Hello, Northeast Philly readers. Welcome to my kitchen! Come in, sit down, stay a while and let’s talk about good food. It’s been some time since I last wrote the weekly food column for the Northeast Times, and although I haven’t been writing about food in the Times, I certainly have been collecting recipes and cooking. It’s déjà vu – with great classic recipes and many exciting, new ones.
Like my previous columns, my recipes will specialize in good, homemade cooking rather than gourmet food preparation. Each week, you will find innovative ideas and suggestions on how to utilize shortcut methods, make-your-own recipes and recycle leftovers. I hope you find this column useful, interesting and fun whether we’re talking Tex-Mex, English scones (Downton Abbey alert) or roasted chicken.
Although I am not a nutritionist, I feel that “you are what you eat”— or you will be. So it’s important to recognize which foods provide certain vitamins, and which contain high or low calories, fat or cholesterol.
With my avid interest in food, I have modeled myself with confidence after the adage, “Never trust a skinny cook.” Loving good food led me to the kitchen to study diligently under the tutelage of Sophie, who taught me everything she knew. Since she worked full-time outside our home, she perfected many useful time-saving techniques and shortcuts to feed her family delicious, homemade food. If Sophie could have been cloned, packaged and marketed as a kitchen aide, she would have made a million. I hope to share with you some of what I’ve learned.
My pockets have always been full of recipes collected from family, friends, co-workers, newspapers and magazines, or found in doctor’s offices, on Amtrak, the El, the Internet, etc. If there’s a good recipe out there, I’ve got to have it. Although I am not a runner, I do get that “endorphin rush” when I hustle into my kitchen. Many of my recipes also offer food for thought and many use that special ingredient necessary in the recipe of life – humor.
As an irrepressible foodie, I relish the opportunity to add a little spice to your kitchen, again.
Since this is my introductory column, just for starters, I’m including a recipe that could begin a meal or start a party. It serves a group and goes great with iced tea as well as with beer or wine.
TOMATO AND CHEESE STARTER
1 lb frozen pizza dough — defrosted and at room temperature or use your own homemade dough
1 Tsp corn meal
¼ Tsp canola oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese
6 to 8 Roma tomatoes, cored and sliced very thin (1/4”)
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 Tbsp Canola oil
½ Tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz fresh mozzarella sliced thin or 2 cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 Tsp oregano
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil or 1 Tbsp dried basil
Salt and Pepper
-Heat oven to 425o
-Lightly grease or spray with oil a (10 x 15) rimmed baking pan. Dust pan with corn meal. Rub hands lightly with oil for easier dough handling. Hold dough and allow to stretch a bit, then fit into pan, pressing dough slightly up sides of pan. Sprinkle dough with parmesan. Poke holes with fork throughout the dough and bake 10 minutes on lower oven rack.
-Remove excess liquid from tomatoes. Lay slices of tomatoes onto paper towels or dish towel. Gently squeeze and blot excess liquid from tomatoes.
-Heat garlic in oil and allow to simmer for 2 to 3 mins. Turn off heat and add pepper flakes.
-Distribute mozzarella evenly over baked dough.
-Place tomato slices slightly overlapping and in a row on top of cheese. Repeat rows to fill the pan. Brush oil and garlic over tomato slices and around edge of crust.
-Sprinkle tomatoes with parmesan, salt and pepper.
-Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted.
-Finished Starter should slide out of pan onto cutting board.
-Sprinkle with oregano and basil and cut into serving pieces.
Note: ShopRite Bakery and Food Basics frozen sections both carry premade pizza dough.
Eat well, live long, enjoy! ••
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053.)