Personal Pizza

I’ve been craving pizza lately, which is pretty much a no-no because of the issues that my digestive tract has with dairy. However, to my everlasting joy, I’ve discovered that I can eat lactose-free cheese so long as I don’t go overboard, since cheese is also quite greasy, especially when melted. Since none of the pizzerias around here carry lactose-free cheese as an option, I thought that a “make your own pizza” evening was in order.

It didn’t look spectacular because I put the toppings under the cheese, but it tasted great! I started with the dough from the Two-Cheese Pizza recipe on page 170 of Betty Crocker’s Best Bread Machine Cookbook (1999). This made enough for one 12″ pizza or four 4″ or so thin-crust-ish pizzas. (Next time I do this, I’m doubling the recipe.) You can’t actually cook pizzas in the bread machine, so I rolled out the dough into individual crusts and everyone topped their own. I used Healthy Veggie Tomato Sauce that I had in the freezer as the sauce, although I did simmer it a little to reduce it a little bit. I topped my pizza with ground beef and crumbled bacon, along with a few cremini mushroom slices. The rest of the family had theirs with more traditional mozzarella, but since cheddar was the only kind I could get lactose-free, I went with that.

I’ve tried Jamie Oliver’s Quick Family Pizza in the past, and although the kids liked it, one of the things I discovered about myself is that I’m not a big fan of the taste of self-rising flour. I think it’s just a little too salty for me. At any rate, I like the yeast dough a great deal more, and it’s just as easy as the quick bread version if I use the bread machine. So I think I’ll stick with this kind of dough for future pizza iterations.

Bacon-Wrapped Prime Rib

So Einfach Tasty (the German version of Tasty) got my attention again with their video for how to make Bacon-Wrapped Prime Rib (English version here), which looked so delicious that I just had to try it. Generally, I suck at roasts; they’re either completely tasteless, or dry, or both, no matter how many techniques I try to fix it. But I figured that with a combination of butter, spices, and bacon rubbed all over the outside of the roast, I shouldn’t have too many problems with this recipe. Also, I bought a meat thermometer. So that helped too.

I only made two changes to the recipe. The first was that I used the circular bacon that I had left over in the freezer, so I couldn’t exactly weave it. I ended up draping it over the roast instead, which worked just fine. The top piece curled up when cooking and singed a bit because it was nearer to the heating element, but I just removed it before serving.

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The second was that I used an inferior cut of meat, and you can see this especially in the lines of gristle through the center of the slice. So long as I ate around these unpalatable pieces, it was just fine, though!

I really did like how this roast turned out. It was probably the best one I've made yet (although there really isn't much competition for that title). I served it with boiled baby potatoes and steamed carrots. The kids ate their servings and asked for seconds, but I'm pretty sure they would have been happier if I'd only served them bacon without the beef. I wish I'd had a chance to try the gravy, but unfortunately all of my drippings burned solid to the bottom of the pan, so I didn't get to use them. Ah, well.

Toad in the Hole

I’ve been wanting to try to make toad in the hole for ages. I have vague memories of my Nan serving it, or at least something similar, although I couldn’t remember the name… I Googled “pigs in a blanket” and “bubble and squeak” before I finally figured out what the name was of the dish that I remembered. Basically, toad in the hole is sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding batter — with regional and temporal variations, of course. Although the photos I’ve found online use thick sausages for the most part, I distinctly remember the version from my childhood containing smaller breakfast sausages, so that’s what I was determined to make.

The first time I tried it, I wasn’t very happy with the results. I used the Yorkshire pudding recipe from the Joy of Cooking (page 637, 2006 edition, Rombauer & Becker), which was recommended by my father. I doubled the recipe and doubled the size of the pan, which I thought would work just fine, but the sausages were just too small to compensate for all that batter. Also, although the edges of the casserole rose and puffed up quite nicely, it didn’t cook evenly through the center, leaving it a stodgy mess. I mean, the texture was firm enough to be edible, but it wasn’t very appetizing.

I tried to learn from my mistakes the second time around. This time I whipped up only a single batch of the batter, which greatly improved the ratio of batter to meat, at least for sausages this small. I cooked it all in a pan that was half the size, which allowed it to rise more thoroughly. Also, I used a metal pan instead of a glass one, which I find in general allows for a crispier edge to baked dishes.

I was really happy with how it turned out. The pudding rose beautifully, so fluffy in the middle that in many spots it was completely hollow. The crust was nice and crisp without being hard. The sausages were perfectly done. Now, if only I’d remembered to grease the pan, since to serve it I almost had to destroy it. You’d think I’d know better by now.

I served my toad in the hole with a side Ceasar salad and some sliced avocado, which my Nan would never have done (she’d have paired it with boiled or baked veggies). But I thought we needed some fresh greens with a main dish that doesn’t contain a single vegetable. The family ate it all up and asked me to make it again soon, which tells me that it was a success.

Tornado Potato

Last night, being a Sunday, dinner wasn’t a rushed affair between classes and extracurricular activities, which it definitely can be during the school week. I had the opportunity to try out a new recipe that I’d spotted on Tasty for tornado potatoes:

It looked pretty simple, and it actually was! (That isn’t guaranteed with tutorial videos, as they’re often made by people who are experts in their fields, who can make even the most difficult techniques seem simple because they have tonnes of practice at them.) I had a really hard time inserting the bamboo skewers into the potatoes, though — they kept snapping off, sometimes inside the potato! So I used metal barbecue skewers instead, which slid through the potatoes like butter.


Tornado potatoes served with a ground beef/lamb mix in mushroom soup gravy, steamed frozen peas, and steamed carrots.

I used Prince of Orange potatoes from my garden, which are a little harder than a russet, so I should have cooked them a little longer, but I will know that for next time. Overall, the taste was very nice, and everyone in the family liked them. Now that I have the kinks in the process ironed out, I can see eating tornado potatoes a lot in the future.