Saturday, April 11, 2015

Recipe Alert! Homemade Chicago-Style Pizza

Our first attempt at homemade Chicago-Style pizza was a winner. Pizza is literally my favorite food so when Ryan mentioned testing out our new deep dish pan for Easter dinner with the fam, I was totally in. The pizza was fantastic. The best thing about pizza (to me anyways) is that you can make it your own. Throw in any and all of your favorite toppings/fillings and let the magic happen. The following recipe combined with a really great deep dish pan (see link above as this is the exact pan we have) created a ridiculously awesome pizza. I must admit I’ve never had pizza in Chicago... sad I know. I’ve actually only had Chicago-Style in NYC (see Emmett’s) but I imagine it couldn't be much better than this...I hope to make this determination sooner than later. Until I can make it back to the Windy City, this recipe will certainly do.

FYI-this is a more intense recipe than I would usually post. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time. The whole process, including letting the dough rise, will take you about 2-3 hours.

The Kocher’s Homemade Chicago-Style Pizza

Yields 2 (12in) Deep Dish Pizzas

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed
1 tablespoon dry red wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 ounces soppressata, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, cored and cut into thin rings
1 yellow onion, cut into thin rings
1 pound crumbled sweet Italian sausage
1 cup grated Parmesan

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza Dough:

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 teaspoons to grease bowl
1 teaspoon salt


Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza Dough:
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. 
Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the semolina, 1/2 cup of the oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Divide into 2 equal portions and use as follows...

While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the herbs, seeds, salt, and black and red peppers, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, wine and sugar, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. 
Remove from heat and let cool before using. 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Oil 2 seasoned 12-inch round deep-dish pizza pans with the extra-virgin olive oil. Press 1 piece of dough into each pan, pressing to the edge and stretching about 1 1/2 inches up the sides. 
Let rest for 5 minutes.

Layer the mozzarella cheese all over the bottom of the pies. Top each with half of the soppressata, mushrooms, bell pepper rings, onions, and sausage. 
Ladle the sauce evenly over each pizza and top with Parmesan.

Bake until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. 

Optional: Take a paper towel and blot the top of the pizza carefully. 
Some moisture and/or grease will surface and this will help dry everything out.

Slice & serve hot.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Healthy, Creamy and Vegan: Avocado Pesto

I LOVE pasta with cream sauce... I mean, who doesn't love pasta with cream sauce? Alfredo, vodka, pestos... the cheesy and creamier the better right? Well, if you're trying to maintain a sudo healthy diet and your girlish/boyish figure, not so much. 

Avocado Pesto is a dream. It’s beyond healthy for you when made properly. Avocados are full of healthy fats, dietary fiber and are an excellent source of potassium (containing more per weight than bananas). In addition, avocados are rich in vitamin K, vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E2. Add in olive oil, fresh garlic & some healthy veggies and you’ve created an oh so good for you, gourmet meal. Best of all, this recipe takes about 15 minutes to make including cooking your pasta noodles. You can also use this amazing pesto on meats, toasts or as a dipping sauce for hearty breads and/or cut veggies. 

When I’d first read about Avocado Pesto, I immediately started researching recipes. It’s a fairly easy process but there are quite a few recipes out there. After playing around a bit, I’ve found this to be our favorite. Even Ryan loved it! And quite honesty he made it the best...he added fresh mozzarella cheese...:-)

My Amazing Avocado Pesto
4 servings

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 c fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 c pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 organic lemon
4 T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste ( have a good amount of salt on hand )
Water as needed
2 c fresh, organic spinach, packed
16 oz fresh pasta, cooked 
(You can use gluten-free noodles as well. We love thick fettuccine noodles!) 
1 organic tomato, diced

Preparation: Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, stream in lemon juice, 3 T olive oil and water as needed to achieve a smooth and creamy pesto. Season with salt (do NOT be shy) & pepper. 

In a large pan, heat the remaining 1 T of olive oil and sautĂ© 2 cups of spinach until just wilted. 
Add pesto and cooked pasta. Toss well. Garnish with diced tomatoes. If you’re not going the vegan route, feel free to throw in some grated parmesan or fresh mozzarella cheese. 

Go nuts and get creative!

My meis and plas...ya gotta be prepared. 

Soooooooo creamy you'd swear we added dairy. We didn’t.

VoilĂ ! An incredibly healthy, gourmet meal that's beyond satisfying. Enjoy!

Eat Up!