White Pizza with Clam, Garlic & Parsley Oil

What’s white pizza in a few words? Indulgent and sinful – and it’s super in my face about it. When I’m looking at that by-the-slice menu board or ravenously scrolling through UberEats at 11:30 PM, white pizza always ends up a final contender.

I still love a classic cheese pie. Tomato sauce tastes delicious – but sometimes, I just want cheese, carbs, and nothing even remotely vegetable-derived to spoil my good time.

White pizza comes from Italy, obviously. But the recipe here, with clams and herbs, more closely mirrors a version of white pizza which has its roots in the American Northeast – where they developed what they call a white clam pizza. We have the brilliant Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut to thank for that.

Their clam pie toppings involve more ingredients than I have here – there are vegetables, seasonings and starch fillers that are mixed with the clams to create a filling, that is then baked onto the dough.

I elected for a simple, flavor-packed drizzling of olive oil infused with chopped clams, parsley and a &$^%-load of minced garlic. The way that oil settles into the pockets on the pizza makes me swoon. I don’t know about you, but I love a substantial slathering of grease on my pizzas.

How much does humanity love pizza? I’ll tell you.

My brother doesn’t like cheese and hasn’t for a very long time. When we probe him, I completely understand where he’s coming from. It smells bad – that is indisputable. It’s fresh dairy product that has been aged, often with mold added to it.

But, he still eats pizza. On multiple occasions, his orders for a meat-lover’s pizza, no cheese, have been met with hang ups from Dominos and Pizza Huts. Because that has to be a prank call, right?

That’s just how damn good pizza is. He orders pizza, without the cheese. Here I am, on my fifth or eight slice of pizza, thinking the cheese was the whole point. Nope. It turns out, pizza is just plain good. No matter what you put, or don’t put on it.

I N G R E D I E N T S

F o r  t h e  P i z z a  D o u g h  ( A d a p t e d  c / o  t h e  B a r e f o o t  C o n t e s s a )

  • 2 / 3 cups warm water
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1 / 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 teaspoons salt

F o r  t h e  T o p p i n g s

  • 1 / 2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1 / 4 inch thick discs
  • 2 / 3 cup parm reg, grated
  • 2 / 3 cup gruyere, grated
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

F o r  t h e  O i l

  • 1 / 2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 / 4 cup clams, minced (fresh or high-quality canned clams with do)
  • 1 / 3 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 500*.
  2. Combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1 1 / 2 cups flour, then the salt, and mix.
  3. While mixing, add 1/ 2 more cup of flour.
  4. Knead the dough on low speed for 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
  5. Remove the dough and put on a floured board or stone countertop, and knead by hand a dozen times.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil.
  7. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  8. Roll and stretch the ball into a rough 16-inch circle using a rolling pin, and place it on a floured pizza baking sheet.
  9. In the meantime, heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic, clams, salt and pepper, and allow to heat through and simmer on low for five minutes. Off the heat, add the parsley, set aside and allow to cool.
  10. Use a brush to spread the olive oil evenly over the pizza. Do not oil the crust. Sprinkle the pie liberally with salt and pepper.
  11. Layer the cheese. First sprinkle the parm reg, then the gruyere, then the mozzarella cheese evenly across the pizza.
  12. Bake the pizza for 13 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling, and the dough is lightly browned.
  13. Allow the pizza to cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle the clam, garlic & parsley oil over the pizza, keeping extra on hand for additional garnish, if desired. Use a knife or a pizza roller to divide the pie into 8 slices, and serve hot.

 

Lox Fixins Frittata

I’ve been riding out an insatiable salmon-craving phase. At this moment, any salmon would do.

I know these food craving spells very well – they come and will eventually pass. Like my sushi over-consumption phase in the fall of 2009, or the pho mania of 2011.

While in the midst of another food-related binge, I was a regular customer of Bruegger’s Bagels on E Street by the Capital One Arena here in D.C. a few years ago. It’s gone now, but it was easily my most regularly visited takeout joint. My order consisted of a lox bagel with extra jalapeno cream cheese, all on a jalapeno-cheese bagel. At checkout, I’d add a large, fat black iced coffee.

I could eat as much spicy cream cheese and lox as I wanted with that unwieldy, monster of a bagel sandwich. And it was expensive as far as bagels go because of that pile of lox. I craved that sandwich like nothing else.

Instead of doing a quick egg scramble with lox, I wanted to throw all the ingredients that go on your typical lox bagel sandwich into a fritatta bake. The addition of dill elevates the flavor profile to something more elegant and brunch-y enough for guests. You’re getting that pretty presentation with the dill scattered on top. And who would I be to veer from the ubiquitous salmon and dill power combo?

frittata_slice

I was on the fence about adding cream cheese. But it tastes great, melts into the eggy mixture, and you need it to get the full lox bagel experience. This is another recipe you can count on to taste exactly like the food you’re drawing inspiration from. All the lox bagel flavors are there.

If you’re a big breakfast casserole fan – I’d absolutely get behind putting some torn bagel pieces into the batter. How could that be anything but amazing?

I’m going to continue letting this food craze run its course. In the meantime, it’s fun thinking up dishes like these, all in an attempt to get my salmon fix.

Here’s to indulging in those wackiest, out-of-nowhere of food cravings. I hope you enjoy! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 6 oz. high-quality lox, torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 oz. cold cream cheese, crumbled into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 / 2 cup red onion, small diced
  • 1 / 4 cup ripe tomato, small diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Heat the butter in a medium-sized oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan. Sautee the red onion for 5 to 7 minutes or so, until translucent. Remove from heat.
  3. In the meantime, whisk the eggs, heavy cream, salt pepper and dill until combined.
  4. Add the lox, cream cheese, capers and tomato, and gently combine until the mixture is even throughout.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the onions, and place in the oven. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until golden brown and set.
  6. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Potato Chips with Caviar & Herb Dip

Caviar screams New Years Eve to me. More than champagne. More than black sequin dresses and New Years Eve horns.

I wish I knew more about the applications for caviar in cooking. But what I do know, is that I love the pop-in-your-mouth texture and how it tastes exactly like the sea. And man, talk about pretty.

In my food world, caviar is a special occasion-worthy indulgence if there ever was one. It goes super well paired with an over-the-top crème fraiche sauce. Potato chips are the perfect vehicle – crispy, salty and not too bulky.

And when it comes to preparing a dish with caviar, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Look at any recipe that features caviar, and you’ll find it consistently accompanied by the same flavor profiles – think chives, smoked salmon, lemon, egg yolk, all on a crunchy, carby vehicle.

caviarbig

Ina Garten published several caviar and egg roe recipes that will blow your socks off. I have her to thank for introducing me to the world of caviar in cooking. I’ve made her Caviar Dip with salmon roe, Lemon Capellini with Caviar and Blini with Smoked Salmon.

The image that pops into your head when you think of caviar is likely the Beluga variety – black-colored, small beads. It’s generally the most costly if you’re in the market for caviar. For a pound of the stuff, you’re talking $3,000 to $4,000. Good thing we don’t need to eat caviar by the ladleful to get the full caviar experience. For weeknight eating, there’s also the more affordable salmon roe caviar, which gives you the same fishy, salty punch for a lot less dough.

Luckily, we live in a food-obsessed world. There’s someone who lives near the Caspian Sea whose job is to procure fish eggs, pasteurize them, package them, and ship them around the world. Directly to my local Whole Foods.

On an average shopping day, it’s admittedly tempting every time I go by the fish aisle to pass it up. But I’ve been so good this year. So I let myself slip into the splurge.

If you don’t love caviar, this could very well change your mind. May your 2019 be caviar-filled all year round. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 2 oz. caviar, of your choosing
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish, if desired

F o r  t h e  P o t a t o  C h i p s

  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato
  • 4 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

F o r  t h e  D i p

  • 1 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 / 2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Slice the potato with a mandoline, placing the slices in a large bowl filled with water. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the potato slices from the water, and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
  2. Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a large shallow pan. To test the oil, put a slice of the potato in the oil. When it bubbles and starts to fry, add the rest of the potato slices.
  3. Fry on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chips are golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, and sprinkle immediately with salt.
  4. In the meantime, combine the dip ingredients in a bowl. Stir until incorporated. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
  5. To assemble the appetizer, place a small spoonful of the sauce on a chip, top with a 1 / 4 to 1 / 2 teaspoon of caviar, and top with a sprig of parsley, if desired. Arrange on a serving plate. Serve room temperature.

 

 

Thyme & Shallot Rack of Lamb Persillade

I present to you a show-offy dinner that doesn’t take a lot of time, or a lot of technique.

Ina Garten has a killer recipe for rack of lamb persillade. As anyone who has made her recipe before can attest, there’s much to love about the traditional parsley-based approach she uses there. But here, I opted to do a version with shallots and thyme.

I’m normally not a fan of breadcrumbs on meat. They get soggy. Fast. What’s more disappointing than a soggy chicken parmesan? That’s why we went with panko breadcrumbs. Sogginess risk eliminated, and the breadcrumbs’ butter coating gives the crust an even roastier, toastier flavor.

Man, I wish lamb prices would drop. If it were on par with beef, I would eat it just as often. Maybe more. What does lamb offer that beef is missing? The thin layer of fat that runs down the bone. Go ahead and get that nicely seared and rendered in a pan. If you’re like me, you will gnaw on the bone to get every last bit of flavor.

As with many Hankerings dishes, there’s more butter in this recipe than meets the eye.

After pre-cooking the lamb for a few minutes, I coat the entire rack with a thick later of room temperature butter. This helps the coating stick, but I won’t pretend this is the only reason I’m slathering a rack of lamb in butter. That butter seeps into the meat, and the burnt bits you get on the lamb make this the sensical thing to do.

What are your favorite ways to prepare rack of lamb? Hopefully, you find this worthy of your recipe arsenal.

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 1 rack of lamb, frenched (most fat removed from bones)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 6 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 / 2 stick butter, room temperature, salted or unsalted, plus 1 / 4 stick butter, melted
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 425*.
  2. Prepare the panko topping. Combine the thyme, shallot, panko, melted butter, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a bowl, tossing to coat. Set aside.
  3. Put the rack of lamb in a small roasting pan. Coat with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly for 10 minutes.
  4. Spread 1 / 2 stick butter on all surfaces of the lamb. Pat the panko bread crumb topping on top of the meat. Some of the coating will fall off into the pan – this is OK.
  5. Place the rack of lamb back in the oven immediately, cooking for an additional 10 minutes, for rare.
  6. Remove from the oven, allowing the rack to rest for 10 minutes or so before cutting into chops.
  7. Cut the rack into chops using a sharp knife. Serve warm or room temperature.

Herb Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing & Bacon Fat Croutons

I love frisée salads with lardons, poached egg and perfectly crispy croutons. This recipe encapsulates all those French elements, plus some.

This salad is all about indulgence.

I bought a crazy good cheese from Whole Foods – Brebirousse D’Argental – and felt the need to share this discovery. It was the bright orange rind drew me in.

Goat_Cheese.JPG

Brebirousse D’Argental

If you want a punchy, funky cheese with a wow factor, this is your cheese. It’s flavorful in all the right ways. And, it liquefies in a matter of minutes after sitting at room temperature. I want that quality in my cheese, to be clear. Any fresh goat cheese would be wonderful in this recipe though, so stick with your favorite.

If you can get a fat slab of pork fat, which I couldn’t find, this is going to be that much better. I went with the highest-quality, thickest bacon I could find.

cheesecubes

Can we talk about bacon fat croutons?  Yes, French baguette croutons broiled in garlic, olive oil and sea salt are addictive. But these are next-level good. And take a lot less time, if you’re already going through the hassle of browning bacon.

If you’re anything like me, it takes time for me to establish new cooking habits – especially extra steps that seem like added work, but I know are worth the payoff. I always thank my past self for the effort.

Think – re-using frying oil, saving Reggiano rinds, grinding your own spices, regularly preparing chicken and beef stock, and flavoring batches of olive oil. In the case of bacon fat, I’ve started to save a jar of it in the fridge, leftover from previous frying sessions. I use it instead of butter in dishes that are begging for a bacon boost. A spoonful packs a whopping punch.

The key to this salad though, is the combination of the runny egg yolk and the basic vinaigrette. The simplicity of the dressing emphasizes the in-your-face richness of the other ingredients in this salad – the heavy goat cheese, crispy bacon fat, and croutons browned in said bacon fat.

If you aren’t enthused about eating raw scallion stalk, chives would work just as well here. But I have a feeling there are others out there who like raw scallion flavor as much as I do. Slightly less harsh than biting into fresh onion, and much more herbaceous. Plus, it adds to the greenery of the salad.

What are some of your favorite French bistro salads?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 as a main course.

  • 4 cups mustard greens or frisee lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallion stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz. goat cheese, of your choosing, crumbled or cubed
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups French baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 endive, leaves removed
  • 1 / 2 lb. bacon or lardons, cut into small cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Whisk the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the bacon in a skillet. Brown until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. While still on low heat, add the cubed bread to the pan with the bacon drippings. Toast the bread, tossing often, until crispy and golden brown. Remove the croutons from the heat, sprinkle liberally with salt, and set aside.
  4. Prepare the salad – in a large bowl, combine the mustard greens, parsley, scallions, goat cheese, heirloom tomato, endive, croutons and lardons. Toss with the dressing.
  5. Plate the salads, topping each with an egg yolk. Sprinkle the salads with salt, and serve immediately.