Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza

By: The Food Hunter

I grew up in an Italian/American household where eating Sicilian style pizza was something we did often. Whether it was homemade or bought from the local pizzeria this Sicilian style pie I am referring to was always square and slightly thicker than the more traditional round pies. Not quite a deep dish and definitely not a thin crust, the Sicilian pizza seems to be its own distinct style of pie.

My mom would spread her pizza dough into a baking sheet, top it with either olive oil and anchovies or tomato sauce and mozzarella; depending on if we wanted a red or white pie. The thick crust, square pie baked up crispy on the bottom and light and chewy on the inside. It was dense yet light all at the same time.

It's been awhile since I've had a good Sicilian pie so when I saw the recipe below on I had to give it a try. Let's just say this pie reminds me of being a kid in Philadelphia a time when Sicilian pies of all sorts were much easier to come by then they are today.

Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza
(adapted from

For the dough Made in a Food Processor
17.5 ounces bread flour (500g; about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 ounce salt (14g; about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 ounce instant or rapid-rise yeast (6g; about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
0.35 ounce extra-virgin olive oil (20g; 2 tablespoons), plus 1/4 cup olive oil (60ml; 40g) for the pan
11.5 ounces room-temperature water (325g; about 1 cup plus 7 tablespoons)

Combine flour, salt, yeast, 0.35 ounce olive oil, and water in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade or dough blade attachment. Process until a dough that rides around the blade forms, then continue processing for 30 seconds.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup olive oil into a 13- by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet and spread over entire inner surface with your hands. Transfer dough to baking sheet and turn in oil until thoroughly coated. Spread gently with your hands. (It will not stretch to fill the pan; this is fine.) Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until dough has slackened and started to spread out toward the edges of the pan, 2 to 3 hours. Carefully remove plastic wrap from pizza dough. Using oiled hands, and working as gently as possible to maintain air bubbles, push and stretch dough into the corners of the pan by pressing out from the center, lifting each corner, and stretching it beyond the edge of the pan. It should pull back until pan is just filled with dough. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes while you make the sauce.

Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 550°F.

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
9 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon (about 4g) dried oregano
2-3 teaspoons (about 3g) dried red pepper flakes, to taste
1 (28-ounce; 800g) can whole peeled tomatoes

Kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Using a pastry cutter or a potato masher, break up tomatoes into fine chunks. Stir in sugar. Bring to a bare simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes to let flavors meld. Season to taste with salt. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

To Assemble and Bake:
1 pound (450g) mozzarella chees, shredded
1/2 stick pepperoni, cut into thin slices (see note above)
4 ounces (115g) ground Pecorino Romano cheese

Spread mozzarella cheese evenly over surface of pizza. Spoon sauce on top of cheese spreading with the back of a spoon. Only put as much sauce as you desire.  Place pepperoni slices evenly over surface. Sprinkle with half of Romano cheese. Transfer to oven and bake until pepperoni is crisp and curled and bottom of pizza is golden brown when you peek by lifting the corner with a thin spatula, about 10 minutes.

Remove pizza from oven. Sprinkle with remaining half of Romano cheese, use a pizza wheel to cut it into slices, and serve immediately.

This pizza was baked in a Bakerstone Pizza Box which I am currently giving away

I received a bakerstone pizza oven to try for myself.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Swedish Visiting Cake & A Bakerstone Pizza Oven Box Giveaway!

By: The Food Hunter

When temperatures hit 100+ degrees I am reluctant to turn the oven on for our weekly pizza night. But I'm also not willing to give up pizza, that's where Bakerstone Pizza Oven Box comes in. The Bakerstone box is a cooking chamber constructed of 5 pieces of refractory stone, encased in steel. It fits most 3 burner outdoor grills and heats up to 600+ degrees. The pizza oven box produces authentic pizza in minutes, without heating up your house.

Don't let the name fool you, the Bakerstone Pizza Box is good for more than just pizza. So far I've roasted eggplant and onions to make a delicious dip,

I made individual pizzas for a party we were having and a Sicilian style square pie (recipe coming soon)

I even baked dessert in it. I can honestly say I am enjoying the Bakerstone Pizza box and the variety of ways it can be used.

***If you like pizza and fun new cooking toys scroll down for details on how you can win a Bakerstone Pizza Box of your own***

One of my all time favorite cakes is Dorrie Greenspan's Swedish Visiting Cake. Traditionally cooked in a cast iron pan it is perfect for the Bakerstone.

Swedish Visiting Cake

(adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours)

1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan.

Pour the sugar into a medium bowl. Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Whisk in the salt and the extracts. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour. Finally, fold in the melted butter.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar. If you're using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it. You can serve the cake warm or cooled, directly from the skillet or turned out onto a serving plate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a bakerstone pizza oven to try for myself.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Greek Style Frittata

By: The Food Hunter

In the spirit of summer #TeamFarberware is encouraging families worldwide to go for the gold by preparing team style dishes that are family friendly and require minimal time and effort to put together.

The first modern Olympics were held in Athens Greece in 1896 and since then they are one of only four countries to have competed at every summer game. Inspired by their sportsmanship and their need to maximize their strength with hearty meals, I came up with this Greek Style Frittata. This medal worthy dish of eggs, loaded with veggies is just one example of how you can have a healthy and delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner on the table in minutes.

I used several pieces of non-stick cookware from Faberware's stylish 15 piece dishwasher-safe set to prepare this meal. Top-quality non-stick interiors make clean-up a breeze and the fact that they are dishwasher safe makes them ultra-convenient for those nights when you want to spend more time with family.

If you love this dish and want to prepare it for your family or friends click through to Faberware  to grab the full recipe! But before you do make sure to enter the giveaway below! I have teamed with Farberware to allow one lucky reader a chance to win a 15-Piece Farberware dishwasher safe nonstick cookware set. The set comes with one-quart and two-quart covered saucepans, 5-quart covered Dutch oven, 8-inch skillet, 10-inch covered skillet and a medium cookie pan.

Looking for additional recipes and cool giveaways? Be sure to check out Faberware Cookware on Facebook and Instagram and follow #MyFamilyCooks on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I have an ongoing relationship with Farberware and will receive product and/or compensation for posts featuring their items. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. This giveaway is sponsored by Farberware and open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen using and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond and in the event they do not, another winner will be chosen.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake

By: The Food Hunter

Ice cream cakes are for those special occasions when one scoop of ice cream just isn't enough. And by that I mean birthdays! Summer birthdays especially deserve a decadent frozen treat like ice cream cake to help celebrate. They are spectacular make-ahead cakes that just about everyone loves.

Though ice cream cakes may seem difficult to make they are actually quite easy. All that is needed is a little time and a big freezer. You'll want to work with cold tools and keep each component frozen as you work on the next piece. A cake is baked in the normal fashion, cut to shape and frozen. Ice cream is made (or bought) and frozen in the same pan used to make the cake to ensure uniformity. (A spring-form pan works well for this) You'll want to work with cold tools and keep each component frozen as you work on the next piece.

Once all of the pieces are made and frozen the cake is put together and kept cold until time to serve. Viola!

Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake
(printable recipe)

For the chocolate cake:
1 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans or 1 spring-form pan. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin).

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For the coffee ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole coffee beans

Heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is warm but not boiling. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Once the mixture is warm, remove from heat add the remaining cream and vanilla extract, cover and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, strain liquid removing the vanilla and coffee beans. Prepare the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Scoop into spring-form pan or 9 inch round lined with wax paper. (Best to use the same pan you made the chocolate cake with). Once completely frozen, about two hours, you can remove the ice cream and leave it in the freezer wrapped in the wax paper until ready to use.

For the ganache:
10 oz dark chocolate
7 oz heavy cream

Finely chop the chocolate and put into a bowl. In a small pot, bring the double cream to boil. Add chocolate and stir to melt.

Putting it all together:
Level one of the cake layers and place it on the cake plate. Carefully place the ice cream layer on top of the base cake layer and remove the wax paper. Press down gently on the ice cream with a wide spatula to anchor the ice cream into the cake. Place in freezer to keep the ice cream from melting.

Place second cake layer on top of the ice cream layer and press it down gently. Place entire cake back into freezer to allow coffee ice cream to harden, about 15 minutes. You can use a slightly wet off-set spatula to smooth out the ice cream layer, making it even with the cake layers.

Spread the chocolate ganache over the cake. Freeze until ready to eat.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch A Secluded Oasis In The Desert

By: The Food Hunter

I recently had an opportunity to experience a 24 hour vacation right here in Scottsdale. The recently remodeled Scottsdale Resort boasts a new restaurant, bar, a transformed main pool, a significant addition of outdoor meeting and event space, enhanced guest rooms, and a more open, welcoming feel.

Hubby and I started our mini vacation with lunch poolside in our very own cabana. Twisted Vine, located at the main pool, is a full-service restaurant and bar that serves a nice selection of food and drink. Cabanas at The Scottsdale Resort come stocked with bottled water, fresh fruit and all you can eat chips and salsa.

We enjoyed a Cobb salad, a turkey wrap and a Mojito while relaxing by the pool.

After a few hours in the sun we headed back to our room to freshen up for dinner, but not before stopping in the lobby and enjoying the comfortable, friendly space. We hung out for awhile chatting, enjoying watermelon infused water and people watching.

Before dinner we headed to BarSix40 were we enjoyed expertly crafted cocktails (thanks Matthew)

and a small bite to eat. The vibe at the bar was lively and fun, with local entertainment and a nice mix of people.

After enjoying a few drinks we made our way into Kitchen West for dinner. The restaurant, run by Executive Chef Rick Duper, offers delicious American fare that embraces the boldness of the Western spirit.

We started with one of chef's signature kiln cooked flatbread topped with an assortment of mushrooms, melted provolone and fresh greens. Thicker than a traditional flatbread it reminded me more of a pizza. Either way the combination of flavors was spectacular.

My husband, couldn't resist ordering the smoked brisket burger. Two rather large and delicious burger patties with pieces of smoked brisket sandwiched in between was topped with bacon and burnt tomato jam. Let's just say it was delicious.

I decided to get something a bit lighter. The halibut served with farrow, kale and grape salad was amazing and exactly what I was in the mood for.

Dinner was followed by a surprise belated birthday dessert for me. It's always a nice touch to receive something special when dining out and this cake was no exception. Though we were invited to enjoy the resort's movie night at our poolside cabana we decided to retire to our room after such a tasty feast.

The following morning we made our way back to Kitchen West to enjoy the breakfast buffet.

The restaurant offers everything you could possibly want in a buffet including fresh fruit, oatmeal, eggs, breakfast meats, french toast, yogurt and homemade pastries.

Though they weren't serving brunch yet...chef wanted us to try a few of his signature brunch items and I'm glad he did. In the midst of sampling the buffet he sent us a plate of his huckleberry pancakes served with house made honey butter and maple syrup...let's just say he has made a pancake lover out of me.

The star though had to be his Brisket Eggs Benedict. Two eggs served over freshly made biscuits, topped with his signature smoked brisket and homemade hollandaise sauce. I would go back for this dish alone!

If you are looking for a place to relax and unwind in the Phoenix are, I would suggest a mini vacation to The Scottsdale Resort including dinner at Kitchen West.

The Scottsdale Resort
7700 E McCormick Parkway Scottsdale, AZ 85258

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.