Pear and Gorgonzola Cheese Pizza

I did it again. Something sweet and salty! I’m sorry… I have SUCH AN ADDICTION! But let me also give my defense and say that Trader Joes stopped making (or supplying in my area??) their pear and Gorgonzola pizza. And I have been craving it for a longggg time. Other than CPK, I don’t think I know of a place that makes a pear and Gorgonzola pizza anymore, which makes it really hard on me when I have cravings. So, I just made it myself.

1 pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
1 pear
1/2 pound or 8 ounces Gorgonzola Cheese
1 red onion slice
olive oil
Arugula (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay corn meal on your pizza stone and stretch it out to the desired width and shape. I have begun to realize that “circle” doesn’t really exist when making homemade pizza. Its more of an oblong round shape, but I think it gives it character.

Cornmeal is a must to prevent sticking

This pizza is super simple, and only has a few ingredients making it easy to do. The next thing you want to accomplish is the crumbling of the blue cheese. I do not recommend getting precrumbled cheese as it tends to be dry. Getting a hunk of cheese and crumbling it yourself leaves moisture and allows for a better melty cheese experience.

It’s always nice when you have someone helping you in the kitchen :)

You want to cut the pears last as they tend to brown. But first, take your one pear and peel it. Make sure to just get the skin of the pear. You do not want to have to throw away chunks of the pear meat.

Cut the pear in half. Take one half of the pear and start slicing it into half circles. Essentially, start at the shortest end of the pear and work your way back slicing. Each slice should be between 1/6 and 1/4 of an inch.

Lastly, take the ring of red onion and slice it in half. The red onion is there to add a little bit of color and texture. Red onion will also get sweet when cooked, adding another dimension to the pizza. But we only use a little so as to not over power the dish.

Once all your pear and onions are sliced, it is time to layer on the pizza. Yes, this pizza has NO BASE. The cheese with thoroughly coat the pizza and you will not need a base. Just trust me on this. First, start with the pear. Layer it around the pizza dough nicely.

Drizzle the top with good olive oil.

Next, add the red onions. Lastly, cover every last corner of the pizza in the Gorgonzola cheese.

Drizzle the top again with a little more olive oil.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-13 minutes. Once you pull it out of the oven, let it cool for about 3-5 minutes. This gives the cheese a chance to set up and not slide everywhere once you start slicing.

You can either serve this pizza as is in slices……..

…. or top it with a handful of Arugula, which compliments the pizza very well. Jacob opted for the pizza alone, and I added Arugula to mine.

Delicious!!! This pizza reheats very well too, and is also good at room temperature. Enjoy!!!

Turkey Bacon BLT with Mission Figs and Heirloom Tomato

I spent my morning treating my dog to an excursion at the dog park while I did homework. He was the cutest little pup running around and made another girlfriend named Kai. Such a ladies man. Deciding that I was #1 mommy this morning, lunch time was my treat time. I had already agreed upon busting out this applewood smoked turkey bacon I had got from Trader Joes. But, upon running out of mayo and having to get another jar from the cupboard, I saw them. My figs. My dried black mission figs. And then it hit me.

If you haven’t noticed a theme by now, I ADORE (!!!!) salty and sweet together. It might be somewhat of a problem. But think about it; what better way to make your palette dance around in joy than to give it multiple sensations. Turkey bacon and figs? Cmon. It was a no brainer!

2 slices favorite bread, toasted
3 pieces Turkey Bacon
3 Dried Mission Figs
1 small- medium Heirloom Tomato
1 red onion round, sliced on the thinner side
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 handful arugula
2 toothpicks

Start by making sure yout bread is toasting and that your bacon has been crisped. I just turn my pan on medium high, place the turkey bacon in it for a minute or two on each side, and get it crispy.

Next, take your figs and slice them into strips. Cut a slice off of your red onion, and slice up the Heirloom tomato. Set aside

Once your toast is done, lay it onyour plate and apply the mayonnaise onto both sides. On one side, lay out the figs. Than with your knife, smash the figs onto the bottom half of the bread, tryign to get it to every corner of the toast.

Now, its time to start building. First, start by laying out the onion rings on top of the figs. Next, add the Heirloom tomato.

Cut your bacon slices in half (you should have 6 halves) and place on top of the tomato.

Lastly, add the handful arugula and place the other piece of toast on top.

Place 2 two toothpicks in the sandwich to secure it in place. Slice in half.

All thats left to do it eat!! Enjoy :)

Candied Mango and Mint Popcorn Squares

This is what happens when you come home and crave something sweet… you make popcorn bars. Trust me, they are worth it. And so delicious. But make sure you only eat one if you can…. oh k maybe two…. three??
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 canola oil
1/2 cup dried candied mango, diced
1/4 cup roughly chopped mint
1 cup cornnuts, salted
4 tbs butter, unsalted
2 cups marshmallows
Start by making your popcorn. If you don’t usually make popcorn from scratch, you should. Its really easy and a lot healthier for you. Take a medium sized pot and pour the oil into it. Next, add the corn kernels. Cover with a lid. Once the popping stops, your popcorn is done.


Add the popcorn to a large bowl. Lightly salt it. Next, toss in the diced mango.

Add the chopped mint and the cornnuts. Mix thoroughly.

Once the dry ingredients are done and set aside, add the butter to the same pot you popped the corn in. Melt it all the way, then add the marshmallows on top.

Stir until the marshmallows are 90% melted down. I do like a few chunks in my popcorn squares. Once melted, pour over the popcorn.

Stir the mixture around quickly, making sure every popcorn kernel has a little bit of everything attached to it.

Next, form into a large rectangle, and then get into squares. And most importantly, enjoy :)

800 Degrees Pizza

My friend Desiree who works with me at UCLA, and has her own blog Bundts of Steel, has talked about this new pizza place that opened up in Westwood CA a number of times, and I finally went with her on Friday. It is amazing. Its sort of the concept of Subway, where you stand in line, pick you base, choose the add ons, and in a few short minutes get your meal. But instead of being low quality sandwiches, 800 Degrees Pizza is excellent quality, high end ingredient, pizza. PIZZA. Made to order and cooked in 60 seconds. Phenominal.

When you look at the menu, you notice things like prosciutto, rock shrimp, and truffles. Or how about a list of cheese that include Fontina, Smoked Provalone, and a Fresh Burrata Bar. The items to choose from are all high end. Something like mushrooms does not include your traditional Domino’s white caps. Instead, you get a slightly marinated mixed group of mushrooms that have been wood fire roasted. They even have charred broccolini.

When you walk into 800 Degrees, you notice this long preparation table much like the counter at Subway. There, someone is carefully stretching your pizza dough and asking you what kind of base would you like for your pizza, which on their own would be amazing. In essence you could get a Margherita pizza with crushed tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil, and basil for $6. Did I mention the pizzas are about a foot in diameter? This isn’t your personal pan pizza… it is a real pizza.

Photo from: Midtown Lunch

But, you want the toppings. The toppings make the pizza. You can pick anything to put on top of your pizza. Bacon. An Egg. Salami. Caramelized Onions. Soppressata. Roasted Garlic. The choices are endless, the flavor combo is endless. For mine, I did a Margharita base, adding Gorgonzola cheese, mushrooms, and caramelized onions. All in all, my pizza came out to 10 dollars. 10 DOLLARS. That is less than a crappy medium pizza from Dominos.

Did I mention that by the time it took me to get a glass of water, my pizza was done? 800 Degrees really does understand its motto of “get a 250 year old classic in 60 seconds or less”. If you think that getting a fresh made pizza, with what you want, for a great price, with enough for leftovers the next day is not possible on your 1 hour lunch, think again. 800 Degrees has perfected it.
My pizza
800 degrees not only does pizza, they have a ready to order salad station, where someone makes exactly what you want in front of you. They also have a Burrata bar, where you can select a hunk of Burrata cheese with accompaniments, like beets and balsamic or cherry tomatoes and pesto. Or maybe you want a side of meatballs? Or a Anitpasti platter?
All in all, this is some of the best pizza I have had. And from the time it took me to begin making my pizza, till I was eating it… maybe 7 minutes. Fast, inexpensive, amazing quality, and delicious. I would hands down recommend anyone to eat here for lunch, business, or a date.

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Short Rib Sliders with Mango Coleslaw

I had a dinner party on Friday and before the party, was seriously lacking some inspiration as to what to make. My invite said to make something sinful; a guilty pleasure you don’t get to eat all the time. My go to item is usually my Macaroni and Cheese. Everyone loves it, everyone asks for it, but I have done it… a lot! So I began to think about what else I could make. Baked Brie? Fig Bread Pudding? Vanilla Rum Cake? Butter Cake?

And then it hit me… almost literally hit me…. Driving home around my neighbor hood the other day, the Kogi BBQ food truck almost rear ended me. And then I thought about it… sliders. Small, easy, DELICIOUS. Kogi has some of the best Asian inspired sliders in Los Angeles. Mine, however, were going to be a little bit different.

The reason this post is labeled easy entertaining is because it is semi homemade. Meat takes time to marinate and when you are having a party after work, you may be strapped for time. Like I was. But to make things that are semi homemade taste delicious, and not like they came from a store after sitting for hours, is to make it only part prepackaged and part you and your creative efforts. This is why everything else but the meat was homemade, giving the slider its freshness.
Around me, there are great butchers and grocery realtors that have marinated meats. Carne Asada is easier to find, but with the popularity of Asian fusion in Los Angeles, you can also find Asian inspired meats. My weapon of choice, Trader Joes. They have a killer sweet and spicy Maui marinated short rib. And if you want something with more tang, I believe there is a Korean sesame short rib they have as well.1 pound Asian style short ribs
20 slider rolls
2 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup mango diced
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste We want to start by making the coleslaw so it has time to marinate and all meld together. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Set this aside.

Next, add the cabbage, mint, and basil. 

Lastly, add the mango.

Mix these all together and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Get out a griddle or in door grill pan. And get it HOT! You want to sear the meat and give it a nice sugary crust. Start by adding a few pieces of the meat until you have cooked the whole pound.

Once the meat is done, let it rest for 3-4 minutes. Once rested, cut each piece of meat into smaller square like pieces, big enough to cover the base of the slider bun, but not so big they don’t fit and make everything look messy. Next split the rolls in half and lay your bottom halves on a serving dish. Place a piece of meat on each bottom half. 

Top the meat with about a tablespoon of the mango coleslaw. You may have a little extra, in which case you can add to a small bowl and have to the side in case anyone else wants more. In general, these sliders should not need condiments.

For my dinner party, I made the coleslaw and set it aside. Then while people started showing up, I started the meat, which took only a few minutes, and assembled the sliders. This way, they were hot and juicy when people got to my house. Enjoy!

Playing with Cheese: Killer Baked Brie

Its a loveaffair that I am not ashamed to admit. Cheese is so good.You can eat it plain. You can melt it. You can shred it on top of things. You can broil it. you can fry it… It’s just soversatile…. and delicious!

In July, Iposted about how to make a simple Cheese Platter for easy entertaining. Butcheese can also be doctored in other ways to make it even more exciting, andkeep every dinner party fresh and new. Seeing as I have a dinner party coming up this weekend, I thought I would treat myself to a Valentine’s Cheese filled dinner, and maybe give a few of my friends some inspiration.

Sidenote, I start Graduate School today! Super excited… and if you are reading this, wish me luck :)

1 wheel brie cheese (8 inch diameter)

1/4 cup fig jam or fig butter
1/4 cup crushed nuts (pecans and walnuts work best)
1 pie crust or puff pastry sheet
1 egg
, beaten, with a little water added

crackers or bread to serve it with

Preheat the ovento 400 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, cut the wheel ofbrie in half horizontally and separate the top half of the wheel from thebottom half. 

 
Working on a floured surface,roll out the puff pastry or pie crust so that it will fully cover the brie. Place the bottom half of the briein the middle of the puff pastry. Sprinkle the bottom half of the brie with the crushed nuts.

Add the fig butter or fig jam, then place the top half back on top of the fig butter layer. Smash it a little to keep everything in place.

Fold the excess pastry around the wheel. I just sort of work my way around making a 5 fold pattern on top.

Place the Brie into a baking dish, or on a cookie sheet. Brush the top and the sides of the puff pastry with egg water mixture.This will help to make it golden brown.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastrybegins to turn golden brown, then turn the temperature down to 325 degrees Fand bake for another 20 minutes. Serve on a pretty platter with slices of baguette or your favorite cracker.

Oozing with melty cheese, fig, and nuts.

A cool thing to note, in case you place on doing this for a party. The brie can be made, wrapped securely and stored in the freezer up to a monthahead of time. When you are ready to bake it, take if out of the freezer and place for a day in the fridge to defrost. Before baking, brush with the egg.

So irresistible, he couldn’t eve wait for the photo to be taken ;)

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Whipped Cream

Kerry, my neighbor from downstairs I have mentioned before, is having a birthday this week. You must know what that means… time for a Birthday Cake! She loves chocolate, but she also loves a good beer. I remember eating a Guinness chocolate cake a year or so ago and fell in love with it. Today, I am recreating Nigella Lawsons recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake. I opted to make a Bailey’s whipped cream instead of the cream cheese frosting from Ms.Laweson’s site. I thought a fluffy light cream would be better, plus its spiked with Bailey’s. I think she is going to love it.

Cake
1 cup Guinness stout (NOT including foam. Make sure the beer liquid goes up to a cup)
10 tbs (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking soda

Frosting
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 cup Bailey’s Irish Creme

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a cake pan or bundt pan. I like the look of tbe bundt pan so that is what I am using. You can also use a spring-form pan. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, but do not turn it on too high (you do not want the butter to brown). Once mostly melted, combine the Guinness by slowly pouring it into the saucepan. Once all the butter melts, remove the saucepan from heat.


Place the warm butter mixture in a large bowl. Add cocoa and sugar, and whisk till all ingredients are blended. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Make sure this is very well mixed and airy. Come on people… put some muscle into it!

Add the sour cream mixture into the Guinness mixture, once the Guinness mixture is cooled. You do not want scrambled eggs, which will happen if the mixture is too hot. Whisk together.

Next, add the flour and baking soda into a small bowl and evenly incorporate the 2 ingredients.Next, add the dry ingredients to the Guinness mixture. Whisk the the batter until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into a buttered and floured pan, and bake until risen and firm, which is about 35 minutes to 45 minutes. In a spring form pan, because of less surface area, you would be baking it closer to 45 minutes, while a bundt pan takes about 35. Once the cake is slightly cool, not hot not too cold, remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

I made 2 mini cakes for me and Katie to try it, you know… just to make sure it was delicious :)

For the frosting, you can do this by hand but it may take a longggg time. A hand mixer or stand mixer will work best here. I am using a stand mixer, so the rest of the directions will be as such. Pour the 2 cups of heavy cream into the mixer and turn it on a low speed to start whisking some air into it.

Once it starts to get frothy, turn the speed up a little higher.

When the whipped cream is about half way done (the peaks are not super stiff and it still looks a little liquidy), add the Bailey’s, bit by bit, so as to not completely undo what you have just done with the beater.

Taste it. You want to taste the Bailey’s but not have it too overpowering, so don’t add more than 1/3 cup. If you want it a little sweeter, add some granulated sugar. Personally, I don’t think it needs anymore sweetness. If you do add some sugar, do this near the end. When the whipped cream is almost done, add the sugar, beat it a little bit more, and then stop. DO NOT OVER BEAT, as it will ruin the whipped cream. If you are scared about this, don’t be. What I do is run my finger through the whipped cream and if it stays, essentially the “hole” I made doesn’t vanish, then your cream is done. Another way it to pull the beater out and if you see a stiff peak at the top, and can turn it upside down without dripping, you are done.

Once the cake is completely cooled, place it on top of your serving plate.

Next, frost your cake. Make sure to get every inch. And since its whipped cream, it doesn’t have to look perfect. Making it a little peaky is fine.

Wipe off the excess, and VOILA, you are done.