I guess I was just in an alliteration kind of mood today. It’s been a pretty good week, and I’m excited to share these recipes with you. Let’s start with last week’s pizza night (told you it’d be back). This past week, I decided to use an actual recipe and the results were very tasty.
Roasted Garlic-and-Spinach White Pizza (from the March 2009 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray)
12 cloves unpeeled garlic (I used one whole head, but I didn’t really have enough paste to cover a pizza. Next time, I’d try two heads.)
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. cornmeal
12 oz. pizza dough
2 slices chopped bacon
1 10 oz. pkg. thawed, wrung dry, frozen spinach (My potato ricer took care of this with ease.)
1 c. ricotta
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the garlic on a sheet of foil and drizzle it with 1 tsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. water. Seal the foil into a packet and bake the garlic til soft, about 30 minutes; remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. (This was not nearly long enough for my garlic to be soft. I would suggest at least an hour of roasting.) Squeeze the cloves from their skins into a small bowl; add 2 tsp. olive oil and mash into a paste.
2. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet with 1 tsp. oil and dust it with the cornmeal. Stretch the dough into a large rectangle and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then stretch it again to almost fill the pan.
3. Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes; drain and set aside. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook it over low heat til warmed through; season with salt and pepper. (I didn’t warm the spinach, since I knew it would be warmed in the oven. In eating the pizza, I thought it might have a little too much spinach. Next time, I might use half that amount. I also found it tedious to portion out the spinach and dollop the ricotta. I would like to try mixing the spinach and ricotta, seasoning it, and then just spreading it over the garlic paste.)
4. Brush the dough with the garlic paste. Top with the spinach and dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with the bacon and mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temp to 400 degrees and bake til the cheese is brown and bubbling, about 10 minutes.
Now this next treat was amazing. It combined the delicious flavors of pineapple and coconut into a moist, flavorful cake. Though this cake was delicious, I wanted even more pineapple and coconut flavor. (I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love that flavor combination.) I had used a fresh pineapple, so I didn’t really have any juice to use. Because of this, I used the leftover cream of coconut to brush over the cake instead of the pineapple juice; I’m sure that using pineapple juice would help up the flavor. I’d also like to include more chopped pineapple and maybe even some toasted coconut shavings. Even without these things, I thought the cake was delicious. My husband and I both devoured it without any problems (except maybe an expanding waistline).
Pina Colada Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)
For the cake:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. softened butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. cream of coconut (Deb says that if you can’t find cream of coconut, you can substitute it with 1 c. coconut milk and 3/4 c. sugar.)
1/2 c. finely chopped pineapple
To brush over the cake:
3-4 tbsp. pineapple juice
For the glaze:
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 pinch sea salt
1 1/2 – 3 tbsp. pineapple juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 in. round pan and line the bottom with buttered parchment. (I didn’t have a large enough round pan, so I used an 8 in. square pan.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar til pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the cream of coconut and mix; the batter will look curdled, but it’s ok. (I’m glad she put that note, because mine did look curdled or broken, and I would have been scared otherwise.) Add the dry ingredients 1/2 at a time and mix til just incorporated. Fold in the pineapple.
2. Spread the batter in the pan and bake til it’s golden and a toothpick inserted in the center removes cleanly, 35-40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the cake from the pan and cool completely. While the cake is still hot, brush it with the 3-4 tbsp. pineapple juice.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the last 3 ingredients (though go sparing on the liquid at first), then pour the glaze over the cooled cake.
Another yummy treat that we’ve recently enjoyed, was a new twist on pesto: caesar! My husband is a BIG fan of caesar salad, so I knew he’d like this. Though I had some on a turkey sandwich (yum!) our main use of it was as a sauce for some pasta. Because it uses romaine, this is also a really economical version of pesto. And it’s a great way to use up some lettuce that might be on its last leg. As for making the pasta sauce, I just mixed the pesto with some sour cream and starchy pasta water and tossed it with some chicken and the cooked pasta. Here’s how to make the pesto; the uses I’ll leave to your imagination. By the way, don’t be afraid to make an extra big batch and freeze the rest for another day.
Caesar Pesto (from the Rachael Ray show)
1 c. stemmed, chopped romaine
1 tsp. anchovy paste (I’d seen this at grocery stores before, but when I went to look for it, I couldn’t find it at any of my regular grocery stores. I finally found a tube for $2 at Sprouts. Just another reason I love that store.)
1/4 – 1/2 c. grated Romano
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove grated garlic
3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts (I just used walnuts.)
1/4 – 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
Put all the ingredients in the food processor and blend til the desired consistency is achieved. (If you’re having trouble fitting all the lettuce in, just process for a second or two to cut it down to size.)
And our last treat for today – a delicious, icy concoction: pineapple sherbet. With just 4 ingredients, this dessert is easy to make and delicious to eat. It’s light with a hint of tang from the buttermilk, and it really hits the spot on a hot afternoon. Now, the recipe doesn’t call for an ice cream maker, but I’m going to use it next time because this sherbet became very icy and hard after a few days. I think that if I churned it, it might not have that problem.
Pineapple Sherbet (from Food Network.com)
1/2 pineapple – peeled and diced (about 1 c.)
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 qt. buttermilk
1. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook the pineapple, sugar, juices, and zest til the sugar melts. Let the mix cool to room temperature.
2. Transfer the cooled pineapple mix to a food processor. Add 1 c. buttermilk and puree til smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the remaining buttermilk, til the mix is smooth and well blended.
3. Pour the sherbet mix into a freezer-safe dish and place in the freezer. Let freeze til firm, about 2 hours. (If you were going to churn it, you’d probably need to chill the pineapple/buttermilk mix in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Then you should be able to process in an ice cream maker like normal.)
What sweet and cool treats have you been enjoying lately?