8-hour pizza dough

These days I spend more time planning ahead to make sure we have a healthy, homemade dinner on the table since I have a 9-to-5. Pizza night is simple. I'll make a salad of sorts and serve that alongside the pie. If I didn't plan ahead, my plan B is to use garlic naan from Whole Foods.

I've been using local whole wheat flour and cornmeal from Faucette Farms to make this pizza dough. For local readers, you can find it at the mobile farmer's market, Lomo Market.

I've made this pizza dough with several variations, but this is always my favorite. The cornmeal gives it a nice flavor and crunch that I like. Before I head out the door to work, I'll whip this up, and dinner practically makes itself.

8-hour pizza dough
From Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c all purpose flour 
2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano
1.5 c water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, then whisk in the water. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and put in a warm spot (I put mine on top of the fridge). Let sit for 8-12 hours. 

When you get home from work, put on some music (maybe Lee Fields), grab an apron, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread the dough out on it. Cover with a cloth while you're prepping your toppings. Don't let it sit out longer than an hour.

Add tomato sauce or pesto and top with your favorite ingredients. Lately we've been making ours with tomato sauce, summer squash, mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and basil. Bake 10-12 minutes and remove from the oven. Enjoy! 

Make this tonight: Coconut zucchini noodles

In a cooking rut? This is one of those recipes that will break you out of one. When I saw Jeanine of Love & Lemons post this delicious recipe, I knew I had to try it. We're both big fans of coconut over here. I subbed dino kale for the amaranth greens and pretty much followed her recipe word-for-word. I served this alongside lettuce cups filled with a chilled rice noodle salad similar to this one. It was a great light meal on a hot summer night. Have you had any great dishes lately?

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My very talented husband is teaching the Fundamentals of graphic design on August 6th. The project for his class is to design a promotional poster for your favorite art exhibit. You'll learn some of the basic principles of design like composition, hierarchy, and scale as well as why choosing the right typeface matters. This is a great class for anyone looking to learn more about graphic design. Enroll here if you're interested.

The drink of summer nights

I was first introduced to Pimm's in a park in London. It was March of 2005 and I was finishing up my winter semester abroad. The grey had given way to the sun and everyone was headed outside. Our dorm was right across from Battersea Park so we walked over and found a spot amidst the families picnicking and couples lounging. A pitcher of Pimm's was soon passed around. I'll never forget how refreshing that first sip was.

Nowadays whenever the temperatures soar, we stock our bar with Pimm's. I add in lemon and lime slices, but the cucumber spear is the most important. You can skip the gin, but I like it's botanical note. 8 years ago Pimm's was hard to find in the States, but these days it's carried in most liquor stores.

Pimm's Pitcher 
serves four
8 oz Pimm's
1 oz Tanqueray gin
14-16 oz ginger ale
4 lemon slice
4 lime slices
4 cucumber spear
sprig of fresh basil or mint

Pour the liquor and ginger ale into a large pitcher. Put ice cubes in four tall glasses and pour in the Pimm's mixture. Add a lemon slice, lime slice, and cucumber spear to each glass. Garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy with friends on a hot summer night.

Blue Bottle coffee granita

We recently spent several days in San Francisco. Me for a design conference, him for pleasure. Our hotel was conveniently located a few blocks away from Blue Bottle coffee. I stopped there each morning for an iced pour over on the way to the Moscone Center. Some afternoons I also stopped by for a pick-me-up. I now understand why Blue Bottle gets such praise. It's more than their exceptional coffee drinks, but a genuine love of the craft.

Back on the East coast with my Blue Bottle beans in tow—where temperatures were back in the 90s—I decided to make a coffee granita. Granita is a semi-frozen Italian dessert, with a texture similar to a slushie. It's made from water, sugar, and flavors like coffee, lemon, almond, strawberry. I found a recipe by Mark Bittman that sounded delicious. I've already made it twice in the past two weeks. I reduced the sugar, increased the cocoa, and added a pinch of cinnamon.

Blue Bottle coffee granita
Adapted from the Diner's Journal
3 cups of freshly brewed french press coffee
1.5-2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 c raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour the coffee into a nonstick loaf pan or tray of choice. While the coffee's hot, stir in the remaining ingredients until dissolved. Allow the coffee mixture to cool and then put into the freezer.

Check the granita in 30 minutes or so, and scrap the ice with a fork. Repeat several more times until it's mostly frozen, but a still a bit slushy.

Enjoy as is or top with cream (coconut or whipped). If you store in the freezer, make sure to remove ahead of time, so it has time to melt before eating.

Raw zucchini salad

I've been eyeing raw zucchini salads for some time now, and I finally got around to making my own. I wish I had made this one sooner. It's so refreshing on a hot and humid summer day. And it is hot in Raleigh these days. If you avoid turning on your oven this time of year—because it turns your kitchen into a furnace and makes you break into a sweat—then you'll really enjoy this salad. Plus it's ready in minutes, so you can spend more time outside swimming or drinking cold beverages with friends. Pack this for your fourth of July festivities along with these toasts and a pitcher of watermelon agua fresca (or gin fizz).

Raw zucchini salad 
2 medium-sized zucchini
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp walnut (or olive) oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of chili flakes
1-2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tbsp of fresh basil and mint, shredded
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Rinse and dry the zucchini. Shave off the skin with a vegetable peeler and discard (or compost!). Then shave the remainder of the zucchini into long ribbons and put into a bowl. If you have a hunk of zucchini left, just slice very thinly and toss into the bowl.

Mix the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes into a small dish. Drizzle over the zucchini and mix well with your hands. Depending on the size of your zucchini, you may want to add more or less dressing to the zucchini.

Top the zucchini ribbons with parmesan and herbs. Place the cherry tomatoes around the edge of the bowl. Serve immediately.

How is it already July? I can't believe how fast this year is flying by. Any big plans for the fourth, friends?

Mixed berry galette

A galette is perfect for those of us who aren't serious bakers. Uneven edges give the rustic tart more character. I used blueberries and cherries, but feel free to add your favorites. I'm thinking peaches next time around. Or if sweet isn't your thing, you could always try it savory.

Mixed berry galette
Makes about an 8 inch galette that serves about six people.

1 c organic whole wheat pastry or spelt flour (or a mixture)
6 tbsp organic butter
, cold and cut into chunks
1 tbsp raw natural sugar

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 c ice water

1 c blueberries

1/2 c cherries, pitted

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/4 c raw honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Make the dough first. Pour flour into large bowl along with the sugar and salt. Add the butter, a few chunks out a time, mixing in with your fingers or cut in with a knife. Mix until it resembles a coarse mixture. A few larger chunks of butter are ok. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, as you work it into the dough. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with clear wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour. 

30 minutes later, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the berries, coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice together while the dough is in the refrigerator. 

After an hour has passed, remove the dough from the fridge and put onto a floured work surface. Massage with your hands as it will warm the dough, making it easier to work with. Grab a rolling pin and roll the dough out. It’s really up to you how thick you want the crust to be. I like mine anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 in. thick. 

Now place the filling in the middle of the dough and spread out. Leave about an inch or so free from the edge. You will then pick up the edges and roll over the filling, forming a rustic, open tart. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you made your crust. You want the crust to brown lightly.

Remove from heat and let cool before serving. Excellent served with homemade ice cream.

Strawberries, eaten many ways.

Growing up in western North Carolina, we would pick strawberries every summer at Ira Cline Farm. Nothing is sweeter than plucking a bright red, plump strawberry off the vine and straight into your mouth. The warm, sweet juice dripping down your chin. Nature's candy. We'd fill buckets full and my mom would make gallons of freezer jam that would last us into the winter.

Strawberry season is ending now in NC, so last weekend we went strawberry picking. We filled a large plastic bucket for $11 in less than 20 minutes. When we got home, I got to work. I roasted them, mashed into a jam, whisked into a glaze, froze for later and ate a handful while doing all of the above.

If you find yourself with a bucket of berries. Here's a few ideas:
Mix into a salad of spinach, goat cheese, and pecans.
Slice and add to plain yogurt and granola for breakfast.
Make a strawberry version of chia jam. It's easy and good for you today.
Muddle into Erin's tarragon smash or this balsamic smash.
Freeze for smoothies or make into popsicles.
Roast them and pile on top of Sara's gluten free almond cake. See below.

Sara's gluten free almond cake
Slightly adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c raw honey
3/4 c organic plain yogurt, strained (or greek)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/3 c raw cane sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

Mix the wet ingredients together in large bowl—eggs, extract, honey, yogurt, butter. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix together well.

Pour into the cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Strawberry glaze
1 cup strawberries
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3-5 tbsp powdered sugar

Toss the strawberries and yogurt into a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time and mix in furiously. I'm not one to use a lot of powdered sugar, but it helps to thicken the glaze.

Once the cake is cool, top with glaze, roasted strawberries, and sliced almonds. The perfect cake for a picnic.

Better than peanut sauce

Almonds are the new kid in town. They're full of protein, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and iron. Don't get me wrong I love peanuts, but I've replaced my peanut butter with almond butter these days. It seems to be the adult thing to do, right?

Peanuts contain some of the same vitamins as almonds, but they're usually mixed with preservatives and unhealthy ingredients when made into peanut butter. Plus a lot of people are allergic to peanuts these days. I do love making my own peanut butter at home from time-to-time, so I can control the ingredients that go into it. If you're buying store-bought, I'd recommend buying organic to keep the icky stuff out of your food. 

Better than peanut sauce
Note: I made a homemade batch of almond butter that I sweetened with honey. If you use unsweetened almond butter or think the sauce is too tart, then balance with a dollop of honey. And if you don't have almond butter, you can sub in peanut butter.

2 tbsp almond butter (see note above)
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp miso
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 in. knob of ginger, grated
juice of 1 lime
1/4 c. hot water
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp Eden sesame seasoning 

Put the first 7 ingredients in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. The hot water is what thins the almond butter, so the ingredients will mix together better. It's a great trick. Remove the lid and stir in the cilantro, chili flakes, and sesame seed mix. Makes about half a cup of sauce.

Use in place of your usual peanut sauce. Pour over cooked soba or maifun noodles and eat chilled. It's perfect on a hot day. I also like to use as a dressing on a shredded cabbage salad or Asian style slaw.