Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Pears, caramelized onion, honey, fresh thyme, Gorgonzola cheese. These are some of my favorite ingredients...all combined in this breathtaking pizza.

This is a relatively simple pizza. Just a few fresh ingredients, perfectly balanced. And the results are magnificent.

BUT....because we're working with few ingredients, it makes the quality of these ingredient very important.

"Once you've put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided."
- Chef Mario Batali

So, with that in mind, shop for the best and freshest you can find. You won't regret it once you see how each ingredient in this fabulous pizza is highlighted and celebrated!

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

1 uncooked pizza crust
1 bosc pear (you want one that is ripe but still a bit firm)
1/2 yellow onion
2 TBS butter
pinch of sugar (optional) Note: if you can get your hands on a sweet onion you might not need it
2-4 TBS Gorgonzola (or bleu) cheese 
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 TBS honey

Preheat your oven according to your pizza crust cooking instructions. (I cook my homemade pizzas very hot and fast. So my oven is preheated to to 525F, which is the highest my oven goes.)

Cut the pear in half and remove the seeds. *tip: using a melon baller is a great way to do this!* Slice the pear thinly.

Cut the onion into small strips. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee until they are a deep golden color. This should take about 10-15 minutes for them to caramelize. Add the sugar, if desired, and stir until coated. Set aside.

To make the pizza, spread the onions (and some of the butter from the pan) onto the the crust. Arrange pear slices in a circular patter to cover the crust and onions. Sprinkle the cheese and thyme over the top of the pizza. Finally, drizzle on the honey.

Bake according to your pizza crust's recipe (for my crust its about 6-8 minutes at 525F or unitl crust is golden brown.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Moroccan Spices

Spaghetti Squash. One of my favorite hard-shelled winter squash.

When you love variety, you love versatility. This yellow gem is just that. Versatile. And this recipe is one of my favorite ways to bring a different twist, a Moroccan one, to an old favorite. It's bursting with flavor from the spices...but also very approachable due to the natural mild sweetness of the squash.

It's fantastic on it's own for a light lunch. Or along side a fish or chicken dish. In the photo below, it was served with tilapia (also in a Moroccan style).

*Shopping tip: When choosing a spaghetti squash, look for one that is heavy for it's size.

Spaghetti Squash with Moroccan Spices

(adapted from Gourmet 2002)

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3-4 lbs)
1/4 cup butter
2-3 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste...for me it's about 1/8 tsp)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Cut the squash in half (microwave the whole squash for 1 minute if the skin is too tough to cut through).

Using a spoon, scoop and scrap out the seeds and stringy insides.

Place the squash, cut side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Pierce the skin several times with a fork.  Roast for about 35-45 minutes or until tender when pressed on with a fork. Allow squash to cool for a few minutes.

While you're waiting for the squash to cool, melt the butter in small saucepan. Add the minced garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in spices and salt. Cook gently for a couple minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Then, using a fork, remove the flesh of the squash into a serving bowl, separating the strands as you work.

Pour butter mixture over the spaghetti squash strands and toss well. Top with chopped cilantro and slivered almonds.