Grilled Pizza

Well, it’s that time of year again–BBQ TIME! But what do you do if you’re vegetarian or vegan and you’re going to a barbecue or if you aren’t but you’re hosting a vegetarian or vegan at your barbecue? Grilled pizzas, of course! This is a really easy recipe that is definitely a crowd pleaser. You can buy already-made pizza dough at most supermarkets, but it’s very easy to make yourself (see this previous post for Matthew’s pizza dough recipe).

Grilled Pizza

  • 1 recipe pizza dough
  • Chopped vegetables for toppings (pre-roasted vegetables are my favorite; on this pie I used a combo of grilled onion, steamed brocollini, baby spinach, and spring garlic)
  • Tomato sauce (reasonable use for canned sauce here–doesn’t have to be “pizza sauce”, any tomato sauce will do)
  • Cheese (Mozzarella and feta work well, optional)
  • Cornmeal (you can use flour if you don’t have cornmeal),
  • Olive oil

  1. Heat grill on high.
  2. Dust a large wooden cutting board or a pizza peel with cornmeal.  Push down dough into pizza-shaped pies of any size.
  3. Brush the top with olive oil, and flip pizza onto grill, olive oil side down.
  4. Close grill and cook for 3-5 minutes, until crisp and browned on bottom. Brush top with olive oil and flip pizza.
  5. Top with tomato sauce and toppings of choice.  Cook another 3 minutes, until the bottom is crunchy and the toppings are heated through or melted.

The pizza was a success–with even the non-vegetarians enjoying the cheese-less pizza! Happy grilling everyone!

Thyme for Pickled Beans

Aye dios mio! It’s been a sprint of a month–and sadly, another without a post!! I’ve been busy: working on my CSA‘s membership drive, helping to organize the Queens Green Alliance’s Earth Day Fair, and building up my acupuncture practice. But don’t think that just because I’m busy, I haven’t been cooking! To the contrary, I have been cooking up a storm (easy with my stocked pantry) but have yet to get back in the groove of posting my kitchen creations. In the next few weeks I’d like to retroactively post some recipes I’ve been eating a lot lately (hello red quinoa/black bean and feta salad, I love you), but for now, I am reporting on my April Tigress Can Jam creation.

I was very excited to find out that this month’s theme was herbs. Herbs are a great way to celebrate Spring, as their delicate, green, aromatic essence wakes up the palate, reflecting all the blooming that is happening outside.  I love the earthiness of thyme, which I often use when roasting vegetables.  So this was my experiment to see how thyme would work with fresh pickled green beans.  I modified the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving recipe for Dilled Beans, and came up with this simple, pretty jar. If you are new to canning, I recommend only using recipes from published books.

Thyme for Pickled Beans

Recipe yields one 12 oz jar

  • String beans – enough to fit into 1 jar – washed and trimmed
  • 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 T pickling/canning salt
  • 3 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 3-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids. If you are new to canning, read THIS primer from Tigress.
  2. Bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil over medium heat; add beans, garlic and thyme. When boiling again, turn off heat.
  3. Pack beans and thyme vertically in jar. Ladle in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, and adjust liquid levels as needed.
  4. Wipe rim, center lids, screw on band, and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

As I only have one jar, I’m going to wait to open it for a special occasion–maybe an upcoming picnic, and I’ll report back to let you know how they came out. Until then, they will sit in my pantry until the thyme is right…

5/2: We ate the beans at a barbecue with friends, and they were delicious! The thyme flavor really came through, and they were a great snack while the grill was heating.

Odds and Ends Salad

Salads don’t have to have greens; in fact, protein packed salads like this one can be quite filling and satisfying on their own. We have a delivery from our CSA coming this Tuesday (deliveries are once every 3 weeks during the Winter), and so our supply of fresh produce is sadly low, but I was able to scrap together this nutritious salad from odds and ends I found in the fridge and pantry.

  • Grated carrots
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped parsley stems (don’t throw them out after you use the leaves! They’re great in salads and soups)
  • 1 can of rinsed chickpeas
  • 1 diced roasted beet
  • 1 small clove of crushed garlic
  • Feta cheese
  • Olive oil, tarragon vinegar, salt and pepper

The traditional oil to vinegar ratio is 2:1 or 3:1, but I tend to like mine more vinegary than that, so I often do 1.5:1 but don’t get caught up on ratios, just eyeball it and let taste be your guide.  For this salad, I let the carrots, parsley stems, scallions and garlic steep in some vinegar, salt and pepper as I chopped the beets.  I then tossed in the chickpeas, oil, and finally the beets and feta. (Adding the beets at the end prevents the beet color from overtaking everything, though that’s somewhat unavoidable.)

The Can Jam Month One: Citrus Marmalade

Let me just start by saying that I am no pro canner.  Yes, I dabble, I have the special canning tongs and lid-lifter-magnet, and I have performed the canning process a handful of times, but it was never anything too complicated.  But after a satisfying tomato canning experience (fresh, local, organic produce turned into a pantry staple by my very own hands!),  I knew I wanted to expand my canning credentials and venture into more advanced canning endeavors, but where to start?  Enter The Can Jam.

I’ve been using Twitter a lot lately (follow me @PantryTweets), and through it I have met and exchanged ideas with some amazing cooks all over the world who are doing some really exciting things.  One of these cooks has two wonderful blogs that I read, and wouldn’t ya know it, she is a fellow Queens resident, and she LOVES to can (and pickle!).

Tigress is holding a year-long online canning project which I am enthusiastically embracing with all of my canning heart.  Each month, she’ll post an ingredient on her site, and then invites others to can/preserve/pickle a recipe highlighting that ingredient and share their results.  January’s ingredient is citrus, and I immediately thought of attempting a true champion of preserves: Marmalade.

Before you read any further know this: canning marmalade is sticky business!

The first thing to do was to figure out what type of marmalade I was going to make.  Since citrus isn’t found in the Northeast I can’t just rely on my CSA to provide it, so I had to see what organic citrus looked good at my grocer (not just any grocer, Fairway Market), since with marmalade you end up eating the rind, where pesticide residues can collect, organic is the way to go. I was excited to find not just organic lemons and oranges, but organic blood oranges–what a treat!  When I got home I consulted my trusty cookbook collection and found a nice recipe in Joy of Cooking for Bitter Orange Marmalade, which I modified to include blood oranges, ginger, and fennel seed.  The following is an account of the steps (and occasional missteps) I took.  I hope this gives those of you who’d like to try canning that extra push you need to just GO FOR IT!

IMPORTANT: If the preserve is not prepared properly, it can be dangerous.  If you are new to canning (myself included) follow the recipe exactly, especially amounts of sugar, fruit, and processing times (spices can be played around with without compromising safety).   For canning steps, and a great resource, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or these great bloggers and fellow Can Jam participants: Tigress in a Jam, Married…With Dinner, Food In Jars, Dorris and Jilly Cook, and Garden Fresh Living (for a full list of participants, check out Tigress’ master list.)

Tricalore Spiced Citrus Marmalade

Makes about 10 1/2 pint jars (I made five 4 oz jars, and five 12 oz jars.  (I processed the 12 oz jars for 15 min, vs. 10 min for the 4 oz)

  • 1 lb oranges
  • 1 lb blood oranges
  • 8 oz unpeeled lemons

Chill, wash, halve crosswise, snip out tough centers, and thinly slice, removing any seeds.

Combine in a bowl, with their juice, and add:

  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 T chopped or grated fresh ginger (Feel free to add more, I will the next time I make this)

Cover and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.  The following morning, simmer with the water until the citrus peel is tender.  Then add:

  • 6.5 cups sugar
  • 1 T fennel seeds (again, what was I thinking? I would definitely add more of this next time too.)

Divide the mixture in half and cook in 2 batches.  Bring each batch up to a rapid boil, stirring frequently, until you reach the jelling point*. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam. Combine the batches, then pack into hot 1/2 pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes.

* The jelling point is a temperature/moment when the pectin reaches it’s zenith, and the preserve sets.  But…MY MARMALADE DIDN’T SET!  There are various tests to see if the jelling point has been reached;  I did the “quick chill test”, in which you drop a small amount of the syrup onto a chilled saucer, let it sit for a few minutes, and then run a finger through it.  The marmalade is set when the line of your finger stays, and the sides don’t move or when the marmalade crinkles when running your finger through it.  Mine never got to that stage, but it did hold a line, which various sources explained as a “soft” set.  I was afraid to keep boiling away (my sources said that if boiled too long, the preserves will overcook and be runny), and convinced myself, at the time, that a soft set was fine.  In retrospect, I should have boiled a little longer.  I’m told this jelling point thing will get easier with practice and experience, which I’m excited to get tons of this year!

Despite the syrupy consistency, I am thrilled with the color and flavor of my first foray into marmalade.  It’s a little bitter (which I don’t really mind), and I think it will be delicious with sweet buttered bread.

Barley Bowl

I always feel better after a simple meal of grain + veg + sauce. Especially in the winter season, with the plethora of root vegetables available, simple meals like this are only a roasting pan and steamer away. We had carrots and rutabaga left over from last week’s winter CSA share, which I roasted with with beets. All were tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper with a sprig of rosemary (I love the way the house smells in the winter with rosemary roasting in the oven).

The roast vegetables were served with steamed broccoli and that toothsome wonder, barley. When eating like this frequently, some people worry about getting bored with the same old thing every night. And the answer is SAUCES! I have a few standard sauces in my repetoire that can be mixed together on a whim, and used to top not only roast vegetables, but fish, tofu or tempeh.

Miso Sesame Sauce:

  • 3 part sesame oil
  • 2 part miso paste
  • 2 part rice wine vinegar
  • 1 part honey (or 1/2 part sriracha)
Place all ingredients in a clean jar. Shake. Thin with water to desired consistency. (Sometimes I add grated ginger, sometimes I make it spicier…Play around!)