we roll in the Cul de Sac!


Here's my recipes (and there will be plenty of HOW TO decorating photos after the recipes)...



CARIBBEAN CARROT CAKE


1 cup Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 cup Canola Oil
2 large Eggs
1 cup Walnut pieces

1 cup Tropical Trio (Pineapple, Papya, Mango) Find them next to the Raisins
1 1/2 cup grated Carrots
1/2 cup canned crushed Pineapple (include all but 2 TBS of the juice... Reserve the 2 TBS for the frosting)
1 tsp Pineapple Rum (why not!  can substitute Vanilla extract)
1 TBS Ground Cinnamon

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients
  • Add one egg and the oil... Whisk, add the second egg, whisk
  • Add the walnuts, carrots and pineapple, whisk
  • Add the rum and cinnamon.. whisk
  • oil and flour the bottom of one loaf pan
  • fill pan with batter
  • bake for @60 minutes (use the toothpick method to check that the center of the cake is done, you all know that trick)

And here's the Pineapple Cream Cheese recipe...


1 8 oz package Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Butter
2 TBS pineapple juice from the can of crushed pineapple used in the cake
1 tsp Pineapple Rum (WHY NOT AGAIN???  You can sub Vanilla Extract)
1 cup Confectioner's Sugar
Cream together the butter and cream cheese

  • Add the juice and rum and cream again
  • Slowly add the sugar and continue to cream
  • Let the cake cool completely before you frost

Add food coloring to make the icing orange.  I used the Wilton gel.  About twice as much yellow as I used red.  Add slowly till you get the color you like.


OK, now to the decorating part.


Long time readers know that I am not a talented cake decorator.  The finished cake in my mind's eye is never the finished cake on the plate.


This time, it came out just like I envisioned it...


First, allow the cake to completely cool before you start decorating.  In fact, put it in the fridge so it is VERY cool.  Less crumbs.


In order to get the long carrot shape, you are going to cut a wedge from the both sides of the cake as shown here...






Next, you will take those points, trim a little off the pottom so the points angle downward and "glue" them together and to the ends of the loaf using a little icing as shown here...





I didn't take a photo of this step, but you can see what I am talking about in the next photo.  I trimmed a bit around the loaf so i got a more rounded shape to the "carrot".  


Then I did a "crumb layer" of frosting.  Take a small amount of frosting, add an extra bit of eater to get an almost runny batch of icing.  Use this to get a thin layer of frosting on the cake.  Then pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes for it to harden.  This prevents those crumbs from coming out of the cake and into your finished icing layer.  Like this...




And next...


Ice the cake... Not too thick (once you add the jelly beans, you get plenty of sweet, no need to pile on).




Hey LOOK...


It looks like a carrot...


But for the final layer, add orange jelly beans... Be neat and work in rows...




And finally, add a bit of greenery out the back.  I just stuck in some of the leafy bits of a celery stalk.  Or use "5-ounce bag green apple sour straws".








We had a small party with a few rare children.  Their mom swore they would not eat carrot cake.


They ate every bit (even the carrots)...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pizza - Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Mozzarella and Arugula



Continuing the Pizza 2011 Project (52 different pizzas in a year).  Progressing along nicely, today's post marks a dozen, and I am not out of ideas yet.


Today I am going to share a lunch pizza.  Commonly thought of as mini pizzas.  Single serve, perfect for that husband for lunch while waiting for his long suffering wife to get home from her inconvenient day job. Mini pizzas are perfect to use up left overs.  Little flat bread, little sauce and a topping... pizza!


This is a wonderful pizza.  In place of a traditional tomato sauce, I made a Sun Dried Tomato Pesto.  This has become my new passion.  Spread a little on a boring chicken sandwich and you have a treat.  Mix into a quiche and you have an ordinary with panache!  There is the nutty taste of the Parmesan, the crunch (and aroma) of roasted walnuts, the bite of the garlic and that special taste of Sun Dried Tomatoes... Like I said, a new passion!


As far as the crust, as I have said a few times, I make pizza dough at least once week (more when I can feel a mini pizza jag coming).  The recipe I use freezes easily, but as long as you use it up within the week, it is great in the fridge.  just let it come to room temp before you use it.  The recipe I use (click HERE to find it) makes 2 "regular" size pizzas, one thick crust or 4 mini pizzas.


Here's my Sun Dried tomato pesto recipe

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Sundried tomatoes, packed in oil (comes in a jar)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cups finely chopped Walnuts
4 clove Garlic, smashed and minced



This makes a bit more than a cup.  I only used about 1/2 cup on the pizza, but it never goes to waste around me (maybe waist though).





OK... Here's how to make a 
Mini Sun Sried Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula Pizza...



Crust of choice, premade or homemade 
My "go-to" pizza dough recipe)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

thin slices of Mozzarella cheese to line the bottom

a few leaves of fresh Arugula for a garnish

  • Preheat oven and pizza stone (or heavy baking sheet) to 550 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
  • Roll your crust out on parchment paper to your likeness... Thin, Chewy or thick like a bread.
  • Brush Olive oil around the edges to get a beautiful Golden Brown and Delicious looking crust.
  • Salt and pepper the crust at this time
  • Layer the pesto sauce to within 1/2 inch of the edge
  • Top with the cheese..
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • Top with the arugula and serve!

A great lunch!






Oh, and I appologise for missing a few days of posting... things are hopping around here...


Hopping so much, I made a carrot cake...




But that's tomorrow's post (I promise)
...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Swai (It's Catfish) Beer Batter Fish and Chips



I've been a bit lax in posting my fish recipes.  Set a goal of at least 1 fish course a week during the year.  I'm gonna try to catch up here in the next few weeks.  I made this for Jackie for the first week of lent.  The idea of fried AND beer batter in order to purge your soul of a year's worth of sins appeals to my sense of humor.


I am in love with SWAI.  It's that Vietnamese version of Catfish.  So, any recipe you might have for catfish works great for Swai.  Best of all, it is probably the least expensive fish in your fish market.  Recently, my under-priced grocery store had a HUGE sale.  I bought pound after pound of pork, beef and 20 pounds of Swai.  It was on sale for just $2.09 a pound (down from the usual $4.99 a pound).


I have a feeling you will be seeing lots of Swai recipes in the months ahead.  Or maybe a Rights of Spring catfish grill for my hibernating neighbors.


But today... a little decadence to celebrate lent.


My Swai came frozen.  I zapped it in the microwave, one fillet at a time at the 1/2 pound setting.  This left it just a tiny bit stiff (just a shade frozen).  This made slicing crosswise into thin strips (about 1/2 inch thick, 3 inches long).  By the time I actually got around to frying them, they were completely thawed.


The beer batter I like is thinner than most.  The book says to make a pancake batter consistency.  Me, I like it a little thinner.  Just enough for a crispy coating, but not so much that you get a big taste of batter in place of a big taste of fish.  But, that's to taste, some people like a thicker batter.


OK... here's what I did...


 Enough Canola oil to fill a heavy frying pan (cast iron skillet) about 1/2 inch


4 Swai Fillets, about 3/4 pound each, cut into strips


1 cup Flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 TBS Smoked Paprika
1 egg, beaten


Salt and pepper to taste


1 bottle of beer (pour 3/4, mix and determine how thin (or thick) you want the batter.  The full bottle makes a wonderful thin batter that coats but does not dominate)


Mix the flour, cornmeal and paprika together.  Add the egg and 3/4 of the beer.  Determine how thick you want the coating.  I went ahead and added the entire bottle.


Heat the oil over medium high heat.


Set up a station, fish strips next to the batter, batter next to the frying pan, next to a plate with paper towels to soak up the remaining grease.


Dip, fry, drain.


It's pretty easy to tell when the fish is done, just look for that beautiful golden brown and delicious look.  Mine comes out with a bit of a reddish tinge due to the paprika.  Flip the strips after a few minutes so both sides are done evenly.




Serve with French fries, and some malt vinegar as a dipping sauce...




Honestly, don't you feel a little superior when you have fish on Friday during Lent?  But than that would be the sin of pride... Do I have to confess that on Saturday???


I am an old man (get off my lawn ya durn kids ya).  I remember when it was a Mortal Sin (Hell worthy unless you confess and are absolved) to eat meat on Friday, so every Catholic kid had their fish sticks for lunch.  Then, the Vatican II Council (mid sixties) softened their stance and moved this to a Venial sin (purgatory for a time) category.


It does beg the question (for fun, ask a practicing Catholic this)...


If a person ate Pork on Friday during Lent in the 50's and died when it was a Mortal sin, did they move from Hell to Purgatory in the 60's when it was changed to a Venial sin?


I swear that I did have one person explain that the type of people who ate meat on Friday back in the 50's were the type of people who committed other sins, so it was a moot point.


Ah well, more reverent people than me feel a need for fish on Friday.  My wife among them.  So, Fish on Friday for us till Easter for pious reasons.  After that, for health reasons.


Enjoy your fish sticks
...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pizza - Fast Food Trip to the Salad Bar


Ohhhh - Ahhhhh Artsy Fartsy photo...

But what's in it?  I can see sliced tomatoes and mushrooms...


And add Black Olives to the list...


I had to do the artsy fartsy photos first because the finished pizza looked misshapened.  Like most pizzas, tasted terrific, just looked a little bit like the state of Iowa.


OK, this pizza (part of the PIZZA 2011 PROJECT - 52 different pizzas in a year) is among my very favorites.  It is indeed fast food.  I am finding out the difficulties working people have putting "fresh, local and best" on their tables, night after night.  Some days the appeal of picking up a phone is almost too tempting.


So, for this week's pizza, I present a homage to working people everywhere.  Something easy, fast, convenient and yet, fresh, and while may not be best, it certainly is better.




No recipe today, just more of a reminder of what pizza is.  Crust, sauce and toppings.  I enjoy taking time, planning, shopping and hours in the kitchen as much as the next hobbiest.  But some days you just don't have the time (or energy).  But before you reach for the phone for delivery (or hunt through the freezer), consider this fast food alternative...


Stop at the local well supplied grocery store that has a salad bar.  Everything is all cut up and ready for you.  I picked up a small container with a sampling (about 2 tablespoons of each) of...


Black olives
Tomato slices
Chicken
Mushrooms
and my new favorite ingredient for pizza... Artichoke Hearts! (total cost for the container was about $4.00)


That same well stocked grocery store will have a variety of jarred tomato sauces.  If you plan ahead and shop well, you can use coupons and buy sales to replenish your pantry and have a jar hanging around.  I draw the line at $2 a jar, never pay more (for a quality jar like Newman's Own, you have to hunt coupons and shop sales, but $2 even for Paul's own, it can be done).


That same well stocked grocery store will have pre-made pizza crusts for sale (usually outrageously priced at about $4 for 2).  You can even find pizza dough fresh made, ready to bake at some very well stocked stores or pizza dough in a freezer section.  Me, I make a batch once a week.  Usually I can get 3 or 4 pizzas from each batch.  If you make them all within a week, they are fine in the fridge.  Or, make ahead and pop in the freezer.  Either way you like to do it, you get some pizza dough.


And finally, for the cheese, a few slices at the deli counter (maybe a dollar), or a ball of mozzarella cheese.


At any rate, your total investment is around $12.  Much less if you make your own dough (you can find my favorite dough recipe by clicking HERE).  Gets this under $10.




Dough... Rolled out thin or thick


Sauce, flat of a spoon, spread evenly


Cheese


And toppings... If everyone likes everything, go ahead and spread the entire pie with everything.  Personally, I like tasting each ingredient.  When there are too many, you don't get the isolated taste of a single ingredient.  So, I went for the look you see.


Bake on a pizza stone, pre-heated to 500 degrees for about 12 minutes...





And seriously, try an artichoke heart on your next pizza... Sweet, roasted and wonderful!


...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cul de Sac Cuisine Part 2



Come back tomorrow for my Friday Fish post (an incredible Salmon poached in Garlic Butter).  Today, one more post on Cul de Sac Cuisine...


You all are so kind.  I got dozens of emails with very useful comments on my new venture.  Hopefully you all have read my last post (click HERE if you have not).  Any new venture is exciting, and I am flying high with plans, plots and goals.


Unfortunately, I am not flying as high with HTML, MySQL, PHP, search engine optimization and the like.  Going from a working site to a perfectly functioning site is taking longer than expected.  So, once again, my start up date is delayed.  In fact, open to the public is yet to be announced (moved form March 15 to open ended).  But, we are close enough that I can confidently say by the end of the month.


But that isn't going to stop me from talking about it.


In reading over the emails you sent, I have come to a few conclusions.  First, in my former email I was putting the horse before the cart by explaining how the site will be used a year from now.  When it is several hundred thousand (yes, dare to dream big) "cells" (I am in programmer speak, cells are submissions)... When I have several hundred submissions, and a strong enough data base, I will start marketing for non-bloggers, non-cooks, casual cooks and people hunting for something to cook on Saturday night.


But for the first year, I will be trying to attract bloggers to participate.  I am thrilled with the number of commitments I have received just from one post.  All of you that simply said whatever I need, you are behind me, I am humbled and grateful.  


But, long term, I know there needs to be something in it for you.


So, here's a bold statement... in 30 days I can increase your sites permanent traffic by 10%.  I actually have a goal of doubling your traffic in a year, but that is again horse before the cart.


With Foodbuzz more actively providing "freebies" and the Foodie Blogroll entering the field of paying bloggers to post, it is a great time to aggressively work to increase your traffic.  i have had a goal for two years to "earn" enough money from my blog to pay my entire food budget.  When you count all the free stuff I receive (just this week, Newman's own sent me a care package valued at over $100), I get about half my food costs paid because I blog.  If I am right, by participating in Cul de Sac Cuisine, at the end of a year, i will have reached my blogging goal.


So, what's in it for you... Increased traffic to your blog.  Increased traffic to your blog moves you higher on search engines (increasing your traffic even more).  With all the sites offering payment for blogging, you too can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is indeed 100% of your food costs paid through blogging.


But first, let's start with 10% in 30 days.


I have a page written up on my test site (remember, the "real" site is not yet active, this is just a way to give you an idea of what is to come...


I have a page up that explains the 10% in 30 days challenge.  Read it over and if you want to participate fill out the form and send it in...


I need your help


And with that help, I can help you to reach your blogging goals...


Click HERE to find my 10% in 30 days challenge page!


The links take you to the mock up of the home page... Click the top center link that reads "10 in 30" to get to the page (mock up tests do not let me direct you to inner pages... but you are smart enough to find the 10 in 30 page)


Thanks again... you warm my soul

Dave



...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!!!



Greetings my friends... 


So, I have a question for you foodies... Do you have to make your own birthday cake, or do you GET to make your own cake???


This year, I got to.


Look close, it could be a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with sauce.  In reality, it's a Red Velvet Chocolate cake with butter cream frosting.


But, Gonna save that post for another day this week.  As promised, I am going to fill my regulars in on what I have been up to for the last few months and what I have planned.


As always, it is a long story.  I have been retired for the last 8 years.  I was fortunate enough to be in a position in my life where I could have stayed happily retired, played on-line poker and cooked for the rest of my life.  I have not been actively looking for another business to open (this makes my fourth run at self employment).  But, after a lifetime spent looking for opportunities, it's just habit to ponder the possibilities.


So, a funny thing happened a few months ago.  I found a nitch that is not being filled in a hobby I have grown to love.  In all of my former businesses, I have absolutely loved what I was doing.  Good times, bad times, ups and downs of owning a business, I always looked forward to the next day.


That's how I now feel about food, cooking and blogging.  Everyday is just as much fun and a challenge as the day I started.  I am never going to be the next Food Network star, never going to have a column in Food & Wine, never going to have a cook book for sale, never want to cater or open a restaurant (now that takes a fire in your belly, much harder than it sounds, much bigger risk than you can imagine).  But I know that by being a blogger, I eat better, not just taste, but health as well.  Before I started blogging, I was a mess.  Bad health numbers, but worst was my quality of life.  Asthma was robbing me of mobility.  The writing was on the wall.


But it is more than just a personal issue.


America is facing a health crisis.  Allergies in all forms are becoming more and more common.  Obesity is drastically on the rise.  Our economy is facing crisis after crisis that economists never predicted just a decade ago.  Politicians can not stop themselves from tossing money at every problem hoping that something will make us a growing nation again.  The writing is on the wall.


Any new business needs to look at trends.  Come in with a good idea when that good idea is needed by more people next year than this year will be a success.  Chasing last years' trend, no matter how good of an idea will always leave you second tier.


So, here's what I see...


In talking with many NON-cooks, I am finding that there is a desire, but little knowledge.  those of you that learned cooking at your mother's knees are being replaced by a generation that did not spend the time in the kitchen with Mom.  Some of us thought we were doing our daughters a favor.  With the growth of equal rights, pay and opportunities for women, we encouraged academic over domestic skills.  And that's a good thing.  But, balancing success outside the home with inside the home has never been more difficult.


There is a Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times".  Well, our times are getting more and more interesting every day.  Gas prices will reach $4 a gallon this year.  Maybe more.  Assuming everything stays the same, that means we are going to have less disposable income than we expected at the start of the year.  Combine that with inevitable price increases to follow on everything that is delivered, and most families in America face the very real probability that we will have less spending power for the foreseeable future. 


And finally, play a game.  Ask your non-cooking friends and neighbors how many cook books they own.  Most have an old Joy of cooking or Betty Crocker, but most stop there.  Most people do not subscribe to Food and Wine, Food Network or even Better homes and Gardens.  Books and magazine sales are dropping to nearly below break even points for publishers (remember Gourmet Magazine, it did not stop publishing because of it's success).  While we may look forward to every new cookbook, and already have a couple of shelves of cookbooks, "normal" people do not.  I hit a funny statistic a few months ago.  I now get more traffic to my site from search engines than from regular blog readers.  I have been around long enough that someone looking to cook a brisket is very likely to find my blog in a search.  As with most things, the internet has now replaced books (and Mothers) as a primary recipe source.


Having been a blogger, and a reader of over 100 different blogs each week, I know that most of us are spreading a new gospel.  Food can be affordable, healthy, a source of family unity and a source of pride.  And dare I say fun.  Food and my blog is all those things to me and more.  Read those last three paragraphs again.  Food blogs are becoming the place "normal" people are looking to for affordable, healthy, family oriented and exceptional recipes.  


We are the future.


We just have to make it easier for the searchers for the answers to find us (the bloggers of the answers).


In web terms, it's called a portal.  A place for links to be found.  It's not inventing the wheel, there are already at least 5 foodie portals out there that I participate in.  But after being a part of their community for over a year, and for looking them over closely for the last three months, I am going to take a shot at doing it better.


OK, I am getting long winded.  Tell you what, let me direct you to THE MOCK UP (actual site is being tested, and will not be live for another week).  I would appreciate any feedback you might have.  Roll around the pages, look over the submission guidelines.  Ponder a one stop "build your own" cookbook (where you can easily add recipes submitted, but also a place to add favorites that have not been submitted... one cookbook to replace all the files we keep).


So, here you go... It's called Cul de Sac Cuisine


Click the blue letters and take a look (then come back and drop me a personal email at YEARONTHEGRILL@Yahoo.com 
I would love to know what you think).
...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pizza - Hawaiian Pizza - Canadian Bacon and Pineapple





If it's Monday, it must be the PIZZA 2011 PROJECT!

OK... Today we are going to play a game...  Today's pizza is a form of product placement.  You have to squint your eyes, make a few assumptions (like colors are not as important as shapes) and you may get it.


Long time readers will know that tomorrow I had planned to be announcing my new business.  I am in the final stages of testing.  I have about 95% working perfect, but the remaining 5% is very important.  Chances are we are not going to go live tomorrow, with the opening delayed for a week.  But, I promise tomorrow I will show off what I have planned.  If the stars are in alignment, I am hoping you will be excited with just the preliminaries.


Almost as much fun as opening on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) is the idea of going live on the Ides of March... What's the worst that can happen.


But I digress...


Look close, ponder my blog and what I try to do (ignore the colors) and the answer will jump out at you.  First to make a reasonably close guess to what I mean by product placement will get an extra 10 points added to their score.


Here's a hint... Here's a close up of the cut Canadian bacon slices before cooking.




OK, one more product placement comment...  And it is not even digressing, as it has to do with Hawaii.


My very clever and observant wife is a HUGE fan of the new Hawaii 5-0 TV series.  A few weeks ago she noticed that the bad guys are ALWAYS driving Fords.  The heroes of the series are always driving a General Motors car.  Been watching for several weeks, and it is absolutely true.  Take a look.


OK, back to the pizza.  Hawaiian pizza is in fact NOT from Hawaii.  It is the most popular pizza in Australia. It probably originated in Germany with pork sausage (almost ham) and pineapple.  True Canadian bacon and pineapple pizzas, called Hawaiian pizza originated in Ontario Canada.


Who knew???


Our house is divided on this one.  Personally, it falls in the OK category.  If it was up to me, I would probably never make this again.  BUT... Jackie LOVED it.  The roasted pineapple on top caramelized a bit.  The pineapple under the cheese was still very nicely sweet and moist.  Because I was smart and layered cheese between the pineapple and crust, the crust came out very crunchy, exactly as you want.


So, as we all know, if mama ain't happy, ain't no body happy, it looks like Hawaiian pizza is on my permanent to be made again soon list.






OK, here's what I did...


For the crust, I used  My "go-to" pizza dough recipe

For the  sauce, I used my "Gussied Up" Tomato Sauce Recipe.



I used about half of the pineapple two slives and the rest finely chopped and liquid squeezed out.
6 ounces of Canadian bacon.  I trimmed the slices to resemble a H***E, and diced the remains small like the size of the diced bacon.


8 ounces of Cappiello Scamorza cheese (Mozzarella with a bit of provolone mixed in) Sliced VERY thin, we are going to do two layers of cheese


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
  • Preheat oven and pizza stone (or heavy baking sheet) to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
  • Roll your crust out on parchment paper to your likeness... Thin, Chewy or thick like a bread.
  • Brush Olive oil around the edges to get a beautiful Golden Brown and Delicious looking crust.
  • Salt and pepper the crust at this time
  • layer slices of thin slices of cheese
  • layer the "Gussied up" sauce
  • layer the Canadian Bacon pieces and then the pineapple pieces on the ham (the cheese and ham will help the pineapple to NOT get the crust mushy)
  • layer more cheese
  • Arrange the pineapple slices on the cheese to look like ... product placement
  • Layer the Canadian bacon slices to resemble a ... product placement
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese starts to get that baked color.
Here are a few photos to help  you get the idea (and maybe give you a better look to earn those extra 10 points...







OK, see you tomorrow for the big announcement...