Finally Great Pizza at Home

On October 6, 2014, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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This is not a sponsored post.  Breville never reached out to me and sent me anything, not even a cup of flour to make the dough.  No, this is just pure, natural, organic love of a product I bought with my hard earned money.

It’s a pizza maker that has changed my experience with at home pizza making.  I tried pizza stones in the oven and even grilled pizzas.  They’re all okay, but nothing has been as revolutionary as the Breville Pizza Maker I bought at Williams-Sonoma this year.

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Yes a pizza oven installed in my backyard would be a more amazing way to make pizza at home, but as one fellow cooking classmate put at a recent cooking course, her husband had made two pizza thus far at a cost of $2,000+ per pizza. That’s what is most amazing about the Breville it is only $150, and I paid for mine with American Express points! You can now buy it in red too.

Basically it replicates pizza brick oven cooking by heating a stone to 660 degrees.  Sure it’s not the same as a real brick oven, but the results are pretty amazing. The trick is getting the pizza dough the right thickness. I like to have it around a 1/4″ thick so it isn’t too thin, the pizza rips and you get a huge mess when that happens.

I have found Mario Batali’s basic Pizza Dough recipe to be a perfect solution.

You can find it here:  http://www.mariobatali.com/recipes/pizza-dough/

It will make enough dough for 3 10-12″ pizzas.  I make one for our boys to split.  Then one for my wife, tonight she had bell pepper and pineapple.  Finally, I make one for me.  Tonight I cooked some Niman Ranch Bacon and crumbled that with some fresh ricotta and black olives.

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The only bad part is I need three of these to make all the pizzas at once so we can all eat together.  Good thing though is each pizza only takes 5-7 minutes to bake so they are quick.

All in all, it’s been a great purchase and one I highly recommend if you are struggling to make a great pizza at home.  Now you can for only $150 or for free with a bunch of American Express points.

 

 

 

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German Lentil Soup

On January 14, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I lived in Portland, Oregon for 12 years growing up and one of my favorite places was The Rheinlander.  Our family would often do their Sunday Brunch, which is still the best brunch I’ve ever had. The restaurant also has an amazing cheese fondue that was reason number one to go there.  With so many great things, it was easy to overlook one of their best dishes – Lentil Soup.

Fortunately, chef Horst Mager published a cookbook years ago and I was sure to buy one last time I was in town.

Someone posted the recipe for the Lentil Soup on AllRecipes.com.  I highly recommend cooking this one and put up against your favorite lentil soup. If you have found better, please share. Otherwise, enjoy this wonderful German version then make some Wiener Schnitzel and Cheese Fondue.

Full Recipe: Rheinlander Lentil Soup.

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Bacon and Beet Fettuccine

On December 28, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This recipe is a bit of an adaption from a favorite Mario Batali recipe from Mario’s before The Chew Molto Mario show. Molto Mario was a great show that showcased how simple it is to make amazing Italian pasta that often featured a couple key tips:

1.) Use fresh pasta not dried

2.) Don’t over sauce

Mario’s Tagliatelle with Pancetta and Parsnips is a great recipe and one I’ve modified before. This version uses bacon and golden beets with a sage butter sauce. It also gave me an opportunity to break-in some new bowls I bought at the Ranch 99 Market last week after spending sometime in Torrance, California taking a Lexus LFA for a spin on the LA streets.

Bacon and Beet Fettuccine
Serves 2

Fresh Fettuccine past noodles
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup fresh sage, rough chop
3 slices bacon, diced
2 golden beets, diced into small cubes
fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make your Fettuccine noodles using one recipe of basic pasta dough. Set aside pasta and start boiling some water with a dash of salt.

Add bacon to a medium-high heat saute pan. Cook bacon and remove from pan when done. Leave the bacon grease in pan.  Add the diced beets and cook for about 5 minutes turning often.

Cook your pasta for about 2-3 minutes and drain from water. Add the bacon back to the saute pan and the 2 tablespoons of butter and sage. Cook for 1 minute then add the cooked pasta. Toss and serve immediately adding some Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish.

Serve.

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Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

On November 11, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love participating in the group #SundaySupper where over 50 fellow food bloggers get together every weekend to share our recipes with each other and anyone else on the web.

Last week’s Soul Warming theme netted a handful of recipes I couldn’t wait to try.  On top of that list was Hezzi-D’s Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili.  The combination of jalapenos, cream cheese, bacon, and chicken sounded so good.

The recipe is quite simple and only takes about a hour to make start to finish.  My wife who wasn’t all too happy when she heard the title of the recipe ended up praising the meal once we sat down to eat.  It’s not as hot as it sounds, so feel free to up the chili powder another tablespoon if you prefer a spicy bowl of chili.

I served the dish with some oven cooked biscuits from Trader Joe’s. For dessert we had some individual pies – pecan and salted caramel apple – from the Studio City Farmers’ Market vendor Pi Bake Shop.

For the Recipe: Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili #SundaySupper

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#SundaySupper Beer-Braised Beef

On November 3, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Here in California with temperatures falling into the upper 70s it is getting that time of year for a hearty stew or soup.

Alright, so it doesn’t feel like the time of year for a stew. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter what the temperature is outside. I always enjoy a rich, chunky stew.  The melding of flavors is always a joy and while it used to fit better with the cold air of Michigan winter in November back when our family lived there, so what. Even if we spent this afternoon having ice cream at Sprinkles in Beverly Hills and enjoying some Neapolitan pizza at 800 Degrees in Westwood, it was great ending the day with some beer-braised beef.

This simple recipe is a Belgium response to France’s Beef Bourguignon.

Beer-Braised Beef
Serves 4

2 large onions, rough chop
3 lbs stew beef
1/2 cup flour
4 bacon slices, diced
2 tablespoons oil
1 bottle of beer, brown-ale works best
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven at 325 degrees.

Mix stew beef, salt, pepper and flour in a plastic bag to coat the meat.  Heat the oil in a dutch oven on the stove at medium-high heat.  Add the beef without crowding. Cook and turn to brown sides and remove to a plate while adding more uncooked beef remembering not to crowd the pot.

Once all of the beef is brown, add the bacon to the pot and cook making sure not to burn, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and mix  with the bacon then add the already browned stew beef back to the dutch oven.

Add the ale and beef stock.  Bring to a boil and scrape up any brown bits in pot.  Stir in brown sugar, vinegar, bay leaf and thyme. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cover. Transfer to the oven and let it cook for 2 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf and add some cooked carrots and potatoes if you desire.

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If you liked this recipe, checkout over 50 contributors to this week’s SundaySupper Soul Warming theme

Main Entrees: 

Chili/Stews:

Soups:

Desserts/Beverages:

.

 

Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat.

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.

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Hatch Chile Bacon Wrapped Poppers

On September 2, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love Hatch Chiles.  Like many, I had no clue what a Hatch Chile was until I moved to Texas, but they are getting more familiar and Melissa’s Produce had a Hatch Chile roasting today at South Pasadena’s Bristol Farms.  Sadly, I missed this roast but did make it to the market and picked up some chiles and some hatch chile cream cheese the market sold too.

Tonight’s University of Michigan vs Alabama game was an appropriate setting for some stuffed poppers.  Sadly, the game was a bust but these chiles turned out fabulous.

Hatch Chile Bacon Wrapped Poppers
Serves 4

4 Large Hatch Chiles, cut in half and seeded
4 oz cream cheese
8 slices of bacon
toothpicks

Turn on the grill or broiler and start putting together the poppers. Fill each Hatch Chile with cream cheese then wrap a bacon slice around it and use a toothpick at each end to hold the bacon to the chile.

Grill for about 10-15 minutes turning every few minutes getting them charred, not burned.

Serve.

 

 

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Better Bacon

On May 2, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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I love bacon. Who doesn’t right? In fact, bacon has become all the rage lately. If you want to explain your love of any food, bacon is the one that will get you a lot of smiles and a few high-fives. It’s a popular food choice. But what about the choices you have for the brand of bacon to buy.

You can buy an Oscar Mayer brand bacon like their Center Cut Original brand, but that contains sugar or evaporated cane sugar if you go with a smoked variety. Of course that’s also factory farmed pork and well sugar is the least of your problems (go ahead and Google factory farming pigs and you’ll see.)

So what are some smart decisions when it comes to bacon? An easier find for those with natural food stores or a Trader Joe’s is Niman Ranch bacon. It does have a small amount of turbinado sugar, which is a less processed sugar. The better feature is that Niman Ranch raises its pigs in humane way and all with the “finest vegetarian feed.”

The other option is to do something we are adopting more which is buying “pork belly” from a local ranch. We buy from the same place we buy all of our meats, Burgundy Pasture Beef in Grandview, Texas. Buying “bacon” this way is a bit different than buying a processed product. Pork belly is simply natural pork. There is no curing, no nitrates, and nothing is smoked. It’s simply just pork and requires the cook to salt and pepper the pork belly before cooking.

So I finished cooking some Niman Ranch bacon last weekend and as you can tell it cooks nicely. Trust me it is some of the best tasting bacon I’ve ever had. Pork belly is a better choice, but I have to admit with bacon some processing does make for a more flavorful product.

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Collard Greens

On February 9, 2010, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is an excellent, simple recipe for Southern style collard greens. I doubled this recipe and brought it to a potluck and it was very well received.

Collard Greens
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 lb fresh collard greens, cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Chop bacon into small chunks or small strips and cook until crisp. Add onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until just fragrant about 2 minutes. Add collard greens, and cook until they start to wilt.

Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.

 

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Pork and Cabbage in Milk

On October 4, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is kind of a strange dish. We liked how the cabbage and bacon added a nice flavor to everything without either overpowering the dish, but it wasn’t great. It was good. This is something to add to the mix in the fall or winter months that is hearty and tasty, but not as heavy as a stew or roast.


Pork and Cabbage in milk

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless pork loins (1-inch thick, fat trimmed)
coarse salt and pepper
4 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 head green cabbage, cored an cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk

1. Preheat ove to 400 and set a large roasting pot over high heat on burner, add oil to pot. Season pork with salt and pepper; brown each side – 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to plate.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add bacon; cook until golden, about 5 minutes stirring often. Add onion; cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add cabbage and cook until light golden, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until slightly tender, about 3 more minutes. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time to 2 cups of milk in a bowl, stir each tablespoon with whisk until blended. Add milk and flour mixture to pot and cook until thickened for 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then return pork loins to pot (with any juices.) Transfer pot to oven and bake until pork is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

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Country Cider Hot-Pot

On February 23, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Sunday night was a birthday party for my twin boys. We were having some family over so I decided to try something new and something that could just sit in an oven for a hour and not need a lot of attention.

The original recipe from a cookbook I own called for rabbit for this dish, I decided to go with boneless skinless chicken breast instead. Also, I found that the cider really needs to be increased about another cup (the recipe below includes the extra amount of cider so please use about 3 cups of cider, get it to where it just covers the chicken and vegetables.)

 

 

Country Cider Hot-Pot
Serves 4

2 tsp flour
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thirds
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
15 baby onions
4 strips of bacon, chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 cups apple cider
3 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
12 ready-to-eat pitted prunes
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag, add the chicken pieces and shake until coated. Set aside.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a flame-proof casserole and add the onions and bacon. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Remove with a straining spoon and set onions and bacon aside.

3. Fry the seasoned chicken pieces in the oil until they are browned all over, then spread a little of the mustard over the top of each piece with a spoon (doesn’t have to be perfect.)

4. Return the onions and bacon to the pan. Pour on the cider and a add the carrots, parsnips, prunes, rosemary and bay leaf. Add more cider if food is not covered with liquid. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 1 hour until tender.

5. Remove rosemary and bay leaf and serve with mash potatoes.

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