Three Recipes for Easy but Decadent Homemade Pizza

I LOVE to cook, but I'm a terrible food planner. My grocery shopping style dramatically changes based on how hungry I am, and I usually just buy things I like to eat - whatever they may be - without a meal plan for the week in mind.

Throw in frequent trips to our local produce market around the corner (because all the good stuff's in season right now!) and you've got yourself a recipe for a fridge full of odds and sods. You've also got yourself a recipe for some of the most delicious pizzas... ever.

THE DOUGH:
This dough recipe makes two large personal pizzas. I double the recipe if we're having company, and we end up with some for lunch the next day (hurrah!).

1 tsp - instant yeast
1 tsp sugar (we use raw cane sugar)

dissolve in
1 cup - warm tap water

Let stand.
Meanwhile, mix together:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt (regular salt works, but sea salt is yummier)

In a food processor/mixer fitted with a dough hook (or plastic blade), slowly add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients, until a soft ball forms. If you don't have a mixer, make a well in the flour and pour the liquid into the center. Slowly work with your fingers, gradually adding the dry ingredients into the well.

Remove from the bowl and knead on floured surface to prevent sticking.
Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a bowl, then place your dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and sit it in a sunny spot for approx 30 min (the dough should double in size).

THE PREP:
Preheat oven to 400F
Once your dough has risen, cut it in half, and roll out very thinly on a lightly floured surface.
Sprinkle cornmeal onto your baking pan, then lay down your dough.

THE TOPPINGS:
I've never been a huge fan of tomato sauce, and since we're not big pasta eaters we never have it in the house. But guess what? Pizza with sauces other than tomato are freaking amazing. And, you can pretty much just clean out your fridge, which most likely needs doing anyway.

As for your toppings, why settle with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese? Get inventive! Haul all those jars of pickled things out of the back of your fridge, find those weird looking strawberries that don't look nice enough to eat raw but would be DELICIOUS on pizza, and have fun. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Here's our three pizza topping combos (from top to bottom):

PIZZA ONE:
Sauce - Wild Blueberry Jam
Toppings - Caramelized Onions, Blueberries, Avocado, Feta Cheese

PIZZA TWO:
Sauce - Raspberry Jam
Toppings - Caramelized Onions, Peaches, Fried Bacon, Soft Goat Cheese

PIZZA THREE:
Sauce - Garlic Scape Pesto (regular ole pesto will do, but garlic scape pesto has that extra ZING!)
Toppings - Beefsteak Tomato Slices, Garlic Stuffed Green Olives, Fried Bacon, Green Onions, Feta Cheese, Basil

FINISHING TOUCHES:
Now here's the REALLY IMPORTANT PART...

Once you've loaded your pizzas up with all those delicious toppings, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (pretty much our go to condiments for just about everything..). Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked peppercorns.

Pop them into your preheated oven, and take them out when the crust starts to look golden brown (about 10 min).

Enjoy! I'd love to hear what topping combos you come up with (:

Yam Pancakes

I mentioned in  Kitchen: Old and New how much I love cooking, and eating. During highschool I studied in a culinary apprenticeship program - at that time I was certain I wanted to be a chef (at times I have also been "certain" that I wanted to be a surgeon, psychiatrist, model, archeologist, actress, film director, photographer etc). Though pursuing a culinary career is not in my future, I learned a lot in that program. As a child I grew up with two parents who loved to cook and there were very few nights that they weren't home. So we lucked out and had home cooked meals everyday -  however, this meant that I didn't know the first thing about making mashed potatoes, let alone a velouté or béchamel - I had never had to cook for myself. My apprenticeship taught me all of that and more. I learned a dozen ways to cook eggs, how to properly pour a glass of wine, and to love cooking with lots of butter. I think cooking school solidified the fact that I am a meat eater. I couldn't be a vegetarian to save my life. My love of food grew rapidly, and my love was not just for food in general, but for "fancy" food. I craved ornate salads with berries and nuts. I desired rich, creamy sauces garnished with herbs and carved fruit. My love of food presentation grew with my love of quality meals. Arranging a plate was like painting with flavour, texture, and colour; piling vegetables as high as possible was a challenge I delighted in. A plate's shape, the curve of a bowl, the width of a rim: these were all factors that influence the overall look of a plated dish.

I'm no chef, but I believe this part of my life may have been where my love of pottery started - even if I didn't know it then. It was definitely the beginning of my love for food, meal sharing, entertainment, hosting, and cooking.

I'm not a food blogger, but here's my dinner from a few nights ago. We had some leftover yams from yam chips the night before, so I made pancakes. I had never made them before, so I thought I'd share my revelation with you guys.

I used two yams for Jesse and I. It made three pancakes.

1. Grate yams into a bowl 2. Beat two eggs and add. 3. Add spices (in my case paprika, chipotle), salt, pepper, diced onion and garlic. (Again, not a food blogger (or a "recipe" type cook) so use your judgement and taste buds to figure how much you want to add!) 4. Mix with your hands - this is the fun part. 5. Sprinkle in flour little by little until the yam consistency just starts to hold it's shape (like cookie dough... but shredded yams). 6. Heat up coconut oil in a frying pan (Roughly 1/4" - 1/2" deep?) - you can get coconut oil by the tub at a bulk food store, for cheap. 7. When it is HOT, drop in a spoonful of yam mixture and flatten with a spoon. (You should hear crackling when you put the mixture in) 8. Flip over when browned. They are done when both sides start to look pancakey (that speckly brown look, ya know). 9. You can put your pancakes into a warm oven until they are ready to serve on a beautiful plate. Remember, half the taste is in the appearance!

photo(1)I served ours with HIGH-FAT yogurt (don't skimp on the fat, life is short), refried kidney beans, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. You could also use sour cream, salsa, or guacamole. Throw in some cilantro, parsley, and scallions and you've got yourself some Mexican yam pancakes.

I also think they would be delicious with bacon and marmalade for breakfast. With a drizzle of honey and icing sugar.

Here's my pancakes on the first plate I ever bought, made by Michael Connelly. I picked up a set of two from the Artstream Nomadic Gallery at NCECA 2012.