Sunday, July 29, 2018

Spanish Prawns

Before arriving in California, jumbo shrimp is what I referred to the above deliciousness. But apparently, out west they are prawns! Either way, this is an amazing and fast dish that showcases their tender sweetness.

I love how looking at new cookbooks makes your imagination take flight! Pawing through Rustica: A Return to Spanish Home Cooking made my mouth water (and my fingers type in flights to Spain!) but what mostly came of it was a desire to make prawns with paprika.

If you can find Spanish paprika, lucky you! My version made do with what we had at the local co-op and it was still transportive!

This is a quick weeknight meal that usually ends up being served alongside a big salad and lots of crusty bread to sop up all of the great pan juices. If you have a bumper crop of parsley in your garden or brought home a huge bunch from the farmers' market, here's the perfect dish to use it in.

Prepare everything else so that when you start making the prawns, everything else is ready since these cook fast and you need to pay attention to them exclusively so they don't overcook.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Zucchini Crust Pizza

Zucchini - it's the epitome of summer vegetables and you love it...until you hate. it Because you bought a whole six-pack of starter plants without realizing that not only do the plants get really big but once they start producing, that cute little zucchini you saw yesterday will be the size of a baseball bat by the end of the weekend.

What to do with such abundance? (besides leaving them on your neighbors’ doorsteps, anonymously of course.)

Make Pizza Crust. Yes, crust. It sounds like some frou frou healthy thing, but in reality it is a delicious alternative to waiting hours for your pizza crust to rise. The added bonus is that it gets some vegetables in you and your family in a sneaky and tasty way.

Essentially, zucchini pizza crust is a large zucchini fritter. Fritters are shredded or chopped vegetables combined with egg and cheese and pan-fried to a crisp. Doesn’t that sound mouthwatering? So add some pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and a few toppings and you have a winner.

Since my first paid job was in a pizza joint, run by actual Sicilians, I kind of consider myself a bit of an expert on making pizza. The main way people ruin homemade pizza is putting on too many toppings. It prevents the pizza from cooking quickly and can make it soggy, leaving you dejected and disappointed. Secondly, grate your own cheese! Pre-grated cheese loses it moisture in the bag and your pizza will suffer. Lastly, make a good crust. Obviously, that is not an issue since you are going to make a zucchini crust. So let’s get to it!

Zucchini Pizza Crust
(serves 3-4)
Preparation time: 55 mins, plus 30 mins (allowing zucchini to drain)

3 lbs zucchini, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, whipped
1 cup mozzarella (not whole milk mozzarella)

Preparation Note:
Preparation Note:
Although there are very few ingredients in this recipe, the technique is key, so don’t be put off by the
length of the recipe description below. I just want you to be successful in making this crust!

In order to get a crisp crust, you really do need a silipat baking sheet; however I recommend not
investing in one until you have tried the crust and like it. I used parchment paper for my first several
attempts and while the crust is not super crisp, you can still hold it in your hand like a thin crust pizza.


Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Cut off tops and bottoms of zucchini and shred on large holes of a box
grater into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix thoroughly with your hands. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. (You can do this step several hours in advance, just refrigerate and cover well.
Alternatively, freezing shredded zucchini which will take all the water out of it, and then you can drain and squeeze it dry).

Strain zucchini through cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag (the co-op sells them) and squeeze out as much
moisture as you can. This will take at least 5 minutes, keep squeezing out the moisture or your crust
will be soggy. You should end up with about 1 cup worth of squeezed zucchini; it will be greatly
reduced from your original pile.

Combine zucchini with eggs and cheese and mix really well. You don’t want any lumps of cheese or
zucchini that are not mixed well together. Taste for salt and season as needed.

Using a rubber spatula spread the crust on parchment paper or a silipat baking sheet place on a
metal baking sheet. Be patient and take the time to really make sure your crust is evenly spread out,
about ¼ inch thin, which means there are no lumps. Square off the edges or make a little curb to
keep your sauce and cheese in the crust and not spilling off. I usually divide the crust into two portions
so it bakes more evenly, otherwise the middle doesn’t bake as well. Bake for 20 minutes until the
bottom looks browned.

(If you are using parchment paper, flip the cooked crust onto another baking sheet by placing the
second baking sheet bottom side on the crust and flip it onto the backside of the baking sheet.
Then carefully peel off the paper and carefully flip the crust right side up onto its original baking
sheet before adding the sauce and cheese.)

Remove from oven and spread sauce over the crust, top with mozzarella cheese and a few toppings.
Place back in the oven and bake another 13-15 minutes until the cheese is browning. Allow to cool
5 minutes and serve.