Sadly, on Valentine's Day this year, my brother suddenly passed away. He was 35 years old. It's been quite a shock to me and my family as we were all very close. We're dealing the best that can be expected it's certainly caused me to stock of my life. I am so grateful for the years we had together, especially the last ten, which have definitely been the highlight of our relationship. I'm so very very glad now that we were able to get together when my uncle was in town to have one last meal together. As I mentioned in that post, the goals in my life are to live, laugh and love...before I even knew what was ahead of me, I already considered one of the best nights I had had in years.
Last weekend, we had a friend over for dinner for a long overdue Sunday dinner. I decided to make homemade pizzas as I had seen a recipe in Bon Appetit for no knead pizza dough. Being a fan of the no knead bread from the NY Times, it seemed like a fun and easy way to get dinner on the table. I also anticipated a long meal since we hadn't seen our friend for three months (far too long a break in my opinion). It gave us a chance to chat and have some wine between each pizza "course." I accompanied our pizza with a Mediterranean chopped salad, care of America's Test Kitchen. I added red bell pepper only because I had forgotten to use it the week before (recipe at bottom).
|My lone egg on the pizza...no one else was adventurous enough, but it was dang good|
I did four different combinations: margerhita, three cheese of smoked fontina, parmesan, and gruyere, a prosciutto, potato and smoked fontina, and a caramelized onion base with bacon and gruyere, with an egg on top for my slice (pictured above). My only comment on the recipe is that I wouldn't follow the broiler cooking method unless your broiler runs on the cool side. The first three we did in that manner and while the bottom crust was cooked, thanks to a well pre-heated pizza stone, it wasn't browned. Using a 500 degree oven and adding about two minutes of cooking time provided us with the best all around crust. It was, of course, also our last pizza and the stone was nice and hot by then.
I know time heals all wounds and I will never stop missing my brother. However, I am comforted by the many memories we have together...especially of him enjoying my food, which he did often when I'd make ham or any kind of apple dessert! I'd also like to note that my new Blogger/Google picture is care of my brother, who took that picture of me and my homemade pickles last year on my birthday.
Mediterranean Chopped Salad
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/2 small minced red onion (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Ground black pepper
1. Combine cucumber, tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl and let stand 15 minutes.
2. Whisk oil, vinegar, and garlic together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber and tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, onion, and parsley; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.
3. Add romaine and feta; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.