Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan Reviewed at Serious Eats

Donna Currie has been posting a series of reviews of different pizza cooking surfaces. Today she posted her review of the Lodge Pro Logic Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan. Co-blogger Rebecca gave me one for Hanukkah/Christmas/Solstice/Kwanzaa/New Year 2010. That's what I've been making all of my Pizza del Mese on. But Ms. Currie uses the pan in an unexpected way. She preheats the pan in the oven and then throws the prepared pizza upon it. So she complains that the pizza surface is small . . . because you have to throw your gooing pizza onto a flaming hot circle of iron. She also said she got some char on the underside of the pizza, which I've never experienced. I wonder if she'd have better success using it like I do, kinda following the description of how to cook a pizza using a pizza pan from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough in Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! She did say

The crust was about as good as it gets.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May's Au Lait Du Mois: Mascarpone Cheese


I strained the leftover 'creme' fraiche to make the cheese. It turned out well and I used the results to make pasta with peas and prosciutto.


I've been happy with my cheeses, but I have to say that I haven't tasted much difference in the soft cheeses that we've made. One day, when we want a lot of cheese, I'll have to make a few and compare them next to each other.

"April's" Au Lait du Mois: "Creme" Fraiche


I couldn't find any non ultra-pasteurized half and half so I decided to try this with whole milk. It turned out fine, although the texture was a little grainy. We used the creme fraiche on baked potatoes.


Monday, May 16, 2011

May's Au Lait du Mois: Mascarpone

This post breaks the first rule of blogging: Show, don't tell. The camera was just too far from my grasp in the few moments I had to make May's Au Lait Du Mois, so you'll just have to suffer with a photo-less post. Trust me when I say, it looked like cream cheese, but tasted sweeter and less tangy

Not only do I have no pictures for you, but the recipe is a bit of a cop out on the heels of Creme Fraiche. Really you just make Creme Fraiche and then ladle it into a colander lined with butter muslin to drain for 6 to 10 hours in the fridge. That's it.

The booklet that comes with Ricki Carroll's Gourmet Home Dairy Kit contains a recipe for Mascarpone Cheesecake, which inspired me to make Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes with my mascarpone. They were delectable.

Previous Au Lait du Mois:

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Monday, May 02, 2011

April's Pizza del Mese: Alsatian Tarte Flambe

After the first two slices, this Alsatian Tarte Flambe (how much fun is that to say?) was my official taste tester's favorite pizza so far.

The bacon flavor was intense, but nicely balanced by the sweetness of the sweated onions and the creme fraiche. By the last bite of the fourth slice, it was deemed a little too rich. I mistakenly thought this was in the section on Appetizer Pizzas in Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. My official taste tester took that as a totally valid explanation for the richness. Like this would be perfect on a buffet, but you shouldn't make a meal of it . . . unless you're in the mood for bacon and richness and lingering guilt.

The Alsatian Tarte Flambe is actually in the section on International Pizzas (duh, Alsatian?). And I'm not sure how the Flambe gets in there. Doesn't that usually mean it's served flaming? I don't know. Also, the recipe called for dry white wine or dry vermouth. We're not really drinkers (Did you hear something? Yes, everyone who reads my blog who knew me prior to around 2006 just said, "WHAT?!?"), so the only wine we have in the house is leftover from dinner parties. We've had two open bottles rattling in the door of our refrigerator long enough that I thought it might be possible that they'd turned into vinegar. But no. Unfortunately none of the leftover wine was white (think about that the next time you bring a bottle of red to a dinner party . . . at least at my house). So I used a pinot noir of spurious origins that had been sitting in my refrigerator for a really, really long time. It turned out not to be vinegar. It did turn the onion mixture slightly pink, but the final product didn't look excessively pink. I think it would have been less sweet had I used the prescribed vino, but I liked how this turned out. So if your all out of dry white wine or dry vermouth, don't let that stop you from whipping up an Alsatian Tarte Flambe.

Alsatian Tarte Flambe adapted from Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • Vegetable oil to apply to the cooking surface of Lodge Pro Logic Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan
  • One recipe Classic Pizza Dough (see recipe in January's Pizza del Mese)
  • 6 oz. bacon strips
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved through the stem, then thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C dry white wine or whatever wine you have left over from your last dinner party in the fridge (I used a pinot noir of questionable origin)
  • 1 C creme fraiche
  • 1/4 t grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • Position the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450.
  • Apply a thin coating of vegetable oil to the surface of the cast iron pizza pan. Lay the dough at its center and dimple the dough with your fingertips. Then pull and press the dough until it forms a 14-inch circle on the pizza pan.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon strips and cook until
    somewhat browned but still limp, 3 to 4 minutes. (They will cook more on top of the pie.) Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the onions to the bacon fat in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally,
    until wilted, soft, and quite fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  • Pour in the wine and raise the heat to medium-high. As the wine simmers,
    scrape up any browned bits on the skillet's bottom. Continue cooking at a full
    simmer until the liquid in the skillet is a thick glaze over the onions, about
    4 minutes.
  • Spread the creme fraiche over the prepared crust, keeping a 1/2-inch border at
    the edge. Chop the bacon and sprinkle it over the pie.
  • Use a rubber spatula to spoon and spread the softened onions and their glaze
    over the pizza, again keeping that border intact. Sprinkle with the nutmeg and
  • Place the pie on its pizza pan in the oven on the middle rack. Check it about every three minutes for the first nine minutes to pop any air bubbles that may blow up at its edge or across its surface. Bake until the crust's edge is golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes.
  • Transfer the pizza pan to a wire rack to cool for 3 minutes. Remove the pie from the pan, transferring it directly to the wire rack to cool completely. Transfer the pie to a cutting board to slice the pizza into wedges to serve.
Previous Pizza del Mese: January's Pizza del Mese: Pizza Margherita February's Pizza del Mese: Mushroom Pizza March's Pizza del Mese: Broccoli and Tomato Sauce Pizza

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

April's Au Lait du Mois: Creme Fraiche

Another tardy Au Lait du Mois. I know. But this one really did get made in April. As it goes from start to finish in just a little over 12 hours, that was easy enough to accomplish on April 30th.

I didn't use raw milk this time. Instead I used organic pasteurized half and half. I picked up two pints (a.k.a. a quart) at Trader Joe's.

I used a cup of my fresh creme fraiche (is that redundant?) to make my Pizza del Mese, an Alsatian Tarte Flambe. But I'll talk more about that tomorrow.

Creme Fraiche adapted from Ricki Carroll's Gourmet Home Dairy Kit

  • 1 qt. light cream or half and half

  • 1 packet Creme Fraiche direct set culture

  • 2 qt. pot with lid

  • Dairy Thermometer

  • Slotted spoon

  • Yogotherm yogurt incubator

  • Pour the light cream or half and half into a 2 qt. pot and affix the thermometer in a readable position.

  • Heat the light cream or half and half to 86 degrees.

  • Pour the light cream or half and half into the Yogotherm.

  • Sprinkle 1 packet of the creme fraiche direct set culture over the top of the light cream or half and half. Wait about a minute to let the culture bloom. Then stir the culture into the light cream or half and half.

  • Cover and allow to set for up to 12 hours. I let mine set for 20 hours and it seemed a bit thick, but otherwise perfectly cool. It will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Previous Au Lait du Mois:

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