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I’ve eaten many pizzas in my quarter century on this planet. I know most people have eaten plenty of pizza, I wouldn’t claim to be unique in that. But I’ve eaten a lot of pizza. When I was a kid, there was almost nothing better than plopping down in front of the TV for Saturday morning cartoons and a Red Baron breakfast pizza (now sadly discontinued). In elementary school, I would long for pizza day in the cafeteria, despite being subject to the rectangular, near-crustless grease bombs. High school got a little better in that regard, upgrading closer to a New York style, complete with optional red pepper flakes and Parmesan. College brought be within spitting distance of NYC,  where I could gorge myself on Ray’s while wandering the unfamiliar terrain. I’ve even spent some time in Italy, sampling the classical Neapolitan style from traditional brick ovens (I will throw it out there the the best pizza I had was at a small shop in the town square of Siena, and came topped with hot dogs and French fries).

Growing up on the east coast, you pretty much get whatever is frozen at the grocery store, or a version similar to New York-style. While delicious in it’s own right, I’m of the opinion that Deep Dish and Chicago styles are casserole and not pizza, so we won’t touch on that. Since moving last fall, I’ve been making a lot of pizza at home. This largely, if not entirely, due to the local grocery store carrying Everything Bagel pizza dough from Portland Pie Co. They have garlic dough, basil dough, Shipyard Ale dough, but Everything Bagel is the one that really grabbed me. It was months later that I discovered I had been playing in the sandbox that is California-style pizza.

California cuisine came into it’s own in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and California-style pizza follow shortly after. Popularized by Wolfgang Puck, the style builds from a personal-sized crust with similar structure  to Neapolitan. From there, we throw out the rule book; Any combination of complimentary flavors spanning world cuisines, utilizing farm fresh vegetables and local cheeses, and generally a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options. When I started making pizzas, my only real goal was to move away from traditional red-sauce-based pies, and I was also trying to work on more vegetarian dishes to save a bit of money on meat; Pretty much falling perfectly into the California style without ever really meaning to.

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Mascarpone, Cured Salmon, Red Onion, Capers, Dill (I dream about bagels and lox)

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Peanut Sauce, Stir-Fry Vegetables, Mozzarella, Scallion, Radish Sprouts

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Curry, Cauliflower, Mango Chutney, Cashews, Cilantro

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Olive Oil, Potato, Tomato, Mint, Ras al Hanout

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Butternut Squash, Chickpeas, Broccoli Rabe, Red Onion, Parmesan

17333207_394041167635812_3185024146144755712_nHoisin, Marinated Tofu, Mixed Pickles, Serrano, Fresh Herbs (A Banh Mi-zza, if you will)

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White Sauce, Chickpeas, Frank’s Red Hot, Celery, Gorgonzola, Ranch

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Cheez, Mushrooms, Peppers, Onions, Provolone

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Kansas City-style Barbecue, Eggplant, Smoked Gouda, Red Onion, Cilantro

IMG_5730Ricotta & Chevre, Sweet Corn, Maple Bacon, Arugula, Parmesan

Pizza is such a fun concept to play around with and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Apparently I’m bad with segues, so here’s 9-year-old Olsen twins rapping about pizza.

Neapolitan Pizza Dough from Modernist Cuisine
Life-Changing Pizza Dough from ChefSteps

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Sometimes, you find a dish that just clicks; However it works, it works for you.  This brings us, totally unsurprisingly, to what might be my favorite food of all time: The Reuben Sandwich. A few years back I wrote about my love for Reubens. But even before Cabbages & Kings was a thought in my head, I had briefly mentioned the affinity on a much shittier and somehow-less-followed blog I wrote at the time. I could literally go on and on about how much I love this sandwich, but for the sake of brevity I won’t.

What I’m really getting at is that the combination works across near-infinite formats: Pizza, Tacos, Nachos, Egg Rolls, Lasagna. If there’s a dish you can think of, I’m sure somebody has figured out a way to put corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing on it. Of the countless Reubens and Reuben-adjacent dishes I’ve had, I’ve never had one quite like this.

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Reuben on a stick? Sign me up. As far as food-on-a-stick goes, the classic Corn Dog is pretty run of the mill. Fixing it up into a Reuben taking a bit of extra effort, but it is well worth it.

Corned beef, surprisingly, doesn’t work quite so well on a skewer. Depending on what cut you get, I find it’s either too tender to hold shape well or too tough to get a good bite off while leaving it attached. I opted for kielbasa instead. For the batter, rye and caraway are a no-brainer. Shredded swiss in the batter could work really well, but I didn’t like the way the final product looked, so I nixed it altogether. A little kraut, a little Russian (Thousand Island, only if you insist), and you’re good to go.

Reuben Corn Dogs, adapted from ChefSteps
makes 4

  • Bread Flour, 80g
  • Rye Flour, 80g
  • Granulated Sugar, 66g
  • Cornmeal, finely ground, 25g
  • Kosher Salt, 9 g
  • Caraway Seed, ground, 8g
  • Baking Powder, 3g
  • Egg, beaten, 80g (about 1.5 eggs, beat 2 then measure by weight)
  • Whole Milk, 145g
  • Kielbasa, 4 5-inch lengths
  • Russian Dressing, as needed (recipe follows)
  • Sauerkraut, as needed

Preheat frying oil to 375F.  Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients, mixing to combine. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Transfer batter to a tall container. Pat sausage dry with a paper towel and skewer onto stick or toothpicks. Dip sausages into batter, up to 1/4 inch onto the stick. While holding the stick, fry sausages until batter begins to set, about 10 seconds. Drop into oil and continue cooking until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Top with Russian dressing and sauerkraut.

Russian Dressing
makes about 3/4 cup

  • Mayonnaise, 1/2 cup
  • American Chili Sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Parsley, minced, 1 tablespoon
  • Yellow Onion, minced, 1 teaspoon
  • Horseradish, grated, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Worcestershire Sauce, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Allow to sit overnight or at least 12 hours.

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Since probably the mid 80’s, Thai cuisine has seen an explosion of popularity, likely due to a booming post-war tourism industry in Southeast Asia. As all popular things do, Thai cuisine was quickly adopted as the trendy go-to cuisine in America, built to excess, and generally ruined. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dish of Pad Thai as much as the next person might. But a vast difference can be found from one pad thai to another. Generally, when seeking out foreign cuisines, look for recipes that aren’t written in english.

Thailand is host to a litany of amazing dishes exemplifying the core four flavors of their cuisine: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. One thing that people don’t necessarily think about, however (maybe I can’t speak for you, but I’ve really never considered it), is what breakfast looks like in this part of the world. Rice and noodles are all well and good, but when it comes to the most important meal of the day I’ll usually reach for something a bit more familiar.

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Pa Thong Ko are a Thai version of a traditional Chinese-style cruller. Crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside; They’re almost more similar to the fried bread dough you’d get from a dirty cart at the county fair. Served with coconut jam (which is really a custard), you can see the influence from French colonialism, much the same way that the Banh Mi came about in Vietnam.

According to Thai tradition, the traditional X shaped fritters represent two inseparable lovers, always seen together. In stark contrast, Chinese tradition recounts a tale of two evil men who were put to death in boiling oil.

Pa Thong Ko, adapted from SheSimmers
makes 10-12 fritters

  • Bread Flour*, 260g
  • Active Dry Yeast, 2g
  • Baker’s Ammonia, 2g
  • Alum Powder, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 8g
  • Granulated Sugar, 14g
  • Warm Water, 170g (3/4 cup)
  • Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon, plus more as needed
  • Baking Powder, 4g

Combine all ingredients except baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and lightly coat top of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and allow to rise 4-5 hours. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust flour over dough. Sprinkle baking powder over dough. Fold and knead about 4 times. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut to desired shapes.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 4-5 inches of vegetable oil to 350F. Fry dough until deep brown and crispy, 1-2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil

*Yes, you can use All-Purpose flour

Sangkhaya (Coconut Jam/Custard)
makes just over 1 cup

  • Egg Yolk, large, 4 each
  • Palm Sugar, 3 tablespoons
  • Granulated Sugar, 5 tablespoons
  • Coconut Milk, full-fat, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
  • Dried Pandan Leaf**, about 1/4 cup
  • Kosher Salt, 1/8 teaspoon

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk vigorously until thick and creamy. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk, pandan and salt in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. While whisking, add 1/3 of the hot coconut milk to the egg yolk mixture. Continue whisking until full incorporated. While whisking, add egg mixture to remaining coconut milk. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking very frequently, until sauce is thick, about 5-8 minutes. Once thick, immediately remove from heat, transfer sauce to a bowl or other container and refrigerate until cooled completely.

**If you can’t find pandan or don’t want to buy it, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

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As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been taking kind of a hiatus from my writing. As opposed to 2015 where I took an extended break to work through some personal issues, this was more from wanting to do new and exciting things. As I mentioned at the end of last year, I had a few different ideas about projects I wanted to work on and write about, so I wanted to step away from 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge. I started working my way through the Mighty Marvel Superhero’s Cookbook, however after a few quick posts I realized that it really wasn’t stimulating in the way that I thought it would be. Part of what I really love about writing is that it gives me a chance to look into new topics or ideas that I may not have thought about before. Making pancakes and frying eggs really wasn’t pushing any boundaries.

So while I dropped that format, I really didn’t have anything to put into its place. I’ve buckled down at work and put out some really fun food, but I’ve still been wracking my brain for something that grabs my interest and makes me want to write again. I looked at the 52 Weeks Challenge subreddit just to see what had been going on in the couple months I hadn’t been participating and it immediately grabbed me the same way it did almost 4 years ago now. I’ve always felt like I do better work when I’m given a ball park to play in. A lot of times it’s hard for me to come up with something out of the blue, but if somebody says “What about [XYZ]?” it seems to get my creativity flowing in one direction or another. So, at least for now, I think I’ll pick back up where I left off. I’ve missed out on nearly half the year, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The theme of the week is presentation: Practicing one of the most crucial aspects of cooking, certainly in the professional realm if not in the home. Presentation can be as simple or as complex as your ambition permits. It could be as easy as slicing a nicely cooked steak before putting it on the plate or a sprinkling of complementary herbs on top of a lasagna, or you can bust out the tweezers and pipettes a la Chef’s Table.

With little effort, it’s easy to make food look as good as it tastes. It also doesn’t take much make delicious food that doesn’t look at all appetizing. The real skill, it could be said, would be to take food that may not taste all that great and make it look irresistible. Chef Jacques La Merde became an Instagram sensation for that exact approach, and I felt it would only be fair to try my hand at it.

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For all intents and purposes, this is a Lunchable. Ham and Cheddar with Crackers, to be exact. Oscar Mayer ham, Kraft cheddar. I made the crackers myself, only because I had the ingredients and I was a little bit broke, but other than that it’s the same ingredients you’d find in the fridge in the bright yellow box. [Side note: When did they stop putting chocolates and candies in Lunchables? What the fuck?]

I did deviate slightly from an exact Lunchable, so I wasn’t entirely sure how much it would really evoke the childhood memories, but it really, really did. There’s something about the taste of low-quality ham and low-quality cheese that never really leaves your mind.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce, adapted from Chefsteps
makes 1.5 – 2 cups

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pot. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is fully melted, about 15 minutes.

Ritz-Style Crackers
makes 1 sheet

  • All-Purpose Flour, 2 cups
  • Baking Powder, 3 teaspoons
  • White Sugar, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon, plus more as needed
  • Butter, unsalted, cold, 6 tablespoons
  • Vegetable Oil, 2 tablespoons
  • Cold Water, as needed
  • Egg, beaten, 1 each

Preheat oven to 400F. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to the food processor and pulse to combine. Add cold butter in small increments, and pulse to combine. With food processor running, add vegetable oil slowly. Add water a little bit at a time while pulsing, until dough just comes together. On a floured surface, roll dough out as thin as you can, adding more flour if needed when it sticks. Transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a fork, poke holes across the entire dough. Brush dough with eggwash and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake 400F until crispy and lightly browned, rotating every 10 minutes, about 25 minutes. Allow to slightly before breaking into pieces.

 

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I think it probably goes without saying that having the web-slinger in the MCU is going to be super exciting. After years of lousy films featuring your friendly neighborhood Spiderman, one last reboot of the character might just be what they need to keep thing on the right track. With the brief glimpse of Tom Holland we got in Civil War, I have high hopes for Homecoming and beyond.

Next up in Mighty Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook is probably the most simplistic recipe I’ve ever written about on C&K. Two instructions, no ingredients. Seriously.cookbook02

When I first got this book. This recipe was the way I would describe it to people; Step One: Make Pancakes.

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Please ignore my mediocre artistic talents.

Needless to say, this will work with whatever pancake recipe you like and whatever chocolate sauce you have on hand. It’s really that simple.

Pancakes, from Chefsteps

  • Pastry Flour, 200 grams*
  • Granulated Sugar, 30 grams
  • Malted Milk Powder, 20 grams (optional)
  • Baking Powder, 12 grams
  • Kosher Salt, 6 grams
  • Whole Milk, 240 grams
  • Eggs, whole 108 grams (2 each)
  • Butter, unsalted, melted, 60 grams

Sift together dry ingredients. Whisk together milk and eggs and combine with dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combine. Add melted butter and mix just enough to combine evenly. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add batter, about 1/4 cup at a time. Allow to cook on the first side until bubbles begins to form around the edges. Using a spatula, flip pancake and continue cooking 1-2 minutes (if you’re feeling daring, flip that badboy right in the pan).

*If you don’t have pastry flour, you can substitute 176g All-Purpose Flour and 24g Corn starch

Chocolate Gravy

makes about 3 cups

  • Butter, unsalted, 8 tablespoons
  • Granulated Sugar, 1 cup
  • Cocoa Powder, 1/2 cup
  • All-Purpose Flour, 1/4 cup
  • Whole Milk, 2 cups
  • Vanilla Extract, 1/2 teaspoon

Melt butter in a medium sauce pot. Whisk together sugar, cocoa and flour. Add dry ingredients to melted butter, whisking until smooth. Add milk slowly, whisking until fully incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla, stirring to combine. Let cool slightly before serving.

Using the same pancake batter, we can knock another recipe out pretty quickly.

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The only glimpse we’ve seen of a cinematic Galactus is in the 2005 Fantastic 4 adaptation where he appears as a cosmic hurricane, rather than a physical being. However, gigantic, stuffed pancakes are certainly a breakfast worthy of the devourer of planet.

The Cookbook offers a few suitable suggestions for filling these mammoth pancakes, but I went with the same formula I use for building the ultimate breakfast sandwich: meat, cheese, egg, something sweet, something spicy.

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Admittedly, this one really wasn’t super photogenic. For fillings, I’ve got ham, swiss, a runny egg, and a mango & hot pepper chutney.

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I’m still really not sure how to get into this style of writing. With a regular cookbook, I could write about the chef themselves, the history of the recipe I’m working on, or maybe what I think of their ideas on food and why they do certain things certain ways. But The Mighty Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook is a bit different. The recipes are all super basic, and it really barely has anything to do with the characters at all. I’m just going to kind of wing it and see how it goes, sound good?

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Ben Grimm, better known as the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing: One-time leader of the Yancy Street Gang, military aviator, NASA astronaut, founding member of the Fantastic Four. Growing up in a Jewish family in the Lower East Side of New York City, Grimm’s early life was based largely on that of creator Jack Kirby. Along with Reed Richards and Susan and Johnny Storm, Grimm was exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation, mutating his physical appearance, as well has giving him superhuman strength, stamina, and resistance to injury.

In addition to being one of the characters most beloved by fans, The Thing is even one of the more popular characters in-canon; Heroes from across the Marvel universe were more than happy to attend his Bar Mitzvah (yes, The Thing had a Bar Mitzvah) and the subsequent poker tournament.

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Blushing Ben makes a few appearances throughout the Cookbook, the first of which being his Clobbered Omelet.

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Pretty straightforward with this one. When you get down to it, it more closely resembles a frittata, but cooked on the stovetop rather than baked.

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The Thing’s Clobbered Omelet

serves 4-6*

  • Butter, unsalted, 4 tablespoons
  • Poblano Pepper, seeded, diced, 1 each
  • Red Bell Pepper, seeded, diced, 1 each
  • Yellow Onion, small, diced, 1 each
  • Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced, 8 ounces
  • Mixed Vegetables**, about 1 cup
  • Eggs, 12 each
  • Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  • Cheddar Cheese, shredded, about 1/2 cup

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add all vegetables, cook until tender and lightly browned. While vegetables are cooking, combine eggs and cream. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. Increase skillet to high heat. Add egg mixture over vegetables and top with cheese. Cook until egg begins to set around the edges. Using a rubber spatula, gently pull cooked egg towards the center of the pan, allowing uncooked egg to fill the empty space. Continue pulling the cooked eggs this way until no uncooked eggs remain, about 4-5 minutes. Carefully slide or flip eggs onto a serving plate or platter. Cut into wedges, serve hot.

*If you’re not serving a crowd, feel free to cook the veggies and advance and store in the fridge. For a single serving, I used about 1/2 cup of the veggie mix, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons of cream and just a sprinkle of cheese.

**If good, fresh vegetables are in season, definitely go with your favorite mix of fresh veggies. I used a frozen blend from the grocery store.

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Excelsior! As promised, I’ve finally got around to finishing up the first piece in a new series of cook-the-book style posts! First at-bat is Stan Lee Presents the Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook. 

The book begins with a brief introduction and some basic tips on safety and kitchen cleanliness. Then, as any good morning would, delves into some breakfast.

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A wise man once said “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food” and a trip to your local diner will prove that every time. While studies have more or less debunked the conventional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, starting your morning with good food is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day.

With Captain America’s Day Starters, we get a few different options for easy, healthy and delicious kick start.

‘Fresh fruit or fruit juice. Lots of vitamins C and A’

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I’ve wrote on here a few times about how great smoothies can be for breakfast. Blend up your favorite mix of fruits and veggies with some juice or milk (I also like to throw some type of sea vegetable in the mix) and you’re ready to go. Once you blend your mix, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray to make things even easier while you’re still groggy. This particular blend I threw together features banana, pineapple, orange, mango and sweet potato.

‘Milk is the best source of calcium. It’s need for strong bones and teeth. It also supplies protein – essential building blocks for our bodies’img_4825

Milk is certainly nutritious, if not a little bit weird as a concept, but yogurt has even more calcium and is loaded with beneficial bacteria. Mixed with granola and some fresh fruit, it makes for a hearty, protein-packed breakfast.

‘Bread or cereal, lots of variations in this department’

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For simplicity, flavor and customization, look no further than Avocado Toast, loaded with Omega 3 fats and complex carbohydrates. The only two things you need are in the name itself. Apart from avocado and toasted bread, the possibilities are near endless. The folks over that The Kitchn have a great piece to get your creative juices going; Here, I’ve got 12 grain bread with butter and sesame seeds, mashed avocado, and thinly sliced cucumber tossed with salt, pepper, chili flake and lime juice.

Now, for those looking for a more traditional American-style breakfast, look no further than Hulk’s Fried Potatoes with Bacon and Eggs

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This dish needs little explanation, if any at all. Bacon, eggs, toast, breakfast potatoes; Maybe some coffee, if you’re so inclined. I will give one little trick I recently picked  up while working mainly breakfast shifts: par-boil your potatoes with onions and garlic. This cooks them through, so when you fry ’em up they’ll be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. It’s the same principle to making great French Fries.

In Our Next Exciting Issue…

The Thing’s Clobbered Omelet

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