Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

Cookbook Review: Dairy Made Easy & “180 Cal (or Less!) Cheesecake” Ramekins

May 26, 2014


Disclosure: Artscroll provided me with a copy of this book to review. Opinions are my own.

Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek have released another book in their “made easy” series in time for Shavuoth. Like the earlier books in this series, Dairy Made Easy is a slim book, very attractively designed. The target audience for this book seems to be cooks who already have plenty of comprehensive, basic cookbooks and are looking to freshen up their dairy menus with recipes that are creative but not too much of a patchke.

The recipes in Dairy Made Easy are clearly explained and reasonably do-able for most cooks.  While most of them look fairly easy to make, not all of them are dead simple. Recipes that sound delicious but a little involved: Arancini (deep-fried cheese-stuffed rice balls), chocolate croissants, and cheese buns/babka.

This being a dairy cookbook, the recipes feature lots of butter, cream and cheese. Most don’t have over-the-top amounts, but some do. The Three Cheese Quiche has a pint of sour cream and almost two sticks of butter in the crust and over 2 1/2 lbs. of cheese in the filling. The Cajun Creamy Pasta, the Penne a la Vodka, the Pesto Cream Sauce and the Alfredo sauce all use about a pint of heavy cream.

The authors do include a “Make it Light” page that lists the lighter recipes in the book and provides tips for lightening up some of the richer recipes. A sidebar explains how to use Greek yogurt as a substitute for higher fat ingredients like cream cheese or sour cream. (Throughout the book, the authors suggest using a particular brand of Greek yogurt and another brand of hard cheese.) There is also a “Make it Pareve” page.

Another thing to bear in mind: the book emphasizes pasta and bread, not whole grains and legumes. The main dishes in this book are primarily divided between the chapters “Pizza,” “Pasta,” and “Soups, Salads & Sandwiches.”  There are ten pasta dishes, five pizza/calzone recipes and four sandwich recipes. Besides these bread or pasta main dishes, there is one fish recipe, one quiche recipe and one frittata recipe.

All that being said, the bottom line with any cookbook is whether or not the recipes are appealing and actually work. On this count, the authors definitely deliver. I have liked everything that I have made from this book and there are a number of other recipes I want to try. Here is what I have already made from this book:


Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto Griddle Pizza

July 24, 2011

I saw a recipe for Mario Batali’s pizza in the April/May issue of Vegetarian Times and I was intrigued: the recipe calls for par-baking very thin crusts on a griddle. This seemed like a really good idea, especially in brutally hot weather, as an alternative to using a 500 degree oven with a pizza stone. Batali says that you can make the par-baked crusts ahead of time, which sounded like another good idea. I was hoping that Batali’s technique would yield pizza crusts that were chewy and crispy instead of soggy.

(Epicurious has the recipe also, along with a few reviews, which warn that the salt listed is excessive; here is the recipe with reader comments at Serious Eats; here is the recipe along with an interview at the Houston Chronicle; and here is some more at Delaware Online, including reassurance that the large amount of salt is correct and the tip that you can parbake the crust using a pizza stone in the oven, too.)

My results? First, I found it somewhat easier to stretch the dough to the 10″ size suggested from a 4 ounce ball of dough when the dough had been refrigerated overnight, but this is not critical.

Second, the pizza crust created is chewy, but not so crisp unless you crisp it well in the oven afterward OR (and this took me a while to figure out), you actually put the crust back on the griddle with topping added, and heat it to melt the topping on the griddle (cover the pan to speed the melting process). By the time that the topping have melted, the bottom of the crust will be crisp:

Even so, the pizza tastes and looks like you made it with chappati or aish tanoor. There are little black flecks that add flavor, but turned off my kids.

Here is what my first batch of pizza crusts looked like:

Here is the second batch, made with dough that had sat in the fridge for a day or so:

My kids liked the first, paler batch better, even though the second batch was crisper and more flavorful.

Bottom line: this is an interesting technique for pizza, and useful for when you have access to a cooktop, but not an oven. I used a non-stick pan, a black steel pan, and an enameled cast-iron pot, and all worked well (although the cast-iron worked especially well because it got really hot and stayed really hot). The downside is that crust is just not the same as an oven-baked crust, and it is hard to get away with using lots of topping. My kids wanted more tomato sauce than the thin floppy crust could hold.

As for the salt, I used 2 tbl. of KOSHER salt, which is probably equal to 3 tsp. of table salt. The dough was salty, but not overpoweringly so.

(Here are the measurements, converted to weight: 10 ounces water, .25 ounces yeast, 18.5 ounces all-purpose flour, 2 scant Tbl. kosher salt, 1 1/2 tsp. sugar)

Note to self: it seems that there is more excitement about Otto’s olive oil ice cream than its pizza, strange as that sounds. (see here, here, and here)

Parsha Pizza: Terumah

February 3, 2011

Okay, no parsha cake (well, not yet, but I am contemplating parsha cookies). Instead we made something savory inspired by the parsha: menorah pizza. (more…)

Zucchini Yellow Tomato Goat Cheese Pizza

July 13, 2010

I tried out yet another pizza dough recipe, this time from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. The basic dough is 3 cups of bread or all-purpose white flour, 1/2 cup of whole wheat, 1 1/3 cups water, 1 Tbl. yeast, plus sugar, oil, salt, and–here was the interesting part–1/2 tsp. ground pepper. The pepper really affects the dough (maybe more so because my pepper was coarsely ground). (more…)

Irish Soda Bread Pizza

March 17, 2010

Well, this is exactly what it sounds like. Irish soda bread batter (from Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School), topped with sauce and cheese and baked like pizza.

Great Sicilian Pizza from a Toaster Oven

January 21, 2010

This is the first time that I have made pizza that is unquestionably better than what I get from the local pizza place, and it baked in my toaster oven.


Baking with Julia’s Fougasse

September 2, 2009


The picture of the fougasse in Baking with Julia was irresistible; I had to give the recipe a try. I loved the way that the surface of the dough was covered with little bubbles. (to watch the original PBS episode, go here; for the recipe and to see how some other bloggers have fared with it, try here, here, and here)



Israeli Breakfast Bread: Abouelafia’s Za’atar Pita Pizza with Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

September 2, 2009


In The Foods of Israel, Joan Nathan provides a recipe for a flatbread baked with olive oil, za’atar, feta, and two sunny-side-up eggs. Nathan says that this is the most popular of the more than eighty different flatbreads made by the famous Abouelafia Bakery in Jaffa. Sometimes, the bread is also served with olives or tahina.
Nathan provides a recipe for a whole wheat dough that she says was inspired by a “pizza joint in Safed” that “serves a similar concoction,” but you can probably use any pizza or pita dough.