Pizza Dough-Based Rolls

December 10, 2009

The basic recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tsp salt

Modifications I have attempted:

  • Letting the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator helps the flavor come together.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sugar, rose entire ball of dough in refrigerator, shaped cold dough into rolls, then final rise, 375F — some crust, crumb was decent; not as chewy or moist as I would have liked.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sugar, formed into rolls before rising overnight in refrigerator, short rising time before baking, 350F — no crust, crumb was dense and not chewy, flavor good (but couldn’t clearly detect the extra olive oil and sugar).
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil, 0.5 tbsp sugar, entire ball in refrigerator (I let it rise too much — I think in the first hour the dough rises fast since it’s still at room temperature, so I should punch it down after 1 hour in the fridge, then leave it overnight), take out of fridge, punch down and let rise, lightly roll out, cut dough into chunks (rather than ripping and shaping with hands, so as to handle dough as little as possible to preserve gluten), dip in corn meal, proof (warmed oven and misted).  I kept the dough very wet this time, as so it was almost impossible to handle by hand — the dough is much softer.  I have a tendency to dry out the surface of the dough by adding too much flour.  I think I have a tendency not to punch down the dough sufficiently before shaping and proofing, and a tendency to overproof.

The variables:

  • oven temperature
  • number of rises
  • misting of oven and dough
  • to get a good crust, should I let the outside of the dough dry out, or should it stay wet?  what conditions cause the crust to blister?

From what I can find, the dough uses soy oil (instead of olive oil), is risen in the refrigerator at 39F for up to 12 hours, then lets chilled dough rise at room temp for 1.5 hours before dipping balls in cornmeal and baking at 375F for 15 minutes.


Sticky Rice

September 13, 2009

Here’s a stab at reproducing my grandmother’s sticky rice.  The concept is similar to fried rice except the ingredients are different.

  • 2 cups sticky rice
  • 1/3 cup regular (jasmine) rice
  • two small taro roots
  • three chinese sausages
  • dried mushrooms, about 15
  • two stalks green onion
  • dried shrimp (about 2 tbsp)

Here are some of the elements which make this dish:

  • The dried mushroom must be soaked for at least 2 or 3 hours to reconstitute them; otherwise they will still be hard on the inside.  You can soak them for much longer if you want.
  • The sticky rice needs to be soaked for at least an hour in ample water.  When you are ready to cook, drain off the water.
  • The dried shrimp should be soaked in a sparing amount of water to reconstitute its moisture.  Don’t soak the shrimp for more than half an hour, since their flavor will leech into the water and be lost.

Given these constraints, I usually do the following: 3 hours before I want to eat, start soaking the mushrooms and rice.

Begin cooking in earnest by peeling the taro and chopping into half-centimeter cubes.

Pause from chopping and begin to soak the dried shrimp.  Drain the sticky rice, mix in the regular rice, and pour in 2.5 cups of the mushroom water, and a sprinkle of chicken powder.  Start rice cooker.

Slice chinese sausages once lengthwise, then chop into quarter-cm slices.

Remove stems from mushrooms, discard.  Chop mushrooms into cubes (smaller than the taro cubes).

Heat up wok until very hot.  Pour in 1.5 tbsp of oil, and toss in three slices of ginger.  After about 15 seconds, toss in the taro plus a sprinkle of salt, and cook until slightly browned (this will take a couple of minutes).  You can pour in a couple dashes of water to help steam the taro, but not so much water so that the taro is boiling and loses its crust.

Add chinese sausages, and cook until the white fat becomes clear (about 1 minute).

Add mushrooms.  Add a bit of reserved mushroom liquid if the wok is too dry.  When the mushrooms are cooked, season by adding a bit more salt and about 3 tbsp of soy sauce — the mixture should be salty.

Add rice (which should have just finished cooking).  Toss to evenly mix.  Turn off flame.

Add chopped green onion, toss, and serve.

Morning Oatmeal Muffins

March 10, 2009

Sometimes I forget how good really simple meals can be.  Most everything I make nowadays has a sauce or multiple components, but tonight we just ate pan-fried steak, brown rice and boiled turnip greens, and it was really good.  This recipe is kind of the opposite –although the preparation is quite simple,  it’s a muffin form mix of everything you might think to put in your oatmeal in the morning, all at once.  If I’d had either less or more than one banana, it might have been different, but really these muffins can take anything you want to throw in them(although if you switch out the apples for something less acidic I would take out the baking soda).


(makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 apple, finely chopped or 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375F, and prep 12 muffin tins – either with spray oil or paper muffin cups.  Stir together the dry ingredients, being sure to break up chunks of brown sugar, then add the wet and stir until just mixed.    Fill the muffin cups — they will be very full, but these don’t rise very much — maybe 15%.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Carrot Muffins

March 7, 2009

In the spirit of my whole wheat pumpkin muffins, I’ve been searching around for a good carrot muffin recipe for a few months now, and I think I’ve finally found the one.  It’s delicious, fairly healthy and extremely easy to make.

It’s based off of this carrot cake recipe from userealbutter, which I first made as a cake — and it makes a great cake, even subbing half the white flour with whole wheat.  But I was looking for something a little different… something a little more muffinlike – heartier and less sweet.


(makes 12 muffins)

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 cups shredded carrot(about three largish carrots)
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 and set up your muffin tins – either with spray oil or paper cups.  Stir all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the wet ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Fill each muffin cup about three quarters of the way for average, not very top heavy muffins, or all the way for larger muffins.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Peppers ready for roasting

Peppers ready for roasting

A Moroccan inspired dish adapted(slightly) from Epicurious.  A traditional harissa is just made from roasted hot peppers, which would be a bit too much for this dish(and for us).  If you want to kick up the heat a bit, add a second roast jalapeno — that was about our maximum spice tolerance.  The fish can also be fried or grilled, but rubbing with olive oil allows the spices to adhere nicely with a minimum of grease.


(serves 2)


  • 2 fillets tilapia
  • a few pinches of cumin and coriander
  • olive oil
  • wedge of lemon (for serving)


  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Halve and deseed the red pepper, then rub with olive oil.  Rub the jalapeno and garlic with oil as well, then roast them all on a foil-covered cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.  Remove the garlic and flip the peppers, then roast for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub the tilapia with some olive oil, then lightly dust  with cumin, coriander and salt.  Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and fry the fish until browned, about three minutes per side.   Keep warm while you assemble the harissa.

Remove the skin from the red pepper and the stem from the jalapeno, then place everything(peppers, garlic and spices) in a food processor.  Blend until the peppers are broken down, then gradually add olive oil until .   Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the fish and squeeze the lemon over each piece, then top with the harissa.  We like to serve this over some whole wheat couscous with sunflower seeds to add a bit of crunch.

These pancakes aren’t really whole wheat, just half and half, but it lends a slight nutty taste and makes the recipe a bit more healthy.   This recipe makes about ten medium sized pancakes, which is just about enough for a big weekend breakfast for two people.  Any leftovers can be frozen and reheated in a toaster just like frozen waffles.

Cranberry syrup is just one of the many possible pancake toppings, and one of the more complicated ones at that.  Other options include:  a quarter cup of frozen raspberries(blackberries or blueberries), microwaved and smashed with a tablespoon of maple syrup stirred in or Nutella.


(serves 2)


  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • (optional) 2 tbsp shelled pecans

Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Melt the butter in a glass measuring cup and mix in the milk and egg.  Stir into the dry mixture.  If it looks too thick, thin with a little water.  Toast the pecans.  Heat a nonstick frying pan or griddle  over medium heat and brush with butter or oil(really, less is more).  Pour about a quarter cup of batter onto the griddle and press three pecan halves into each pancake.   Cook until golden brown on the bottom(about two minutes on my stove), then flip and cook about two minutes longer.  If preparing all pancakes before eating, keep warm in a 250 F oven.  Extra pancakes freeze well and can be reheated in the toaster.

Cranberry Syrup

  • 1/4 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until all the cranberries have burst and the mixture begins to thicken a little, about ten minutes.  Smash the cranberries a little more and add extra maple syrup if it gets too thick.

Pasta Puttanesca

February 14, 2009

Pasta Puttanesca is a chunky sauce of intense flavors that meld together perfectly – olives, anchovy paste, capers and hot red pepper.  You can either enjoy it as is, or mellow it out slightly by melting some goat cheese into the sauce.

I first came across Pasta Puttanesca in an Italian restaurant somewhere in Delaware.  At that point, I didn’t like olives, capers or anchovy paste, but this dish called to me anyway and I loved it enough to try reproducing it at home.  Over the years I’ve grown to love olives and capers(I’m still working on the anchovy paste), and moved up from just dumping in a can of black olives to using a mix of Kalamata’s, green and black olives.


(serves 4)

  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 sausages, sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, without calcium carbonate
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups mixed olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 4 oz goat cheese (optional, but awesome)

In  a large bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands.  You don’t need to be very thorough, since the heat will finish breaking them down, just make sure to squeeze any large pieces through your fingers.   This can be kind of fun and stress relieving.

Meanwhile heat up the oil in a large saucepan and saute the garlic and hot pepper flakes until fragrant, about a minute.   Then add the sliced mushrooms and the sausage(if using) and saute until the mushrooms begin to water.

Add the red wine and let it boil up, then add the tomatoes, anchovy paste and herbs.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for twenty minutes while you cook the pasta.  You should use a shaped pasta that will hold a lot of sauce — like penne or campanelle.   If you’re skeptical about the anchovy paste, taste it now and add more red wine if it tastes too fishy.

Stir in the olives, then bring back up to a simmer and taste to adjust salt, pepper and acidity.  Too sweet?  Add some lemon juice and pepper.  Too acid?  Add some sugar.   Remove from the heat and stir in the capers.   At this point, remove any sauce you want to save for another meal and stir the goat cheese into the remaining sauce appropriate (1 oz per person) and then toss thoroughly with the pasta and serve.

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

February 8, 2009

We’ve been attempting to broaden our palettes by trying a new fruit or vegetable each week.  This week I brought home some fennel(labeled anise at the grocery store).  I’d heard that orange and fennel pair well together, and we had a leftover grapefruit lying around, hence this salad.  It turned out much better than I was expecting.  This is a salad where the whole really is more than the sum of the parts.  The acid of the grapefruit brings out the delicate flavor of the fennel.


(serves two)

  • 1/2 bulb fennel
  • 1 grapefruit

Slice the fennel as thin as you can; for me this varied between zero and  1/8 inches, which was fine.  Supreme the grapefruit by slicing off the top and bottom, then removing the peel with a knife all around the fruit.  Once this is done, cut along the skin to remove the segments.  Alternatively, you can do what my mom does, which is to halve the grapefruit, then scoop out each section with a  grapefruit spoon.  Either way, make sure most of the juice ends up in the bowl with the grapefruit.  I’ve never supremed anything before tonight, so it was slow going, but I think with practice supreming will be both faster and prettier.

Now combine the fennel and grapefruit in a medium sized bowl and finish the dressing with some olive oil and salt

  • 1 glug of olive oil, maybe 1 1/2 tbsp?
  • 1/4 tsp salt, and then to taste

This makes a very refreshing side salad, or you could top it with some grilled seafood or chicken to make a meal.  We tried adding in some Kalamata olives, which may work with meat, but didn’t work as a stand alone salad.

I was intending on roasting the rest of the fennel, but never got around to it — instead I boiled it in some homemade chicken broth with orzo for a light soup.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

January 17, 2009

In order to successfully incorporate whole wheat flour into a baked good, you need a moist recipe — here mashed banana and yogurt provide the  extra moisture.



  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, cover with warm water.  Preheat oven to 35o F.   Stir together dry ingredients.  Beat eggs and sugars on medium for 8 minutes, then beat in oil slowly.   Next, beat in banana, yogurt and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients, walnuts and cranberries.  Spray a large loaf pan with Pam and pour in the batter.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about an hour and fifteen minutes.  If top starts to brown, tent some foil over the top.

Three Cup Chicken

January 17, 2009

Three cup chicken is an extremely flavorful dish from southern China — so-called because it consists of one part sesame oil, one part rice wine and one part soy sauce, flavored with garlic, ginger and basil.


(serves two)

  • one deboned chicken leg or two thighs
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2″ of ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 basil leaves

Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks. Heat sesame oil over medium heat, and add ginger and garlic. Sautee until fragrant, about one minute. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken. Cook until you can’t see any more pink flesh, then add wine, soy sauce and sugar. Reduce heat, cover and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about fifteen minutes. Stir in basil just before serving.