RUSTED ROOT PIZZA

My girlfriends and I used to be in a wine club. We would take turns hosting, with the hostess being responsible for choosing the food and the varietal. Everyone else would bring a bottle of the wine of the month. The first two meetings I think we actually paid attention to what we were tasting and took notes. After that, it became more of a social, tipsy affair, and these wine nights kinda became famous (or infamous) among the guys in our group. They knew that wine club, which started as an innocent attempt to learn more about wine, meant trouble. It was awesome. I would tell you stories but what happens in wine club, stays in wine club. As people started getting married, having babies, and moving out of the city, wine club died a slow, natural death.

Last Wednesday I had sort of a wine club revival at my apartment. It wasn’t intended to be as such. But at 2:00 in the morning when we were drinking tumblers of white wine over mounds of ice and singing 80’s music, it felt like wine club all over again. And so did my hangover the next morning. Did I mention that I hate white wine? And that I think wine should only be served over ice if it’s sangria? Yet, there I was, standing in my living room, icy white wine in hand, singing I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight and proclaiming that my Barbies used to dance to this song at their “prom.” Woof.

Nonetheless, it was a great time. For the occasion, I made a roasted root vegetable pizza that my wine brain (or Claire’s wine brain, I can’t remember) dubbed Rusted Root Pizza. I was at the farmer’s market last Sunday and, on a whim, bought parsnips. It feels weird to say “I love parsnips,” but I do! And this is where the idea for the pizza started. I wanted to make something with parsnips that would go over well at a social event. Naturally, pizza came to mind.

Every time I have made pizza at home, with my very unofficial pizza peel– it’s a bread board– it’s worked out just fine. The pizza slides right off the board into the oven and onto my preheated pizza stone. But, of course, this time, as 8 girls sat around my living room judging me, I struggled quite a bit. First, I rolled out the dough way too large and thin. When I tried to re-work it, I panicked that I had over-worked the dough and it was never going to roll out at all. Then I forgot to flour the board/make-shift pizza peel. I tried to lift the dough and shove flour under my dough that was already loaded with roasted vegetables, but no dice. Needless to say, it did not transfer to the pizza stone so easily. It totally lost its shape, carrots were in the bottom of the oven, and the dough was so thick in some parts that I had to smush it down with a spatchula half way through cooking. Oh well. It tasted good. Especially after a few glasses of wine.

RUSTED ROOT PIZZA

Ingredients:

  • 1 parsnip, sliced in thin round pieces
  • 1 large carrot, sliced or diced
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, sliced thin on a mandolin (I used a purple potato and a white potato. The purple potatoes kinda look like pepperonis in these pics, but don’t worry, they aren’t.)
  • 1/2 of a large red onion
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pizza dough (you can make your own or buy some at the store. I used the Giant brand whole wheat dough)
  • Flour (seminola is best. I didn’t have, so I used regular all purpose flower
  • A pizza stone and a pizza peel

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Combine all of your vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil over top, add 1/2 of the garlic, some rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix well so that the vegetables are well coated.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or spray with cooking spray. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet so that they are in a single layer. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally. They do not need to be cooked all the way since you’ll be putting them back in the oven once they are on the pizza.

When the veggies are done roasting, turn the oven temperature up to 450 or 500 degrees. Put your pizza stone in the oven and let it pre-heat for roughly an hour. It should be on the top oven rack.

Once the stone is well heated, roll out your dough on a well floured surface. It’s best to top your pizza with your veggies once it’s already on the pizza peel. Just make sure your pizza peel is well floured! Once the dough is rolled out, brush it with olive oil. Sprinkle on the garlic and plop dollops of ricotta cheese randomly on the dough. Place all of your veggies on the dough. You can be strategic about it or you can do it randomly. Just try not to make sure the dough is too weighted down. Add more dollops of ricotta and sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. I personally do not like a lot of cheese on a pizza like this, so I didn’t put a lot. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and rosemary to taste.

Very carefully (and gracefully if possible!) transfer the pizza from the peel onto the hot pizza stone. It helps if you pull the oven rack out of the oven a bit (with the stone on it). This will give you more room without having to put your arms into the oven and risk burning yourself!

Let the pizza bake in the oven for about 15-18 minutes or until the dough is browning and the cheese is melted. Your veggies should also appear more roasted too.

To remove the pizza from the oven, you will need to transfer it back to the pizza peel. Be careful! Let it cool a bit, slice it however you desire (I did small squares so it was easier to serve as a party food), and serve with a tumbler of wine.

Note: You can use whatever root vegetables you want. Using fresh rosemary will really help bring out the flavor. And I think this pizza would be better with Fontina cheese. I just didn’t have any on hand. You could also mix the ricotta with a bit of garlic and salt before hand. That would probably be yummy! 

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WINTER QUINOA CHILI

It’s about time I posted a soup recipe on my blog, considering this is Soup du Jour. Chili is a form of soup, right? I think this recipe is a form of chili. It doesn’t have any chili powder in it, so I don’t know if that mean it’s not technically a chili. And it’s not quite winter yet, so I guess technically this should be called Fall Quinoa Chili. But I’m not really in the mood to get technical. So, yes, this blog is called Soup du Jour and no there aren’t a ton of (or any until today) soup recipes on here and yes, I’ve made a winter chili sans chili powder in the fall. I’m just breaking all sorts of (imaginary) rules! Look out!

I got the inspiration for this soup, I mean chili, from one of my new favorite recipe blogs: Ambitious Kitchen. I followed Monique’s recipe for the most part, but without “technically” measuring anything and with the addition/omission of a few things. For example, I omitted the chili powder. It was not intentional. I realized I was out of chili powder after everything was already in the pot, boiling on the stove. I didn’t even shower (or change out of my clothes from the night before) until 5:00 yesterday so there was no chance I was going back out just for chili powder. Nevermind that chili powder may be one of the main ingredients in said chili.

I also added a LOT of tumeric. Last week, I took a class on the medicinal benefits of spices and learned that tumeric is a diversely powerful spice. I can’t remember all of the great things it can do, but trust me on this. It’s good for you.  I also added butternut squash since I had some leftover from a different recipe (which I promise to post soon).

The end result was a delicious treat that I am happy to share with you today, regardless of what you wanna call it.

WINTER QUINOA CHILI

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 box/4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa
  • smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce to taste (roughly 1 teaspoon)
  • an abundance of tumeric (Monique says 1/4 teaspoon. I say about 1/2)
  • a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper
  • cumin (Monique says 1/4 teaspoon)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan/pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and generous dash of salt and saute until onions are translucent.

Add the tomato sauce. Then add the vegetable stock, black beans, quinoa and all of your spices. I like things to be well seasoned, so I am always generous with my spices. I encourage you to do the same!

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the squash and sweet potato. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with chipotle cream (recipe below), diced green onions, and yummy bread.

Note: Monique said she ate this with a fried egg on top and I cannot wait to try that! 

CHIPOTLE CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of chipotle tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 – 1/2  teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon of agave nectar or honey

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Scoop a dollop on your chili and ejoy! This really makes the chili soooo much better!

Recipe adapted from: Ambitious Kitchen

FIVE ALIVE COCKTAIL

Margaritas. I’m always jealous of people who can drink them. I feel like they are a staple in the world of cocktails. They just seem to symbolize a good time. But when I was in college, I drank way too many of them one night, was sick as a dog the next day, and haven’t been able to smell tequila since. So, I’ve been feeling kinda left out.

A few weeks ago, I went to Hub 51 in Chicago while I was there for a conference. On their drink menu they had a Five Alive, which came with a salted rim. Salted rim? No tequila? Could this be fate? I fell in love with that drink that night. It tasted similar to a margarita but without the pain of tequila and with the gentle, refreshing taste of agave nectar, grapefruit vodka and lime juice. For me, the salted rim made the drink. And I felt like I was part of a whole new club.

This weekend, I attempted to recreate this delicious concoction. It didn’t taste quite like what I remember in Chicago and it wasn’t the same color either. But it was damn good.

I’m going to continue to call this drink the Five Alive, since that’s what it’s inspired by. But I really think it’s a different drink. The ingredients at Hub 51 listed grapefruit flavored vodka, which I could not find (in the one and only liquor store where I looked). So I came up with a brilliant plan to infuse my own, something I had never done before. I Googled how-tos, but ultimately, I just made it up as I went along. I also made up the measurements that I’m listing below. I encourage you to do the same and play around with them until you get a taste you like. And please note that you should infuse your vodka a day or two in advance of making your batch of Five Alives.

FIVE ALIVE COCKTAIL

Ingredients:

(amounts are for a large pitcher of Five Alives)

  • 3-4 large grapefruits
  • All natural, unsweetened grapefruit juice (I used Simply Grapefruit)
  • 4-5 limes, plus extra slices for garnish
  • 3/4 of a bottle of vodka, 25 ounces/a fifth (I prefer Prairie Organic Vodka)
  • Agave nectar
  • Salt (coarse sea salt is best)

Directions:

To infuse the vodka, make sure you start a day or two in advance. (I made mine the day before because I came up with the idea too late.) Slice 2 grapefruits in half or in quarters and squeeze as much juice out of them as you possibly can into an air tight container. I do mean squeeeze! It’s okay if there is a lot of pulp and seeds. Slice the other two grapefruits into quarters and remove the rind. Squeeze whatever juice you can get from what’s left on the rind into your air tight container. Give your grapefruit chunks a light squeeze and then place them into the container as well. Basically you should have a good amount of grapefruit juice mixed with chunks of grapefruit and pulp in your airtight container. Add about 2 cups of vodka. There should be more vodka than juice. If I had had more grapefruits, I would have put more grapefruit chunks in there. But like I said, I came up with this infusion idea too late and was totally winging it. So add as many chunks as you like. Store the container in the fridge until you are ready to make your Five Alives  (no more than 2-3 days).

To begin making the batch of Five Alives, strain the vodka grapefruit mixture into a large pitcher. If you want, you can muddle the grapefruit chunks to get more juice, which is what I did. I put them in the collander over top of the pitcher and muddled them so I’d be getting their vodka infused juice.

Add the juice from 4-5 limes, plus extra lime juice if you have it. (I was lazy about squeezing limes so I added a few squirts of ReaLime juice as well.) Add about 1-2 cups of additional vodka. Add about 3-4 cups of the Simply Grapefruit juice (or whatever brand of grapefruit juice you’re using). Add a little less than 1/4 cup of agave nectar, maybe 4 tablespoons worth. Continue adding all ingredients until the drink is a good flavor, shaking and stirring well all the while. In the end, I used 3/4 of a fifth of vodka and half the bottle of Simply Grapefruit. Your drink should be light pink in color, the taste of the vodka should not be too strong, and there should be enough agave nectar to take off the edge of bitterness from the grapefruit, but not too much so that it’s too sweet. It should taste light and refreshing.

Serve over ice in glasses with a salted rim and a lime wedge. Shake or stir your concoction aggressively before each serving, as some ingredients will settle.

Note: While writing this post, I realized that Prairie Vodka has instructions on their website for infusing your own vodka. Pretty cool! I have a feeling this could mean trouble…