Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pizza (and a Friend) to the Rescue!

As I've mentioned before, one of the true drawbacks to having a child is that my brain no longer can manage its usual everyday level of function.  And as such, figuring out dinner can be a really bad scene, especially when I haven't planned ahead.  On this day, I had planned exactly as far as "pizza", which gave me a complete false sense of confidence in dinner because once the appointed hour rolled around I realized I had absolutely no idea what to put on the pizza (given that there were no sausages in the fridge or freezer, something I hadn't bothered to check).  So I did what everyone should do in desperate times, I begged for help.  I e-mailed a friend a short list of what was in my fridge and she sent back a step-by-step list of what I should use and how.  In this list was included absolutely no judgment or shaming for the fact that I needed someone to tell me to move my right foot, move my left foot, just helpful advice.  So, thanks to my friend, I not only made dinner, I made an amazing dinner.  And I will share the love with you.  Just in case you're having the kind of day the necessitates someone else making the decisions for you.

1/3 recipe dough
3-4 C washed, chopped kale (ribs removed)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C finely chopped onion
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 C grated mozzerella
6 slices of bacon, crisped (you know, cooked until crispy) and chopped into bits.
5-6 eggs
olive oil
cornmeal for sprinkling on pan.
Preheat your oven to 450 F.  Roll out your dough.  Sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal.  Carefully place dough on baking sheet.  Bake 5-7 minutes or until it just starts to crisp up (we do like a crispy crust around here).  While the dough is baking, prepare your kale.  In a largish pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil.  With the heat on medium low, add the garlic and onion.  The heat is too high if they make any sizzling noises.  You want them to gently heat up and turn pale golden.  Add your kale. The kale will turn bright green and begin to wilt.  I don't like mine cooked down all the way, so I only cook it for a few minutes until it's bright green and tender.  Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Give it a taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as needed.  Remove from heat and set aside.  When your dough is done, remove it from the oven and use a brush to brush the whole crust with olive oil.  Lay down your kale evenly over the crust.  Then cover the kale with mozzarella.  Next, sprinkle your bacon over the pizza. Finally, it's time for the eggs.  It's much safer to do your eggs one at a time.  Hit it on your counter, open it into a bowl, make sure you have no shells, then slide it onto the pizza.  Repeat until all eggs are placed.*  Bake 5-7 more minutes until the white of the egg has set and then yolk is just a titch runny (or however you like your eggs).

*If you do not anticipate being able to eat the whole pizza in one night, due to the number of people you're serving, you might only want eggs on the parts you're sure will be eaten so that you are saved the dilemma of trying to figure out how to save (and if it's safe to eat) leftover pizza with an egg on top. Although I did reheat an eggy slice the next day and did not die or get sick.  So there's a sample size of one to reassure you if you want to go that route.

Friday, November 8, 2013

With Apologies to My Mother

It can be difficult for me to pick a dinner menu when my parents come to visit.  My father has Celiac Disease which means I generally stay away from dishes involving gluten (which rules out all pasta).  My husband won't eat red meat or pork (which is my normal life) but my father isn't overly fond of vegetarian.  Which means that unless I'm going to serve chicken every night, I'm going to have to make fish.  So the last time my parents were here, we were standing in Whole Foods and I said to my mother, "I'm going to get cod for supper."  My poor mother.  She is not overly fond of fish, especially when it tastes like fish (and not like teriyaki sauce or fried deliciousness or the like).  My father hates fish that does not taste like fish.  So it was with grim determination that my mother said "ok."  But.  This cod is tasty! Delicious even! I'm about as much of a fish fan as my mother (show me a crab, lobster, clam, shrimp, squid or octopus and I'm there, but fish? eh) and I like this!  But I did not waste my breath trying to convince her.  I simply made the cod, with a light fresh tomato and balsamic topping and let it do the convincing.  I think we may have won her over.


Equipment: You really do need a cast-iron skillet, large enough to fit your cod without touching.  A small pan will make this much harder to make and also, it will not turn out as well.  Why?  Well, you want your cod to be crisp (or at least kind of crisp) and the fish will give off moisture as it cooks.  Too many filets in your pan means too much moisture, means no crisping.  Also, you have to turn the fish over.  It can't just sit there.  And if you've crammed the pieces in, there is no room for the spatula.  Oh right, also, you need a spatula, and you'll be far happier with a fish spatula, you know the long narrow metal kind.

1/2 lb cod per person
1 tomato per person
1/2 T balsamic per person
fancy balsamic to finish - I have some aged orange balsamic that is amazing.
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the cod -
Make sure your cod is deboned.  I buy mine from Whole Foods and generally don't have any trouble with it, but you may have a few pinbones in there.  If you do, pull them out gently.  Pat your fish dry then, sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  Add about 2 T of olive oil to your cast iron pan.  Basically you want a very thin covering over the whole bottom of the pan, so don't try to undercut the amount, and don't pour a ton, you're not frying it.  Heat the pan on medium or until the oil looks a bit shimmery.  Then add the cod.  Reduce your heat to medium low (cast-iron keeps the heat) or even low if it seems out of control sizzle-y. Cook for 4 minutes.  It should come up easily for flipping.  Try nudging your spatula under one edge.  If it doesn't budge, you may have to let it go another minute.  If the fish flakes apart and you can't do a perfect turn, no worries, you can hide it under the tomato sauce.  Anyway, flip the fish over and cook it another 2-5 minutes.  The cod should be white and flaky.  Carefully transfer it to a plate.
For the tomatoes with balsamic - 
In a small pot or non-stick fry pan, pour about a teaspoon of olive oil.  Chop up the necessary tomatoes (I cored mine, then cut in a large dice) and toss in the pan over very low heat.  Add the balsamic.  Let cook while your cod is cooking, you should end up with the balsamic thick enough to coat a spoon.  Right before I pulled it off the heat, I added an extra tablespoon of my fancy balsamic (I served 4 people, so I guess that's a 1/4 tablespoon fancy balsamic per person).  If you are lacking in the fancy balsamic department, just add an extra tablespoon of the regular stuff at the start.  It will cook down just fine.

Spoon the tomatoes on top of the cod.  Please fish lovers and the fish neutral alike.


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