Thursday, April 30, 2009

Orange Sour Cream Loaf Cake

When I saw Jamie’s post from Life’s a feast on a Blood Orange Yogurt Cake, I wanted to make it NOW! However, I had three strikes against me. Strike one, no blood oranges in Moscow, Idaho in April. Strike two, no yogurt in the house. However, I did have sour cream from those potatoes I forgot to make. Strike three, a complete rebellious refusal and inability to follow directions. I’m not in the Army anymore dangnabit, I don’t have to listen to directions. LALALALALALA (Plugging ears and not listening to reason).

One more thing before I forget, please try to keep your paws off this cake until the next day. It’s many times more flavorful after it’s been soaking up the liquid for awhile.

For cake
1 cup full fat sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of 3 oranges
1 tsp real vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ cup extra light olive oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to size and place it in the bottom of the pan.

In a food processor, process sour cream, granulated sugar, eggs, orange zest, vanilla extract, salt, olive oil, and baking powder together. Add the flour and pulse until combined, being careful not to over mix.

Pour the cake batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Wait for 10 minutes and carefully remove to a cooling rack.

For soaking warm cake
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

While the cake is cooking, add the orange juice and granulated sugar to a small sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the liquid is mainly clear. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Place the cooling rack on top of a piece of wax paper. Spoon the mixture over the cake. Allow the cake to finish cooling.

For glazing cooled cake
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Mix together powdered sugar and orange juice. Spoon glaze over the top and let the cake set up overnight before serving.

Recipe by Laura Flowers with heavy inspiration from Jamie’s beautiful post at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grandma Ain’t Got Nothin’ on These Grilled Stuffed Peppers

I’ve been dealing with an abscessed tooth lately and haven’t been cooking as often as I’d like. What that means is my sweet husband had to cook, and by “cook”, I mean we ate out. By the end of a week of fast food, and an absence of vegetables, I was over the edge crazy for a good slow meal.

Thankfully, yesterday I felt well enough to spend the day futzing around my kitchen, and thought stuffed peppers sounded both veggie filled and nostalgic. This was the first time I’ve ever made them, and sort of flew by the seat of my pants without a recipe. I cooked up some rice, grilled the vegetables and sausage, then finished it all off in the oven.

2 cups cooked brown or white rice
4 precooked organic sausage links
7 bell peppers
1 onion
½ bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
Olive oil for vegetables
2 tomatoes, diced
1 jar (25.5 ounce) marinara sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Fresh cracked pepper
½ cup Parmesan Reggiano

1. Make the rice according to package directions. Set aside.

2. Heat the grill to medium high.

3. Grill the sausages until char marks for. Allow to cool and dice. Set aside.

4. Prep the bell peppers by cutting the tops off and cutting out the membranes and seeds with a paring knife. Cut the stem out from the top ring. Rub the peppers in olive oil and place on the grill. Grill until char marks form but not completely softened. When cool enough to touch dice one bell pepper. Set the rest aside.

5. Meanwhile, cut the ends off the onion. Cut the onion in half and rub in olive oil. Rub the asparagus in olive oil and place both on the grill. Grill until lightly charred and mostly softened. Dice both when cool enough to handle.

6. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub a 7x11 inch (2 quart) baking dish with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Pour in the sauce and spread about the bottom of the dish. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place the baking dish in the center to prevent spills.

7. In a large bowl mix together the rice, sausage, diced bell pepper, onion, asparagus, tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and fresh cracked pepper.

8. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and gently pack down. Place in the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan Reggiano Cheese. Top with a pepper ring.

9. Bake for 60 to 120 minutes or until golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Wait 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: I used Lucini Rustic Tomato Basil Sauce, and Chef Bruce Aidells Roasted Garlic & Gruyere Cheese Sausage. Both were from Costco.
Serves 6

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Monday, April 27, 2009

Neapolitan Malt Mousse Pie

I needed to create a pie for a contest and this is what I came up with. If I could open a diner
around this playful pie I would! With clouds of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, plus the crunch of an Oreo crust, this pie needs some roller skates and a tip jar.

1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs, finely crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
¼ cup boiling water
2 cups very cold whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1/3 cup malted milk powder
3 TBS Dutch processed cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Nestle Nesquik Strawberry powder

1. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl and let stand for 2 minutes. Then add 1/4th cup boiling water. Set aside.

2. Butter a 9” pie pan. In a large bowl mix together melted butter and Oreo cookie crumbs. Press crumbs evenly into the bottom and sides of pie pan. Place in the refrigerator while prepping the mousse mixture.

3. With a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat the cold whipping cream and vanilla extract until almost stiff. Add the sugar and malt powder slowly and beat until stiff. Pour in the gelatin mixture and beat until well incorporated.

4. Next divide the mixture evenly into 3 bowls. Add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder to one bowl, and 3 tablespoons Nestle Nesquik Strawberry powder to another bowl. Mix with a fork until incorporated.

5. Spoons the chocolate mixture into the pie crust and spread evenly around. Then add the vanilla mixture and spread leaving a slight hump in the middle. Lastly add the strawberry mix and spread to cover the top. Let chill for three hours or more before serving.

Notes: You can skip step two by purchasing an Oreo pie crust.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sun Tea with Simple Syrup, Lemon, & Mint Leaves

Last weekend I visited a grouchy, difficult to deal with childhood friend, and she told me about the sun tea her mother Sara used to make. Sadly, Sara is no longer with us, and so I asked my friend if she would share the recipe with me. Her immediate response, “No, it’s a family secret”, further irked me during a challenging weekend with her.

Sara would have definitely offered up her recipe. Being in the publishing industry herself, and even once owning a newspaper, she was not one to keep a good recipe secret. So, I made my own version of Sara’s tea, which I want to share with you. Well loved recipes should be shared with as many people as possible in my mind. It's through these recipes I believe we pass along love, friendship, and history.

I made the tea in two half gallon pitchers, as they fit better in my refrigerator.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
20 mint leaves
2 small lemons, sliced
About 1 gallon of water
2 large Lipton iced tea bags, or 4 small Lipton tea bags

In a sauce pan boil 2/3 cup granulated sugar and 2/3 cup water together, until the liquid is clear and the sugar is melted. About 3 minutes. Next add the syrup to a gallon sized jug followed by the mint leaves, lemon slices, and enough water to fill the jug. Hang the tea bags off the jug and close with a lid. Set in the sun for several hours.

Remove the tea bags and chill until cold. Or pour into a tall glass with ice.

As always, please feel free to share this recipe with others.

Notes: Lately I've been making honey simple syrup for this tea. If you want to try this, boil together 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water and add to a gallon sized pitcher in place of simple syrup.

Recipe by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Smoked Salmon Pizza

I couldn’t decide if pesto cream sauce, or garlic cream sauce, was better on this pizza. So, I’ve included both recipes so you can decide. Then again, you can always make two smoked salmon pizzas so you don’t have to choose.

Choose one sauce:

Pesto Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
1 Tablespoon Parmesan Reggiano

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened.

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

In a saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.

Coarse cornmeal for pizza pan
1 (12 inch) pizza crust brushed with olive oil (See notes below)
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 to 1 ½ cups smoked salmon
1 cup chopped leeks, separated into rings (see notes for cleaning)
1/4th cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Dried red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Sprinkle of garlic onion powder, coarse salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

2. Meanwhile brush a 12 inch pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle dough with a pinch of onion powder and dried pepper flakes.

3. Spoon the cream sauce around the dough, top with mozzarella and gruyere. Top with the leeks, smoked salmon, Parmesan Reggiano and a pinch of coarse salt and fresh crack pepper. Drizzle the pizza with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

4. Set on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until done. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

5. Cut into wedges and serve.

1. See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

2. If you’ve never cleaned leeks before, there is an instructional video at:

3. Onion slices work well in the place of leeks.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Friday, April 24, 2009

Raspberry Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream

Crazy things like this happen when I get a hold of prepared sugar cookie dough.

Cookie Ingredients
2 (16.5 ounce) tubes refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 (3 ounce) package Raspberry Jell-O

Lemon Cream Filling Ingredients
1 (2 pound) bag powdered sugar, reserve 1 cup in a separate bowl
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, well softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 small to medium lemon
Juice of 1 small to medium lemon
2 Tablespoons milk, plus more if needed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a mixer combine sugar cookie dough and the package of Jell-O. With a size 60 cookie scoop (small 2 teaspoon size), scoop the dough onto the parchment 2 inches apart. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes until lightly brown around the edges. Let sit on the cookie sheets for 4 minutes and move to a cooling rack and cool completely.

3. Mix all of the Lemon Cream Filling ingredients together with a mixer and beat slowly at first, then on medium high until fluffy. About 3 or 4 minutes. Add more milk if needed.

4. Pipe or spread the frosting mixture onto the underside of a cookie. Top with another cookie and repeat with the rest of the batch. Next, with a fine mesh strainer, sprinkle some of the reserved powdered sugar over the top of the cookies. Store in a covered container.

Makes about 32 sandwich cookies.

Notes: These cookies are even better after they set up overnight.

Recipe by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Penne in Sweet Potato Cream Sauce with Bacon

This pasta is a personal favorite of mine and I hope you'll give it a try. I created the recipe for a canned sweet potato competition, and although I didn't win the prize, I walked away triumphant because now I have this easy, lip smacking, addictive recipe in my arsenal.

The recipe uses the grill, microwave, and stove stop. Don’t let that stop you though, it comes together quickly and is well worth the extra steps. The pasta has a wonderful balance of sweetness from the sweet potatoes, onions, and peas; creamy from the butter and half and half; and salty and smoky from the parmesan, bacon, and char on the onions.

1 LB penne pasta
9 slices thick sliced Bacon
2 Medium sized yellow or sweet onions, plus olive oil for coating
1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter
1 (15oz) can sweet potatoes in light syrup
1 cup half & half
1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 teaspoon sea salt
Grated fresh nutmeg, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen green peas

Prep Work
Onions: Turn on the BBQ to medium high heat. Slice the ends off the onions and slice in half from the top. Discard outer skin. Cut each half into 4 slices. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Toss to coat. Lay onions on the BBQ and cook until grill marks form, turn and repeat. This takes about 10 minutes.

Bacon: Line a plate with paper towels. Place strips of bacon in a single layer on the plate and cover with another paper towel. Microwave on high heat about three minutes per side turning once cooking until crispy. Pat grease from bacon. Repeat with the rest of the Bacon. Break bacon with your hands into pieces.

Cooking instructions
Cook pasta according to package directions adding salt to the water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, strain and set aside.While pasta cooks melt butter in a large saucepan on medium high heat, add sweet potatoes with juice. Bring to a boil and reduce sauce until thickened (about 8 minutes) stirring often and breaking sweet potatoes up with the back of a spoon.

Turn temperature to medium low and add half and half, let warm and reduce for about 4 minutes stiring frequently. Add parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and fresh grated nutmeg; stir together and remove from heat.

Pour pasta, sauce, peas, bacon (reserve some for garnish), and grilled onion slices into a large serving bowl. Toss to coat and add pasta water a bit at a time if needed to make creamy. Serve immediately.

Serves about 6

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grilled Potato, Asparagus, & Lemony Goat Cheese Pizza

As a photographer I always eat with my eyes first. I’m captivated by texture, color, shape, movement, composition, and light. So, when I found a picture in the May 2009 volume of Bon Appétit of a white pizza with asparagus and fingerling potatoes, I wanted to make it right away. Alas, things didn’t turn out as well as pictured. I was a bit disappointed in the recipe as it lacked what many white pizzas do, acidity. I still like their concept, but have created a more balanced pizza from this gorgeous idea.

Coarse cornmeal for pizza pan
1 12 inch stretched pizza dough on a pan (See note below)
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces fingerling potatoes
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup grated whole milk mozzarella
3 to 4 ounces lemon goat cheese, crumbled
8 ounces asparagus, rough ends snapped off
Drizzle of olive oil for asparagus
3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano
Garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes (optional), salt & fresh cracked pepper
Juice of half a small lemon

1. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

2. Scrub the potatoes and place them in a sauce pan. Add water until covered by about an inch. Heavily salt the water and cook on medium high until easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the water and set aside.

3. Place the asparagus on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Cook on the grill until light char marks form. Remove and set aside.

4. Brush a 12 inch pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush with 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with minced garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes.

5. Cut the asparagus into three parts and slice the potatoes.

6. Layer on half the scallions, the mozzarella, potatoes, lemon goat cheese, asparagus, the rest of the scallions, Parmesan Reggiano, and a good pinch of salt & fresh cracked pepper.

7. Set the pizza on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

8. Drizzle with lemon juice and cut into wedges.

Note: See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

This is my entry for May's Potato Ho Down. It's being hosted this month by Cathy from Noble Pig.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Penne with Pesto Cream Sauce & Sautéed Vegetables

When I arrived home from a weekend trip, I discovered that my vegetables were on their last legs, and my pesto cream sauce needed to be used ASAP! Well, I also wasn’t feeling very inspired, so everything went into this pasta dish. In spite of this, I am happy to report that it turned out quite well, and the sauce was surprisingly light and wonderful for the warm spring evening.

Pesto Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
1 Tablespoon Parmesan Reggiano

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Set aside.

Pasta Instructions
17.6 ounce (500g) bag penne pasta
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Asparagus, rough ends removed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 ½ cups chopped leeks (See notes for cleaning)
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup reserved pasta water
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano

Cook penne pasta according to package directions in heavily salted water. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water toward the end of cooking, then strain the pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat until shiny. Add the garlic and sauté for about 10 seconds. Then put in the asparagus and a pinch of salt & pepper and cook for 1 minute. Next, add the leeks and heat until softened slightly and warmed through, stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the fresh tomatoes. Stir to combine.

In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, vegetable mixture, pesto cream sauce, reserved pasta water, ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt, lots of fresh cracked pepper to taste, and the Parmesan Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Notes: If you’ve never cleaned leeks before, there is an instructional video at:

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chile Verde Pizza on the Grill

As I begin writing out my pizza recipes I couldn’t resist tackling one of my favorites. This Chile Verde style pizza is one of those pies we start eating and all we’re able to say is, “Mmmmm”, until every last bite is polished off. I assume leftovers would be good too, but I’ve yet to have any to try.

There will be some leftover Chile Verde. I suggest making another pizza, pouring it over nachos, or just eat it straight out of a bowl.

Coarse cornmeal for pizza pan
1 (12 inch) pizza crust brushed with olive oil (See note below)
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 can Juanita’s Chile Verde Pork and Green Chile sauce, reserve 1/4th cup sauce.
1/4th cup sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded white or yellow cheddar
1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced black olives
About ½ cup sliced onions
1/3 cup jarred deli-sliced jalapeno peppers

1. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

2. Cover a plate with two paper towels and place the chopped tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside for 15 minutes. Press the liquid out with another paper towel and set aside.

3. Cook the Chili Verde in a saucepan until warmed through. Reserve 1/4th cup of the sauce before cooking.

4. Meanwhile brush a 12 inch pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush lightly with olive oil.

5. Mix together 1/4th cup sour cream and 1/4th cup Chile Verde sauce. Spoon the sauce around the dough, top with mozzarella and cheddar. With a slotted spoon, place as much pork from the Chile Verde onto the pizza as desired. Next, drizzle on about 1/3rd cup or more of the sauce to taste. Top with the onions, sliced olives, and jalapeno slices.

6. Set the pizza on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

7. Wait about 5 minutes and cut into wedges.

Note: See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hershey’s Chocolate Mousse-Filled Cream Puffs

My family is fond of this recipe from Hershey’s Kitchens. My husband even chose to take these chocolaty pastries to share with his coworkers instead of birthday cake! Those of you who believe cream puffs must be difficult to make will be surprised that the only real predicament you may run into, is keeping your paws off the entire batch.

I made the puffs smaller than the recipe states, and watched the oven until they were light golden brown. I imagine bigger might be better when it comes to hogging my own cream puff, and will make them full size next time.

Chocolate Mousse
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 cup (1/2 pt.) cold whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small cup; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool slightly.

2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended. Store in the refrigerator while you make the pastry.

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease cookie sheet.

2. Combine water, butter and salt in medium saucepan; cook to boiling, stirring until butter melts. Add flour all at once; stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture leaves the side of pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with spoon after each addition until smooth. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons into 6 mounds, 3 inches apart, onto prepared cookie sheet.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Horizontally slice small portion from top of puffs; set tops aside. Remove and discard any soft dough from inside puffs. Cool completely. Fill puffs with the chocolate mousse; replace tops. Refrigerate about 1 hour and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar just before serving.

Makes about 6 puffs.

This recipe belongs to the Hershey’s Kitchen. You can find many more free Hershey’s recipes at

Picture and write-up by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Three Cream Sauces for Pizza; Pesto Cream, Garlic Cream, & Alfredo

The sauce on the left is Pesto Cream, the one on the right is Garlic Cream, and the Alfredo is pictured below. All three pizza sauces are quick to throw together and have better flavor than store bought. Besides, if you make your own you get to brag!

Each of these recipes will cover one 12” to 14” pizza and yields between 1/3 and ½ cup sauce.

Pesto Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
1 Tablespoon Parmesan Reggiano

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened.

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

In a saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.

Alfredo Cream Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened.

Notes: Sauces will thicken considerably upon cooling. It’s better to error on the side of slightly thin than too thick.

Recipes by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mojito Butterfly Cookies

Last summer, my friend Miriam and I sat around on a warmly lit porch and enjoyed refreshing mojito drinks once a week. These cookies were inspired by those beautiful nights and fun conversations. I used a stencil cookie cutter to cut out the butterflies. Of course you can use any shape cutter you prefer.

This dough requires some chilling.

1/4th cup mint leaves, not packed
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lime extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4th teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a food processor blend until fluffy mint leaves, zest of lemon and limes, lemon and lime extracts, butter, sugar, and salt.

2. Next pulse together egg, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add the flour and pulse until just mixed, be careful not to over mix.

3. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for one hour or more.

4. Set the oven rack in the middle and preheat to 350 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

5. Roll out the dough in small batches to 1/8th inch thick. Cut out with a cookie cutter and place on the parchment.

6. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.

7. Let rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.Makes about 23 cookies depending on size.

1. Cooking time may need to be adjusted for smaller or bigger cookies. These cookies are 3 inches long and wide.

2. If you don't have lime extract, try adding the zest of an additional lime.

Recipe by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Idaho Breakfast: Potato Yeast Doughnuts

My husband, the great doughnut consumer, walked up to me in a bookstore with a huge cheshire grin on his face and the book “Doughnuts” by Dorian Leigh Parker. I took that as a hint and bought the book. Inside are some historic recipes, including one from our true First Lady, Martha Washington.

Since we live in Idaho I had to try the potato doughnuts first. Making the dough the night before and letting it slowly rise in the refrigerator made for a much quicker Saturday morning doughnut feast. I’ve also added some extra coating options to the recipe.

2 packages of dry yeast or two heaping teaspoons bulk dry yeast.
½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 cups milk
½ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
Pinch of Salt
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes
3 ½ cups unbleached flour (or more if necessary)
Vegetable oil for frying

Coating options, mix into bowls:
1. 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2. Powdered sugar
3. 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
4. 1 cup sugar and a small dash of real vanilla extract

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to dissolve. Scald the milk in a heavy saucepan and remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, oil, and salt. Cool, and then add this to the yeast mixture.

In a medium bowl blend the eggs into the potatoes until smooth. Wisk this into the milk mixture, then slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time, beating thoroughly by hand or by mixer. When it comes to a smooth dough, add additional flour slowly, mix in with a wooden spoon until the dough is thick enough to support the spoon upright, but not too stiff. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let double in size. Let double in a warm draft-free place for about an hour. Alternately, the dough can be refrigerated where it can rise overnight.

Punch the dough down and turn out into a well floured surface. Cover with towel and let rest until doubled again, about one hour. It will take about 1 ½ hours is it has been refrigerated.

Divide the dough in half, and to roll one half out to a ½ inch thickness. With a floured doughnut cutter, cut out rings. Repeat with the remaining dough, either incorporating the holes or keeping them to fry separately. Continue rerolling and cutting until all the dough is used up.

Fill a deep pan no more than half way with oil, at least 2 inches, and bring to 375 degrees over moderate heat. (I use a deep fryer for this). Slide each doughnut into the oil with a metal spatula, cooking two or three at a time. Turn with a slotted spoon after about 1 ½ minutes. (I found it takes much less time than this.) Cook doughnuts until light golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the excess oil to drain back into the pan, and then drain the doughnuts on paper towels.

Coat doughnuts thoroughly in the coating of your choice.

This recipe is my entry for the April Potato Ho Down. It's being hosted this month by Donalyn from Dlynz.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grilled Pineapple Rings

Steaming pineapple rings hot off the grill are a juicy treat. I used nested fluted cookie cutters to make these pretty rings, but feel free to cut the pineapple any way you’d like.

1 large ripe pineapple
3 Tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon honey, warmed
Small pinch of salt

Preheat the grill to high.

Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Place on the pineapple on its side and cut into 1 inch thick rounds. Using small and large round cutters core the pineapple and trim the edges.

In a small bowl, mix together butter, honey, & salt. Brush both sides of the pineapple rings with glaze.

Place pineapple wedges on the grill and cook until grill marks form. Turn rings over and repeat.

1. Pineapple will get mushy if cooked too long. Just sear and warm through.
2. 1 teaspoon brown sugar can be substituted for honey.

Recipe by Laura Flowers.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sweet Potato Bird of Happiness

Once you capture the elusive Sweet Potato Bird of Happiness, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub him clean (they really are quite dirty creatures), rub him in olive oil, place him on a foil lined baking sheet, and cook for 1 hour until pierced easily with a knife.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, and salt, or any number of delicious ways.

Picture by Laura Flowers

Obscure Quilting Lady Sweet Potato Mini Muffins

This sweet potato muffin recipe arrived by the way of my mother’s elderly quilting client, at a Wednesday potluck, with only an ingredient list. So maybe we don’t know the exact origin, and I guessed at the baking technique. All the same, these are scrumptious, especially with a little maple butter. That we do know!

There are two parts to this recipe. The first is to roast the sweet potato in the oven. The second is the assembly of the mini muffins, which I’ve written for the food processor.

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon sized chunk of fresh ginger, skin removed
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (10 ounces by weight) roasted sweet potato
1 egg
1 teaspoon orange zest
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour

Place the baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Wash, pat dry and rub the sweet potato with olive oil. Place on the baking sheet and roast for 60 minutes or until a knife pierces through easily. Let cool. Cut off tips and peel the skin off. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter two 24 cup mini muffin tins, set aside. (See notes below for dark colored tins.)

In a food processor puree butter, ginger chunk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt together until fluffy. Next add and puree the sweet potato, egg, orange zest, buttermilk, and baking soda. Add the flour and pulse until just combined being careful not to over mix.

With a standard (size 50) cookie scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin tins. Bake one tin at a time for 10 to 12 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from muffin tins after 1 minute. Serve warm or allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Makes approximately 48 muffins.

Maple Butter
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4th cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Place in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until well mixed.

1. Yams and sweet potatoes are interchangeable in this recipe.
2. For regular sized muffins, bake 15 to 18 minutes.
3. If using dark colored muffin tins, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Recipe by an obscure elderly quilting lady in Northern Idaho and myself, Laura Flowers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sneaky Snickers Cookies

Inside each one of these mildly peanut butter flavored cookies is a gooey surprise. I’ve attempted to perfect their texture by creaming the viscous peanut butter mixture in a food processor, before transferring to a stand mixer for the final addition of flour. If you don’t have a food processor you can do everything in a stand mixer, just make sure you spend some extra time creaming the butter, peanut butter, and sugars together.

This dough does require some chilling. I thought I’d warn you before you got started.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 cup creamy peanut butter (Jiff)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 (11.5 ounce) bags Snickers Miniatures (Half a bag is for snacking during cooking making.)

1. In a food processor, process together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Scrap the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs and baking soda and pulse to combine.

2. Transfer to a stand mixer, add the flour and beat until just incorporated. Don’t over mix.

3. Wrap the dough in wax paper and store in a covered container. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more before baking.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Unwrap 52 mini Snickers bars. Then with a standard cookie scoop (size 50), scoop the dough into your hand. Press the dough together and flatten. Place a Snickers bar in the center of the dough and push the dough around to seal.

6. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for about 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

1. If your Snickers are not super fresh, try smashing them down a little before pressing in the dough so a tell tale candy bar mark doesn't show through. Or even better you can very lightly press the cookies with the flat bottom of a glass right after they come out of the oven.

2. If your dough is too crumbly try spritzing your hands with a bit of water to moisten the dough as you roll each ball of dough.

Makes 52 cookies.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Moist coconut macaroons that look like little nests with an egg inside. The instructions may look a bit long, but this is an easy cookie to make.

2 egg whites, at room temperature
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1/4th teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 ounce) bag sweetened coconut flakes. (I used Mounds)
16 to 18 white chocolate Lindt Lindor balls (2 bags)

1. Move the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Separate eggs, put the egg whites in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Save the yolks for something else. Set aside.

3. Microwave hazelnuts on high in a small bowl two times for 30 seconds each time. Stir in between cooking times. Immediately rub together in a paper towel to remove a little of the excess skin. Leave most of the skin on. Chop coarsely and set aside.

4. Melt baking chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave on high 30 seconds at a time. Stir after each stop until melted. Set aside.

5. With a hand mixer or stand mixer beat the egg whites on high until stiff and glossy. Add the salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate. Beat until mixed. Stir in the coconut and hazelnuts.

6. Scoop into mounds with a small (size 24) ice-cream scoop or a 1/4th cup dry measuring cup. Place on cookie sheets and make an indent in the middle with your thumb.

7. Place both cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Switch the cookies to the opposite shelf halfway through baking. This will prevent overbrowning. Meanwhile unwrap the candy.

8. Immediately move cookies to a cooling rack and set a timer for exactly 5 minutes (and see notes). Working quickly, set the Lindt balls on top of the cookies. Let cool completely. The Lindt balls may drip a little so you may want to place a sheet of parchment underneath the cookies.

Notes: These cookies need to be just warm enough for the Lindt balls to stick, but if the cookies are too warm the white chocolate will melt into goo. Check and place the Lindt balls on the cookies when they are just slightly warm to the touch, but not hot.

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Bacon

The first barbecue chicken pizza was introduced by the California Pizza Kitchen in 1985. It exploded in popularity in the 1990s with copycats, had a good long run at celebrity, and then quietly slipped off most pizza menus. This isn’t CPK’s recipe, but instead my bacon bastardization of this delicious pizza.

Coarse cornmeal for pizza pan
1 (12 inch) pizza crust brushed with olive oil (See note below)
1/3 cup Stubbs BBQ sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 ½ cups shredded provolone
1 small cooked chicken breast, shredded (I buy one from my deli to save time)
4 slices thick cut bacon
¼ cup chopped fresh scallions
1/4th cup parmesan cheese (not the dry kind)
Dried red pepper flakes to taste
Sprinkle of garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper
More barbecue sauce for drizzling

1. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

2. Cover a plate with two paper towels, layer on the bacon, and then cover with another paper towel. Microwave for three minutes. Carefully flip the bacon over and microwave for another three minutes or until crispy. Pat off grease and cut into bite sized pieces.

3. Meanwhile brush a 12 inch pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush lightly with olive oil.

4. Spoon 1/3 cup barbecue sauce around the dough, top with mozzarella and provolone. Top with shredded chicken, bacon, scallions, and parmesan. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

5. Set on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until done. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

6. Drizzle with more barbecue sauce and cut into wedges.

Note: See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fancy Pants Pressed Ham, Egg & Cheese Sandwich

Sandwich construction around here usually starts off like Dagwood out of a Blondie comic. I pull everything useable out of the fridge and start throwing ingredients together. This sandwich is no exception, and it came together rather resembling a croque madam. If the croque madam lived in America that is!

4 slices garlic stuffed French bread
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices ham
1 hardboiled egg, peeled and sliced
A few spinach leaves
Salt & pepper

Warm up a sandwich press or nonstick frying pan to medium high heat.

Mean while mix together Dijon and mayonnaise. Then brush the outsides of the bread with melted butter, and insides with the Dijon mixture. Break the Swiss cheese in half and place on the inside of each bread slice. Top two halves with ham, egg slices, salt, pepper, and spinach. Top with the second slice of bread and cheese. Press or grill until golden.

Serves 2

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spaghetti All’Ubriaco (Drunken Spaghetti)

Curiosity drove me to this recipe from Babbo pastry chef Gina DePalma. It was on the top of for several days before I caved and cooked up this purple hued pasta. There were some very excited reactions about this dish, maybe due to the splurge of two bottles of wine needed just to boil the pasta! Whatever it is, this dish is quite simple, but elegant too.

2 quarts water
2 quarts inexpensive (but tasty and drinkable) red wine, plus ½ cup for the pan (2 bottles)
1 lb. thick spaghetti or linguine
2 fat cloves of garlic, or four small cloves
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Peperoncino, or dried red pepper flakes to taste, optional (I used 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup chopped, flat-leaf Italian parsley (I used 2 Tablespoons dried)
Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (I shaved it over the top)

1. Add the water and red wine to a 6-quart stock pot and place it over medium-high heat. Season the liquid generously with kosher salt and cover the pot to bring it to a boil.

2. In the meantime, peel the garlic and slice it. Place the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to fit the pasta and place it over low heat to slowly melt the butter.

3. When the water and wine come to a boil, add your spaghetti; stirring as needed to engulf the pasta in the liquid. As the spaghetti cooks, stir it often to prevent it from sticking.

4. Add the garlic to the pan and wait for it to come to a sizzle. Add the optional peperoncino for some heat, if you like and stir the garlic, keeping the heat low to prevent it from scorching.

5. When the garlic is toasted pale and sizzling, add the additional ½ cup of red wine and a generous splash of the pasta cooking water to the pan and turn up the heat until the liquid simmers.

6. Test the spaghetti for doneness; when it is al dente, transfer it to the sauté pan along with the parsley. Keep cooking the spaghetti in the juices, tossing and shaking the pan until the liquid is absorbed.

7. Serve immediately on warm plates. The pasta is delicious without grated cheese, but you can grate a bit of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top if you like.

Serves 4

Notes: Next time I'll throw in some grilled vegetables.

Recipe belongs to Babbo pastry chef Gina DePalma. Picture and write-up by Laura Flowers.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Grilled Brussels Sprouts Smoky & Sweet

Love them or hate them most people agree anything tastes better barbecued. Brussels Sprouts, being the tough little creatures they are, need a little precooking before ceremoniously charring. This recipe softens them in the microwave before giving them their beautiful blackened grill marks and smoky sweet flavor.

1 lb brussels sprouts
1/4th cup water
1/4th cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons Grey Poupon Country Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste (I prefer a lot.)

Turn the grill on medium high.

Rinse the Brussels sprouts. Then cut the stem off, mark a ¼ inch X into the base of each sprout, pull off the dark green outer leaves, and cut in half. Place in a medium sized bowl with 1/4th cup water while prepping.

Place the bowl in a microwave and cover with a paper towel. Cook for 4 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl mix together olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper.

Carefully remove the Brussels sprouts from the microwave. Pour the sauce on top of the sprouts and toss to coat. Place on the grill with tongs and keep the bowl nearby. Turn the sprouts once char marks develop, and then char the other side to taste. Place the sprouts back into the bowl.

Toss gently to coat with the remaining sauce on the bottom of the bowl. Serve Hot.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Glazed Pie

I ate my first “slice” of strawberry glazed pie as a California kid enjoying strawberry season. I might be a thousand miles away now, but this is still the first pie I want to make when the spring strawberries make their way north.

This pie doesn’t cut well so it’s best just to give up, serve in a bowl, and realize it’s all about the pure strawberry experience.

8 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
10 drops red food coloring
1 baked 9" pie shell or graham cracker crust (The baked shell holds up a bit better.)

1. Rinse strawberries, twist off the leafy tops, and hull out the cores with a strawberry huller. Set aside in a large bowl.

2. In a blender or food processor puree 1 cup of the strawberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, water and salt until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and heat to a boil stirring frequently. Once it comes to a boil stir constantly until thickened. About 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat and add the butter and food coloring. Stir until the butter is melted.

4. Pour the hot glaze into the bowl and toss gently to coat the strawberries. Spoon into the pie crust and arrange nicely.

5. Chill if you have the patience to wait for fresh strawberry pie. Whipped cream is optional.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Smoky Cheddar Jalapeno Poppers with Enemy Cheese

A friend of ours had some extra Washington State University Smoky Cheddar so we put it to good use. Being an alma mater of an arch enemy rival school, I might be attacked by Idaho Vandals for my disloyal ways. In spite of this risk I must tell you, if you’ve never had their cheese before you should! WSU’s Cougar Gold is a favorite of mine, and they have several other award winning cheeses. You can order off their site until the warm summer months when cheese can’t be shipped.

1 LB jalapenos (About 16 medium sized ones)
1 cup smoky cheddar, shredded
1 cup sharp white cheddar
1 (8oz) package Cream Cheese
1/4th teaspoon onion powder
1/4th teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper to taste
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup flour salt & pepper to season
2 cups finely ground dry breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

1. Cut the tops off the jalapenos and discard the tops. Cut in half and scrape out seeds and membranes. If you want hotter poppers leave some membrane intact. Pair jalapenos together so you don’t lose track of them.

2. In a medium sized bowl mix the cream cheese, smoky cheddar, onion powder, salt & pepper together with a fork.

3. With a butter knife fill each jalapeno half with cheese mixture. Press the halves back together and scrape off excess cheese.

4. Freeze for 15 minutes. In the meantime heat oil to 360 degrees. Prep the breading station with three bowls. One for the flour, one for the egg and milk and whisk with a fork, and one for the bread crumbs.

5. Dip stuffed jalapenos into the milk, then into the flour especially where the cheese is exposed. Then dip into the milk again and roll well in bread crumbs.

6. Gently drop each jalapeño into the hot oil by holding on end and touching the surface of the oil with the other end. Gently let go and let slide into the oil. Fry about 4 at a time and remove when deep golden brown and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt while still hot.

7. Wait a few minutes before inhaling so you don’t burn your mouth with molten cheese. Dip in ranch dressing if desired.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Friday, April 3, 2009

Let’s Talk Dough, Pizza Dough

I’ve been getting a great deal of questions lately on pizza dough, so this is my attempt to answer. There are two standard pizza crusts I tend to use. One I consider an American Northwestern standard written by Wolfgang Puck, and the other is a slow rising true Italian style dough. The recipe for the Italian pizza comes from Forno Bravo and is typical Italian dough. The only thing up for debate with the Italian style seems to be the amount of yeast. Some recipes want ½ teaspoon while others stick to 1/4 teaspoon. Either way this is dough that needs to rest for 24 hours.

A difference between Italian and American pizza dough is the bite. The bite of the Italian crust is consistently thin but not too thin, crispy on the bottom and a bit soft on top, but not too chewy either, and had more substance per bite. When I was in Italy I noticed that the pizza crusts were all very similar. This makes sense as food is a way of being, a tradition to be held on to and celebrated passionately. I don’t add anything extra, because if I did it wouldn’t be Italian style dough anymore to me.

The American crust can vary greatly as we are a people with fewer strong food roots, and with many different cultures to influence our palates. Our crusts run from the thick and bready Chicago, to the thin New York fare, to California’s innovations, and everything in between and beyond. Being from the Northwest I’m writing about what I know well, the Wolfgang Puck dough style. It’s a bit chewy, and once again not to thin or thick, but can be easily made so if needed. I feel its very adaptable to any herbs, spices, and olive oils I wish to add.

One thing I always do is grill my pizzas. I turn my grill up to high, close the lid and walk away for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile I put my dough on my favorite pizza pans, add the sauce and toppings. Next I put one pan at a time on the grill (unless I’m grilling personal sized pizzas, then they all go on at once), close the lid, turn the heat to medium high, and cook for about 5 minutes. More or less cooking time will be required depending on the size of the pan, the type of the pan, and the crust. For thicker crusts turn the heat to medium after closing the lid and cook for a few minutes longer. This way your pie will cook through without being completely burnt on the bottom.

I have a very strong pizza pan preference. Doughmakers makes my all time favorite pans. They survive my grilling abuse and they cook pizza so well. Here is what they have to say out their product, “The patented pebble surface pressed into each product offers unparalleled baking performance. By providing more space between the surface and the baked good. Doughmakers Brand achieves the pinnacle in evenly baked foods. Combined with all aluminum construction, our products allow for quicker release and shorter cooling times. Cleanup is reduced, as non-stick sprays are not required."

I always brush my pizza pans with a thin coat of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse cornmeal. This is most likely optional, but I love what the cornmeal does to my crust.

Below are the two pizza dough recipes. Both have their place and both are excellent.

Oh yeah, and if you need sauce recipes I've got 'em!

Pizza Sauce Recipes

Zesty Old School Style Pizza Sauce
Pesto Cream Sauce, Garlic Cream Sauce & Alfredo Sauce

American Style Pizza Dough by Wolfgang Puck

(I often add ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon onion powder. This dough is an excellent canvas for creative interpretation.)

1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water (105º F to 115º F)
3 cups all-purpose flour (Use good quality all-purpose or a bread flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Topping of your choice

With this recipe you can make four pizzas, as described below, or you can divide the dough in half and make two large 12- inch pizzas. The baking time will be the same. Chopped fresh basil, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes can be added to the dough with the flour, if desired, for additional flavor. Be creative with your pizzas!

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water.

2. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. (The pizza dough can also be made in a food processor. Dissolve the yeast as above. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice, add the remaining ingredients, and process until the dough begins to form a ball.)

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled.)

4. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500º F.

5. Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

6. To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle, with outer border a little thicker than the inner circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough. Lightly brush the inner circle of the dough with oil and arrange the toppings of your choice over the inner circle.

7. Using a lightly floured baker’s peel or a rimless flat baking tray, slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza into and out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.

Notes: I've found that getting all the kneading out of the way before it rises, then dividing the dough in half and just pressing them out (without more kneading) with the edge of my palms and my fingers makes a better crust than rolling out the dough.

Authentic Vera Pizza Napoletana Dough from Forno Bravo

(This should rise slowly in the refrigerator for about 24 hours even though it states differently. Bring to room temperature before using.)

By Volume
4 cups Molino Caputo Tipo 00 flour
1 ½ cups, plus 2 TBL water
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry active yeast

By Weight
500gr Molino Caputo Tipo 00 flour
325gr water (65% hydration)
10gr salt
3gr active dry yeast

We highly recommend cooking by weight. It is fast, and easy to get the exact hydration (water to flour ratio) and dough ball size you want. Personally, I do not use recipes or a mixing cup when I cook dinner for the family, but pizza and bread dough is different. Being exact counts and nothing works better than a digital scale.

Mix the dough in a stand mixer, by hand or in a bread machine. If you are using a stand mixer, mix it slowly for two minutes, faster for 5 minutes, and slow again for 2 minutes.

Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until double. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles. Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into 4-5 equal pieces.

To make your pizza balls, shape each piece of dough into a ball. Gently roll your dough into a ball, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball, until the outer layer wraps around the other side. Pinch the two ends together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer "skin." Set your ball seam-side down where it can rest. Dust your pizza balls with flour, and store them under a damp towel, in a proofing tray, or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza ball should be soft and silky.

Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily stretched into a thin crust pizza.

If you won't need your dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it until you are ready to start.

If you won't have an hour to let your dough rest, read our Dough in a Hurry strategy. By cutting back each phase of dough preparation by the right amount, you can make great pizza or focaccia dough in as little as an hour.

1. I always end up adding more flour to the Forno Bravo Italian style dough to make it workable. If I don't it sticks to everything. I want it tacky, but not so much so that I can't get it off my hands.

2. I use high quality all-purpose flour or bread flour if I don't have 00 flour around.

Pictures and writeup by Laura Flowers. These are my personal thoughts on pizza and may or may not be fact. Instead they are how I see pizza dough from Northern Idaho, through my travel experiences, and many hours of making pizzas.

Dough recipes belong to Wolfgang Puck and Forno Bravo
. Sauce recipes & pictures by Laura Flowers.

The Tasty Black-eyed Pea and Sausage Discovery

It’s the beginning of April and snowing like a beautiful Christmas morning up here in Northern Idaho. This leaves me slightly grumpy and without a strong desire to cook. So I tossed what I had lying around into a crock-pot, and then left my kitchen to dream of Arizona and riding my Vespa in the sun. The grilled onion and bell pepper really make this dish, so grill if you can. Serve with some good bread and beer.

I always have roasted vegetables ready because I’m the crazy lady out grilling in knee deep snow with rubber boots and an apron on. If you don’t usually grill everything you own, I included instructions for barbecuing the vegetables.

4 hot dog length precooked sausages, sliced thinly
1 grilled small to medium sized onion
1 roasted bell pepper
1 (4 ounce) can fire roasted green chilies (mild or hot, your choice)
1 (12 ounce) beer (drink a second beer while assembling)
3 (15 ounce cans) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil for grilling vegetables

For grilling veggies, prep ahead of time:
Heat your grill to medium high. Cut the ends of an onion off, cut in half, and in half again and rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Rub the bell pepper in olive oil and salt and place both on the grill turning occasionally.

Pull the onions off the grill when they are softened with some charred spot in places. Blacken the bell pepper all over and remove from the grill. Place the bell peppers in a paper bag and put the bag in a bowl. Staple the bag shut. Let steam in the bag until cool. Remove the skin and seeds.

Cooking instructions:
Chop the onion and bell pepper and put everything into a slow cooker. Stir and cook on low heat for about 5 to 6 hours or on high for 3 to 4. Check occasionally to see if a little liquid needs to be added. If so beer, water, or broth works well.

Serves 3 to 4, or one very hungry Cooking Photographer.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fingerling Potato Salad with Corned Beef & Artichokes

I adapted this excellent recipe from MountainKing the fingerling potato company. We just couldn't stop eating it, and it looks so pretty too!

1 LB Assorted Fingerling Potatoes, washed 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon dried dill
4 Ounces marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
3 Ounces corned beef, chopped
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Cut fingerling potatoes into 1 inch slices and boil until soft, approximately 12 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.

2. While fingerling potatoes are hot, sprinkle with rice vinegar.

3. Meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Toss in potatoes and mix gently. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 3 or 4
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Impatiently Waiting for Summer Cherry Crumble Bars

While cherry season is still three months away I am craving the fresh fruit of summer. These pretty bars help sustain me until the day I can finally eat glorious plump cherries fresh off a tree.

Cookie base and topping
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
1/4th teaspoon almond extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup sliced almonds (Reserve for topping)

2 cups frozen cherries
3/4th cups sugar
3 Tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

1/3 cup powdered sugar or more if needed, whisked or sifted
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4th teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil and grease lightly with vegetable or olive oil.

In a food processor add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and process to fluff and combine. Add almond paste and almond extract and pulse to combine. Add cold butter pieces and pulse until crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the mixture and set aside for topping.

Put the rest of the mixture into the pan, spread out evenly, and press with the bottom of a measuring cup to make a crust. Bake for 15-17 minutes until crust starts to brown slightly around the edges. Remove and leave the oven on.

Meanwhile dump all the filling ingredients into a saucepan and cook on medium high heat until thickened some and translucent. About 8 to 10 minutes. Spread the filling over the crust.

Sprinkle the top with the reserved crumb mixture and top with the sliced almonds. Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes or until the filling bubbles and the top is golden. Let cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.

Whisk or beat the icing ingredients together, drizzle over bars.

Hint: To easily remove bars from the pan freeze for 30 minutes and lift out by the foil edges. Peel off foil and cut into squares or diamonds.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lemon-Lavender Shortbread and a Giggle

This cookie was born from a special request. One day my husband came home from work and said that Randy, the city attorney, requested a cookie with lavender. After I giggled for awhile I got to work. As it turned out he was right. This cookie is so good I’ll never laugh at him again! Ok, maybe a little laugh.

This recipe uses a food processer to create these beautiful cookies with little fuss. They are so easy you might find yourself making them often to use up all that lavender you had to buy!

2/3 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
Raw sugar for rolling

Add the butter and sugar to the food processer bowl and mix until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the salt, lavender, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and vanilla extract and pulse until combined and the lavender is chopped scraping down the bowl as needed, about 20 seconds. Add the flour and pulse until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead a couple of times to combine. Cut dough in half and form into rectangle logs about an inch long and 3/4th inches wide. Cut two pieces of wax paper to form around logs, pour raw sugar onto the wax papers and press the logs into the sugar forming the dough into shape as you press. Roll the wax paper around the logs and freeze until solid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Let the logs rest on the counter for about 15 minutes before cutting. Take a sharp knife and slice ¼ inch thick. Place an inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 17 to 20 minutes until golden around the edges. Let set one minute and transfer to a cooling rack.

Think ahead: Shortbread logs can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Related Posts with Thumbnails