Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for September, 2011

Shrimp scampi pizza

What a great idea! Shrimp scampi sauce is delicously garlicky and fresh, due to the wine and lemon. I improvised and used a healthy tablespoon of leftover herbed butter from my lobster to start off the sauce. I added 1 tbsp of olive oil and sauteed garlic and red pepper flakes. I could have added a diced shallot or 1/4 cup chopped onions, but I decided not to. I added dried thyme as well, but any Italian seasonings would work. After the garlic cooked down (it was 2 large cloves mined finely,) I added 1/4-1/2 cup of wine. I followed that with lemon juice (1/2 of a reeeally juicy lemon) and it’s zest. I added half of a chicken boullion cube but a splash of chicken stock would be better. Mine just happened to be frozen. Once the sauce cooked down to about 1/2 cup (which took about 5 minutes,) I poured it into a bowl and added one diced tomato prematurely tossed with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. To the sauce/tomatoes I added the uncooked shrimp, which were 31-40 count. I purchased 10 and that totaled about 0.4 lbs. More shrimp is always better though.

I rolled out my pizza dough, recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck. It is my new favorite dough! I made a batch a while ago, split it into 4 balls, and let them sit in the fridge overnight. I then used 2 of the dough balls for a traditional pizza, and froze the other two. The texture of the first pizza was more bubbly and fluffy, and my shrimp pizza dough was flatter and crisper. I think it mostly had to do with my rolling, but both ways the dough was awesome! The flavor is great, especially when you brush the crust with olive oil. These pizzas only needed 9 minutes in a preheated 500 degree oven on a hot hot hot baking stone. I sprinkled parchment paper with cornmeal and put it on a big baking sheet. The baking sheet served as a pizza peel and the parchment/pizza cooked on the baking stone. The shrimp were cooked well, and they don’t need any pre cooking like some recipes suggest. I didn’t like that there was only 1 piece of shrimp per slice of pizza, so I might dice the shrimp before hand.

I layered the pizza like this – dough, sauce/shrimp/tomato, then cheese. Next time I might do sauce alone, cheese (4.5 oz of mozz was good for our two small-medium size pizzas), shrimp, then more cheese. I didn’t like the bites with no cheese. Oh, and I found my new favorite pizza cheese – boar’s head from the deli. A one inch ish block is about 0.4 of a lb, which is nice for a pizza. I sprinkled with parmesan. I topped the pizza with leftover diced seasoned tomatoes and basil. Yum! My inspirations for the recipe came from




Beef and cheese manicotti

This recipe makes a TON of filling! I originally planned on halving the recipe, so I cooked 1/2 onion and 1/2 lb mixed ground beef and Italian sausage. I made homemade ricotta, but used a different ratio of cream to milk. I read on Smitten Kitchen that you didn’t need as much cream, so I went with that recipe/technique. For whatever reason, the amount of strained liquid was a lot more and my yield of ricotta was a lot less than my first attempt. I used Ina’s recipe and double boiled last time. Since I didn’t have as much ricotta, I added less cheese. And as a result, I only used about 2/3 of the meat/onion mix. But even with all of my cuts, I still had the perfect amount to fill half of a package of manicotti (7 shells.) The marinara sauce I used was Mike Isabella’s pepperoni sauce. I used 6 oz of sliced pepperoni (which seemed like a LOT), 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, and about 1 cup of chicken stock. I strained the sauce at the end to make it smoother. It was so good! I love the hint of pepperoni and I would definitely use this in dishes where the sauce was the star. It is a pretty fatty sauce but most totally worth it.

I included both recipes for the pepperoni sauce that I found. One of the recipes has a splash of vinegar at the end, but I completely forgot about it. Maybe next time!

I was going to add pesto to the meat/ricotta mixture but I bought sun dried tomato pesto mozzarella instead. I like the flavor of the cheese but it is so oily! I drained the oil and I still felt like it was too greasy. I also used some provolone. I omitted the butter on top.

I boiled the manicotti shells for half of the cook time. I filled the shells and made the sauce a day ahead. I baked for 30 minutes covered, 5 minutes uncovered, then broiled until browned.

Beef and Cheese Manicotti (Giada)


  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 (8-ounce package) manicotti
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces


Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.

Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

Makes 4 1/2 cups to 4 3/4 cups

This sauce may turn out to be a bit more textured, depending on how you puree it. Still tastes just as good.

MAKE AHEAD: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, cut into small dice

5 medium cloves garlic, cut into very thin slices

1 pound pepperoni, cut into thin slices

1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted (see NOTE)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

8 to 12 ounces canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 fresh bay leaf

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, until the oil shimmers.

Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are golden and fragrant.

Stir in the pepperoni; cook for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and evenly coated, then add the toasted fennel seed and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Add the tomatoes and their juices (to taste), the broth and the bay leaf; stir to incorporate. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pepperoni slices will be soft, with a deeper color. Remove from the heat.

Working in batches as needed, transfer to a food processor or a high-powered blender (including the bay leaf). Puree until smooth. The sauce is ready to use. Or cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

NOTE: Toast the fennel seed in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the skillet often to keep the seeds from burning. They will become fragrant and slightly darker in color.

Makes 4 1/2 cups to 4 3/4 cups


  • 6-oz. pepperoni, cut into thin slices
  • 4-oz. yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon chili flake
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted
  • 4-oz. crushed San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
  • 4-oz. chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


In a pot, sweat onions in olive oil for five to seven minutes. Add garlic and continue to sweat for two minutes. Add the pepperoni and cook for about three more minutes. Add spices and cook for an additional minute. Add the crushed tomatoes with the juice and cook for five more minutes. Lastly, add chicken stock and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove the mixture from heat and puree in a blender. Season with salt and pass it through a fine china cap. Finally, add the splash of vinegar.

THE Pizza dough

I made a pizza dough from Wolfgang Puck. The best part about it was the texture. I don’t know if it was the actual recipe/technique or how I made the dough, let it rise, shaped it into 4 balls, and refridgerated for a day. About 1 hour before assembly, I took two balls out of the fridge, punched it down, and reshaped into a ball. The dough was really easy to roll out, and I think I prefer making smaller pizzas. They are just so much easier to handle! I used leftover pizza sauce from my last recipe and a mix of pesto and sun-dried tomato mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, and monterey jack with jalapenos. The monterey jack was a last minute addition, because I felt like I needed more cheese. The jalapeno kick wasn’t my favorite, but it was barely noticeable. The dough taste was yummy, but I think I’ll add a little extra salt. I brushed the crust with olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan before baking.

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Instructions for All Purpose Pizza Dough Recipe
  1. Using a stand mixer: Combine the flour and salt and add it to the yeast mixture all at once. Mix it together using the paddle attachment, then change to the dough hook. Knead at low speed for 2 minutes, then turn up to medium speed and knead until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. Hold on to the machine if it bounces around. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and elastic. When you press it with your finger it should slowly spring back, and it should not feel tacky. Kneading the dough by hand: Mix together the yeast, honey, water and olive oil as directed in a medium-size or large bowl. Combine the flour and salt. Fold in the flour a cup at a time using a large wooden spoon. As soon as you can scrape the dough out in one piece, scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic. Using a food processor: Mix together the yeast, honey, water and olive oil in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove the dough from the processor and knead it on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary, until it is smooth and elastic.
  2. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes (you can leave it for up to an hour). When it is ready the dough will stretch as it is gently pulled.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 to 4 equal balls, depending on how large you want your pizzas to be. Shape each ball by gently pulling down the sides of the dough and tucking each pull under the bottom of the ball, working round and round the ball 4 or 5 times. Then, on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball around under your palm until the ball feels smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Put the balls on a tray or platter, cover with pan-sprayed plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave them to rest for at least 30 minutes. At this point, the dough balls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. You will need to punch them down again when you are ready to roll out the pizzas.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place a pizza stone in the oven to heat. In the meantime, press out the dough. Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. While turning the dough, press down on its center with the heel of your hand, gradually spreading it out to a circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter for small pizzas, 12 to 14 for larger pizzas. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to get an even circle. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around edge of the circle. Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then top the pizza as you like. You can transfer the pizza to a lightly oiled pizza pan if you like, or bake it directly on the stone.
  5. Depending on your taste, spread the dough with marinara sauce or pesto sauce (about 2 tablespoons for small pizzas, 1/4 to 1/3 cup for larger ones). If you don’t have sauce, a can of tomatoes, drained, chopped, and seasoned with salt and chopped sautéed garlic, will do. Top with the shredded or grated cheeses of your choice (I like a mixture of mozzarella and fontina). Add thinly sliced vegetables such as Roma tomatoes, pitted olives, red peppers, or red onions; sautéed sliced vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, or artichoke hearts; thinly sliced cured meats such as pepperoni or prosciutto; or small pieces of lightly cooked chicken or shrimp. Add a lightly sprinkling of grated Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese and some minced or julienned fresh herbs such as basil or oregano or dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, or herbes de Provence.
  6. Dust a pizza paddle (also called a baker’s peel) with semolina and slip it under the pizza. Slide the pizza onto the baking stone or into the pizza pan (or place the pizza pan on the stone – the heat from the stone will help it achieve a crisp crust). Bake until the cheese topping is bubbling and the rim of the crust is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  7. Use the pizza paddle to slide the pizza out of the oven and onto a cutting board. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the pizza into slices and serve immediately.

Buffalo chicken sliders

I marinated/brined some chicken thighs to make some yummy buffalo chicken. My marinade was Frank’s Hot Sauce, ranch dressing spices (garlic powder, onion powder, chives, parsley), salt, seasoned pepper, water, and more salt. Actually, the finished sandwich was a little too salty when I combined it with the blue cheese spread. The spread is awesome though, and the chicken was too. I cooked the chicken in a skillet and sliced into thin pieces. I like the idea Baked Bree had for the hot sauce mixture to toss regular chicken in, maybe I’ll combine my method with hers next time. The honey sounds like a great idea. She says to bring the sauce to a bubble before tossing it with cooked chicken.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders


1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
slider buns or whatever bun you would like
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup hot sauce (we use Frank’s at our house)
4 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the blue cheese spread:

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon vinegar
3 chopped green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce

I tried a new gnocchi recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, and it was really good. The instructions were great, but my gnocchi were a little too soft when I tried to make the ridges with the fork. I kneaded a little more flour into the pieces and they cooked up just fine. I made 1 1/2 of the recipe and it made 5 servings. The gorgonzola cream sauce was excellent. Probably extremely fatty, but it was so simple and smooth and the blue cheese recommended to me by a cheese guy is awesome.

The recipe for the gnocchi is in the magazine and here is the cream sauce recipe. I would love to try a brown butter sauce next.



Adjust the consistency of the sauce with up to 2 tablespoons of gnocchi cooking water before adding the dumplings.


  • 3/4cup heavy cream
  • 1/4cup dry white wine
  • 4ounces Gorgonzola cheese , crumbled (1 cup)
  • 2tablespoons fresh chives , minced
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Bring cream and wine to simmer in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, gradually add Gorgonzola, and cook until melted and sauce is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chives and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

Sub buns…ehh

The recipe said it makes 6 large sub buns, so I split the risen dough into 6 pieces. One of the pieces turned into 3 rolls, and one of them turned into 4 rolls. The shortening gives the buns an interesting texture when I grilled a sandwich using the bread. Crunchy, but really light and airy underneath the crust. The bread tasted pretty good too. I brushed some of them with egg wash, which deflated them some. When adding the flour, I added enough to make the dough still stick a little bit. Maybe I should have added a little more? These were decent, probably wouldn’t make again. Weird texture, not enough flavor.

Kittencal’s Sub Sandwich Buns


  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast (use 2 tablespoons yeast, even 1-3/4 tbsp will do fine)
  • 1/4 cup Crisco shortening, melted
  • 1 cup full-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (can reduce to 1 teaspoon)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (more as needed)


  1. Prepare a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a kneader attachment.
  2. Place about 3-1/2 cups flour in the bowl.
  3. Melt the shortening in the microwave; add to the bowl with the flour.
  4. In a measuring cup, measure out 1 cup milk, then add in 4 tablespoons sugar and the salt; heat until quite warm in the microwave, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  5. Pour the milk into the bowl with the melted shortening and flour; cover the bowl with a towel to keep ingredients warm.
  6. Proof the yeast in a 3/4 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar for about 8-10 minutes or until foamy.
  7. After proofing, add to the bowl and start kneading for about 3-4 minutes, then add in more flour as needed to create a soft semi-sticky dough, knead about 8 more minutes until smooth.
  8. Place the dough on a very lightly floured counter or board; let rest for 5-10 minutes, covered with a clean tea towel.
  9. Grease a large bowl, then place the dough into bowl to rise in a warm place for about 50-60 minutes (because of the amount of yeast, the dough should take a shorter rising time in a warm place).
  10. Punch down dough.
  11. Cut into pieces (I usually cut into 6 pieces), and shape large balls.
  12. Let dough balls rest for about 4 minutes (or just enough time to make shaping easier).
  13. Shape the dough into desired length for buns.
  14. Sprinkle a large cookie/baking sheet with cornmeal, or lightly grease with cooking spray.
  15. Place the long pieces of dough on a baking sheet (shape once again if you need to).
  16. Cover and let rise for about 25 minutes, or until doubled.
  17. Set oven to 375 degrees.
  18. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, or until dark golden brown.
  19. If desired after the second rising and just before baking, beat one egg white with 1 teaspoon cold water, then brush on buns and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/kittencals-sub-sandwich-buns-133547#ixzz1XwgfstwQ

Skirt steak marinade

I made a really asewome marinade for my skirt steak, and unfortunately I didn’t measure anything. I marinaded for about 24 hours, and cooked on my grill pan. I cut each large piece in half because the thickness varied. I had no clue how long to cook, because recipes online said anywhere from 1 to 6 minutes per side. I just guessed and the pieces turned out ok! So don’t stress about it. Once I sliced against the grain, I cut the sliced pieces in half because they were pretty long. I bought a 0.9 lb piece and a 0.8 lb piece. It made enough for 2 fajita dinners, 2 quesadillas, 1 big lunch taco, and 2 more quesadillas.

Here are the ingredients:

  • Red wine vinegar (lots!)
  • Lime zest from 1 lime
  • Lime juice from 3 limes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Handful parsley
  • Cumin, mexican oregano, chili powder, cayenne
  • Salt, pepper
  • Canola oil (not too much)
Everything was chopped up in the food processor!