8 posts tagged recipes
Most of our favorite vegetables are not vegetables at all. Cucumbers, okra, eggplant, peppers, sweet corn, PEAS!!, and, of course, tomatoes are all fricking fruits. It’s beautiful fucking witchcraft and opens up some interesting culinary ideas when we stop the automatic thinking that fruits are for dessert and veggies are savory. When you blur those lines, and those flavors, you can come up with some interesting dishes— like Grape Pizza.
Think about it.
Tomatoes are small, sweet, fleshy fruits. So are grapes.
Grapes are super juicy, taste great with cheese, and have an acidic punch. Same with tomatoes.
They’re not quite botanical twins but they’re pretty damn close. With the extra savory backbone of bacon and shallots, grapes are the perfect sweet note in a complex, crunchy pizza.
Now, a few notes—
Making pizza dough isn’t even a little hard— but it is messy, and it’s a process that requires a small time investment. Even though it is extra delicious, sometimes we just don’t feel like fucking with it and there is absolutely no shame in that. These days there is plenty of great pre-made doughs available commercially. Trader Joe’s in particular has some righteous crusts, and we especially dig their whole wheat variety.
While we totally encourage a short cut, we sadly cannot recommend using a pre-cooked pizza crust for this particular recipe. It won’t taste right. Save your Boboli for when you’re too high to do anything but cover it in BBQ and cheddar but forget to bake it and eat it anyway (not that we know anything about that)
Grape Pizza with Gruyere, Bacon, and Shallots
Crust (adapted from a whole bunch of other pizza crust recipes)
- 2 tsp (or 1 package) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp honey
- 3/4 cup water that’s warm but not hot; like the temperature of a cup of coffee that’s hit that perfect chuggable sweet spot of warm.
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus about a half of a cup set aside and some for dusting your work surface; about 2 cups total.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing the rolled out crust
- 1 bag of store bought pizza dough
In a small bowl or large glass measuring cup, mix together the yeast, honey, and 3/4 cup of warm water. Let this mixture hang out for a little bit while the yeast activates, starts eating the sugars, and develops a thin but rich, creamy foam on top that looks like the head of a good dark beer.
In a large bowl, combine the salt and 1 1/4 cups flour. Add the yeast-water mixture, and olive oil. Stir with your hands. At this point the dough will be an exceptionally wet and sticky mess. Keep stirring until the dough pulls away from the walls of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured counter top and knead until goes from ropy and weird to smooth and stretchy; about 5 minutes. You’ll know you’re done kneading when the dough’s surface is more or less dry to the touch and it looks mostly like a ball. Set the kneaded dough aside in a covered bowl until it has doubled in size— about an hour.
Once the dough has risen, and your toppings have been prepared, flop it onto your well floured counter once again and shape it into the size and thickness that you want your pizza to be. We don’t love using rolling pins because it tends to make a very thin, dense, brittle crust. Starting in the center of the dough, gently press and stretch everything until it looks like a pizza. Transfer to a pizza stone or parchment lined cookie sheet, and top.
- 1-1 1/2 cups of seedless grapes- we like red the best
- 1/4 cup of dry vermouth or your favorite dry wine- red or white, doesn’t matter.
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded Gruyere cheese— Fontina also works great
- 3 slices of bacon cut into thick lardons
- 1/2 shallot, finely minced
- Black Pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil for brushing on the crust
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Grapes are pretty much the dirtiest thing on the planet, and this is doubly true if you got yours from the grocery store. Pluck them from the stem, wash them thoroughly, and dry them well. We like to soak our grapes for a few minutes in water that has a few tablespoons of white vinegar, rinse with tap water, and stick them in a salad spinner for a sec. It’s worth the extra effort. Once cleaned, slice them in half with your sharpest paring knife or whatever small serrated knife you use on tomatoes.
Add your bacon to a skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook until crispy and dark brown. Reserve at 1 tbsp bacon fat and use that to sautee the shallots until soft, translucent, and just starting to brown.
Turn the heat up to high. When the skillet is hot (droplets of water should disperse immediately) add the vermouth or wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half and add the grapes. Continue cooking until the grapes are just hardly separating from their skin and softening slightly, but still holding their shape. It should take about a minute and a half. Season with salt and pepper, let the grapes and booze cool slightly— this is an ideal time to start rolling out your crust and brush it all with olive oil.
Once cooled, mix your cheese and reserved bacon with the grape mixture to avoid a soggy crust and ensure the best grapes-to-cheese-to-crust ratio. Spread that business onto your rolled-out crust and bake until it looks like a pizza; anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Top with a few cracks of fresh black pepper. If you wanted to get fancy you could rub the baked crust with garlic cloves, or sprinkle on some freshly chopped bitter herbs.
Anyone that has spent a summer in Chicago is familiar with Elotes. You can’t walk outside without passing a vendor selling the never nearly big enough cups full of shaved sweet corn topped with butter, crema, mayonnaise, chile, lime, cheese, and other goodies. It’s so fucking delicious, and completely essential to our lifestyles, but it can also be kind of hard to eat in the middle of summer, when it’s 90 degrees and 120% humidity.
After a one too many curdled lactose comas this year, we decided it was finally time to work out a recipe that has all of the savory, cheesy, spicy goodness of the stuff you can find on the street but is a little fresher, a little less creamy, and a lot more stable at room temperature.
A few notes on Corn:
Always choose firm, tightly closed ears with damp silks (the little tassel hanging out the end) and cleanly cut ends that aren’t all dried out and crusty. To find the best ears, peel back the first bit of husk and see if there are well-formed kernels are right at the tip. The best, sweetest corn will have plump, juicy ones all along the length of the ear.
Whenever possible, buy your corn fresh from the farmer and cook it immediately. Corn has evolved protective enzymatic processes that start to convert its easily digestible, hella tasty, nutritious carbohydrates into completely indigestible flavorless garbage the second that it’s picked. The good news is that you can stop that enzyme nonsense by cooking the corn the minute you get home and saving it for whenever it’s ready to be used.
If you can’t buy it from the farm or farmers market, we really recommend frozen corn. The stuff you can buy in the produce section has been sitting for a really long time and, if it tastes like anything but cardboard, it’s probably been genetically modified beyond recognition to withstand that much shelf time. Frozen corn, however, is usually cut and frozen the day it’s picked and is really yummy.
It should go without saying, but canned corn is a waste of pantry space. Don’t even bother with it.
Roasted Corn and Cilantro Salad
- 10 ears of fresh Sweet Corn
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1/2 medium Jicama
- 1/4-1 small Jalapeno, more if you like it spicy, less if you don’t
- 1 large bunch of Cilantro
- 2 Limes, juice only
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2-4 oz Queso Fresco or Cajita- if you don’t have good Mexican hard cheeses available to you, feta is an OK substitution. In an absolute dire strait, you can use grated parmesan cheese.
- 1 tsp Chilli Powder- or 1 tsp Cumin and a pinch of Cayenne
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Serves: 6-10, this makes 6-8 cups of salad.
If you have access to a grill, get it nice and hot. Otherwise, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Fill a clean sink with plenty of water. Peel back the husks from each ear of corn without removing them, pull away the silks, and let them soak for a few minutes in the sink full of water. This cleans the corn, of course, but also gets a little extra moisture into the husks so you don’t light shit on fire.
Pull the husks back into place and roast the corn in the oven (or on the grill) for about 20 minutes, turning frequently. Even though you soaked the husks, please be mindful of not lighting your corn / face on fire. Once cooked, allow the corn to cool so you can handle it without burning the bejeezus out of your hands.
Seed and dice the red pepper. Peel and dice the jicama. Wash the cilantro and remove the leaves from the stems. We’re only using the leaves here, but the stems are delicious in sauces or for roasting fish— so don’t throw them away, they freeze great until you’re ready to use them.
Roast, seed, and finely dice the jalapeno and then wash the hell out of your hands. The best way to make your fingers stop being spicy is to lube your hands up with plenty of olive oil, and then wash with plenty of dish soap. Capsaicin (the stuff that makes peppers spicy) is not water soluble, but it is extremely fat soluble. Soaking your hands in olive oil traps all the capsaicin in the fat, and the dish soap washes the fat away. To test how well you’ve washed your hands, lick your fingers. If capsaicin is still present, they’ll taste spicy and, if they taste spicy, don’t like put in your contacts or touch your junk because it will fucking hurt. Unless you’re into that. No judgement. (but judgment)
Once the corn is cooled, remove and discard the husks, and slice the corn from the cob with a large serrated knife.
Combine all of the veggies in big bowl with the chili pepper. Toss with lime juice, and olive oil. Queso fresco and cajita are both super salty, so add those and then check to see if you need extra salt and pepper.
This stuff tastes best after hanging out for twenty minutes in the fridge, but is perfectly fine right away. Remember to toss well before serving. This stuff keeps for about 4 days in the fridge, tightly sealed. It’s great with grilled meats, but also works as sort of pseudo salsa.
The first time we heard about using Balsamic vinegar with strawberries, we gagged. We incorrectly insisted that vinegar is for salad, for pickles, for condiments; it’s not for dessert and it’s certainly not for fruit. Balsamic is cider vinegar’s syrupy, umami cousin that is for swirling in olive oil and eating with warm baguettes. It’s rich and inky and makes cheese taste more like cheese. The second time we heard about using Balsamic vinegar on strawberries, our lovely friend Esther ignored our protests and made us taste it anyway. We are so glad that she did.
Something magical happens when you put vinegar on strawberries. It’s pungent but delicate, and makes sweetness sweeter without tasting sugary. You know the part of berries that just tastes “red?” It makes that taste…redder? Better. Something. Fucking gooooood.
Even though you don’t really need to do anything beyond putting vinegar on strawberries and putting that in your face, we decided to turn the surprising combo into an ice cream topping. Initially we tried it because the milky whiteness of vanilla ice cream with the deep purpley brown of the balsamic and redness of the berries looked super striking. Now we use it because when the ice cream melts and mixes with the balsamic it makes, basically, adult Strawberry Quik. Pistachios were added, because they were on hand, and the salt they contributed did what salt does and made everything taste more like itself.
If you don’t have vanilla beans handy, spare yourself the pathetic, over priced, misery that is the super market vanilla bean. At damn near $10 a bean, the stuff at the Jewel (or even Whole Foods) has probably been sitting on the shelf for a year, suffocating in a plastic bottle. It’s not worth your money, and you’d be better off using a splash of vanilla extract or omitting it all together. However, if you are into getting your hands on some real beans, you can find prize beauties on Amazon for less than $0.25 a bean. Rachel ordered a pack for $27 bucks from JR Mushroom & Specialties, and got well over 100 of the plumpest, juiciest, oiliest vanilla beans that she’d ever seen.
Strawberry Sundae with Balsamic Vinegar and Pistachios
- 12 strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 pint of vanilla ice cream— if you feel fancy, we love this recipe by David Lebovitz
- ½ cup of balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar— we used vanilla sugar, but any will do. Brown, white, Turbinado, honey, whatever.
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- A handful of shelled and salted pistachios
Serves: As far as we’re concerned, One. But, if you’re feeling generous, this could serve 4-6.
In a non-reactive saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, and vanilla bean guts to a boil. Use low heat. Reduce to the consistency of pancake syrup. You’ll need to watch it closely, and stir almost constantly, because there are a lot of natural sugars that taste horrible when they burn, but love to do it anyway. Once reduced, let the syrup cool. Or don’t. Just don’t burn your face.
Top scoops of ice cream generously with the strawberries and a sprinkling of pistachios. Finish everything with a generous drizzle of balsamic syrup.
Three Vegetables, Three Ways
Summer time is vegetable time. Local stuff is fresh and abundant, and, while they taste pretty good raw, just a little extra effort makes them truly fucking delicious. We picked our three favorite vegetables and prepared them our three favorite low-maintenance ways. Think of these methods less as recipes and more as formulas; add your favorite flavors, swap for whatever is in your CSA or looking good at the market, and use these simply prepared veg in your favorite pastas, sandwiches, and salads.
adapted from Rachel’s Gramma’s recipe for fridge pickles
- 7 or 8 radishes, quartered
- 3 tbsp vinegar- I like apple cider vinegar, but pretty much whatever works
- 1/8 cup boiling water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tablespoon salt
- 1 small piece ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove of garlic, scored
- 1tsp peppercorns
- a shake or two of red pepper flake (optional)
- 2-3 cloves
Serves: it’s tough to say with pickles, since it’s some people think of them as a condiment but folks like Rachel hold them as the foundation of the food pyramid. Whether you want this as a side or garnish, this recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups!
In a small, heat proof container combine sugar, salt, ginger, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns, red pepper flake (if that’s your thing), and cloves. Add boiling water and stir. Once the sugar and salt has dissolved, add your radishes and vinegar. Refrigerate. They’ll be ready to eat in about two hours (you can tell because everything will be a really pretty light pink) but they will keep OK for about a week. This pickle brine works great with cucumbers, zucchini, and carrots, and pickled radishes give an incredible zing to deviled eggs.
- As much asparagus as you can eat in a sitting
- Olive oil
Haricot Vert with Bacon Lardons and Shallots
- 3 strips of good, thick cut bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 pound of haricot vert, or (for those of us allergic to pretentious bullshit) those delicious, tender, skinny green beans that are at their best in late spring, early summer.
- 1 huge pinch of salt, bigger than you think necessary
- 1 shallot, diced very small— or 2-3 cloves of garlic sliced paper thin
- 1 tbsp of cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
We’ve spent the last few months plotting, eating, and destroying kitchens. We’re excited to be here and to talk to you about food again.
Later this month we’ll have stuff about Mussels being the cheapest food ever, Shandies making day drinking a snap, and Avocado Pesto being infinitely better than hummus but, for now, you can check out a video of us running around Green City Market.
Lucy and Rachel
p.s. - the song in the video is Littlest Birds by the Be Good Tanyas