(Semi) Homemade Neapolitan Style Pizza

3 08 2010

Ever since our first visit to Keste, Robbie and I have wanted to try to recreate a Neapolitan style pizza at home, which is a difficult task, being that they cook their pies for a matter of seconds, at about 800 degrees. HOT! Also, the dough is made in a very specific way….so we cheated a little.

Keste actually sells their dough at $5 a piece- which is actually pretty great when you consider the cost of getting the dough ingredients for Neapolitan pizza.

We turned our oven up to max about an hour before baking, and at the same time, placed the pizza stone in the oven to get it nice and hot. We also let the dough hang out at room temperature so it was nice and easy to handle.

When ready, we shaped the dough on our pizza paddle, and transferred it to the pizza stone and baking sheet (we had 2 pieces of dough). The dough cooks alone (sans sauce, or any toppings) for about 10 minutes. It got nice and browned during the pre-baking portion; much closer to the look of Keste’s cooked crust than I had imagined our little oven could accomplish.

As far as sauce goes, we also went all out authentic and a bought a can of San Marzano tomatoes. They really do taste different- nice and sweet.

Baked crust, getting topped with San Marzano tomatoes

One pie was some awesome local heirloom tomatoes from the USQ greenmarket, and the other was lentil sage Field Roast deli slices and yellow pepper. Both had FYH Jack cheese and Daiya.

Fresh local heirloom tomatoes, basil, FYH jack cheese

We also made some sweet bruschetta for good measure.

Bruschetta with local heirloom tomatoes

I’d totally recommend trying this at home if you are into Neapolitan style pizza. It is really worth getting the authentic dough and playing around!





Vacation Recap

5 05 2010

First off, thank you to my man, Robbie, for the beautiful post…now get on it
more often. Turns out, a real camera (and a good photographer…thanks again Robbie) makes a huge difference, so after this post and going forth, I promise to lose the crappy phone camera shots as much a\s possible and deliver better pictures.

Last week, Robbie and I went to the Pacific Northwest. We basically flew into Seattle, then went to Orcas Island in the Puget Sounds, hung in Seattle, hiked a little Mt. Rainier, drove down to Portland, went to Willamette Valley wine country, then made our way up to Multnomah Falls, back to Settle then flew out. We packed our itinerary rather tight, but somehow we didn’t feel rushed.

We really got to see what we wanted to see (except a longer hike would have been great at Rainier), but for a week, I couldn’t have been happier with our trip. What a beautiful country we have…

So, I must highlight a few specific vegan foodie moments that were particularly memorable. First of all, Portland is a vegan HEAVEN. Everybody knows what the terms vegan means, and even the BIGMENLOVEMEAT hot dog truck guy had vegan hotdogs. Dude…it was crazy.

Our first WOW meal was at Portobello, an all vegan Italian-ish spot in Portland. What is awesome about them, besides the kick-ass food, is that they are really into organic, local produce and supporting local farmers. And, they make their seitan in house, which us in NYC know is a rarity. Side note: Sacred Chow does make their own- Kudos! Back to Portobello, though. We had the Pate, which was actually from Field Roast. It was served with an amazing baguette. You can’t get the Field Roast pate in retail, so if you are ever in Portland, eat it at Portobello.

Next, we had the Portobello Steak, with fleur de sel, olive oil whipped yukons and asparagus. The mushroom was perfectly cooked, as was the asparagus and the amazing creamy mashed potatoes. We also shared the Potato Gnocchi with rapini, fennel and cauliflower vellutata. The sauce on these buggers was plate-licking-worthy. It was so exciting to be able to visit a place with dished like this gnocchi, which is something usually seemingly vegan friendly but often containing eggs, or any number of non-vegan sauce ingredients.

We drank a beautiful bottle of Bunny Rouge from Hip Chicks Do Wine. It was such a beautiful, fruit-forward, well-loved wine. And it was local, baby!

For breakfast the next morning, we hit up Voodoo Doughnut. Robbie got the classic Voodoo style, filled with yummy, jammy blood. I barely remember what doughnuts taste like, but to me, it brought me right back to elementary school birthday parties. Robbie said it was spot on as well, and I trust his perspective on such matters. Regardless, they tasted awesome…

For lunch, we hit up Sweetpea. They have some killer lunch sandwiches, and we had one with some Field Roast, seitan, veg pepperoni,  pickled jalapenos, and other goodies. It was pretty awesome.

After a great lunch at Sweetpea, we hit up the rest of the vegan strip mall. YES- really. Next to Sweetpea is Herbivore, where I got an awesome zip-up hoodie and some fun buttons. Then, we went next door to  Food Fight grocery, an all vegan grocery store that I have been aching to visit for years. In case you were wondering, they’re open: EVERY F’ING DAY from 10-8PM (their signage says so!). I finally was able to try and buy Teese for the first time, as well as find a vegan jello mix! Rainbow cake on the way! The Teese is pretty rocking by the way. I love my Daiya (which is apparently pronounced day-ah…I don’t know how to feel about that), but Teese is easier to melt on things like nachos without drying out.

We also made the mandatory visit to Powell’s books. I thought you might be amused by this sign. Check out the “VEGAN” notation on the sign. Veg books took up most of the right aisle- it was a pretty beautiful sight.

Overall, it was an incredible trip. Not just the food, and the wine (oh..the wine…we brought 10 bottles home), but the country out there is really beautiful. And the folks there appreciate the land. They work with nature, not on it. This was made very clear while we were in Willamette Valley, talking one on one with the vinters. They respect the land and what it gives us. They nurture it and treat it as the living, fragile Earth that it is. The commitment to organic/natural/biodynamic farming that is prevalent out West is inspiring.

We’ll definitely be back.

When we got home, it was 30 degrees warmer, and time to take out the picnic basket for its inaugural trip. We had a wonderful picnic in Fort Greene park, with our Field Roast loot (the PATE, baby- and other things..mwahaha)…if you visit the factory in Seattle, you may just get as lucky as we did.

Cheers!





Blossom Review and adventures in seitan! And an amazing dinner by Robbie.

2 04 2010

On Wednesday, Robbie and I were lucky enough to nab 2 free tickets to see te Roundabout’s production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

Before the show, and after much deliberation regarding which of the many amazing vegan spot we could go to for a pre-theatre dinner, we decided on Blossom Cafe. We’ve been here a number of times and every experience has been wonderful.

As an appetizer, we couldn’t help but order the Black Eyed Pea cake- which we have, without fail, ordered every time we’ve been to Blossom. It is just that great. Packed with Yukon gold potatoes and a chipotle aioli, it is really a special dish. I’ve tried recreating it at home, but my version fell short. The deal is, when we’ve made our own home version that rivals Blossom’s, we’ll keep getting it for an appetizer. So, we will probably be ordering it for a long time.

Next, we shared two enterees.

One was the Port Wine Seitan- the port wine reduction is incredible, as is Blossom’s impecible seitan….wowza.

“Seitan cutlets pan-seared in a sauce of port wine and mushrooms, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes, tempura onion, and sautéed garlic spinach.”

The other entree was “Rigatoni in Porcini Cream.” This dish is incredibly creamy, yet light at the same time. All the flavors are beautifully balanced. YUM!

“Cooked with shallots, leeks, and broccoli rabe, finished with pistachio gremoulata and truffle oil.”

We also shared a really nice bottle of Sangiovese.

As always, dining at Blossom is a pleasure.

We asked if their seitan is made in house, as it is consistently the best seitan we’ve had. We thought we may get some secrets for making our own as tasty. To our surprise, they don’t make it. They get it from Fresh Tofu Inc., who distubutes Ray’s brand seitan to a number of restaurants including Candle Cafe and others. If you’re in NYC, you can find Ray’s at Lifethyme on 6th ave. Anyway, I contacted Fresh Tofu and their Pres/Founder Gary was more than willing to give me some tips on making our seitan more kick-ass. He said it’s all about how much starch you rinse out after it is in dough form- this also means using high gluten flour as oppose to my beloved vital wheat gluten. Here is his email reply for all of us nerds:

Hi,
Use a high gluten flour. King Arthur is 1 brand. Mix the flour and water and knead to make a dough. Let rest for 10 minutes, keep it covered in water. Then rinse with luke warm water until it looks stringy and the water is getting clear that rinses out. This is the point that you need to decide how much starch to rinse out, which will effect the texture. Let it rest a bit, then boil in broth stirring so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot. When it floats and is cooked through it’s done.
Learn from your errors and improve the next time.
Blossom and Candle are very good at cooking with seitan, that’s why it tastes better. Candle has a cookbook that might help.
I hope this helps.
Gary

Another reason to support local, small businesses! So cool.

Lastly, Robbie cooked an incredible dinner fo me last night. We somehow found this Hazelnut roast en Croute from Field Roast at a health food store in Bed-Stuyvesant. It can’t believe we found this- we haven’t seen it anywhere else. Along with that he made twice baked potatoes (with daiya and tofutti cream cheese), and the most gorgeous salad I’ve ever seen. Edible flowers! And, some pear vodka pom lime cocktails…

Amazing dinner to come home to…





A confused local grocer…

17 10 2009

Our local grocery store is the Met- a small, but packed store that carries all the standards, and randomly some really great vegan products. Weirdest of all, they carry Field Roast- vegan grain meat. It is the seitan superstar of all faux meats, and comes in sausages, slices, and even a stuffed “Celebration Roast” with butternut squash, apples, and mushrooms. It tastes incredible, and has become a staple (when we can afford it) on our menu. A few months ago, I noticed a familiar label in the packaged meat aisle at the Met. God knows why I was looking in that direction, but I was- and noticed Field Roast in the MEAT section. Not in the separate vegan/veg section with your standard Tofurkey/Light Life selection. Nope- the Field Roast vegan sausages were right next to the other premade “gourmet” (blech) real meat products. I thought this was hilarious (especially since they cost less here, at the Met, than at Whole Foods), and thought that would be the end of the story. Did they think it was meat? Maybe, but regardless, I was just happy to see it there. Last week, however, the story unfolded. As usual, I always look to see that the Met still carries it, as I have a fear that one day it will just be gone. Today, however, there were not only sausages, but Field Roast meatloaf and Field Roast Celebration Roast (which I’ve rarely seen anywhere). The best part is that it was priced out as an actual meat- handling warning label on it and all. This all confirmed by suspicion- the Met really doesn’t know it is vegan. And that’s good- it is a good enough product to be placed on the same “level” as it’s counterparts. Huzzah! We used it to make a pre-Thanksgiving vegan feast- with gravy, mashed local purple potatoes, and local greenbeans with almonds and rosemary. Vive la Field Roast!

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