Friday, December 01, 2006

Pizza Synergy

Last night we had the beef marinated in my kiwi hot sauce and chayote. I used local blade steak from Pipers.

Little meat lesson here: Blade steak is cut from the chuck. It's not as tender as premium cuts of steak but it's really tasty. Of all the chuck cuts, the top blade is the best. When it comes to meat, I got for flavour. Texture can be dealt with either marinating or slow cooking but you can't 'fix' poor flavour in a slab of meat.

Kiwi fruits have enzymes that tenderize meat beautifully.

Here's my fast & dirty recipe for Hot & Spicy marinated beef & chayote.

I sliced the meat into thin strips and threw it in with enough kiwi hot sauce to coat. I let it sit for a few hours.

When ready to cook, I peeled and sliced a chayote (if you have non-prickly chayote, you don't have to peel). In a hot wok or pan with a bit of veggie oil, I threw in a coin of ginger minced fine and a crushed garlic clove. Dump in the meat and stir fry until just done. Remove to clean bowl.

Dump in chayotes and about 1/2 cup of water. Scrape up the nice caramelized bits off the bottom of the pan and cook the chayotes until they're just done. You want them still a bit crunchy. This shouldn't take more than a minute or two.

Throw in a few glugs of soy sauce and a cornstarch slurry if you want a thicker sauce. Return meat back into pan and stir it up together. Serve hot with rice or noodles.

Not including the marinating time, this all took about 10 mins to make.

I'm in a coccooning faze right now. I just want to wrap myself up, knit and eat lots and lots of pizza!

Oddly enough, pizza was the topic of conversation on a chic message board that I frequent. So here's my two bits on pizza.

I make my own dough. There are recipes all over the internet. Mine is simply flour, yeast, water, salt and olive oil. The key is in the kneading. I like my pizza crust to be chewy so I knead my dough for a good 20 minutes. It also doubles as a upper-body workout ;)

When I do make pizza dough, I often make an extra batch or two to throw into the freezer. You can make your own frozen dough or buy it from the store. Just take it out the morning that you want to make pizza and it will be ready for you by the time you get home from work.

I make super-thin crust pizzas. I'm not one for thick crusts. I bake mine on pizza stones. We got one as a wedding present. They're about $15 and worth it. They make the best the crust and they bake your pizza evenly. I also use them for baking other breads.

Leftovers often make good pizza toppings.
-Think sauteed red peppers & green beans thrown onto a pizza with some good goat cheese.
-How about leftover waxy potatoes and carrots sliced thinly and sprinkled with smoked gruyere?
-Try a curried veggies (skip the sauce) with a light sprinkling of fromage frais for added richness.
-For the meat eaters, how about leftover steak or ground meat or meat loaf sliced or cubed on a bed of tapenade with a grating of manchego.
-An orphaned pork chop sliced thinly with on some bbq sauce and Pepper jack cheese.
-Leftover eggplant parmigiano with sundried tomatoes and mozzarella.
-Or a simple feast of assorted sauteed mushrooms and raclette cheese.

If you happen to have some extra pasta fixings, throw those onto a pizza. Anything that works well on pasta probably works well on top of a pizza.

If you have leftover roasted/grilled veggies, throw those onto a base of yummy sauce.

Speaking of sauce, think beyond tomato sauce. Try pesto (basil or cilantro or parsley), tapenade, harrissa, fermented black bean sauce, miso paste, thai curry, bbq sauce. These all work well with roasted veggies and many of the above topping suggestions.

One of my favorite pizza combinations is caramelized onion, pear, walnuts and goat cheese. Nothing more than a good olive oil needs to serve as the sauce. All those toppings except for the olive oil are grown locally. I just happen to have some perfectly ripe pears that I got from Berry Point orchard on Gabriola Island a few weeks back. There's also a wedge of Saltspring Island goat cheese in the fridge. Instead of walnuts, I'll probably use hazelnuts from Foote's farm down in Chemainus and I still have a ton of local onions. Hmmmm, I can't wait for my 100 mile pizza!

Kev's favorite is pesto base with marinated artichoke heart, roasted veggies, olives, sauteed/grilled chicken breast and feta. Luckily, I made a ton of pesto over the summer with basil from my own yard and from the Nanoose Edibles produce box. Pesto can also be made with parsley, cilantro and arugula.

Don't overload your pizza with toppings. It should just be one layer of sauce, one layer of toppings and a sprinkle of cheese. Don't aim to have everything in every bite. Make it so that each bite is different.

I also bake up extra pizza. The leftover pizza can be double-wrapped in foil and slid into the freezer for a last minute dinner or lunch option. Sure beats yourfactory frozen pizza. Simply slide the pizza still in the foil onto a cookie sheet into a 350F oven for 15 or so minutes.

Happy Eating!



Patty said...

One of our favorite pizza toppings is goat cheese, spinch and fire roasted tomatoes. Thats all we put on it and its wonderful.
I have always made my own crust, something nice about kneading dough, gives you time to think !

Gina said...

I should learn to read your posts after lunch!