19 April 2009

NYTimes food video …

I’ve been a fan of the New York Times food columnist, Mark Bittman’s ‘Minimalist’ videos. They are short, 3-5-minute, videos. They appear nearly every Wednesday in the Times’ food page, and I always make a point of watching them. I’ve even referenced them in previous Krik’s Picks posts.

The things I like about them are:

· They’re kinda quirky.

· Bittman has a funny sense of humor.

· The recipes he demonstrates have only a few ingredients and can be completed with a minimum of fuss, and if you believe Bittman’s own testimonial, great results. (Hence the name – Minimalist.)

In this Sunday’s NYTimes magazine, there’s an article on homemade pizza. But it’s not the Minimalist. The article is written by Sam Sifton and the video features Jill Santopietro, chef and recipe tester for The New York Times. It’s quirky. It’s funny. And it hit home with me because my wife and I often make homemade pizza on Sunday evenings. Pizzas and martinis are our Sunday night treats.

Since one of my New Years resolutions is to post at least one recipe a month on Krik’s Picks, and since I haven’t posted one yet in April, why not post a pizza recipe? Read on …

… Homemade pizza, a recipe

So as I commented in the previous post, homemade pizza is a regular meal in our house. I think there’s some irony to the fact that the recipe that we use is a NYTimes recipe. The recipe we use is from the New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook. I don’t remember when I got my copy. The copyright is 1971. We got married in 1974. Neither of us can remember if this was a wedding present or when we got it. In any case, it’s quite a lot simpler than the pizza recipe cited in the previous post.

In contrast to the recipe in the NYTimes Magazine and the video, this is a simpler recipe. We like it because it’s quick and easy and produces a crisp crust. I think that the recipe demonstrated in the previous post is a more puffy and bready. (I suppose I should try it, but I didn’t before this post.)

So the main thing in this recipe is the dough. After that’s made, all you have to do is add what you like as toppings. We like to keep it simple. Usually vegetarian. One or two toppings (in addition to cheese.)

Pizza Dough (NYTimes Natural Foods Cookbook, 1971)

1½ tsp. dry yeast
½ c. warm water
1½ c. flour
1 tbsp. olive oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in flour and oil. Knead dough slightly until smooth and satiny, about 3 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until at least doubled in bulk (40 minutes or more). Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread dough over well-oiled pizza pan. Bake until crust is brown and crisp. Add toppings and bake until cheese is melted.

Toppings: We always make vegetarian pizzas. Usually we use pesto as a base; you can use tomato sauce if you’d rather. Then add two or three toppings; our common ones are black olives, tomatoes, or artichoke hearts. Then we top it with mozzarella or parmesan cheese.

02 April 2009

Guest Post: Big Bowl- It’s Bigger Than Just the Food!

By Tovah Domenick

I have always been a fan of Big Bowl’s food but after my most recent visit I have come to appreciate Big Bowl even more. Since they have numerous locations in MN I wanted to share on my dad’s blog.

Big Bowl is a great Chinese & Thai restaurant offering both a menu as well as a make-your-own stir fry bar. I have tried many items on the menu and everything has always tasted delicious. During my last visit in late March I noticed a new section on the menu listing all the things Big Bowl is doing to set themselves apart in the restaurant community. For those of you who consider yourselves eco-friendly I hope you will appreciate these efforts and support Big Bowl in what they are doing:

-A conversation about direct trade coffee and the benefits to the farmers landed the product on their menu. Purchasing locally grown produce came next. Heirloom pork from small family-owned farms in the Midwest followed, and then all-natural chicken and a higher-quality, humanely raised, all-natural beef. They also purchase sustainable and responsibly-fished seafood.

- Big Bowl has switched to eco-friendly cleaning supplies and post-recycled paper products. They banned bottled water from the menu and installed a filtration system.

-A couple other fun things they have launched: if you drive a hybrid, you can valet for free, and most of their locations have recently installed bike racks to encourage biking instead of driving.

-Lastly (and probably their biggest effort), Big Bowl entered into a legally binding contract to reduce and offset its carbon output by 100 percent. Basically this means finding ways to pollute less and funding environmental initiatives such as wind and solar power, sustainable farming, and reforestation. They have already started this process by doing more business with local companies, replacing their kitchen lighting with energy saving bulbs, and installing light sensors that flick the switch when no one’s around.

And since this is a foodie’s blog, I have to offer some menu favorites: Their fresh ginger, ginger ale is made on the premises and is delicious! This past visit I ordered a Passion Fruit Ginger Ale. For an appetizer their potstickers are tasty and come with three great dipping sauces. My husband almost always orders the Crispy Orange Chicken, and I am a big fan of the Thai Hot Pepper Shrimp w/Basil & Peanuts (for heat-lovers only) and the Panang Curry Chicken. However, most people (like my mom!) will never order from the menu and always choose the make-your-own stir fry bar, where every vegetable you can imagine can be added to chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or tofu and your choice of many sauces. To finish off your meal you MUST try the mochi for dessert, which are small ice-cream balls covered in mochi (a Japanese rice cake mold). They usually offer 3 flavors- green tea is my favorite.