Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend on the Chesapeake

For Father's Day my family spent the weekend at my dad's house on the Chesapeake Bay. We had a beautiful weekend weatherwise and enjoyed some fun time on the water - boating, kayaking and crabbing! My dad caught and steamed up over two dozen crabs. I have big plans for a future post on the Maryland Blue Crab tradition - there is a method to our madness out here in Maryland. It's about more than just Old Bay and newspaper-lined tables. But that's for another post.
Meanwhile, let me distract you with some pretty pictures from the weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pizza Gabriella

Ok so this name may be a bit cheesy, I know. Yes I've become that parent. I've already named something after my daughter. But I have good reason! I've made this pizza twice in the last week and a half, due to a request by my husband. It's his new favorite. Kind of like our daughter...seeing the connection?? I figured since it was so delicious and so loved by my husband, what else would I call it? It just seemed like a natural fit.
This pie marries grilled eggplant with fresh tomatoes, shredded fontina cheese, crispy prosciutto and fresh basil. The inspiration for this pizza came from two perfect eggplants I bought at the market last week. I knew I wanted to grill the eggplant and figured building a pizza around it was a pretty good start. I had some fontina in the fridge along with a container of sweet little cherry tomatoes. And because my husband has a hard time swallowing meatless meals (I know, I know) I had to add some crispy prosciutto to the mix.
What you're left with is a hearty pizza pie with tons of fresh flavor. If it's nice outside you can practically cook this whole meal on the grill! Just cook the prosciutto on low flame because it will burn easily. Hope you enjoy our Pizza Gabriella - oh and feel free to rename it after your favorite person :) Enjoy!

Pizza Gabriella

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil plus 5 tablespoons
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 eggplant, sliced into rounds that are 1/4 to 1/2 in thick
1 pint of cherry tomatoes or Campari tomatoes, sliced
5 thin slices of prosciutto
1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, grated
1 Boboli pizza crust, or your favorite pizza crust or dough
8 basil leaves, chiffonaded
grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a sheet pan, lay out your prosciutto slices and crisp up in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Once crisp, remove from oven. When they are cool you can chop or crumble the slices up so you can sprinkle them over your pizza when assembling.
In a small saute pan, heat up the 1/4 cup of olive oil and add in your chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium to medium low heat until the garlic has softened. Once the garlic is tender, remove from the heat and set aside.
Spread your eggplant rounds out and brush each side with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a grill pan or over a hot grill, place your eggplant rounds and cook about 3 minutes on each side until slightly softened and singed with grill marks. Remove from grill and set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 if using Boboli.
Now you're ready to assemble your pie. Place your crust on a pizza pan (if you're using a raw pizza dough I would suggest cooking it first, either over a hot grill or in the oven, then assembling your pizza toppings and then cook it on 350 degrees). Take your garlic pepper oil and brush it generously all over the crust, making sure to get lots of garlic and pepper bits on the crust. Next top evenly with your slices of tomatoes. Next top with your slices of grilled eggplant, spreading them evenly over the tomatoes. Next sprinkle your crumbled prosciutto over the pizza and then top with your grated fontina cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and top with shredded basil and a sprinkle of Romano cheese.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

This post may come off sounding like an Oscar-winning speech, with these delicious cookies as the award. "I have to thank my husband who supported me through the whole process, allowing me to craft these delicious cookies."
OK that might be a bit dramatic. But honestly, I wouldn't have been able to make these sweet morsels, that I've been craving for a few weeks now, without the help of my fabulous husband. The shopping for ingredients, mixing, baking and savoring wouldn't be possible without his unwavering devotion to give me a few hours of free time from mommy-duty.

As many of you may already know, either from first-hand experience or word of mouth, being a new mommy is demanding. It's rewarding in more ways than you can really explain, but it can also be exhausting. Especially when you're breastfeeding. You're the only one that can feed the baby and in the early days it ties you to their ravenous feeding schedule that takes place every 2 to 3 hours. So if you want to do something, you need to plan ahead and make sure you maximize the free time you have in between feedings. And you only have that free time if you have a supportive spouse or partner or family member to watch the baby for you so you can hopefully get something done. Most of the time we double team on baby duty between feedings, but when I proposed breaking away so I could make these cookies, my husband said "No problem."
So I was off, playing beat the clock before baby became cranky and ready to eat again. Fortunately, these cookies were foolproof, easy to make and baked up quickly. I got them done in no time and was ready for baby when she was ready to eat. Considering that, I guess I should also thank Ina Garten for creating such a simple, yummy recipe. Ok cue the music, it's definitely time for me to leave the podium. Hope you get a chance to bake and enjoy these cookies!!

Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, raisins, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.