Friday, August 15, 2008

More on Pizza

Yes, I admit it. I stole this directly from the Washington Post as a service to my loyal readers.


1 1/4 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees), plus more as needed
1 small packet active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed and for the work surface
10 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
Toppings (see related story)


Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl, stirring to mix well; let sit for 10 minutes to allow the top to foam and become frothy (indicating that the yeast is active). If it does not do that, discard and start again with more water, yeast and sugar.

Lightly flour a work surface; lightly grease a mixing bowl and a rimmed baking sheet with a little olive oil.

Combine the flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Beat on low speed for 1 minute until well incorporated, then add the water-yeast mixture in a slow, steady stream. Beat for about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a dough forms and pulls cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water or flour if the dough is too dry or wet. Transfer the dough to the prepared work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding a little flour if it starts to stick, so the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Transfer to the oiled bowl, cover with a clean, dry dish towel and let sit for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, until the mixture almost doubles in size. Form the dough into 4 equal-size balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. (Alternatively, the dough may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

To roll out the dough balls, lightly flour a work surface. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and have ready additional large sheets of the paper for stacking the rounds of dough.

Shape or roll one of the balls into a thin round between 10 and 12 inches in diameter. Brush the top side with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and flip the oiled side over onto the lined baking sheet. Brush the new top side of the dough with 1 tablespoon of the oil and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining 3 doughs and the oil. They may be held at room temperature for about 1 hour in this manner (or refrigerate, tightly covered, for up to 3 hours. If the dough has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, so it will be easier to stretch).

When ready to grill, build a two-zone fire. Heat the back 2 burners on a gas grill on HIGH and the front burners on LOW, or light a large charcoal fire and push most of the coals to one side of the grill, leaving a sparse layer of coals on the other side. When it has reached the right temperature, the hot zone of the fire should be so hot that you can hold your hand a couple of inches above the grill for only about 3 seconds (about 500 degrees, if using a surface thermometer). Clean the grill grates well and oil them lightly with a wad of paper towels.

Using both hands to hold the top of one of the dough rounds (as if your hands were at 10 and 2 on a steering wheel), gently lay the bottom part of the hanging dough on the far side of the hot zone and stretch the top toward you to the other side. Cook, without touching, for 1 minute, so the dough bubbles and starts to get good grill marks. Rotate 90 degrees and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, or until the dough is uniformly browned and crisp but has not burned.

Pull the dough to the cooler zone of the charcoal fire or to the front of the gas grill and reduce the heat on the middle zone of the gas grill to medium-low. Flip the dough over so the seared side faces up. Sprinkle toppings evenly over the pizza (remember, less is more; see related sidebar for topping suggestions).

Once the toppings are in place, cover the grill (with the vents open on a charcoal grill lid). Cook for 3 to 7 minutes, checking every minute or so to rotate the pie 90 degrees so it cooks evenly, until any cheese toppings melt. Transfer to a large cutting board to slice. Top and grill the remaining doughs in the same manner. Serve hot.

Recipe Source:

From food writer Tony Rosenfeld.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How Hot Is That Fire?

In The Barbecue! Bible, Steven Raichlen recommends the "Mississippi test" for those who don't have grill thermometers. Hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals or gas fire and count "one Mississippi, two Mississippi," etc., until the heat causes you to pull away. The number of seconds you can hold your hand above the heat roughly corresponds to these temperatures:

• High heat (650 degrees) = 1 to 2 seconds
• Medium-high (400-450) = 4 to 5 seconds
• Medium (350) = 6 to 7 seconds
• Medium-low (300) = 8 to 10 seconds
• Low (250-275) = 12 to 15 seconds
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mike Kirkpatrick's Slaw Dressing

Back in the old days, when we were working our way through college, we used to gather at friends' houses each Friday night for pot luck, music, and good old fashioned adult-dose partying. As Grace Slick used to say, . . . Well, on second thought, maybe I better not go there.

Anyhow, a good friend, Mike Kirkpatrick, had a real love and talent for cooking. This is a recipe he gave us. Mike, wherever you are, my friend, thanks.


1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup sugar


Combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute, then pour over slaw. Chill for 4 hours.
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Monday, August 4, 2008

Boudin Stuffed Bell-Peppers

Okay, I know that we usually see it spelled "Boudin," but for some reason, Zummo's spells it "Boudain." I got this recipe off a package of their smoked "Boudain," and it's a real winner. Well, I modified it a bit by adding onion, chopped pepper parts, and egg. Plus, I smoke mine on the Weber rather than cooking in the oven. I hope you enjoy.


12 ounces good Boudin Sausage (I use Zummo's Smoked "Boudain.")
2 eggs beaten
1 small onion finely chopped
1/2 pound shrimp (optional)
cayenne pepper
white pepper
black pepper
garlic powder
butter for pan frying shrimp
4 sweet bell peppers (Don't be afraid to experiment with Poblanos or other varieties.)


Fire up the Weber. Stoke with hickory chunks.

Cut the tops off the bell peppers and clean out the seeds and membranes. Trim the tops, and then chop finely. Combine the chopped pepper tops, onion, and egg. Remove casings from sausages, and mince the sausages finely.

Peel and devein shrimp. Season with cayenne, white pepper, black pepper, and garlic powder. Pan fry the shrimp until barely done. Chop shrimp into bite size pieces. Stir into the sausage mixture. Fill the peppers with mixture. For a special touch, try topping with a couple of spoons of peppers and onions.

Place the peppers in a grill-safe pan (I use disposable aluminum pie pans.) with about an inch of water in the pan. At this stage, you can put the pans on the grill like I do, or you can pop in a 450 oven. Oh, and we're smoking these -- over indirect heat. That is, I bank the fire on two sides of the Weber, and place the peppers over the middle "cool" part.

Sometimes I top the stuffing with a pat of butter or with a couple of black olives. Bread crumbs might be a good touch too. Cook until the topping is browned, and the peppers are tender. Serve with a cold beverage.

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