Friday, April 20, 2012

Make Your Own Sports Drink (Gatorade Clone)

You see them everywhere, ads for Gatorade © or Powerade © or any number of sports electrolyte replacement drinks on television, in magazines, and on the internet. Promoted by athletes and other celebrities, sports drinks have become a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry. It has been estimated that Americans alone spent $500 to 750 million dollars on sports drinks in 2011.

With summer rapidly approaching and many of you will be out and about in the heat working, playing, sweating and consuming those well advertised sports drinks. Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating stopping the use of electrolyte replacement drinks, rather I am in favor of reducing their impact on your wallet. Depending on where you live, sports drinks such as Gatorade © and Powerade © can cost anywhere from $1.00 - $2.00 for a 32 ounce bottle. What would you say if I told you that you could make your own electrolyte replacement drinks for 29 to 35 cents per 64 ounces that contain the same ingredients as their commercial counterparts? That's an amazing 3 to 5 cents per 8 ounce serving or a 95% savings over commercially made electrolyte replacement drinks!

Impossible, you say, not at all. In addition to flavorings, all sports drinks contain three essential items: carbohydrates (sugar), sodium (salt), and potassium. So lets examine the contents of the two most popular sports drinks sold today, Gatorade © and Powerade © to see what we need to make our own version at home.

As you can see Gatorade © contains 50 calories (14g sugar), 110mg of sodium, and 30mg of potassium per an 8 fluid ounces. Whereas, Powerade © contains 50 calories (14g sugar), 100mg of sodium, and 25mg of potassium per an 8 fluid ounces. Although there are some minor variations, both contain very similar amounts of electrolytes.

So what does it take to make your own sports drink? As you have seen, most sports drinks contain only four things: flavorings, sugar, salt and potassium. Sports drinks such as Gatorade © and Powerade © use high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) as their primary sweetener. HFCS is not readily available over the counter, however, Gatorade © powder which can be found on supermarket shelves uses sucrose (granulated table sugar) and dextrose (plant sugar, most often corn sugar) as it's sweeteners. It is this powdered formula that we are going to use as the basis for 'Frugalade' my version of a DIY sports electrolyte replacement drink.

Originally when I wrote this article back in 2012, I was just experimenting with making my own electrolyte replacement drink and listed two different recipes. The first used crushed potassium tablets to supply the potassium, however, the filler used to make the potassium tablets tended to settle in the bottom of the bottle, requiring you to shake it thoroughly before drinking. After a while I abandoned this formula so I have removed it as an option from this article.

Three years later, still use and enjoy the Frugalade Formula No. 2. It is by far the easier of the two formulas to make and it is cheaper as well. I have even streamlined the making process and have changed the instructions to include those changes. I have abandoned the 1/2 gallon recipe and make my frugalade in one gallon batches as I obtained a couple of old 1 gallon Gatorade container's from my mother-in-law. However, I have included both recipes in this updated article.

Frugalade (1/2 Gallon Recipe)

2 quarts of water (64 ounces)
1 package store brand or Kool-Aid powdered fruit punch
½ cup granulated sugar (387 calories, 100 carbohydrates)
¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt (480mg sodium)
¼ teaspoon Morton Lite salt (290mg sodium, 350mg potassium)

Heat a pint of water (2 cups) in a small pan on the stove just until it boils, then add the sugar, and both salts and remove the pan from the heat. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.

Add the powdered fruit punch or your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid mix to your water pitcher or 64 ounce container. Once the water with the salt and sugar has cooled, pour the water into the picture and add the remaining 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) to your picture. Stir to combine, then refrigerate. Once  cold, use it as you would any sports drink.

Frugalade (1 Gallon Recipe)

4 quarts of water (128 ounces)
2 packages store brand or Kool-Aid powdered fruit punch
1 cup granulated sugar (387 calories, 100 carbohydrates)
1/2 teaspoon Morton kosher salt (480mg sodium)
1/2 teaspoon Morton Lite salt (290mg sodium, 350mg potassium)

Follow the same steps to prepare a 1 gallon of frugalade as you do for a 1/2 gallon batch, just make sure you top off your one gallon batch with the appropriate amount of water.

Chef's Note: I pour all of my dry ingredients into a 1 gallon Gatorade container, I use a small Sunbeam 'hot shot' hot water dispenser to heat up 2 cups of water then add the hot water to the gallon container, swirl it all around until it is mixed, then top it off with tap water, put the lid on it and throw it in the fridge. Takes me less than 5 minutes to make.

    As you can see, my Frugalade Formula is comparable in calories, and sodium to Powerade ©, and has less sodium than Gatorade ©. The trade off is that Frugalade has a higher potassium content at 44mg than both Powerade © (25mg) and Gatorade © (30mg). In addition, it only costs you 29 cents per 2 quarts or about 3 ½ cents per 8 fluid oz serving.Of the two, this is my preferred recipe, first because it is the cheapest, and second because their is no residue left in the bottom of the bottle as the potassium supplied comes from the salt which dissolves totally.

    Frugalade F2 (Gatorade G2 Clone)

    If you are a diabetic or are watching you caloric intake, you can make a G2 clone, by using Splenda in place of the sugar. We use the Walmart version of Splenda they use to call 'Altern' but is now simply labled as 'Great Value No Calorie Sweetner'. Using a sugar substitute does increase the cost quite a bit more, but it is still cheaper than buying G2. A cup of 'Splenda'  or  'Great Value No Calorie Sweetner weighs about 0.9 of an ounce.

    The current cost of 'Great Value No Calorie Sweetner is $0.46 and ounce, so it is going to cost you about $0.89 to make a gallon of my version of Gatorade G2. That's just under $0.06 for an 8oz serving. Gatorade G2 costs $0.32 for an 8oz serving. So making your own F2 is 81% cheaper than buying G2 at Walmart.

    The downside to F2 just G2 is the reduced caloric intake, if you are outside and doing a lot of physical labor, you may need the calories that the regular recipe of frugalade can provide, even if you are a diabetic.

    Low Sodium Variant

    If you are on a low sodium diet and are concerned about your sodium intake, then follow the directions to make Formula No.2 and reduce the the Morton © Lite salt to 1/8 teaspoon and you would end up with a sports drink with a sodium content of 78mg per serving and potassium of 22mg per serving.


    As for the taste, side by side I could not taste any difference between the two. I am not saying that Frugalade is delicious, simply that it tastes just like Gatorade © and that was my primary goal. If you want a wider variety of flavors, you may need to use Koolaid © brand of drink mixes. My local supermarket only has three flavors in the store brand: fruit punch, grape, and lemonade. This will increase the cost a little, as Koolaid © in my area sells for 20 cents as opposed to the store brand of 12 cents per package.

    While sports drinks are purchased by thousands of parents for their child athletes, unless your child is participating in intense sports activities such as soccer etc.; water is a better hydration choice. In addition, Frugalade, nor any homemade electrolyte replacement drink should be used by anyone who is experiencing diarrhea as it may make the symptoms worse especially in children. See the following section for more information regarding children and oral rehydration.

    If you are looking to find additional ways to stretch your food dollars, be sure and check out some of my other articles on the subject on our blog. And as always, if you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook and Google+ so that you will not miss out on any of our new articles.

    Pedialyte © Abbott Laboratories

    Pediatric is an oral dehydration product produced by Abbott laboratories to help toddlers and children rehydrate during times of gastrointestinal distress in which the child is experiencing diarrhea and vomiting. It has been specifically formulated with lower amounts of sugar and higher amounts of sodium and potassium than other sports drinks. Like most commercial sports drinks, Pedialyte does not use fructose (fruit sugar), or sucrose (granulated table sugar) as sweeteners in there formulation as they can increase the effects of diarrhea by putting more water into the intestine due to the way they are metabolized by the body. According to their website, Pedialyte uses dextrose (HFCS) as it's primary sweetening agent which is metabolized differently by the intestines thereby avoiding the increased risk of diarrhea associated with fructose and sucrose.

    I mention this only because I have seen many recipes for homemade Pedialyte © solutions on the internet that contain sucrose as their primary sugar which can exacerbate diarrhea in children causing them to become more dehydrated. Therefore, you should not use any DIY electrolyte replacement drink if your child has vomiting or diarrhea. Let me repeat this, Frugalade or any other homemade electrolyte drink that contains, table sugar (sucrose) or fruit based sugars (fructose) such as apple juice should not be used when your child is actively experiencing diarrhea as it may increase their symptoms.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Schlotzsky's Original Sandwich

    When I was in college in the mid 1980's, I spent many weekends in Austin, Texas and one of my favorites places to stop and eat was small sandwich shop called Schlotzsky's. The primary item on the menu was a muffuletta style sandwich called “the original”. At the time I had never had anything like it and it became one of my favorites. Fast forward to 30 years later and that small company now boasts more than 700 stores, still not everyone has access to a Schlotzsky's.

    For many years, I did not have access to a local Schlotzsky's and learned to make my own version of their sandwich which I find most satisfying. Although there is now one within 60 miles of where I live, I still make my own on occasion. So if you are a fan of Schlotzsky's, or never even heard of them, now is your chance to make your own “original”. This recipe consists of making the garlic dressing, the bread and finally assembly of the sandwich.

    Garlic Dressing

    ¾ cup olive oil
    ¼ cup white wine vinegar
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    • Mix all ingredients together and set aside. May refrigerate for later use.

    Probably, the most ugly looking bread dough you will ever make.
    The Bread

    2 ½ cups bread flour
    ¾ cup warm milk
    ½ cup warm water
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 ½ teaspoons warm water
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    • In a small container, mix the sugar, yeast, water and milk and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom (become frothy). In another small container mix 1 ½ teaspoons of the warm water with the ¼ teaspoon baking soda.
    • While the yeast is blooming, take two 9-inch aluminum pie pans and spray with non-stick cooking spray and then coat each with cornmeal (approximately 1 tablespoon cornmeal per pan). Make sure to dust the sides as well as the bottom of the pans, then dump out any loose cornmeal in the sink.
    • Combine flour and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Once the yeast mixture has become frothy, add to the flour mixture and beat with a spoon until well combined. The dough will be quite wet, thick and sticky. This is normal, check out the photos of how the dough should look. At this stage it is quite a gloopy mess, but it will proof just fine, I promise.
    • Spray the top of the dough with non-stick cooking spray and cover with a tea towel and let rise for 60 minutes.
    • Once the bread has proofed, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, spray the top of the dough with non-stick cooking spray or lightly mist with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on top and place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
    • Allow the bread to cool for at least one hour before using.
    Baked, cooled, and sliced. This bread is not so ugly anymore!
    Sandwich Ingredients

    1 9-inch muffuletta bread
    2 ounces honey cured ham, sliced
    1 ounce cotto salami, sliced
    1 ounce Genoa salami, sliced
    2 ½ ounces Cheddar, shredded
    2 ½ ounces Mozzarella, shredded
    ½ ounce Parmesan, shredded
    1 ounce pimento stuffed olives, chopped
    ½ ounce black olives, chopped
    ½ ounce yellow mustard
    Lettuce, shredded
    Tomatoes, sliced
    Onion, sliced

    • Toss chopped olives with 1 tablespoon garlic dressing and set aside.
    • Spread the garlic dressing on both the top and bottom of the bun. Sprinkle the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses on the bottom bun. Spread mustard on top of bun and then top with Mozzarella cheese. Then place buns in 350 degree oven and toast until the cheese is melted.
    • Heat the ham and salami's in a microwave until hot. Layer meats on bottom bun with ham on the bottom and the salami's on top of the ham. Then add marinated olives, tomato slices, onion slices and top with shredded lettuce. Add the top bun and slice and serve with your favorite potato chips.
    The final product! This has no olives (I was out), and onions or tomatoes because I do not like them.
    As you can see the finished sandwich not only looks delicious, but tastes delicious. It is one of my favorite sandwiches to make, and while it may take a few steps, the flavor is definitely work the time and effort that you put into it.

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Gohst Masala (Beef Curry)

    When it comes to curry, I must admit I am a bit of a homer. That's right I am a curry addict and I admit it. In my humble opinion, there are few dishes that warm the heart and the palette more than a good curry. When most people think of curry they think of scorching hot dishes that not only burn the tongue but make their eyes water. While there are many hot curries, the thing is, curries do not have to be hot to be enjoyable. The following recipe is a prime example. This is my go to curry, It has a ton of flavor, and has a mild heat signature. It is usually the curry that I serve to people who have never tried Indian food before. The great thing about this dish is it's flexibility, if you like it hot, simply add a few diced Jalapeno or Serrano peppers, if you like it mild simply leave it alone.

    In this particular recipe I used canned tomatoes and green chiles, but if you do not like a mild heat, substitute canned copped or diced tomatoes. This recipe is easy to make and uses my homemade basic masala (curry) paste recipe that you can find in the previous post on this blog. This curry may not look pretty, but I can guarantee that it tastes fantastic and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

    Gohst Masala (Beef Curry)
    6 ounces water or beef stock
    8 ounces beef stew meat
    10 ounces canned tomatoes & green chiles
    2 medium Yukon gold potatoes (optional)
    1 medium onion
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    3 tablespoons Basic masala paste
    1 teaspoon garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon ginger paste (optional)
    ½ teaspoon sugar
    salt and pepper to taste

    • Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan until shimmering, then add onion and cook until soft and translucent.
    • Add half the water, Madras masala paste, ginger and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes stirring to keep the spices from burning. Add the beef, and cook until it is no longer pink, about 3 to 5 minutes.
    • Add the remaining water and tomatoes & green chiles (with juice) and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 60 to 90 minutes or until the beef is tender. If the sauce begins to get to dry, add water as necessary. Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and serve with naan bread or Basmati rice.
      • Potatoes – These may be added if desired, simply cut in medium sized pieces and add to the saucepan after the beef has been cooking for 30 minutes. If you do not have Yukon gold potatoes, then any boiling potato will do. I do not recommend using baking potatoes such as russets as they will dissolve during the cooking process.

    Note:Depending on the type of beef you use, it may take longer for the meat to become tender. Beef stew meat tends to be tougher than other cuts and requires more cooking time in order to become tender. If you have the opportunity substitute lamb for the beef. Making this dish with lamb is one of my favorite was to serve and eat lamb. Unfortunately, lamb is rather pricy here in the states so I use beef.

    Basic Masala (Curry) Paste

    A masala paste is simply the dry ingredients with the combination of onions, ginger and garlic cooked together in oil then blended together with vinegar. This combination oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt act as preservatives for the masala paste. Pastes are nice because they maintain their flavor over time unlike dry spices and they are convenient to use as they can be tailored for your families individual tastes. While not necessarily used in India, Masala pastes such as Patak's, Kitchens of India, Bombay Authentics, and Sharwood's line the stores of Indian, American and British groceries. While these are all good, do yourself a favor and make your own, your taste buds will thank you for it.

    Once made, this curry paste will last for about 2 months in your refrigerator, or you can freeze it in ice cube trays for up to 6 months. Another option is can your paste as I have done the the following picture. I put my masala paste in 4 ounce canning jars and process them in a water bath to make them shelf stable so that I have plenty of masala paste on hand when the need arises. They also make nice gifts to give to other curry lovers. I have included variations to make seven of the most common curry pastes that I make for your dining pleasure. 

    Basic Masala Spice Mix (Curry Powder)

    Various Curry Spices
    2 tablespoon coriander seeds
    2 tablespoons turmeric
    2 tablespoons tomato puree
    1 teaspoon black peppercorns
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds
    1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon Indian chile powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    ½ teaspoon sugar
    6 whole cloves

    • Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat until hot. Remove from heat and place dried whole spices in pan stir for 60 to 90 seconds or until they become fragrant. Once you can smell the aroma of the spices pour them on to a plate and allow to cool. Do not leave them in the pan as they burn rather quickly, and once burned are no good.
    • Once cooled, place the whole spices in a spice mill and process them into a fine powder and place in a bowl. Add the remaining powdered spices to the bowl and set aside and begin the second part of the recipe, making the paste.
      • Balti Paste – 1 2-inch piece cinnamon (broken into small pieces), 5 whole cloves, 1 dried bay leaf, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 2 teaspoon Indian chile powder, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon each cumin and brown mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon each black peppercorns and nigella and fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon each salt and ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon sugar.
      • Bhuna Paste – 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 1 tablespoon tamarind juice, 2 teaspoons each coriander and cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon each turmeric, paprika and Indian chile powder, ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, ¼ black cardamom seeds, ¼ teaspoon sugar.
      • Korma Paste – 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon garam masala, ½ teaspoon each Indian chili powder and salt, ¼ teaspoon each turmeric and sugar. One small bunch fresh coriander.
      • Jalfrezi Paste – 1 diced red bell pepper (saute with onions), 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon each turmeric, 1 teaspoon each coriander seeds, brown mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds; ½ teaspoon salt, and one small bunch fresh coriander.
      • Rogan josh Paste – ½ cup roasted red peppers, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 4 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons garam masala, 2 teaspoons each Indian chile powder, cumin and coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon salt. One small bunch fresh coriander.
      • Tikka Paste – 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut,1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon each cumin and coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon Indian chile powder, ½ teaspoon each turmeric, salt and dried mint, 3 drops each red and yellow food coloring. One small bunch fresh coriander.
      • Vindaloo Paste – 2 dried red chilies, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 1 tablespoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons Indian Chile powder, 2 teaspoons each coriander and fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon each black peppercorns and fenugreek seeds, ½ teaspoon salt. One small bunch fresh coriander.
    Basic masala paste processed and canned.
    Masala Paste (Curry Paste)

    ½ cup canola oil
    1 large onion, diced
    8 to 10 cloves garlic, minced
    1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    • Heat ½ cup canola oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat and saute the onion until they are soft and just and translucent; then add the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Add the dry spices (masala spice mixture) and saute for another 2 minutes to cook the spices, then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool. Once cooled add the mixture to a blender or food processor with the vinegar and lemon juice and process until it becomes a coarse paste.
    • Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 months or it can be place in 3 to 4 teaspoons portions sealed in plastic in the freezer for up to 3 months, almost indefinitely if you have a vacuum sealer.
    • To use the 'curry' paste when making a curry, use 2 to 3 tablespoons for a recipe that yields 4 individual servings depending on personal preference. If you are using a recipe that calls for a commercial curry paste, simply substitute your won. Makes about 1 ¼ cup masala paste.
    Note: Indian chile powder is equivalent to cayenne pepper, do not use a southwest style chile powder, rather use cayenne or red pepper powder. You could also substitute 1 dried red chile for each ½ teaspoon Indian chile powder, or simply use red pepper flakes. Desiccated coconut is dried unsweetened shaved coconut. I may be found in powder or flake form. Personally . I substitute unsweetened coconut flakes that you can by at any supermarket. I Place them on a sheet pan the night before I am going to make my curry paste and cover with a paper towel and allow them to air dry. Process the dried coconut flakes in the spice mill with the rest of the dried spices.

    Friday, March 30, 2012

    New York Style Pizza

    Why street pizza? Well depending on who you talk to in New York, there seems to be two types of New York style pizza, 'street' and 'elite'. The type referred to as 'street' pizza is made with common everyday ingredients and cooked in a deck oven around 450 degrees is what most small corner pizzerias sell. The opposite end of the spectrum is the 'elite' style of New York pizza which uses the best, and generally most expensive ingredients available (fresh mozzarella, basil, etc...) and is typically baked in a coal fired brick oven at temperatures of 650 degrees or hotter. In all likelihood, the style of pizza that Gennaro Lombardi introduced to New York in 1905 was a combination of the two, humble but fresh ingredients cooked on a coal fired brick oven.

    4 cups bread flour
    1 ½ cups + 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 to 4 teaspoons salt
    ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

    • In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in warm water (90 to 105 degrees), and add the olive oil, then allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes. While you are waiting for the yeast to become active, combine the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer.
    • Once the yeast is ready, make a well in the center of the flour and add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on low speed just until combined (about 60 seconds). Then turn off the mixer and cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow the dough to sit for 20 minutes.
      • This resting process is called 'autolyse'. This step allows the flour to absorb the moisture before mixing helping to give your dough a smooth and silky texture. I highly recommend that you do not forget this step.
    • After the dough has rested, mix on low speed for 2 minutes, then mix at medium speed for 5 minutes. When you are done mixing the dough, it will be very tacky or sticky when touched, I assure you this is the desired texture. Pour out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 30 seconds, and then form into a ball and place in a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place and allow the dough to double in size.
      • I use a non-stick olive oil cooking spray to coat the inside of the bowls or containers I use. Make sure you lightly spray the top of the dough ball as well to keep it from drying out.
    • Remove the proofed dough carefully and placed on a lightly floured surface, and divide into two (to make 16 to 18” pies) or three (to make12 to 14” pies) equal portions. or two (to make 16 to 18” pies) After cutting the dough into two or three portions, shape into a ball by pulling the edges back onto themselves a few times making sure to pinch the seam underneath. Place the dough ball seam down on the counter and roll in your hands to tighten up the dough ball (see video).
    • If you are planning to use the dough balls right away, then place the prepared dough balls on a lightly floured surface or cookie sheet and cover with a damp tea towel and allow to double in size (about an hour). If you are not going to use them right away, then place your dough balls in a plastic container sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray, cover and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
    • An hour before your dough is ready to use, place your pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 500 degrees to ensure the stone has time to come to temperature. Shape pies and add desired toppings.
      • If this is your first few times to make pizza at home, I suggest that you place the formed skins on aluminum foil sprinkled with corn meal. This makes it easy to move the pizza from your pizza peel to the pizza stone. As you gain more experience, you will be able to place your pizza skins directly on a lightly floured pizza peel and slide it onto the stone easily.
    • Bake the pie on the pizza stone on the lower rack of your oven for 7 minutes, then remove the pie from the pizza stone with a pizza peel and place on the upper rack of the oven and bake for an additional 2 minutes. This two step baking process will give you a nice chewy crust with and airy edge while keeping the crust from burning.
      • If you like your crust to have a chard bottom, then dress your pizza skin on a piece of aluminum foil dusted with corn meal on top of your pizza peel then place the foil directly on the pizza stone and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

    Pizza Sauce Recipe

    1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon black pepper
    ½ teaspoon dried basil
    ½ teaspoon dried oregano
    ¼ teaspoon fennel seed, ground (optional)

    • Put tomato sauce and the dry ingredients and place in a small plastic container and mix until thoroughly combined, then refrigerate.
    Now that is a delicious looking pizza pie! Fast, easy, and better than anything you can get delivered.

    My New York style pizza dough recipe is based on the authentic 'Vera Pizza Napoletana' dough recipe below. If you wish to make an pie as they would in Italy then this recipe will be sure to please your palette. To really get that authentic taste you need to have a wood fired oven, whose temperatures are 750 degrees or hotter. Unfortunately, at this time I do not have such at home, but maybe one day.

    Vera Pizza Napoletana Dough Recipe

    4 cups Caputo Tipo 00 Flour
    1 ½ cups + 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
    2 to 4 teaspoons salt
    ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

    • Prepare as you would for the New York Pizza recipe.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    Mediterranean Chickpeas and Spinach

    2 cups dried chickpeas
    16 ounces fresh spinach, washed
    2 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into small cubes
    3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
    1 small bunch fresh oregano, roughly chopped
    6 tablespoons olive oil
    1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
    ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
    ½ teaspoon paprika
    ¼ teaspoon turmeric or curry powder

    • Soak dried chickpeas overnight in a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
    • Drain and rinse the in a colander. Return to the sauce pan and fill with 2 quarts of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 hours or until chickpeas are soft adding any additional water as necessary. Skim off any scum that may build up on the water during the cooking process.
    • Once the peas are soft, remove the pan from the heat and pour off any excess liquid just until the water is level with the chickpeas. Add the turmeric, paprika and season chickpeas with ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper and set aside.
    • In a large saute pan add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat over a medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt. Saute the spinach just until the leaves are just tender, then drain in a colander and set aside.
    • Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in your saute pan and saute the cubed bread for about 5 minutes or just until golden brown all over, then add the garlic, cumin seeds, oregano and dried chilli. Cook for 60 seconds or until the garlic is nutty brown. Transfer the mixture to a food processor along with the vinegar, and mash to a paste. If you do not want to use a food processor you can use a mortar and pestle.
      • You need about 2 ½ ounces white bread. A 1-inch slice of old French or Italian with the crust removed works well if you have it, but most people use 2 to 3 slices of sandwich bread with the crust removed and cubed.
    • Return the bread mixture to the saute pan and add the chickpeas and their water. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and then check seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add the spinach and heat over low to medium heat just until the dish is thoroughly heated through. If the consistency is a little thick, add some water, makes four to six entrees.
    Greek Style - Crumble 6 to 8 ounces feta cheese into chickpeas before serving, reserving a small amount for garnish.
    Spanish Style - Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce to chickpeas before sauteing spinach.

    There are a ton of variations of this original Moorish recipe served all over the Mediterranean region. In fact, a variation of this same type of dish is popular in India. While I have saffron threads in my pantry many people do not, and turmeric is sometimes called the 'poor man's' saffron. Therefore I generally use turmeric and or curry powder in place of the saffron in this dish simply because of the cost. If you want to use saffron as called for in the original recipe, steep 60 strands of saffron in 4 tablespoons boiling water. Add this in place of the turmeric or curry powder.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Hot Shots: Chicken & Dumplings

    Few things in life are as simple and satisfying as a big hot bowl of 'Chicken and Dumplings'. While chicken and dumplings are often associated with the south, dumplings make from flour, salt and baking powder were a staple for those who needed to feed a bunch of hungry mouths with just one small scrawny chicken.
    Still a viable way to stretch your food budget, many people like myself make chicken and dumplings more for the taste and warmth of the dish than actual necessity. I prefer to make my dumplings from scratch, however most of my family uses the popular biscuit dough method as seen in this video. I have included detailed instructions on how to do both, so that no matter your preference, you make delicious and nutritious chicken and dumplings when ever the urge arises.

    3 to 4 cups cooked chicken, chopped
    8 cups (2 quarts) chicken stock
    ¾ cup half-and-half or heavy cream
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    2 cans biscuit dough or one recipe dumplings (see below)
    2 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
    2 large carrots, diced (optional)
    1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    • In a large pot or Dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute onions, and celery over medium heat just until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the carrots and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and add black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and any optional vegetables or spices you desire to suit your taste.
    • Remove biscuits from can, and sprinkle flour onto a cutting board or clean counter and press flat with the palm of your hand. Shake off excess dough and place biscuits onto a plate and continue until they are all flattened. (If using homemade dumplings see recipe below).
    • Using a knife or rolling cutter, divide the biscuits into quarters and then drop dumplings into simmering broth making sure to stir the dumplings well so that they do not stick together. Put a lid on the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.
    • Add cooked chicken, and half-and-half and stir, remove pot from heat to another burner and allow to sit for 10 minutes to allow chicken to warm up, then serve.

    Homemade Dumplings

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons shortening
    4 to 6 tablespoons water or milk
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt

    • Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium sized bowl, cut in the shortening with a fork or pastry knife until well blended. The flour mixture will have a somewhat coarse texture.
    • Add liquid just until a soft dough is formed. Roll out dough on a floured surface, with a rolling pin, until very thin (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut into 1 inch wide strips using a pizza cutter or knife, then cut strips into again 1 inch pieces.
    • Shake off any excess flour, and drop dumplings into simmering broth and cover pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

    Note: While the chicken and dumplings may look somewhat thin and soupy, they will thicken after a while. However, if you prefer a thicker soup base, try adding 1 (14oz) can of condensed soup to the chicken stock after adding your seasoning and before adding the dumplings to the pot.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Seasoned Salt Recipe

    I received an email from 'JohnnyW37' asking what is seasoned salt? Well, seasoned salt is a spice mix made by combining a variety of herbs and spices with ordinary table salt. One of the most famous variations is Lawry's Brand seasoned salt which was created at the world famous Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. 
    Seasoned salt is very popular, and there are thousands of recipes in cookbooks and on the internet that list it as an ingredient. It seems as if almost every food manufacturer has their own blend of seasoned salt, and there are a wide variety of seasoned salts available on supermarket shelves across the United States. While each is inherently different, they almost all contain the same basic ingredients: salt, sugar, onion and garlic powders, . Variations include the addition of: celery salt, powdered chicken broth, marjoram, thyme, chili powder, paprika, tomato powder, MSG, and soy sauce powder.

    Todd's Seasoned Salt

    6 tablespoons salt
    2 teaspoons paprika
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1 teaspoon mustard powder
    ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon turmeric or curry powder
    ½ teaspoon cornstarch
    ¼ teaspoon MSG (optional)

    • Place the thyme and marjoram in a spice mill and grind into a medium to fine powder. Add to a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix well, place in a small jar and store in a cool dry place, shake jar well before each use. Makes about 1/3 cup seasoned salt.

    Note: In my opinion, this seasoning blend is far superior Lawry's or any other commercial seasoned salt that you can buy on your supermarket shelves and it is quite a bit cheaper to make. The addition of thyme, marjoram, and mustard powder give the seasoned salt a depth that Lawry's just doesn't have. However, if you want a simple copycat recipe for a Lawry's seasoned salt, omit the thyme, marjoram, and mustard powder as these are not in Lawry's original seasoned salt.

    Lawry's Seasoned Salt

    6 tablespoons salt
    2 teaspoons paprika
    2 teaspoons sugar
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ½ teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    ½ teaspoon cornstarch

    • Place the thyme and marjoram in a spice mill and grind into a medium to fine powder. Add to a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix well, place in a small jar and store in a cool dry place, shake jar well before each use. Makes about 1/3 cup seasoned salt.

    So there you go 'JohnnyW37', hope you will find these recipes helpful and enjoyable.


    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Episode 3 - Buffalo Style Hot Wings

    2 pounds chicken wings
    1 cup all purpose flour
    ½ cup whole milk
    2 large eggs
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon red pepper

    • Line a few baking or cookie sheets with aluminum foil sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.
    • Combine flour, paprika, salt, black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder and onion powder in one gallon plastic bag or container and shake to mix thoroughly.
    • In a large bowl or plastic container whisk together the eggs and milk to make your egg wash.
    • First, we are going to submerge the chicken wings in the egg wash. The amount of wings you soak at a time depends on the size of your bowl, but I would not do more than 8 or 10 at a time.
    • Next, transfer the wings to the plastic bag with flour; seal the bag carefully and shake to coat the wings evenly.
    • Place the wings on foil lined baking sheets sprayed with non-stick cooking oil in a single layer and place them in the refrigerator to rest for 30 to 40 minutes. Halfway through the resting process, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
      • Resting the wings in the fridge helps the egg wash and seasoned flour to stick to the chicken pieces resulting in a better crust. You can skip this step if you wish, but I find it makes for a more crispy coating.
    • Remove the wings and spray the top layer with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, then turn, spray the wings lightly again and bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes or until the wings are golden brown and crispy. While your wings are cooking prepare your sauce.
    • When wings are golden brown, remove from the oven and place in a bowl and pour ¼ cup of sauce per dozen wings and toss for 15 to 20 seconds, then place on a serving dish and serve.

    Note: If you are using fresh chicken wings trim the tips and cut at the joint; if you are using are looking for something more convenient you can use pre-cut wings and drumettes found in the frozen section of your supermarket.

    Buffalo Wing Sauce -  Melt 2 – 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and mix with ½ cup hot sauce. I prefer Louisiana hot sauce, but Franks, Tabasco or any sauce you prefer will do.
    Barbecue Wing Sauce I - Mix 2 – 3 tablespoons chicken stock with ½ cup barbecue sauce of your choice. Commercial barbecue sauces tend to be extremely thick; combining it with chicken stock thins the sauce allowing it to be tossed with the wings to ensure a delicious an even coating.
    Barbecue Wing Sauce II Mix ½ cup ketchup, ¼ cup cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and ½ teaspoon black pepper, garlic and onion powders in a mixing bowl and mix until creamy and thoroughly incorporated.
    Garlic Ginger Wing Sauce – Mix ½ cup rice wine vinegar, ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Asian chili sauce, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon ginger paste and minced garlic, and ¼ teaspoon onion and garlic powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings as necessary.
    Honey Mustard Wing Sauce – Mix ½ cup Dijon mustard, ¼ apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup honey, and 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce in a mixing bowl and mix until creamy and thoroughly incorporated.
    Jamaican Jerk Wing Sauce Mix ½ cup ketchup, ¼ cup lime juice, 2 tablespoons Jerk seasoning, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and ½ teaspoon black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powders and ½ scotch bonnet pepper minced, seeds and veins removed in a mixing bowl and mix until creamy and thoroughly incorporated.
    Louisiana Wing Sauce - Melt 2 – 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and mix with ½ cup Louisiana or Tabasco hot sauce and 2 teaspoons creole or cajun seasoning.
    Mambo “Mumbo” Wing Sauce - ½ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 to 3 teaspoons Tabasco, and 1 teaspoon paprika.
    Sesame Ginger Wing Sauce - Combine ½ cup hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce, 1 teaspoon ginger paste and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
    Teriyaki Wing Sauce – Mix ¼ cup rice wine vinegar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and ½ teaspoon ginger paste and , ¼ teaspoon onion and garlic powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings as necessary.