Pan Pizza, quick and easy.

There are so many options to make your own pizza. I really enjoy my 72 hour cold proof pizza dough, but sometimes I want something faster.

The pizza dough in this recipe is more like a focaccia texture, but that makes it perfect for a pan pizza. It is a recipe from the amazing Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. It is from his book “My Bread”.

3 3/4 cups/500 grams Bread Flour
2 1/2 tsp Instant or Active Dry Yeast
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Sugar
1 1/3 cups/300 grams Water, at room temperature. 
2 Tbsp Olive Oil 
Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl, slowly add your water and mix well with a spoon or spatula until well mixed. About 1 minute. Cover and allow to rise for two hours. 
Turn it out onto a floured surface and form into a ball and allow to rise for another 30 minutes covered with a damp cloth. 
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Once the dough has finished its second proof, oil a half sheet pan well and gently stretch the dough into a loaf shape and place the dough into the pan and use your fingers to stretch it into a thin even layer and a little bit of thicker crust around the edges.
Add whatever ingredients you desire and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until well browned. Slide it onto a cutting board, and slice into squares. 
Note: The pizza above with Parma Ham, Mozzarella and Arugula was particularly good.

Sweet and Savory Oven Roasted Salmon

This salmon was truly amazing. I found so many recipes online, but this one seemed to really bring out the best of the salmon. Butter for richness, honey for sweetness and garlic and thyme for a savory element and a little brightness for the chili flakes.


2 lb Salmon filet. Skin on or off is fine.
2 Lemons thinly sliced, and a 1/4 saved for after cooking.
4 Tbsp Butter, melted
2 Tbsp Honey
1 clove Garlic
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Chili Flakes

Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon filet. Lay on a bed of sliced lemons. Spoon over the glaze.


Into a preheated 350F oven for 20 – 25 minutes and then turn on broiler for 3-5 minutes, and broil until the glaze sets. Squeeze on the reserved lemon quarter and let it rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Thanks to for the recipe and inspiration.

Caribbean Banana Cake with Lime and Nutmeg

I had been looking at this recipe for a long time, but as I\’ve mentioned, I\’m not much of a baker. Enter quarantine and I have plenty of time to hone my skills.

This comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra. Her recipes reflect the heritage of her homeland of Guyana and her current home in the Netherlands. It\’s really a special book. 

A few things I learned when making this cake. Firstly, the recipe was vastly more accurate when I weighed the ingredients. Example, I found that 9 oz of AP flour was much more than 1 2/3 cups. My friends who are accomplished bakers say to always weigh if possible. I have tried to adjust the recipe to reflect this, but weighing would really be best.

Secondly, the recipe calls for 35-40 minutes cooking time, but I found in my oven it needed a full 50 minutes. 

Lastly, in the original recipe, she did not call for allowing the cake to rest before turning it out of the pan. I waited 15 minutes and it came out perfectly.

Equipment: 8 inch square pan. I think a normal circular cake pan would work as well, as long as its a similar size.


10 1/2 oz very ripe Bananas, or 2 large or 4 medium
Juice of 1/2 Lime
9 oz / 1 3/4 cups of AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
6 oz / 1 2/3 cups Butter, softened 
7 oz / 1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs, removed from fridge to take the chill off.
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 sheet of Parchment Paper

Peel and slice the bananas and mash them and then mix with the fresh lime juice. Preheat the oven to 325F/160 C

Put your parchment paper on a cutting board, and slice around the bottom, to create a piece that will fit inside the pan. Grease the pan with butter, put parchment paper inside the bottom and dust with AP flour.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set this aside and begin creaming the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla extract and add this to the butter/sugar mixture in 1/3 increments. Mixing well between each increment.

Add the bananas and then add in the flour mixture in 1/3 increments using a whisk and gently incorporate. Do not over mix.

Put the batter into your prepared pan and into the oven. Check after 40 minutes and go up to 50 minutes if needed. Its best to check with a sharp knife. When it comes out relatively clean, its done.

Remove cake from the oven and onto a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then turn out the cake, remove the parchment paper and let cool completely before cutting.

Sweet, Sour and Spicy Chicken Thighs

As with most of you, I have time on my hands, so I broke out the slow cooker aka crock pot. I found a recipe online, but wanted to adjust it to be more Asian influenced, almost a Korean BBQ. It was very good and will definetly be on rotation for dinner.
What I really liked about it, was that it was packed with flavor, but not a sodium bomb. The flavors were balanced and blended well. I served it with steamed jasmine rice and broccoli.
2 lbs Chicken Thighs, boneless and skinless. Excess fat removed. 
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Catsup or Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup low sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar 
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
1 Tbsp Sriracha
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and grated. 
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Green Onions, sliced
2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
Lightly brown the chicken, then into the slow cooker with rest of ingredients, except green onions and sesame seeds. 
Cook on high for 2-3 hours and sprinkle with sliced green onions, sesame seeds and sesame oil and serve over rice.

The NY Times No Knead Bread

Originally developed by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. Published by NY Times and food writer Mark Bittman. Incredibly easy and well worth the time. 

This recipe makes one loaf

3 cups All Purpose unbleached Flour or Bread Flour
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups, and 2 Tbsp slightly warm Water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Give it a quick stir to incorporate.
Pour in the water, and with a spoon, stir until blended and all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be rough and shaggy, almost like a scone dough, and fairly sticky. This step only takes one minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit out on the counter for 18 hours. If your kitchen is cold, you might need 24 hours. No need for a “warm” spot, room temperature is fine. 
The dough will be ready when the surface is level and bubbly. 

Preheat the oven to 450˚, with the enamel pot inside, and with the lid on. While the oven is heating, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. The dough will be very sticky and stringy. 

With well floured hands, fold the dough a few times over onto itself, and then shape it into a ball. The shaping of the dough should only take a minute or two. No need to knead.
If you’re using parchment, dust the paper and lay the dough on top. Other wise, let the dough rest on a well floured surface for an additional 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap. Note, Jim calls for a 1-2 hours proof in his book. Just allow it to double in size.
Note: the oven will come to temperature well before the dough has risen, but you really want the enamel pan to be super hot, so that extra heating time is perfect.
About 20 minutes after you have shaped the dough, using a sharp or serrated knife, make cuts about 1/2 inch deep into the top of the bread. Then let it rest the final 10 minutes.
When ready, open the oven and remove the lid of the pot with a cloth or potholder. Either lift the parchment paper, or with well floured hands, carefully lift the dough and lay it into the pot. There is no need to grease the pan. It absolutely will not stick.
Using the potholder, replace the pan lid and slide the pot back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Here is how it looks after the 30 minutes of covered baking.

Then remove the lid and bake for another 15 until the bread is browned and beautiful.

When ready, use a cloth and simply grab the bread out of the pot and place it on a wire rack to cool. Give it 10 minutes or longer to cool before cutting.

Many thanks to for their post, which I have slightly modified.

Biscuit Topped Apple Cobbler

This is a great way to use up any leftover apples or other fruit and handy if you’ve got some canned biscuits laying around as well.
4 large Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored. Cut into 1 inch pieces. 
4 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Cinnamon 
1/2 tsp Nutmeg 
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
1 can of Flaky Biscuits 
1 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Sugar
After peeling, coring and cutting the apples into 1 inch pieces, put them into a sauce pan with the 4 melted tablespoons of butter. Add a pinch of salt and allow them to soften and reduce. 
Then add sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Continue cooking until slightly thickened. If you find they are not sufficiently thickened, add a cornstarch slurry and continue cooking. You make a slurry by adding 1 tsp of cornstarch with 2 tsp of water and mixing together. Once at desired thickness, pour into a pie dish/pan to cool. A square Pyrex can work as well
Preheat your oven to 350F. Open your can of biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters and arrange on top. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and dot with butter. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuit topping is nicely browned.

Pasta alla’Amatrice

This was a specialty of the original Florence’s in the North End of Boston. Sadly Florence has passed away and the original restaurant closed in 2015, but I like the idea of keeping this dish alive. I\’ve heard they\’ve reopened as the Florentine Cafe.

The North End has traditionally been a home for Italian immigrants and is packed with great restaurants and bakeries. In addition, it is also the home of Paul Revere\’s house and the Old North Church. If you visit Boston, it\’s  well worth a visit.
After I moved away from Boston, I tried to recreate Florence\’s recipe, and I think this is very close to the original. This sauce can be made thicker and more concentrated by just using one can of tomatoes. It’s your choice.
For the purists, they would likely disagree that this is the famous pasta from the town of Amatrice. However I like both. If you want to sample the “real” dish from Amatrice, here is a link.


1 large finely chopped Onion
5 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
½ lb. Pancetta (Italian Slab Bacon), either cut into ¼ inch cubes or ¼ inch strips 
2- 28 oz. cans of crushed Tomatoes, or whole tomatoes that are lightly chopped in the processor. San Marzano’s are the best.
3 tsp. Red Pepper flakes or a few whole red chili peppers – Optional
2 Tbsp. Butter
Few grindings of fresh Nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Grated Romano and/or Parmesan Cheese
Pasta of choice. Bucatini is traditional, but I use penne.
Melt the butter over medium heat, and add the pancetta. After the pancetta starts to release it’s aroma and renders down, add the onion, garlic, and cook until translucent. 
Now add the nutmeg, red pepper flakes and the salt and pepper. You want to just let the mixture sauté gently until it smells fantastic, usually about 5 to 10 minutes over medium heat. 
Then add the tomatoes, bring it back to a boil, and then reduce the heat down and let it simmer. After 1 to 2 hours, you will have an amazing rich sauce, which is perfect with any tube pasta. Florence always served it with penne, so I do the same. 
Before you add the sauce, always sprinkle your grated cheese over the pasta, toss and then add the sauce and toss again, and then add more Parmesan cheese. Tossing is the key to a well-made pasta dish.

Beef Bourguignon- Country French at it’s best.

So rainy and cold here today, it just begs for some French bistro comfort food. So, time to crack open a nice bottle of wine and make a hearty beef stew. I just braved the weather to pull together the basics for preparing my beef bourguignon.

2 Tbsp. Butter

3 cloves of Garlic, chopped

1 Shallot, chopped 
1/4 lb. lightly smoked, unsmoked Bacon or salt pork
1 lb pearl Onions, blanched in boiling water for 5 minutes and then peeled. Frozen pearl onions are a good time saver. 
½ lb of whole Mushrooms
4 lbs. of boneless Beef Short Ribs, or Beef Chuck, cut into 2 to 3inch pieces
3 large Carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 to 3 inch pieces, or a 1 lb bag of baby Carrots
1 bottle of Red Wine (Pinot Noir is perfect)
½ cup Cognac
½ tsp. dried Thyme, or 6 stalks of fresh thyme
2 Bay Leaf
3 tsp. of Salt 
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Cut the meat and put into a large bowl or plastic freezer bag with 4 springs of the fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf and two cloves of garlic, crushed with the side of your knife. 
Now add 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper, pour in the wine and marinade for a few hours. You can marinade overnight if you prefer. 
Hint: If you are using a freezer bag, make sure to put the bag in a dish or Pyrex baking dish, so you will not end up with a refrigerator full of wine, if the bag leaks. Yes, it has happened to me.
Melt the butter and quickly  render down the bacon in your heavy saucepan, add the additional garlic and shallot sauté briefly and then add the pearl onions and cook them until the onions are glistening. Remove from pan and set aside.
Drain the beef, reserving the marinade, add the beef a bit at the time, working in batches and lightly brown it. When all beef is browned, combine the beef and add back the bacon and onion mixture. Add the cognac, light it and cook away the alcohol, just leaving the flavor. 
Now add the wine marinade and rest of the ingredients (carrots, mushrooms, remaining spices wrapped in cheesecloth etc.), and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 2-3 hours, removing the cover for the last 30 minutes.

Note: If you have a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot, you may also cook this in the oven. Personally, I prefer this method, as it cooks by surrounding the dish, rather than just from the bottom. If you choose to cook it in this way, use the oven at 350 degrees, for the same timing and directions.

Risotto alla Parmigiano Reggiano, the perfect rice dish?

Risotto is one of the most amazing dishes known to man. It is a simple combination of butter, stock and rice, which when properly prepared rises to an art form.
Many people do not know this, but in Italy rice is raised in the north in two main areas, the Piemonte (think Milan and Turin) and the Veneto, which is the area of Venice.

The north of Italy has always been more of a rice centric region while the south was more of a pasta centric region.
While not complicated to make, for an authentic risotto, the ingredients and cooking process must be followed carefully. I have seen many variations on this theme, but a basic recipe is a good place to start.
There are a few things you must remember to make a good risotto:
Only use true Italian Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice, other rice just doesn’t give equal results. If you’re in a pinch, medium grain rice will give you vastly superior results to long grain rice, but it’s not quite the same. These rices can be purchased in most grocery stores, but can also be ordered online.
Use weak stock, as the constant cycle of reducing will concentrate the flavor. I prefer stock at about one quarter strength. You don’t want to use a stock with garlic in it, as you will be reducing this stock down and thus any predominant flavor will definitely over power the final dish.
Always have bit more stock than you think you’ll need simmering beside you. If you run out of broth, just substitute some warm water.
Make sure that the stock is handy to the cooking area, and simmering before you start. If your right handed, keep the simmering stock to your right, and if your left handed vice versa.
Note:  Once you begin the risotto, keep stirring. Now is not a good time to be distracted, as it will burn or scorch very quickly.
This is the mother recipe for most risottos, and is the basic one that allows you to create the many variations.


4 to 6 cups of weak Vegetable or meat based stock
3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, don’t use extra virgin olive oil as the flavor is too strong
2 cups Arborio Rice
4 Tbsp. finely chopped white Onion.
½ cup Parmesan Reggiano 
First begin by melting 2 Tbsp. of the butter and all of the oil in a heavy saucepan. Then sauté the onion until it becomes clear. Do not let it brown.
Using medium heat, add the rice and stirring constantly, sauté it for 1 min. until it is completely coated with the oil and butter mixture.
Using a ladle, start adding in the simmering stock, ½ to ¾ cup at a time. Stir constantly until the stock is absorbed and then add more. 
Continue the cycle until the rice is soft but still “al dente” Normally about 20 minutes, maybe more depending on the rice and temperature.
Now, turn off the heat, add the rest of the butter, the Parmesan cheese and then salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
Serve in individual shallow bowls and serve immediately.  Risotto should not sit around until the other food is ready. Serve it as soon as it is finished. You may add additional cheese at the table. 
Note: It makes a perfect secondi (pasta/rice) course prior to a main dish.




Sichuan Chicken

I used to make this recipe regularly many years ago. It was a recipe I adapted from The Frugal Gourmet. 
I’m not sure why I stopped making it, but decided to give it another go and I’d forgotten how good it was. It’s a bit of a fusion dish, but I enjoy the over the top flavor. 
It also uses a technique that I really like called, “velveting”. This is a Chinese technique to keep chicken very juicy. It works particularly well with low fat pieces like boneless breasts. 
Basically you coat the chicken pieces in rice wine, egg white and cornstarch and then par cook it in hot oil or poach in boiling water in the wok and then remove it to be added back later. Personally I find using oil works well, but if it was a delicately flavored dish, the water makes sense. 
There are many variations on this method, with some adding rice vinegar, soy sauce and some omitting the rice wine etc, but the cornstarch is essential. 
1 lb Chicken Breast, sliced into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes. 
Velveting Marinade
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine or dry Sherry
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 Egg White
1 Tbsp Cornstarch 
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil 
2 inch piece of minced Ginger Root
1 Red Pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. 
3 Green Onions, white only, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces.
2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Chili and Garlic Paste
1 tsp Chinkiang Vinegar or Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Water 
1 Tbsp Cornstarch 
Optional: Roasted peanuts, cashews, macadamia or almonds. Unsalted are best.
After prepping your chicken, mix with the velveting ingredients and into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 
Heat your wok until very hot, then add your oil and when almost smoking, add the chicken pieces and quickly stir fry, breaking them apart and allowing them to just turn white with a hint of browning. Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon or ladle and set aside. 
Add in your ginger and red peppers into the hot wok and stir fry for about a minute, then add your green onions and stir fry for another minute and add back the chicken and any juices. 
Stir fry lightly and add in your sauce mixture and cook until it thickens. If you are adding nuts, add them at the end, so they stay crunchy.