Thin Crust Pizza

thincrispy

I finally got a photo of something savoury! From the recipes on this blog it might appear that my house subsists on cookies and muffins alone but the truth is planning and cooking dinner is the highlight of my day. My Dinners Board on Pinterest is my biggest by far (560 pins and counting!) and is getting to the point that I should probably start sorting it into sub-categories of some kind. I’ve been lucky enough to get a bunch of early shifts over the past few weeks which gives me ample time in the afternoons to cook dinners that take a bit more prep work. I’m not a fan of rushed cooking so getting the time potter around the kitchen at my own pace is dreamy. For nights when time is nowhere to be found, this pizza does the job admirably.

I like me a thick crust every now and then but thin crust is my favourite when I look into my heart of hearts. Working quickly once the dough is rolled out is important, the longer it sits and rises the thicker it will be once it cooks. It will still taste great but you might not get the thin dough you were cravin’. Go easy on the toppings to ensure even cooking and be sure to try grating some parmesan on after the pizza has finished cooking, it’s something that I do no matter what recipe I use.

Thin Crust Pizza

Barely adapted from Thin Crust Pizza over at How Sweet It Is.

Dough (for one pizza):

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp honey

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

Toppings:

passata (tomato sauce)

garlic, crushed

salt and pepper

mozzarella

salami

fresh basil

parmesan

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature.

In a medium bowl whisk together the water, yeast and honey, allow to sit for around 10 minutes until frothy (if the mixture doesn’t get frothy, your yeast could be dead, check the expiry date on the packet and start with a new sachet of yeast).

While you wait the 10 minutes prepare whatever toppings you have chosen, try to keep them relatively light so as not to weigh your base down.

When the 10 minutes are up mix the flour and salt into the yeast mixture, starting with a wooden spoon and finishing with your hands.

Lightly flour a flat surface and knead dough until smooth and silky, place it back into the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Tear off a piece of baking paper (roughly the width of your oven) and spray it with oil then dust lightly with flour.

Roll out the dough onto the prepared baking paper as thin as possible, aiming for 30 cm (if the dough is too elastic and springs back allow it to sit for another 5 minutes).

Quickly add your chosen toppings then use a baking tray to transfer the pizza on its baking paper straight on to the middle rack of your oven.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the base is light brown on the bottom.

Remove from the oven using the help of a baking tray, sprinkle with any toppings that didn’t go on earlier like fresh basil or parmesan).

Allow to sit for a few minutes then slice and serve.

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Honey-ed Jalapeno Popper Toasted Sandwich

jalapenosammich

No menu this week, I’m jet-setting to Sydney and the gang has to fend for themselves for once. The Boyfriend and I wanted toasted sandwiches for an easy lunch before I left, so I went to the undisputed king of grilled cheese over at Closet Cooking for filling ideas. The Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese stood out immediately and then things got out of control when I drizzled honey all over it. Jarred jalapeños aren’t particularly fiery but you can remove the seeds for a milder warmth. Jalapeno poppers usually have bacon wrapped around them but I substituted with ham to avoid adding another frying pan to the mix (it’s just occurred to me though, what about toasting the sandwiches in BACON FAT?!).

I haven’t included quantities for the fillings because it depends on the size of your bread, personal preference for cheese and spiciness from the jalapeños, so just fill in the blanks with what you like.

I’ll post again when I get back from Sydney next week, hopefully with lots of food photos!

Honey-ed Jalapeno Popper Toasted Sandwich

Inspired by Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich over at Closet Cooking.

2 thick slices sourdough

butter

cream cheese

sharp cheddar, grated

jarred jalapeños, sliced

smoked ham, thinly sliced

honey

Put a small frying pan on medium heat.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread.

On the non-buttered side of one piece of bread, spread on cream cheese then add the grated cheese, jarred jalapenos, ham and drizzle with honey.

Add a little more grated cheese then top with the other slice of bread (butter side out) and place in the pan, cooking 2-4 minutes each side, or until dark brown and the cheese inside has melted.

Drunken Pulled Pork Quesadillas

quesadillas

New favourite dinner, we had this 2 weeks in a row and not just because the recipe makes so much pulled pork. This was my attempt at recreating the Pulled Pork Quesadillas from Typika in Perth and I have to say, I’m pretty darn pleased with my efforts. The pork came together without too much need for tweaking and the Grilled Corn and Avocado Salsa came out right on the first go as well. Even though both elements are delicious on their own it’s unbelievable how much better they taste together, totally food BFF’s.

If you can’t face doing everything on the same day then cook the pork a day in advance and allow it to nap overnight in the fridge, then all you have to do is whip up the salsa just before you eat. You can feed a bunch of people with 1.5kg of pork or freeze half of it for a future dinner. I cooked the pork in my pressure cooker, which I am currently courting and getting to know a little better. I was scared of it to begin with but with the option of reducing meat to tender shreds in 50 minutes, I’m seriously considering ending things with the slow cooker.

Drunken Pulled Pork Quesadillas

Recipe by Ainsley Badman.

Drunken Pulled Pork:

1 cup smokey BBQ sauce

330 ml beer

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp white vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp maple syrup

salt and pepper to taste

1.5 kg pork shoulder, skin removed

In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients but the pork, mix well and adjust flavours to your preference.

Place the pork in a pressure cooker and pour over the marinade, cook for 50 minutes (follow your pressure cooker’s instructions).

Alternatively, cook in a slow cooker with the marinade for 7 hours on low.

OR Cook in a 160 C oven for 2-4 hours with the marinade in a dish tightly covered with aluminium foil.

Remove the pork from the sauce and allow to cool slightly, shred with two forks and set aside.

Transfer the liquid into a medium saucepan and simmer until it thickens then mix it back into the shredded pork.

To serve:

grated cheese

flour tortillas

one serve of Grilled Corn and Avocado Salsa

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Cover half a tortilla with 1/2 cup of cheese and desired amount of the shredded pork, fold in half then grill for 5 minutes on each side (or until the tortilla is light brown).

Serve with Grilled Corn and Avocado Salsa.

Jalapeño Cornmeal Muffins

jalapenocheesemuffin

I’m posting this recipe today because I’m going away until the 6th October and it’s impossible for you to be mad at me if you have a muffin in your mouth. I won’t always have access to a computer so I can’t make any promises about regular posting but this recipe is so good that it will see you through. They’re quite sweet but the cheese and jalapeño turn it into a savoury muffin and they are beyond perfection eaten warm with salty butter (splashing on some Tabasco doesn’t hurt either but when is Tabasco NOT a good idea?). I left all of the seeds in the jalapeño and you get a bit of warmth here and there but I’d say these are pretty safe for people who don’t handle their chilli well.

Jalapeño Cornmeal Muffins

Adapted from Jalapeño Sweetcorn Muffins over at Two Red Bowls.

1 1/4 cups plain flour

3/4 cup polenta

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 1/4 cups milk (or buttermilk)

2 eggs

3 tbsp honey

6 tbsp vegetable oil

1 jalapeño, finely chopped

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200 C and spray a muffin tin thoroughly with oil (you can also line it with paper liners but I find that the cheese in the batter sticks to them, making the paper hard to remove).

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the plain flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda, salt and caster sugar.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, honey and vegetable oil.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined then fold in the jalapeño, cheese and spring onions.

Divide the mixture between the 12 holes in the muffin tin and bake for 15-18 minutes, when a skewer poked in comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Best eaten slathered with butter and hot sauce.

Creamy Lime Bars

limebars

A pattern might emerge if you were to browse over my recipes and it would look a little somethin’ like this. Limes. Sweetened condensed milk. More limes. More sweetened condensed milk. What can I say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’ve also used lemons for this recipe and they’re just as tasty. The original recipe calls for 4 egg yolks in the filling but the thought of accumulating 4 egg whites every time I baked this would keep me up at night. I did a bit of interwebbing and it looked like a pretty safe bet to swap the egg yolks for 2 whole eggs and hooray, it worked! (Ainsley doesn’t deal well with failure, people). The lime isn’t shy in this recipe but the sweetened condensed milk provides the perfect balance. I’ve been using my ‘special’ oven for so long now that I’ve forgotten how normal ovens function, mine gets a bit overzealous and burns the bottom of stuff before the top is cooked so I protect everything I put in there with 2 baking pans, I even had to go up to 4 for the second bake in this recipe. If your oven is normal then you probably just need to slip one baking tray under your slice tin for the second bake.

Creamy Lime Bars

Adapted from Creamy Lemon Squares over at Martha Stewart.

Base:

115g butter, room temperature

1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup plain flour

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line a 8 X 8 slice tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter, sugar and salt together with an electric beater until light and fluffy.

Add the flour and mix on low until just combined.

Press the dough evenly into the slice tin and press it up the sides around 1/2 inch, prick all over with a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden.

Filling:

2 large eggs

1 tin (395g) sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup fresh lime juice (around 3-4 limes)

2 tsp vanilla essence

Whisk together all of the ingredients then pour onto the hot crust and bake for a further 25 minutes (I place extra baking trays underneath the pan to prevent the base from burning underneath).

Allow to cool completely in the tin then refrigerate until chilled, take out of the pan and cut into 16 pieces (or smaller if you would like).

Chilli con Carne

chilli1

Chilli con Carne toppings have become pretty elaborate at our house, extending but not restricted to sour cream, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, carrot, red onion and coriander. Cornbread is also becoming a regular companion and the recipe that is floating my boat at the moment is Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. The leftovers of the cornbread make kick butt croutons and a crunchy topping for nachos.

My chilli ends up different every time but I think I’ve got down all the essentials. It looks like a lot of spices but at this point I knows what I likes, so don’t be tight fisted the cumin and paprika. Take it easy on the sugar and the salt to start off with because the flavour will develop over the hours it’s simmering and you can’t do anything to take back too much salt. Do your major tasting and seasoning tweaking about 15 minutes before serving, making sure that you get a nice balance with the Tabasco, sugar and salt. As always, make changes to suit your personal taste and leave out the chillies if they’re not your bag. Chipotle chiles usually come in tins and are smoked jalapenos, they add really good flavour and spice but leave them out if you can’t track any down (you can usually find them in stores that stock Mexican or American food products).

Chilli con Carne

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Chilli con Jamie from Jamie’s America.

2 onions, chopped

2 capsicums, chopped

10 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp ground cumin

3 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 kg beef mince

3-4 fresh chillies, chopped finely (de-seed if you want it milder)

1 chipotle chilli, chopped finely

2 tins chopped tomatoes

3 tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar

2 tbsp decaf instant coffee

2 tins red kidney beans

10 drops liquid smoke

Tabasco to taste

In a large pot over medium heat add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, then the onions, capsicum and garlic.

Fry until the onion is translucent then add the cumin, paprika, oregano, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and stir until fragrant.

Add the beef mince and cook until it has turned from pink to brown.

Stir in the fresh chillies, chipotle chilli, tomatoes, maple syrup and instant coffee.

Add in 1 cup of water and lower to a bare simmer, allow to bubble for 1 hour.

Add in the drained red kidney beans and cook for 1-2 hours, adding water as necessary to stop it from sticking on the bottom of the pot.

Taste and add salt and pepper to season.

Add liquid smoke and Tabasco.

Serve with sour cream, cheese and Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

cornbread5

This is the cornbread I’ve been waiting for. Crumbly, not too sweet and peppered with little green specks of jalapeño. The fact that there is a whole 1 1/2 cups of cheese in the batter sure doesn’t hurt either. I baked this for my Chilli con Carne spree so in the words of Latrice Royale, my favourite drag queen, SOP IT UP!

I baked my bread in an 8 X 8 inch slice tin that turned out to be the perfect size but use any kind of tin that you have, just reduce the cooking time for tins that are bigger than 8 X 8 inches. I never have buttermilk in the house so I make it as I need it by stirring 1 tbsp of lemon juice or white vinegar into 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Adapted from Piquant Cornbread over at Saveur.

1 cup polenta

1 cup plain flour

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup milk

75g butter

1 egg

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 jalapeños, chopped finely (de-seeded if you like it mild)

Preheat the oven to 200 C and spray an 8 X 8 inch baking tin with oil.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the polenta, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cumin and chilli flakes.

In small saucepan combine the buttermilk, milk and butter, heat on very low until the butter has just melted then whisk in the egg.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Fold in the cheese and jalapeños then transfer to the prepared baking tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes then allow to rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve warm.