If you haven’t heard about the no-knead bread by now, you clearly don’t read many food blogs (or newspapers, for that matter.) Last year, in The New York Times–actually, TWO years ago in The New York Times (the article was published November 8, 2006! Boy, I’m way behind on making this)–Mark Bittman coaxed a recipe from master bread baker Jim Lahey for perfect bakery-quality bread at home. Shockingly, the recipe required no work, no kneading of any kind. The food world was astonished. Food bloggers went ga-ga. I watched them go ga-ga. And, finally, last week I decided to go ga-ga myself.
We are about to conduct an experiment. For this experiment you will need a person; the person should be a person who: (1) loves scones; (2) is a self-professed non-cook. The purpose of this experiment is to prove that a self-professed non-cook who loves scones can whip up a batch of cream scones so quickly, so easily, that they will: (1) no longer consider themselves a non-cook; and (2) eat scones to their heart’s content.
Don’t believe me? I can get them there in three steps, using a Molly O’Neill recipe from The New York Times (courtesy of Amanda Hesser.) Are you ready? Here we go.
Newspaper recipes don’t excite me.
With their perfect margins, their definitive type, their antiseptic language, I very rarely open the Wednesday Food Section of The New York Times, read a recipe, and run home to make it. Perhaps it’s a function of old media vs. new media, in that the old media feels creaky and irrelevant whereas the new media–by which I mean food blogs–are fresh and accessible and offer real recipes by real people with real personas that aren’t whitewashed or edited, but vivid and alive.
Sometimes the name of a dish sounds so intimidating your immediate reaction is: “Pish posh! I can’t make that! And why did I just say pish posh?”
Such might be the case with the pizza you see above. You hear “pizza” and that doesn’t sound so difficult, but you add “caramelized onions, rosemary and gorgonzola” and you feel like you’re on Planet Impossible. Well come back to Earth, Earthling, and let me assure you: that pizza you see above may SOUND difficult, but it’s really a cinch. Here, let me convince you.
Wolfgang Puck introduced the Jewish pizza at Spago in the 90s: it’s pizza dough with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and caviar. I didn’t have any caviar tonight, but after a quick jaunt to a high end grocery store in Chelsea (after a movie) I was able to throw together a Jewish pizza in less than 15 minutes. The secret was pre-made pizza dough. Ya, that’s sucky, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I baked the pizza dough in a 450 oven for 10 minutes, after brushing with olive oil and scattering with thinly sliced onions:
Meanwhile, I combined creme fraiche with dill, salt and pepper. Once the pizza cooled down a bit, out of the oven, I spread the creme fraiche mixture on top, laid on the smoked salmon, and sprinkled chopped onion, capers and more dill over the top. The result? Oy vey, was it good! My son the doctor, he kvelled. So don’t be a meshugana, make a Jewish pizza. Put some meat on your bones. And call me–you never call!
WARNING: Jewish pizza may or may not cause unwanted Jewish mother-like symptoms. These may include nosiness, a tendency to meddle, a love for Barbra Streisand, pushiness, red onion breath and/or shpilkes in the geneckteckessoink. Please consult your son the doctor before baking.
There’s nothing like hot pita. Part of my multi-cultural awakening here in New York has been a growing awareness of pita. I like dipping it into hummus at Hummus Place, eating it with falafel at Chickpea, and–most of all–using it to scoop up the multiple Greek dips you can get at New York’s many Greek restaurants. At Snack Taverna, the trio is called Pikilia and it comes with melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant, parsley, and garlic), taramosalata (carp roe and lemon), and tzatziki (sheep’s milk yogurt, cucumber and garlic.) The best part is the hot pita and the other night I decided to recreate the experience at home:
This won’t be a very long post because the pita recipe I found online wasn’t that great. It called for whole wheat flour and the pitas came out tasting too…healthy. I think the pitas at Snack Taverna are made from white flour only so they’re lighter and springier. These tasted like hippies.
The rest was really simple. I made a Greek salad:
I used the techniques I learned in Greece that you can read about here.
And then for the dips, I mostly cheated. I made hummus from scratch (used the Barefoot Contessa recipe and it came out thicker than I would have liked) and bought the tzatziki and taramosalata from Union Market. I figured making the pitas from scratch would be enough work–although, it turned out, it really wasn’t that much work. You should try it.
And so, in conclusion, we have learned in this post that when we crave restaurant food we very often can make it for ourselves at home. So if you don’t live in New York and you wish you could go on a Greek odyssey, don’t have a pity party. Have a pita party! It’s simple and well worth it.
Last week the NYT published a piece on how to make supremely excellent bread at home with minimal work and maximum reward. Luisa of Wednesday Chef attempted it and her results look marvelous. But the other day I wanted home-made bread and I wanted it then and there. The NYT technique requires 12 hours of resting and I was impatient, so what could I do?
Niçois Onion Tart Theater Proudly Presents the debut performance of
(or, “Fear of a Jarred Anchovy”)
Billy, The Anchovy Hater
Jacques, The Friendly Frenchman
PLUS: Special Guests!
Please take your seat. The performance will begin after the jump.