Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday is a good day to recharge and prep for the coming week.  I spent part of this past Sunday tweaking a pizza sauce and dough recipe from Rachel Ray and made some to freeze.



  • 1 can plum tomatoes (28-32 ounces)
  • * 3-4 tablespoons grated onion (grate over food processor or blender to catch juice)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, pasted or finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or fennel pollen
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
  • A few grinds of sea salt and pepper
  • * 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Makes topping for 6 to 8 pizzas


Blend the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
*I finely chopped my onion instead of grating it.  I will grate it next time or use a blender.
* I also added a splash of red wine vinegar and omitted the sugar since my tomatoes were a little on the sweet side.

Freezer Prep

I use these screw cap freezer containers a lot and to help with head space I placed a folded piece of plastic wrap inside and pressed it against the sauce to better protect it from freezer burn.  As you can see I don't get very creative with labels and since I reuse the containers I like the P-Touch labels so they can be removed after use.

Pizza Crust 

I adapted this quick and easy pizza dough recipe from Rachel Ray as well.  I subbed out 1 cup of the flour with a whole gran grind that I use for breads and the rest with AP flour. I got four baseball size rounds. I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and froze them together in a single zip lock bag.


  • About 1/4-1/3 cup dry white wine (a 3-count in slow stream)
  • About 3 teaspoons dry active yeast (1 1/2 envelopes for each batch of dough), such as Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 3/4 cup very warm tap water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 round teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 1/2 cups double zero flour (such as Molino Spadoni brand Gran Mugnaio Farina Tipo OO)
Makes 4 12-inch thin crust pizzas


Combine the wine, yeast and water and stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the honey, salt and olive oil, a turn and a half of the mixing bowl, to the bowl, then stir in a cup of flour at a time to incorporate – stir to combine as much flour as possible, then turn out onto floured pastry board or marble counter and combine by hand, then knead for 6-7 minutes. Rinse the bowl, then dry and lightly oil it, return the dough to the bowl and cover with clean towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm corner of the kitchen for about 45 minutes.

Cut the dough into four pieces, knead each piece and cover again. Let stand 15 minutes more, or until ready to make the pizzas

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charleston Dining

Last weekend was spent mostly on the road. We racked up over 1400 miles so the wife could attend a scrap book party in south GA. The best part was our detour back through Charleston. A couple we know from Raleigh have opened a wonderful restaurant on the northern most end of N Market St in Charleston called Burwell's Stone Fire Grill.

They really stand up to their claim of being a modern steakhouse with a flare for raising the bar on an American staple. The chef does a great job of incorporating farm fresh ingredients which can add to the experience of trying combinations you would not normally get at other restaurants.

Flight of Flavor
My wife ordered the Flight of Flavor, which is really a started but was just enough for her and allowed us to split two sides and a dessert. The flight is strips of beef filet served with three dipping sauces arranged around a six or seven hundred degree stone that you then sear the beef on yourself. She loved it. They have two starter versions and a larger main course version as well.

I ordered the Deckle special. Deckle is the grillable top part of the rib-eye and is packed with flavor. It was cooked perfectly. It was served over a bed of risotto with a tomato ragu and sauteed mushroom, onion and asparagus salad.

Custom Gin Jello Shooter
They have done a great job with the building both inside and out and you would never know it used to be two separate buildings. The dinning room is open but still gives that air of privacy and they offer areas for large groups as well as cozy nooks for two. The bar area is fun and open they offer up some amazing and unique cocktails but the main attraction is the bar top. Through out the building they incorporated recycled building materials but the bar top and the bar high tops are constructed out of old rail car flooring. To go with the bar is a enclosed see through wine cellar hand crafted to match the reclaimed wood from other parts of the room.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spring Fever

New seeds have arrived.  Hard to wait for planting so getting an early start means turning the garage into a pseudo greenhouse.  With a few grow lights and some reusable starter pots I can get my hands dirty much sooner.  Come on Spring....