Lebanese Style Pizza

For John’s 40th birthday, I got him a pizza oven. My gosh, we have been loving it – our waists not so much, but it allows for impromptu pizza parties…acts as another oven for roasting chicken and Thanksgiving sides. We are loving it. Instructions in the recipe are included for baking indoors our in the pizza oven.

Below is a pizza we put together at the end of summer, it has za’atar, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a salami (with Mediterranean spices) we got from a local shop called Panino.

We’re still testing different pizza dough recipes, this one, was the one we tried out for the pizza below. I delivered a nice crunchy crust.


Lebanese Style Pizza – 4 pizzas
1 recipe of pizza dough
3 tablespoons Za’atar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup feta
4 campari tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup kalamatas, slices
6 oz salami, sliced (about 6 slices per pizza)

Bring pizza dough to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (if you are using a pizza stone, put it in now) – for the pizza oven, get it around 700 degrees F.

Combine Za’atar, lemon zest, minced garlic, and olive oil.

On a lightly floured surface, prepare your dough by rolling out to around 8 inches. Distribute Za’atar mixture among the 4 pizzas, and spread leaving a 1/2 inch border. Place on a pizza directly on pizza stone, or on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake 9 minutes. If you have a prepared wood fired oven, this will only take about 75-90 seconds to bake, turn twice. Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle each pizza with some feta. Then top each pizza with 6 slices of salami, olives, tomato, and cucumber. Serve!

Happy Cooking!
Bon Appetit!


Venison Pate

Now I don’t get any credit for this recipe – this was all my husband John. While he was working on venison pate, I was working on pork pate (that will be posted at a later date). He also took the photos of his pate, so be sure to take a look, he captured as many steps as he could. He also recommends halving the recipe, and using a 1-lb bread pan.

We love textured pate, also known as country pate for it’s not so smooth texture. We served this at our Christmas party, and half the loaf was gone after 4 hours. And most of our guests left with frozen slices and intructions on how to defrost. It’s delicious served by itself with lightly peppered toasted baguette slices, or garnish a platter with cornichons, mustards or even tart jams, like currant.

We had ours out with raspberry mustard, plenty of cornichons and pickled pearl onions. Of course this recipe makes a lot of pate so slice 1/2 inch thick, wrap individually in plastic, and place in a freezer bag.

Venison Pate – one 3-pound loaf
1 small venison tenderloin (about 1/4-lb)
3 tablespoons gin
12 juniper berries
2 large shallots, minced
1 cup chicken livers
2 tablespoons dry thyme
2 tablespoons dry rosemary
2 tablespoons allspice
2 pounds ground pork
2 pounds ground veal
2 pounds ground venison
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
13 slices of bacon
2 fresh bay leaves

Special equipment: terrine mold or 3lb bread pan.

Slice the venison tenderloin into strips. Marinate the strips overnight with gin and juniper berries in a ziploc bag, try to remove as much air.

The next day, in a food processor, mix together the shallots, chicken livers, thyme, rosemary, and allspice, and process into a puree. In a large bowl, mix together the pork, veal, and ground venison. Add the liver mixture and the eggs.

Pour the juice from the marinated strips, including the gin and juniper berries, into the meat mixture. Set the strips aside for later. Salt and pepper the mixture generously. Gently saute a tablespoon of the mixture to taste test. Pate must be well seasoned and spiced, because it will lose a little flavor as it’s cooked.

Preheat the oven to 300 degress F. Place a pan or casserole dish, large enough to hold the bread in the oven, filled 1/3 of the way with water. Line a 3 pound terrine with the bacon on all sides. Lay 1/3 of the ground meat in the terrine. Pack tightly by pressing down with your hands. Add the thin strips of marinated venison. Do not create a thick layer, push the strips into the meat. If the meat does not surround the strips, the pate will split when cut. Top with the remainder of the meat.

The terrine should be overfilled, as pate reduces in size after cooking. Cover the ground meat with bacon strips. Top with two bay leaves. Cover with aluminum foil. Set the terrine in the prepared pan of hot water. Bake for 35 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for another 35 minutes. Check temperature after about 25 minutes using an instant-read thermometer. When the pate reaches 160 degrees F and juices run clear the pate is done.

Remove the terrine from oven, lay foil on top and place on a baking sheet. Place another baking sheet over the terrine, and top with a few heavy cans. Let the pâté cool on the kitchen counter. The more weight on the top the better to allow the fat to leave the pan. When the pate has cooled, cover it tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 day.

To remove the pate from the bread pan, place the bread pan in a casserole dish, add enough hot water to casserole dish to reach 1/2 way up bread pan, let sit for 3 or so minutes. Place cutting board over the bread pan, lift out of water, and flip. The bread pan should slide off. Clean off any excess fat on the pate using a paper towel.

Serve at room temperature or cold. Slice and serve on toast, accompanied by French cornichons. Pate can be kept tightly covered for up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Or freeze as intruscted above, and place in refrigerator night before enjoying to thaw.

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Bon Appetit!

Coq au Vin

So for photography, I was required to create 15 photos that tell a story. Well I made dinner, and thought that it had a pretty fantastic ending. Luckily I documented every bit of it to tell the story, and here you have it Coq au Vin.

So Coq au Vin is chicken braised in red wine with pearl onions, mushrooms, and lardons (bacon). It’s a good idea to prepare rice and serve the chicken over it. Also, if you have a enameled pot I highly recommend using it for this recipe.

Coq au Vin – Serves 4
8 ounce bacon slab, cut into lardons (1/4inch thick/1 inch long)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 lbs whole chicken, cut up, plus extra legs if need be
1/4 cup cognac
1 bottle Chianti
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
2 bay leaves
40 pearl onions
1/4 cup dry vermouth (optional)
1 lb bella (crimini) mushrooms, cut in half or 1/4 if large
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In your enameled pot, combine lardons and 2 cups of water, bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes, and drain. Meanwhile season chicken with salt and pepper, and set aside. Place enameled pot back over heat, and melt 2 tablespoons butter, add the bacon and cook until lightly browned. Remove the bacon and set aside.

With the heat still on the pot, place seasoned chicken in the bottom of pot and cook until browned all over, turning chicken a few times, about 10 minutes. Add the bacon. Stand back! Add cognac and ignite with a long match. I hope you didn’t lose your eyebrows! Let the flames go down, and shake the pot a bit for a few seconds to help it die out.

Pour the wine over the chicken and bacon, add 2 1/2 cups chicken stock. Your chicken should be covered, if not, just add water. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs, add half the mushrooms. Bring to a simmer, and cover. Continue to simmer for an hour. The chicken will be perfectly cooked and the flavors with have had time to become very good friends. Meanwhile prepare pearl onions and remaining mushrooms.

To peel the pearl onions, blanch them and place in an ice bath. To blanch, bring water to a rumbling boil, add pearl onions for about a minute, and remove to ice bath. With a sharp knife, cut the root and peel towards the tip of the onion. Place the peeled pearl onions in a saute pan, add 1/4 cup vermouth and 1/4 cup chicken stock, bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until liquid is cooked down. Turn off the heat and about 10 minutes before the chicken is done add the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock to the onions and bring to a simmer, cook until onions are glazed.

To cook the mushrooms, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat, saute onions until lightly browned, add 1/4 cup chicken stock and bring to a simmer, cook until liquid is cooked down. Turn off the heat and about 10 minutes before the chicken is done add the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock to the mushrooms and bring to a simmer, cook until mushrooms are glazed.

Once the chicken is done, remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Bring the sauce to a boil. With the flour and butter you will create a beurre manie, you do this by smashing the flour into the butter until you have a smooth paste. Once the sauce has reduced a bit, whisk in the beurre manie, and simmer sauce until it leaves a thick coat on the back of a wooden spoon, about a minute or two.

Add the chicken to the sauce, and cooked for a minute or two to rewarm. Arrange the chicken on a large dish, and garnish with pearl onions and mushrooms around. Top chicken generously with sauce, and if there’s extra sauce remaining, serve on the side in a warmed gravy boat.

Bon Appetit!

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Gourmet Jewelry

So no recipe today, but I will post one this weekend.  I’m actually thinking Shrimp and Grits or keeping it simple and making a delicious BLT….like a super duper yummy BLT, that makes all other BLT’s look like…well lame.

Today’s post is about the jewelry your loved one could be wearing.  Now typically I’m all about T&Co..but I came across a website called Demitasse – interestingly I was not looking for jewelry, I was actually looking for demi-tasses that had a little oumph but were still oven safe. 

Rachel White, the owner of Demitasse preserves the beauty of antique tableware, and creates the most intricate jewelry.  There are quite a few different collections.  I’m planning on ordering a necklace or two,  I’m obsessed with The Orchid Sugar Sifter and the absinthe spoon – The Vermont Spoon or The Fairy Absinthe Spoon.  See! I can’t decide.

Have a look at the site, and get yourself some jewelry.