A couple of weeks ago, my cheesemaker friend Christine arrived with a log of her glorious chevre, and also an early experiment with a beeswax-rind goat gouda that was out of this world. Every bit as ethereal, the fresh, yeasty pizza dough her husband made for us (thank you, Ross) begged to be played with, right then and there. We divided the dough into six equal pan pizza portions -- each one just the right size for one or two people -- and cooked them one at a time in a small nonstick frying pan on the stove top. It was the perfect way to indulge our individual topping fantasies, combining homemade cheeses with produce from the farmstand and herbs from my garden, and a great idea for family pizza night or a pizza party. Create a toppings bar, with a selection of cheeses, vegetables, fruits and herbs, and let everyone decorate the pizzas of their dreams.
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When my friends Donna (Just One Donna) and Stacy (Get Up Off the Couch) came for a day of work-related brainstorming, I took the opportunity to road test some recipe ideas for our lunch. After all, who better to suffer your kitchen experiments than fellow bloggers? A nice quiche, green salad, and molasses spice cookies followed a morning snack of walnut-raisin biscotti. Made with white whole wheat flour and not much sugar, these healthier cookies get their sweetness from golden raisins, which also keeps them just moist enough. We were so deep in conversation that we forgot to dunk, but the next morning I slid a leftover biscotto into my coffee, the perfect way to start the day.
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For the past five-plus years, I've been preaching the gospel of a well-stocked pantry, so when a recent medical episode grounded me for a few weeks, I dove into my pantry enthusiastically, and cooked some great meals with what I had on hand. These pita pizzas topped with caramelized onions, slow-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes, olives and parmesan cheese, epitomize pantry cooking. The small size pita, a low carb oat-and-flax flatbread from Joseph's, has few calories and fewer carbs, and it's just the right size for an individual pizza topped with whatever treasures your pantry offers up. I love this combination of caramelized onions (made two weeks ago in the slow cooker), sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes, olives and cheese; if you're into broccoli, or roasted red peppers, or pepperoni, pile them on. Pita pizzas are great for a party, too. Set up an array of toppings, and let each person create his or her own masterpiece.
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Don't you love a recipe with a pedigree? I do. This Swedish soda bread recipe came to me from my friend Bev, who first tasted a version of it at an opening reception at the Providence Art Club. Bev asked Joan, the artist, for the recipe; Joan had made it as Irish soda bread, with caraway seeds instead of cardamom, and shortening instead of butter. When I sampled Bev's Swedish adaptation, it seemed more like cake, so I baked mine in one of the Bundt pans I collect but seldom use. (I can't explain my fascination with Bundt pans. I just love them.) Bev made hers in a round cake pan. Serve the soda bread warm, with a pat of sweet butter and a cup of tea, when friends stop by for a mid-afternoon visit.
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