Saturday, March 31, 2007

Casserolling, Rolling, Rolling

There is only one thing I fear more than turning into a June Cleaver-style 1950’s housewife, and that is starving to death. Throughout history, humanity has faced food shortages caused by wars, famines, mini-ice ages (yes, I’ve been watching the History channel, why?), and malfunctioning kitchen equipment. Rarely, if ever, is humanity given an opportunity to prepare for and thwart an upcoming shortage. But I, I have been given such an opportunity to avert impending starvation right here in my very own apartment.

You see, a famine is coming soon to the Raisinhater household, the famine of no-way-I’m-cooking-I-just-gave-birth. Fortunately, after the baby arrives, Mr. Raisinhater will be staying home for a few weeks because of his company’s generous paternity leave. Unfortunately, Mr. Raisinhater cannot cook. He REALLY cannot cook. I have never in my life met anyone with a greater kitchen ineptitude. He did not know we had a gas (not electric) stove until last month (we’ve lived here for three years). He orders takeout grilled cheese from the diner across the street.

I have tried. Lord knows I have tried. But we all have our strengths and our weaknesses, you can’t teach an old dog, blah blah. The truth is I don’t want to share the kitchen anyway. I'm bossy and there's only room for one chef in there. And it's too much fun to watch him struggle with the self-locking tongs. He just needs the basic tools to feed us for a few weeks. Those tools are…


Check out those simple instructions. A monkey could do it! But can my husband? (He may have done 3 points better than me on the LSATs but at least I wouldn’t starve to death if we lost all the takeout menus.)

I’m putting aside my June Cleaver fears and storing up for the lean times ahead. Easy as a TV dinner, but full of tasty healthy stuff (chicken, spinach, mushrooms and onions) because I made it myself (without a recipe, so lets hope it actually turns out ok).

Anyone out there have a recipe to share – something I can make now and freeze, that Mr. Raisinhater can pop in the oven without too much difficulty? Preferably something healthy with lots of veggies?

Also, is that Rawhide song from the title still stuck in your head? Yep, me too. Sorry about that.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Same As It Ever Was

The journey was treacherous – the sidewalks were icy and slushy and I stepped in dog poo – but it was so worth it…

The 2007 Shackburger!

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

Holy shit, people - rumor has it Shake Shack is opening today at noon. The official website says 11 - 6. See you there!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Countdown Begins

A few weeks ago I started maternity leave.* I’ve still got about 6 weeks to go before my due date, but line cooking isn’t one of those jobs you want to do right up until you go into labor. Standing 11 hours straight, lifting heavy crap, trying to move quickly (ha!), trying not to sample the forbidden cheeses – no fun. I plan to go back in August or September but, until then, I’m spending my days lounging about on the couch gestating and thinking about my next meal.

This is what I’ve been looking forward to…

That’s right – only 8 more days until Shake Shack reopens. If you find yourself in line on March 21st behind a very pregnant woman with chunky ankles, stop and say hi!

*I use the term “maternity leave” pretty loosely here, I just kinda stopped working and will start up again at some point in the future, hopefully at the same restaurant. The culinary world doesn’t typically offer a law firm-style multi month maternity leave package. Then again, I no longer work for a firm full of humorless soul sucking bastards, so I'm still regret-free in the career change department.

Monday, March 05, 2007

How To Make Your Own Blue Pizza

Alas, my blue pizza didn’t take the prize, but the dough was nevertheless a winner around my apartment. I’ve had terrible trouble finding/developing a pizza dough recipe that produces sufficiently thin, stretchy, chewy, and crispy crust in my regular old oven. Finally, I found the ONE. Jeffrey Steingarten’s recipe in It Must’ve Been Something I Ate. I should’ve known the curmudgeonly ex-lawyer would come to my rescue again.

Jeffrey Steingarten’s Pizza Recipe, but Blue

2 lbs (6.5 cups) flour, half all-purpose ubleached and half bread flour (preferably King Arthur brand, which is actually pretty tough to find in both Whole Foods and the dirty Gristedes on my corner).

1.5 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1.125 tsp. SAF-Instant yeast)
1Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt
3.25 cups cold water
Olive oil and cornmeal for oiling/dusting
Blue food coloring (fancy professional kind from Williams Sonoma)

I halved the recipe, making enough for two medium pizzas.

First, I added the food coloring to the water until I got a deep shade of turquoise. I combined the flours, yeast, salt and water in the bowl of my mixer, stirring by hand until they stuck together in a very messy shaggy dough. I mixed (using the paddle, not the dough hook) on low for one minute and then high for 3.5, as he recommends. My dough formed a very loose ball at this stage, which I plopped on a floured cutting board to rest for 10 minutes. I divided it in half (again, I only made a half recipe), formed two balls, and let each rise on an oiled plate, covered with oiled plastic wrap, for three hours. Then I let them rise for four more hours in the fridge. I removed one from the fridge, shaped the pizza carefully, using cornmeal on the bottom to prevent sticking, topped it with sauce, mozzarella, bacon and gorgonzola and cooked it on the pizza stone in a 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes. (I preheated the oven for at least a half hour so the pizza stone got quite hot, and I think my oven temp was actually closer to 550 degrees.) The crust was thin and crisp without being too crackery, and it had a chewy bite. My next experiment - does it freeze?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Blue Pizza!

I made a blue pizza for the Amateur Gourmet's Blue Food Contest, check it out...

The dough

The pizza before cooking

The finished product

Will I win tickets to see Blue Man Group? We'll see what judge Michael Ruhlman decides.