Mushroom and Fontina Pizza

Here is a very simple pizza recipe.

Makes 1 12″ Pizza

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Ingredients

1 packet active dry yeast
3 cups flour
salt
3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
6 oz. assorted wild mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 plum tomatoes, seed and coarsely chopped
2 cups freshly grated fontina
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

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  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Combine flour and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to yeast, a little at a time, moistening  with up to 3/4 cup water as you mix. Alternately, you could pulse the mixture in a food processor just until it forms a ball. Dough should be soft but not wet.
  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, 10 minutes. Form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel; set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, 2 – 3 hours.
  3. Set a pizza stone in the middle of your oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, seasoning with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Add vinegar slowly, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cook for 2 more minutes, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. To assemble the pizza, stretch the dough into a 12″ round, pinch the edges to form a ridge, and sit dough on a pizza peel dusted with flour. Cover with half the fontina, all the mushrooms, and all the tomato mixture. Top with the remaining fontina and parmesan. Slide the pizza into the oven, onto the stone. Bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Garnish with more thyme sprigs.

NB: A bit of truffle oil strewn across this pizza can only bring happiness!

Minestrone with Pesto

Forget the diner cliché; this hearty soup deserves respect!

Minestra is Italian for thick soup and minestrone is a large or rich minestra.

There is no rule for making minestrone. The only secret…fresh vegetables.

 

Cauliflower, turnips, carrots and other fresh vegetables may be used in place of or in addition to the ingredients called for.

Recipe:
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 lb. swiss chard
1/4 lb. spinach
2 small zucchini
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 japanese eggplants, peeled and diced
2 cups tubetti pasta
2 cups cooked white beans
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pesto:
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. grated parmigianno-reggiano

  1. Soak mushrooms in 2 cups warm water until soft. Remove, rinse, chop and set aside. Pour mushroom water through a coffee filter and set aside. Wash chard and spinach. Trim and discard stalks from chard and stems from spinach. Chop leaves.
  2. Bring mushroom water and 6 cups salted water to boil in a large pot. Add mushrooms, chard, spinach, zucchini, potatoes, eggplant and olive oil. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  3. For pesto, pulse pine nuts and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic and basil and drizzle in olive oil. Add parmiggiano-reggiano and process into a smooth paste.
  4. Add pasta to soup. Cook pasta for about 10 minutes; add beans and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir in 2 tbsp. pesto, reserving the rest for another use, and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with additional grated parmiggiano-reggiano.

 

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“Old School” Stuffed Peppers


Recipe
:

6 large bell peppers
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 cups bread, softened in milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt & pepper to taste

 
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems and seeds; set the peppers aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the celery, onions and garlic. Add the ground beef and sauté together until the beef is completely cooked and the onions begin to soften. Add the bread crumbs, softened bread, 1/4 cup of the parmesan and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Work the eggs into the stuffing. If more moisture is needed, add a little milk or broth to the stuffing mixture. Spoon a tablespoon of tomato sauce into each pepper then fill with the stuffing. Place them in a shallow baking dish greased with olive oil and a touch of tomato sauce. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes or until the bell peppers are tender. Spoon more tomato sauce over each stuffed pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and finish with more parmesan cheese. Serve!

Herb-Roasted Drumsticks

Talk about a Budget Meal; I bought a package of 15 drumsticks for $4.10!

Plus:
3 large potatoes
1 bunch of leeks
2 large carrots
1 large red onion
Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage)

Generously season the chicken. I used salt, pepper, paprika, cardamom, oregano, and the fresh herbs.

Add plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and toss together with the potatoes, carrots, leeks and onions.

Place everything on a baking sheet & roast for one hour at 400 degrees, basting the chicken & turning vegetables two or three times. Loosely cover the chicken with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

And you can feed 4 to 6 people for under $10.

Sherry Braised Lamb Shoulder


Warm up to these hearty Braised Lamb Shoulder Steaks. A one-pot meal  that is no fuss and under $10; just let time work its magic.

I start by browning the lamb in olive oil, then add chunky pieces of carrots, onions, tomatoes, leeks and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand.

Season everything liberally with freshly ground pepper and then cover all of this with some home-made chicken stock and sherry. I’m cautious with salt because my stock is already salted. I can add more later.

Simmer for about 45 minutes and then taste, adjust seasoning and cook a bit more, or until the sauce thickens. Keep tasting, you’ll know when it’s ready.

Gorgeous swiss chard was dancing in the aisles at the supermarket so I could not resist. Steam-sauteed with whole garlic cloves and virgin oil delivered a sweet and delicious accompaniment.

I thinly sliced all the extra leeks and quickly fried them into frizzled leeks.

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