Oops again.

One of my local grocery stores provides recipe cards together with samples of some of the recipes. I don’t know if they do this every day, but it seems that if I am in the store mid-afternoon there is usually a very nice lady with a huge hairnet serving up these “tasters”. (Sometimes the booth is staffed by a lovely looking young man who is not nearly as nice as the lady. But I digress.)

I was in there the other day and one of the samples was of something called Strawberry Lemon Supreme. It is one of those dishes that includes squares of cut up pound cake, cream or cream substitutes, and fruit. I saw that strawberries were on sale (yes, I know, that is NOT eating seasonally and I lapsed, okay?), I had lemon pound cake in the freezer at home, and lemon yoghurt In the fridge. Sounded good!

I was not aware that (I guess) the molecular structure of pound cake changes with freezing (or thawing). As when I added some orange liqueur to the cut up squares, they kind of disintegrated. (It is true that they did NOT add liqueur in the grocery store; maybe they know something that I don’t.) Then, when I tossed in some yoghurt, sliced strawberries and whipped cream, well, it turned into a real mess! So I covered it all with some more sliced strawberries and put it in the fridge.

I should have known that booze, cream and time remedy all because it was really yummy and I’m sorry that you only get half a photo because we had it half eaten before I thought to post about it. I think I’ll call it Strawberry Lemon Surprise.

Lemon Pound Surprise

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Oops!

So back at the beginning of these posts I said that I would write about some of my culinary attempts that DON’T go according the plan. And I did write about the inert pizza dough. (As an aside, I put it in the freezer in the hope that once I had more time, I would defrost it and see if it rose over a longer time. It did, but just barely, so I chucked it.) But more recently I had TWO dishes go awry that actually turned out really well!

I have always wanted to cook a brisket. But it is a huge piece of meat (for just 2 people) and not inexpensive! Late last year I saw a recipe that I remembered as being for an Asian flavour brisket and I had that in the back of my mind when I bought a smallish piece for a decent price. I froze it for later.

Fast forward a couple of months and I decided to defrost and use the brisket. First, I couldn’t find the recipe. But I AM the Google Queen after all, so recipe in hand (well, on my ipad) I started to prepare the meat. The first instruction was to soak it for 24 hours. After about 8 hours of soaking I realized that the recipe is for using CORNED BEEF to make Pastrami, not for¬†unbrined brisket at all! So there I was, with almost 5 pounds of defrosted wet beef! I considered corning the beef myself (I made my own “ham” a while ago, another story). But that takes several more days, so I just decided to go ahead with the rest of the recipe and hoped for the best. (I am realizing that this is a theme for me, hoping for the best. Hmmmm.)

Long story short: it was fantastic! I don’t know how it compares with the “real” version of the recipe, but this version was SO moist and flavourful. I applied the marinade and spices, grilled the meat as instructed, baked it for 10 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and finished it off in a hot oven. Perfect!

Brisket

Next post will be about the dessert that turned out differently than planned!

Homemade Pizza in a half hour, including the crust!

I love having the luxury (and I know that it is a luxury) of time for my foodie explorations. But when we have visitors, I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen. So sometimes I have to come up with something good that’s also expedient. (We can’t have barbequed chicken from the grocery store EVERY night!)

A couple of days ago I wanted to make pizza for dinner, so I started the dough 2 hours ahead of time, like you would. We like thin crusts, so I used the recipe from my Turkish Pizza post. After an hour, no rising. I had proofed the yeast, so I knew it wasn’t that. It was a bit cool in the house, but I would still expect SOME action. I was upset for 2 reasons: One, my dough ALWAYS works; and two, we were going to a 7 pm movie and I was on a timeline! (Since you ask, it was The Monuments Men.)

I recalled that I had a recipe for a quicker dough recipe, specifically for a thin crust pizza. I found it (I save recipes to PAGES on my ipad, but that’s another post) and, sure enough, pizza in about a half hour. Here’s the recipe. I think it is from Food.com, but I’ve had it a while so I’m not positive.

2-1/4 tsp. yeast (one envelope)
1/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Set the oven to preheat to 500F, slide the rack into the topmost position, and put your pizza stone or other baking pan on it. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Mix the salt and flour in a bowl. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix until dough forms a ball. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest under a clean linen towel or a bowl while you prepare the toppings. We grated some fresh mozzarella, julienned a few sun-dried tomatoes and sliced a small log of chêvre cheese.

Now, here is my method for baking pizza. Many recipes recommend dusting your pan with cornmeal so that your crust doesn’t stick. Mostly I end up with a baked on crust studded with cornmeal. Instead, I cut out a circle of parchment paper the size of my pizza stone. I roll out the dough onto the paper on the counter, and arrange my toppings.

The jar of pizza sauce in the back of my fridge bit the dust a while ago, and I was out of homemade, so I opened a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce (the only bottled sauce I use is Classico), spread a thin layer of it onto the dough, then arranged the toppings on top. (Don’t put the sun-dried tomatoes on top. They turn into burned blistery things!)

By this time your oven should be up to or near temperature. When it is at 500F, carefully remove the stone or pan and put it on a heatproof surface. THEN, I use a big cake spatula and my hand (if I had a pizza peel I would use that, or you can use a rimless cookie sheet) to put under the pizza and transfer it onto the stone or pan. Put it back on the top rack of the oven and set your timer for 8 minutes.

After about 8 minutes, open the oven and carefully lift an edge of the dough. If it is browning, slowly pull the parchment paper out from under the pizza. If it isn’t browning yet, leave it another minute or so. After the paper is out, continue baking the pizza another 3-5 minutes or until the toppings look done.

Obviously this is not one of those thin crusts with big airy pockets, like at some better pizza establishments. But pretty good for half an hour!

Half hour Pizza

PS: Apologies for the huge font in the title. Can’t seem to change it.