BLTs with Basil Aioli and Five-Minute Grilled Flatbread

BLT sandwich on quick grilled flatbread
I love the Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, and one of my all-time favorite pieces from his book “It Must Have Been Something I Ate” is the one about his search for perfect pizza, which, in true Steingartian fashion sends him on a mission to reproduce the flavor and taste of a true Neapolitan-style pizza crust at home.

Steingarten estimates that in order to achieve blistered, dense and delicious crusts a person needs to simulate the heat of a true wood-fired oven that can achieve extremely hot temperatures, somewhere in the range between 650 and 950 degrees, which proves to be just about impossible to accomplish unless you happen to have a heavy-duty commercial oven. His most successful attempt turns out to be firing up a Weber charcoal grill and placing a pizza stone directly on the rack; when the charcoal is arranged properly (more toward the sides of the stone than piled right under it) your everyday barbecue grill is transformed into a little pizza oven. I tried this method and it seems to work pretty well.

After browsing through a new cookbook called Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas yesterday and getting hungry, I made a simple unleavened dough and lit the grill. I actually wanted to make hot BLT sandwiches for dinner, and thought the bread would be an interesting twist. And since it was so spur of the moment, the dough recipe was a good choice since it doesn’t require yeast or rising time. It doesn’t have the fermented flavor that a good yeasted pizza or flatbread has, but for a quick, interesting meal it was satisfying and fun to make.

This method of cooking on the grill would work with any dough you have, even prepared pizza dough from the bakery or grocery store. I’ve also used this very easy recipe for 5-minute pizza dough from Sara Moulton with excellent results.

BLT’s with Basil Aioli on Grilled Flatbread

Prepared pizza dough or Piadina dough (recipe follows)
Basil Aioli (recipe follows)
Fresh arugula or other greens
Cooked bacon
Sliced ripe tomatoes

Light your charcoal or gas grill to medium-high, arranging coals around edges of the grill once they are hot and glowing. (use long tongs and a heavy-duty oven mitts for this). Place a pizza stone on the rack and heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on contact.

Cut the dough into 3-inch pieces and roll them out on a floured surface into roughly 6-inch diameter rounds.

Place the dough on the stone and cook until both sides are browned and blistered, about 2 minutes per side.

Remove from the stone and spread each with some Basil Aioli. Top with greens, bacon and tomatoes. Fold over loosely and eat like a sandwich.

Basil Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise, regular or reduced fat ( I prefer Hellmann’s)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to one day.

Piadina Dough (Instant Unleavened Pizza Dough)
Adapted from Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Process just until the dough comes together, about 15 pulses. Dump the dough on to a floured surface and knead until soft and springy. Cover with plastic wrap to rest for about 15 minutes.

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Copyright (c) 2008 FamilyStyle Food

Crisp, Crunchy Prosciutto: Better than Bacon

Roast sliced prosciutto for a crispy treat


Two questions for a mom/food blogger/personal chef/recipe writer/household planner having one of those weeks that are making her very tired:

Question: What is the one thing you toss into your cart each and every time you shop at Costco.
A
nswer: One pound packages of sliced prosciutto.

Question: And why is that?
Answer: Because when there’s nothing much in the house to cook, we can always munch on oven-roasted prosciutto. This stuff might be better than bacon-flavored potato chips.

Question: Just one more question – how do you make it?
Answer: Just have a look at the easy recipe below. I’m going to have a little nap now.

Crisp Oven-Roasted Prosciutto

12 slices prosciutto
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Arrange the prosciutto on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven 12-15 minutes (keep you eye on it – it browns quickly) until crisp. Cool.

Crumble over pasta, eggs, mashed potatoes or sandwiches. Or just eat it plain, right out of a bowl.

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Pasta Carbonara

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What kind of family-style food chronicle would this be if I didn’t tell you all about our relationship with Pasta Carbonara, our favorite family supper? Carbonara, as we affectionately refer to it, is probably the one and only meal I prepare that provokes J to shout for joy, that is, other than bacon. But Carbonara has lots of bacon in it, along with eggs and cheese, so there you go.

Every night, as the sun makes its swift departure behind the neighbor’s roof, J drops his light saber and comes nosing around me as I get pans moving around in the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner?”

If, as happens 6 out of every 7 days, I answer (in my best Mrs. Cleaver voice): “Why, all your favorites, dear; chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs with pickles on top, and a great big pile of French fries”.

“Oh, boy, Mom, thanks!” (gives me a big bear hug, and skips off to wash his hands).

HA! No, sillies, that’s not what happens.

Basically if the menu consists of anything other than Carbonara, he falls on the floor in a raging, apoplectic fit. Kind of like Jake La Motta during the steak scene in Raging Bull, except he doesn’t throw any food at my head (that would merit a time-out, for sure).

I have to admit, that Carbonara is also one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. My husband holds the title of Official Maker of the Carbonara, but lately, I’ve tinkered with the tried-and-true recipe (because that’s what I do), and now have made it even more comfortable and delicious.