Category Archives: Weekdays

Super Bowl Food: Pizza!


Okay, so I posted on Facebook that I was super-pleased with the response to my Shrimp n’ Grits post and that I was looking for ideas on what to post next. I have quite a few idea/pictures in the queue, but my buddy Alex (see his comedic offerings linked on the right there) suggested that Super Bowl food would be appropriate choice. Then, my friend Keith (see his funny blog on the right there, too!) mentioned pizza, so the decision was made. Granted, I don’t think that I have all that much to contribute to the plethora of pizza recipes out there, but I know what I like, and maybe my tastes will be new to some.

First off, I really like whole wheat crust. For me, white crust is great when someone else makes it, but if I am going to bother making ‘za from scratch, I am gonna switch up everything, top(pings) to bottom. The recipe we use is just a variation on the one in the Joy of Cooking, which the Bun adapted for use with whole wheat flour.*

As for toppings, there are several that we turn to when making homemade pizza, most of which are on the vegetarian side. In fact, the pizza shown above is one that we made when our friends Mark and Erica decided to challenge us to a vegetarian week of dinners; it was a good way to get ourselves to think about how to get a balanced meal without eating meat. You’ll see that we used a red sauce (just crushed tomatoes seasoned with fresh garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper). Over the sauce, we added mushrooms sauteed with thyme, roasted red peppers, spinach (thawed from frozen), Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, and fresh basil, which elevates the flavor of most red-sauce pizzas. The result was so delicious that we couldn’t even wait to take a picture before we’d both had an enormous slice. If you are looking for a veggie pizza (and provided that you still eat cheese), this combination can’t be beat.

*There are several good brands of whole wheat flour available these days, including a few that say you can use them in place of regular all-purpose flour (I suggest testing a recipe out on yourself before serving guests). Trader Joe’s brand is the one we used in this recipe, and it worked really well. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Quick Questions: Pork Chops

I just got a question from my lovely friend Jessica about weeknight pork chops and how to cook them.  There is a stand-by method I use that I picked up from Cooks Illustrated a few years ago that yields the juiciest pork chops I make.  You end up sacrificing a little on the browning, but you can make up for that with a quick pan sauce.  Basically, start your pork chops (seasoned with salt and pepper) in a cold pan (add some olive oil before the chops) that you keep covered as you bring them up to medium-high heat.  This allows the chops to cook gradually, preserving some of the juiciness.  Depending on thickness, I do about 7-10 minutes for the first side, covered, and 5-7 minutes for the second side.  Once the pork is cooked, remove it to a plate and cover to rest while you put together a quick sauce. 

You should have some liquid in the pan that you can quickly turn into something tasty with a dollop of dijon mustard, some chopped fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary are great), and a little pressed garlic, if you are in the mood for that.  If you need more liquid, I suggest you use a little of the vermouth you have lying around that you are not using in martinis; it is a cheap and flavorful way to add some brightness to the sauce.  White wine or a little lemon juice will work here, too.  Adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper and spoon over chops.  Serve with your favorite sides and a nice chilled Italian white.  Heaven.

Weeknight Dinner: Skewers

Chicken Skewer Plate

Skewers are a testament to the fact that a little planning ahead can yield super-satisfying results.  Though marinating your protein before cooking is not absolutely necessary, it does make for a much tastier end result, especially if you are cooking in a broiler or grill pan, which impart none of the additional flavor you get from a real grill.  I have a few marinades that I can pull together from items in my pantry and fridge, which allow me to control things like saltiness and sweetness, but you should feel free to use whatever you like. Continue reading