Burrata & Arugula Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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LOTS going on today. I joined this wine club – The Tasting Room.  For like $8 – they sent me this starter kit.

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There are two whites on the right & four reds.  These are TINY bottles – not even a half glass in each.

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You go online & they give you a little survey as you taste them.  From your preferences, they determine the kinds of wine you are likely to enjoy & then begin sending you full-sized bottles of wine hand-picked for you.  Sounds cool, no?  I will keep you posted!

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In tragic news – we lost Colonel Meow this week.  He has 370,000 Facebook followers!  He was a rescue & only lived 2 1/2 years.  No word yet on what took him from us so prematurely but I will miss being addressed as his minion & I will miss hearing about his demands for “Scotch & treaties.”

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He was one glorious cat & I am very sorry for his family & their loss.

In happier news – some of you may remember Piglet, the mangy puppy I fostered this summer.  She was rescued looking like this:

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While I had her – she improved a lot.

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Friends of mine adopted her & she is now called Trixie & here she is with her new & forever BFF.

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Isn’t THAT a happy tale?  Congratulations, Trixie!

My book is out & the first appearances of the paperback have begun.  Here is my friend, actor/writer, Frank John Hughes, holding the first physical copy I laid my eyes on – if only in this photo.

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And here is a box of twenty that my friend Rose bought & that Amazon delivered ON A SUNDAY!

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This Saturday morning saw my badass boyfriend, Miles Miller, complete the first of four weeks shooting his first feature film, All the Birds Have Flown South.  Look at him here!  A mad genius at work – leaving observers stunned & awed.  HAWT!

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And now onto pizza!  This isn’t really a recipe.  Like lots of my pizzas – this is a suggestion.  Doesn’t it look delicious?  IT IS!  And here is how you do it!

Burrata & Arugula Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I used THIS)

Tomato – sliced paper thin

Burrata – ROOM TEMPERATURE

Arugula

Tomato sauce (jarred or homemade)

S&P

Olive oil (I used a basil-infused olive oil)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to a full 450 degrees.

Treat a pizza cooking sheet with cooking spray.

Roll out some dough & place it on the cooking sheet.  Place tomato slices on it – leaving a border for the crust.  I put lots of S&P on it.  I filled in the gaps with a little tomato sauce.  Drizzle with a little oil.

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Bake about 10 minutes (more or less – based on the performance of your oven & thickness of the dough & toppings).  Once it is pretty much done – simply top it with the room temperature, gooey burrata.  No need to heat it if your burrata is sufficiently creamy.  My burrata came in small balls & was less creamy filling than it was thick mozzarella casing – so I spread it on the pizza & put in back in the oven for only a minute or two.  You do not want to dry out or brown the burrata.

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Add more S&P (if you like) & top the pizza with some naked arugula.  Drizzle with olive oil & slice that fucker up.  Oh!  And get online & order a copy of my book!  www.BathingBook.com  It is on sale today on Amazon for $9.59!!!

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Grilled Fig & Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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First of all – an update on the gorgeous Piglet.  Here she is about three weeks ago – fresh out of the shelter with epic mange.  (First two images stolen from her rescuer – Fairy Dogfather.)

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Here she is about a week later after some meds & one mange dip.  All pink & ALL bald.

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And here she is – yesterday.

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All we have been doing is steeping supermarket jarred garlic in warm water & giving her a sponge bath in it two times a day (plus a little antibiotic medication) and her fur is coming in so fast you can almost watch it grow!  She is the most incredible little girl!  I am so honored to know her.

In other news – by boyfriend (Miles) lives in Little Rock.  Sometimes, he shares some Arkansas flavor with me.  Lots of bars with great names.  Lots of bars that look like you could find trouble if you wanted it.  Maybe even a mullet or two.  Certainly a few gun racks in the parking lot.  Definitely some misplaced anti-Obamacare sentiment from a lotta folks who probably need it the most.  God bless America!  (Photos by Miles Miller.)

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And even cooler – authentic southern BBQ joynts like Bubba’s here.

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It reminds me a LOT of True Blood’s Merlotte’s!!!

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And looky what they serve up at Bubba’s!

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Looks like cold beer, fries & the charred forearm of an adult human.  Yum!

Speaking of yum – this salad is outrageous!  Easy & bursting with different flavors & lots of different textures.  Pretty, too – no?

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I have a grill on my stove & I love it enough to consider marrying it.  If you do not have one – but you like grilling things – maybe invest in a grill pan.  You don’t have to marry it.  I use my grill pan a lot, too, even though I have the real grill.   I won’t let anyone grill MEAT on my stove because it just gets disgusting fat everywhere & I don’t want that.  I have enough disgusting fat on ME – I don’t need it in the catch pan of my Viking, too.  So – if folks want to grill meat on my stove – they use a grill pan.  It also makes for pretty quesadillas – see!

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That’s my Squash Blossom Quesadilla.  As enjoyable to eat as it was to look at.

Anyway – the figs don’t HAVE to be grilled but it adds a nice look & a subtle flavor.

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These are green figs.  The ones that are purply-red inside are prettier but the green ones were all that were available so I grabbed them.  You can eat the outer skin of figs, too, so these guys can be eaten like giant grapes.

The toasting of the walnuts is a bizarrely important step in this recipe.  It changes their flavor significantly – so do not skip it.  Quantity here is really up to you so I am only going to list the ingredients I used.  You can use more or less of each to suit your taste.  Also – I used watercress but arugula or baby mixed greens would do very well, too.

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Grilled Fig & Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

INGREDIENTS

Lots of balsamic vinegar

Watercress (or arugula or other mixed greens)

Walnuts – chopped

Figs

Goat Cheese

Olive oil

Fresh ground pepper

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DIRECTIONS

To make the balsamic glaze, boil some balsamic & then reduce it to a simmer.  Cook it down until it thickens.  It reduces quickly & 1/4 cup of balsamic produces about 2 tsps of glaze – so – keep that in mind when deciding how much balsamic to add to the pan.  If it gets too thick – add more balsamic or some water.  Set aside.  Here it is on my Grilled Watermelon & Feta Salad with Mint, Arugula & Balsamic Glaze.

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Halve the figs & brush with olive oil.  Grill for about 1 minute or until grill marks appear.

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Wash the watercress & remove any large stems.

Toast the chopped walnuts in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes (or until they become fragrant & just begin to brown a bit) being very careful not to burn them.  Set aside.

Now, simply assemble the salad with the watercress, figs, goat cheese & walnuts.  Drizzle a little olive oil over it & drizzle some balsamic glaze.  Grind fresh pepper over it liberally. Taste it & then lose all semblance of control and eat it with your hands whilst standing up. Grunting might happen.  Pleasure definitely will.

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

~

All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is another creation inspired by existing ingredients, my own laziness & the reality of produce & its shelf life.  That doesn’t mean it is not DELICIOUS.  Delightful.  And even – dare I say it?  Delovely!

I have expressed some frustration recently with my photography but I bought a new $17 toy (a light) & the world has opened up just a bit.  I was beginning to feel a tad sorry for myself as I cannot really compete with folks that are getting paid to blog.  I know they had to work their way there from where I am – but – it is still a bit like me trying to compete for roles with Diane Lane or Julia Roberts.  These folks have their shit together & skills, experience, equipment, financing, maybe even a team – etc.  Here I am – trying to keep my monthly grocery bill down & think of new, affordable things to make and then photograph them using my i-phone & a $4 clamp light.  And I have to photograph them alone – as in – with nobody to hold the fork just “that way” or assist me at all.  Framing a photo & trying to hit the screen (on my i-phone, remember) to focus the image where I want the focus & then adjust to hit the shutter without effecting the focus, all with my NON-dominant left hand while I try to hold the subject matter in place with my right hand – can get really frustrating, lemme tell you!   Then I have to eat the food.  All of it.  I cannot afford to waste it – as it COSTS.  And I live alone & eat 99% of my meals alone.  Then I end up eating some Goddamn lasagna for 6 days & letting the blog lag behind – while my Super King produce wilts & guilts me from the confines of the fridge.  It has begun to feel oppressive & I have been comparing myself very unkindly to the vastly superior food bloggers out there (you know who you are – THUG KITCHEN).

Then – I met Piglet.  I didn’t actually meet her.  I saw her on my friend, Nikki Dogfather’s, Facebook page.  Nikki is a full-time rescuer & she posted Piglet – immediately after she’d been pulled from the shelter – looking like this (photos stolen from Nikki):

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She had terribly advanced mange – which is not contagious & HIGHLY curable – and the cure is not expensive.   But these victims of mange look so scary – it is a rare person that dares even investigate.  Nikki is practically a mange fetishist!  I jest, of course, but she is the go-to gal in LA if someone spots a mangy baby in a local shelter.  No case of mange will scare Nikki away!  So – after a single mange dip & twice-daily garlic water baths (and some antibiotics)  – Piglet began to recover.  I am currently fostering her while she completes her recovery.  Here she is two days ago in my house.

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Just for some reference – here are two pugs I adopted from Nikki a few years ago.

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That is Ella & Grisbi.  Here is how they looked a few months later.

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See?  CRAZY transformation.  Tragically, Ella died of a bee sting at 11 months old & Grisbi died last August 16th 2012 – in his sleep – at four years, old for no known reason.  Great, big, gaping scars on my heart.  😦

So, anyway, I fell in love with Piglet ON SIGHT.  I look at lots of rescues – every day.  Facebook is rife with them.  They all give me heart twinges but Piglet was special to me.  I don’t know why.  It was like a recognized her from somewhere.  And now – I am care-taking gorgeous Piglet.  And she is a gift & an amazing example of gratitude & resilience & of living in the moment.  One can never have too many examples of THAT around.

So – a new $17 light for my photography & a new little sprite jumping around the house & a much needed PROFESSIONAL hair salon appointment on Friday (a gal can only self-Feria her color so many times in a row) – and I am feeling rather hopeful.  Plus – the greatest loss I endured last week – RIGHTED itself!  Yay!  No longer broken & sad & no longer riding the scary pot-truffle train I got on last week (read about that HERE) and nice hair right around the corner?  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

And the $17 light?  It is so great – I want to buy 5 more.  That is irrational – because I only NEED the one.  But it has improved my life SO much and for so little.  It reminds me of the time my plumber told me I needed a whole new kitchen tap set thing (and nice ones cost a lot) because the drip was not fixable.  I used a fucking ShamWow for two years behind the sink, under the tap, to catch the dripping & water STILL leaked out – warping my cabinets & damaging the finish.  Then a new plumber suggested I go buy a cheap washer (that the first plumber had declared no longer available) at a local hardware store.  “You might need to buy a whole box – but they shouldn’t cost much,” he said.  I went to my local mom & pop True Value & inquired.  Yes.  They had them.  They were a dollar seventy each.  A FUCKING DOLLAR SEVENTY!  I bought ten – even though I only needed one.  I was so fucking excited that this $1.70 thing was gonna change my life.  I had to have enough to roll around on the bed with – as if they were thousand dollar bills.  And THAT is how I feel about by $17 lamp.

Whew!

Now – onto food.   I have long made the Sunday’s at Moosewood version of veggie shepherd’s pie – and it is very good.  In fact, I am going to suggest their tofu version of “meat” in this recipe as I cannot begin to tell you (other than Super King!) where you might find the faux meat I used.   Here it is.

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It is like weightless Grapenuts.  I am not sure if they are just re-purposing some failed attempt at a new packing material – but I took the bait.  While it says who distributes this shit, it does not say what is in it.  No ingredients list at all.  No calorie count.  Nada.  Could be the scabs from accident-prone paper dolls or the stuffing from padded toilet seats.  I don’t know.  I bought it.  I cooked it.  And I ate it.  And I am here to tell you about it so – well – there.

If you can find it, I recommend using it.  I used half that container in this decent-sized recipe so it is worth its weight in Hamburger Helper.  If you cannot – or would rather not eat mystery food – substitute any faux meat thing of your choice – whether seitan or some pre-made soy version of meat or soyrizo or the stuffing from an old padded toilet seat.  Or – EGADS!  Use ground beef!   Just know that I added over a cup of water to the 4 oz of cardboard scabs to reconstitute them into something more substantial.  So – use closer to 10-12 ounces of your fake meat selection – or more.

OR – use the Sundays at Moosewood version – which is pretty great.  It requires that you freeze tofu (I use two blocks), thaw it, squeeze it completely dry & then shred it into a crumble.

Copied & pasted from elsewhere – I present –

Sundays at Moosewood Shepherd’s Pie Filling

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu that has been frozen, then thawed, and shredded to the appearance of ground meat
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the chopped onion in oil with thyme, coriander, and black pepper until onions are translucent.  Add chopped walnuts and shredded tofu.  When heated through, stir in lemon juice and soy sauce.  Remove from heat.

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I used Brussels sprouts & carrots and, unexpectedly, a fennel bulb because – yes, you guessed it – I had them.  You could use corn or peas or any other vegetables you like.  I know this one screams out for corn because I made the mashed potatoes with roasted jalapenos – but – am I the only one that gets tired of the traditional pairings?  Like anything pumpkin has to have butter & sage on it?  Or – redheads must wear green?  Or anything with jalapeno needs corn and/or black beans?  This wasn’t a Mexican-themed shepherd’s pie.  It was a “what’s-in-my-fridge-inspired” shepherd’s pie.  You can do it, too!  Do not be intimidated.

Hey!  Did you notice all my photos of this look WAY alike?  Me, too.  Shepherd’s pie can be hard to photograph because it tends to fall apart.  I got a good angle & exploited it.  Apologies for the lack of imagination.  I told you I was a hack.   🙂

One last note – this is genuinely spicy – so keep that in mind when you decide how much jalapeno to add!  And yes – there are several steps to assemble this but all are EASY & this is worth the effort.  DO NOT BE SCARED!

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

For the jalapeno mashed potatoes

2 large Russet potatoes

3 jalapeno peppers (or to taste)

4 TBS butter

4 oz cream cheese

S&P to taste

More butter for browning

Parsley – chopped as grnish

For the “meat” filling

4 oz of freeze dried soy protein plus 1 1/3 cup water (or 8-10 oz or more of another meat substitute)

1 small onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 cup walnuts – chopped

olive oil

S&P to taste

OR use the Sundays at Moosewood tofu version noted above for the “meat” filling.

For the vegetable layer

3 carrots – diced

10 Brussels sprouts – chopped

1 fennel bulb – chopped (very optional)

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (very optional)

olive oil

S&P to taste

For the gravy

3 TBS butter

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp peper

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the roasted jalapeno mashed potatoes

Char the outside of the jalapenos until they blacken.  You can do this directly on the burners or by broiling in the oven.  Once blackened, seal them in Tupperware or wrap them in foil for about 15 minutes.  This will sweat the skin off.  Then, under cool running water, roll the blackened skin away & squeeze off the tops & remove the seeds.  Then – chop the jalapenos finely.

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Chop & boil the potatoes.  When tender, drain & puree (I used an immersion blender but any mashing or pureeing device would work) with the roasted jalapeno, butter, cream cheese & some salt & pepper.

I added water to thin mine a bit.  I didn’t want them to dry out in the oven.  Set aside.

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For the “meat” filling

See the Sundays at Moosewood tofu recipe in the body of text above.  OR-

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large frying pan.  Saute the onions until softened.  If using REAL meat – add it here & cook it through.  Add the garlic, walnuts & soy sauce & stir to bend.  Add your faux meat.  If using the kooky stuff I used (freeze dried mystery flakes) – add about one to one & a half cups water.  Heat through.  Add S& P to taste.  Set aside.

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For the vegetable layer

Use the faux meat pan & add 1 TBS olive oil.  Saute the fennel (if using), Brussels sprouts & carrots & saute 5 minutes or so – or until tender.  No science here as they will cook more in the oven.

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Melt the butter over med-high heat & add the flour.  Whisk for about 30 seconds.  The butter should absorb that flour very quickly & become a paste.  Add the soy sauce & then whisk in the stock in increments until you have a gravy.  Thin with water if it gets too thick.  Add pepper.  Set aside.

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ASSEMBLY!

Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray – or grease it with butter or olive oil.  Layer your “meat” then gravy then veggies & then potatoes.   Apologies – but I actually forgot to get a shot of the veggie layer.  I think you will manage.

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Then bake that sucker for a while.  I baked this at 350 for 30 minutes – COVERED.  It came out like this.

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As you can see – the back of my oven is far hotter than the front.  At any rate – I did not like the look of this.  So – I swirled the potato all up & added some butter and chopped parsley & baked it at 400 for another 10-15 minutes.  It came out like this.

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That is a vast improvement – no?  Despite my unevenly heated oven.

Then just bust out the wine, get a pot holder, use it as a placemat & sit right in front of this casserole dish – hotter than fuck – and eat as much as you possibly can.  Drink too much, too.  Life is short.  And so are hangovers.  Relative to life, that is.

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