Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Grilled Margherita Pizza

Summer, when tomatoes are at their peak, is the perfect time for this pizza. And no fear--this recipe calls for salmonella-free cherry tomatoes. I love the simple ingredients and pure flavors. You will, too.  So get grillin!

Grilled Margherita Pizza

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 batch thin-crust pizza dough (I used store bought fresh pizza dough)
all-purpose flour for dusting
6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. baby arugula
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
kosher salt, to taste
fresh black pepper, to taste


1. Prepare a hot fire in a grill and preheat a grill-top pizza stone for at least 30 minutes, until the thermometer on the stone registers 500ºF. Alternately, place pizza stone in oven while oven heats to 500 degres.

2. In a small fry pan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, then remove the pan from the heat.

3. Using a rolling pin or your hands, gently roll out or stretch the pizza dough into a 10-inch round. Lightly dust a pizza peel with flour and lay the dough on top.

4. Lightly brush the dough with the garlic-infused olive oil. Scatter the mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange half of the tomatoes on top.

5. Carefully slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone, cover the grill and bake until the crust is golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

6. Scatter the remaining tomatoes, the arugula and basil on top and season with salt. Using the pizza peel, transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into slices. Serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4.

Summer Fruit Salad with Sambuca

I may have mentioned this before, but one of my favorite things about summer is the wide variety of fresh fruit in season. Growing up, my mom put fruit salad with almost every meal and it was always my favorite part of the meal. Now that I'm grown up, I still love my fruit salad. But now I can add fun things like orange liquer, white wine, or in this recipe, Sambuca. This fruit salad is so simple, so good, and so summery.

Summer Fruit Salad with Sambuca


1 pint strawberries
1 mango
1 plum
1 nectarine
1 c. blackberries
1 c. blueberries
1/4 c. sugar, plus more as needed (the fruit was already sweet, so I only used about 1/6 c.)
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more as needed
2 TBSP anise liqueur, such as sambuca or anisette, plus more as needed
1 banana


1. Hull the strawberries and halve or quarter if large. Peel and dice the mango. Dice the plum and nectarine.

2. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, mango, plum, nectarine, blackberries and blueberries.

3. Add the 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon zest, the juice of 1/2 lemon and the 2 Tbs. sambuca and stir well.

4. Dice the banana and stir into the salad.

5. Taste and add more sugar, lemon juice or sambuca, if needed.

6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the flavorings before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bourbon-Peach Cobbler

Peaches are my favorite summer fruit. Bourbon is my favorite alcohol. Done and done.

Bourbon-Peach Cobbler
Tyler Florence, "Tyler's Ultimate"

8 peaches, peeled and sliced, about 6 to 8 c.
1/4 c. bourbon
3/4 c. sugar, divided, plus more for dusting
2 TBSP cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, plus 2 TBSP for skillet
Heavy cream, plus more for brushing

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl add the peaches, bourbon, 1/4 c. sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well to coat the peaches evenly; set aside.

3. Prepare the dumplings: Into food processor add the flour, 1/2 c. sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut 12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) butter into small pieces. Add it to the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Mix just until the dough comes together. Don't overwork; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable.

4. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 2 TBSP butter. Add the peaches and cook gently until heated through, about 5 minutes.

5. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the warm peaches. There can be gaps, the dough will puff up and spread out as it bakes. Brush the top with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

6. Put it into the oven on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Cook for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling.

Anise Biscotti

So maybe it's a stretch to call these cookies breakfast. Whatever. They're awesome with coffee. That makes them breakfast to me!

Anise Biscotti
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Giada's Family Dinners

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. ground anise seed
2 large eggs
1 c. semisweet chips, for melting and dipping (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large, heavy baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and anise seed.

4. Beat in eggs one at a time.

5. Add the flour mixture until just combined.

6. Form the dough into a 16-inch long, 3-inch wide log. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

7. Place the log on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on the diagonal into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch slices. Arrange cut side down on the baking sheet.

8. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Trnsfer to a rack and cool completely.

9. If desired, melt chocolate chips. Dip one end of cooled biscotti in the chocolate. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.

They make wonderful gifts!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts

Giada DeLaurentiis calls these the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. She says she made 500 of them for her wedding. What?!? How in the world did she find time to make 500 cookies for her wedding? That's my definition of crazy. But these cookies are my definition of good.

chocolate chip hazelnut cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis, Giada's Family Dinners

1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 oz, English toffee candy (recommended: Heath or Skör bar), finely chopped
1 c. hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

4. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended.  Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.

5. For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful (I used a small scoop) of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes.

6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.  The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead and also freeze well. Store airtight at room temperature.

yield: 4 dozen cookies