Make It: Homemade Caramelized Apple, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza.

Fall means smoky flavors, thick crusts, and roasted and caramelized veggies. The best way to combine all the flavors of fall in one bite? Pizza! The best part of purchasing the heavy black pizza stone I got a few months ago is the amazing crunchy crusts you get from it. For those that have to do without the heavy duty wood-fire ovens that gourmet pizza chefs love so much, a pizza stone is a welcome alternative.

Homemade Caramelized Apple, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza

  • 1/2 pound of bacon (I used Applewood Smoked, fresh from the butcher.)
  • 1 italian sausage, cut into small bits outside of the casing (I used a medium heat one, to balance the sweet of the apples. Optional, just if you want a secondary type of meat.)
  • 4 oz. of goat cheese (I chose the creamy Chevre version for this.)
  • 1 bag of premade dough (I used the garlic and herb type from Trader Joe.)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzerella (or more if you like a lot of cheese.)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic, 3 cloves, smashed
  • Dried Oregano
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper

For the caramelized apples:

  • 1 fresh large apple, thin slices
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 table spoons of cinnamon
  • olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray your pizza stone or pizza tray with cooking spray or olive oil to prevent your crust from burning or sticking.  Take your premade dough out of the bag and let it rest without messing with it for 15 minutes (this lets the air get to the gluten in the flour, letting it become more pliable.) Slowly stretch your dough to the sides of the pizza stone or pan to make the full circle base for your pizza pie (I held my corners down with coffee cups to force the dough to stretch.)

Combine the finely chopped garlic cloves with the oregano, salt, pepper, and olive in a small bowl. Drizzle the garlic oil mixture over the raw dough evenly as your sauce base. Cover the crust liberally and evenly with the shredded cheese, spreading the mozz first and then the parm.

Heat up a small pan with olive oil and put your sliced apples in. Cover the apples with the cinnamon and brown sugar and let it heat up until the sugar dissolves and caramelizes. Take the apples off the heat, let them cool slightly, and then place them on the pizza.

Next layer is the meats. Cut your bacon and sausage up into small bite size pieces and arrange them evenly throughout the top of your pizza. Add small balls of the soft goat cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and pop it into the oven. Bake for about 17-22 minutes, take it out when your crust edges are browning.

Give the pizza a few minutes to chill before slicing out of the oven because the pizza stone will be VERY HOT (believe me.) Slice into thick slices and serve. (I topped mine with fresh mixed greens for a nice crunch to pair with the heartiness of the bacon and sausage.)

This pizza is a crowd pleaser for Autumn afternoons (Including my mom and boyfriend, who aren’t crazy about goat cheese.)

Enjoy with your favorite fall ale, great as a prelude to pumpkin carving.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Make It: Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup

Using up the last part of my CSA delivery is always a challenge. There it was, a weirdly shaped Acorn Squash, sitting on my kitchen, as if it was mocking me with it’s hard outer shell and culinary obscurity. What the heck was I going to do with this thing? Dealing with a squash in the kitchen is no easy feat, and it’s an underrated undertaking.

What is the best way of dealing with a veggie like this? Roasted, with olive oil and salt. Easy enough right?

I knew that I wanted to make soup with it. And I knew one small Acorn Squash wasn’t going to suffice so I bought a medium sized Butternut Squash to help balance it out.

Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 pounds squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, cleaned and roughly chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3 (13 3/4-ounce) cans chicken broth (or two boxes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup light cream or heavy cream (I went with one of the small cartons of heavy for this.)
  • Sour cream, a dallop for garnish

Halve your squash, using a very sharp serrated knife and a lot of patience as it will take a few minutes to crack these bad boys open. Clean out the seeds thoroughly, using a spoon to carve out the innards and stringy bits. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, place your squash face up on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, placing a small pad of butter in the center of seed pit to keep it moist. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a fork can go through the flesh with ease.

Dice your onion, celery, carrots, and brown them in a deep pan with olive oil. Once the onions start to caramelize the mirepoix, add your chicken stock/chicken broth to the pan. Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, stiring frequently.

When the squash is fully baked, scrape out the warm insides of the halves directly into a food processor or high-powered blender, adding in the rest of your butter, heavy cream, and a dash of salt. Blend until smooth, adding in your chicken stock and blending again. Serve warm, with a dallop of sour cream.

This soup, although a bit calorie dense due to all of the cream and butter, is great to make ahead for a warm way to heat up the cold Autumn nights.

Enjoy!

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Edible PSA: Making The Best of Your CSA

One of the blessings of living in such a culturally and culinarily diverse place is that fresh fruits and veggies can be found with relative ease. California is home to some of the most sought-after produce, which is shipped all over the world. The reason I started this blog was to document all the mouth watering ways local resources can be used, without having to step much further outside of my hometown to find memorable ingredients.

The biggest trend in cooking right now is “farm to table,” which essential translates into cutting out the middleman and eating locally grown foods to further connect communities to their land and their meals. One movement to ensure to become a member of a local CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. CSAs are known for sourcing local seasonal fruits, veggies, and nuts and shipping directly out to members for a modest cost. For about 30 bucks, I get this huge box that usually contains an range of leafy greens, root veggies, vine veggies, berries, fruits, and other things that might be in-season that week. Depending on the size of your CSA, you can choose themes to get more of the things you enjoy cooking with such as “All Fruit” or “No Cooking Needed” or “All Veggies.” Joining a CSA is great for the local farmers, who don’t end up losing profits by having to sell to large buyers like Safeway or Whole Foods, and so they pass that savings onto you. Totally worth it if you’re trying to turn over a healthier leaf, no pun intended.

One notable downside/challenge of joining a CSA is that even though you get to choose your theme if you’re lucky, you don’t get to individually choose your box contents. Which means you often get veggies or fruits that you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself in the grocery store. One such challenge for me this month: 3 large red Beets, 1 Acorn Squash, 1 bunch of Carrots, 1 large bunch of Lacinato (aka Dinosaur) Kale, and 1 bunch of Radishes. I tried giving them away but no one would take them! So I thought to myself: Be a big girl. Find a way to make these things delicious. Expand your palette.

Know what you do with veggies that you don’t enjoy? Bake them! Sautée them with garlic! Liquify them! My biggest problem with this basket was the Beets. I mean, Beets? Red, staining, tastes-like-earthy-dirt Beets? YUCK. Every time that I’ve tried to give them a try in other preparations or in restaurants, they were cold, slimy, and tasted like I was eating a plant bed. I knew there had to be a way to make them digestible. Luckily, I have Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) on my side. I had forgotten that I had seen a show where she roasts them and then hits them with fruity acidity of orange juice right before serving to cut some of that earthy taste, ingenious!

Roasted Beets

  • 3 red Beets, scrubbed and peeled, chopped into bite sized quarters
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced (or any fresh herbs you have, sage and basil work great here, too.)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (don’t worry about overseasoning here.)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 large orange

NOTE: Keep the beet greens at the top for a nutrient-rich easy stewing or sauteing green. It’s insane the amount of Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; and folic acid that you get from a red Beet, which can also be found in the greens so don’t waste them! Serious gift from nature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. (If you can’t peel them entirely, don’t sweat it. As long as they’re scrubbed thoroughly, you’re fine if some of the outer skin gets left on.) Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut in quarters, and large beets cut in eighths.)

Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, (I always cover my cookie sheets with tin foil for easy cleanup.) fresh herbs, sea salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the orange juice. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and serve warm.

(And now here is where we reuse those valuable Beet greens!)

Sauteed Lacinato Kale and Beet Greens

(Generally, this technique can work for any greens you have around, including swiss chard and thicker types of spinach.)

  • 1 bunch of Kale, cleaned and separated from the stalk
  • 1 bunch of Beet greens, cleaned and separated from the stalk
  • Olive Oil (about 5 tablespoons, plus extra for cooking as needed)
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Cloves (four or five, just smashed)
  • 1 fresh lemon

Taking a deep pan or dutch oven, heat up your olive oil on medium heat with the garlic cloves. (Stir often to prevent your garlic from burning.) After about a minute or two, just after the oil becomes fragrant, add your leafy greens, ripping them into halves. Toss the leaves gently in the hot oil (don’t be frightened if the oil is making popping sounds, that is just the water in the leaves being cooked down.) Wilting the leaves evenly, squeeze half of a fresh lemon into the pan, hitting it with some of the sea salt and pepper. Give the leaves one last toss, transfer to a platter and hit it with the juice of the other half of the lemon. Serve warm.

Roasted Carrots and Radish Halves

  • 1 bunch of fresh Carrots, scrubbed and separated from the stalks
  • 1 bunch of Radishes, scrubbed and separated from the stalks
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh herbs (any that you have around is fine)
  • Dried Oregano (Just a sprinkle.)
  • Smoked Paprika (Just a sprinkle and totally optional. Use what ya’ got.)

Heat up your oven to 400 degrees. Take a shallow cookie sheet (it is better if it has a lip on it to prevent any oil spillage in your oven.) line it with tin foil, sprinkle the bottom with olive oil. Rough chop your veggies into halves and place them on the cookie sheet, drizzling more olive oil on top, sprinkling your fresh herbs, sea salt, pepper, and smoked paprika here. Toss the veggies until fully coated and roast for about 15 – 20 minutes until done, tossing them about halfway through. Sprinkle them with just a bit more salt and serve warm.

This is a great way to prep the veggies for eating later in the week, they keep for a while in the fridge and are easy to microwave to heat up. I’m glad to say that I no longer hate beets!

I hope this fall, you discover some new ways not to hate some seasonal ingredients, too.

Thanks and happy eats,

Lisa

Where in the World is The Hearty Serving: Dishcrawl’s Battledish 2013 San Mateo

Fall, beyond the time for pumpkins and cinnamon-spiced everything, is the best time of year because there are fantastic food festivals to be had every weekend!

The weekend after The Hearty Serving went to Oakland’s Eat Real Festival, I won tickets to attend Dishcrawl’s Battledish event in San Mateo. The whole concept is that local food trucks show off their unique culinary fare to compete for best dish of the event. Major downside: it was held at a in-progress not-yet-fully-built housing complex in a long open driveway. No shade. 90 degree heat. Lines as long as the eye could see.

Overall, the event was just OK and none of the dishes really wowed us. However, the best win of the day was scoring the very last root beer float from a dessert and waffle truck in the midst of the heat.

You win some, you lose some, right? Can’t really complain when I got the tickets for free!

Thanks and happy eats,
Lisa

Where in the World is The Hearty Serving: Oakland’s Eat Real Festival 2013

So, this post is ridiculously late but a few weeks ago The Hearty Serving went on a magnificent foodventure into the mysterious and faraway city of Oakland (it’s about 5 minutes away from where I live.)

Every year, Oakland puts on this awesome food truck and local restaurant festival right next to the water in the Jack London marina called the Eat Real Festival. It celebrates small town farms, urban ecology, fresh eating, and supporting local restaurants. This is often the chance for young entrepreneur to debut their fresh new food ideas and dishes to the masses for a full weekend (the event grosses somewhere close to 50,000 people every year across the span of the weekend.)

What’s the catch? Every dish has to be only $5. They can offer sides and drinks that might vary in price but the main dishes have to be only $5.

This year’s event was phenomenal. We made sure to partake in the local beers, cocktails, and even attended a bourbon tasting “experience” from veteran brand Four Roses.

Aside from battling the massive crowds, the event is a must for anyone in the area in September/October every year.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there next year.

Thanks and happy eats,
Lisa