- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.2lzcOnhH.dpuf Nothing but Delicious: February 2013

Deep Dish

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Every Sunday I make two pizza doughs. The first I bake that night, and top with intention: sausage and onions, margherita or pepperoni and cheese. The second I squirrel away into my fridge, to sit and wait until an evening when I am underprepared for dinner. Perhaps it's because the yeast has lead a longer and fuller life, or because it is proud to be the base of a more unique pizza, but my second ball of dough always bakes up to be crispier and more flavorful than the first.

Deep dish pizza is an ideal receptacle for odds and ends. Ingredients that would have spoiled before being used somehow come together in perfect harmony on the top of a pizza: a couple handfuls of mozzarella, an ounce of chevre, the tail-end of red onion, sliced paper thin, the stems of rainbow chard, boiled until tender, and a few pieces of proscuitto, fried and crispy.

Just as my second ball of dough has been patient in waiting for me, I prepare it with patience, taking great care neither to smother nor to rush it. I dress it modestly with three tablespoons of red sauce and I let the sauce just barely peek through the other toppings. With the exception of onions, or possibly a few leaves of spinach or herbs, I never use raw toppings. Raw vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant that have a high water content will sweat and make pizza soggy. I do distribute one topping with reckless abandon and that ingredient is cheese. There's really no reason to have a crust on a deep dish pizza and letting cheese overflow down the sides of the crust results in something quite magical. As the menu reads at my all-time favorite deep dish pizza restaurant, Pequod's, "The overflowing cheese emerges from the oven as a halo of caramelized crust."

Deep Dish Pizza Dough
makes 2 10"-12" pizzas

3 1/3 cups flour*
1 1/3 cups warm water*
1 packet active dry yeast
2T melted salted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1t kosher salt
1oz goat cheese at room temp (optional)

* That is, 500g flour and 300g water. You can use whatever kind of glutinous flour you like. I use 1 1/2 cups bread flour for its the high gluten content, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour for its flavor and 1/3 cup cornmeal or semolina, which helps the crust get crispy.

Bloom yeast in water. Mix all ingredients by hand until a ball forms. If you have a stand mixer, use dough hook to knead dough for 7-10 minutes. If not, knead until you have a baker's windowpane.

Roll dough in oil and place it in a bowl. Let it sit in a warm place, covered in plastic wrap for one hour. It should grow like crazy! Cut dough into two pieces, storing one in an air tight container in your fridge. Preheat oven to as hot as it will possibly go, with the rack as low down as it will possibly go. Lightly grease a 10"-12" cast iron skillet with butter. Use your knuckles to press dough evenly into pan and give the crust a coat of butter as well. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. Top as desired and bake for 15-20 minutes. When pizza is done, let rest another 10-15 minutes before cutting. 

To use second batch: Remove dough from fridge two hours before cooking, or simply sit it on the counter in the morning and it will be ready that night.

If, for some reason, be it the dough or the oven or Fate working against you, your pizza does not get crispy on the bottom, do not fret. Call it "skillet bread" and enjoy. 

03/03/13 Update: An amazing pizza topping combination is as follows- one yellow onion, caramelized with a splash of balsamic vinegar, mozzarella, roasted sweet potato, crispy chicken skin, red pepper flakes and parsley. Cheap as dirt! Check out my Instagram to see a different pizza every week. 

Guilty and Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

There is a disconnect between food and film culture. We go to the movies to see the very best of our time- the best cinematography, the best writing, the best acting- and while we're there, we eat some of the worst food. The biggest food snobs among us hide in the darkness of the theater as they succumb to the seductive smell of buttered popcorn. And you know what? That's okay. Even David Chang incorporates Lucky Charms into his "cereal milk" ice cream.  On Sunday during the Oscars, I'm going to be eating "Best of the Movie Theater Bars" (recipe below) and drinking boxed wine.

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, Amour, Zero Dark Thirty, Anna Karenina or Django Unchained. But I was completely entranced by three films that came out this year and oh boy, am I rooting for them. Who are y'all hoping will win?

For best original screenplay: Moonrise Kingdom
For best adapted screenplay (and seriously any other award it has been nominated for): Beasts of the Southern Wild

For best supporting actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables 

Best of the Movie Theater Bars
2 regular size bags popcorn*
2 "sharing size" bags peanut M&M's*
1 1/5 cups salted pretzel sticks
10oz (one bag) marshmallows
3T salted butter

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Melt butter and marshmallows over medium heat and pour mixture over all other ingredients. Stir until marshmallow is distributed evenly. With an oiled spatula, press everything down into the casserole dish. Cut when cooled completely.

* Use what you have or what you like. Buttered, salted, or kettle corn popcorn; peanut, pretzel or regular M&M's.

I'll Eat You Up

This raspberry orange loaf cake is a tribute to Maurice Sendak, a man who had a deep understanding of the nuances of human emotion and an unparalleled talent for interpreting them with colors and words.

His books are a peculiar and fantastical combination of whimsical and grotesque, written with a cadence of contrasting rhythms. I tried to make a cake with the same type of combination. Because of the sugar glaze, this cake has a near magical presence and will sparkle in a certain light. The color, which is a muted but vibrant hue found in Sendak's illustrations, comes from pureed raspberries, ever remnant of blood, lurking inside the batter. Finally, the textures and flavors of the cake mimic Sendak's playfully diverse rhythms: crunchy and sweet glaze, moist cake, tart and juicy raspberries, floral and fragrant orange zest, all topped with smooth, dreamy whipped cream. 

My very favorite facet Sendak's writing is, of course, the way he describes food and eating, like when Max yells, "I'll eat you up!" to his Mother in the beloved children's book Where the Wild Things Are. Playwright Tony Kushner explained it perfectly on the radio last week: "There is a lot of consuming and devouring and eating in Maurice's books. And I think that when people play with kids, there's a lot of fake ferocity and threats...because love is so enormous, the only thing you can think of doing is swallowing the person that you love entirely."

Old ladies the world over stuff babies' feet into their mouths and refer to children as "sugar," "honey" and "sweet thing."* It's one of those paradoxes that only Sendak could hone in on: Humans communicate the monstrosity of their love for one another by threatening to do something that is actually monstrous. Stranger still is the fact that being eaten is one of our deepest and most primal fears. But I suppose that loving and being loved is scary too, isn't it? 

Must it be said? You are under strict orders to devour this cake with someone whom you wish to devour.

Sendak's last work, My Brother's Book, came out this month and the last line of this excerpt makes me cry every time. You can hear more about it here. I'm also particularly fond of this interview.

From My Brother's Book, by Maurice Sendak
On a bleak midwinters night,
The newest star, blazing light [...]
And heaved the iron Earth in two,
Catapulting Jack to continents of ice. [...]
His poor nose froze
While Guy wheeled round in the steep air, [...]
Dropping down and down on soft Bohemia
Into the lair of a bear
Who hugged Guy tight to kill his breath
And eat him, bite by bite.
Raspberry Orange Loaf Cake
serves eight

For cake
8T (one stick) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cup (175g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (55g) almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6oz fresh raspberries, pureed (should equal 3/4 cup)
zest of one orange

For glaze
1/4 cup turbinado sugar*
3T fresh squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add half of dry ingredients to wet and mix. Fold in raspberry puree, followed by the other half of the dry ingredients. Bake in a buttered 9" loaf pan for 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan. Continue to cool on a rack for 15 minutes more. Poke holes (about 50) with a toothpick all over the top of the cake. Stir turbinado sugar and orange juice together and immediately pour over cake. Wait until glaze has hardened to slice. Serve with homemade whipped cream, fresh raspberries and "The Guy" cocktail (recipe follows).

*Turbinado sugar is minimally processed and has a smooth, caramel flavor. The grains are larger than regular sugar, making it the perfect crunchy topping for many desserts. It is often labeled "Sugar in the Raw."

The Guy
serves one

1 oz gin
3/4 oz framboise liqueur
dry champagne, preferably brut
orange peel

Shake gin and framboise with ice and pour into a glass. Top with champagne to taste and garnish with orange peel.

*If you know of food-themed pet names from other cultures, I'd love to hear what they are!

Food Memories: Les Madeleines

Eating is a very intimate, interactive thing. No other activity demands quite so much of our attention (and may I add that no other activity is quite so easy to give so much attention to). When we eat, all of our senses come alive. We eat with our eyes first and simultaneously we smell what is in front of us. We then touch food with our hands or feel the texture in our mouth; we hear the sound of forks against plates and the crunch or squish or pop of the food in our mouth. There is, of course, one more factor that demands our attention, and it is a thing that we so often leave out: company. When we eat together- table set, TV off, cell phones put away- that is when tenderest of food memories are made.

In the beginning of one of my all-time favorite films, La Jetee, the narrator says, "Nothing tears memories away from ordinary moments; only afterwards do they claim remembrance on account of their scars." Obviously "scars" is not an applicable to a food memory and should be replaced the word "grasp." The point is, I think, that the strongest memories are ones that we are not conscious of during their formation; they seem to be primal and engrained in our very being. A certain moment grasps us and will not let go, planting itself in something physical, like a cookie, only to be released again when you come into contact with that cookie a second time. Haven't you ever smelled a funnel cake, licked an ice cream cone, taken a bite of chicken soup, and were immediately transported to your childhood? And not just to your childhood, but to a specific spot in time and space- a carnival with your best friend, a warm day playing hooky with your Dad, a night spent at your Grandmother's home.

Madeleines have long been associated with the idea of a food memory. In 1913, Proust published the first of seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time. In that volume, being dramatic and frilly (as he often was), he claims that biting into a madeleine evoked such a strong emotional memory that he "ceased to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal." When I get my mouth on a good madeleine, I am transported to a humid Spring evening in April. I was at a local farmer's market with my friend Heather, both of us famished. We spent our last $3 (combined) on a baggie of two meyer lemon madeleines and sat in the cool grass. Neither of us had eaten a madeleine before and were completely dumbfounded by how good they were. We both laughed hysterically at each others facial expression.

If you've never had a madeleine, you're in for a big treat. Madeleines are somewhere between a cake and a cookie, filled lovingly with lots and lots of butter. Making them requires a special pan that forms the dough into the dainty shape of a sea shell. As Proust describes them: "The little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds."

What is your favorite food memory? What really takes you back, and where do you go?

Squash and Ginger Madeleines

3 large eggs
3/4 cup raw cane sugar
1t baking powder
1.5t five spice
1 1/4 c pastry flour + more for pan
1 cup pumpkin puree*
10 T salted butter, melted + more for pan

for glaze (optional)
3/4 c powdered sugar
3T ginger preserves, warmed

Preheat oven to 425.
Coat pan in butter and flour (as seen in video). Place pan in freezer until ready to use.

Place eggs and sugar in one bowl and baking powder, spice and flour in a separate bowl. Fluff flour mixture with a fork. Beat eggs and sugar until frothy and thick, at least five minutes. Beat in the pumpkin. Fold in the flour with a spatula until just combined. Add butter slowly, folding in a few spoonfuls at a time and taking a moment to smell the goodness that is melted butter. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.

Fill molds about 2/3 of the way up. Bake for 8-9 minutes.

Glaze is a matter of opinion. You can skip it all together, or you can simply mix 3T of orange juice or water with powdered sugar. If you want a stickier, thicker glaze, use preserves: put preserves in microwave for 10 seconds to warm. Mix with powdered sugar and dip one side of the madeleine in. Let sit for at least an hour to dry.

Madeleines are best when eaten fresh, but they can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. If they do happen to go a bit stale, they're still really tasty dunked in tea.

*You can use canned pumpkin for this if you'd like. I used a red kuri squash: cut it in half and scooped out the seeds. Drizzled it with olive oil and salt and roast it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until very soft and starting to caramelize on the edges. At this point, you can scoop the flesh out with a spoon and pack it into a measuring cup. If you have leftover squash, here's what to do with it: soup and muffins.