Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bread is Back, Part Deux.

Welcome new readers! I've heard some rumblings that this little blog is garnering a following.

Special props to Zoe for taking the time out of her busy book/event schedule to comment. It's social media in action, people! Get in the conversation!

Due to popular demand and choosing to be mindful of blatant plagarism, I suggest y'all take a trip over to the New York Times site to read a November 2007 review of "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day," which includes the master recipe. You can find it here. Hell, go to and buy the book! Sometimes you just gotta spend a little money to save a little money, people.

Anyway, the "master" recipe for bread is included via a link on the left side of the article. Play around with the amount of yeast and salt according to your particular tastes (I prefer less salt AND less yeast, and the recipe works out just fine). Depending on what kind of flour you use, you might need to add a little extra (1/4 cup or so) to balance out the recipe (in a nerdy, Alton Brown-esque nutshell, different brands of flour contain different amounts of protein, which can affect how moist the dough is).

Good luck in your bread endeavors, Vieve. If you find yourself in a sticky, doughy mess, you know to who call!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bread is back!

Lets talk bread -- artisan bread, that is. Locally, brands like Iggy's and When Pigs Fly are relatively easy to find in your neighborhood supermarket. But lets face it, times are getting tough and the cost of gas is driving up the cost of grain and we're all looking to pinch a few pennies here and there. So, why not try baking bread at home?

Now, I know what you're thinking. You have a mental picture of flour coating every surface your kitchen, fingers stuck together with dried dough, and a malformed blob of dough in the oven which inevitably comes out looking and tasting like a brick when its done.

Enter the bestseller "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day," by the grand pooh-bahs of all things home-baking, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their recipes for no-knead refridgerator doughs are phenomenal and best of all, require very little work with great results. After making (and NOT kneading) the dough, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks -- and the dough, like fine wine, gets better with age. All you do to make bread is cut off a piece, shape it into a ball and let it rest for 40 minutes before baking.

This weekend will certainly include some bread baking, so keep your eyes peeled (and your stomachs growling) for some pics.

In the meantime, take a gander over to Jeff and Zoe's blog to learn more (they're all hip and social-media savvy themselves).

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The wonders of thin crust pizza

After watching the season 4 premiere of Top Chef: Chicago, where our colorful contestants tackled deep dish pizza (what else in the Windy City, right?), I find it necessary to express my outright disdain at all things chewy and doughy and loaded with with cheese.

Behold: thin crust pizza.

Hands down the best on the planet can be found on the Jersey Shore at a little place called Pete & Elda's in Neptune City. Wafer thin crispy crust is the norm and if you manage to eat an extra large pie all on your own, you get a free t-shirt. I have yet to attempt the challenge (perhaps this summer?) however my boyfriend has upwards of 15 shirts, go figure.

Locally, the best thin crust I've had is at Stone Hearth Pizza, with locations in Belmont, Needham and Sudbury. A little more upscale casual then divey Pete and Elda's, but well worth the few extra $$'s for a pie. Plus, they use all local ingredients and have the option of regular dough or whole wheat, for those of you watching your figure! One suggestion, if you like your thin crust crisp, make sure you ask for yours well-done, or you might find yourself with a soft bottom crust. If you're doing takeout, a quick reheat in a 500 degree oven right on the rack (or if you have a pizza stone) will crisp everything up nicely.

For those of you brave enough to do thin crust at home, and with Spring upon us, try making thin crust pizza on the grill. Delish. Just hit the grate with a good amount of Pam and toss the rolled out dough directly onto the grate. Once one side gets nicely marked, flip it over, lower the heat to low and give it a drizzle of olive oil. Then add on all your toppings (I recommend freshly sliced tomatoes, carmelized onions and crumbled goat cheese); once the cheese starts to get soft, jack the heat back up to high to crisp up the bottom. Perfect warm-weather pizza without dropping the cash on take-out or heating up your kitchen.

Bet you want to go get yourself a slice right about now...

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fish that fly...and are quite tasty too!

Fresh off the plane from my vacation in Barbados, it's time to talk about the wonder that is Flying Fish. No, they don't really fly, but they swim at speeds up to 30 mph and can travel over 100 yards when they break the surface of the ocean! The fish use their tails to propel themselves out of the water, typically to outrun predators like swordfish, tunas, and other big fish. A pair came in close to shore one day and it was crazy to see them whipping around near the beach. They are said to launch themselves right into the fisherman's boats!

Fun to watch and equally as fun to eat, flying fish are native to Barbados and are usually steamed, grilled up or battered and deep fried. It's a white fish and doesn't have your typical fishy taste, so you non-fish eaters out there can be brave and try some! My favorite is battered and freid and in a sandwich with some spicy jerk mayo, lettuce and tomato. The Friday night fish fry at Oistin's is definitely the place to go for freshly caught and fried flying fish on the island, and you won't be disappointed in the food....or the party!

Here's a quick and easy recipe for Bajan style fried flying fish:

8 flying fish fillets

1 small onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 blade chives, chopped
salt and pepper
few drops of lime juice
1 egg, beaten
oil for frying
2 limes wedged

Mix the seasoning ingredients and spread over the meaty side of the fish. Leave for about 1 hour. Dip the fish into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Fry gently in a little oil for about 10 minutes. Serve with wedged of lime. Serves 4-6.

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.