Thursday, February 28, 2013

Whale-Shaped Crackers with Cheddar and Nori, an Ode to the Whale

In terms of cetacean appreciation, dolphins get the glory.  They are so cute and friendly and sleek.  Jumping out of the water to show off their spins and spyhops.  Equipped with a fancy echolocation system to navigate.  And can even come in the color pink, a fact that Max is super in love with.  Okay okay, dolphins are really awesome.  And yes, I'm pretty taken with the pink dolphins as well.

But whales are awesome too.  This weekend is the start of the Festival of Whales here in Dana Point, marking the migration of the gray whale (though blue whales have strangely been spotted recently as well).  We are totally obsessed with both whales and the festival.  Like, lets cut whale shapes out of construction paper and string them together to make banners to hang up kind of obsessed.  Like, lets turn our food into whale-shapes obsessed.  Like, watching Blue Planet over and over and over again obsessed.  I've even done some research into the gray whale's diet, pondering ways to incorporate  it into whale-party food.  I'm such a dork.

All lumpy and big and grungy, they might not be as chic and beautiful as their dolphin relatives, but they are just as lovable. From the narwhal, an animal about which I'm half-convinced doesn't actually exist but is just a figment of someone's the humpbacks with their renowned singing and their own version of pop music...and to the blue whales, being the biggest living thing EVER - the whale, in all its diversity, is due for some love.  So this is our ode.  Our ode to the whale (see previously, ode to ground beef).

Last year, we made these.  In celebration of our devotion to this cetacean and our town's festival.  This year we made crackers - a sonnet expressing our love, but in an edible form.  Whole wheat, buttery, sesame seed filled crackers topped with cheese and a sprinkling of nori goma furikake.  Seth introduced this combination of cracker, cheddar, and the nori, and we have been hooked ever since.  The cheese can also be seen as an homage to our pure and utter cheesiness. I wasn't kidding about being a dork.

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 - 2 cups ice water
whale shaped cookie cutter
good quality cheddar, sliced
nori goma furikake

In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, sesame, baking powder, salt, and peppers.  Rub the butter into the flour using your hands or pastry cutter, until the mixture looks like coarse sand.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, very gradually, and on low speed, add the cold water, stopping once a dough forms.  You want the mixture to hold together and to no longer be dry. Take half the mixture and put in fridge.  Roll out the other half on a silpat or parchment until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Use the cookie cutter to make whale shapes.  Sprinkle with just a bit of fleur de sel and place in 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden and crisp.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.  To serve, top with a slice of cheddar and a sprinkle of nori.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Nutella and Cara Cara Orange on Whole Wheat Toast, Sprinkled with Sea Salt

At times, I am completely floored by the differences between me and the offspring.  Like at the park, watching him try to scale baby-sized boulders, so carefree and surefooted.  Each rock is just a mountain waiting for a Max to come and climb.

Me?  I'm a klutz.  I'm awkward and run into things and do not watch where I'm going or what is in front of me.  So there is no carefree surefootedness here.  Just thoughts of please don't fall, please don't fall please don't fall.  And then I fall. Or run into the corner of something, resulting in yet another giant bruise. Or bang an elbow in a doorway.  My body finds a myriad of ways to hurt itself.

Then there is our differing outlook on bugs.  One day, Max and I were in his room, and he pointed at the wall, filled with glee and joy.  And there it was.  A giant spider.  I panicked on the inside.  But I put on a steely face and went after the spider with a shoe from Seth's closet.  My attempt to vanquish the 8-legged arachnid was futile and it gracefully sidestepped my attacks.  And each attempt to get "Gigantic Spider" resulted in fearful crying by Max.  He apparently wanted the spider to stay alive.  Like a pet.  A pet spider.

In fact, he was so smitten by the spider, he asked for more bugs.  When it was explained to him that no, I would not actually be bringing him more bugs to play with, he marched right to the computer to do his version of "research" - looking at bugs and spiders online.  I took his distraction as an opportunity to sneakily creep up to his room and spray "Gigantic Spider" with bug spray.

But other times, our familial connection is much more visible.  Much more visceral.

Sometimes that connection comes in a small tube. Chapstick, actually.  My obsession has been passed on to him.  We will never know if this is nature or nurture at play.  He carries around a container in his coat pocket.  And he has his own container of my cast-offs, smelling and playing with each tube lovingly.  They have found themselves a good home with him.

And we also share a love of citrus and chocolate.  When I saw this in Cooking Light, I was so instantly smitten - so easy, so creative, and so delicious.  I found myself getting Max and myself ready to head out the door, literally running  (okay, more like galloping with a stroller) to get the stuff (chapsticks, naturally in both of our coat pockets).  And once these were made, both of us happily munched, together united in a love of chapstick and a love for citrus and chocolate.  Our differences in bug control and risk taking being pushed aside for the moment.

slice of a crusty whole wheat french bread, toasted
1 tablespoon Nutella
Cara Cara orange, segmented
pinch of fleur de sel

This is so ridiculously easy.  Just take your toasted bread and spread Nutella on it.  Sprinkle with citrus segments and a pinch of fleur de sel.  Then chow down.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Duck Fat Fries smothered in Beef, Onion, Beer Gravy - a Meat and Potatoes Creative Cooking Crew Challenge

Gift giving can fall into two camps.  I mean, there are definitely more kinds, but to keep it simple, lets just go with two.  There are those totally selfless gifts.  Those that benefit only the recipient.  The kind that are chosen after thoughtful, careful consideration of the likes and dislikes of the person receiving the gift.  Like the DVDs of The Secret Life of the American Teenager that Seth gave me one year.  I had been (rightfully) too embarrassed to tell him that I watch the show (It is seriously so so bad, but I cannot stop watching), but somehow this secret came out.  And a few weeks later, there they were, two seasons of it on DVD for me to enjoy and relish in all their soap opera-y glory, with the caveat that Seth would never partake in Secret Life viewing.

Then there are those that conveniently benefit both the recipient and the giver.  Valentine's Day this year was, perhaps, not my finest moment, as both the gift I gave Seth and the the gift I gave Max both fall in this camp.  Like these towels - I gave Seth two.  Guess who gets to use one of them.  What a coincidence!  Max received Finding Nemo.  Because I adore it.

And speaking of things I adore, I love making oven fries.  Tossing some veggies or potatoes with oil, salt, and pepper and popping them in the oven - super quick and super easy.  I should point out, I am not anti-deep frying.  But it is hard to fit it in as a "side dish."  If I'm doing it, I need it to be the main event.  But Seth, his face becomes ever so slightly crestfallen when it is announced that the fries I am serving aren't "real fries."

So when the Creative Cooking Crew's challenge of meat and potatoes (round-up can be found here) was revealed this month, I figured I would give Seth a culinary gift of sorts- french fries.  Deep-fried fries - all fried in duck fat.  None of this oven business.  But really, I just wanted to play around with some duck fat.  And by culinary gift, I mean, I told Seth that he would be doing the actual frying (in fairness, this is something he enjoys).  I'm such a giver, what can I say...

We topped these french fries with a beefy gravy filled with onions and beer.  And topped with a dollop of sour cream and a touch of truffle oil.

It figures that all my "presents" would come back to bite me - Seth's Valentine's Day gift to me?  A mandoline to make the french fries.

For the meaty gravy:
1/2 - 3/4 pound beef stew meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, sliced
1 large thyme sprig
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground bayleaf
3 garlic cloves
8 ounces of a nice beer (we actually made this twice, once with Chimay Blue and once with a Black Butte Porter)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the fries:
11.5 ounce container duck fat
1 quart canola oil
4 smallish russet potatoes, julienned into 6 mm strips
1 cup flour
 reserved seasoning mix
sprinkling of fleur de sel
drizzle of truffle oil
2 tablespoons parsley, for serving
dollop of sour cream, for serving

For the meaty gravy:
Grind juniper berries, cloves, peppercorns, and coriander together, and then mix in a 1/4 teaspoon of ground bay leaves.  Set aside.

In a dutch oven or heavy skillet, heat olive oil over high heat and brown the beef.  Make sure to get the sides nice and brown, then turn the heat to low to finish cooking the beef until just barely pink.  Turn the heat off, and remove the beef to a cutting board.  Let the beef rest for a few minutes, then shred or slice into small pieces.  Try to reserve any of the beef juice that runs out while shredding.

In the dutch oven or skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the reserved seasoning mix, and the leaves from a large sprig of thyme. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes, then reduce to low, cooking for another 15 minutes to get those onions soft and silky.  Add in the garlic and cook for a minute, until fragrant.  Add the beef and any of its reserved juices back into the pan.  Add the beer, letting it cook down just a bit.  Add in the brown sugar and vinegar, and let it cook on low for a few minutes.

For the fries:
Peel potatoes, keeping them in a large pot of cold water after peeling.  Julienne each one into 6 mm strips, keeping them in the cold water again until frying.

We used the double frying method for the fries to get them as crispy as possible.  Pour the canola oil in one saucepan, and the duck fat in another.  We found it best to keep the canola oil at 250 degrees and the duck fat at 300 degrees.  When the oil was at a higher temperature, it would cook too much in the canola and not enough in the duck fat, not picking up that delicious, savory taste of the duck.

We also tried out frying the potatoes without dredging them in flour but they were soggier and less crispy that way.  So, mix flour with some water to make it a consistency just thicker than heavy cream (probably about 1/2 cup water), and dredge a handful of the julienned potatoes in the mixture before tossing them in the canola oil.  Fry for just a minute, until the potato stops looking opaque.  Use a skimmer to take the fries out of the canola oil and place them in the duck fat, frying until golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes.  Set on paper towel and repeat until all the potatoes are cooked.

Toss fries with a bit of truffle oil, and sprinkle with seasoning mix and fleur de sel.  Top the fries with gravy, parsley, and a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cherimoya Smoothie

When I go into couch mode for some supine sofa action, Rambo (our pink-nosed truffle-pig feline) becomes my hat, laying on my head as though it his job to make sure none of my body heat escapes through the top of my body. He isn't an intensely cuddly cat, so this burst of sweetness is fully embraced and never taken for granted.

One Saturday morning, a day rife for couching - all drizzly, grey, and cloudy- I went into couch mode and put Max into it right along with me.  With both of us pajama-clad, I popped in Monsters, Inc. for entertainment and got out the super-old, super-soft comforter for us to cuddle under.

I feel compelled to point out that it was a comforter - not one of these "throws".  I never quite know how to cuddle properly under a throw blanket.  One needs ample blanket to cover all of oneself, and possibly another person, and there should be some blanket to spare.  I don't mind sharing with the tot - but sharing with Seth is out of the question.  I actually retrieve another blanket for him to use during those rare times he does want a blanket, as sharing with him throws my blanket coverage way off balance, leaving me unable to move limbs, fingers and toes in fear of finding these parts out of the blanket zone.  So no sharing.

Rambo found his couch spot on my head. And the puff cat found herself a spot to nestle into.  I went into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate to round out this morning of movie and and couch.

Just as I was about to get the hot chocolate going, my dad called.  And by the end of the conversation, I had somehow been talked into leaving the cocoon of snuggly amazingness and found myself going out into the grey soup known as the outside and down the few blocks to the farmers market.  I'm still not sure how this all happened.  So, Max and I, still relatively pajama-clad (as I wanted an easy transition back to the couch), were on our way to get some fresh produce - namely, the elusive cherimoya, which I'm not able to find often.  This smoothie was the result of that unexpected excursion outside.  Max and I took these smoothies, instead of hot chocolate, back to the couch to pick up where we left off.  The felines followed suit.

2 cherimoya
2 kiwifruit
a sprinkling of mandarin zest
2/3 cup vanilla coconut milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
handful of strawberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of sugar, depending on the sweetness of your fruit

The cherimoya need to have their tough skins removed, as well as their seeds.  The de-seeding will take some time, as they have lots of seeds dispersed throughout the fruit.  So this will take a bit of patience.  Just get them out, and it will all be worth it.  Once that is done, place everything in a bowl and blend together with an immersion blender. Or place in a blender and blend - whatever is easiest for you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Puffy Hearts and a Rosy Brie Dip with Strawberries and Pistachios

How we think of ourselves and how others think of us are not always the same.  I like to think of myself as a romantic.  But it has come to my attention that this is not an accurate description of myself.  I blame my mom.  Just kidding.  Kinda.  I'm not really kidding, but I don't want to sound like I don't love my mom - I love you mom!!  Of course parents are blamed for everything.  Such a cliche, right?

When it comes to Valentine's Day, I can totally do the cheesy side of it.  Like these puffy hearts.  Heart-shaped eggs.  And I make a homemade heart-shaped banner thing to hang on the wall (I do silly banners for all the holidays).  This year, I made marshmallows and fudge and cookies and chocolate pretzel toffee bark and put them all in these cute containers decorated with hearts.

But the other stuff - the romantic stuff - seems so intimidating.  Seth asked me, "Ohh what should we do for Valentine's Day," and I'm like, "We could either make dinner together... or I make dinner...or we get takeout?" He was like, "so just like any other night."  I was like, well, you know, but special food!  He then replied "You never think big!"

I asked my mom what her boyfriend and she were doing for Valentine's Day this year.  And she said "nothing." She said she already told him she doesn't want to do anything.  And this wasn't said in a mean or bitter way.  She just genuinely doesn't want to do anything.

So you can see now where I get it.  But I'm not quite at that level of anti-romance yet.  I hope.  However, I did get Seth bath towels as a gift.  So there's that.  Super amazingly soft and all.  But, you know, they are still towels.

But Seth, he is the one that can think big.  Many moons ago, I did a study abroad in Germany.  One morning, the doorbell rang.  Which was strange.  Not because it was early (which it was).  But because I knew like a total of 4 people in the city. So I went down to the door and Seth was standing there.  A total surprise.  When he asked me to marry him - it involved kayaking and creating a large fort out of sheets.  

So I might not be good at the big stuff.  The grand stuff.  The romance.  But I can do the cute and cheesy (literally cheesy - I really crack myself up over the most ridiculous things).  Like these puff pastry hearts and brie melted with strawberries, white wine, rose, sugar, and pistachios.

Maybe it is best to think of these not as faults per se.  But a division of labor.  Specialization.  After all, someone has to do the taxes.

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground dried rose leaves
1/2 pound wedge of brie
2/3 cup chopped strawberries, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons pistachios
splash of white wine
3/4 teaspoon ground dried rose leaves
2 teaspoons sugar

Heat oven to 350.  Mix 4 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground rose in a small bowl.  Brush the thawed puff pastry sheet with the egg.  Sprinkle the sheet with rose sugar. Use heart shape cookie cutter to cut hearts from the dough.  Bake 10-15 minutes, until puffy and golden brown.

Heat oven to 350.  In a small oven-proof baking dish, combine the wedge of brie (chopped up a bit), strawberries, pistachios, white wine, rose, and sugar.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until all melty.  Give it a stir and top with more strawberries.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Frost Kissed Artichokes with Honey Dijon Mayonnaise

Artichokes are a fussy vegetable. They aren't a bundle of asparagus spears, easily turned into a tasty side with some olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. In fact they barely even resemble something edible.

Artichokes are all about process. From prep to cooking to that culminating moment when you finally sit down to eat the fruit (or veggie) of your labors. Instead of resenting the artichoke for its demands of high maintenance, we embrace it.

Each step lovingly performed. First the trimming of pointy ends to avoid pricked skin. Then in this case, a lobbing off of the top third to create a nook to hold the creamy dip. Lemon juice thoroughly applied to the exposed surfaces to prevent discoloration. A hot steamy boil to cook and a cool refreshing one after to stop the cooking process. Finally, the inedible parts of the choke carefully removed. 

A dollop of dip is placed in the hollow and then you can sit down with your reward, dipping each of the outer leaves into the embodiment of richness.  Peeling off that bit of artichoke, delicious and grassy in its own right, but hinting at the grand finale to come later. The inner leaves become completely edible, a crescendo of artichoke, building and building and building until that glorious and bittersweet moment comes when you realize that the heart is all that's left. The artichoke is almost finished but the most delicious bites still await you. That heart is carefully portioned out into equal size bites, neither too big nor too small but that Goldilocks-size of just right. A slight hesitation is made before dipping your one remaining chunk of heart. Very slight...

Now "frost kissed" artichokes are particularly amazing.  During those occasional winters in California when the temperature drops below freezing, we get a couple weeks of unusually nutty and delicious artichokes labeled, "frost kissed."  They may look a little off-putting, with the brown blistering outer leaves, but fully cooked, they are fantastic, and must be picked up whenever available!

2 frost kissed (or large globe) artichokes
2 egg yolks
1 cup canola
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I like Maille brand)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
fresh thyme sprig
salt and pepper to taste
lemon wedges, for serving

To start, set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Using kitchen shears, trim off pointy tips of artichoke leaves. Using a large, sharp knife, cut off the top 1-inch of the artichokes and the end of each stem. Using a knife, remove any small leaves attached directly to the base of the stem. Wash artichokes thoroughly under cold water to clean them off, and dry with paper towel.

Once water is boiling, place artichokes in, and cover with a clean cheese cloth, dish cloth, or cloth napkin. This will soak up water and ensure the artichokes stay wet while cooking. Cover pot with lid and cook about 15-20 minutes. When they are ready, they should be just soft enough to push a fork into the inside of the stem, but no softer. Carefully remove artichokes and pace in a colander over sink to drain.  Place in a large ice bath.

I like to make mayonnaise by hand, though I know others find the food processor easier to use for this. I place the egg yolks in a small bowl, then place a cup of oil next to me and get out a tablespoon. Whisk the egg yolks to break them up. Add a tablespoon of oil. Whisk that into the egg yolks so the yolks absorb it. Then repeat. And repeat. Just be patient. It will probably take about 10 minutes to get through all the oil. Then stir in the Dijon, honey, lemon juice, thyme leaves, and salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until serving.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the innermost clump of leaves to expose the fuzzy choke beneath.  Using a spoon, scoop out all of the fuzzy choke and toss.  Sprinkle salt and pepper into the exposed heart. Then, spoon the honey Dijon mayonnaise into the hollow of each artichoke.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Taco Bell's Carnitas Steak Burrito - A Review

It had been one of those days.  The words "Wow Max, that is quite a mess you've got going on here" were overheard as I stumbled out of bed. Stools were being maneuvered around the kitchen, the key to toddler muffin stealing.  Painting time turned into finger painting.  Which turned into a trail of handprints as I attempted to wrangle the toddler for a cleaning.  Markers were used to color not pieces of paper, but tiny hands.  And again, the toddler had to be chased for more cleaning.  Tantrums appeared to be erupting all over the place.  And each mess of toys seemed to give birth to three more messes.

On a day like this, I knew getting dinner on the table would be challenging, to say the least.  More likely, an impossibility.

That afternoon, the most wonderful of emails was sitting there, just waiting to be read.  One that said we would have the opportunity to review the Carnitas Steak Burrito through Daily Buzz Food and Taco Bell.  It appeared to be fortuitous timing.  Dinner was figured out!

Click here to read the full review.

I was financially compensated for this review by Taco Bell through DailyBuzz Food. The opinions are completely my own, based on my experience.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Swiss Chard, Potato, and Caramelized Onion Hash with a Heart-Shaped Egg

Nothing says love like a heart-shape egg... Placed ever so gently onto a heap of potatoes, caramelized onion, and swiss chard.  Sprinkled with a bit of cheddar and microbroccoli.  Okay, maybe love isn't quite the sentiment being conveyed.

But definitely whimsy.  Like full on, shouting from a megaphone style whimsy.

Which is why I totally adore Valentine's Day.  I abhor the complaints about how Valentines Day is a made up holiday by Hallmark and such.

Okay 1) It has been around way longer than Hallmark has existed.  2) There are few other days on the calendar where you can break out the heart shape cookie cutters, egg shapers, and dye food vibrant hues of red and pink with such wild reckless abandon. 3) I hate to get all ad hominem, but I'm going to anyway.  You have no soul.  Like saying, "I don't get it," while watching the Puppy Bowl with its super adorable kitten half time show (you know who you are) soulless.

Love is good.  Pink is good.  Red velvet is good.  Hearts are good.  Fun and festivity and whimsy, especially in the midst of post-holiday malaise, are all good things.

Hurtling through this existence and not eating a heart-shaped egg is bad.

I had some things in the fridge that needed to be used up, so I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light with what we had on hand. And of course, I lack the capability of turning a poached egg into a heart shape.  So I fried them instead.

1 sweet potato, diced
1 russet potato, diced
extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
fresh thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 strips crisped turkey bacon
3 cups thinly sliced swiss chard
1 cup spinach leaves
1/2 cup caramelized onions
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon truffle oil
4 eggs
handful of grated extra sharp cheddar
microbroccoli, for serving

Heat oven to 425.  In a dutch oven, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Mix in the garlic.  Throw in the sprigs of fresh thyme.  Roast for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.  Feel free to do everything on the stove, though, like in the original recipe.  I did it like this to free up my time for the rest of the prep.  In the meantime, crisp up the bacon.

Once the potatoes are done, take out of the oven and place the dutch oven on the stove.  If you need to deglaze the pan, throw in a splash of white wine or even some rice wine.  Over medium heat, add a bit of olive oil, then the swiss chard and spinach.  Cook for about 4 minutes, until tender.  Be sure to stir frequently.  Add in the caramelized onions, vinegar, oil, and seasonings.

For the fried egg:  Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. To get the heart-shaped egg, we cracked the eggs into Norpro Nonstick Heart and Pancake Egg Rings, then continued to fry just until egg white is cooked, or sunny-side up, roughly 1 minute. You could also fry the egg normally and cut the egg into a heart shape.

Serve hash with a heart-shaped egg, a sprinkling of cheddar, and a sprinkling of microbroccoli.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Flatbread Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Broccoli, Caramelized Onions, and Pineapple

Lots of roasting happened in the making of this pizza.

I like thinking of the oven as a "black box."  And unlike most metaphorical black boxes, I actually don't like to analyze this one.  Usually, I love thinking about the "why."  Which I'm sure my mom just loved as I was growing up.  Actually, I am still scolded for over-thinking things.

I could learn all the mechanisms by which browning occurs and so on.  But if I do, it would no longer be the mysterious box into which things are placed and then deliciousness occurs.  I've actually had a lifelong reticence to learning about such processes.  As a high school student, I got it into my head that I was not going to take chemistry.  I didn't, and it felt like such a victory.  I carried my anti-chemistry flag right through college and grad school.  I can be such a contrarian sometimes.  I have little doubt that learning some chemistry would explain a lot of the magic, but I obstinately refuse to get into it.

When broccoli and garlic and red peppers are doused in some olive oil, salt, and pepper and put into this magic box, loveliness happens.  So I let the oven work its magic...and then add some fresh pineapple chunks for a sweet, juicy counterpoint.

Roasted broccoli:
3 cups broccoli florets
olive oil
red pepper flakes
1 lemon wedge

Roasted red peppers:
3 red peppers, cut into quarters
olive oil

Roasted garlic:
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon oil

Caramelized Onions:
2 onions, peeled, halved, then sliced

Roasted red pepper pizza spread
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (15.5) ounce can cannelini beans
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
juice from 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste
the roasted garlic
the roasted red peppers

1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

about 1 cup of fresh pineapple chunks
2 flatbreads (we used Stonefire's garlic naan)

To roast the broccoli: Heat oven to 425. Place florets on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle red pepper flakes, salt, freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese over pieces. Roast for about 25 minutes, until pieces are soft and have that delicious browning on them. Remove from oven and squeeze fresh lemon juice over top.

To roast the garlic: Heat oven to 400. Take off the papery outer skin of the garlic bulb. Don’t remove all the skin, just the stuff that comes off easily. The head of garlic should still remain intact. Slice off the pointy end of the bulb to expose all the cloves. Place in a small greased ramekin and cover with the olive oil. Sprinkle just a pinch of salt and cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven and roast for about 45 minutes. The cloves of garlic will be all nice and soft.

To roast the red peppers: Heat oven to 425. Place red peppers on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper over pieces. Once one side of the veggie has a nice brown color, flip; then continue roasting for a total of about 35 minutes.

To caramelize the onions: Place a tablespoon of olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices. Don’t stir too often yet. Let the pieces brown, without getting burnt. After about 15 minutes or so, once slices have mostly browned, I like to turn the heat down to low or medium low. Stir frequently. I like adding a bit of water or oil every so often to keep the pieces from burning or sticking too much. After about 40 minutes or so, the onions should have a dark brown, jam-like quality.

To make the red pepper spread: In a medium sauce pan, add oil, beans and their liquid, red pepper flakes, roasted garlic, and roasted peppers. Cook on medium low for 10 minutes. Season with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender, and season again if needed.

To make the pizzas: Spread red pepper sauce on flatbreads. Top with cheeses, caramelized onions, and broccoli. Bake at 375 until cheese is all melted and the flatbread is getting crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Once it is done cooking, finish with fresh pineapple chunks.
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