Fuzzy to Feathered

The other day I was on my way to leave the house when I noticed one of our cats sitting in the garden.  This struck me as odd so I got out of the car to investigate.  To my surprise and shock I found Mama hen and (luckily) all four babies waddling along in the garden.  Pookha our hunter was nonchalantly sitting on the other side of the tomatoes “helpfully observing”.

When I say hunter, I mean it was only a couple of days earlier that he woke us up at three in the morning by dropping a live baby bunny on the bed.  Which led to Pookha’s idea of the funniest thing ever, a scrambling, jumping, half naked, half asleep lel and I trying to 1) not scream like 12 yr-old girls and 2) figure out exactly what kind of animal was now running around the bed in the dark. I swear I heard him snickering.  I was actually relieved when the lights were finally on and we realized it was a baby bunny- he’d brought us a snake a week or so before this incident. HaHa. Pookha funny.

So after chasing Pookha out of the garden and getting over my initial shock. I took a few pictures of Mama and the chickiechicks  hanging out and foraging.   Some time during the night an animal of some kind opened the shed doors and tore through the chicken wire of the hen house.    Thank god Mama hen was smart enough (and tough enough) to lead her chicks to the relative safety of the garden.

The chicks are getting big now.  A couple of them have most of their feathers and they are as curious as ever!

I will get some closer pictures soon so that you can see how much they have grown.

Oh, and I thought this was a funny picture of Ballou sitting in a chair.  It strikes me often how many characters I live with!


Friday Dinner: Pizza

Friday Night Dinner 9/21/12: Pizza

Last Friday we opened up the circle of regulars and invited a few more.  Unsure exactly how many to expect, I planned a relatively easy feast.  Chicken/Turkey meat balls, Homemade Tomato Sauce (for those two recipes check last weeks blog post),  Pasta  (Gluten free and Regular), a large salad,  Fresh mozzarella- tomato-basil pizza, and Caramelized Onion-Roasted Garlic- Goat Cheese pizza.

Pizza Dough Recipe:

Not wanting to repeat myself, I am not going to add the entire dough recipe again.  I normally use my basic bread recipe as pizza dough.  You can find information on how to make this dough in Friday Night Dinner Turkey Meatballs

The only difference you need to make, is that after the dough rises the second time, instead of punching it down and forming it into a loaf, you will punch it down and divide it into 3 parts.  I made 2 large pizzas and 1 small loaf of bread from this amount of dough.  If you don’t want to make this much food, you can either cut the  dough recipe or simply freeze the dough that you don’t use.  It lasts for quite a while in the freezer-then the next time you want to make pizza you can simply pull the dough out and let it thaw.  It works very well!

  • Caramelized Onion Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese Pizza Recipe:

  • Pizza Dough (look at Friday Dinner Bread for recipe)
  • 2 Head of Garlic Whole
  • 2 Large Sweet or Yellow Onions
  • 6 oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 Cup Plus of Olive Oil
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Slice tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Oregano

The first step to making this pizza is roasting the garlic.  So turn your oven on to around 350F.  Grab your two heads of garlic and just peel the outer layers of the skin off.  Do Not take the bulbs off the head and Do Not peel them completely.  Now just cut the very top of the head off from each bulb.  I usually do one cut on the very top and then go around the edges with a small knife cutting each outer bulb individually.

It should look like this when you are finished.  Now take a small piece of tin foil, place the head in the center, and pull the edges up slightly.

Now pour a TBLS of olive oil over the top of the head and wrap the whole thing up.

Pop that bundle into the oven for roughly 30 min.  You want to watch this pretty closely because the garlic can go from roasted perfection to burnt pretty quickly in the last stages of cooking.  When you smell that beautiful aroma of roasting garlic just make sure to peek in every so often. Pull the bundle open slightly and look at the tops of the garlic.  If it is a toasty golden brown it is probably done.

Poke bulb with a fork.  If the inside of the bulb feels soft pull the whole bundle out of the oven.  close the top back up and let it sit and cool.  You can do this  up to a day ahead if you want to, but watch out for snackers in your refridgerator!

The next thing you want to work on (you can be working on this while the garlic is roasting) is caramelizing the onions.  Cut the very top and the bottom off of your onions.  Peel them and slice them in half.  Now quarter them and thinly slice.

Place the sliced onions into a medium sauce pan.

Pour 1 Cup of Olive Oil over the top of the onions.  Sprinkle roughly a tsp. of Kosher Salt over the top and cover.

Over medium to high heat cook the onions, stirring occasionally at first. When the onions start to brown, make sure to stir them very often so that they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.  Adjust the heat as well to keep the onions from burning.  When the onions look golden brown like this:

Turn the heat off and remove from the burner.  Have a mesh strainer positioned over a bowl ready.

Pour the contents of the pan into the strainer.  Push down slightly on the Onions with the back of a spoon.  You don’t want to smash the onions so don’t push to hard.  Your goal here is to squeeze a little of the the olive oil out of them.

Reserve that beautiful caramelized onion olive oil for later.  We will be using it.  This step can also be done a day ahead.  The next thing you want to work on is the roasted garlic and herb goat cheese.

If you are doing all these steps at once, make sure to take the goat cheese out before you start and let it come to room temp.  In a small bowl place the goat cheese, roasted garlic, finely chopped basil (roughly a TBLS), and finely chopped oregano (roughly a 1/2 TBLS), a Tsp of Kosher Salt, and a few turns from a pepper mill.  With a spoon start smashing the garlic and mixing everything into the goat cheese.

Now that you have the goat cheese mixed, and the caramelized onions ready, you can start building the pizza.  Heat your oven to 425F.  On a large baking tray covered in parchment paper stretch out your pizza dough.

Remember that Olive Oil that we reserved from the Onions?

Spoon a few TBLS onto the dough and spread with the back of the spoon.  Covering the entire surface of the pizza.

Put the pizza in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes.  You basically just want to toast or brown the dough. It should look a little like this when it is done:

Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan over the entire pizza.

Pop the pizza back in the oven for a few minutes or until the Parmesan has melted.  Once the parm has melted pull the pizza out of the oven and spread the goat cheese.

Now spread the caramelized onions.

Next add a layer of fresh basil.

Now for the thinly sliced tomatoes.  If I can get them from the garden, I like to use a mixture of red and green tomatoes.  It adds something both to the flavor and to the presentation.

Last layer is a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

Into the oven at 425F for 20-30 minutes.

  • Fresh Mozzarella Tomato Basil Pizza Recipe:

  • Pizza dough
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh Basil
  • Caramelized Onion Oil
  • Grated Parmesan

This is a simple pizza, yet despite its simplicity it has always been one of my favorites.  Basically, you want to stretch out the dough on your baking sheet (the same way I explained above.)  Use some of the caramelized onion olive oil or- if you don’t have that- just plain olive oil.  Spoon the oil onto the dough and spread it evenly.   After the pizza looks nice and golden brown, pull it out of the oven and sprinkle it with grated Parmesan.  Put the pizza back in the oven to melt the cheese.  Pull it out of the oven when the cheese is melted. (basically the same as the pizza described above)

Okay so now this is where it gets a little different.  First layer the basil onto the pizza.  Then lay the tomatoes out, like so:

  Now add a layer of thinly slice fresh mozzarella and finish it off with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

A sprinkle of Kosher salt and a few turns from the pepper mill to finish it off and you are ready to put this pizza in the oven.  Roughly 30 min at 425F, however like most recipes keep an eye and your nose open to tell when it is ready to pull out of the oven.

Unfortunately, my ravenous guests were so eager for a bite that I completely forgot to take any after pictures.  I was a bit worried I had made too much food, but after a wonderful evening I found that I didn’t even have any food to put away.  No leftovers and many happy faces are always telltale signs of a great dinner 🙂

Gluten Free Peach Cobbler

Observing from atop the refridgerator.  Pookha and Ballou. Cheering/critiquing my technique.

Yesterday, Lel bought some beautiful organic peaches, that were on sale, at the local market.  Returning home she requested/begged for peach cobbler.  Last winter, I made this cobbler for the first time with apples and it has been one of Lel’s favorites ever since.  This cobbler can be made with just about any type of fruit you would consider baking in a pie.  In the past, I have made this with apples, cherries, and berries. I suggest playing around with what ever you have on hand or whatever fruit is your favorite.  This cobbler makes a wonderful breakfast with a few spoon fulls of plain yogurt and it is so easy to make you can even whip it up that morning.

  • Gluten Free Cobbler Recipe:

  • -4-6 Peaches (apples, cherries, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, etc.)
  • -Sugar, Honey, or Agave
  • -Lemon
  • -Orange
  • -Oatmeal
  • -Butter

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Wash and Slice the Peaches and place them in a large mixing bowl.

Squeeze a lemon and half an orange.

Add roughly the juice from one lemon and the juice from half an orange to the peaches.

Now it’s time to sweeten the peaches.  For this cobbler, I used a little bit of sugar (1 Tbls) and a little bit of honey ( 3 Tbls )  depending on the fruit, you may need to change the amount of sweeter you use.  I have made this completely sugar-free before by using a blend of agave nectar and honey.  The best way to tell how much sweetener to add is to just test it.  Add a little and then taste a piece of the fruit.  Peaches are naturally very sweet (organic) and don’t need much extra help.  However, berries or tart apples will need a little extra.  You will also want to add whatever kind of spices you might want to use at this point.  Peaches are great with a tsp. of vanilla and a touch of orange or lemon zest.  Apples are wonderful with 3/4 tsp. of ground Cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of ground Ginger.  You can really play around with this recipe to suit your tastes.

After the peaches are all mixed up and look something like this, spread them out in a baking dish.

Now it is time to make the topping.  In a mixing bowl, put roughly 2 Cups of Rolled Oats.  Grind up a 3-4 Tbls of rolled oats in a blender or cut them up by hand using a large kitchen knife.  You are looking for the general consistency of flour.  If you have some gluten free flour on hand you can use that instead of grinding up the oats.  I am allergic to the store brands of gluten free flours (I  know we would fit right in at the allergy parade) so I make my own by grinding oats or rice up in the blender
(I suppose that is for another post).  For the cobbler, you only need a couple of Tbls of flour to hold the whole thing together.  Now add the 2-3 Tbls of oat flour to the bowl and also add 2 Tbls of your preferred sweetener to the bowl.  Cut a half a stick of butter into chunks and add that to the bowl.  Now with your hands, squish the whole thing together (mmmm.squishy).  If you need to add more butter, cut the other half of the stick into chunks and add them as you need.

You want the end product to look something like this-little bunches of oats stuck together and crumbly.

Spread the topping evenly on the peaches.  Bake in a 350F oven for 30-45 min. or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.

Breakfast is served!

Well I hope that you will enjoy this cobbler as much as we do! Cheers!  I am off to the Tractor Supply to pick up a few things for the furry and feathered.

Apple Pie

Our neighbors across the road are having their annual BBQ.  Unfortunately, Lel and I had already made plans prior to being invited.  However, since this is the first year that we have been invited (and as a gesture of good neighborliness)  we thought we should at least contribute a dish of some kind.  My fruit bowl just happened to be full of beautiful organic apples, so I figured Apple Pie would be an easy and tasty treat to contribute.

I made this pie with what happened to be in our pantry at the time so it differs a bit from how I would traditionally make apple pie filling, but it was just as tasty and actually contains less sugar.

  • Apple Pie Recipe:

  • 6 to 8 Apples (I just happened to have some organic gala apples I think, but usually I will mix in some granny smith as well)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • Roughly 1/2 Cup of White Sugar
  • 3 Tbls Honey
  • 2 Tbls Maple Syrup
  • Ginger
  • Cinamon
  • Pie Crust

Wash, peel, and slice the apples into wedges.

Squeeze some lemons. I used the juice from two lemons, but they were very small lemons-so the juice from one large one would do (roughly 1 to 2 Tbls).  Add the juice from half an orange.

Add the lemon and orange juice to the bowl of apples.  Toss the apples to evenly coat them with the juice.  Now  add the sugar and spice.

My spice rack!

I tend to eye ball things, but I would say that I add roughly a 1/2 tsp of ground Cinnamon and a 1/4 tsp of ground Ginger.  Sprinkle the spices around on top of the apples.  Now you will also want to add the sugar, honey, and maple syrup to the bowl of apples.  Mix the whole thing up and let the apples sit as you prep the pie pan.

  • Pie Crust Recipe:

  • 2 1/2 Cups Organic All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Sticks of Butter (cold)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbls White Vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbls Ice Cold Water

In a large mixing bowl, measure out the flour and salt.  Mix the flour and the salt together.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1 Tbls of white vinegar.  In another small bowl, add some ice and about a cup of water.  Now remove the sticks of butter from the fridge, cut them (the sticks of butter} into chunks and add it to the flour.

With a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour.

It will look something like this when you are finished.  Now add the egg and vinegar mixture.  Mix this together a little, then start adding a 1 Tbls of water at a time until the dough comes together.  When the dough is starting to stick together, knead it into a ball or disk.

Wrap the dough disks in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 min.
When the dough is chilled roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

Pinch the edges up.

Now add the apples to fill the pie crust.  I have become very fond of using cookie cutters to cut shapes to make the tops of fruit pies.  It is quick and easy and looks great. Everyone loves it and doesn’t have to know that I find that it is easier than actually rolling out a flat pie top:)  I have stars on hand.

The stars are shiny, because after I finished it off, I brushed a little egg wash on.  Pop this baby in the oven for about 35-40 minutes or until toasty light brown on the crust and bubbly on the inside.

We dropped the pie off.  I guess it was a hit, because the neighbors even felt the need to drop by personally and thank us 🙂

Roasted Fig Preserve

  • Roasted Fig Preserve Recipe:

  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 LBS Ripe Figs
  • 3/4 Cup of Sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 F.  Thinly slice the lemon into rounds.  Line the bottom of a baking dish with the lemon slices.

Wash and halve the figs.  Then lay them in the baking dish on top of the lemon slices.

Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the figs.  Now pour 1 Cup of water over the top of the figs.  Cover the pan with tin foil and roast in the 300F oven for 2 hours.  After 2 hours remove the tin foil and increase the temperature of the oven to 400F.  Continue roasting the figs for another 1 and 1/2 hours.

Then spoon the mixture into 1/2 pint or jelly jars.  You can keep this in the fridge for up to a month or you can drop the jars in a hot water bath.  Roughly 5 minutes for 1/2 pints.  Although it is still recommended to keep this preserve in the refrigerator because it is not completely saturated with sugar.