Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pizza on the barbecue... oh yeah, baby!

I tried it out the other night.
I hadn't made it on the grill I got last summer. It has a different type of grill surface. The old one had basic wire racks. The new one has closer-set, wider strips.
I think the new one actually works better.
Plus there is a gauge on the outside of the grill to monitor the temperature.
Anyway, here is what I used:

Pizza dough (I get the pre-made stuff from Trader Joe's)
Sauce (I got a good basic marinara from TJs and added it to some sauteed garlic and fresh chopped basil.)
Cheese, grated or crumbled (I used grated fontina this time. I like the taste and meltability of it. Feta is good too for more tang.)
Various toppings (I used zucchini, white mushrooms, yellow pepper and chopped pancetta that I cooked off head of time.)
Misc: dried herbs, sea salt, flour, olive oil

And here is how I made the pizza:

I preheated the grill on medium setting.

I got my sauce all ready and kept it warming on the grill's side burner.

My veggie toppings were prepared by slicing them super thin. This way they can cook through on the grill in the short cooking time. I have done chunky toppings in the past, but I cook them a bit ahead of time.

I stretched the dough out to my desired size on a floured surface. I made it fairly thin this time. I have done a thicker crust before, but then you just get a pizza that is smaller in diameter. I also don't roll the dough. I just flour it and my hands and sort of stretch it into shape.

Next I brushed both sides of the dough with an olive oil to which I had added dried herbs and sea salt.

Once I had this done, I put the dough right on the grill and closed the lid. I cooked it until it was browned and a little crispy on one side, then I flipped it.

As soon as I flipped it I spooned the warmed sauce over the cooked side of the dough. Then I layered on cheese, pancetta and my assorted veggies. I had a little sauce and cheese left, so I added a little more. What the heck?

Then I just let it cook until the cheese was melted and the underside of the dough was as brown and crispy as I like it.

It was soooooooooo good. I can't believe I waited almost two years since my last grilled pizza.

Tonight I have the fixings to make another Italian feast. I will either make gnocchi or pasta. Whichever I choose will get a pesto cream sauce with mushrooms and prosciutto.

Buon appetito!

That Vincent Thomas is a nice looking bridge

I have this fascination with the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro.

I think this is one of the nicest looking bridges. I like the shape, the arc, the columns, the color... I just like this bridge. As far as bridges go, I think this is an underrated bridge.

Here is a straight shot of Vinnie (I feel I know the bridge well enough to be so familiar.) I got this shot off google images.

It's a nice bridge isn't it?
It's even better at night since they added some funky blue lights along top of the cables. It's deepened my infatuation with the bridge and I keep trying to take photos of it at night, as the car is moving.

I think I have a problem. I like this bridge too much.

But I did get this cool shot last week as I was driving westbound on the bridge away from Long Beach.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quick post about a not-so-quick card

This card was done for a Splitcoast swap on triangle fold cards. I don't do too many different folds, so I thought it would be fun to try it.

Plus it gave me a chance to use some paper I got on sale and one of my new Marvy Uchida scallop punches.

I won't go into a lot of detail about the products I used. That stuff is all pretty simple. I think the key is learning the fold.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Yummy dinner recap

I love to grill. I grill all year long, but now that it's getting warm, it becomes even more frequent.
It just gets too warm in the house to cook there and I am trying to limit the time I use the A/C.
I do a lot of simple things like fish and steaks and chicken breasts. All good stuff.
Usually for steaks I just use a little salt and pepper and garlic to season and grill that baby.
With fish or chicken I use a light marinade of olive or grapeseed oil with some lemon juice and dried herbs. I like grapeseed oil because it has a light flavor that is virtually undetectable, but provides the oil needed in a good marinade.
But on Monday I wanted to try something different.
I did some skewers of cherry tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms that I basted with an olive oil, vinegar and herb mix. Nothing too fancy or different there. Just tasty veggies.
I threw some pineapple quarters on the grill, no marinade. I just let the sugar in the fruit caramelize over the flames.
My carb was sourdough bread that I sliced thick and brushed with olive oil. I sprinkled on a touch of the Mediterranean dried herbs and some sea salt and grilled that, too.
Oh and I had white corn wrapped in foil with season salt and black pepper with a tiny bit of butter. Grilled those up, too.
But the truly great part of the meal was the protein. I decided to do a pork tenderloin.
I have only grilled a pork tenderloin once before. It came out nice, but I wanted to jazz up the flavor a bit.
My marinade consisted of:
--grapeseed oil
--ponzu sauce (a sort of lemony, soy sauce type thing. Most major markets have it in the ethnic food section.)
--soy sauce
--red chili paste
--brown mustard
--brown sugar

Of course I didn't measure any of it. With stuff like that, I just go by taste. Initially I had it all mixed without the mustard but thought it needed more zip.
Anyway, I whisked it all together then soaked the tenderloin for about 90 minutes.
I seared it over high heat to get all sides nice and browned. Then I lowered the heat and cooked it through to just done. It was fabulous.
The flavor was there, but not too strong.
I think I want to try that marinade on some flank steaks or even some chicken.
It was perfect with the pineapple.
But next time I grill, I might have to do pizzas. I have not done that since last summer and it sounds so tasty right now.
I'll let you know how they turn out.

Heavy petting

Get your minds out of the gutter now.

I was referring to George, my cat.

My big, fat, lovable, hateful, cuddly, bipolar, dog-like, couch-wrecking, sweet, funny, 23-pound cat.

We have an odd relationship, George and I.

I feed him, he abuses me.

I rough house with him, he cuddles up and purrs.

I really think he has multiple personalities.

About George:

He showed up at the front door one day about 7 years ago and made himself at home.

He's not fat, he's just big-boned. OK. He's fat. But he is also taller and longer than most cats.

He's afraid of loud music, especially classical music.

He's afraid of the tea-kettle whistle.

He's afraid of the throw rugs, but only in the kitchen.

He can open doors if they have handles instead of knobs.

He prefers dry food to wet food.

He also goes by the names Fatty, Jorge, Georgina, Georgelicious and Hey, You! Stop Biting Me!

He had surgery to remove a stone that developed in his bladder.

He has a strange fascination with my bedside lamps.

He loves to have his nose rubbed and makes a cute snorty noise when I do it.

He hates service people (cable guy, plumber, etc.)

He is a party cat, very social and flirty with the ladies.

He makes me laugh on a daily basis.

He infuriates and frustrates me on a daily basis. But I can't imagine not having him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

But these are the cute, cartoony rats...

So a couple weeks ago a colleague called me at home after my shift. There is a hole in the wall behind my desk that looks like it should be an electrical outlet, but instead is just an open hole with some insulation poking out.
Nice. Whatever.
But then he told me that he saw a RAT(!!!) poking it's head out of the hole.
The hole that is about a foot from my chair.
That was the only shift I worked that week, since I had taken some vacation and personal days to get rest and deal with my kitchen planning.
I asked if he could send a message to the admin for our department to see about getting the hole covered.
So I kind of forget about it until I get back to work a few days later. I was expecting to see the hole covered.
No. They put a couple sticky traps near it. One was to the side, the other was way under my desk.
Yay. I can just see this rat venturing from its home in the wall and skittering across my toes as I sit here late one night.
I asked the admin again about having the hole covered. In the meantime, I covered it with a manila folder and some thumb tacks. Sure to stop a hungry rat, huh?
More than two weeks later, the folder is still there, but one of the traps has disappeared.
My imagination has the rat dragging it back into the wall so it can have a good laugh with all its rat buddies.
Which brings me to the real reason for this post: "Ratatouille."
The cute movie from Disney/Pixar about a French rat that longs to be a chef in Paris.
I'm not a big one for seeing movies in the theater. Mostly because I hate paying 10 bucks to see some of the crap they put out these days.
But my man friend suggested we see this and, based on what a friend said and on things I had read about the movie, I was up for it.
Was it the best movie ever? No.
Was it worth the 10 bucks each to see it? Oh yeah.
The story was cute, not overly surprising. A coming-of-age tale of a young rat who struggles against society's prejudices to reach his goal.
Oh wait.
This IS a cartoon, right?
Yes, this is a cartoon. And a very enjoyable one, even for adults. It does not rely too heavily on double entendres for laughs. It is just a nice story, with amazing animation and some disturbing scenes of rat infestations.
And there was something for everyone: a car chase, a villain, a love story... (no, not rat love.)
There were adults, teens and kids in the theater when I went and all seemed to have a great time with this movie.
And as a bonus, there was an animated short film before the movie called "Lifted."
All in all, $10 well spent.