Fig Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Rosemary, and Roasted Garlic

Felt inspired to make a fig pizza this weekend.  A good friend of mine asked me for the recipe, so here it is Catalina!

Ingredients:

Fresh Pizza dough.  I used this recipe from Bobby Flay.
two large onions, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic
several figs, sliced
2-3 cups of fontina cheese, grated
2-3 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped

Method:

Prepare pizza dough (or better yet, buy it from your local pizzeria).  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut tops off two heads of garlic and place in packet of aluminum foil.  Drizzle garlic with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Close packet of aluminum foil and roast in heated oven for 45 minutes or so, until garlic is soft.  Meanwhile heat large saute pan to medium-low heat and add olive oil.  Slowly saute onions until caramelized (about 40 minutes) making sure to stir the onions periodically.  Avoid cooking the onions too quickly.  Allow carmelized onions and roasted garlic to cool and set aside.

Raise oven temperature to 475 degrees.  Knead dough on floured surface until flat and at kneaded to desired shape.  I like to make mine rectangular and put it on a sheet pan.  Squeeze out roasted garlic onto dough and spread it evenly over the dough.  Add caramelized onions and rosemary.  Top the pizza with the fontina cheese and place sliced figs on top.   Bake pizza until crust is golden (and golden spots form on cheese).

Allow 2 or 3 minutes to cool.  Slice and serve.

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Prior to baking

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Meatless Monday Meal

 

In an effort to spice things up, and to use the abundance of vegetables we receive in our produce share every other Monday, I have been attempting to prepare Meatless Monday meals as often as possible.  It’s not always practical because of our jobs (it’s also easier to eat Sunday leftovers on Monday).

I made a roasted eggplant lasagna/parmigiana the other day.  It was easy to make.

Ingredients:

2 eggplants peeled and sliced thin
3 cups ricotta cheese
1.5 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
3-4 tbs chopped fresh Italian herbs (basil, oregano, parsley)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Method:  heat oven to broil/or 500 degrees.  lightly oil eggplant slices and roast/broil until just tender.   Remove from heat and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375. In large bowl, place tomato, chopped herbs, 2-3 tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper, and combine.  Set aside.  In medium bowl.  Mix together ricotta and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (you can add one beaten egg if you’d like).  Set aside.  When eggplant is cool enough to handle, assemble dish.  In heat proof baking dish place 1 ladle of tomato sauce at bottom of dish.  Arrange single layer of eggplant.  Spoon half of ricotta mixture.  Arrange another layer of eggplant, sauce, second half of ricotta mixture, and top with eggplant.  Spoon remaining sauce on top and top with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake at oven at 375 until bubbling and cheese on top is golden brown.  VERY IMPORTANT: Allow at least 30 minutes to cool so the dish can set up and cut more easily.

Pork Tonkatsu

While I mentioned in my last post how much great eating we did in japan, I probably didn’t do justice in describing our passion for Pork Tonkatsu.  We visited a famous Tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo called Meisen, and just was amazed by the Tonkatsu there.  We probably had the dish four or five more times during brief trip to Japan.  Tonkatsu is a breaded pork dish usually made from the loin of the pig.  What makes tonkatsu in Japan so good (particular the one at Meisen), is the type of pork they use.  In Japan, the prized pork for tonkatsu are these Kurobata heritage breeds.   Their meat is fattier and more flavorful then our traditional United States variety of pork (which by comparison tastes a little bland and dry, crazy I know).  The masters at Meisen produced a rich tonkatsu that was shockingly light, but juicy and full of flavor.

Any how, with my mother law visiting a couple of weekends ago, I decided to give pork tonkatsu a try.  Here is my humble rendition

Pork Tonkatsu

Ingredients:

  • 1.5- 2lbs boneless pork loin chops (fattier the better), about 3 – 4 thick steaks, pounded flat into about 1″ thickness
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Panko for dredging
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oil to 375 or so in cast iron skillet (or deep fry if you prefer).  Assemble a fry station.  Place Panko, flour and beaten eggs into separate flat shallow containers for dredging.  Using plastic wrap, cover individual pork loin chops and pound flat with a rolling pin or meat mallet (we use smooth rock that we keep in our kitchen, don’t look at me it’s my wife, it’s a Colombian thing) until they are about 1″ thick.  The Tonkatsu should be relatively thick, so don’t pound too thin.  Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper.  Also season the flour with a bit of salt.  Dredge individual steaks in Flour, then egg, then Bread crumb.  Fry the pork until golden brown (flip once if using cast iron skillet).

Tonkatsu is usually served with rice, Japanese pickles, shredded cabbage (I just seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, a little olive oil and lime juice), and tonkatsu sauce.  I used this recipe form Saveur.

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On the road

I’m in Japan! Coming here has been a life long dream, so far it hasn’t disappointed either. The only complaint has been the heat and humidity in tokyo, it’s oppressive, and I live in miami. Our trip started in tokyo where we spent four nights, and now we are in sapporo. Since this is a food blog some quick culinary highlights:

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Dog Food

Yep, I made dog food this morning before work.  I had gotten up and fed Clive the very last of his food and we are a few days away from his next delivery (fat dog’s gotta eat).  I wanted to give him a treat, so I thought I’d make him some food instead. I did a little research on it, and being that dog’s are omnivores they need a varied diet.  Having good carbs and dog friendly vegetables makes the food easy on the stomach and promotes solid stools (oh this blog is going places). Most recipes I saw called for chicken or turkey, but I know from painful experience that Clive does not do chicken. I recall watching a documentary on dogs way back when that said that dogs prefer organ meat, so I used liver in my recipe.

I’ve never made dog food before, but I think Clive will enjoy it.  My recipe looks something like this.

Dog Food

Ingredients:

2 cups of short grained rice
1-2 cups of quick cut oats
5-6 cups of water
1 package of frozen peas
1 packet of froze carrots
2-3 lbs of chopped organ meat (I used all beef liver, but ideally I’d use a combo of liver and heart)

Method:

Place all the ingredients in a large pot and mix to combine.  Bring to a boil and simmer (covered) until liquid is absorbed.  I had put in a little too much liquid, so I added some extra oats at the end to help absorb the liquid.

 

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Clive

Beef Back Ribs

My wife told recently brought home some ribs to grill.  I was expecting pork spare ribs or baby back ribs (and to be honest so did she), but in fact my wife had bought beef back ribs.  While a bit trickier to cook because of all the fat, beef ribs are a really great change of pace and really delicious.

The trickiest part of cooking beef ribs is dealing with the fat.  I did some research on preparing these, and of course you can smoke or bake these, but until someone gives me a better method, I believe in boiling the ribs first and then grilling them (a la good ol’ Tony Roma’s).

I’m not going to put a detailed recipe, because whenever I make beef ribs, it’s about as inexact as I go for cooking.  I just throw stuff in a pot.  My main tip would be to not boil the ribs in water.  There is no flavor in water.  Many opponents of boiling will point out that lots of flavor is lost, and maybe they’re right, but my beef ribs always turn out delicious, so I don’t know what they are talking about.

My boiling mixture usually consists of beer (stout beer is great for this), beef broth, onion, garlic, and some sort of seasoning (I used lots of Old Bay this time).  I then cut the ribs into 3-4 rib slabs and simmer the ribs for about one hour.  Remove the ribs from broth (which will have rendered tons of fat).  Then place the ribs on a pre heated grill and cook using the indirect heat method and grill for about 45-55 minutes (make sure they don’t burn).  For the last ten minutes of grilling, baste with your favorite bbq sauce.  I like using a richer molasses based sauce for beef ribs.

Grilled Ribs

Grilled Ribs

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Memorial Day Fried Chicken

I’m a big fried chicken fan.  With all this hoopla around Sergio Garcia’s recent unfortunate comments regarding Tiger Woods and chicken, it got me thinking.  “Who doesn’t really enjoy friend chicken.”  A good friend of mine, who happens to be white, recently tweeted out “I wish the negative association with fried chicken would disappear. The only people who don’t like fried chicken are ass ____.”

I’d agree with that.

I love fried chicken, but I always feel like it’s such a messy ordeal.  Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years?  Prior to cooking this chicken on memorial day, I had last cooked fried chicken in 2004, my first year of law school.  The chicken was amazing but my apartment smelled like fried chicken for days.  I haven’t made a true fried chicken since.  I had recently read a New York Times article that basically told America that you should fry chicken because it’s not that big a deal.  I took that to heart, my recipe is below.  I also made some biscuits and a watermelon salad (I have a hipster sense of irony sometimes).

Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

5 lbs of  bone-in chicken  (We are a dark meat crowd (not trying to be ironic), but you can just cut up a whole chicken)
2 cups of buttermilk
2-3 tbs of onion powder
1-2 tbs of  garlic powder
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika, salt, pepper, more garlic and onion powder, and flour for dredging (for flour dredge)
Oil for frying (I used canola and a bit of leftover goose fat), you can also use shortening.

Method:

Place first 5 ingredients in a non-reactive bowl or large zip top bag.  Marinate chicken overnight (or at least 3 hours, as the buttermilk also breaks down the chicken and makes it more tender).  Heat oil to 375 in cast iron skillet (I have a giant 15″ skillet, but a 12″ would do the trick).  Place flour dredging mixture in a sturdy paper or plastic bag.  Add 4 or 5 pieces of chicken and shake in flour mixture until well coated, taking care to prevent flour from spilling everywhere.  Remove chicken from flour mixture and shake off excess flour . Place chicken in oil and fry, for 7-8 minutes per side until golden brown.  You can also check chicken with a thermometer (out of the oil). The chicken should be around 155-160.  Drain fried chicken on paper bags covered with a layer of paper towels.  Allow chicken to cool for 10 or 15 minutes and serve.

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