Friday, June 30, 2006

Nick's Salad

Nick and I were at the fish counter last night, picking up some shrimp for dinner. The case was decorated with several little piles of bright red crawfish. Nick insisted that we take some home. He wanted to make dinner.

He prepared the salad, honing his knife skills. I showed him how to slice an onion and how to peel and seed a cucumber. All went well until he began halving cherry tomatoes. One of the smaller ones rolled away from him mid-knife stroke, and he sliced his thumb. Yikes! A little Neosporin and a band-aid, however, and he had recovered.

Nick decorated the salad bowl with three crawfish, and we served the salad with grilled shrimp, more crawfish, and warm bread. A wonderful dinner, prepared with love by my son.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Homemade Pizza

One of my favorite weekend dishes is homemade pizza. Simply make the dough, prepare a handful of toppings, and let your guests make the pizza of their choice. A great way to involve your guests in dinner, and an economical way to entertain.

My Favorite Pizza Dough

1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup cold milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture sit for five minutes or so to proof; the yeast should bubble up. Add the cold milk and the olive oil. In a mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Turn the mixer on to the lowest setting. Slowly add the liquid ingredients until the dough balls up in the bowl; add additional milk by the spoonful if necessary. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for five minutes. Turn the mixer back on and knead (or knead by hand) for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 2-3 hours until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down and divide into thirds.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 32-oz jar whole or crushed tomatoes

In a 2-quart saucepan, saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil over low heat until translucent. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and hot red pepper flakes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Blend the sauce in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Let cool.


Preheat a pizza stone in the oven at 450 degrees. Roll dough out. Sprinkle pizza peel with cornmeal or flour and place dough on top of peel. Top with sauce. Top with desired toppings (our favorites: basil, pepperoni, purple onion, pesto, black olive, mushroom, roasted eggplant, red bell pepper). Add a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Bake on a hot pizza stone in the oven for 7-8 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling.