Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spiced Lamb or Lox Pizza Made on the Grill

Making a grilled pizza is fast and delicious.  This one is dairy free.
How did a nice Jewish girl with roots in Iraq, India and China become an expert on grilling pizzas? Dianne Jacob did it by making every one of the more than 75 recipes repeatedly in Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas (DK Publishing), her cookbook on the topic with Chef Craig W. Priebe.

Jacob is a Mizrachi Jew whose family traces its lineage back to first Iraq and then India before settling in Shanghai.  Her parents immigrated to Canada after World War II.  She doesn't recall eating pizza before she was an adult.  Jacob, who lives in Oakland, also never did much grilling before working on the cookbook, but working on the cookbook made her a fan.

 “Grilled pizza isn't about being perfect; it is not about have the exact shape, it’s rustic,” she said.  “You don’t need a pizza stone or any special equipment.”

You also don’t need a grill.  You can make also make these pizzas on an indoor grill, grill pan or skillet. To do so, preheat until hot, brush with oil and cook until crust is golden brown.  You can also use commercially available dough or crusts or sturdy flat breads instead of homemade dough.

Turn the extra tomato sauce into a classic pizza by brushing the top of a grilled crust with 1 Tbs. olive, dusting with 1 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of the sauce and 1-2 cups of shredded cheese(s) of your choice.  Finish on the grill as directed below.

All recipes below adapted with permission from Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe with Dianne Jacob.  

The Millennium
Makes 1-12” pizza

1 grilled crust (see recipe)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. plus 1 Tbs. tahini
1 cup tomato sauce (see below)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
12 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
Spiced Lamb (see below)
1 Tbs. pomegranate molasses

Brush the grilled side of the crust with oil.  Drizzle 1 Tbs. of tahini and drop spoonfuls of tomato sauce on top.  Add onions, garlic olives, and Spiced Lamb.  Drizzle with remaining tahini and pomegranate molasses.  Cook as directed in Grilled Crust recipe.

Tomato Sauce:  Chop 1 small clove garlic and 8 large fresh basil leaves until fine.  Mix with 1 1/2 lbs. diced, cored tomatoes (or use 2-14.5 cans, drained). Mix in 2 Tbs. tomato paste, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp. sugar.  Stir well.  Add more tomato paste if watery.  Chill for an hour. Makes 2 cups.

Spiced Lamb: Brown 8 oz. ground lamb.  Stir in 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 1/4 tsp. ground allspice, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 minced garlic clove and 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Variation: Sprinkle on crumbled feta cheese to taste after you drizzle on the pomegranate molasses.

The Ballard Lox
Makes 1-12” pizza

1 grilled pizza crust (see recipe)
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 Tbs. grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Fontina
4 cups roughly chopped arugula
1 lemon, halved
6 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon
10 small cherry tomatoes, halved and seasoned with salt and pepper, optional
Freshly ground black pepper, optional

Brush grilled side of crust with 1 Tbs. of oil.  Sprinkle with Parmesan, mozzarella and Fontina cheese. 

Place remaining oil in large skillet, heat on high.  Add arugula and squeeze lemon over it.  Toss greens just long enough to wilt.  Immediately transfer to pizza in small clumps.  Roll salmon slices into small bundles and place atop arugula.  Cook as directed in Grilled Pizza Crust recipe. Garnish with tomatoes and black pepper.

Grilled Pizza Crust
Makes 2 Crusts

Basic Dough (see below)
Flour as needed
Cornmeal as needed

When dough is ready to use, punch down dough. Lightly flour work surface.  Flatten dough to about 1” thick. Cut in half with a knife. Put one piece in center of floured space. Sprinkle a little flour on top.  Roll out to a rough circle about 12” in diameter and 1/8” thick. Sprinkle with fine layer of flour. 

Flip a cookie sheet so bottom is up.  Sprinkle generously with cornmeal so dough with not stick.  Pick up crust with two hands and fold in half. Transfer to back of cookie sheet and unfold, stretching out again if needed.  Repeat with second crust (or refrigerate for up to 3 days).

Preheat charcoal or gas grill until medium heat or medium high (about 400 degrees) according to manufacturer’s directions.  Using tongs transfer crust from cookie sheet. If it folds over itself, quickly spread open.  The dough should take about 3 minutes to cook.  Bubbles should form on top.  Don’t check until dough begins to firm up.  Lift underside. It should be golden brown with grill marks.  Bits of char add flavor.

Using tongs and or spatula return crust to back of cookie sheet. Flip so grilled side is up.  Add toppings.  Shift grill to indirect heat. Slide pizza onto side without coals or flames.  Grill for about 5-8 minutes. Move pizza around grill if necessary. Slide pizza onto cutting board. Cut and serve immediately

Basic Dough: Add 1 packet dry yeast (2 1/4 tsps.) and 1/2 tsp. sugar to 3/4 cup warm water. Stir until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes) to make sure yeast is active.  Stir together 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. kosher salt and 2 Tbs. cornmeal in a large bowl. Mix in yeasted water and 2 Tbs. olive oil.  Mix well with a strong spoon.  Lightly flour a clean, dry work surface.  Form a ball of dough and knead for 8 minutes until smooth.  Add only enough flour to prevent it from sticking.  Add 1/4 tsp. olive oil in a medium bowl.  Place dough in bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in draft-free, warm place for 2 hours until it almost doubles in size.  Chill dough in bowl for 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator.
A version of this post first appeared in the j weekly.  October is National Pizza Month so celebrate with a homemade pizza!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake from Dairy Made Easy

My mini bundt cake version of the cake
I often get feedback on the recipes I share in my j weekly  newspaper column.  Lately people have been raving the most about this Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake recipe.  Irony is that it is not my recipe, but written by the authors of the cookbook I was reviewing.

It was one of the recipes I featured from a new cookbook called Dairy Made Easy: Triple Tested Recipes for Every Day by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek. The book offers contemporary dishes including soups, pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and desserts. It includes lots of helpful tips on cooking with cheese.

The recipe recommends a spring form or bundt pan, but I made my version in mini-bundt pans which was great for eating some now and freezing some for later.  Depending on the size of the mini bundt pans, the recipe will make 6-8 mini bundt cakes (each cake serves 2 or so folks). Baking time for the mini bundts is about 40-50 minutes.

For more on the cookbook, go to  To read my piece in the j with two additional recipes (for Roasted Vegetable Pasta and Pomegranate and Apple Salad with Creamy Parmesan), click here.

Recipe below from Dairy Made Easy by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek. Reprinted with permission from the copyright holders: ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications.

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake
Serves 12

1 cup sour cream (do not use vegan, low fat or fat free)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup    butter
1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
2              eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
10 oz.      chocolate chips
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10” inch tube or bundt pan. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and baking soda. Sour cream should bubble and expand. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and 1 cup sugar. Beat until light and creamy. Add eggs and extracts. Add baking powder and half the flour. Add sour cream mixture, then remaining flour. Beat until just combined. Do not overmix.

Combine chips, walnuts, cinnamon, and remaining sugar. Sprinkle some of the chocolate-nut mixture into the pan. Add half the batter over it, then half of the remaining chocolate-nut mixture. Add remaining batter. Top cake with remaining chocolate-nut mixture. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until top is firm and crispy. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
FYI: Since this was originally written for a mainstream media publication, the j weekly, no disclaimer is needed as per FTC regulations.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

How to Find my j. Weekly Columns and More (Including Playing Jewish Geography in the Produce Aisle)

For the last five years, I have had a regular Jewish cooking column every other week at the j weekly, a print and on line publication based in San Francisco and covering the Bay area and northern California.

It is a joy to work with my editors and the publication and I get a lot of opportunity to speak to Bay area groups about Jewish food, especially some of its international roots and traditions because of my connection to the j.  I also get to talk to and share recipes with some pretty amazing folks from home cooks to restaurant owners to cookbook authors as part of the research for my j. pieces.

I also get recognized a bit, usually in the supermarket and usually in the produce aisle.  Folks will stop me and we will play "I know I know you, I just don't know how" for a bit and then it will finally dawn on me that we really don't know each other and they have just seen the photo the j prints alongside my column (see photo at left.  The j uses a cropped version of it).

I'll ask if they subscribe to the j.  Then I'll ask if they read the recipes.  If they say yes but still don't have a clue, I'll ask if they ever cut out the recipe columns and hang on the fridge. Bingo. My face is staring down at them as they work in the kitchen and I've become so familiar it seems like I'm an old friend.  

An encounter like this makes my day, to say the least.

I do often get questions from non-subscribers (you really should subscribe, it's a great paper.  For a free four week subscription to the j, click here and be sure to let them know Faith sent you!) out-of-area readers and those who have misplaced their clipped out columns how to find my recipes and other writing on the j. website. 

The easiest way to find a relatively current column is to go to my author archive at the j at for the last five or six months worth.  If it's longer ago than that, check out the paper's cook archives at and select the appropriate year.  The archives also feature the work of my co-columnist Josie A. G. Shapiro, and the columnists that came before us.

One of the great resources the j (formerly the Jewish Bulletin) offers is the recipe index where you can search my and others' recipes by ingredient (use keyword sort), holiday (use category sort), etc. 

I am always reaching out to folks with ideas for columns and recipes (I especially like to feature locals with a foodie connection, long-time family recipes, or cuisine expertise but always with some sort of Jewish connection).  If you have an idea or question for me - leave a comment on this post or email me at clickblogappetit AT gmail DOT com.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Make a Cookie Sukkah for a Sweet Sukkot

My cookie sukkah!  Notice the hanging fruit.
There are some very specific rules for building a sukkah (hut) when celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which starts this Wednesday night. The sides and roof have to be built a certain way and the sky must be seen through the roof when you sit inside. The Cookie Sukkah below doesn't adhere to any of these rules and you definitely can’t eat in it, as is the Sukkot tradition, but you can actually sit down and eat the sukkah.

This family project can be a good discussion starter about Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths.  It commemorates the shelters ancestors built for protection during the Exodus and during harvests in Israel. It uses filled, rolled wafer cookies to build a log-cabin style sukkah. There are many brands and flavors of these cookies (several certified kosher). Cookie lengths vary, so adjust directions if needed to keep dimensions proportional. (I used Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes.) Buy extras since breakage (and snacking) is inevitable. When assembling, use enough frosting for the cookies to adhere but not so much as they slide off one another. Decorate with fruit-shaped candies. Use the sukkah for a centerpiece or eat it for dessert. Either way it will help make a sweet holiday.

If you don't want to use or can't get the rolled cookies, pretzel rods or hard bread sticks will also work, although you might have to fuss with the dimensions a bit.

It can be made up to 48 hours in advance and kept very loosely wrapped at room temperature. Try making a etrog and lulav (the traditional Sukkot symbols) out of marzipan tinted with food coloring. (Or use a Lemonhead candy for the etrog and springs of green herbs for the lulav.)

Cookie Sukkah
Inside sukkah

Makes 1 Sukkah

About 8 oz. 6” long, filled, rolled wafer cookies (you'll need at about 24 or so of the 6" cookies)
3/4-1 cup purchased white frosting
Assorted fruit-shaped candies, cereal and or fruit snacks

Have ready a flat tray, parchment or waxed paper, ruler, serrated bread knife, aluminum foil, needle, and thread.

Cover tray with parchment or wax paper. Set aside 18 of the 6” long cookies. Gently saw rest with serrated knife into 8-1” long pieces and 8-2”long pieces.

You will be building this "log cabin" style, using the frosting for glue.  If at any time the structure seems precarious, stop and let frosting set a bit or add in support while it dries.  (See Level 3.)

Building sukkah before roof

Level 1
Smear bottom of 1-6” long cookie with frosting. Press gently to adhere to tray 2 and 1/2" from the middle. This will be the back of the sukkah, side “A.” Frost bottom of 2-2” pieces. Press them down 5” from the first, with the outside ends of the short pieces lining up with the outside ends of the 6” cookie and parallel to side “A.” This will create the opening for the door.  This is side “B,” or the front of the sukkah.

Cover the bottom of 2-6” cookies with frosting. Lay them perpendicular to sides “A” and “B” log cabin style, allowing the ends to protrude 1/2" over “A” and “B.” Press gently to secure. This makes sides “C” and “D.”

Frost the bottom of 2-1” pieces. Press them down perpendicularly across the 2” pieces but parallel to sides “C” and “D” and indented 1/2" from the inside ends of the 2” pieces.

Level 2
Frost the bottom of 1-6” cookie and lay atop side “A.” Frost 2-2” pieces and lay perpendicular to the 1” pieces on side “B.” (So the 2” pieces are parallel to the “A” side.)  Press gently to secure. Cover the bottom of 2-6” cookies with frosting. Place on top sides “C” and “D.” Next, frost the bottom of 2-1” pieces. Lay perpendicular to “A” and B” across the 2” pieces as in level 1.

Level 3
Repeat Level 2 directions. If necessary, crumple up balls of foil to help support inside corners. (This is when I started needing the supports.)

Level 4
Detail of front construction

Repeat level 2 directions.

Level 5
Frost the bottom of 2-6” cookies. Place one atop side “A” and one atop side “B” (to create a door way header). Cover unused frosting.

Let structure sit for 1 hour. Remove foil supports. Frost back of candies and gently press on to inside and outside walls. If using soft candies such as gummies or fruit snacks, thread needle and poke through candy. Tie off ends to make 1” loops. Hang on the 4 remaining 6” cookies. Frost cookie bottoms. Place each about 1” apart across sukkah top parallel to sides “C” and “D” to make roof, with candy dangling down. Store at room temperature, loosely covered with parchment or waxed paper.