Tag Archives: Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pizza Night: Bitchin’

Pizza is my new taco. While living in Austin, TX, I ate tacos at least once a week, sometimes two or three times. Tacos are divine, but only when you’re living close to the Rio Grande. Up in Richmond, tacos are more like anglicized pitas. Ew.

Thankfully, there’s pizza to temper the sting of taco withdrawal. I can enjoy authentic, warm and cheesy pizza pie from pretty much any shop in the city. When my hubby and I order out, we prefer Mary Angela’s on Cary Street or Frank’s Ristorante (their white pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, and clams is ahhhh-mazing). For dinner-and-a-movie nights, we usually grab a pre-made pizza dough from our local grocer and commence the topping-mania. Here’s our latest creation…

Pizza Pie with Ricotta, Artichokes, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Spinach

Ingredients:
1 store-bought pizza dough (fresh or frozen)
1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 c. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, julienned
1 c. fresh baby spinach
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 /2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
Preheat ceramic pizza stone in 450 degree oven (if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a cookie sheet while you shop online for a pizza stone). Heat olive oil and garlic in a small sauce pan over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes (do not let garlic burn). Remove from heat. On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough until it’s about 10-12 inches wide. Place dough on parchment paper. Brush dough generously with garlic olive oil. Dollop with ricotta cheese. Top with artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, anchovies, and shallots. Season with black pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Top with 1/4 c. of the Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a few more tablespoons of olive oil. Lift dough with the parchment paper and place paper on the pizza stone. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Serve with the rest of the fresh Parmesan cheese. Amen!

Too bad our dog (ehem, Orson!) ate the last two slices ;-(

WANTED: Pizza thief!

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Reasons to Gather: Friends, Risotto, and Pinot Noir

Our friends Kimberly and Scott invited us over for a taste of Scott’s famous risotto and some very special boutique wine (who could say “no” to that?). Alexander greeted us and gave us a whirlwind tour of their family’s holiday traditions: the tree decorating, the stockings (hung on the windowsill, not on the hearth), the nativity scene hand-made from corn husks by his grandmother, the nutcracker painting made by his brother Patrick, and the Elf on the Shelf game.

Meanwhile, Kimberly and Scott were preparing a knock-out blue cheese, grape, and walnut pizza (Kimberly is not a fan of blue cheese, so when I heard her rave about this pizza, I knew it had to be a winner). Scott corked some Road 31 Pinot Noir (formerly Green Truck Cellars), and we sank our teeth into the first bite of a very heavenly meal.

When we arrived, Scott had been preparing the risotto on the stove, but the boys – Alexander and Patrick – were in for a special treat: spaghetti and meatball marinara all the way from an Italian market in Cincinnati, OH. It had me wishing I had a seat at the kids’ table.

Scott didn’t let us adults down. We have been hearing rumors of his risotto for the past two months, and finally, the winter break from classes afforded us the opportunity to dine chez leur. The risotto (which included a full two cups of Albariño and a generous amount of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese) was topped with a warm sautée of sausage, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Divinity!

Kimberly wasn’t about to let her husband steal the spotlight. She prepared a rich, yet fluffy, Mexican chocolate cake with walnuts. Served with a glass (or two) of Tawny Port, it was the perfect way to top off a holiday evening with friends.

We left Kimberly and Scott’s home with full bellies and a long list of restaurants and B&B’s to try in Charleston, NC. Thank you for a wonderful evening. The next one’s on us!

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Creamy Sage Polenta with Roasted Shiitakes, Red Onion & Valdeón

The urge to cook overtook me last Sunday. I wanted a hearty, savory, and wholesome dish.  But this culinary escapade was far more than just an impulsive experiment. In fact, many events came together to inspire this meal.

The week prior, Christian and I had purchased some Valdeón bleu cheese at Whole Foods Market. Peter Murphy, our guest at the time, can attest to the Valdeón’s overall exquisiteness relative to other bleu cheeses.

Last Saturday, I had an inkling to make cornbread, but to my dismay, I discovered that I didn’t have enough cornmeal in the pantry. So my loyal servant (read: my husband) went to fetch me some more. But now I had an excess of cornmeal! What to do, what to do? A memory of distant past soon revisited me. When I asked Chef Sean Fulford of Flat Creek Estate what the difference was between cornmeal and polenta, he promptly replied, “one’s Italian.” And with that thought in mind, I decided to revisit my apprenticeship days and attempt to recreate Sean’s creamy sage polenta.

While at the grocery store on Sunday, I noticed that the shiitakes looked particularly ravishing, so I decided to buy some.  “How to cook these?” I asked myself. And I harkened back to the good ole days of being a Food & Wine subscriber. I vaguely remembered a roasted shitake recipe with bleu cheese (I had that in the fridge!) and red onions (I could buy that real cheap!).   So, all the ingredients assembled, I racked my memory, and this is what I came up with…

Creamy Sage Polenta á la Sean with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms, Red Onion & Valdeón

INGREDIENTS

For the polenta

1 ½ c. of cornmeal
1 ½ c. light cream
1 ½ c. lowfat milk
1 c. low-sodium chicken stock
¼ c. fresh sage leaves, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 T. unsalted butter
½ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the mushrooms

1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1 red onion, sliced in ¼-inch-thick half moons
½ c. Valdeón cheese, crumbled
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

For the mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 425o F. Toss the mushrooms and red onion together with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Roast for 30 min., tossing every 10 min.  Just before serving, toss in the bleu cheese.

For the polenta

Everything good begins with butter

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Sauté the garlic and sage for 1 min. until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream and milk and bring to a low boil. Add the cornmeal ½ c. at a time, whisking rapidly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to whisk until lumps have disappeared and polenta is thick and creamy. Slowly add the chicken stock until the polenta reaches the desired consistency (it should be thick and creamy, slightly less thick than mashed potatoes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, mix in Parmesan cheese.

Serve polenta topped with roasted mushrooms and a glass of red wine on the side. Indulge.

Another happy customer chez nous!

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