What Exactly Is Butcher Block?

What Exactly Is Butcher Block?

Butcher Block is a specialized wood cutting surface, thick and rugged in design, built to sustain heavy blows from meat cleavers.  The name  “butcher’s block” was originally derived from its use by commercial meat cutters in butcher shops and meat processing plants over 125 years ago.  The first butcher blocks were made from Sycamore rounds, which were large sections of Sycamore tree trunks mounted on legs.  However, inherent in this round cut of wood was the problem of the wood splitting, creating unsanitary conditions.  This lead to the invention of the traditional end-grain butcher block, an assembled wood product made from strips of wood which are glued together to create a solid wedge.

traditional-butcher-block

Today, traditional butcher blocks can be found in millions of supermarkets, delis, restaurants and home kitchens around the world.

End-Grain-Butcher-Block

These end-grain boards are made by bonding together short pieces of wood standing side-by-side, creating the traditional “checkerboard” appearance. Their cut ends make an excellent surface for cutting and chopping.  The wood fibers that make up the cutting surface are less susceptible to nicks and gouges, and will absorb the impact of knives.

 

Edge-Grain-Butcher-BlockThese days, the term butcher block is commonly used to refer to edge-grain constructed blocks as well.  Edge-grain blocks are made from laminating wood rails side-by-side, with the edges of wood strips making up the surface of the butcher block.  Many butcher blocks for home use are edge-grain construction because they are perfectly suitable for home use and are more affordable.

 

Edge-grain butcher blocks typically are thinner, lighter and more portable, making them ideal for versatile tableshard-working carts, gorgeous countertops, and  functional cutting boards.

What is your favorite butcher block product?

butcher-block-products
Fall Soups-Horseradish Potato Chowder

Fall Soups-Horseradish Potato Chowder

The weather is finally cooling off! So now it’s time to start thinking about ways to warm back up and nothing hits the spot on a chilly night quite like a rich, creamy bowl of soup. This is one of my favorite fall soups; it’s great as a starter or as the whole meal; it pairs well with beef, asparagus, and fresh crusty bread!

Fall Soup Recipe for Horseradish Potato Chowder:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 4 large russet potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ cup prepared horseradish*
  • 4 cups stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 green onion, julienne
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Toss the potatoes and onions in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until just tender.

In a large pot, bring the milk, stock, horseradish, and half of the herbs up to a simmer.

Add half of the roasted potatoes and onions to the liquid. Blend the mixture until smooth using a stick blender or in small batches using a food processor or traditional blender.

Add the now smooth mixture back into the pot, add the remaining potatoes, onions, and the cheese. Mix until the cheese has melted completely.

Season with salt and pepper until it tastes the way you think it should. Garnish with the remaining herbs and maybe a bit more cheese.

*For best results use fresh horseradish. Chances are you can find whole horseradish root in your local supermarket. Ask the produce manager how fresh it is; the fresher the root, the more heat it will have. Peel the tough skin off and chop the root into large chunks. Throw it in your food processor with a little water and blend until it is a coarse paste. As it sits exposed to the air and water, the heat will become stronger. When it’s hot enough for you, add about a teaspoon of vinegar – this will stop the process and keep the heat at that level.

What are your favorite Fall Soups? Check out our Yummy Fall Soups Board  on Pinterest for more great Fall Soup recipes!

 Fall-Soup-Chowder

Printer friendly recipe: Horseradish Potato Chowder Recipe

More recipes here!

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Fall Baking!

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Fall Baking!

Fall is here and it’s time to get ready for the baking season! I know I’m excited! This year I’m trying something new, though – I am reorganizing my kitchen for fall in the same vein in which I reorganize my wardrobe. Tank tops and salad spinners will be tucked away in favor of boots and bakeware. I have a whole hutch full of baking equipment, but it lives in my living room because my kitchen is tiny. I went on a kitchen organizing spree this Spring, but a lot of the equipment that is taking up prime real estate could be replaced with more seasonal items. So I am going to share with you some of the tips I’m trying to follow that I think will help you prepare for this delightful season, too!

  • Designate a main workspace. Mine is my dream island (the one in the link is the one that lives in my head, not my kitchen…but some day she will be mine). It currently houses my knife block, cutting board, my overflow pots and pans that don’t fit on my pot rack, and two junk drawers (and a pile of mail…).
  • Remove all non-essential items (especially mail) from this area.
  • Think about your Fall cooking/baking style. Do you love making pies and tarts? Are you a huge fan of roasted root vegetables? Do stews and rustic breads show up on your dinner table at least once a week? Go through some of your favorite dishes in your head and make a list of your most common equipment.
  • Figure out a game plan for this area with the above-mentioned list in mind. DON’T add anything back to this area before you have some type of plan. That just leads to clutter and dysfunction. Kitchen organizing isn’t just about making your kitchen look tidy – it’s about making your kitchen work for your unique style. For example, if you’re going to be using your food processor and stand mixer a lot more often, it would certainly make sense to have them out all the time (if you have room for that, of course). Likewise, this is probably a good time of year to have your canisters of flour and sugar within arm’s reach. A small wall-mount or magnetic spice rack could be a nice addition to hold your nutmeg and allspice for all those pumpkin pies. This is also a great place to keep a little stack of mise-en-place bowls. Trust me, you’ll use them.
  • Slowly start bringing in your equipment and make adjustments to your game plan as necessary. I just realized my rolling pin has holes in the handles and I can hang it on my pot rack right above my island. I hadn’t noticed this before because it has been tucked away in a drawer in the hutch in my living room for the past nine months. Fortunately I had a wine bottle handy the last time I had to roll something out!
  • Preheat your oven and get to work! Isn’t it nice to have your roasting pans and pastry brushes all within reach?

Try some kitchen organizing by creating your unique  “Fall Baking Zone”.  It makes for fun and easy baking.

BLOG FALL BAKING ZONE.xlsx

What else do I need? What are you going to add to your Fall Zone? Do you have any great kitchen organizing tips for Fall?

Cedar-planked Salmon – A simply delicious recipe!

Cedar-planked Salmon – A simply delicious recipe!

Today is “International Talk Like A Pirate Day”.  I guess I never knew there was such a day, but as I was browsing the internet I discovered it.  I’m not certain what this has to do with the  ButcherBlockCo Blog, but it did get me thinking about pirate lingo and “walking the plank”.  And then my thoughts led me to cedar-planked salmon!  Salmon is my favorite fish, and grilled cedar-planked salmon is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.  So this week’s blog is loosely dedicated to “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and is a simple, delicious recipe for grilled cedar-planked salmon.

A meal of cedar-planked salmon is high value, meaning little effort produces great results!

The cost is relatively inexpensive, the ingredients are readily available, the prep work is simple, and the taste is fabulous!  Basically you soak the planks, season the salmon, and grill.  That’s about it. We just made this last night and we served it with sautéed asparagus and a quinoa/brown rice blend.
Arrr!
Ingredients:cedar-planked-salmon-prep
  • Salmon fillets, skin on one side
  • Sea Salt
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Crushed Peppercorns
  • Dill seasoning
  • Fresh Tarragon leaves
  • Cedar planks
Avast, ye Mateys!
Directions
  1. Soak cedar planks in a shallow dish, completely submerged for 2 hours.  You can soak in water, or I have heard wine or cider works too.
  2. Place salmon fillet, skin side down on plank
  3. Sprinkle seasonings on top side of salmon
  4. Place plank on 350 degree preheated grill.  Cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes for doneness.  My family prefers salmon well cooked and more firm, so we go the full 20 minutes
  5. Spray water on any flare ups
  6. Remove from grill.  Salmon will separate from the skin nicely with a spatula. Garnish with fresh Tarragon.
cedar-planked-salmon-grilledGrilled Cedar-planked salmon.  Arrr!
Printer friendly recipe: Cedar-planked Salmon Recipe
Kitchen Islands – How to simplify the selection process

Kitchen Islands – How to simplify the selection process

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and a kitchen island can be a great addition to this space, where you cook, entertain, gather and celebrate with family and friends.  Purchasing a kitchen island can be a significant investment, so choosing the right kitchen island for you is critical. While the choices are many, here are some things to consider to make the selection process simpler:
  1. How do you intend to use your kitchen island?  Would you use it for sitting and eating, or more for food prep and serving?
  2. How much floor space do you have?  Kitchen islands range in length from 4 to 5 feet and are often 2 feet wide, so make certain you have space for the island and for good traffic flow. If you don’t have that much space, a butcher block table may be a better option.
  3. What features are most important to you?  Islands are available with one or many features like closed cabinets, extendable cutting boards, drop leaves, open shelves, drawers, or baskets.
  4. Finally, what will best match your décor and personal style? There is a wide array of styles to choose from in a range of colors, finishes and woods.  Pick the style that complements your current kitchen cabinets, countertops and flooring.

ButcherBlockCo offers a wide selection of Kitchen Islands.

  • Classic Kitchen Island Breakfast Sets  expand not only dining space and seating capacity, but serving space.  Many come with bar stools to match.
  • Butcher Block Islands designed to be used as chopping workstations complete with food-safe natural oil finish.  They also double as a food buffet and serving space.  Many butcher block kitchen islands are available with optional casters to make them portable.
  • Butcher Block Islands with food-safe varnish finish are ideal for food prep and serving.  The varnish brings out the wood’s natural beauty and luster.
  • Fine furniture Wood Islands are both beautiful and functional serving islands.
  • Kitchen Island Countertops can also be purchased should you have an existing built in kitchen island you are remodeling.  Custom size countertops and custom edging to match your existing countertops can be ordered.
kitchen islands
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and an island can be the focal point of your kitchen.  To learn more about kitchen island options, watch our YOUTUBE Video.

ButcherBlockCo.com – The Experts In All Things Butcher Block

Labor Day Recipe-Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

Labor Day Recipe-Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

Here comes another holiday! That means another day off work (you need it!), another chance to spend some time with family and friends, and of course, another excuse to barbecue! We’ve gone over brisket; now let’s make a summer BBQ staple: RIBS!   While pork ribs are a bit messier than beef ribs, they are much more popular because they really are tastier .  Plus, it is likely your BBQ party will have other kinds of beef being prepared anyway. So we’ll be dealing with pork ribs today. When shopping for pork ribs keep in mind that there are two different kinds: Back Ribs (Baby Back Ribs if they came from a younger hog) and Spare Ribs.

Most folks agree, pork ribs are tastier than beef ribs!

Back Ribs, sometimes called Loin Ribs, are from the top of the hog between the spine and spare ribs. They are generally meatier than the spare ribs, but have a bit less fat. These are the more popular of the two.

Spare Ribs are found on the belly side of the hog. They are fattier and have more bone than actual meat. They are delicious, and often more tender because of the higher level of fat. St. Louis or Kansas City style pork ribs are spare ribs that have had part of the bone removed and have been trimmed.

Either kind will work for these instructions. It’s also a good idea to talk to your butcher; if they’re worth a darn they will love to help you choose the right cut and answer all of your questions. We’re going to cheat a bit, by using both the oven and the grill. Some BBQ nuts might cry foul but I think it’s better to take the easy option if it means you get to enjoy some nice homemade food rather than ordering out or wasting your time on something that has been pre-sauced and pre-cooked. If you have a spice rub that you love, by all means, use it!  I like to keep things relatively simple:

Spice Rub:

  • 1 TBS ground mustard powderpork rib spice rub
  • 1 TBS kosher or sea salt
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground chile (optional)

Scale this recipe up if you need to. I usually make a pretty big batch- it’s nice to have a jar lying around for when the mood strikes.

PREP
Sometimes there will be a tough, white membrane on the concave side of the pork ribs. You can ask your butcher to remove that or do it yourself. Simply pull the membrane up from the smaller end of the ribs, using a paper towel to get a better grip. With a strong pull toward the larger end, you should be able to easily peel it off.pork rib prep

Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. You don’t need a lot. You can do this a day or so in advance and the flavor will be stronger. Wrap the racks tightly in heavy duty plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil.

COOK
Arrange the pork ribs (still wrapped) on a sheet pan and place in a 250 degree oven. Cook for 4 hours.
Before they have finished, get your grill, smoker, or any other BBQ contraption you have access to fired up.  Pre-heat to 325 for this round. You can use charcoal or wood.
When the ribs are done in the oven, CAREFULLY remove them from the wrap. Pour all of the delicious juices into a bowl and set aside.

GRILL

pork ribs grill 300Back to the grill….We want to use indirect heat for this, so move the coals to one side and place the ribs on the other, meat-side up. Cover the grill and let the pork ribs smoke for a bit.

Sauce:
Get back to the kitchen! Mix together the following ingredients to make your basting sauce:

  • All of those juices
  • ¼ part ketchup
  • ¼ part honey or maple syrup

Use this sauce to baste the ribs every 30 minutes or so for about 2 hours, this will give them a nice sweet, sticky glaze. The longer you cook them the more tender they will be, so you can hang out in the back yard all day if you really want.

If you want to get the mess out of the way before the guests arrive just switch the cooking methods: start with the fire and smoke at 325, then wrap and throw the little piggies in the oven at 250. And make sure you have plenty of napkins!

When your ribs are done, remove to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Separate into manageable servings by slicing between the bones, every two-three ribs.
Chef J

chef j

Printer friendly recipe: Simple BBQ Pork Ribs

More Recipes: here

Butcher Block Countertops Are An Affordable Option

Butcher Block Countertops Are An Affordable Option

If you are considering new countertops as part of  your kitchen remodel, you will find there are many countertop materials to choose from.  The internet is a great place to start researching, with helpful information, facts, trends and most of all, inspiring photos to help you make the right decision.

When choosing the ideal countertop material you should consider the following:

  • Function – Your lifestyle plays an important role in designing your kitchen.  If you are a Cooking Enthusiast you will want countertops that are suitable for chopping and food prep; Kitchen Central families who spend a lot of time in the kitchen doing more than cooking will want durable, stain resistant surfaces; and Entertainers will desire a high degree of style in their countertop and overall kitchen design.
  • Décor – Because the kitchen is the heart of the home, it should reflect your personal style, be that traditional, contemporary or eclectic.  Countertops are one of the more affordable and significant changes you can make to your kitchen that will convey your personal style.
  • Maintenance  – Often an afterthought, countertop maintenance is important to know prior to purchasing.  Be comfortable with the  maintenance required to keep your countertop looking new and protected.  Some maintenance is necessary for all countertops, however, certain materials are more needy.
  • Budget -Your budget can be the deal breaker.  Countertop materials range from very affordable to extremely expensive.  

A helpful resource for cost comparison can be found at www.countertopguides.com, where you can see Butcher Block Countertops are one of the most affordable countertop options available.

Butcher Block Countertops are an affordable option

Butcher Block Countertop an Affordable Choice.xlsx

So if you are looking for a food prep work surface that is beautiful, easy to maintain, and affordable, then butcher block is right for you!  At ButcherBlockCo.com you can choose from 4 different wood species, in 3 grain styles.  It’s easy to compare butcher block prices using our Step-by-Step Order Guide.  And you can get an instant quote or order butcher block countertops online with our Custom Countertop calculator.

Relative Cost Per Square Foot – Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block Countertop an Affordable Choice.xlsx

Need more information? Watch our YouTube video to learn more about Butcher Block Countertops.

ButcherBlockCo.com, The Experts In All Things Butcher Block

End of Summer Tradition – Fajitaladas

End of Summer Tradition – Fajitaladas

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to have a hard time readjusting when school starts back up. I’m not the most organized person in the world, so dealing with drop-off and pick-up, homework and school events, I tend to slip in the dinner-cooking department! Fortunately for me, I have an awesome end of summer tradition that helps get me through those first couple weeks of school. Every year before school starts, I get together with my sister (who is a teacher and understands this pain far better than I do!) and a few of our friends for a few hours and cook up a storm to stock our freezers.  Everyone brings the ingredients for her signature dish, and we all work together to make enough batches to take home one of everything. Every year I make the same dish, my signature “Fajitaladas,” which are a yummy, freezer-friendly combo of fajitas and enchiladas. By the end of our cooking party, we each have an eclectic mix of five or six dishes to choose from when we run into the inevitable question, “What’s for dinner?”

Besides making lots of awesome food, this end of summer tradition gives us a chance to get some much needed relaxation and socialization, before jumping into the chaos of the school year.

To successfully pull off one of these parties, it helps to have a friend with a big kitchen and lots of workspace. If that is not an option, split up the tasks so you can work in assembly-line style and utilize each area to the max. Those disposable foil pans from the grocery store work fine for freezer storage (make your life easier by getting the ones with the lids), or you can use your own bakeware.

Over the years I have brought home delicious lasagnas, casseroles, pulled pork, and lots of Fajitaladas! Here is the simple recipe for my end of summer tradition dish! This is just my basic recipe, but it can be easily customized to your liking if you have other options on hand.

Fajitaladas Recipe

Makes one batch, serves 6-8end of summer tradition

Ingredients:

  • 12 medium flour or 16 corn tortillas
  • 1-2 T olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. steak or chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • Fajita seasoning to taste
  • 1 16 oz. can enchilada sauce of your choice, or homemade
  • 2-3 cups Mexican style shredded cheese blend
  • Toppings of choice

If you will be eating right away, preheat your oven to 350 F.

In an oiled pan, sauté steak or chicken with fajita seasoning (taco seasoning works well, too) until browned on all sides. Add peppers and onions and sauté until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent. Set aside. If freezing, allow to cool completely before assembling. This can be done up to 3 days in advance.

Spread about ¼ cup of enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13” X 9” baking dish. This helps keep the tortillas from sticking to the pan. Lay out your tortillas on a flat surface and sprinkle a line of cheese down the middle of each. Divide veggie/meat mixture among tortillas on top of cheese. Roll each one up and place in baking dish, seam side down. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the top, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

If baking immediately, loosely cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Uncover and place under the broiler for about two minutes to get that bubbly cheese nice and golden brown! Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, black olives, salsa, onions…whatever you like!

If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and top with foil or the lid to your dish. When you are ready to cook, allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap (don’t forget this part – melted plastic wrap does not go well with these flavors!), put lid back on or cover with foil and follow baking instructions above, but allow to bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

So if you don’t have an end of summer tradition, try this one.  If you have a fun end of summer tradition to share with us, we would love to hear from you!

Printer Friendly Recipe: Fajitaladas Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

Ravioli Lasagna Recipe

Ravioli Lasagna Recipe

Recipe Update: To help reduce the moisture that comes from the zucchini, slice it thin, then grill it for 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Let it cool for 10 minutes, then use it to build your layers.

July 29th is National Lasagna Day!  If you love home-made lasagna but find it to be a lot of work, try this wonderful shortcut.  It is called Ravioli Lasagna.  Not only is it easier, but it tastes better than traditional lasagna.  And my added twist….zucchini!

Ravioli Lasagna Ingredients:

  • 2lbs Ground Sweet Italian Pork SausageRavioli-lasagna-herb-board
  • 3lbs Frozen, Pre-cooked, Cheese Ravioli (Ricotta filled).  About  40 large Raviolis
  • 32 oz Swiss Cheese Slices
  • 2- 16oz containers of NonFat Cottage Cheese
  • 5 T chopped fresh Oregano. (Another reason to use my wonderful butcher block herb cutting board and mezzaluna knife!)
  • 5 Zucchini
  • 2 – 32oz Jars Marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 cup of any Red Table Wine

Sauce:

  • Cook the ground pork sausage in large pot, breaking meat up into small pieces
  • Add marinara sauce.  Rinse out the jar with 1/2 cup Red Table Wine and pour into sauce.
  • Simmer.

Cheese:

  • Fold the chopped oregano into the cottage cheese until uniform.
  • Have sliced swiss cheese handy

Zucchini:

  • Wash and peel zucchini
  • Chop on your favorite chopping block into 1/8 ” round slices
  • Split into two piles

Building your 9 layer Ravioli Lasagna is easy and takes about 15 minutes

Choose a very large baking pan, preferably 15″L x 11″ W x 3.5″ deep:

  • Layer 1 – Sauce, just to cover bottom of pan
  • Layer 2 – Ravioli Noodles.  In my pan, it was 5 rows of 4 ravioli or 20 raviolis
  • Layer 3 – Spread all the cottage cheese/oregano onto the ravioli
  • Layer 4 – Place one layer of zucchini to cover entire layer (half of the total zucchini)
  • Layer 5 – Cover with single layer of sliced swiss cheese
  • Layer 6 – Add remaining sauce on this layer
  • Layer 7 – Add another ravioli layer, 20 raviolis
  • Layer 8 – Place a layer of zucchini to cover
  • Layer 9 – Cover with a single layer of sliced swiss cheese

National-Lasagna-Day-Layers

Cover with non-stick aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.  Uncover.  Then broil for 2 minutes to brown the cheese on top.  Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving to allow it to cool and set.  Serves 12 to 16.

Enjoy your easy Ravioli Lasagna!

Printer Friendly Recipe: Ravioli Lasagna

Meatless Monday Pizza Party

Meatless Monday Pizza Party

Chef J is at it again – this time sharing perfect pizza dough to satisfy any crowd!

There is a common belief that you can’t please everyone. This is correct about 99.99% of the time, and can be especially hard if you practice the growing trend of Meatless Mondays. But there is one delicious exception: Pizza! Pizza might be the pinnacle of cuisine. I doubt that there will be anything anytime soon that can knock that marvelous, cheesy circle off the throne. And though you can have it delivered in under an hour, there is a better way!

Pizza is incredibly easy to make for Meatless Monday – anyone can do it!

Doing it yourself is not only rewarding (you’ll love bragging to your friends about it!), it tastes better, it’s healthier, and it’s something that the whole group can get involved in. Everyone at the party can build their own and it’s perfect for the kids! We’ll go step by step through the process; from dough to done.

The trickiest part is the dough.

People new to the world of home-made pizza are always nervous when it comes to making the glutenous foundation of their next great meal. Fret not; here are a few simple steps that will guide you to your new pie.

The Sponge:meatless-monday-sponge
The sponge will start the process of activating the gluten- giving the dough a nice chew. It also develops the flavor by allowing the yeast to bubble and play.

Mix together in the largest bowl you have:
2 cups water
1 pound high gluten bread flour
1 TBS yeast

Don’t mix it up too much- it should look like lumpy pancake batter. Loosely cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours.

The Dough:meatless-monday-mix
This is the part that people tend to get a little scared about. It’s not going to work if you follow a recipe to the letter; you have to go with your gut on this one (it’s all going to your gut anyway!).

Pour the sponge into a mixer with a dough hook. Add:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 TBS yeast
Flour…

While your mixer is on low, slowly add more flour, about ½ a cup at a time, letting each addition incorporate. Continue until it starts pulling away from the sides of the mixer. It should be a little sticky. If you are not sure, err on the side of being too wet. Keep kneading it for another 10 minutes.

Put the whole mess back into that giant bowl and loosely cover again. The dough needs to rise now to allow the new flour to absorb the liquid, the new yeast to bubble up, and all the gluten that was just worked up to relax. This will take a few hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. If you really like a yeasty dough then let it hang out in the fridge.

 meatless-monday-pizza-dough

After a while you will see your dough double, triple, or quadruple in size – so keep an eye on it! Punch it down when it starts to crawl out of the bowl. Do this twice. After the second beat-down, when the dough regains its strength and has risen again, it is ready to be formed.

Heat your oven to its hottest setting, 450-500 on convection, with a pizza stone or cast iron pan.
Generously flour your work surface and move some or all of your dough there.

Form the dough into a round lump. Starting from the middle, gently flatten and stretch the dough while rotating it to keep it round. Add flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Don’t beat yourself up if it looks more like a puzzle piece than a circle; it takes a bit of practice (it will still taste good!).

If you are using a pizza peel to shovel the pie onto your stone or pan, it is important to move the dough onto that before you start topping it, and make sure you have a healthy spattering of cornmeal between peel and dough. If you are hosting a party, have everyone put their dough on a piece of parchment paper before they start adding all of the goodies; this will make it a lot easier and cleaner to get them into the oven.

Spread on a bit of sauce and top with veggies, cheese, whatever you want! Since we’re talking Meatless Monday, some of my favorite veggie toppings are corn, olives and squash.

Throw the pizza into the oven and give it about five minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly. Depending on the size of the pie and how much deliciousness you have piled onto it, the cooking time will vary. Limiting toppings will help the pizza cook evenly and quickly. When it’s done make sure to let it cool a bit before digging in – we’ve all burned the roof of our mouth due to pizza impatience!

The best part is you don’t even need to tip! How’s that for Meatless Monday?!
Printer Friendly Recipe: Perfect Pizza Dough
More from Chef J: BBQ Beef Brisket, Hibiscus Margaritas, Ginger Citrus Grilled Scallops