Pizza Napoletana (The Real Deal)

Several weeks ago, I posted a pizza crust recipe and vented my frustration at my inability to get the flavor and texture of a real pizzeria product. Then I researched the subject. I went online and researched a series of YouTube videos by Neapolitan pizzaioli (this one’s also good) and watched documentaries on the history and craft of pizza-making. And I finally made it work.

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Planet Burgers

Even a meat-lover should take a break every now and then to enjoy the goodness that beans and grains can bring to the dinner table. We found this divine veggie-burger recipe on Food.com, posted by Sharon123. She noted that the recipe was “recreated from the Good Earth restaurant in Cupertino, California, by Diana McAnulty’s search for a veggie burger her kids would devour. Adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine.” I present it for you here, with my suggested adjustments and notes on my own experience preparing it.

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Focaccia alla Genovese

Focaccia is one of the world’s great breads, a culinary calling card of the coastal region of Liguria in northwestern Italy and its capital, Genoa. The name comes from the ancient Latin word focus (meaning “hearth”), and the recipe may even have originated with the ancient Etruscans. Today, focaccia takes many forms; but the classic recipe is a dimpled, relatively flat bread, ideally soaked with olive oil and topped with various herbs and other ingredients. Among the most popular are fresh rosemary and garlic, which I have used here. For this recipe, I’ve combed the web and studied several Italian-language videos on the subject so that you don’t have to. Enjoy!

Your focaccia should look better than this (better lighting, darker crust, etc.)
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Acapulco

When I decided to start experimenting with the wonders of cocktails with egg whites, this was where I started. I got this recipe from my favorite cocktail book: Mittie Hellmich’s Ultimate Bar Book.

The egg white is optional. Chemically speaking, any malignant bacteria in the egg is neutralized by the acidic citrus juice and alcohol. I tried it and experienced no ill effects. The drink acquired a luxurious foamy head and a thick, rich consistency. For a mixed drink, it’s really not necessary to use a barrel-aged rum like the Mauritius rum I used here. But it was what I had. And wow — was it amazing!

Make your own simple syrup by warming equal parts sugar and water over the stove until the sugar dissolves. You can make as much as you want and keep it in a container in the refrigerator almost indefinitely.

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Venus

When raspberry season began in Serbia in 2020, I decided to indulge. This lovely martini is just fine without the raspberries; when I first mixed it, it turned out a beautiful icy pink from the few drops of Peychaud’s bitters. With the addition of a few raspberries three days later, it became a rich blood-red. But the drink remained crisp and dry. I got this recipe from Mittie Hellmich’s Ultimate Bar Book.

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Crêpes

This is one of the more elegant creations in the culinary canon. The batter is the essence of simplicity; the preparation takes calibration and practice and the right equipment. But after a little work, I’ve reached the point where I can whip up a short stack of crêpes in about 10-15 minutes, and my son now asks for them every weekend.

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Scones

There are two different kinds of scones in the world, as far as I’m concerned. There is the dry, crumbly hockey puck that requires a topping of lemon curd and clotted cream in order to be marginally palatable… and there is this.

The best scones are made by combining heavy cream and lots of sweet-cream butter — frozen and shredded into bits — together with pastry flour, a bit of salt, and some sugar — but not too much. The dough must be just moistened, and kneaded only the slightest bit. You will be sure it is falling apart into crumbles. But then bake it in a hot oven, and the butter melts. Its moisture bursts into bits of steam, and the scones expand. The result is a flaky, moist scone with a slightly crispy exterior. It must be eaten soon after baking, ideally while still warm from the oven.

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A Seafood Feast in Taipei

In the fall of 2014, I was studying Chinese in Taipei. I lived in an apartment building about 40 minutes’ drive from my school. Getting to school every morning required taking a winding two-lane road up the side of a forested mountain. In those first couple of months when we didn’t have our own cars, a couple of my classmates and I decided to hail taxis every day. The 8-mile ride to school cost less than $15, which was a reasonable option when divided among three passengers. On the third week of class, we found a driver who enjoyed our company so much that he offered to be our regular driver.

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Pancakes

Buttermilk pancakes are a classic American staple. And they are among the easiest dishes to prepare. But I don’t often have buttermilk in my kitchen. Fortunately, I often have yogurt on hand. This recipe is a fantastic way to use it. The reaction of the thick, acidic yogurt with baking powder and baking soda results in thick, puffy pancakes, just like the classic buttermilk recipe. I’ve never tasted better. You can make this plain, or add fruits to the batter. In my photo here, I’ve added a half cup of frozen blueberries to the batter just before frying.

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