September: Pizza For Dinner

Did you know that pizza is the perfect food for using seasonal, local ingredients?  Join Everyday Chef as we explore fast, fun, family-friendly pizza. Throughout the month of September, Everyday Chef will be focused on pizza.  Why pizza? Well  . . . I’m glad you asked:

Why Pizza?

1.  Pizza is versatile.  Put cheese and pepperoni out of your mind!  Everyday Chef pizza is covered with fresh, colorful, beautiful vegetables, fruits, and herbs.  Want a use for that eggplant left in your fridge at the end of the week?  The bell peppers that came in your CSA share?  Sweet onions?  Pears?  Even greens.  Pizza is an easy and tasty way to eat everything local.

2.  Pizza is easier than it seems.  Once you’ve mastered the art of homemade dough, pizza becomes a go-to weeknight meal.  Easy by hand and a cinch with a stand mixer, pizza dough is a must-learn Everyday Chef skill:  You can do it!  And, don’t forget that in a pinch, you can purchase pizza dough in the prepared food section of your grocery store.

3.  Pizza is FUN! Family-friendly and festive, pizza is the perfect meal to bring everyone together.  Invite your kid’s best friends, the neighbors you’ve been meaning to get together with, that old friend who will be in town, and celebrate great food . . . together.

Look for our September cooking demos at workplaces around Rutland, and check back often to learn more tips, tricks, and recipes for amazing homemade pizza.

Buttermilk Basil Dressing

Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing this amazing dressing with us!

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 sour cream
  • 2+ tbsp finely chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine using any of the following options:

  • Super simple (for small quantities):  put all ingredients in a mug, and agitate in a circular motion with a fork.
  • Still pretty simple: put all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (like a canning jar), tighten the lid, and shake like the dickens–fun job for kiddos.
  • Simple:  put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously.
  • Not-so-simple, but still fun (good for larger quantities):  Pull out your food processor or (the Diva’s favorite) Magic Bullet, add solid ingredients first (like garlic or ginger) and pulse until everything is minced.  Then all other non-oil ingredients (vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, etc), and then, while the processor is still on, add the oil slowly.  Voila.  You’ll have a tasty and emulsified dressing.

If you’re making a big batch, leftovers can be kept in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine using any of the following options:

  • Super simple (for small quantities):  put all ingredients in a mug, and agitate in a circular motion with a fork.
  • Still pretty simple: put all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (like a canning jar), tighten the lid, and shake like the dickens–fun job for kiddos.
  • Simple:  put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously.
  • Not-so-simple, but still fun (good for larger quantities):  Pull out your food processor or (the Diva’s favorite) Magic Bullet, add solid ingredients first (like garlic or ginger) and pulse until everything is minced.  Then all other non-oil ingredients (vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, etc), and then, while the processor is still on, add the oil slowly.  Voila.  You’ll have a tasty and emulsified dressing.

If you’re making a big batch, leftovers can be kept in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Homemade Dressing: How?

So you’re convinced that making your own homemade dressing is at least worth a shot. Here’s the how-to that will help you to take this theory and put it into practice. Where to start? Unless you’re already well-acquainted with different oils and vinegars, it is helpful to start with a recipe.  Check out our Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette and the Domestic Diva’s Buttermilk Basil Dressing, and then check out the considerations for combining below.

5 Basic Elements of salad dressing for Everyday Chef.

  1. Oil:  Use a good quality olive oil or neutral-tasting alternative like canola, grapeseed or safflower. Combined with a bit of sesame oil or nut oil, you’ve got an dressing you won’t find in the store.  How much oil do you need? Traditionally, the oil to acid ratio is 3 to 1, but I prefer an equal 1 to 1 mix.
  2. Acid: The go-to vinegars are balsamic, red wine and rice vinegar. Want a change of pace? Try champagne or sherry vinegar.  You can also substitute some or all of the vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. A splash of lime juice goes well with citrus-based salads.
  3. Sweet: To take the edge off the acid, add a touch of sweetness. Ordinary white sugar will do, but you’ll add more flavour with honey, maple syrup, apple juice, or even jam.
  4. Salt: A generous pinch or two is usually enough.  If you’re desired dressing is Asian-inspired, opt for Tamari (a slightly more refined soy sauce) instead of salt.  The Domestic Diva recommends kosher salt and sea salt.
  5. Aromatics: Minced fresh herbs, shallots, citrus rind, black pepper and/or garlic aren’t mandatory but add flavor. Common salad herbs include basil, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, mint, parsley and dill. Mix and match as you please.

How to combine it all?

You have several great options for combining your dressing accommodates any kitchen set-up or budget.  The following list details options from simple to complex:

  • Super simple (for small quantities):  put all ingredients in a mug, and agitate in a circular motion with a fork.
  • Still pretty simple: put all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (like a canning jar), tighten the lid, and shake like the dickens–fun job for kiddos.
  • Simple:  put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously.
  • Not-so-simple, but still fun (good for larger quantities):  Pull out your food processor or (the Diva’s favorite) Magic Bullet, add solid ingredients first (like garlic or ginger) and pulse until everything is minced.  Then all other non-oil ingredients (vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, etc), and then, while the processor is still on, add the oil slowly.  Voila.  You’ll have a tasty and emulsified dressing.

If you’re making a big batch, leftovers can be kept in a sealed jar in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:

  • One bunch garlic scapes (approximately 10), chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or almonds (can be toasted if desired)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation: Put the scapes, cheese, nuts, and olive oil in a food processor or blender (can be done with a mortar and pestle as well–just more elbow grease required) and whir until ingredients are evenly blended.  More olive oil can be added to thin if it is too thick for your taste.  Add salt to taste and whir again briefly.

Use pesto immediately as a sauce for warm pasta, or to spread on fresh bread or veggies.  Pesto is easy to freeze in plastic bags or containers.  Otherwise, store in the fridge for a couple of days with a bit of plastic over the surface to prevent oxidizing.

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