Monday, January 29, 2007


Yum! Pizza is much easier to make than I thought it would be. The pizza above is my first attempt at making pizza. I did have a little help in the way of Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie's Italy' cookbook. He's got a great recipe for pizza dough in there, though I did end up with about three times too much dough as I needed. Hopefully, the last two balls of dough will survive in the freezer for awhile.

The most important thing seems to be to get the crust really, really thin. It took awhile to get it perfect, but once I stretched it out enough it was great, and a bit crunchy. The other really important thing is to place the pizza at the bottom of the oven, so it gets cooked evenly. I think having it right over the element really helps out quite a bit. I haven't yet bought a slab of granite like Jamie Oliver and Ed (who's got a blog that I link to off of this one, and he has a pizza dough recipe as well) swear one should have.

Here are a couple more pizzas, with the last one having the best crust:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Simply Great Spaghetti Sauce

Lately, I've become tired of the over-processed spaghetti sauce one can buy in a supermarket. Some of the brands used to make great sauce, but now you can see that they've been adding ingredients to make up for the cheaper, lower quality tomatoes that they are now putting into the sauce. These tomatoes aren't quite as ripe as the ones they used to use, so they have to find a way to sweeten up the sauce. Some companies are adding carrots to the sauce, which is a bit more healthy, but I don't really like carrots in my spaghetti sauce. The really bad ones are adding sugar. Sugar! If I want sugar in my diet, it's with my tea in the morning. I don't need to have added sugar in my spaghetti sauce.

So, now I've started making my own spaghetti sauce. And it's pretty easy. It can be cheap, but if you buy the best canned tomatoes you can find, it might cost you just a little bit more than the over-processed stuff. However, it's going to taste way better. Pretty much anyone can make this sauce.

1 400g can of chopped plum tomatoes
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 to many cloves garlic

Heat the oil at medium heat while peeling the garlic. Put the garlic through a garlic press, or chop. Put the garlic in the oil and reduce the heat so that the garlic is cooking very slowly. The slower you cook the garlic, the more it is caramelized, and the tastier the sauce will be. Don't burn the garlic.

When the garlic turns a nice golden translucent color, add the can of tomatoes. Stir the sauce. Put on medium heat until the sauce bubbles and then simmer on low heat, covered for at least an hour. I like the sauce chunky, but you can always blend it with a stem blender.

As with the pico di gallo, this sauce is also very good with polenta.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fresh Pico di Gallo

When I first moved here to Switzerland, I really missed mexican food. When I lived in Seattle, I'd have mexican food several times a week. I didn't need to cook it either, having several great places nearby where I could find a great mission burrito almost any time of the day or night. After arriving in Switzerland, I found only this 'Old El Paso' mexican stuff in the stores. And there's a lot of it. Problem is, it's way over processed. However, the salsa in jars is okay, but nothing beats fresh Pico di Gallo with a mexican dinner.

So, I started hunting for ingredients. Tomatoes are easy, good and cheap to find in Switzerland. Onions, more expensive than back home, but no problem. Limes, no problem. Now, the challenging things: Cilantro, okay, not so hard, as it's called 'Korieander' and can be found in the larger grocery stores. But... jalapenos? Well, there are the ones in jars from 'Old El Paso'. They'll do if you're really, really desperate. But, there's a shop called 'El Maiz' near the Bahnhof in Zurich that often has fresh jalapenos (and quite a few other goodies). Now, I live near Basel, but it's worth a trip to Zurich to get fresh jalapenos, and it turns out they'll keep quite nicely in the freezer, stored in a ziplock freezer bag. Make sure to wear gloves while handling the jalapenos, and in any case don't rub your eyes after handling the jalapenos.

Fresh Pico di Gallo

2-3 medium tomatoes, seeded (good quality canned plum tomatoes can be used as instead)
1 small onion
1-2 1/2cm slices of jalapeno (keep the rest in the freezer)
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 package cilantro (to taste, some people don't like this, if you don't, don't put it in)
pinch salt.

To seed the tomatoes, cut in half sideways and use the handle of a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and the watery bits that go with them, leaving just the meat of the tomatoes. Chop the tomatoes and place in serving bowl.

Chop the jalapeno, cilantro and onion together, place into serving bowl, add salt to taste, add the lime juice and mix.

Try it out with a few tortilla chips, or put it over mexican food. We've also found this makes a great topping for Polenta.
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