Monday, April 26, 2010

The Sweet Potato Fennel Pizza

Last night, in a fit of enthusiasm about going back to school after a week's vacation (?), I went to Whole Foods and spent the equivalent of a down payment on a one bedroom condo in Cambridge in order to have lunches to eat for the week.  I decided to recreate a pizza that I had made with my mother a few months ago.  The pizza mom and I made had roasted butternut squash and I think arugula and feta.  WF didn't have any pre-cut squash and I was feeling lazy, so I decided to use sweet potatoes instead.  Then the fennel caught my eye and since every issue of Bon Appetit I've gotten in the past five months has had fennel recipes in it, I thought I'd give it a try.

I am now going to explain how I created my pizza by using other people's pictures from the internet, since I didn't take any of my own...

First, I peeled and cubed two sweet potatoes and tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then I roasted them at 400 with a sliced half an onion for about 10 minutes.  Since they were going back in the oven, I wanted them only slightly soft.

When they came out I scraped them into a bowl and used the same cookie sheet to roast sliced fennel, also tossed in olive oil and salt for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime I sauteed a bunch of sliced crimini mushroms and onion in olive oil and butter (I had at this point run out of olive oil)

I purchased prepared pizza dough from Whole Foods (the white flour kind, I'm a peasant) and split it into three individual-sized pizzas.

I put each of the three toppings (potatoes, mushrooms and fennel) on the dough, and topped it with:

pepper goat cheese

fresh mozzarella


fresh basil

Then I tossed it in the oven at 400 for about 15-20 minutes until the dough was all golden delicious.

In retrospect:
  • If I had had more olive oil, I would have brushed the dough first it was a little dry. 
  • The cheese was good, but not enough of a binder so all the ingredients fall off a little when taking bites.  Answer: needs more cheese.
  • Since all the ingredients were cooked before going on the pizza, I should really have pre-baked the dough for at least 5-10 minutes before tossing everything on top.  That would have made the dough more solid in the middle and kept the cheese and basil from getting too cooked.
Regardless, it was all really good and I am going to be eating it for the next 4 days.

My pizza doesn't look like any of the sweet potato pizzas online, so I'll take a picure at some point and get it up here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Follow Up

Here are some pictures from the unveiling, cutting and eating... (remember, not the prettiest, but darn tasty)
Anna with her cake

Writing with her cake
Here she writes with her cake while trying not to crack up.

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake: three layers of awesome

In my last post, I mentioned that I promised my friend Anna that I would make her a cake to celebrate when her website reached 100 followers.  That fateful day came last week and she got busy with her 100 Followers Contest and I got busy planning what kind of cake to make.

My first thought was to recreate the grasshopper cake, but the chocolate-mint combo was rejected and I needed somewhat of a challenge anyway.  I decided to take the theory of the grasshopper cake (three layers, filled with two fillings each), and run with it in full Peanut Butter style.  What resulted was pure peanut butter heaven.

I began with the recipe for the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake from this month's issue of Bon Appetite.  I know, it sounds disgusting, but the mayonnaise replaces any other fat in the cake and makes it extra moist.  I have never had from-scratch cakes turn out of the pan so well.

I then made a peanut butter buttercream frosting from Cooks Illustrated (this is a subscription website, recipe below) that knocked my socks off.  I didn't actually have to add the heavy cream, but I did have to bulk it up a little, so after I had made the original recipe, I added another big scoopful of peanut butter and another 1/2 cup or so of powdered sugar.  I am not a big sweets person, and my mother doesn't even like peanut butter, but we were both doing our best not to eat this straight from the bowl. 

The Peanut Butter Ganache was a mix of a bunch of recipes, the grasshopper cake one from He-eats (though without the mint flavoring) and a few found randomly online.  I basically made a standard ganache recipe and added peanut butter.  (I'm not sure who to credit here, it's driving my librarian sensibilities crazy)

Assembling the cake was easy-as-pie, and although it might not be the prettiest cake I've ever made, I have no doubt that it will blow me away taste-wise.  My only regret is that we're busting into it tonight with friends, one of whom is allergic to chocolate.  It's just so sad.  I'm bringing her the leftover buttercream though, that might help ease some of the pain.

Oh, by the way, in order to see what ingredients I was in need of, I measured everything out before beginning the cooking- what a difference that made!  It was like half my clean up was done because all the ingredients were already put away.  And, as a bonus, the only thing I needed to buy was full-fat mayonnaise (blech), one of the benefits to  doing my baking at mom's (the others being a bigger kitchen and an oven that stays on for the whole time, oh, and it's clean).

I'll post more pics with flavor reviews tomorrow!

The Pseudo-Guest-Post Grilled Cheese Day Celebration Cakes

Yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Day and to celebrate, my friend Anne made some adorable grilled cheese-esq mini cakes.  She sent me some pictures yesterday and I've decided to post them here in honor of her good work and what might be the best holiday ever. 

I now have to hope she's not mad (I come from the "seek forgiveness, not permission" walk of life).

I also have realized that we have the same table runner, which is very confusing (for a minute I thought she took the pictures at my house...).

She made pound cakes in mini loaf pans, cut them into slices and filled each pair with a orange-dyed cream cheese frosting.  Then she painted on the grill marks with food coloring. 

Here they are!  Oh, and check out her Etsy page, she makes great paper crafts. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Contest Post

My friend Anna, who is an author, and awesome (and one of my three followers), recently reached 100 followers on her website.  She is having a book give-away contest to celebrate.  Check it out here!

I'm also going to make a cake in honor of the occassion.  Check back this weekend for more on that.