Sourdough Pizza Crust

I hope everyone is doing great quarantining! There has been so much crazy that has happened in 2020, and it’s only April. But in light of all the darkness happening, I am thoroughly enjoying social distancing and being in quarantine. It just gives me a lot of time to focus on myself, reflect and be at some level of inner peace — even though I certainly miss outings with my friends, all for the greater good.

The extra time to focus on myself really means spending much more time in the kitchen, experimenting and trying different things. Earlier this year, I delved into the art of sourdough. And while I was really hesitant about it because it just seemed so scientific, I am totally over the moon obsessed with my sourdough starter, LaGertha, named after the Viking shield-maiden.

Honestly, experimenting with bread has been so fulfilling. And I decided a couple weeks ago to get into making sourdough pizza crust, given that I have a lot of time to learn and I just really love pizza. I’ve had Joe Beddia’s cookbook, Pizza Camp, sitting on my shelf for a while, so used that recipe as my template. He uses instant dry yeast in his recipe, so it took some experimentation to find the right balance of ingredients that worked for me. My last batch was such a hit — now has a sitting place in the “favorites” section of my highly illegible recipe book — so I thought I share on ze bloggo.

It’s a thicker pizza with a crust that is fluffy as heck, but yet has an awesome crunchy bite. Only thing about it is that it’s a time investment. If you want pizza within the day, you certainly can. I made a batch and rose it at room temperature for 5 hours, and it’s still goooood. But waiting that extra day or so really makes the difference if you ask me.

Prep Time: 27 to 60 hours Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes Serves: two 10-inch pies

What You’ll Need

  • 70g active starter
  • 465g 00 flour (AP can be used, too)
  • 315g warm water
  • 15g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 30g olive oil

Note: If you want to use active dry yeast in this, I imagine you can substitute the starter with 7g of active dry yeast and add 35g of flour and 35g of water.

How You’ll Do It

  1. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix together with a fork starter, warm water and sugar. Once those ingredients have been fully combined, add flour.
  2. Mix the dough with your hands until everything has been combined and you’re left with a ball. It should be pretty wet. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, and let the dough sit in a warm place (I use my oven) for about 2 hours.
  3. After two hours, add the olive oil and salt into the dough and mix with wet hands. The dough should look pretty silky and beautiful at this point.
  4. Cover the bowl, and place the dough to rise in the fridge for 24 to 60 hours. I enjoy the 60-hour rise because the dough gets a lot of time to relax and ferment.
  5. After the first rise, take the dough out of the fridge and separate the dough into two. At this point, you’re going to shape the dough into round balls, working one at a time. Here is a good technique from Baking Steel.
  6. Put each dough ball into a separate bowl, place damp towels on each and let sit in a warm area for 4 -5 hours for the second rise. The dough should be doubled in size at the end of this.
  7. When the pizza is ready to be baked, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven at 450°F. I would let it preheat for at least 30 minutes. You can also use a baking sheet for this, or a pizza stone if you have one.
  8. When the pan is ready, now is the time to start stretching out your pizza dough. I prefer to just use my hands for this, adding a little bit of flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface. I like to start by pressing the dough out into a circular shape with my fingers, and then I flip the dough onto my fists and start slowly stretching the dough. When you’re done, it should be about 10-inches in diameter and about one-fourth to a half-inch thick.
  9. Take the hot pan out of the oven, and place it onto a trivet. Coat the pan with olive oil — I use a brush. Then place the dough into the pan — you’ll hear a nice sizzle!
  10. Add your favorite toppings now, and try not to go overboard with it (a heavy pizza makes for a soggy pizza!).
  11. Toss that baby in the lowest rack in the oven, and let it bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the crust is golden and slightly charred, and the cheese is golden and bubbley.
  12. Take the pizza out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes for everything to set — and then consume!
  13. Happy Pizza-tining!
Sourdough pizza with cheese, tomato sauce and pesto

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wow. The past few weeks have been crazy, haven’t they? First and foremost, I hope everyone is well + doing their best to stay healthy. And practicing social distancing!

We’ve been pretty much staying home, working from home, but we did manage to get outside yesterday to go on a hike with little Mo. He loved it, of course, but quickly tired out, so we had to carry him in his little front pouch that Dan loves to carry him in. It’s a good things he’s only 7 lbs!

And as you can imagine, I’ve resorted to a lot of cooking, baking and watching TV to fill my time. It’s been OK so far, but I imagine I’m going to be taking more naps as the weeks go by.

Last night, I made pistachio chocolate chip cookies, and I’m pretty sure they are the best cookies I’ve ever made. I’m also pretty sure that I’ve made that bold statement once or twice before — guess my cookie-baking skills are improving 😉

Prep Time: 45 minutes Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes Serves: 18 cookies

What You’ll Need

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed lightly
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup pistachios

How You’ll Do It

  1. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until fluffy — about 2 to 3 minutes. You’ll have to scrap down the sides using a rubber spatula and mix again to keep things even.
  2. Add the both sugars , and beat on medium high for an additional 3 minutes. Then, add the eggs. Make sure to add the eggs one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Add the vanilla paste, and mix until fully combined — about 30 seconds.
  4. Add in the flour, baking soda and salt, and mix on medium low until the dough comes together about halfway. At this point, add the dark chocolate and pistachios, and mix until the dough just comes together. Scrap down the sides to make sure everything has been evenly combined.
  5. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. While your dough is resting, preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Take a 4-cm cookie scoop, scoop and place the dough balls onto a cookie sheet, about 2-inches apart. You’ll need three cookie sheets. You’ll be able to fit 6 dough balls per cookie sheet.
  8. Bake the cookies for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are a nice, crisp golden brown.
  9. Once finished baking, transfer the cookies onto a cookie rack, and let them cool for at least 10 minutes before eating them.
  10. They are thick, ooey and so gooey. Hope you enjoy!

Beef Barbacoa

Happy Taco Tuesday! I recently found a new show on Netflix, and in true Nhubbies nature, I finished the entire season in one weekend. The show is called “Gentefied,” and the premise — without giving too much away — is centered around a Mexican-American family that works together to keep their grandpa’s restaurant afloat, amid the gentrification happening around the neighborhood.

My verdict? (Because this is what my blog is all about, right?) It was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m very much looking forward to another season.

To connect this to my food blog… I’ve been craving tacos since watching this show. So I had this master plan — I took the afternoon off from work so that I could go to my local butcher shop to get beef tongue and spend the rest of the afternoon making beef tongue tacos, because beef tongue tacos are the freaking best.

AND OF COURSE, the butcher shop was closed. I was extremely disappointed, but I decided to try out a new recipe that I’ve had brewing in my head for a while: barbacoa!

It was a more-than-satisfactory substitute, if not just as good. Rich, creamy, savory, flavorful — everything I wanted in a taco. And here I am, sharing it with you. Two of the best things about this recipe are how easy it is and how hands off it is.

My Instant Pot has been a godsend for me and my weeknight dinners. In under two hours, you can get the most tender meat you’ve ever tasted. And yes, you guessed it! This is what I used for this recipe.

Prep Time: 1 to 24 hours Cook Time: 1.5 hours Serves:  6 to 8 people

What You’ll Need

For the marinade

  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, sliced

For the barbacoa

  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into fist-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
  • 1 7 oz. can of chipotles in adobo sauce, crushed
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

How You’ll Do It

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together freshly squeezed lime, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, oregano, coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and honey. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or large Ziplock bag, add in the beef chunks, onions and garlic. Then, pour in the marinade and mix evenly with your hands. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, set the Instant Pot to sauté, and add in the two tbsp of olive oil. Once the pot is hot, add in the beef, and brown for 5 minutes on each side.
  4. Once meat is browned, add in the remaining ingredients from the marinade (onions, garlic, juices). Then add in the green chiles, chipotles in adobo sauce, salt and water.
  5. With a wooden spoon, mix everything in the pot until evenly incorporated.
  6. Close and seal the Instant Pot, and set to “Meat/Stew” for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  7. When the timer has 10 minutes left, I like to prepare everything else for my tacos — heat up the CORN tortillas, cut up white onions and cilantros, bring out the hot sauce and salsa, etc.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes + Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Buttercream

I’ve been making it a weekly habit to dedicate to experimenting with recipes, and it’s been simply amazing. I’ve been learning so much (hello, weekly sourdough experiments!) and, not to mention, it’s been incredibly therapeutic.

It was my friend’s birthday this week. He had us over for dinner and cooked us a grand meal. So the least I could do was whip up a sweet treat for him. I decided on carrot cake, which was surprisingly a very good choice because it’s his favorite kind of cake. (I only found his our during dinner, ha!) I also took the gluten-free route because his wife is gluten-free, and I like to challenge myself.

My test run was a success! Cupcakes came out perfect — sweet, moist and flavorful. I paired them up my vanilla bean cream cheese buttercream and fulled them with a salted caramel (recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction). I will admit that they are super decadent, so not something you can sit and eat a whole batch of… because who doesn’t need one of those nights now and then?

Prep Time: 60 minutes Cook Time: 35 – 40 minutes Serves:  20 cupcakes

What You’ll Need

For the cupcakes

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup labneh or greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 crushed pecans

For the buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar

How You’ll Do It

For the cupcakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients together — almond flour, coconut, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and baking powder. Set bowl aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, labneh and vanilla paste until combined. Then whisk in both brown sugars.
  4. Next, pour half of your dry ingredients in the bowl. With a rubber spatula, fold in the ingredients until mostly combined. Then pour in the remaining half of the dry ingredients, along with the pecans.
  5. Try not to over mix! Just keep folding until the batter comes together. It should be like a thick pancake batter.
  6. Line two cupcake pans with 20 cupcake liners.
  7. With a medium cookie scoop (should fit approximately 1 1/2 tbsp of batter), scoop one scoop of batter into each cupcake liner.
  8. Once all the batter is gone, take each cupcake pan and lightly tap it onto the counter to even out the batter.
  9. Place pans in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes. It may take a little shorter or longer depending on how strong your oven is.
  10. To test readiness, take a toothpick, and insert into a cupcake. It should come out clean. The cupcakes should be golden brown.
  11. Once your cupcakes are ready, take them out of the cupcake pans, and let them cool on a wire rack. (I baked mine the night before and let them cool all night.)

For the buttercream

  1. In stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or a handheld mixer or a whisk), add your softened butter and cream cheese. Whip the two together until nice and fluffy — about 2 minutes.
  2. Once your cream cheese and butter mixture is where you want it to be, add the vanilla and whisk for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add the confectioner’s sugar, and then continue whipping for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. When the frosting is ready, it should be thick and hold a stiff peak.

The assembly

  1. Put your salted caramel and buttercream each in its own individual LARGE piping bag. I didn’t use any tips for this one.
  2. When the cupcakes are completely cool, scoop out the center of each cupcake. Don’t go all the way through the cupcake, though. You can do this with a small spoon, which I did, or you can use a corer.
  3. Once all the cupcakes have been cored, squeeze the salted caramel into each cupcake until it reaches the top.
  4. For the frosting, I like to make big and tall swirls. It’s probably way too much frosting, but it looks pretty 🙂
  5. Once all the cupcakes have been frosted, I like to take a small spoon to create a divot at the top of each cupcake. I then take a little salted caramel and full that divot and then sprinkle the cake that I cored. (I don’t like wasting good cake!)
  6. Ta-da! You’re all done. Grab a couple friends who are gluten-intolerant (or not) and enjoy!

Chicken Congee

The cold has finally broken! And I’m FINALLY feeling back to my normal self. I probably sound like a huge complainer, but I literally almost never get anything more than a slight cold that lasts a day or two. So for me to be out of commission for over a week… now that really was a curveball.

But I managed — and I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. And here I am, back to my annoying old self 🙂

When I was a kid, like all kids, I used to the occasional cold/fever. And when that happened, Super Dad came to the rescue with the most delicious congee in the world. Now, I don’t know if I live up to my dad’s name, but I also know how to make a bomb ass pot of congee. And guess what? It’s actually one of the easiest things to make — and one of the best things in the world to eat when you’re sick. Ultimate Chinese comfort food ❤ I swear it has medicinal properties (maybe not).

Now, with congee, you can take a lot of shortcuts. For instance, I like to make my own chicken broth, but you can take a couple shortcuts:

  • store-bought chicken broth
  • Rotisserie chicken and shred it at home

If you choose to make the chicken broth… I promise it will be worthwhile. But here’s a little secret, I take a shortcut by using a pressure cooker to make the broth. It cuts the time… a lot!

What You’ll Need

For the chicken broth

  • a whole chicken (3.5 – 4 lbs), giblets and all removed
  • 2 large white onion, peeled
  • 1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole head of garlic, crushed with hands and with skin left on
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, skin on
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 13 cups water

For the congee

  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup jasmine rice

Congee Toppings

  • cooked and shredded chicken
  • chopped scallions
  • black pepper
  • sesame oil
  • fried onions
  • soft-boiled egg

Note: For this round, I opted only for chicken, scallions, black pepper and sesame oil.

How You’ll Do It

For the chicken broth

  1. Add chicken, onions, scallions, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and water in the pressure cooker. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can just use a large pot on the stove.)
  2. On the soup/broth option, pressure cook on high for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (If you are doing this on the stove, bring all the ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 3 hours.)
  3. Once you’ve finished the cooking process, remove the chicken and place the chicken into a large bowl. Let it cook for at least 30-45 minutes, and then shred the chicken. Once shredded, I like to keep it separate from the congee and add it on a per bowl basis. You can also add it the congee, too.
  4. In another bowl, you can remove the rest of the ingredients. I usually just toss it all.
  5. Once everything is out of the broth, pass the broth through a fine sieve… twice. That ensures a super duper clean broth.

For the congee

  1. In a large pot, boil 12 cups of broth. Once the broth is boiling, add the 1 cup of rice and lower the heat to medium low.
  2. Let the congee cook for about an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the rice expands and the congee is thick in consistency… like a porridge or oatmeal. During this process, be sure to stir the congee every 15 minutes. This ensures that the rice does just stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Once your congee is ready, add your favorite toppings. And now you’re ready to mangiate!