Rosemary, Olive Oil, Potato Pizza and Lemony Zucchini Ricotta Pizza

At first mention, the idea of a sauceless, cheeseless pizza doesn't seem too enticing, so if it makes you feel better, you can call these flatbreads or something else. I'm happy thinking of them as pizzas where the focus is all dough and toppings. (In case you're new here, I LOVE dough.)

These are both Smitten Kitchen recipes I made last weekend with my friend Allie. The zucchini pizza I first made last summer, but this time used ricotta instead of goat cheese. And a recent LA Times article reminded me I had never tried the potato pizza I saw on Smitten Kitchen two summers ago.

zucchini-squash-lemon-pizza

Both are great summer pizzas, in my mind. Light and fresh tasting. (I know, carbs on carbs, how is potato pizza light? But the potatoes are sliced thinly and there's not sauce and cheese to weigh it down further.) The two pizzas with a side salad make a perfect evening-on-the-porch meal.

I won't post the full recipes since I didn't make any significant changes, except as mentioned, this time I used ricotta instead

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of goat cheese. For the potato pizza don't be shy with the sea salt and cracked pepper. For both, I used Trader Joe's dough, then cooked the pizzas individually in a 500-degree oven on a preheated pizza stone until the toppings were cooked and the crust turned golden brown.

Rosemary, Olive Oil, Potato Pizza

Lemony Zucchini Ricotta Pizza

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Grilled Cheese with Butternut Squash, Onions, Balsamic Syrup

Harvest Melt

Los Angeles, great city that it is, has a gourmet grilled cheese truck that announces its location on Twitter each day. My coworker Aaron had been keeping tabs on it, so when it came near the office he drove me and our other coworker Allie to the parking lot where the truck had set up shop. We had to wait in line for 25 minutes, but we weren't disappointed. Aaron got a sandwich filled with mac-and-cheese, Allie had brie and pears on cranberry-walnut bread, and I had the Harvest Melt: Gruyère, roasted butternut squash, leeks and balsamic-agave syrup. Brilliant.

Harvest Melt

Yesterday Allie came over and I tried to recreate the Harvest Melt in all its glory. I'm happy to say it was a success.

The grilled cheese was so good, so satisfying, that I didn't even think about other food until dinner. A rare occurence for me. But the squash, the onions, the balsamic… the cheese… the perfectly grilled toast… Pause for a few moments of reverie.

Even better, I don't need to use Twitter or get in a car to have one.

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Spiced Apple Pancakes

I’m not much of a pancakes person, to be honest. But whenever we had big sleepovers at Kat and Marissa’s house last year, we’d make big breakfasts with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and Kat’s apple pancakes. So when

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I was contributing to breakfast for a group of friends this weekend — several states away from Kat — I just had to make apple pancakes.

It was my first attempt at all-from-scratch pancakes, and I have to say I was happy with them. Real butter and buttermilk are the foundation for great homemade pancakes. These are enhanced by warm spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger — and apple chunks that still pop when you bite in. They’ll make a pancakes person out of anyone.

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Chocolate Eclairs

My friends, knowing I love to cook, often ask if I want to take cooking classes with them. I’ve taken casual cooking classes before, and they’re fun and you make nice dishes, but they’re expensive. And at this point I’m comfortable trying new things in the kitchen. I’d rather just pay for ingredients and try a recipe on my own.

So when my friend Annabelle asked if I wanted to go an eclair-making class, I said no. I invited her over to make them at my house instead. I’d made choux pastry, custard and ganache before for different desserts anyway. In the spirit of cooking class, I turned to a recipe from the Culinary Institute of America.

Annabelle and I made tasty eclairs without any disasters, but I won’t be using the CIA recipe again. I didn’t like the texture of the pastry filling with all that cornstarch, and I had some issues with the choux, which baked way too thin on the bottom. (Though, maybe if I had parchment paper it wouldn’t have stuck as much.)

Anyway, I can buy ingredients to attempt eclairs a few more times before spending as much as a class would have been. And we did eat them all. When the custard ran out and we still had pastries left, I filled them with whipped cream, and I liked that even more.

I won’t post the recipe because, as I said, I wasn’t completely pleased with it. (You can find it here.) I’ll revisit the recipes I riffed off of when I made Chocolate Dulce De Leche Puffs. Or if you have a favorite eclairs recipe, pass it on.

Baco Flatbread


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How could you not want something described as a “gyro-pizza-taco”?

When I read the LA Times piece about the baco last year, I made a mental note and a digital bookmark to come back to it. Since then, the chef who invented the baco, Josef Centeno,  has opened another restaurant in LA, and the baco is back in the press. Though I haven't made it yet to the Lazy Ox Canteen for an official baco, I baked up some of Centeno's signature flatbread and created some sandwiches of my own. (For something fun to do, read the Lazy Ox menu.)

From what I've read, there are two things that make a baco a baco. First is the bread. Like my naan recipe, this flatbread calls for plain yogurt. What's different is the addition of lime juice, ginger, garlic and dried lavender. Second is the mix of sauces and international influences:

  • In addition to the original baco, now made with pork belly and red wine-braised paleron (pot roast), Centeno makes four variations. The vegetarian baco centers on crisp Japanese eggplant; lamb sausage baco has croquettes made from potato and morcilla (a Spanish blood sausage) and caraway-pepper sauce; the el pollo baco features chicken escabeche (marinated chicken) radicchio and zhoug, a spicy chile sauce from Yemen; and the pesco baco is a tasty composition of panko-crusted albacore, pickled onion, and four (count them) different sauces. (From the LA Times)

After I made the bread, we did a Mexican-spiced chicken with fresh tomato-avocado salsa, the ginger-lime-lavender yogurt mixture, and a smoky homemade chili sauce. Another afternoon I filled one with a mixture of chicken, pork and sausage in a sweet Vietnamese sauce, along with lettuce, cucumber and tomato in a Persian yogurt-based dressing, and the spicy chili sauce — basically whatever leftovers I found in the fridge.

So now that you have the flatbread recipe, what will you put in your baco?

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Tomato Crostini with Goat Cheese and Taleggio

I get a little dizzy thinking back to how good these simple little toasts were. I mean, they're just cheese on cheese on sauce on toast, but they are much, much more. They're heavenly. I first had these at the Chef's Academy cooking demo . I liked them so much, I had to recreate a version of my own.

Chefs Leo Goodloe and Suzanne Winn made a killer sauce from scratch, and I went with some from a jar, but it didn't matter. The goat cheese and taleggio really make this. I mean, seriously, how amazing is cheese?

These toasts are a great appetizer for a party or a delicious snack for yourself.

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