I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grape and Blue Cheese Pizza and Raclette Potatoes

I am already excited about Christmas this year. Normally I'm not one of those people. I need time to celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy the fall, and then once December hits, I'm good to go to prep and feel the Christmas joy. I'm not sure what it is, but something is different this year.

It's not that I am not excited about Thanksgiving, because I can't wait for the intimate gathering we are going to be having with friends. And Fall has been absolutely lovely this year, with wonderful weather and the trees having time to turn into an exceptional display of color. Perhaps it's just the fact that last year I never really got into the holiday feeling so somehow it feels like it's been two years since I last had Christmas.

Whatever the reason, I can't wait to put up Christmas decorations, listen to Christmas music (especially She and Him's new Christmas Album!!), and Joe and I may send out Christmas cards for the first time ever this year! The one thing that I'm sad about is the fact that we will be staying in the city this year instead of heading home to be with family. Joe and I have a really nice time doing this (picture starting off the day with breakfast and coffee with Bailey's and then moving on to lots and lots more food, wine, champagne, and maybe even a movie later in the day), but I am missing the family a lot--and will miss seeing my adorable nephew (who is almost 2) experiencing the day.

This meal would be a very nice one for Holiday entertaining. It's very simple, especially since the dough doesn't need time to rise (although you could also just purchase the pizza dough to make it even easier). The grapes I used were from my local farmer's market, where we get in a bunch of fun varieties (like Mars) from a local winery, but again you can use any seedless variety. The pizza is essentially a play on the fig and blue cheese combo, but the grapes are juicier and have a slightly brighter flavor than figs, giving a burst of flavor in every bite. The potatoes served alongside are just cooked through then tossed with a crunchy grain mustard and then topped off with creamy raclette cheese and broiled to make them gooey and fabulous.

Grape and Blue Cheese Pizza
makes 1 12" pizza
dough recipe (from Robbie's Recipe collection):

.25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 cup 110 degree water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
pizza sauce - of your choice, as needed
shredded cheese - of your choice, as needed
toppings - of your choice, as needed

-Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.
-Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
-Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
-Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12" circle.
-Place dough on a lightly greased pizza pan and stretch dough to edges.
-Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
-Bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden.
Notes: To answer the most frequently-asked question I receive about this recipe: No, the dough does not have to rise - if it did, it wouldn't produce a thin crust.

For the pizza:

1 pizza dough
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/3 lb. crumbled blue cheese
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 c. seedless grapes
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Once you have formed the pizza dough into a 12" round, use a pastry brush to brush on the extra virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle on the blue cheese, then the bacon, grapes and top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake the pizza for about 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crusts are browned. Allow to cool for about 4-5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Raclette Potatoes

potatoes (preferably 1-1 1/2" small round potatoes, or larger potatoes cut into smaller pieces)
whole grain mustard
raclette cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender and cooked through (varies depending on size of potatoes).
Drain the potatoes and cool for a few minutes. Then toss with a good helping of the grain mustard and spread onto a baking sheet.
Sprinkle the grated raclette on top of the potatoes. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly. Remove from the broiler and serve.


These are my purchases over the last couple of weeks: Ferran Adria's "The Family Meal", Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's "Eleven Madison Park Cookbook" (signed by them both, by the way. Got to meet them when I picked up the book a few days early at Sur la Table), and the second edition of David Chang's "Lucky Peach". So much inspiration and beauty that my head may explode.