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easiest pizza crust ever

I’ve done the impossible. I’ve found a pizza crust that is not only delicious, but also incredibly easy to make, fast, and most importantly, doesn’t require resting or rising time.

Seems too good to be true, right? But it’s not. Plus, it uses ingredients you probably already have and also works great for breadsticks and flatbread.

Start by dissolving some yeast and sugar in warm water. Let it sit for about 8 minutes, or until it starts to foam and froth.

While the yeast is doin’ it’s thing, get your dry ingredients ready. Flour and salt, please.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together mighty quickly.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Not 8. Not 10. 2. Seriously easy recipe.

Use a rolling pin or just stretch it with your hands to get it into your desired shape.

I wish I could get my thighs into my desired shape just by stretching them.

Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto a baking sheet or pizza pan…

…and toss that sucker on there. I went for square because I was going for flatbread. If you want a thinner crust, roll it into a big circle.

Add your desired toppings. I went for olive oil…

…triple-cream brie (which seems strange, but melts into the bread and makes it delicious)…

…some cloves of roasted garlic

…and some salt and pepper. Simple and scrumptious.

Bake at 450° for 9-13 minutes or until edges are golden.

Homemade pizza in less than 30 minutes? That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

The melty cheese with the garlic was divine. Super rich and decadent to eat alongside a soup. This crust would also be great with the standard tomato sauce, mozzarella and salami or sausage.

It’s on the thick side but not soggy or mushy. It held up really well and supported the toppings.

This recipe would also be wonderful with a little sun-dried tomato paste, pesto, or smashed garlic added to the crust, or made with whole-wheat flour.

Good thing Husband is eating this too. Or else he’d never kiss me again.

Try this over the weekend—use some yummy leftovers as pizza toppings.

TGIF!

-RDG

Easiest Pizza Crust Ever, adapted from this recipe.

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • cornmeal, for pan

Preheat oven to 450°. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water and let rest 8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour with salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture until a dough forms. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead for 2 minutes. Sprinkle a baking sheet or pizza pan with cornmeal. Roll or stretch dough into desired shape, place on prepared pan and top with desired ingredients. Bake for 9-13 minutes or until edges are golden and center is no longer doughy.


winter reads

I read a lot of books. Okay, maybe not a lot by Husband’s standards—he goes through one every three or four days—but he’s got more time to read than I do. I just completely cherish that time of night when I can crawl into bed, exhausted and sleepy, and snuggle up to whatever I’m reading at the time. It’s my time. And I need it.

You do too. So I thought I’d share with you my favorite reads of this winter, complete with links to Amazon if you want to give ‘em a go.

Weird, oddly beautiful title. Weird, oddly beautiful book. Audrey Niffenegger (of Time Traveler’s Wife fame, which I didn’t love, but whatevs) weaves this haunting story of a pair of twins who go to live in their late Aunt’s London flat. The thing is, the aunt is still there…in ghost form. Throw in a hot downstairs neighbor, some family skeletons and a cemetery and you’ve got one heck of a plot. My favorite book of the winter, bar none.

Quentin Coldwater is a typical high school genius secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels (think C.S. Lewis), until one day he winds up in one (think Narnia). Sounds sort of like another geeky fictional character I know, but this book couldn’t be farther from Potter (okay, he also ends up being trained in magic school, but that’s where the similarities end). Quentin’s Narnia/Hogwarts is dark, somewhat evil, and nothing like the place he dreamed of visiting in the books. I don’t normally do fantasy, but this one is so well-written that I forgot that I was reading about magic spells.

With all the buzz surrounding the recently released film, I decided to go back and familiarize myself with Watson and Holmes. Crazy entertaining, funny and engaging. Doyle was before his time.

Bonus: since most Doyle works are old enough to be in the public domain, you can download them as a free e-book, or for $0.99 on Kindle.

The world’s greatest marriage cynic is given a choice: marry her beau or he gets deported. You can guess which one she chooses. I’m not all the way through this one yet, but it’s an interesting look at marriage, why we do it, how we live it, and what comes after you say “I do.” If you haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love I would recommend starting there—it gives Gilbert’s second dive into marriage all the more meaning if you know why she’s so afraid of it, plus you get to meet said beau in real time.

Imagine a Cold War memoir written entirely in interview form. Except replace the Cold War with a war on zombies. That’s how realistic this fictional account is—you’ll actually believe that you have your history wrong and China was swallowed by flesh-eating dead people. It begins with a small epidemic trying to be contained, escalates into a small catastrophe, and climaxes with a full-fledged world war. Totally original, compelling and believable down to the last detail.

A female author in the late 40’s wants to write about what really happened during the European German occupation. She starts receiving letters from some quirky folks from the Guernsey Channel Islands about how they survived the war, and the tales so draw her in that she ends up traveling to the islands to meet these characters. You’ve heard the plot before, and you can guess how it ends, but Barrows and the late Shaffer make it such a funny, crazy and lovable ride that you’ll want to take the trip anyway.

What have been your favorite reads lately?

-RDG

how to roast garlic

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m all about being lazy. I love cooking things that require next to no effort and are still incredibly delicious. That is why roasting garlic is one of my favorite things to do–you can add those buttery little cloves to almost anything and they’ll lend a rich, complex flavor. Your dinner guests will think you slaved all day over a hot stove and swoon and cry and kiss your feet.

Unless you’re having Edward Cullen over for dinner. In which case he would take a bite of his meal, burst into flame, scream something about Bella, keel over, die, and leave you to fend off a mob of 10 million screaming teenage girls who will surely cut off your toes.

Alright. So maybe roasting garlic is a trickier business than I thought.

Okay, not really. Its so easy that I can’t believe I’m telling you how to do it.

It starts with a head of garlic. Or 6. Or 55. However many you want to roast.

Peel off the outer skin. Not all of it—just enough to expose the individual cloves.

Next, lop off the tips of the cloves…

…and grab a piece of tinfoil and some olive oil.

Drizzle a little bit of oil over the top and give it a rub to coat the whole head.

Wrap that sucker up in the foil and stick it in a 400° oven (root side down) for 30 minutes. It may take a few minutes longer depending on your oven—the cloves should be soft when pressed.

If you want to roast a bunch of heads of garlic at once, you could stick them on a baking sheet or in a muffin tin and cover the whole thing with foil so you don’t have to wrap each one individually.

Time’s up! The cloves are now tender and more intense in flavor with an almost buttery, nutty taste. Simply squeeze from the bottom to pop them out.

I just love roasted garlic. It boggles my mind that it comes from regular ol’ raw garlic because the flavor is so incredibly different.

There are about a billion ways you could use it, too. Try it…

  • Spread on a piece of crusty French bread
  • In a sauce (pasta, pizza, pesto,
  • As a pizza topping
  • In soup
  • In salad dressing
  • In gravy
  • In risotto
  • In mashed potatoes
  • Mixed with butter to use as a spread on vegetables or bread (Love garlic bread? Try roasted garlic bread. Mmmmm.)
  • In a quiche
  • In dips (sour cream, yogurt veggie dip, spinach dip, artichoke sip, guacamole, salsa, etc.)

Just don’t try all of those dishes in one day, or else no one will ever kiss you again. Especially Edward Cullen. That is, if you didn’t kill him already.

Happy garlic breath!

-RDG

crepes at cafe javasti

I feel a little silly writing this post. We’ve been to this place so many times that it’s not really a review or a recommendation—it’s more of a glimpse of our weekend morning routine. I’m there more than I care to admit. Once on Saturday or Sunday. Once or twice during the week if I’m bored brewing their coffee at home and want an expertly pressed espresso.

It’s not just because I can walk there with Lucy in the stroller. Or that the folks are always nice and cheerful. Or that I always seem to have a free coffee on my frequent customer card.

It’s because this place is freaking good. All the other reasons are just a bonus.

It’s a cute little place. Dark woodwork, orange walls, handwritten chalkboard menus.

Artwork that I’m a little in love with*.

*Did anyone see Runway this week? Tory Burch said that blue and orange are not complimentary. And for that I threw her ballet flats out the window.

They also have the cutest fix-up-your-cup-o-coffee bar I’ve ever seen. With a hand sanitizer pump.

It’s the little things.

Plus they always have a bin of animal crackers for kiddos, which are perfect for keeping Lucy entertained while we much on our…

Crepes. Husband digs the savory variety. This one was a daily special: ham, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheddar.

He’s a growing boy. He needs his protein.

And for me? Well, if you’ve ever met me (or read this blog) you know that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I go for the Nutella and banana.

Did I mention that it also contains fresh whipped cream (none of the canned junk here) and sliced almonds?

I have a really hard time eating it. It’s not lip-smackingly delicious whatsoever.

Oh, and their coffee is insane. Like crazy, I-need-five-more-cups delicious. And that’s coming from a coffee snob. Plus they’re inexpensive. Our weekend breakfasts usually run about $15.

Oh, weekend Lucy. If you would ever learn the concept of sleeping past 6:30 we wouldn’t be left twiddling our thumbs waiting for Javasti to open at 7.

Oh no! I made her sad.

Little faker. I give. You’re so damn cute that you can get up whenever you want. As long as when you’re old enough to ride a bike you fetch me an Americano from Javasti in the mornings.

Give this place a try soon. They’ve got 2 locations you can read all about on their website.

Happy monday!

-RDG

compost cookies

Right now it’s impossible to escape the buzz surrounding David Chang’s New York gang of restaurants under the Momofuku brand. It’s even more impossible to escape the hype over Anderson Cooper favorite “Crack Pie” and the infamous “Compost Cookie.

This oddly-named cookie is brainchild of Christina Tosi, Momofuku’s pastry chef and creator of aforementioned “Crack Pie” and wacky desserts “Cereal Milk” and “Cornflake Crunch.”

Let me just say something honestly: this cookie could not have a worse name. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of stirring a compost bin, you know that what wafts up your nose smells nothing like a freshly baked cookie. I’ll put it this way: this recipe did not begin with positive associations for me.

But not being one to judge a book by it’s cover, or a cookie by it’s name, I decided to give it a try. Miss Tosi was a guest on Regis and Kelly last week and gave out her recipe, or some semblance of it, so I got to work.

It starts with butter, sugar, corn syrup, brown sugar, and dried (used) coffee grounds. Sounds weird, I know. And it’s not in the recipe that Christina gave to Kelly. But after a little internet digging I found out that you need to add two tablespoons of used coffee grounds (I dried mine on a paper towel overnight)—hence the compost part of the Compost Cookie.

Oh, and a word about equipment: you really need a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for this. If you don’t have one and try to improvise, your arms will fall off and you will die. Or you will live, just without arms. Which would be bad too.

Cream that mixture together, scrape down the sides, and…

…add some eggs and vanilla. Turn the mixer on medium-high for 10 minutes.

See? Arms. Fall. Off. You. Die.

After the 10 minutes is up, you’ll have a super creamy pale mixture that is fluffier than any cookie dough you’ve ever seen.

Next, beat in the usual suspects: flour mixed with baking powder, baking soda and salt.

It’s starting to thicken up…

…and resemble something more like regular cookie dough.

Now comes the crazy delicious part. Butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.

Graham cracker crumbs. Another addition I found after scouring the internet for the real recipe.

And finally the even crazier, even more delicious part: crushed pretzels and potato chips.

Mix in the chips and graham crumbs first…

…and then throw in your snack foods. Mix for just a few seconds on low—you don’t want to crunch the savory stuff up too much more or it will crumble away into the cookie dough.

Looks good to me.

Use an ice cream scoop to shape into balls, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour. I popped mine in the freezer for the last few minutes because I knew that I would be rolling them in between my hands to shape before baking, and I didn’t want them to warm up too much.

When you’re ready to bake, shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment at least 4″ apart. These suckers spread a lot. I baked in batches of 6-7, for a total of 19 cookies. Keep the rest of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.

Gorgeous. And huge. I suppose you could make them smaller, but I love me some big cookies.

They look a bit undercooked, but turned out fabulously soft in the center and the tiniest bit crispy at the edges. Perfection.

I loved how the middles maintained a little bit of height. That’s the fridge at work.

So what was the verdict? They were delicious…

…in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sort of way. As far as cookie dough goes, it doesn’t get any better than this. This dough recipe replicates every chewy, buttery, best-ever bakery cookie you’ve ever had.

The add-ins I felt were a little much at times. I wanted the sweet/salty balance to be a bit more even since the butterscotch chips tended to be the dominant flavor. I’ve made a few notes below with the recipe as to what I’d do differently next time.

What did others think? The poll was split: either people loved them, or they thought they were just okay.

Candidly I will say this: I ate three of them. Within about 2 hours. And then I let Jillian Michaels kick my butt all afternoon long.

Crappy name or not, these cookies delivered. If you’re in NYC, go snatch one up and report back. For all y’all at home, give ‘em a shot. Your hips will not thank you but your taste buds will.

TGIF!

-RDG

Christina Tosi’s Compost Cookies from Live with Regis and Kelly, with a few adaptations

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups AP Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips mixed with butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips and pretzels
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dried used coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup oats (I found out about this ingredient too late and didn’t use it in my batch)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars, coffee grounds, and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.

When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On same low speed, add in the chocolate chips, graham crumbs and butterscotch chips and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in the chips and pretzels last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.

Using a 6oz ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the conventional oven to 400F. (350F in a convection oven)

When the oven reads 400F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4″ apart in any direction.

Bake 9-11 min. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 min the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don’t match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

Yield: 15 6oz cookies

Notes:

  1. I would use a substantial potato chip, such as a Kettle chip or Tim’s Cascade. I used Lay’s and they seemed to just disappear into the batter.
  2. More chocolate, less butterscotch. Butterscotch is such an intense flavor that it really overpowered everything else. Consider using 1/2 cup butterscotch chips plus 1 cup chocolate chips.

bacon-wrapped potato bites

Husband, like so many men I know, loves bacon. He worships it. He needs it. He think’s it is the cat’s meow.

Or, in this case, the pig’s belly.

For his birthday soiree featuring his favorite foods, I knew I had to do something that was bacon-centric. But what to make that was 1) in season (bacon-wrapped figs are always delicious but you can’t get fresh figs outside of September) and 2) an easy party food, that is also Superbowl Sunday appropriate?

I ran across this recipe while perusing The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy’s food blog. Right away I knew that these potato bites and Husband were meant to be.

You start, naturally, with potatoes. I used yukon gold because they’re Husband’s favorite.

We’re aiming for 1″ pieces, so slice into thirds…

…and then each third into quarters.

Boil for a few minutes. We want ‘em sort of half-cooked—the oven will finish the job. Let cool.

Next, grab some fresh rosemary…

…give it a good mincing…

…and toss it in with the potatoes, some olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Now comes the fun part. Grab some toothpicks.

And some bacon. You’ll need a half-slice for each potato piece, so plan accordingly. For me, that meant…a LOT of bacon.

Start at one end…

…roll it on up and secure with a toothpick.

Like I said. A LOT of bacon. Husband was drooling.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (easier for the cleanup of bacon grease) and bake for about 10 minutes per side, depending on how crispy you like your bacon.

These suckers were a HUGE hit.

The potatoes were tender but not mushy, the seasonings were nice, and the bacon gave it a crispy richness.

I served them with a chipotle sour cream, but you could also stick with the spicy sour cream that they use in the original recipe.

I think I just earned myself a spot in Husband’s hall of fame. He won’t stop licking his lips, rubbing his belly, and kissing my feet.

-RDG

You can view the original recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites right here.

spring confusion

Spring is still more than a month away.

Right?

I know that in other parts of the country, they’re blanketed in snow. Well, more like sleeping-bagged and down-comfortored while wearing footie-pajamas in snow. And I’m sorry.

But in this neck of the woods, we’ve had a delightfully mild winter that has given way to an early spring. So mild, in fact, that my perennials are confused.

They think it’s a perfect time to poke their little perennial heads out of the ground and say hello.

Don’t look at the weeds. Look at the lovely, lovely crocuses covered in morning dew.

You’re looking at the weeds.

Yeah, I saw ya.

It’s too early, my darlings. Not that I’m not happy to see you. It’s just too early to start taking care of you.

I was just getting into a taking-care-of-the-indoors-and-not-worrying-about-the-yard groove. And you’ve busted it.

Now it’s time to start pulling those pesky little weeds, prune, plant, repeat. Are you dreading this as much as I am?

Ah, well. So it ’tis. It’ll be nice to have my hands in the dirt again. Even if it’s cold, cold wet dirt blanketed in never-ending weeds.

Happy spring (and tuesday)!

-RDG

P.S. Last year I received this book as a gift, and it has given me a good start on my gardening education. I was a total newbie, and happy to be, until we bought a house that is 90% yard. I’m still completely naive, but at least I can now identify plants. With my book. If you’re looking for a good basic gardening book, I highly recommend it.