Friday, August 23, 2013

Puebloan “Three Sisters” Deep Dish Skillet Pizza

It's been a bad week, y'all.

Truly, bad really doesn't even begin to describe it, but for lack of a better word, bad.

There are some people in my life who are struggling with some really hard stuff.  And I love these people with all my heart.  And if they hurt, I hurt.

So a bunch of us are hurting.

And we are asking questions.  Questions that we don't have answers to and that there are no easy answers to.

And we know that things look one way to others, but we know another side.

And it's been made abundantly clear to me this week about how important it is to extend mercy to people.  To not judge them by what you see.  

And it's not that I don't extend mercy to people.  I do.  Except when I don't.  Because I am human.  I get caught up in being judgmental and calling things like I see them.


But I am on the flip side this time.  I am needing mercy and compassion and to not be judged.  My loved ones are needing these things too.  Desperately.

Everyone needs that.  All of us.

I want to be a person who grants that to others.  Always.  

Lord, help me to be merciful and compassionate.  Always. 

Sometimes, when things are hard and tough and stressful, cooking can help me unwind.  And it did this week.  (A little.)  I was able to get in the kitchen and cook some yummy things.  And this pizza was one of them.  It was kind of therapeutic to make my own pizza dough from scratch.  And if I can do it, you can.

This pizza was inspired by my trip out west this summer.   When we were at Mesa Verde National Park and learning about the Pueblo Indian cliff dwellers, I was mentally taking notes about their diets while the tour guide was educating us.  Because some of that stuff sounded really good.

Some of the main food staples of the Pueblo Indians were what they called the "three sisters" which were squash, corn and beans.  They also grew peppers and ate pine nuts from the forest.  And that's my pizza.

I made it yesterday and my daughter kind of raved over it.  That made me feel good.

Here are my notes:

-I'm not saying this is the best pizza crust ever, but it's a good, easy, basic recipe, especially for beginners or people who are slightly intimidated by working with yeast.  (Like me.)

-This made a really thick crust in my 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet.  You would actually be able to divide the dough into 4 parts to get a thinner crust.  But I like it thick.  The picture below will show you how thick it is.

-Just pat it in the skillet.  Easy.  I think it's easier than stretching it out on a stone.

-Pine nuts burn quickly.  Like *super* fast.  See:

It's probably better to toast them up in a dry nonstick skillet until light golden brown than to put them a baking sheet in the oven.

Puebloan “Three Sisters” Deep Dish Skillet Pizza

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board
1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups ice-cold water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
1 medium ear corn, shucked and cleaned
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup zucchini squash cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 cup jarred roasted salsa verde 
2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained 
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Place the 4 cups flour, the yeast, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in the bowl of a electric stand mixer; beat at low speed using the paddle attachment until blended. Switch to the dough hook, and slowly add water and oil in a steady stream.  Beat at low speed about 3 minutes, then beat at high speed for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl that has been wiped with olive oil.  Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and cover dough with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until almost doubled in bulk.  Dough will be springy when lightly touched. Punch dough down, and turn out onto a cutting board that has been dusted with flour.  Shape into a large ball; cut dough into 3 equal pieces, shaping each piece of dough into a ball.  Cover two of the balls with plastic wrap and place in fridge for another use.
Place 1 dough ball on a lightly greased baking sheet, and dust with flour. Cover with a damp towel. Let stand in a cool place 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cut the corn off the cob.  Heat a 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then add corn.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring several times, then add the onion and zucchini.  Cook until vegetables are crisp tender, about 3-5 minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the black pepper, chile powder, and cumin and stir to evenly coat.  Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.  Let skillet cool, then wipe clean with a rag or paper towels.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  When pizza dough is ready, spray the skillet with cooking spray, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon cornmeal evenly in the bottom.  Press the dough in the skillet evenly all the way to edges.  Spread the salsa verde on pizza leaving about a 1/4 inch space around perimeter.  Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.  Spread the corn mixture on top of the cheese evenly, then sprinkle with the black beans.  Add the remaining cheese in a single layer on top.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is light golden brown.   (Place under broiler for a minute if necessary to get cheese golden brown on the top.) When pizza comes out of oven, sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.  

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

The California Griller

You guys.  

Men and women have some sharp differences.  Sometimes I forget this, but the other day I was reminded again when my darling hubby took our 4 year old grandson and our 7 year old niece who was visiting from Missouri to visit his 85 year old mother.

That part went well.  She gave the kids ten dollars to spend at the dollar store, so my husband took them by there on the way home.

And laaaaawd have mercy on the Dollar General in Waynesboro. 

I was waiting for them to get home, and I waited and waited and waited.  I was starting to get worried when I finally received an S.O.S., I mean a text from him that said something like "Help me, I'm still in the Dollar store!!!!!"  I asked what in the world he was still doing in there and he typed back that the kids were trying to decide what toys they wanted.   Apparently, this was a lot more complicated than he had anticipated.

When they finally, and I mean finally got home, my niece came running in first thing and practically screamed that they needed napkins and a lot of them and QUICK!  I threw some paper towels her way and she went running outside.  When they all walked in, Brayden was covered in orange sticky stuff and my husband (who looked like he was *absolutely* going to drop) was mumbling something about it being a "really bad idea" to let him alone in the backseat with a push-up.

Ya think?

I asked him what on earth took them so long and he started deliriously telling me all about it while he collapsed on the couch.  "Well, they wanted to look at every toy in every aisle..."

"Thank God you didn't go to Wal-Mart!"  I interjected with a smirk.

"Yeah.  Anyway, when one of them would pick up something, the other one would pick up something else, then the first one would put theirs back, and pick up what the second one had, then that one would put it down because she didn't want to have the same thing as him, and I was trying to make sure everyone had the same amount of items and I was spending the same amount on each one, and when we finally got it all worked out, I saw that Brayden's toy needed two 9-volt batteries, so that meant that Zoe needed to pick out two more things to keep the number of items the same so there wouldn't be a meltdown, and...."

"Batteries don't count as toy credits,"  I explained to him.  "You didn't know that?  Plus, you have to put a time limit on these sort of things.  You should have told them they had ten....."


Yikes.  I backed off, but I was seriously laughing inside.

"I just didn't want any fussing, so it was back to the drawing board because by then Brayden had changed his mind for the 47th time, and then, of course, they wanted a snack, so that took a while.  And by the way, I spent $29.97.  Here's the ticket."

"I thought your mom gave them money to spend????"

"She did, but we went a little over, so I just kept the cash and used the debit card.  It was just easier."  He gave me the "don't challenge me" look.

Then he took a nap while I installed batteries in cheap walkie talkies.

Bless him.

And now for the recipe.  I have not been this excited about a sandwich in a long, long time, people.  When we were out in California in June, I ate something very similar in a diner.  I love, I mean LOVE avocados.  They just make this sandwich to me.  Along with the bacon.

Here are my notes:

--The sandwich will grill best when the ingredients are at room temperature.  Or, this is what I did.  I made the sandwich straight out of the fridge, then I microwaved it for about 30-35 seconds, to get the inside ingredients slightly warm so it would melt quicker.

--The mayonnaise.  Look at the recipe.  See what I did there?  I spread the outside of the sandwich with a little mayo instead of butter for a crispy, golden crust.  Try it.

--I did put a small cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich while I was cooking it, to weight it down and help it to get golden brown and crispy.

--Grill it over medium to low heat so that the outside won't get too dark before the inside is melted.

--All ingredients are approximate.  Just put on as much or as little stuff as you want and according to your bread size.

The California Griller

2 slices sour dough bread
4 slices Colby jack cheese
2-4 slices cooked bacon
6-8 thinly sliced cracked black pepper deli turkey meat
Thinly sliced red onion
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced Avocado
Kosher Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Mayonnaise for spreading on the outside of sandwich

For best results, let all sandwich ingredients come to room temperature except the mayo.  Place a slice of sour dough bread on a cutting board.  Layer 2 slices cheese, the bacon, turkey, onion, tomatoes, and avocado on top of the bread.  Season the avocados with salt and pepper.  Place the remaining cheese slices on top, then place the remaining slice of bread on that.  Spread each side of the outside of the sandwich with some mayonnaise, then grill on a cast iron grill that has been preheated to medium-low, until golden brown and crispy, turning once.

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