Salami and Chili Pepper Pizzas

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This past fall I rediscovered salami as a pizza topping and I’ve been hooked ever since. It crisps up delightfully around the edges and has a more complex and meaty flavor than pepperoni does. On these individual-sized pizzas, the salami is joined by spicy red chili peppers — you can leave them off if spicy food isn’t you thing, but I find that they add a delicious flavor and negate the need for crushed red peppers added afterward (I usually pile them on). What goes better with salami and cheese than beer? Hannaford sells lumps of beer-bread dough that are perfect to use as the crust for these pizzas (find them in the refrigerated section, near the hummus and fresh mozzarella). Of course, you can use any pizza dough that you like, or make your own beer bread dough from scratch.
Because I used a lot of purchased ingredients on these pizzas this post is really more an idea that a recipe, but I hope that it’s one that you’ll enjoy. I figured it would also be a great opportunity to share a few pizza-making tips that I’ve picked up over the years.
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Click to continue reading Salami and Chili Pepper Pizzas –>

Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies

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I knew that I needed to bring a knockout recipe to the food blogger cookie exchange that I attended last week, so I turned to these citrusy butter cookies. With a delicate crumb, a texture similar to soft shortbread, and a creme brulée-like smattering of burnt sugar that lightly shatters when you bite into it, Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies are a welcome contrast to the denser oatmeal and peanut butter cookies that are so prevalent this time of year. Although these cookies are a festive treat for the holidays, they make a delightful accompaniment to a cappuccino any time of the year.

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While the burnt sugar topping is what takes these cookies to the next level, I understand that a kitchen torch isn’t exactly something that everyone has on hand. My first recommendation is to use this recipe as an excuse to get one – they can be found for under $20 and are also great for toasting the cheese on French onion soup. Alternately, you can brown the sugar under the broiler for 45 seconds; however, taking this approach will also melt the glaze and the cookies won’t look quite as pretty. Of course, they are incredible without the crunchy topping – just be sure to let the glaze fully harden (about 2 hours) before stacking them.

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Click to get the recipe for Bruleed Orange Butter Cookies –>

Ropa Vieja with Olives and Capers

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Ropa Veija is a traditional Cuban dish featuring beef that is slowly stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers until it falls apart into shreds. With the texture of pulled pork and the comforting flavor of pot-roast, Ropa Veija is a real crowd pleaser!

Although it does take a while to make (about 3-1/2 hours), the recipe couldn’t be simpler and it doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time. It’s also the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have had more time to meld. I like to make a big batch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, then make Ropa and Swiss Sandwiches – a dish I fell in love with at New World Bistro Bar – to eat while we watch football (go Bills!) on Sunday.

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Click to get the recipe for Ropa Vieja with Olives and Capers –>

Tortelloni Fagioli with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

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This spin on classic pasta fagioli was nothing more than an excuse eat tortellini.

Seriously. I’ve been craving it ever since I made Tortelloni Di Ricotta Di Noci Tostate but, since I find tortellini so easy to overeat, I try not to make it too often. Then I had a brilliant idea: stretch out a serving of tortellini by adding it to a soup full of nutritious ingredients. As it turns out, the soup that I created ended up being crave worthy in its own right — and is so much healthier than just eating a giant bowl of carbs and cheese for dinner (which is what I would have done otherwise).

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I always say that I like to make soup because it’s so simple, and this is one of the easiest yet — other than chopping an onion, all you have to do is open jars and dump them in your pot. Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe and I wanted to be sure that the final dish was full of flavor, I turned to my old favorite: fire roasted tomatoes. I really love the slightly smokey, charred flavor of these tomatoes and they really added a nice dimension to the soup.

Instead of regular cheese tortellini, I grabbed a package of chicken and proscuitto tortelloni from Buitoni. I LOVED the way these tasted in the soup! They were very delicate but they added a ton of flavor (they reminded me a little bit of wontons). I definitely recommend using them, but if you can’t find them — or if you’re a vegetarian — you can easily substitute regular cheese tortellini.

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Click to continue reading and get the recipe for Tortelloni Fagioli with Fire Roasted Tomatoes –>

Let’s Talk Risotto

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If you’ve hung out around this blog for a while, you know that risotto is a staple in our house. You might even says it’s my thing. In fact, when I was asked to bring a gift that represented my blog to the Foodbuzz Festival I brought a risotto kit.

So when Marx Foods was looking for people to test and review four different kinds of risotto rice, I jumped on the opportunity. I almost always use arborio rice, both because its easy to find and affordable and because its what I know, but I was super excited to try out the rice that Marx Foods sent me: Vialone Nano, Organic Arborio, Organic Integrale (a brown rice), and Organic Carnaroli. Shawn and I did a blind tasting and ended up ranking the rice the exact same way as each other — and the results surprised us!

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First, the ground rules: In order to keep the results as unbiased as possible, I identified each rice only by the pan that I cooked it in; I didn’t know which was which until the end. I prepared them all at the same time (quite the task!) using a simple recipe that would let the flavor of the rice itself shine through — just the rice, some onion, white wine, and chicken stock. I kept detailed notes as I cooked and tasted and rated each rice on appearance, creaminess, smell, and taste. When Shawn came home from work, he tasted each and ranked his favorites (again, he didn’t know which was which. He also didn’t know that I used the same recipe for each version of the risotto.)

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Clockwise from top left: Arborio, Carnaroli, Integrale, Vialone Nano

Click to continue reading and find out which rice we liked the best!

Tandoori Rotis (Indian Flat Bread)

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Now that you’re all set to whip up some chana masala next time you’re looking for a quick, nutritious meal you need something to serve it with, right? Enter tandoori rotis.
Crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, these breads are perfect for sopping up curries and sauces. No yeast means they’re quick to make (no long rise times required) and the ingredient list couldn’t be simpler — you probably have everything you need to make them in your cabinet right now.
Tandoori rotis are traditionally baked in a clay oven called a tandoor, but they can also be made successfully in a regular oven. Just like with pita bread, rotis puff up when the moisture in the dough turns to steam. Because of this, you’ll want to be sure your oven is nice and hot — allow plenty of time for it to preheat. I like to bake mine on a pizza stone, but a heavy duty baking sheet will work just as well. I also like to use a combination of white, whole wheat, and garbanzo beans flours in my rotis because it keeps them nice and light while giving them a great nutty flavor. If you prefer, they can also be made with all whole wheat flour or with a mixture of half white and half whole wheat.
Ready to take your bread making skills to the next level? Try my pea & herb stuffed naan.
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Click to continue reading and get the recipe for Tandoori Rotis –>