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Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

I usually spend a lot of time planning and preparing for family holidays and special occasions. This Father’s Day, however, I decided to go simple. What better than burgers? I make fun of my dad constantly for single-handedly keeping McDonald’s in business. He loves the coffee drinks, and the hamburgers, and the cashiers know him by name. I would understand his fast food fascination if he experienced few home-cooked meals at the kitchen table. But, his wife (and professional chef daughter!) keep his stomach full (if not fat, those who know him understand!). So, I really see him as my biggest challenge. I may never convert my family to live a fully organic lifestyle, but can’t I at least reduce the number of fast food napkins in the glove compartment?

I love great burgers, but so few I eat actually fall under that category. I don’t like burgers super-huge and beefy, I enjoy not feeling sick after eating one! So, the first step in my burger-making day included a trip to New Seasons. I picked up ground beef, ground pork, organic buns (made with beer!), tomatoes, pickles (finally, a source for the elusive organic pickle!) and locally grown red leaf lettuce.  Including ground pork in the burgers always gives them a flavor I prefer. More levels of interest for my tongue, and not as heavy. The combination, plus the high quality of the meat, made my brother ask for the ingredients in the recipe. After I recited the list he said “Really, no Worcestershire or anything?” I guess it sounded too simple! Two of my brothers even asked for seconds. Not that strange, considering their bottomless pit stomachs, but still flattering!

Beef and Pork Burgers

Yields 8 four-ounce burgers, but feel free to go smaller or bigger! (I prefer smaller myself)

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp kosher salt

1 green onion, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix evenly and well, but be careful to not over mix. The more you mix, the tougher the meat becomes. Form into 8 patties and refrigerate. Preheat the grill (or a sauté pan, if you lack an outdoor grill, or just prefer a house perfumed with tasty burger aromas!) over medium-high heat. Add the burgers to the grill, and do not touch. Burgers only need one flip! The more you mess with them, the more juice they lose and then they dry out. They are also more likely to fall apart. Let the burgers cook, untouched, until they look about half done. They should lift easily off the grill with a spatula at this point. If they have to be forced, they are not ready yet. Flip the burgers and continue cooking until they are done. Because pork is included in this recipe, the burgers should be served well done. Add cheese (if desired) just before they finish cooking, and serve on a bun with your favorite condiments.

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When did pizza turn into a greasy pile of cheese, soggy dough and too many low-quality toppings? Such a beautiful concept turned ugly by millions of crappy restaurants and cheap chains. Trader Joe’s to the rescue! Wandering through the aisles, I spotted gooey balls of whole wheat pizza dough. I couldn’t help but put a couple in my cart, along with a bag of arugula, some heirloom grape tomatoes, a log of mozzarella and a bottle of olive oil. I love planning dinner this way. I don’t need a recipe or website for help, just the inspiration of fresh and inviting ingredients. Okay, maybe I cheated a bit. I can make pizza dough, and better pizza dough than they sell in stores. But, I try to avoid my nemesis (flour) at home where no dishwasher (human!) awaits to sweep up my mess. Pathetic, yes. Lazy, definitely. But, after a day of cooking for other people, sometimes I need a shortcut. At least this shortcut includes whole wheat flour! Healthier, and tastier. My first attempt did not turn out the way I planned. Do not attempt new recipes while starving! I sprinkled cornmeal on my baking sheet, but did not grease the pan, or line it with anything. Stupid, stupid, stupid! The smell of garlic and roasting tomatoes wafted through my apartment as I attempted to scrape the pizza off the baking sheet with a spatula. I succeeded, partially. The crispy part of the crust remains stuck to the pan, and the pan still sits in the sink taunting me. “Do not even attempt to clean me! Only failure awaits you!” The top of the pizza tasted wonderful, but did not include the contrast of a crispy crust. My next try included lining the baking sheet with foil, and greasing it liberally with pan spray. The result: a perfectly crispy crust topped with sweet roasted tomatoes, melting mozzarella with just enough of a caramelized crunch, and pungent arugula for a fresh contrast. So good I ate it three days in a row. Freshly made each time, of course.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Arugula Pizza

Yields 2 servings

1 tbsp cornmeal

1 lb pizza dough (you can find this in most grocery stores, or you can make your own! I prefer whole wheat dough)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

8  slices of mozzarella from an 8 oz log

16 grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup arugula, cleaned

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

flour (I used whole wheat)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray generously with pan spray, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of cornmeal. Heat the pan in the oven while you assemble the pizza. This will help crisp the crust. Meanwhile, sprinkle a cutting board with flour  and roll out the pizza dough to a quarter inch thickness. Make sure the dough does not stick to the cutting board. Add more flour if necessary. You can also divide the dough in half and make two individual pizzas. Brush the dough with 1 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with the minced garlic. Top with the sliced mozzarella and the halved tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven, and carefully slide the pizza on it. Put the baking sheet in the oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let the pizza cool for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, toss the arugula with 1 tsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Top the pizza with the arugula, slice the pizza and serve.

You can also use a pizza stone instead of the baking sheet, but if you have a pizza stone, you probably know how to use it! I do not own one . 😦

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