Sunday, January 20

White Pizza. mmmm, mmmm good.

Pizza, in my opinion, is probably close to being a PERFECT food. I really love it, and a pizza done well can elicit moans. As a diabetic, I need to be careful with pizza, as it is one of those things that can get my blood sugar levels out of whack quickly. And as one who tries to adhere to the principles of Weight Watchers, pizza is one of those things that does not make it into my menu rotation often.

However, neither of those things can stop the craving.

The key for me is the crust. I am a thin crust kind of girl. I NEVER understood those people who didn't eat the end of their pizza crusts. I am always the girl asking those people, 'um, you're not going to eat those? Can I have them??' Deep down, it just seems WRONG to waste them. So, Friday night we decided to make pizza. Of the white variety. So simple and so tasty. Here is what you need:

Ready made whole wheat pizza dough. (usually found in the biscuit section)
Ricotta cheese- fat free, low fat or regular
Fresh Mozzarella
Shredded mozzarella- reduced fat
Fresh Basil, torn into pieces
Thinly sliced red onion
Crushed red chili
Olive oil
fresh basil and parmesean cheese for garnish.

Take your pizza dough and roll it out until it is VERY thin. You will need to flour the counter to keep it from sticking.

Put the rolled out dough on a baking sheet with baking paper, or even better, on a pizza stone.

Spread the ricotta evenly on the dough, kind of like cream cheese. drizzle a good quality olive oil on top. Add sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top. You don't need the whole bag. Tear up the fresh mozzarella and distribute it evenly. Follow with the basil, red onion and crushed chili:

Here's a close up:

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Slap in a HOT oven, around 225 celcius, on the bottom shelf. Let it bake for about 15 minutes. Just keep checking on it cause cooking times vary from oven to oven. Take it out when it is golden and bubbly:

Slice it and garnish it with fresh parmesean and basil:

Take a couple of slices and enjoy. This is one good pizza. Whether it's the lack of tomatoes and meat, I'm not sure, but it is brilliant in its simplicity:

Sunday, January 13

Embrochette. Not as fancy pants as the name sounds!

So, as we often do, we went to Sweden yesterday to shop for cheap meat. That always sounds funny to me. Being from Texas, which is HUGE, the thought of going to an entirely different COUNTRY to grocery shop doesn't even begin to register. Because of that, even though I have been countless times now, I ALWAYS get excited about going to SWEDEN for groceries.

Things are cheaper in Sweden and the Norwegian kroner has about 15 percent on it's Swedish counterpart, so not only do we get cheap meat, we get an additional 15 percent off thanks to the favorable exchange rate.
Sweden is cheaper because they are part of the European Union and Norway is not. So, as an example, where a kilo of lean ground beef runs about $30 in the kingdom of Norway, in Sweden the same thing runs about $10. You do the math.

Anyway, yesterday was the day for Sweden. We set out from downtown Oslo where it was cold and raining and by the time we got outside the city, it was full on SNOWING hard. The roads were horrible. We were sliding around and I was terrified. My husband took it all in stride assuring me time and again that he had full control, but miss Houston, Texas was not convinced. White knuckled, I tried to think happy thoughts that would take my mind off of the snowy nightmare unfolding on the highway in front of us. So, naturally, I thought of food.

So, while Christopher dealt with REALITY and bravely navigated the icy roads, I was daydreaming of being at Pappasito's in Houston. You could call Pappasito's highend Tex Mex, not really authentic, but certainly good. I love their beef fajitas and I LOVE, love their shrimp embrochette.

Embrochette. It sounds very french and fancy, but if you deconstruct it, it seems very simple. Shrimp. Cheese. Jalepenos. Bacon. That's it. I was thinking that I could make that, when my cooking fantasy was interrupted by our imminent arrival at the grocery store in Sweden.

We had friends come over last night, so I decided I would get all 'I have dreams of owning my own Tex Mex restaurant' on them, and I tackled the embrochette head on. It was suprisingly easy and the results coaxed 'oohs' and 'ahhhs' out of our guests. Here is what you need:

8 Large shrimp or scallops
8 to 16 small, thin squares of white cheddar
1 fresh jalepeno, deseeded and deribbed and cut into 16 thin strips
8 strips of THIN bacon.

I used scallops because that is what I had on hand, and I really LOVE scallops:

And here are the ingredients you need:

Grab a scallop and butterfly it like so:

Take 2 strips of jalepeno and cross them and put a piece or 2 of cheese over it:

Continue with all the scallops and wrap them each in a piece of bacon. Treat the bacon as you would a ribbon on a gift. Same concept and you don't have to use toothpicks this way:

Put them all in a pan on medium high heat and cook them on each side until the bacon is crispy and the cheese is melty:

Meanwhile I took a head of baby cabbage and sliced it into thin ribbons and tossed it with a light coating of Greek dressing. I also whipped up some pico de gallo and guacamole and fried some strips of corn tortilla for garnish. The end result was gorgeous:

My guests were impressed and it is easy to understand why. It truly is one of the most PERFECT flavor combinations. The heat from the deseeded jalepenos is mild. The smokiness of the bacon perfectly flavors the scallop and the cheese gets all melty and crusty in the pan. Every bite seems perfectly balanced in your mouth.

Simply divine.

Monday, January 7

There aint nothin' like Texas barbeque!

Happy New Year, y'all!

Thanks for all your emails inquiring to my whereabouts! I have been stateside for 2 weeks, got back to Norway and was struck down by a vicious flu bug. I am hardly myself, but getting strength back daily!!!! I have been DYING to update the blog for days now!

So, over the holidays, I was charged with the task of showing Texas to my husbands parents who came to Houston from Norway for a week of FUN!! Seeing as I am obsessed with food, I had quite the culinary list compiled. Actually, there were only 3 things that I knew they MUST have while in Texas:

1. Texas Barbeque
2. Authentic Tex-Mex
3. Whataburger

We'll get to numbers 2 and 3 later. Let me set the scene for you. We are driving on Highway 59 from Nacogdoches (the oldest town in Texas and birthplace of yours truly)and my sister and I are looking for a barbeque joint. There is no such thing as a barbeque 'restaurant', it needs to be a barbeque JOINT. Suddenly, we spied a trailer on the right side of the road and a sign that said 'Dee's Barbeque' and 'come right on in!!!'. I knew instantly that we had to go there.

It was one of those great East Texas days. Clear and chilly (mid 40's). Everything felt crisp. We stepped out of the car and the heady aroma of smoking meat was in the air. It was amazing. Excitedly, we all moved towards the double-wide. I was giddy as I just knew instinctivly that this was one of those joints that would be memorable and a real experience for my inlaws. I was not disappointed.

We walked in and were greeted by long tables covered in red and white checkered table cloths and a smiling gentleman who welcomed us with 'Hey Y'all! Welcome!' That turned out to be Ronnie of Dee's barbeque. He got quite excited when I told him I had people in there from Norway who had never had real barbeque before and he insisted that we sign his guestbook, saying 'I've never had anyone from Europe in here before!'. It was awesome!

Now, I'm a simple gal, and one of my most favorite things is a chopped beef sandwich, so of course we ordered those. Ronnie uses brisket for his chopped beef sandwich, and a good one is a thing of beauty. Soft white bread, slices of white onion, sour dill pickles, brisket and barbeque sauce. Such an amazing combination and Ronnie did not disappoint:

A true sign of a good piece of smoked brisket is the pink ring around the edges. The tell tale sign of proper smoking. This sandwich was PERFECT!

We also ordered a plate of mixed meat, which turned out to be brisket, sausage and ribs:

We had just eaten breakfast about 2 hours earlier, so we didn't order beans and potato salad, just the meat and big 'ol Dr. Peppers.

You don't get much more Texas than that!

So, if your ever driving down 59 and passing through Corrigan, Texas, be sure to stop at Dee's Barbeque, it's the kind of place you can smell in your hair hours after leaving: