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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Biscuit Cake - Prince William's Favourite!

Biscuit Cake Also makes for a delicious and elegant Afternoon Tea treat!

Have you been watching the Royal Wedding? If you have, then you know by now that Prince William's favourite cake is the Biscuit Cake. This cake was used in the Royal Wedding cake tiers, which I have to say is very trendy! Hardly ever, do people associate biscuit cake with wedding cakes! However, just as with the rest of the elements of The Royal Wedding, everything was super trendy and stylish. Therefore a stylish, and unique choice of cake.

The cake is called a biscuit cake because of the use of biscuits rather than cake batter in its making. The biscuits can be any type of biscuits. From the plain tea biscuits, to the most elaborate home-made ones and anything it between. The same applies to the chocolate. It can be the average store bought semi sweet chocolate, or an elaborate Grade A Swiss chocolate... Therefore this cake can be a very accessible in expensive choice, r a real elaborate and substantially pricey one. I love this contrast, and the fact that it was chosen for the Royal Wedding is very impressive.

Biscuit cake is very simple to make, yet really good. It is a stylish addition to Afternoon Tea and High Tea menus. This cake works perfectly with adults and kids alike.  Try it out. You will love it :)

Made in a bar pan, covered with
Ganache and topped with cherries
makes a perfect afternoon tea trea
You Need
150g your choice of Tea biscuits
125g dark eating chocolate, coarsely chopped
180 ml sweetened condensed milk
60g butter
1 recipe Chocolate Ganache

Grease a 6" round cake pan, or a bar pan, then line with baking paper along the bottom and the sides.

In a small saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk with the butter and stir over low heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and stir till all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth again. if tiny chocolate pieces persist and do not melt, use a rotary beater to beat the mixture till smooth.

You can break the biscuits into smaller pieces, or for a stylish look keep them whole and layer them with the chocolate instead. if you go for breaking them, then place them in a large bowl, pour chocolate mixture over them and stir all to combine. then spread into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 3 hours. the Same technique applies for biscuit layers, except, place a layer of biscuits at the bottom of pan, top with chocolate, then biscuit layer, then chocolate and so on till done. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove from the pan, place on a wire rack and pour chocolate Ganache over the cake to cover it. refrigerate for 2 hours before serving or until firm.
You can dust the tops with
cocoa powder
You can if you wish dust the tops with cocoa powder, or top the ganache with candied fruits, fresh fruits or serve plain. if you wish to decorate this cake, then you can spread butter cream or cover with fondant, marzipan, or sugar paste and go on decorating as you would any other cake.

This cake can be stored in an air tight container for up to 1 week.


Friday, 29 April 2011

Casa Mia & Poggio ai Santi Olive Oil

Review? Not here!
Just Recommending an experience I totally enjoyed 

As many of you have requested that I post reviews of restaurants I have been to, I thought: I do not like to review, however I do like to share with you an outstanding experience. Actually, I can hardly hold back when I do! I mean why not share some thoughts that might help you decide where to go for nice dinners with friends?

Why not Review? Because reviews are tricky, as people's palates are different, and what they are looking for in terms of overall experience can vary substantially. Also I know very well that the kitchen is the one place where you could count on a mis-hap to take place. So while I form my own opinions about some experiences am not too keen to review and criticise. Instead, I prefer to focus on the positives and recommend a good experience when I find one. With that said, do bear in mind that things change, and these recommendations are based on experiences I had valid at the time I shared them.

Believe it or not, this whole post came about because of

Photo from Google
CASA MIA - Dubai
Italian Restaurant

because I had a great time, great food and enjoyed every bit of the chef's authentic Italian Food creations. (I loath nothing more than concepts that call it Italian, when in fact it is a whip up of pasta and whatever else that has nothing to do with Italy).

Why do I recommend it? Because as soon as you get to Le MERIDIEN Village, you are instantly put in a social mood. The many outdoor venues with different offerings, and the sounds of people chatting, laughing, the clink clanking of plates, the dimmed lighting, music... all give you the impression that it will be a fun social night. And Casa Mia, did not fail to deliver on that note. The whole atmosphere was relaxed, it was a fun night with lots of laughs, chats and welcoming smiles from staff throughout.

Poggio ai Santi Olive Oil
Food wise,
The first thing that grabbed my attention were the Tuscan Olive Oil bottles, placed on the table. I was delighted to find a bottle of Poggio ai Santi Olive oil, authenticated by the unmistakable label design by Monique Maday. That set the expectations for the whole food experience for me. Before I go further, let me tell you a bit about this outstanding olive oil. This oil comes from the Poggio ai Santi organic farm on the picturesque spurs of the Tuscan hills overlooking the sea. This farm, and until just a few years back, was producing only 1500 olive oil bottles a year! Therefore it wasn't surprising that this oil was to be found at exclusive restaurants and hotels, only in: Switzerland, France and, of course, Italy. It is in the past few years that the 1997 planted olive trees have started producing more olives, therefore slightly increasing the number of bottles produced. Bear in mind that the number is still very low, and hence still hard to find! But there it was, at Casa Mia Dubai, demanding to be opened and devoured! The restaurant even has an olive oil list to choose from as you desire, which includes other brands and flavoured oils too.

Presented with the menu: I have to say was very impressed. Many of the offerings caught my eye, and appealed to my taste buds. It included the all time favourites and popular Antipasti. But best of all, it also included options for the fancier palates. I was undetermined by 2 of the options:

Tonno marinato alle erbe, crostini, trito di olive Kalamata,  
cipollotto fresco e salsa al limone 
Marinated sako tuna fillet with herbs, bread croûtons, 
Kalamata olives mousse, spring onions and lemon sauce 


Carpaccio di salmone e capesante servito con agretto di olive nere  
Salmon carpaccio and sea-scallops served with tapenade sauce

What eventually closed the deal for me is Kalamata olives Mousse in the tuna platter, and went for that option to start with.

For the main course I decided to stay on the same note and order a fish plate. The Saffron sauce sealed the deal so I went for
Filetto di orate al forno con asparagi cozze e salsa allo zafferano 
Roasted sea-bream fillet with asparagus, mussels and saffron sauce
With Raineri Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Liguria)

Casa Mia, also had an expansive wine list to choose from, we went for the Savignon Blanc, it was a warm night, and the cool of the white wine, lightened up the atmosphere.

When the starter was presented, I loved the laid back yet fine presentation. From the looks of my Tuna plate, you could tell it was made with care, yet without stress. It was very inviting, and you can smell a hint of citrusy aroma. It was simply a joy to eat. It was light, refreshing and delicious.

Since I was out with a group of friends, who ordered other options, I got the chance to try out other starters. The Carpacio, bruschetta, trio di pasta were all very good. The green fusilli pasta was a little bit too rich for my taste.

Come main course, I loved it. The fish was cooked to perfection, flaky, with a crisp exterior, that mingles harmoniously with the saffron sauce. Combined with an ever so slight bite to the asparagus, it was Heavenly. One thing though, the menu did say mussels included, and my plate had non! I was, full after all that, and couldn't try more, but everyone was enjoying their selections, and expressing admiration. From fillets, pastas, pizzas... there was a look of indulgence on all faces.

After that meal, the lemon Sorbet was to die for! For a frozen dessert that contains no cream, it was exceptionally creamy, and a delight for the taste buds. That closed the evening with a sweet note.

After all, the night was smooth, fun and definitely delicious. so
This is one restaurant that has a lot to offer, and I will definitely have seconds there. I can say, when dining out, I would without a doubt recommend Casa Mia to Italian cuisine lovers, and would choose to take my friends there.

Thank you Chef Maurizio Lazzarin & Kitchen Staff for an excellent taste, and a very impressive menu :)

Monday, 25 April 2011

More Skewers for BBQ...

Meats, Veggies or both on skewers are the perfect BBQ menu option. They are more like little bites of different preparations, which allow guests to try more than one flavour. I find them so much like mini bites where we get to try many options.

Skewers can be very simple to prepare, just like in the picture above, where the flavour is derived straight from the meat, with a hint of the fresh bay leaf in between. The caramelisation of the meat's protein through subjection to high heat will produce an intense meat flavour. This is a perfect treat for meat lovers. This technique applies to steaks as well. the purists will prefer their steak to be grilled without being pre-marinated, and without sauces...etc. Just a bit of black pepper, salt & a little olive oil rubbed on it, is the perfect way to prepare steak for grilling. Any sauces, in this case, will be served on the side.
For those who prefer an elaborate marinade for meats before cooking, there is no limit to the varieties of marinades that you can prepare. You can soak your meats and vegetables in the flavours that you fancy to create flavoured skewers. The main aim of marination is to infuse flavours, and in some cases tenderise the meat.

Just like with anything a little bit of creativity can go a long way. Instead of going for the traditional metal skewer, why not try something new and make your own skewers that can also add to the flavour infusions? Try herbs like, rosemary, lavender stalks, or lemon grass skewers.... here is how you can use lemon grass for instance.

BBQ Fish On Lemon Grass Skewers
BBQ Fish on lemon grass  skewers
Straight from the shores of Bali

When you visit Bali, one of the main highlights of town are the night markets that come to life at dusk till late night. These are outdoor eateries that are famous around many of the Asian countries. They are a pure pleasure to  experience! The smells, flavours, action are not to be missed at all. A trip to Bali is not complete without trying the night market. Amongst the many exotic flavours you are definately going to find these BBQ fish Koftas on Lemon Grass, which are to die for. The lemon grass skewers were a brilliant idea, as you don't have to worry about getting the skewers back, which is very handy when catering...etc
When I had these, I feel in love with them, and had to have the recipe. So Chef Kumang, kindly agreed to share this recipe with me, which I have asked to share with you, and here you go...

You Need
(the ratio is 100g fish per skewer)

6 lemon grass sticks, trimmed
600g skinned boneless fresh fish fillet
1 cup desiccated coconut, moistened with water or coconut milk
2 tbsp red curry paste
5 lime leaves, chiffonade
3 red chilies, finely chopped (you can use less or you can discard the seeds for a less spicy option)
2tbsp sugar
Salt & ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, place the fish fillets and process till totally minced.

In a large bowl, add all the other ingredients, and the minced fish. Mix well. take 100g fish and mould around the lemon grass skewers. BBQ over direct heat till done, and golden on all sides.

Lime Chicken Skewers
Chicken goes very well with the BBQ theme. You just have to have chicken on the menu. It is especially popular with the ladies and the weight watchers. This is an easy recipe that will be everyone's favourite. You can turn the heat up a bit with a finely chopped green chili, or you can keep it mild for the non-spicy lovers... This recipe works exceptionally well with Lemon grass skewers .

You Need
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 tbsp grated lime rind
1/4 cup lime juice
6 chicken breast fillets
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 bunch coriander, finely chopped

Rinse you chicken fillets, rub with lemon wedges and cut each fillet into 4 strips crosswise. 

In a large bowl, combine the chopped corriander, peanut oil, rind. Add the chicken strips, and marinate overnight (or at least 3 hours).

Place each chicken strip in a skewer, and BBQ till the chicken is browned all over and tender. 

In a small jar, place the garlic, lime juice, chilies (if using), 1/3 cup peanut oil or mixed nut oil, and brown sugar, shake well and serve alongside the chicken skewers.

The Greek Way With Beef 
Cubes with Tzatziki 

Tzatziki is the greek equivalent of the Middle Eastern Laban bikhyar (minted yoghurt and cucumber salad). the addition of lemon and cumin, make for a flavour variation that goes real well with beef. 
The beef being leaner than lamb, will benefit from the marination which in addition to enhancing the flavour acts as a tenderiser too.

You Need
For Beef
1kg beef cubes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
a bunch of fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

For Tzatziki
1/2 kg natural or greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
3-4 small cucumbers (lebanese cucumbers), peeled and finely, chopped
a handful fresh mint, finely chopped
a pinch cumin powder
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt & black pepper to taste

Make Tzatziki, by mixing all ingredients together to combine. refrigerate till ready to use.

In a large non-metal bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, oregano, and garlic. Add beef cubes, and toss to coat. cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.

Drain the beef and discard the marinade. Skewer the cubes and BBQ to the preferred doneness. Serve with tzatziki.

Vegetarian Skewers
Cater for everyone
When entertaining, think of everyone, and all dietary needs. There is nothing more elegant than a host who caters for all. Use your favourite vegetables, and include as many as you like. These skewers will be loved by all, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike...

You Need
Firm Tofu, cubed and marinated in a little lime juice and black pepper
Zucchini, cubes
Button mushrooms, whole
yellow capsicum, cubed
red onions, cut into wedges
red capsicum, cubed
Cherry tomatoes

For dressing
Caraway seeds
a pinch cumin powder
1 tbsp lemon thyme
rind of 1 lemon
i clove of garlic, crushed
1 cup olive oil

In a jar, place all dressing ingredients and shake well to mix. Transfer to a jug and drizzle on top of BBQ skewers.

Skewer the vegetables & Tofu, and BBQ till done. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.
You can prepare all vegetables, place them in a large bowl, drizzle with dressing, toss to coat and serve as a salad.

Along with your traditional, skewers recipes, you now have a variety to create an elaborate BBQ menu! Hope you have been enjoying the BBQ recipes, throughout April. Go ahead and have that BBQ party, before it gets too hot for the outdoors :)

Thank you for reading this post, hope you have enjoyed. Don't shy away, leave me a comment :)
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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Pizza for Dessert Anyone? How about a ZEN approach to food?

Some kitchen inspiration right at the end, so read on :)

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pizzas
Add peanut butter to pizza dough, top with a layer of spreading chocolate top with mini chocolate buttons 

and roughly chopped peanut butter pucks. You have got yourself the most delicious and best looking dessert!

Having gone through Savoury Pizzas with a lil twist, and since -Hopefully- you will try and make your own pizza dough, to replace the mediocre quality of store bought pizza doughs, I thought I will give you these scrumptious yet quick and super easy dessert pizzas to add to your recipe repertoire. Now you can throw a complete Pizza party and wow everyone's taste buds. Everyone will love these, try them out :)
Just look at the faces of your kids and their friends once you make these... better yet get a chance to bring out the child in everyone when you serve these hot, melt in your mouth treats....
PS be prepared for seconds!!

All Time Favourite: 
Chocolate, Banana & Nuts Pizza

This combination works with just about any pastry or bread base. It works beautifully with pizza dough too. Make sure to mention that it includes nuts, just in case anyone is allergic, and ommit the nuts completely if anyone has allergies, the plain bananas & chocolate are just as good!

You need
Pizza dough
Dima's Home made Chocolate spread
Pecans or hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (or your favourite nuts), optional
Caramel sauce for drizzling, optional

Prepare your pizza dough as instructed in link above. Shape your dough - round or oblong - and bake till done. Spread the dough with chocolate spread, top with sliced Bananas, sprinkle with chopped nuts if using, and for extra sweetness drizzle lightly with caramel sauce. For best effect serve immediately!
Doesn't get any easier!

Dima's Tip  for a flavour variation use while chocolate spread instead of dark chocolate spread, top with sliced Strawberries or raspberries, sprinkle with roughly chopped macadamia nuts and grated orange zest... Goodness on a plate!

A Real Good gooey Chocolate Fix
Chocolate & Marshmallow Pizza

This is really a treat, especially when you make your own Marshmallows. Home-made Marshmallows are a totally different experience from those mass-produced ones! 

You Need
Pizza dough
Bitter-sweet chocolate buttons
Mini Vanilla Marshmallows

Prepare your dough as above, bake till almost done. Bring the dough out of the oven and top with chocolate buttons and mini marshmallows. Place them back in the oven and bake till marshmallows brown slightly.
You can also spread the dough with a light layer of chocolate spread before topping with the buttons and marshmallows.
The simple joys!

For The Love of Peanuts
Peanut Butter Pucks Pizza

Always mention Nuts when used, as they can be dangerous for those who are allergic. If you are lucky and can enjoy peanuts, the classic combination of peanuts and chocolate is heavenly! fleur de sel (thin salt shavings) bring out the flavours of peanuts and chocolate, giving it a gourmet finish that will tingle your taste buds :)

You Need
Pizza dough
Smooth Peanut Butter
Chocolate spread, thinned with some milk
Raw peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Prepare dough as above and cook till done. Top with a layer of peanut butter. Sprinkle with Chopped toasted peanuts. Drizzle with thinned chocolate spread.

Dima's Tip  Place thinned chocolate spread in a piping bag and drizzle on top of pizza. This makes it easier to control the drizzles.

On a lighter note;
Mascarpone, Peaches, and Dark Cherries Pizza

With a simplified version of Crema di Mascarpone, this light and fresh dessert is a summer time favourite. It won't leave you full and isn't heavy. It is in fact very refreshing, you will love it!

You Need
Pizza dough
350g Mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted (you can use more for a sweeter flavour, this recipe is a little tart)
1 tbsp Kirsch (optional)
6 peaches, stoned and sliced into wedges
20 dark cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
3 mint leaves, Chiffonade
1/4 cup Brown sugar
Honey for drizzling, optional

Prepare dough as above, except shape and don't cook.

In a mixing bowl, mix cheese, icing sugar, and kirsch if using till incorporated and creamy. Spread this mixture on top of uncooked pizza dough, top with peach wedges, chopped cherries and mint Chiffonade. Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake in hot oven till pizza is cooked through and fruits are slightly caramelised.
When you serve this pizza, you can drizzle lightly with honey.
Desserts don't get any simpler! These are just as good as the most complicated desserts, if not better.

A lil extra; 
Some Kitchen Talk for those looking for inspiration
The best foods are simple foods. The simpler the food, the more it relies on good ingredients. Use the best quality ingredients and turn a simple offering into a gourmet treat.

Nature has given us lots of options, keeping them as they are without over working them is the best approach to cooking. Love your food, and go natural, home-made, just as it is meant to be... Change your life around and take your energy from earth, from nature, from home, and right from your heart. Love your food, and cook with passion, it will turn out fabulous every time!

Mass Production and Chain Junk have ruined our palates and appreciation to all things natural. The over sweetened desserts, the marketing and multi coloured packaging had lured our vision and taste buds that we no longer know good food even if it slaps us in the face. Don't get me wrong; an occasional fatty burger with processed cheese and lard-fried chips are fine "occasionally". A balance is always required! But nothing beats an old fashioned baguette, a hand full of blueberries, a bit of honey and fresh ricotta cheese! Once you realign your palate back to nature, that combination will make for perfect dessert. Guess what? A detoxing dessert! Once you go back to the simple joys, a burger won't cut it! Unless it was home-made!!! So: Don't Eat Your Emotions, rather Eat Good Food!!
Just a thought....

Hope you enjoyed this post and like the recipes. Do let me know what you think before you leave as I love to hear from you :)) I would also love it if you could join our community on Facebook and connect with us there too...

Pictures from Dima's Kitchen!!

Hiya you guys,
wanted to share with you some pictures from what's been baking and cooking @ Dima's Kitchen over the past 2 days... These are "the making of" pictures that I share with you only here on my blog, just to thank you for all the blog views 11976 views only yesterday!!! :) I am so happy right now, this is exactly why I blog.
Thank you all for all the messages, comments, support and for making Dima's Kitchen your favourite blog... :) x

Chocolate Truffle Tart

New York Style Baked Cheese Cake with Fresh Berries

Banoffee Pie

Lemon Tart

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with Home-made Pesto Dipping Sauce

Lamb Meat Balls on Rosemary Skewers

Hope you like them :)

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Best Loved Chicken Wings Recipes

Take the afternoon off, and enjoy these wings with family and friends
The Simple Joys of Life
Chicken wings are really fun :o 

Movie night, fun outdoors, on a BBQ buffet... they go with just about any theme, as long as it is a casual theme.
Best paired with Beer or Soda, they are men's best treat :) So go ahead and treat him, the kids, your neighbours / friends to an afternoon of wings, beer and music in the garden.  The simple Joys of Life!

I have posted for you my best 2 chicken wings recipes, that are sure to be swiped away... Make sure to give them a go, you are going to love them, guaranteed :)

The notorious 
Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip

We have all had these! Almost everybody loves them. There are many variations to how they can be done. You can coat and fry them, or you can shallow fry them in butter without coating them with flour. You can even, coat them, marinate them and then BBQ them... Whatever you do, they will still be delicious and best loved.

You Need
For the Wings
2 kg Chicken wings
4 tbsp butter
500 ml peanut oil 
(peanut oil gives the wings the restaurant flavour, but you 
can substitute with vegetable oil)
4 tbsp your favourite hot sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & Black pepper to taste

Crumbled blue cheese
For the Blue Cheese Dip
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp white wine vinegar| white grape vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley 
Salt & Pepper to taste

Start with prepare your dip, and place in the fridge, till ready to serve.
To make the dip, in a bowl, mix all ingredients together till well combined. Cover and refrigerate till ready to use. 

Dima's Tip It is best to chill the dip serving bowl too till ready to use, this way it doesn't heat up quick when entertaining outdoors, keeping the dip fresh and cool for longer.

To make the chicken,
Prepare the wings by removing any stuck feathers. Cut the wings discarding the tips then rinse them with cold water. Pat dry and set aside.

Place penut oil, or vegetable frying oil in a skillet. Place skillet on fire to heat the oil for frying.
In a bowl, Season the flour with the cayenne pepper, salt & black pepper to taste. 
In a large bowl, toss the prepared chicken wings with the seasoned flour till coated. Fry the wings in the hot oil in batches, drain on paper towels.
In a large skillet, melt the butter, add hot sauce and toss the fried wings till totally coated with hot sauce.

Place chicken on serving platter with blue cheese dip, and some celery and carrot strips. Serve warm.

Finger Lickin'
Orange - Honey Glazed Chicken Wings
These are really addictive chicken wing popsicles! So beware and warn everyone!

You Need
2 Kg Chicken wings
2 cups Honey
1 cup soy sauce
4 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Orange marmalade
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 scallion, sliced
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted, optional

Prepare the chicken as instructed in the buffalo wings recipe above. Discard the tips.

In a bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients together. Toss the wings in the sauce, and transfer to a baking dish. Bake in hot oven till the wings are cooked through and the sauce is reduced and caramelised. 

Slice some scallions, and sprinkle over honey glazed wings, along with toasted sesame seeds if using. Serve immediately.

Remember, take some time off, and enjoy your family, kids, friends and the simple things around you. The more you enjoy, the better you perform when back at work.

Hope you like this post and these recipes. Leave me a comment and let me know :)
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Friday, 15 April 2011

New York Inspired Grilled Pizzas

Try these amazing Pizzas
Figs, Prosciutto, Basil, Mozzarella  & Mushrooms on Onion Marmalade sauce
Trio of Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella on Pesto Sauce

I was in New York Last week, and I must say I ate some of the best Grilled Pizzas that I have ever had! I have always preferred grilled pizza to the regular oven baked one, I feel that the smoky charred flavour, goes perfectly with pizza, especially if going for a spicy, tomato-based one! With that said, the ones I tried throughout last week were far better than any that I have ever had before! This trip has left me so inspired on many fronts, New York never fails to delight and inspire, especially when you go down its Gastronomic Route, AMAZING..! I will be sharing more of what I have tried and my take on it all, in doses though, as I am left so smitten and want to sink it in! lol

Pala on Manhattan's lower East Side
Since I am dedicating April to all things grilled & BBQ'd, I will share with you my New York inspired grilled Pizzas in the form of my favourite grilled pizza recipes, and inspired extras. Hope you will take the time to make these as am telling you, you really will not have pizza any other way, once you have tried this.

Before I go right into the recipes,  here are some tips that will help you get the best results every time :)

Be well prepared  have the dough, prepared and ready. Fill a small bowl with olive oil, and have the brush handy. Use this oil to grease the grill grates and the dough. Have your sauces, toppings, seasoning and herbs handy, so you don't have to go looking for them, and risking burning your pizza dough.

The dough   has to be well prepared, well floured and even in thickness in order to cook evenly. The grates have to be well greases in order for the dough to slide on the grill. The last thing you want is for the dough to get stuck on the grill. (dough is fully covered in Understanding Grilled Pizza)

The heat  When grilling pizza, you want your charcoal grill to be hotter on one side than the other. Cook the topped pizzas on the cooler side in order for the topping to cook through before the crust burns. But when cooking the dough before topping you want to do so on the hot side, as the dough needs high heat. When you cover the grill you allow the cheese to melt and work out properly.

Cooked VS Raw   When using different uncooked meats to top your pizza, it is always wise to half grill them before chopping them and adding them to pizza to ensure the get thoroughly cooked. This is especially important when using chicken. It's a safety issue here more than anything.

The Method of Grilling Pizza
Once your grill is hot, dip a tightly folded up paper towel in oil, and use the tongs to hold it and wipe the grates with it. Roll and shape your pizza dough, and transfer to the prepared, preheated grill. To transfer your dough, you can use a cookie sheet, or a large scraper, or a pizza scraper if you have one. It is a good idea to spread some cornmeal over the top of the transfer sheet, as so the dough doesn't get stuck. Once on the grill, cover and cook for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, open the grill and check if the bottom is slightly browned. If not, place back the cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Once browned, flip and cook on the other side till browned, 2 more minutes if you are going for no cook toppings.

If you are going for toppings that require cooking; once you flip your dough after browning one side, spread the sauce over the browned side, top with your desired toppings and cheese. Place the dough over the cooler side of the grill cover grill,  and cook till cheese is melted and dough is slightly browned.

No Cook Pizza Toppings  these pizzas are just as delicious. The concept is more like making bread out of pizza dough, and topping with a variety of toppings that do not require cooking, or that have been cooked and prepared ahead of time. This option is very good for BBQ events. You can have a Pizza station, with a variety of toppings, leaves, roasted vegetables, crumbled cheeses, a variety of tomatoes, sauces or vinaigrettes...etc. You will grill the pizza dough and leave the choice of topping up to your guests.

The Delis in Little Italy are
really worth the visit
Get inspired by the many food offerings
I have had this particular No Cook Pizza, in New York's Little Italy. A wonderful place to go for everyone who is keen on finding amazing food products. There are the Delis where you can find aged Balsamic vinegar (if you haven't tried it before, do that. It is really good and worth the bucks by the way. It is a totally different experience from regular Balsamic Vinegar!). You can also find all sorts of cheeses, cured meats, salts, olives...etc so you can go there tasting away, and getting inspired with a variety of flavours. Then there is also all the Italian restaurants, where you can have pizzas, pastas, fish and seafood...etc.
I remember having a real hard time, choosing what I want to try at Da Nico's Restaurant. The pasta was very good, but the star of the show was definitely the
Tomato Bruschetta Pizza
Tomato Bruschetta Pizza at Da Nico's Restaurant in New York's Little Italy

This Tomato Bruschetta Pizza was super delicious! Very fresh, with all the fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, onions... it offered the contrast of warm dough and cold toppings! it was delightful! This is a super simple pizza to make, it is super light and works really well for hot summer days. 
Here is how it's made...
You Need
Pizza dough (recipe on Understanding Grilled Pizza)
1 ripe red tomato, chopped
1 ripe orange tomato, chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic crushed
Olive oil
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
a handful of fresh basil leaves, Chiffonade

Chiffonade cutting method
Roll out the dough to the desired size, brush the dough with olive oil. Grill it following the Grilled Pizza instructions above. Once browned on both sides, remove from grill and place on serving platter. 
Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, onions, crushed garlic, basil Chifonnades (keep some for garnish). Top with 2 tsp Olive oil and Season with salt & pepper. Toss all to coat, then pour all evenly over pizza dough. Drizzle all with a little olive oil, and some drizzles of Aged Balsamic Vinegar. Serve as a side dish, appetiser or light main dish.

We paired this pizza with 'Lucente' Tuscan Red wine and the combination was excellent. The wine totally brought out the flavour of the tomatoes, and really complimented the dough flavours mixed with a little bit of aged balsamic vinegar. With that said, I have to say that the wine was excellent on its own as well.

Salmon, Capers Asparagus Grilled Pizza
On another note; just as fresh was the 
Salmon, Caper and Asparagus on Cream Cheese Pizza 
The best thing about this pizza, is that it is so light and can pass as a breakfast | brunch option, especially if prepared in small portions with a side of Frisee Salad.

You Need
Pizza Dough, grilled and prepared
250g Good quality Smoked Salmon (if there is a smoke house or a specialised deli in your area try buying your smoked Salmon there, it makes all the difference to the flavour of the pizza)
1 packet Baby Asparagus, roughly chopped and half grilled 
1 small red onion sliced thinly
2 tbsp pickled baby capers
zest of 1 lemon
200g herbed cream cheese

Prepare and grill your dough. Place on a serving dish and spread with herbed cream cheese.
In a small plate spread out your smoked salmon and spray with a small squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with black pepper and transfer to pizza. top with asparagus, onion slices, capers and lemon zest.
Serve along side frizee Salad. Try pairing this with a Smith-Madrone's 'Riesling' white wine, as it happens to go well and compliment the Smoked Salmon. 

 Stay tuned as I will be posting some more Hot Grilled Pizza Recipes soon...

How good are these pizzas? Have you ever had grilled pizzas? tell me your grilled pizza story, I would love to hear it, leave me a comment :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Understanding Grilled Pizza: Once you try it, you will not have your pizza any other way!!

Part 1: Understanding Pizza and The Dough
Required skills: A bit of practice, makes perfect

Above Roasted Eggplants, Bolognaise sauce Grilled Pizza!
Choose your favourite fillings, sauces, cheeses and be creative!
Don't be afraid to try new combinations, and own your recipe...
Kids, Adults, East or West, everybody likes Pizza!
Whether you are at home or eating out, be it a party, or a movie night, a sleep over or a weekend late night treat, For lunch or dinner, Pizza is the perfect offering. 

Pizza originated in Naples, and was taken out and adopted by almost every other Italian city. Each city created its own adaptation of Pizza, from the ingredients to the presentation. Then it was adopted by travelers to the rest of the world. Many areas have come up with their own versions and became famous for them, like the New Yorker large round pizza, that is sold per slice! Therefore, although originally Italian, Pizza became international. No wonder it is the world's favourite fast food.

You can make Pizza with
Focaccia dough instead of
the classic pizza dough
The main characteristics of Pizza   
the crust  a pizza is based on a crust. This crust can be thin, thick, crisp, or tender, smooth or with bulges. This crust can be made in a variety of different ways to create the different textures. You can even be creative and instead of making a classic pizza dough, you can make a pizza from Focaccia dough for variation.

Generally speaking, pizza crust is a bread-based dough, it can therefore be made with flour, wheat based, whole wheat, buckwheat...etc.

Tomato Sauce based pizza topped
with Parma Ham and baby
Arugula leaves
the sauce   Tomato sauce is the most famous base for pizza. But don't let that deter you from using other sauces. Basil Pesto goes wonderful with pizza as well. Again, basil pesto is the classic choice, you can also experiment with Arugula Pesto, baby watercress pesto, spinach sauce, bolognaise and even white sauce...

the cheese  Melted Mozzarella topping is synonymous with our mental image of pizza. But the choice of cheese is abundant. You can go from the classic mozzarella and Parmesan to all other kinds to include cheddar (classic or aged), Gorgonzola, Emmental...etc. You can even experiment with the texture of the cheese for various presentations and looks (shredded, sliched, cubed, or crumbled). The cheese can go on top, or be included in the filling or a pizza can include both options in one (a topping and filling). There are pizzas made using more than one cheese and are named accordingly (a trio of cheese...etc).

Use your favourite ingredients as
filling for pizza
the filling  Anything under the sun can be used as a filling for pizza. All types of meets, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, cheeses...etc. you can make it very simple and choose a max of 2 fillings, or you can go all the way and make a mix of a variety of vegetables, hers, cheeses...etc. You can always make 2 pizzas in one. Just make each side a different filling and topping.

Mini Pizzas are perfect for pass
around and cocktail receptions
the look  The classic presentation of pizza is round shaped. But you can go for the shape you like, in the size you like. I make mini (bite size) pizzas for cocktail receptions and pass around service. These are also good for tasters, as diners get to try more than one flavour instead of sticking to one. I go for a little bigger size (about the size of your palm) for brunches, as I find they are more filling, yet allow for seconds. I always prefer the the rustic look to the classic perfect presentations. The rustic square, oblong or even attempted round are to me more appealing that the ring cut perfect shapes. But that is just me! Experiment with presentation and you will find your own favourite. Don't get too stuck on the classics, it is nice to have character, even in food presentation.

Your imagination is your only limitation, and good cooks have a highly creative imagination. In order to own a recipe and keep impressing your guests and diners with new recipes you have to get into the mode of experimentation and try out as many combinations as you can.

Traditional Pizza Oven
Methods of cooking Pizza
Pizza is best cooked in the traditional pizza oven (stone oven). This oven builds up massive heat which is always preferable and produce best results with flat breads. The use of charcoal, and wood for fire, add an unmatched flavour to your pizza. Since not many of us have a pizza oven at home, you can bake pizza in your kitchen's oven. Although you will not achieve the perfect restaurant style pizza, you can get pretty close. The use of a pizza stone will enhance the performance of your oven and produce better results as it works up better heat for your pizza to cook well.

The Stone oven works up high heat which is preferable with flat breads,
therefore allowing for the best crust results.

A pizza stone will enhance your oven's performance
by equal higher heat distribution, allowing for better results

Once you have tried grilled
pizza, you won't have
it any other way!

But the best alternative to a pizza oven, will be grilling pizza!! Yes, you will never have your pizza any other way, once you have tried grilling it (especially char-grilling!). I am telling you that pizza, will be super delicious, you will love it. So the next time you are going for a BBQ add these pizzas to your menu. You can even do a Grilled Pizza event, without the rest of the menu options!

To grill your pizza, you just have to grease your grill with a little oil, prepare the dough, half cook it then add the toppings and cook till done. If you cover the pizza you will get better results as you allow for higher temperature to build inside the grill.

Basic Pizza Dough Recipe
makes one 10-12" round pizza base or one 12x7 rectangular base
This simple bread recipe is to be rolled out thin for a traditional pizza appeal.

You Need
175g strong white flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp (for flat dough) - 1tbsp (for more leavened dough) easy-blend dried yeast*
a pinch of salt
120-150 ml lukewarm water

*You can use 1 tsp - 1 tbsp yeast. The 1 tsp will come out more flat and less yeasty. The 1 tbsp will rise more and will have a more obvious hint of yeast.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast. make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the water and oil and mix with a spoon to a soft dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. (the dough should be smooth and elastic)
Then place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour. (the dough should double in size)

Knock the dough back, and turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for 3 minutes. Roll out as required and push the dough up to make a rim. Place on your greased grill (or pizza stone, or baking sheet if using the oven). You can top with sauce now before grilling or half cook the dough and then top with sauce and other toppings.

Roll out the dough to required size and thickness

push the dough up to create a rim
Once topped with a basic tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, this will make up for the classic Margarita Pizza.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, you will also like my post on Grilled Pizzas.

Have you ever made Pizza at home? Now that you have read this post, do you think you will try making your own pizza dough at home? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts on this :) Hope you enjoyed this post, come back soon for more delicious recipes and kitchen talk :)

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