Tag Archives: pizza

A Day Of Noshing

28 Jul

Today is Thursday. On Tuesday, my friend, Agnes, drove down from my previous habitat to share with me a day of feasting. The last time we did so was roughly a year ago. (Agnes is a very busy girl.)

It was hot (and only getting hotter) when she arrived around noon. Agnes said she didn’t mind walking to our destination–downtown Charleston–and, forgetting that I’m a bit older than her, naively minded not, as well. Several long, hot blocks later, we arrived at our first destination:

This hip establishment opened here about a year ago. It’s mother shop resides in Fayettville, WV, about an hour away in the beautiful Appalacian foothills and home to WV’s famous “Bridge Day” and whitewater rafting crowd. This was Agnes’s first time to Pies and Pints, and I was excited to have her experience some of the best gourmet pizza out there. We decided to share a large pie, ordering half with the chicken gouda (and bacon) and the other with the Mediterranean-inspired Caprese, full of basil and fresh tomato goodness and delicate ribbon-squirts of balsamic reduction glaze.

Like this:         

Caprese Side

 (These pictures are not mine, btw. I had to “borrow” them from online sources. I’m sure they’re fine with it.)   We also shared a lovely Greek salad, full of feta and Greek black olives. Agnes was joyful. Nothing like this exists in her backyard, unless she’s cooking. Armed with a box of leftover pizza (3 pieces, if you must know), we flung open the door to a hotbox and made our way further up the street to Charleston Bakery. I wanted Agnes to see all the great breads. But more than that, I brought her here for these: 

Trail Mix Cookies! These will make you look at healthy tree-hugger’s food in a whole new way. I’m hooked on these things, thanks to violin girl.

I have to stop at this point and tell you what happened to our box of leftover pizza. You see, once we entered the bakery, the lady at the counter recognized the box and rejoiced about how we had brought our lovely leftovers for her to enjoy–jokingly, of course. For some odd reason, I had engaged in the joking, but took it a bit too far and actually heard myself saying to her (and her fellow worker): “Sure, have it!” And proceeded to tell them how many and of what variety of specialty pizza were contained in the precious box. To which, with each description, the fellow nodded approvingly. Which only motivated me further, to the point that I found myself practically pleading with them to take the box. Which they did. Then we bought our bakery goodies (without a discount bestowed upon them–not…that…I…was…looking for one) and left. It wasn’t until afterwards that I had realized what I had done. I felt a little strange about the whole matter, but the bakery people were so happy, if not somewhat stunned.

And so we traipsed back down Capitol Street towards home. Along the way, I took Agnes into a few design shops and finally made a stop at our local seafood shop. Alas, none left of their fine seafood chowder. The salmon look good, but I didn’t feel like lugging a bag of it in the heat.
 
Eventually, that bag of salmon would find its way home by way of Hubby–when coming up with the idea (mine) to sear some for a quick dinner before Agnes made her way home. (I thought salmon might make her feel better about the lost pizza.)
And so, we spent a lovely dinner outdoors to mark the end of our ‘Day of Noshing.’ We had seared salmon. I had a few Farm-fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, so I tossed these with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt, with some chopped fresh mint from the garden. Some rice, with tumeric and cumin, to round out the meal. Notice the rice. It’s not very pretty and that I blame on the fact that I didn’t have basmati on hand, and that I, in my hurry, used too much rice for the pan size, I believe. Dinner Is Served! 

Agnes

 
But, all considered, I think Agnes approved.

Agnes-approved

 
And that’s all a hostess can wish for.
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Kaukab’s Zaatar Pizza

13 Sep

Pizza at our house, growing up, wasn’t quite like the American version of the Italian pizza. Ours had its roots in the Middle East.  Kaukab would make a huge metal bowl full of pizza dough. I’d sit on the floor nearby and watch her swift hands make good on fifteen, or so, personal-size pizzas. She’d quickly dust them with a dried herb and seed concoction of sesames, oregano, and others I still am unsure of, called Zaatar. We kids liked to smear a bit of ketchup on them, hot out of the oven, to give ’em some extra “pizza” flavor.

Zaatar!

Until today, we’d always wait to make a trip up to her kitchen to have these, since I’m not comfortable working with dough. But my hubby decided that we’d be up for the challenge.  He’s the baker in the family. And a good bread maker, at that. Years ago, he scoured countless recipe books and online recipe sites wanting to make pita bread. He came very close to making a respectable one that Kaukab would have approved. (She likes him very much.)

Calling me into the kitchen to “look” at his dough balls–restrain yourselves–I found myself actually making the pizzas. My hands seemed to recall, rather instinctively, the way Kaukab had pushed her fingers into the dough, spreading it outward to a thin sphere. The zaatar heavily dusted atop, with olive oil drizzled and massaged into it so that it would become a part of the dough.

Hubby's Dough Balls

Pizza-Shaping

We made several pizzas in our endeavor to attain the result that would be worthy of Kaukab’s approval.  Here’s what we learned:

Pizza # 1 was too fat and the zaatar was too dry. That’s because we didn’t spread out the dough enough and didn’t drizzle any olive oil atop the zaatar.

Too Fat For Kaukab

Pizza # 2 & 3 improved somewhat, in that we attempted to thin a bit more, and drizzled olive oil atop the zaatar.

Getting There, But Still Not Good Enough For Kaukab

Pizza #4 proved successful–at least in our eyes. We spread the dough out even thinner and not only drizzled olive oil atop the zaatar, but gently massaged the oil into the zaatar, which melded into the dough.  SUCCESS!

I Am Worthy!

We all ate some and decided that it was good enough for us. We bagged the remaining pizzas for tomorrow.  Afterward, we engaged in a discussion of possible pizza toppers that could be added to them, once out of the oven. Here’s some:

1. Caramelized onions

2. Feta Cheese, black or green olives (or both)

3. Dressed Greens w/tomatoes

Make sure to dip your hands in olive oil before you pat out the dough. This will give the crust a nice start. Use the hottest oven you have–I had 550 degrees. If you don’t want to make your dough, you can use frozen bread dough–thawed, of course. Don’t worry, that’s Kaukab approved. She started using these years ago to make quick time of it. I figure, if it’s good enough for Kaukab, it’s good enough for you. Hubby used a bread dough recipe from his very old Betty Crocker book–the ugly, bright orange one.

Zaatar- Thyme-زعتر on FoodistaZaatar- Thyme-زعتر

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