Body by Pizza

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As a professional cook, I’m often asked what is my favorite thing to make at home. My answer is always breakfast; it’s my favorite meal. And the best thing about breakfast is that you can essentially eat it any time of day, sans guilt. (At least I don’t think so, anyway.) My go-to breakfast food that I usually make at home is chilaquiles. I usually have made-ahead enchilada sauce, tortilla chips, cheese and eggs in my pantry, so it takes just a few minutes to put it all together.

After a year working at an Italian restaurant, I became a bit of a pizza expert. I lived and breathed pizza. If you thought eating pizza every day would be tiresome, it’s surprisingly not. The pizzas we made changed daily, so there was always something new to try. I thank that job for these rock-hard abs I’m sporting these days. (That’s completely false, by the way. Purely fiction. The only thing hard on me is my inability to give up major vices: namely cookies, coffee, beer, hot men and, of course, pizza.)

After one night of not being able to decide between making chilaquiles or pizza for dinner, my brain had a ding-ding-ding! moment, where I thought: Why don’t I just put them together?

And that, I did.

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Chilaquiles Pizza
Serves 1-4

FOR THE RED SAUCE
Recipe slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

INGREDIENTS
1 pasilla chile, charred and scraped
15 ounces (1 can) tomatoes
1 medium shallot, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3/4 cup beer
2 handfuls, tortilla chips
salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
Place the pasilla over the grates of a gas stove. Heat the chile, rotating it on medium-high heat and char till it’s evenly blackened. Place the charred pasilla in a medium-size bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap. (The lack of released oxygen will cause the charred skin to easily separate itself from the flesh of the chile.) After about 5-7 minutes, remove the chile from the covered bowl and scrape apart the charred skin using a knife. Chop the pasilla’s flesh, removing the seeds and thick membrane. Place the chopped pasilla and canned tomatoes into a blender and pulse till smooth.

Meanwhile, in a medium-size skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook till lightly browned (but not burned), about 7 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the beer. Stir to get all the tasty, sugary bits incorporated. Pour the tomato/pasilla sauce mixture and tomato paste into the skillet. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, until reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture often, to avoid scorching. Add the tortilla chips and stir till softened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

sauce

FOR THE SALSA VERDE

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, small dice
1 jalapeño, charred, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 poblano, charred, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 – 1 cup olive oil

METHOD
Add all the ingredients except the oil into a blender and pulse till incorporated. Stream in the oil to create an emulsion. Add more oil if too stiff. Season with salt, to taste.

FOR THE PIZZA DOUGH

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water**
2 cups flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Place the room warm water and yeast into a KitchenAid mixing bowl and quickly whisk till incorporated. Allow to rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. **The yeast won’t properly activate if the water is too cold. And thus, will over activate if it’s too hot.**

Add the flour and then the salt. (Adding salt directly to yeast can kill it.) With the dough hook attachment, start mixing the dough for about 3 minutes on the medium speed. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Mix till fully incorporated and a little sticky.

Transfer the dough onto a well-oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot in the kitchen. (I usually have it placed on top of the stove while I’m heating up the oven.) Let the dough proof until it doubles in size (about 1 hour, depending on the room temperature).

Once the dough has been proofed, roll out onto a well floured countertop. Knead the dough with your hands and divide into two equal size balls. Set one ball aside for later use by tightly wrapping and placing in the fridge or freezer. Roll the other ball evenly. Using a a floured rolling pin, roll out until evenly sized on a baking or pizza pan.

**PIZZA ASSEMBLY**

INGREDIENTS
1 pizza dough, rolled out
olive oil
1-2 ladles chilaquiles sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
salsa verde, garnish
Mexican crema (optional)

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METHOD
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush three dots of olive oil onto the pizza dough. Sprinkle a bit of salt onto the dough, too. Using a ladle, spoon the chilaquiles sauce onto the surface evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Create a little well in the center of the pizza to add the egg at the last few minutes of cooking.

Bake for 8 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Rotate pizza to make sure all sides cook evenly. Check for doneness. Cook for another 5 minutes. When the dough is 1/4 done (just slightly doughy) Slowly crack in the egg. This should cook for an additional 1-2 more minutes, till set but still runny.

When fully cooked, remove and place onto a cooling rack. Drizzle with salsa verde and crema, if desired.

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Fat Stacks

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I dream of pancakes. Literally. I dream of all flavors: buttermilk, blueberry, chocolate chip, Bananas Foster, peanut butter and jelly, bacon-maple. I can totally emulate Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump and name off more combinations, but I’m sure you get the picture. I woke up one morning with the instant craving for oatmeal pancakes. Oatmeal is always in my pantry. And because I love me some strawberries (and they’re perfectly in season right now) I topped ’em with a strawberry compote.

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Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe slightly adapted from The Flour Sack
Yields 4 pancakes

FOR THE WET INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup old-fashioned strawberries n’ cream oats
1/2 cup water
Pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus extra for the pan)
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1/2 cup strawberries, quartered (larger ones cut into 1/8ths)

FOR THE DRY INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup old-fashioned strawberries n’ cream oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Prepare the wet ingredients. Place the oats with water and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and microwave for 60 seconds or until cooked. In the same bowl, add the melted (but slightly cooled) butter, milk, honey and egg. Mix till well incorporated.

Prepare the dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Using a rubber spatula, slowly and gently fold in the WET ingredients into the DRY ingredients. I always get asked by friends why their pancakes are always flat. The trick here is not to over-mix the batter. It’s perfectly OK to have flour clumps in the batter, you want a thick consistency. Get it? Got it? Good!

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat, butter the pan and when hot, use a 1/4 cup to scoop the batter and pour into the pan. Because there is a fair amount of oatmeal clumps in the batter, it may be hard to see the tiny bubbles that form on the sides of the pancake, indicating it’s ready to turn over. In this case, using a spatula gently lift the pancake and check to see if it’s golden brown and “flippable.” If you’re forcing the spatula on the pan to scrape it out, stop. Leave it be for another minute or two. When you start to see the bubbles start to form, sprinkle a small handful of the fresh strawberries onto the pancake. Then when the pancake gets to a golden brown color, flip it onto the side. This should take a total of 5 minutes. Watch your heat, though, to avoid burning the pancake. Continue scooping 1/4 cups of batter into the butter-greased pan till all batter has been cooked off.

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Strawberry Compote
Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine
Yields 3 1/2 cups

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place all of your ingredients in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and serve warm.

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