Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Pizza Cone Experiment

Yesterday, I was out of ideas and needed a dinner solution that was quick and relatively inexpensive.

So, lured by the siren song of the "pizza cone" video making the rounds on Facebook, I attempted my own.

Shopping List

  • 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough (I used Pillsbury brand)
  • 1 jar pizza sauce
  • 1 block mozzarella cheese (I used store brand, part-skim)
  • meat topping (like pre-cooked meatballs, sausage, or pepperoni; I opted for frozen, pre-cooked turkey meatballs, in a 1" dice)

Recipe Review

Ease of Preparation


My sister could do this, but she might want a bit of help.

Specialty Equipment Required?


First, you need to figure out a form for your dough-cones. I used heavy-duty aluminum foil; most videos will show wrapping a small paper cone cup (like the kind one might find near a water cooler) in foil. 

Second, it helps if you have a rolling pin, because you do want to roll your dough a bit thinner than it comes out of the can. Yes, OK, Pillsbury makes a "thin crust" pizza crust in a can, but I don't know that it would be worth it to use in this application. (I used a ginger beer bottle)

Third, parchment paper is a MUST unless you're big on greasing pans (I'm not.)

Last, many videos use oven-safe mugs for the post-filling melting step; the linked one uses a popover pan. I didn't and don't feel like there's anything missing - my fillings stayed inside the cone just fine, as the cones themselves were a bit misshapen, so there was a flat side. 

Regular Rotation-Worthy?

Yes, with a slight modification - I'll use less sauce inside the cone and provide (warmed) sauce for dipping.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Recipe Construction: Or, How Not to Put Red Sauce on Pasta ...

There are a lot of options for saucing pasta, but my "quick dinner" go-to is using marinara from a jar. 

We pause to allow the screams of horror from my Italian friends to echo fully in the vacuum caused by deigning to use something I didn't spend all Sunday tending on the stovetop.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating, I am not Italian. 

So, when tasked with making pasta "without red sauce" and remembering my husband could take or leave pesto, I found myself at a quandary.

But then the lightbulb switched on as I remembered a recipe for orichette with sausage & broccoli rabe that was lightened up by a celebrity chef ages ago on Food Network.

Broccoli rabe isn't my favorite vegetable to prepare at home (I find I need to blanch & shock it before sauteeing to leach out some of the bitterness) so I looked elsewhere in the same family to come up with ... spinach.

So, that's what I tapped into Google: pasta sausage spinach.

I read a few recipes and formulated a grocery list. All I needed to transform my lowly box of farfalle (a/k/a "bow tie" pasta) into a gourmet-inspired dish was a package of turkey sausage (casing removed, mild Italian seasoning), cheese, and spinach.

I keep garlic and olive oil on hand at all times. Pantry staples, so to speak.

While you boil the water for your pasta, break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces (should be roughly the size of apricot pits) and brown/render fat in a nonstick pan. Be sure to choose a pan with a well-fitting lid.

Scoop the sausage out with a slotted spoon & set aside. 

Drop heat to medium-low, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan with 1 clove of chopped garlic. Saute 'til garlic is fragrant (less than a minute on my stove; YMMV) and reduce heat to low. 

Add spinach (mine was in 9oz pre-washed packages; I used 2 pkgs, for 18oz), use tongs to coat in oil/sausage drippings/garlic mix at bottom of the pan. Add 1-3 Tbsp of water to the greens and cover.

While the pasta cooks, the greens should wilt. When the greens are wilted, add the sausage and 1/2 cup of shredded/grated Italian cheese (whatever you like; I used pecorino Romano.)

Cook pasta according to package directions for "al dente" or a little less. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Drain pasta, toss with greens, sausage, reserved pasta liquid, and cheese. Sauce won't be super-thick, but it will thicken a bit on standing as the pasta absorbs some of the liquid.

While the kid turned up her nose at it, the husband ate 2 portions.

OK then.