fancy pizza

This year I have decided to give up wheat for Lent.  Please don’t click away!  I’ve always wanted to give a gluten-free diet a shot and figure with the added guilt of Lent this will be a good six-week period in which to do so.  I am going to try to make wheat-free baking awesome over the next month and a half so don’t you fear– you’ll never know the difference.

However, before I get started on that I have one more non gluten-free recipe to share with you.  Pizza!

I made this pizza last weekend and kind of had a rough idea of the toppings I wanted to try but wound up winging it based on what I had on hand.  Started with butternut squash puree as the sauce and then snipped some rosemary from the plant that I have somehow managed to keep alive since last summer.  Miracle of miracles.

I caramelized up some onions and added those and then I added a local cured meat that is in the salami family by my estimations.  Like a third cousin to it.

Cheese.  You can’t have pizza without cheese.  I had just purchased a nice hunk of Manchego so sliced that with a vegetable peeler and put that on top of the whole thing.

Then I baked it on a pre-heated pizza stone and enjoyed.

The recipe below is for the whole wheat crust but please have fun experimenting with toppings.

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust with Olive Oil (from “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois)

Note this recipe makes enough dough for 4 pizzas.  Refrigerate unused dough in lidded container for up to 7 days.

  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon granulated yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil

Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten.

Add the liquid ingredients and mix without kneading, using a spoon, food processor, or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).

Cover (not airtight) and allow dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately two hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.

Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 550 degrees F (or 500 degrees F if that’s your maximum) with a pizza stone placed near the bottom third of the oven.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

On a wooden cutting board or pizza peel, flatten the dough with your hands and a rolling pin to produce a 1/8-inch-thick round.  Dust with flour to keep the dough from adhering to the board.  Use a dough scraper to unstick the dough as needed.  When you’re done the dough round should have enough flour under it to move easily when you shake the board or peel.

Transfer the rolled out dough to the pre-heated pizza stone and top as desired.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Allow the pizza to cool slightly on a cooling rack before serving.

comfort food

Almost exactly six years ago I moved from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.  I was still relatively new to New York and hadn’t spent a whole lot of time in Brooklyn prior to moving there but I knew that even though the rent was still exorbitant you got more space for your money so it seemed like a great idea.  But I digress.

My roommate and I happened to move in the midst of a snowstorm that produced what was then one of the largest amounts of snowfall on record.  Awesome.  I remember packing and moving from 6 in the morning until 8 at night and then crashing hard at 9pm which made that the first time I had gone to bed that early without being sick since I was about eight years old.  I still remember it being one of the hardest sleeps I’ve ever experienced.  I was cold out.

The next morning my roommate and I ventured out in search of sustenance and came across a cute little hipster pub that seemed like it had a decent menu.  I ordered mac and cheese.  It was the best dang mac and cheese I’ve ever had in my entire life.  And I have eaten some mac and cheese, let me tell you.  This heavenly mac and cheese had bacon in it.  And it had a crisp topping.  Yes, please.

The name of this restaurant?  DuMont Burger.  I lived in that neighborhood for two-and-a-half years and whenever I had been really good about going to the gym, or whenever I had worked a sixty-hour week, or whenever someone gave me the stink eye on the subway I would reward/comfort myself with mac and cheese takeout from DuMont Burger.  It was simply too easy to call on my walk home from the subway and swing in to pick it up.  Instant comfort.

Now that I no longer live (anywhere near) there I decided that I must recreate it for myself at home.  I couldn’t find radiatore pasta at my local grocery store, but fusilli worked just fine.  I had panko (Japanese bread crumbs) on hand instead of standard bread crumbs so subbed those.  I served pork with the mac and cheese so opted not to include bacon in my version (though I certainly will next time) because that just seemed like pig overkill.  Even still, it turned out pretty great.

If it’s as grey and cold elsewhere in the country as it is in my neck of the woods right now this would be a great week to make yourself a big ol’ pan of it.  Get to it!

DuMac and Cheese (from “The New Brooklyn Cookbook” by Melissa and Brendan Vaughan)

  • 1 pound radiatore, elbow macaroni, or fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound Gruyère, grated, divided
  • 1/2 pound sharp white cheddar, grated, divided
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, toss with the olive oil in a large bowl, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; bring to a gentle simmer.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until the flour is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue mixing with a wooden spoon until the mixture is a pale golden color, about 4 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk and cream mixture to the flour mixture, whisking constantly to incorporate. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally to keep the mixture from burning. Add half the Gruyère and half the cheddar and whisk until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked pasta and toss well to combine. Pour the pasta into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish or a 3-quart gratin dish. Top with the remaining Gruyère and cheddar and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Allow the mac and cheese to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

perfect food pairings

When I think of foods that pair together nicely the obvious answer is peanut butter and chocolate (duh!) but there are of course others: salmon and dill, beets and goat cheese, figs and bacon (but what doesn’t bacon go with?), and so on and so forth.  But I live in Wisconsin now and we all know what Wisconsin is known for: yes, I’m talking about cheese.  In Wisconsin restaurants they put a slice of cheddar cheese on apple pie… wha-wha-what???

I’ve actually had this recipe for long before I moved to Dairyland so it seems fitting that I wound up in this fine state.  However, this recipe one-ups the slice of cheese on top of the apple pie by incorporating the cheese into the crust.  It’s pure genius and must be tried immediately.

I highly recommend enjoying it heated up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  Yet another wonderful pairing!

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust (found at

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 3) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 2 pounds (about 5) Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Cheddar Crust dough (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each to a 13-inch circle.

Fit one circle into a 10-inch pie plate; transfer plate to a baking sheet. Put other circle on another baking sheet. Refrigerate dough until cold, at least 30 minutes.

Stir together apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.  Spoon into bottom pie crust. Dot filling with butter. Cover with top crust.  Fold edges over; crimp decoratively to seal. Cut a steam vent. Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

Brush with egg. Bake pie 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Tent with foil; bake until juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes more. Let cool at least 1 1/2 hours before serving.

Cheddar Crust (found at

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until pea-size lumps appear. Pulse in cheese. With processor running, add ice water; process just until dough comes together.

Turn dough out; gather into a block. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.