Heh heh. Heh heh. Pizza for breakfast.
If you were a kid in the 1990′s, it’s likely that you watched an episode or two of Beavis and Butthead. It just so happens that I was in middle school during the three and a half years it aired, so I was pretty squarely in the target audience. One of the most memorable lines in the series stems from the episode when Beavis consumes massive amounts of sugar and transforms into his alter-ego: The Great Cornholio. He then runs around with his shirt over his head yelling “I am the Great Cornholio! Are you threatening me?!!!” Classic stuff.
What folks may not remember is that this is also the breakfast burrito episode. Their friend’s mother offers them breakfast burritos and they are astonished to find out that the burritos are filled with eggs and whatnot rather than typical burrito fixings. Thus, Beavis rampages through the cabinets and the Great Cornholio is born.
So I was thinking about this the other day when I got myself a little birthday present.. I get all those promotional emails from Sur La Table and they’ve been featuring a gadget called The Petite Pizzeria for a while now, but I just couldn’t justify getting it. And then it was Black Friday a week before my birthday and The Petite Pizzeria went on sale. It was pretty much a done deal. Then, of course, I had to decide what to make with it!
For some reason, the breakfast burrito from Beavis and Butthead was on my mind, so I decided to make a breakfast pizza. This worked out well, because I could make the pizza dough at night and then be ready to get my pizzas going in the morning.
So let’s talk about cheese for a minute. While I love mozzarella cheese, I wanted cheese with a bigger flavor for the breakfast pizza and I happened to have a giant wheel of Cordobes sitting in my fridge.
Ricotta Cheese. Creamy, smooshy, dreamy homemade ricotta cheese. There’s nothing like it. There’s certainly nothing like it sitting on the shelf at your local chain grocery store. Those shelves are stocked with soulless tubs of skim milk ricotta which is a sad sad shadow of what ricotta can be.
I used grocery store ricotta for years, but had mostly relegated it for use as a filler in lasagna or in the odd dessert. It certainly lends a lovely quality to pasta dishes and whatnot, but I never understood the appeal of ricotta as the shining star of a dish. (That’s right, Gordon Ramsey, the shining star of this dish.) I actually remember how one of the South Beach Diet “approved dessert” was ricotta cheese, sweetener and lemon. Another involved cocoa powder and other stuff. I tried them and was kind of grossed out. It was just kind of grainy and unappealing and I couldn’t really get behind the whole thing. I also couldn’t figure out how that place in Little Italy got their cannoli filling to be so creamy and delicious. Basically, I found ricotta cheese to be kind of baffling.
Then I decided to make my own and my whole world changed. You may think I’m exaggerating, but seriously, I have a food blog. My world pretty much revolves around food and I’ve become a ricotta fiend. Making ricotta is so easy and the result is so delicious that I’ve sort of fallen into the habit of making it weekly and it is therefore showing up in more and more things that I cook. I’ve learned to alter the recipe below to tailor the ricotta to what I want to make and love having a jar of it on hand at all times.
A little over a month ago, I went to a book signing for the Smitten Kitchen book tour. It was held at Manuel’s Tavern in the Highlands, which was pretty fun. I mean, seriously, have you ever been to a book signing in a bar? Pretty cool. And Deb, the author of Smitten Kitchen and the newish Smitten Kitchen cookbook was so much fun. She got up in jeans, sneakers and a black tee-shirt and just spoke with us. Then, the signing part took forever because she actually took the time to talk to each person who signed a book. I’m sure her handlers were beside themselves, but I was very impressed with the care Deb took with her readers and fans.
So, clearly I have the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and have started making some of the recipes from it. The cheesy crackers are adapted from Deb’s Rosemary Gruyere Sea Salt Crisps. I changed up the cheese, upped the ante on the rosemary and added some black pepper. Mmmmm. The result is a tender little snackie that is full of cheese with that nice hint of rosemary and black pepper spice to it. Okay, so there’s more than a hint of rosemary. I love rosemary. So go ahead and give these a shot. I look forward to experimenting with different kinds of cheese and spices. I’m also kind of picturing a blue cheese & walnut cracker. It could be great.
Week 7 of the Very Veggie Challenge and we are going with spinach this week! So, what to do with spinach that isn’t just sauteing it with a little garlic and olive oil? Saag paneer! Saag paneer is one of my favorite Indian foods and is basically Indian lightly creamed spinach with chunks of cheese. Delicious. Continue reading