Monthly Archives: December 2013

Early Influencer

Early Influencers in my culinary biography were the food itself and the people who made or brought or served the food.

Events (Christmas! Birthdays! The Fourth of July!!) shaped/warped/twisted/ influenced me, and even at an early age, books.

Then there was

Betty Crocker.

Betty in 1955

Betty in 1955

Betty from the 60's and early 70's - the Betty I remember best

Betty from the 60’s and early 70’s – the Betty I remember best

This is Betty now - looking good!

This is Betty now – looking good, girlfriend!

In spite of all the Betty food in boxes …the cake mixes, oh, the cake mixes……what I remember her best for is this:

This was the cookbook my mother had....

This was the cookbook my mother had….

and in it was a drawing of a Candlestick Salad

This is very similar to the illustration, but I'm not sure if it's THE one

This is very similar to the illustration, but I’m not sure if it’s THE one – I’m working from internet images and my mother still has her cookbooks. I think they’re in a box  somewhere.

I wanted to make this. I wanted to make this even though I do not like bananas, not one little bit and I did not like them then either. I might have liked bananas even less when I was little. I didn’t even like touching bananas. Or banana smell….still.

Candlestick Salad

Candlestick Salad

Spare me the analysis. Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

There was also something with canned whole pears…..

Bunny Salad

Bunny Salad

I must have been studied these before I knew how to read…although I have eaten many a rabbit, my three year old self might have objected to Bunny Salad that looked so much like…a bunny. And a blue bunny, at that.

Blue Bunny Ice Cream logo

Blue Bunny Ice Cream logo – Betty Crocker  inspiration piece? Turns out Blue Bunny ice cream is older then Betty Crocker.

So Betty’s not a real person (although she was played by an actress for TV for a while) and her name is all over boxes in the grocery store, but she’s not the actual food, she the mixes.

She is a cookbook – several cookbooks, and a constant presence in my childhood. She’s even in my kitchen now, in the form of a red dough scraper with that signature ….signature.

BettyCrockerLogoModal

Sweet talker.

The only recipe that I remember my mother using from this cookbook (henceforth BC/CB) was for the sugar cookies, a recipe I’ll be copying out on my next visit to the ancestral home.

The other thing or two I learned from the BC/CB, when  I was older then three and really knew how to read, was that the Betty World had a very different way of eating then the Wall family.

BettyWorld had cake or pie for dessert EVERY night.

WallyWorld had  – a fruit bowl. With Fresh Fruit. NO canned pears, fresh pears.Fresh apples. Fresh oranges. But no bananas.

Bananas were breakfast food.

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Filed under Perception ways

Pizza on a Roll

not exactly – WAY too many carbs…but since the pizza topic is far from exhausted, another pizza from my past.

But first – when is a pizza not a pizza? What is the essential pizzaness of the pizza?

What about this pizza from Papa Gino’s menu :

  • Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Spicy buffalo chicken and macaroni in a creamy cheese sauce with a blend of American, asiago, and sharp cheddar cheese, topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

Is the combination of buffalo chicken AND mac AND cheese take it beyond pizza, or is it defined by the crust and the pan? I just heard about this for the very first time this month, and I just don’t know.

What about this pizza from Brazil ? :

Chocolate Pizza from Brazil

Chocolate Pizza from Brazil

Continue pondering…….

There is another reason I connect pizza and Christmas. According to Wikipedia (I know, keep reading):

The term ‘pizza’ first appeared “in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta in 997 AD, which claims that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta ‘duodecim pizze’ [‘twelve pizzas’] every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday”

(Salvatore Riciniello (1987) Codice Diplomatico Gaetano, Vol. I, La Poligrafica)

And where was my mother born? Gaeta.

I should definitely revive the 12  pizza thing. Next year. Someone remind me. BTW, there are both Pizza and History of Pizza entries in Wiki and they should probably spend a little more time together.

A little more general history , on pizza and Pizza Margharita, the pizza that carries the colors of the Italian flag in the red tomato, the white mozzarella and the green basil. On second thought, since this leads right into the story of the pizza napoletana, the European Union and legislation (Hooper, John (9 December 2009). “Pizza napoletana awarded special status by EU”. The Guardian. Retrieved 9 December 2009.) this is proabably a story for another day.

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

So if the Pasta di Pizza (that would be the dough that makes the crust) has no yeast in it, but is leavened with baking powder, is it still a pizza? asks the girl who has made (and eaten) English muffin pizza, toaster pizza, pizza roll-ups (at least I think that’s what they were called – or were they pizza bites?) Here they are…..

Cresent rollup - 1982 Pillsbury Bake Off winner

Crescent Pizza  roll-ups – 1982 Pillsbury Bake Off winner!

So here’s a recipe for Quick Pizza – and it is made in a jiffy, with ingredients that I generally had on hand.

Quick pizza

2 C flour + ½ cup ww (although I generally use half and half flour)

1 ½ teaspoons Baking Power – not be confused with baking soda, which is for Irish bread and not Italian Pizza

½ teaspoon salt

4 TBL butter

1 cup milk

toppings

  1. Heat the oven to 450. Prepare 2 cookie sheets – parchment paper, silpat or well greased.
  2. Mix the flours together with the baking powder and the salt.
  3. Cut in (or rub in – it’s rather like biscuit here) the butter.
  4. Add the milk and form into a dough ball.
  5. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts and shape into 8″ rounds (or other shapes to fit your  sheets or your plates or your moods)
  6. Put on your toppings.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden on the bottom and melty to brown on top.

from Jeanne Lemlin. Main Course Vegetation Pleasure . HarperPerennial. 1995 (June 1995). P. 134. She also wrote  Quick Vegetarian Pleasures and Simple Vegetarian Pleasures.

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Filed under Christmas, Pizza, Recipe

Getting a round to it

Corners are cool….

Huey Lewis and the News Hip to Be Square

Huey Lewis and the News Hip to Be Square

but eventually even I have to get a round to the pizza.

It’s not that I haven’t made round pizzas. Try finding a not-round pizza pan, for one thing.

But more recently, Rachael Ray – yes, Rachael Ray  – showed me a pizza that was both round and involved cast iron.

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray

It was the September issue…..which I didn’t really have time to read until the first week in December.

Rachael Ray EveryDay Magazine September 2013

EveryDay with Rachael Ray Magazine September 2013

So, make some  dough…..you remember.

Rache would have you buy it, but now that you know how easy dough is, and that you can hold on to it in the fridge until you need it so you can make it ahead and have it on hand, why would you buy it?

The other secret  to Cast Iron Pizza is that the seasoning in the dough – really necessary. Even if you don’t use a premix, use some basil, use some oregano get some flavor in it.

You will also need a 8 inch cast iron frying pan. Or skillet. And a lid for said pan. I just has to be a lid that will cover the pan, it doesn’t have be be that pan’s lid.

A close  up of the pizza in the magazine

A close up of the pizza in the magazine – that’s arugula on top; arugula is also known as rocket.

Many cast iron pans have the size on the back – look for an 8. Another clue – the paper for the magazine is approximately 81/2 x 11, which means the picture in magazine in the magazine is close to life size. These are single serve pizzas. Which works out rather well for a single girl.

Cast Iron Pizza

1 pound of dough, divided into 4 –  4 oz. balls. Knead some seasoning in if you bought it – even a little Romano cheese will perk it up. Big Pan Pizza makes about 2 1/2 pounds of dough FYI.

(flour, to keep the dough from sticking)

Olive oil

tomato sauce, heated (I use Pastene kitchen ready tomatoes  – I like the tomato flavor )

Fresh or dried herbs for seasoning

cheese – mozzarella ( I used some lovely mozzarella from Wolf Farm, grated, but fresh, cut into a small dice would work well here.A little Parm or Romano is always good for the center )

Other toppings – arugula or peperoni or …..

  1. Heat the pan  – the 8 inch cast iron pan – over medium heat for 10 minutes. Make sure that the lid is nearby.
  2. Flatten one 4 oz ball of dough and stretch it into an 8″ round ( I just did this in my hands and didn’t roll it out at all).
  3. Put 1 tsp of olive oil in the hot pan and swirl it to completely cover the bottom. Put the dough circle in the pan
  4. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes (that’s 90 seconds) You’re just setting the bottom.
  5. Flip the dough, cover the pan and cook for 3 minutes, until the bottom is brown. (My first bottom got a little black….so I turned it down for the next three)
  6. Turn the dough again. Top with heated sauce (a 1/4 of a cup – I used my big spoon). Sprinkle on cheese. Other toppings? Now’s the time to add.
  7. Cover for another minute (or two) until the cheese is melted.
  8. Move it out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Wipe out the pan.
  9. Repeat until done.
  10. Mangia!
Pastene Kitchen ready tomatoes

Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes

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Filed under Christmas, Pizza, Recipe

(Pizza) Pie Are Square

 \pi r^2 is the mathematical formula for the radius of a circle.

The old joke is

Pi R square.

No – Pie are round, cornbread are square

But real pizza are square.

Real pizza being the pizza I was raised on, made by my aunt at the crack of dawn and available when we went to visit. So, Italian pizza are square and American pizza are round.

Punch, or Puncilla with a a pizza - I know it's round, he's Neapolitan

Punch, or Puncinella with a a pizza – I know it’s round, he’s Neapolitan

I’m not sure when I got my favorite pizza pan, but this is the pan I have made LOTS of pizza in.

It's ceramic , so it's like a baking it in a pizza stone

It’s ceramic , so it’s like a baking it in a pizza stone  – I got this from the Pampered Chef

In 2007 I finally found a pizza dough recipe that approaches my aunts. It was in a story in the Boston Globe. I have the clipping, so I know the exact date: December 12, 2007.

In this story, family members compete for the best pizza, in a Pizza face-off. Between the the two dough recipes, I found my best, most reminiscent of my childhood  dough.

Big Pan Square Pizza

Dough

4 cups  flour  – it’s really better if part of it is whole wheat – anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups as part of the total 4 cups.

4 1/2 teaspoons  dry yeast (don’t sweat the details) that’s 2 packets

1 cup warm water with 3/4 cup warm milk

2 teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning*

6 Tablespoons (or more) Olive oil

Toppings:

sauce/cheese/etc – you know the drill

  1. In a large bowl mix the flours together. Add the yeast and mix some more. Add the salt, you’re seeing the pattern. Add the herbs and mix it up one more time.
  2. Add the water and milk mixture and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until you can’t mix anymore, then turn it out and knead it until it’s all smooth and and when you poke it with your thumb, it springs back at you.
  3. Add a little more olive oil to a bowl (wash out the one you started with if you want to use that – no rough ragged bits in the side to slow you and complicate things later). Cover. Refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours.
  4. Oh, you want pizza TODAY??? Then leave out of the fridge and let rise until doubled 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. If you’ve refrigerated the dough, let it come to room temp, about 2 hours.
  6. Set oven to 500 and if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now.
  7. Put 2 Tablespoons olive oil in your cookie sheet/ large four cornered baking pan.  Press the dough into the pan, dimple the top with your fingers (it’s no really necessary, but it’s lots of fun). Put sauce on (not too much). Because this is going to bake for a while, you’re going to put the cheese on later.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Take out of the oven and put on the rest of your toppings. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until everything is hot and melty and just right .
  10. Let it cool a little before before slicing and serving.
  11. Mangia!

* Italian seasoning – I never bought a premixed Durkee’s definition of Italian until I made this recipe. I have no idea what possessed me. I have actually made repeat purchases. One shaker jar V. pulling out several and making choices…..

The original also called for dry milk powder, which I bought and used for virtually nothing else, and when I ran out I started using just plain old milk, which I’m much more likely to have on hand.

The original story was Pizza face-off is a family holiday festivity by Nancy Shohet West in the Boston Globe, December 12, 2007 p. E4.

Durkee Italian Seasoning

Durkee Italian Seasoning

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Filed under Christmas, Pizza, Recipe

(Pizza) Pie Are Square

 \pi r^2 is the mathematical formula for the radius of a circle.

The old joke is

Pi R square.

No – Pie are round, cornbread are square

But real pizza are square.

Real pizza being the pizza I was raised on, made by my aunt at the crack of dawn and available when we went to visit. So, Italian pizza are square and American pizza are round.

Punch, or Puncilla with a a pizza - I know it's round, he's Neapolitan

Punch, or Puncinella with a a pizza – I know it’s round, he’s Neapolitan

I’m not sure when I got my favorite pizza pan, but this is the pan I have made LOTS of pizza in.

It's ceramic , so it's like a baking it in a pizza stone

It’s ceramic , so it’s like a baking it in a pizza stone  – I got this from the Pampered Chef

In 2007 I finally found a pizza dough recipe that approaches my aunts. It was in a story in the Boston Globe. I have the clipping, so I know the exact date: December 12, 2007.

In this story, family members compete for the best pizza, in a Pizza face-off. Between the the two dough recipes, I found my best, most reminiscent of my childhood  dough.

Big Pan Square Pizza

Dough

4 cups  flour  – it’s really better if part of it is whole wheat – anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups as part of the total 4 cups.

4 1/2 teaspoons  dry yeast (don’t sweat the details) that’s 2 packets

1 cup warm water with 3/4 cup warm milk

2 teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning*

6 Tablespoons (or more) Olive oil

Toppings:

sauce/cheese/etc – you know the drill

  1. In a large bowl mix the flours together. Add the yeast and mix some more. Add the salt, you’re seeing the pattern. Add the herbs and mix it up one more time.
  2. Add the water and milk mixture and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until you can’t mix anymore, then turn it out and knead it until it’s all smooth and and when you poke it with your thumb, it springs back at you.
  3. Add a little more olive oil to a bowl (wash out the one you started with if you want to use that – no rough ragged bits in the side to slow you and complicate things later). Cover. Refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours.
  4. Oh, you want pizza TODAY??? Then leave out of the fridge and let rise until doubled 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. If you’ve refrigerated the dough, let it come to room temp, about 2 hours.
  6. Set oven to 500 and if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now.
  7. Put 2 Tablespoons olive oil in your cookie sheet/ large four cornered baking pan.  Press the dough into the pan, dimple the top with your fingers (it’s no really necessary, but it’s lots of fun). Put sauce on (not too much). Because this is going to bake for a while, you’re going to put the cheese on later.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Take out of the oven and put on the rest of your toppings. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until everything is hot and melty and just right .
  10. Let it cool a little before before slicing and serving.
  11. Mangia!

* Italian seasoning – I never bought a premixed Durkee’s definition of Italian until I made this recipe. I have no idea what possessed me. I have actually made repeat purchases. One shaker jar V. pulling out several and making choices…..

The original also called for dry milk powder, which I bought and used for virtually nothing else, and when I ran out I started using just plain old milk, which I’m much more likely to have on hand.

The original story was Pizza face-off is a family holiday festivity by Nancy Shohet West in the Boston Globe, December 12, 2007 p. E4.

Durkee Italian Seasoning

Durkee Italian Seasoning

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Filed under Christmas, Pizza, Recipe

The Second Day of Christmas

Day late and dollar short….
the dot dot dot is for you, Andrew.

I was going to begin on the First Day of Christmas, being a first, but life happened.

It seems the post nasal drip/sympathy sore throat for my son’s friend who had his tonsils removed thing that I was actively ignoring and in total denial about on Christmas Day was actual sickness.

So to my entire family, all four generations gathered in the old home town for Christmas – sorry.

I had been scribbling away all sorts of things about firsts and beginnings and starts (and fits and starts).

But most of life is in the middle of things, so I’m going to start there.

I’ve spent the last few decades researching food history  – an unlikely story in the first place and the only logical place for me to end up as well – and the dream document, the ONE THING that would make it accurate in every detail, would be some sort of record of one of the people connected with the site.

If only they had blogs in the past.

So this is a record of the present, full of food and how it got to my table, and what I think about it all, as well as the food related things, which is just about everything.

The problem is, I have a real short span of attention, and I’m not very good at navel gazing. Did I mention the easily distracted thing? Is that a squirrel????

And I have opinions. About everything. And I’m willing to share. None of them are carved in stone, and I’m always ready to modify/update/change and stand corrected.

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Foodways for the Holidays

Coming attractions….

There’s a new blog in town….join me as I start my culinary biography – or at least the part I write down and photograph and otherwise record.

First post will be the first day of Christmas.

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