Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grilled Pizza Debriefing

Rolling out the dough. Using my new French rolling pin that I bought at a local arts festival a few weeks ago. Polished maple. Absolutely love it!

Stacked up the rolled crusts with parchment paper between, covered with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Wanted as much rolled before everyone got there as possible so I wouldn't be spending the afternoon with a rolling pin in my hand rather than a tasty summer beverage. (Note to self: next time use parchment paper that covers the entire piece of dough. When my nephew took the crusts to the patio to grill and they started warming up, they got very chummy with each other under that towel and we had problems with some of them not letting go of each other.)

Oops. Forgot to take a picture of the toppings "bar" before it got nailed by hungry guests. But you get the idea. BTW, the dip in the middle of the fruit plate (pineapple and strawberries) was also a new recipe--very tasty! Plain yogurt with a banana blended in, cinnamon...maybe one or two other things that I've forgotten now, but yum. Especially with pineapple. Who'd-a-thunk that pineapple and cinnamon would be tasty together? I also made a acai-pomegranate salad dressing that's a definite keeper. Successful day all around with the first-timer-recipes.

My nephew's pizza stylin's on the grill. (Don't recall what all was on his: alfredo sauce, spinach, black olives, garlic, tomatoes...probably at least three other things. He's the most adventuresome eater of all of us.) Grill the crust first, then add toppings, then bake it off either over indirect heat on the grill or in the oven. We had both going at once to try to get as many pizzas done at one time as possible.

Mine waiting its turn to go on the grill. Alfredo sauce, spinach, caramelized onions, pancetta, parmesan. Plus I threw some roasted red peppers on the top right before it hit the grill--I'd been waffling on them and finally gave in. (I've always loved roasted red peppers. Don't know why I was waffling in the first place.)

My MIL surprised me by bringing dessert. French vanilla pound cake that she split into three parts lengthwise, then grilled briefly to toast it up just a little. Spread a marscapone-with-lemon cream filling between the layers with strawberries, blueberries and red raspberries. Very, very good!

I'm exhausted now--two days on my feet getting everything ready. But the upside is I have lots of leftovers of dough, grilled crusts, and toppings. I think I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Foodie Post: Grilled Pizzas

This post is dedicated to Susan of The History Quilter. :-)

A few weeks ago, my nephew and I took a cooking class at our local culinary school (NY Wine and Culinary Center), learning how to make grilled pizza. I've made homemade pizza for a long time, but have always wanted to try grilling it, so I was really excited about the class. My sister (said nephew's mother), and a family friend and her daughter joined us. The class was an absolute hoot. Grilling pizza is surprisingly simple, plus I learned how to make a couple of different sauces on top of it.

So tomorrow we've invited my in-laws over and my nephew and I will be testing our grilled pizza chops. There will be somewhere between 7 and 9 people here. I'm planning on making fairly small personal-sized pizzas so that (1) they'll grill and bake pretty quickly and (2) people can play with topping combinations by doing a couple of different pizzas for themselves. My nephew will be the grill-master; I'll be in the kitchen. (He'll grill the crusts, then we'll bake them off both in the stove and over indirect heat on the grill--we'll need both going at once to get everyone taken care of in a decent time frame.)

Mind you--grilling pizza is easy, but providing a range of toppings takes a long time. I spent a few hours in the kitchen today in prep, and still have some left to do tomorrow in addition to the dough. (Of course, adding bruschetta and a fruit plate with yogurt dip into the menu as appetizers didn't help. I have problems with thinking small!)

Our options are going to be:
Sauces: Traditional red pizza sauce (store-bought, but a nice one); Margherita sauce (homemade); Alfredo sauce (homemade); olive oil and garlic or seasonings as desired
Cheeses: Mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, parmesan
Toppings: Roasted red peppers (my daughter did those--she's really good at it); spinach; sliced Roma tomatoes; black olives; pancetta; caramelized Vidalia onions; red onions; pineapple--if any is leftover from the fruit plate appetizer; pepperoni; fresh basil and fresh oregano from my garden; sliced garlic (yep, raw--that's my nephew's request). I may end up adding Italian sausage to the list tomorrow if my nephew decides to run out and buy some for me.

I also made a homemade acai salad dressing--which was supposed to be pomegranate but my daughter grabbed the wrong bottle at the grocery store and I didn't notice until we got home. But the acai juice was a blend with pomegranate anyway, so the recipe didn't seem to care. Still tasty. And I'm debating between two different yogurt dip recipes to put with the fruit tray--that'll take me all of about 5 minutes to do tomorrow so I'm not sweating it.

So wish me luck as we crank up the grill and see if we've remembered everything we learned. I'll try to remember to snap a picture somewhere along the way but can't make any guarantees!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lolly's Fabric Purchase

OK--just a quick post because once again I'm sleeee-eeeepy. Still adjusting to time changes. It's only an hour difference but man, does that still wreak havoc on your internal systems!

In any case, on my way home from Wisconsin I took a side trip to Shipshewana, Indiana. One store clerk there said, "Wow, that's really out of your way, isn't it?" Hmmm.... Maybe a half hour off the expressway? When I'm doing a 30 hour round trip, half an hour doesn't sound "out of the way." It sounds more like, "Take the opportunity as long as you're in spittin' distance!" I joked with her that quilters will travel almost any distance for a nice quilt shop. Since I suspect Lollys brings the vast majority of the business in the door of their "mercantile of shops," I'm guessing she's used to that response.

Lolly's was amazing, as usual.

Here's what I buyed. Well, you'll see the stack in the bottom left that were from the Quilt Foundry. Everything else was from Lollys. The three fabrics across the top (purple, teal, cream) have a purpose. I just need to come up with a design, but I've got a year to do it.

The two packages in plastic with fabrics arranged in diamonds are sets of 5" squares, 40 0f them. Not by Moda so they can't call themselves a charm pack. Don't recall what they were named. But they're all batiks. Gorgeous batiks.

The four charm packs altogether (I can call them all charm packs without getting a cease and desist, can't I?) I bought with something in mind...

I have one "Little Charmers" pattern from designer Heather Mulder Petersen (I think that's her name--it's way too late for me to go dig the pattern out and check. If I don't correct this later, that means it's right) in her Anka's Treasures series. I made several table runners from that one pattern--it has three options in it--for Christmas gifts a couple of years ago and then made myself one this year. I was thrilled to see that Lolly's had several other in the series--I really like these. Hence, picking up a couple of charm packs as well. I see more table runners in my future. I only have so much wall and bed space, right?

The other two patterns at the bottom are the Five Yard Quilt series that I mentioned in my episode about the Quilt Foundry. The fabrics I bought will be used in the pattern on the left--it'll look really wonderful in all spa colors.

OK--I'm dozing off over the keyboard so I'll have to wait until later to post pictures of the physical shops themselves.

By the way, I did finally manage to get back to my sewing machine for the first time in weeks tonight. Got the backing pieced together for a UFO I'm sending off to a long-armer. Woohoo! I'll be so glad to see that one done--it's been hanging around for a little over three years!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Quilt Foundry fabric purchase

If you're interested in the background story to this fabric, listen to episode 55: In Which I Visit the Quilt Foundry (posted this evening). This is the P&B Textiles Sausalito line* that I purchased today at The Quilt Foundry, with the intention of using it for the Five Yard Quilt pattern #506, "Shadow Boxes."

I'd write more, but I've been on the road for a long time today and looking forward to a l-o-n-g night's sleep. So g'night, catch y'all later!

(*with apologies for bad hotel-room lighting that's graying out the colors but good. Trust me, it's really pretty!)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Half the fun down, the other half to go

Since I'm going to be gone for a couple of weeks, my husband suggested he and I do an overnight at a B&B in the Finger Lakes, something we haven't done very often. Here we are, near the Finger Lakes, and we've never gone to an inn on one of them. So last night we packed up and hit the road as soon as work was done; an hour and a half later it was like we were in a different world. Well, not entirely. It looked an awful lot like the town I grew up in and not too far off the town we live in. But it still, it was away. We had a great time. Already have plans to go back.

There was an antique fair going on while we were there and I found one of my favorite things: printing press letters. So I now have the word "quilt" displayed in mismatched printers letters displayed in my quilting area. Very cute. I love them. They make me smile.

I also got some foodie stuff at a cute little kitchen boutique shop (I'm a sucker for a good finishing sauce), and some really wonderful "found item" frames for antique pictures that will look great in my dining room.

There's a really nice quilt shop (rumored, anyway--I've never been there) nearby, but it was 10 minutes in the wrong direction so I didn't get to check it out. Next time!

After our overnight, my husband dropped me off at the New York Wine and Culinary Center for a cooking class I had registered for with my nephew, his mother (my sister), and a couple of very close family friends. The class was on grilled pizza. It was great fun! I picked up a couple of great cooking tips and came right home to put one of them into practice...not on pizza, but on fettucini. Can't wait until I'm back from my trip and can make some grilled pizza!

Tomorrow I'm taking my daughter to meet my in-laws for a local arts/crafts festival that I'm usually out of town for, so I'm looking forward to that. Absent the fact it's supposed to be 90 degrees or more. But we're not going to stay long because I have to finish packing when I get home.

I probably won't be able to blog again until I'm home in a couple of weeks. Stay quilty!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Quiet

I haven't posted a podcast episode in the last week because I'm still in a quiet mood. Not sad, necessarily, although I'm still doing that "empty nest" thing that started the morning after my daughter's graduation. So weird little things hit me at odd moments. But it's also been a super-busy time at work, and a pretty stressful time for my husband at his work. So we've both been reacting--to stress and to empty-nesting--by, ironically, nesting. For example, today we celebrated the Fourth of July by paying bills, re-evaluating our budget (see previous references to two college tuitions!), then I gave the kitchen cabinets and appliances a thorough scrubbing while he headed out to do some yard work. I don't think we're even going anywhere to watch fireworks--we're both just in the mood to stay home. Mind you, I did take the morning to finish a book I was reading (the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy), and I believe my husband spent most of that time playing Civilization (his hobby of choice), so it's not like we were working like maniacs all day. But we simply chose not to go anywhere or do anything--just stay at home doing homey things.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd post some pictures of what was surrounding me this morning as I was finishing the book. Love this time of year.