Saturday, October 17, 2020

Focaccia Pizza

With Coronavirus came the bread making craze of 2020. I jumped on that bandwagon and bought 100 lbs of flour and a pound of yeast in March at the beginning of quarantine and started making this easy and delicious focaccia bread. Then over summer I became obsessed with making pizza in my grill pizza box. What I quickly realized is that the entire process of getting the right gluten formation in the dough, then getting the pie dough nice and thin and then cooking the multiple pies took too much of my time. I love pizza but was tired of making pizza. Then I remembered my husband saying that on his last trip to NYC he had Roman pizza and was blown away. A couple of google searches later I determined Roman pizza was very similar to focaccia pizza. Focacia is delicious- crispy crusts baked in olive oil and salt. The dough is relative easy to make and proof. There is no kneading involved and no pulling the pie crusts to form individual pizzas.  It just takes a little work in the morning and then it's all downtime while the dough rises. So my love for pizza and making pizza was reborn because it was delicious and easy!!! 

To make the dough use this recipe.  My one tip is that I don't think it is necessary to refrigerate the dough for 2-3 days. A slow proof add flavor, which is great for bread but with all the flavor of the sauce , cheese, and stopping I just don't think it is necessary. Instead make the dough in the morning, allow it to rise all day, and then a couple hours before dinner put it in a half sheet pan for it's final proof. 

Pizza Sauce:

1 can of tomatoes

1/2 can tomato paste

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more if you want it spicier

3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

Add these ingredients to a blender and blend until pureed. 

A couple hours before dinner grease a non stick baking pan with olive oil and liberally sprinkle kosher salt onto the pan. Then place the dough onto the pan. Pull the dough to fill the pan but don't over stretch and break it. If it isn't pulling or contracting back, then allow the dough to rest and try again in 20-30 minutes. Eventually the dough will fill the pan and start to rise. 

I like to use a whole milk mozzarella and cut the cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. Then I push the cheese into the dough.  Then top with ample sauce. It is imperative to put a lot of sauce onto this pizza because it makes it delicious but this is a think doughy pizza and you need that sauce to balance the dough. 

Then pre-heat and oven to 500 degrees and bake on the lower rack for 40 minutes, or until the dough is golden. IF you are adding toppings that need to cook like salami or sausage you can put them on the pizza after its been cooking for 20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes I add fresh mozzarella and let it gently melt onto the pizza. I remove the pizza from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan then remove and place onto a baking sheet. 

In the photo above, I made two pizzas- one cheese and one salami and roasted red pepper (doubled the recipe). My go to topping for my cheese pizza slice is arugula and prosciutto! Give it a try, it's fantastic. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Cream Cheese Brownies

First recipe back and it is a family favorite dessert- Cream Cheese Brownies. I don't usually like to bake but when I do I want recipes that are easy and delicious. These brownies are made from scratch, yet they  they surprisingly easy to make and absolutely delicious.  This recipe was Baba Peter's and she passed it to my mom, my sister, and me. It is a family favorite and the smell of them baking in the oven brings me back my childhood. 


Baker's German Chocolate  8 ounces

Butter 10 tablespoons

Cream Cheese 8 ounces

Sugar 2 cups

Eggs 6

Baking powder 1 teaspoon

Flour 1 cup and 2 tablespoons

Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

Salt 1 teaspoon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the chocolate from the wrapper and use a sharp knife to chop the chocolate bar into small pieces. Put the chocolate and 6 ounces of butter into a microwavable bowl. ON low heat and in intervals of 20 seconds, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir after each interval with a spatula. Go slow, stir and allow the residual heat to melt the chocolate, avoid scorching the chocolate. Once fully melted, set aside to cool 

Place 8 ounces of cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of butter in a microwavable safe bowl. Warm the cream cheese/butter mixture in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften. Add 1/2 cup sugar and cream with a hand mixture until fluffy. Blend in 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, beat 4 eggs until they are lightly colored, slowly add in 1.5 cups of sugar and beat until thick. Add 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt,  1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup flour and blend in the cooled chocolate mixture. 

Grease a 8*8 baking pan with butter and lightly dust with flour. Add half the chocolate brownie batter to the pan, then spread the cream cheese mixture, and add the remaining chocolate brownie batter over the top. Use a toothpick, knife, or fork to swirl the cream cheese into the chocolate. Tap the pan on a counter surface to remove air bubbles in the batter and place in the over at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Use a toothpick to test the brownies for done-ness. Error on the side of the brownies being underdone. 

Allow the brownies to cool and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. This is essential- resting overnight in the fridge makes everything fudgy and the flavors of cream cheese and chocolate just pop. After they have rested in the fridge you can cut them into pieces and enjoy at room temp or warm in the oven. These also freeze well. Just place the brownie bites into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A return to blogging

    It's been 7 years since I've posted. A lot has happened. After years of infertility and loss I had my now 5 year old son, Jonah. Jonah was a micro preemie, born at 560 grams at 28 weeks. We as a family endured a long hospital stay with what seemed like endless complications. He is now 5 happy and healthy, we have delays from prematurity but we are thriving as a family. 

    Last May I lost my grandmother, my Baba Peters. She was the matriarch of my family and a  huge reason why I love to cook and eat. Her death inspired me to want to share my recipes on this forum again.  The tile of this blog is "Foodie Relation's" and since her death it's taken on a new meaning. I want to create a place to document my families recipes and a place to give my family and friends easy access to my favorite recipes. I still love to cook dishes with big flavor using fresh seasonal ingredients. My hope is to also bring an array of family dishes from my Russian background- and maybe modernize them- while paying tribute to my roots. 

    I also have a great group of friends from college that have been encouraging me to get back to posting my recipes. Over the last year we've reconnected, we chat daily about all the important things in life-  like what we are eating or making for dinner and how we are all surviving motherhood during COVID while throwing flashback memories of being 20 somethings in college. 

So Foodie Relations is back. Here's to great family, friends, and to the yummy food and great memories that bond us all.