Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Filtering by Category: "Broil"

Basic Pizza

So I have a beef...I have a beef with the companies that make and sell pizza stones. They advertise them like the best thing in the world and make it sound like they will make your pizza turn into delicious brick oven pizza. Well people, let me save you from this, they suck...plan and simple. You may love them, but I hate them and I will tell you why. The thing that makes brick oven pizza special is a crap load of heat, a lot more heat then our little home ovens can produce. The problem with these pizza stones is that they are impossible to get hot enough to make a really good pizza. So here is the solution...metal. Metal is way more conductive, it heats faster and it heats more evenly. I've read that some people get sheets of aluminum cut to the dimensions of their oven, then they heat that as hot as their oven can go and then get it even hotter with the broiler. This is the ideal solution and you will be spittin' pizza's out of your oven faster than you can say....I don't know, some big word...But, since I didn't have a big sheet of aluminum laying around, here's the way I did it. Enjoy!

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • Pizza topping(s) of choice

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F

In a small bowl mix the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes until yeast is activated and foaming. In a large bowl, combine the flour, olive oil, salt and yeast mixture. Mix until dough forms. If dough is to sticky, add in 1 Tbsp of flour at a time until elastic, vice versa with 1 Tbsp of water if it is to dry. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm area until double in sized, about 30 min. Once dough has formed, knead on a floured service until smooth and elastic. 

Roll out pizza dough on a metal pizza pan or, in my case, a metal baking sheet. Don't put on any toppings yet, put dough in the oven and bake for 7-10 min until dough is starting to brown. Remove the crust from the baking sheet onto a pizza peel (You don't need a pizza peel, just put the crust on something so you can transfer it back into the oven). Add sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice. Slide the pizza into the oven, directly on the oven rack. Bake for another 7-10 min until cheese is melted, I hit it with the broiler for about 30 second to brown the cheese. 

Song of the Recipe

Charred Cajun Bruschetta

If you haven't gotten the hint yet...I like spicy. I like to take recipes and give them a little cajun/southwest flavor. Like bruschetta for example, it's such a classic italian appetizer that tastes delicious the traditional way, but it's also a recipe that you can have a lot of creative freedom with to make it into something different. So by charring all the vegetables under a broiler adds in a little smokey flavor, adding in some jalapeno gives it some heat, and using cilantro and lime juice gives it some of those southwest flavors. Figuring out what flavors makes you tick when trying to take your cooking skills to the next level is important. Once you figure out your "voice" in the kitchen, you can take any classic recipe and really make it your own.

  • 2 Lbs Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion; halved with skin removed
  • 3 Jalapeno's, halved and seeded
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
  • French Baguette
  • Fresh Mozzarella; sliced

Set broiler to high.

Place tomatoes, jalapeno's and red onion skin side up on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle all the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Place pan 4" below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once the vegetables are cooled, dice them and mix them all together in a zip lock bag. Add in the minced garlic, cilantro, olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste). Mix all the ingredients together until incorporated.

Slice baguette into 1/4" thick slices on the bias and toast them in the oven. Once toasted, top with sliced mozzarella and the charred vegetable mixture. Serve as a side with the Cajun Sweet Potato Soup.  


Mary Had a Lamb-a-Letta

This past summer I entered in a national sandwich competition through Mezzetta (they sell imported olives and olive oil). I didn't win the competition, but I really liked the sandwich I came up with and wanted to share it. This is a twist on a traditional New Orleans sandwich called a Muffaletta, which typically features Italian meats and an olive salad. My version uses sliced leg of lamb, smoked gouda, baby arugula, the olive salad and a garlic aioli. It's a little bit of a pricey sandwich to make, but if you're entertaining and want to show off a bit, this will definitely do the trick! Bon Appétit!


For Lamb:
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied (ask butcher)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary, bruised to release oils
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and crack black pepper
 For Garlic Aioli:
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For Olive Salad:
  • 3/4 Cup Spanish Olives w/ Pimento
  • 1/4 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1/4 Cup Giardiniera (use at lease one of each veggie)
  • 3 Peperoncini, stems removed and seeded
  • 4 Cocktail Onions
  • 2 Tablespoons non-pereil capers
  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For Assembly:
  • 4 Chibata Rolls, sliced in half & lightly toasted
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Sliced Lamb 
  • Smoked gouda, sliced
  • Baby arugala
  • Olive Salad Mixture

Add the first 4 ingredients for lamb into a large ziplock bag or bowl and stir to combine. Add the lamb to the marinade and seal or cover. Allow the lamb to marinate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. Allow the lamb to come to room temperature before grilling. 

Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard all of the garlic slices and rosemary. Season both sides of the lamb very liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. 

Grill over medium-high, fat-side down first for about 15-20 minutes, then flip and grill for another 15-20 minutes for medium rare. (The cook time maybe adjusted for other degrees of doneness) Beware of seriously flare ups that may arise from the fat-side down direct flame grilling. You may need to move the meat to a portion of the grill that is not directly over the flames to prevent serious charring. Remove the meat from the grill and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for at least ten minutes before slicing. 

For the aioli, Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  For the olive salad,  Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse, being sure to scrap the sides until blended. Dish the olive salad into a bowl and refrigerate. 

Slice the lamb in thin slices and split sliced lamb up into even piles.  Slice the chibata rolls in half and lightly toast. Place the bottom half of the chibata rolls on a work surface and spread the Garlic Aioli on the bread, then top with the sliced lamb and a slice of smoked gouda. Set your oven to broil, place sandwich bottoms on a baking sheet and broil on high to melt the cheese. Take the top half of the chibata roll and press the inside of the bread to form a bowl shape. Pile the olive salad mixture into it. Remove the bottom half of the sandwich from the broiler and top with baby arugala. Put the top on, cut the sandwich, plate it and enjoy the Mary Had a Lamb-a-letta!

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