Showing posts with label roasted tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roasted tomatoes. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Writer's Snack: Crust-Free Pizza from Cleo Coyle

Yes, you're right. I promised you crust free pizza, and I aim to deliver. 

I'm showing this little pizza first for those of you who really, really need that crust.

In that case, this baby should make you happy. The pizza pictured is actually a frozen, grocery store pizza "doctored" with fresh mushrooms and sausage.

To read my Frozen Pizza Doctor post, which gives you tips on an Rx for your favorite frozen pizzas, click here and have fun...


For those of you up for a
"crust-free" pizza, well, here's what
I'm talking about today...



Cleo Coyle, fan of faux pizza,
is author of The Coffeehouse
Mysteries
Cleo Coyle's
Crust-Free Pizza


What is pizza? At its most basic, the tastes in your mouth are bright tomato sauce topped by sweet cheese and lively herbs like oregano and basil, both of which are carried on a bed of bread--three ingredients that go so well together. But, when you write for a living, spending hours and hours in front of a computer screen, a steady diet of pizza would be deadly. And so...in the spirit of "two out of three ain't bad," comes my crust-free solution.

This easy (and healthy) snack idea came to me when I was enjoying a delicious pizza bianca from a local pizzeria. The Italian cooks put fresh ricotta on the "white" pie, and I absolutely loved the combination of tangy tomato and sweet, fresh cheese.

First we'll need tomatoes. Yesterday was the first full day of Spring. Living in the Age of Irony (not to mention a town that never stops with the practical jokes), I actually watched snow fall on New York City. Oh, to see the sun again. :) Sadly, as winter lingers, so does the dearth of fine produce.

Tomatoes may be blah at this time of year, but even the blandest of tomatoes can be transformed into a truly delicious treat by the simple addition of caramelizing heat. That's why I make these babies year round, and that's the best thing of all about this healthy snack...




Cleo's Crust-Free
Pizza Bites



To get a free, illustrated PDF of this recipe that you can print, save or share, click here.




Makes 8 mini crust-free pizza bites

Ingredients

4 tomatoes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim)
Dried oregano (sprinkling)
Sea salt, to taste
(optional additions) dried basil, dried rosemary, or an Italian Seasoning mix
Grated finishing cheese like Pecorino Romano or Parmesan


Step 1 - Slice and prep tomatoes: I like to use plum tomatoes because they slice into little oval boats that remind me of potato skins... (see picture below). Roasting these babies will create a bit of a mess. To make clean up easy, simply line the pan with aluminum foil and coat the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place the tomatoes on the foil and coat the them with non-stick spray, as well. (You won't need to add extra oil if you do this.)
  

Step 2 - Sprinkle on spices and salt: I use sea salt and plenty of dried oregano. Certainly dried basil and rosemary would be delicious, too. Or try a pre-made "Italian Seasoning" mix from the spice aisle, whatever evokes the flavor of pizza sauce.



Step 3 - Roast the tomatoes: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the tomatoes for at least an hour. Do not UNDER roast these babies. You are not simply baking them, you are roasting them to the point when they caramelize and become sweet. Trust me, I've done this many times. If you do not reach a point where the tomatoes' acidic nature transforms into something sweet (as you would taste in a well-cooked pizza sauce), the combo of ricotta and roasted tomato just won't taste as good.


Step 4 - Finish with ricotta: Remove the sizzling, caramelized tomato halves from the oven. Plate them and add a tablespoon of fresh ricotta on top of each half. Garnish with another sprinkling of oregano (or Italian Seasoning mix) and your favorite salty, finishing cheese like Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, and...


Eat with joy!
 ~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries



To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

 
Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.

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A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.


The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.


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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Open-faced sandwich appetizer


I don't know about you, but I always like to try something new when I'm entertaining. Changing things up - just a little - makes it fun for me.

Easter Sunday meant dinner for 17 and although I prepared the usual ham, sausage, kraut, potatoes, and vegetables, I decided to have a little fun and try out a few new recipes. My guests have learned that they risk encountering a "Julie's Surprise" when they visit. I've had plenty of disasters - which is how the term "Julie's Surprise" originally came to be. But over the years I like to think I've improved a bit and maybe even gotten a little bit smarter.

This year, for example, I dispensed with the tried-and-true broccoli casserole, and included a tasty Brussels Sprouts dish, and another featuring fresh green beans. I'll share those recipes in the coming weeks.

But today I'll start with an appetizer.

This month's MORE Magazine (April, 2010) has a whole section on sandwiches. Some of them sounded wonderful and I'm eager to try them out. When I was trying to come up with my Easter menu, I knew I needed something new on my appetizer table, and I remembered the MORE article. I pulled it up and realized, belatedly, that although the PLT Sandwich was photographed open-faced, the recipe called for it to be a traditional - 2 bread - sandwich. No problem, I decided. I'd just have to adapt.

I did. And the results were terrific!

I made two versions. One all vegetarian, one with pancetta (the "P" in MORE's PLT). The tomatoes are wonderful when roasted, so do take the time to prepare these. I roasted tomatoes and my mixed vegetables the day before Easter and spread them cold over the toasted bread.


Open Faced Sandwich Appetizers

1 double-pack of fresh mini-loaves, sliced. (Buying fresh-baked bread from the grocery store makes things super-easy. I buy the two-loaf pack and ask the bakers to slice it for me. As you can tell, I got these two loaves at the fabulous price of 99 cents. You can't beat that.)


12 (give or take) plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 yellow pepper, sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
1 green pepper, same
1 red pepper, same
6 large white mushrooms, sliced into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 purple onion, sliced
2 healthy handfuls of arugula
mayo

I roasted my tomatoes separately - drizzling a little olive oil on them, sprinkling them with salt and then baking in a 350 degree oven for about an hour and a half until the tomatoes shriveled and turned a little brown. I used parchment paper to keep them from sticking and this was a really good move (MORE suggested it).


I placed the other, sliced veggies in a shallow roasting pan and drizzled these with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt, as well. I actually use this maneuver fairly often. We love roasted veggies in this house and use them on everything. This time for an appetizer, but sometimes we use them as an easy and delicious side dish. Roast these in the same oven for about an hour and a half as well. They may take a bit longer. When the peppers are soft and the onions begin to brown, they're done.

Toast your bread by placing it in a single layer and baking it in the oven. Here's where I would change my method in the future. I baked these until slightly brown - about 12 minutes. Going forward, I think I would toast them for only about 4 - 6 minutes. Mine were *crispy* - and although that wasn't a bad thing, I think I'd like them a bit better with a little less crunch.

When the bread is toasted, coat with mayo, rip up some arugula, pat into place. Follow up with the roasted tomatoes and vegetables. Return the open-faced sandwiches to the oven and bake for about 6 - 8 minutes (see why I shouldn't have toasted so vigorously earlier?) and when hot, remove from oven and serve immediately.



I made a meat version with pancetta as well. I baked the pancetta separately for about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and also chilled it before using. On the pancetta sandwiches, I didn't use the mixed veggies. I just topped the arugula/tomato sandwich with that tiny piece of "Italian bacon."



These were absolutely great. My guests enjoyed them and my kids told me to definitely make them again!

More next time!

Julie

Author of the White House Chef Mysteries and, coming soon, the Manor of Murder Mysteries. First book - GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. Pre-order now for a June 1st release!
www.juliehyzy.com


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