Tag Archives: arugula

Flavors from Afar & FM 1410

If you’ve been keeping up with my artizone  posts, the site will launch next month!  Which means, you have only about two more weeks until you’ll be able to have the best artisan products in the city delivered to your front door.  This week I am featuring Flavors from Afar and FM 1410 — two well known names in Dallas.

At Flavors from Afar, the adventuresome duo Nancy and Gary  carries the best  artisan products imported from Italy.  You are able to taste a little part of Italy through the culinary gems that Flavors from Afar has to offer — like the fragrant olive oils of Tuscany or the bold and fruity balsamic vinegars from Modena. Flavors From Afar offers products that makes entertaining elegant and simple — as the Italians would say: Buon Appetito!!

The top chefs of Dallas know Tom well for his fresh herbs and produce.  With a beautiful garden tucked away in the middle of downtown, the treasures from Tom’s garden will redefine anyone’s definition of “fresh”. At FM 1410 it truly is a farm to table experience — full of flavor, life and most importantly, love. 

With the combination of these artisan powers I created these wonderful mini pizzettes — Bacon & Caramelized Onion with Arugula, Basil and Almond Pesto with Red Pepper and Thyme Lobster Mushroom drizzled with Balsamic.  These pizzettes would make a great appetizer or a wonderful afternoon snack.  Not to mention they are also quite healthy (except for the bacon..O_o) and dairy-free!

Ingredients for Mini Pizzettes: (serves 8-10)

  • 12 ounces pizza dough (You can find my pizza dough recipe here or buy storebought dough)

Preheat the oven to 475 F.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 1/4-inch-thick round.  Using a 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out 30 dough circles.  Arrange the circles on 2 large heavy baking sheets (make sure you put semolina on the bottom of the pan to keep the dough from sticking).

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups Basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup high quality Olive Oil (I used Ariston from Flavors from Afar)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Process the garlic, basil and almonds in a food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are thoroughly chopped, scrapping down the sides as neccessary.  While running the processor, slowly pour in the 1/2 cup olive oil until it reaches the right consistency, you can add more olive oil as needed.  Set aside.


Thyme Lobster Mushroom

  • 8 oz Lobster Mushroom, thinly sliced (you can find these at FM 1410)
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 oz Madeira or a sweet cooking wine
  • 2 oz fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 oz high quality Balsamic vinegar (you can find these at Flavors from Afar)
  • salt pepper to taste

Heat a large saucepan on medium high heat and melt the butter til it’s bubbling.  Add in the garlic, shallot and sliced mushrooms and sautee until softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the wine and thyme and cook until liquid is soaked up, taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Carmelized Onion & Bacon

  • 6 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh arugula
  • salt pepper to taste

Heat a large pan on medium high heat add the bacon and cook for 1 minute.  Add the sliced onions and reduce heat to medium.  Caramelize the onions with the bacon, about 8 minutes.   Add the honey and apple cider vinegar and cook until liquid is reduced, add salt pepper to taste.  Set aside

To assemble pizzas

Using the three toppings you’ve made, place them on the pizza dough rounds (about 1 tsp for each).  Bake until the pizzettes are golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Drizzle the pizzettes with olive oil.  For the Bacon Onion and Arugula, simply add some fresh arugula on top and serve.  For the Thyme Lobster Mushroom, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and serve.  For the Basil Almond Pesto, add the sliced red pepper and fresh basil leaves for garnish and serve. 

Warm Medjool Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese served with a Strawberry Cucumber Salsa

It is crazy how fast time is flying by this year, in a blink of an eye February is already half way gone.  In a month I will be flying to Shanghai with Collin, where he will meet my grandmother for the very first time.

My mother has been sending her photos of us which my grandmother keeps next to her chair so she is able to look through them everyday.  As much as I’d like to see my grandmother every year, it has been over 5 years since I’ve last seen her.  Since living in America I have only visited twice and seen her a total of three times.

She is the only grandparent I have left, being 92 this will probably be one of the last times I see her.  It makes me sad that I was never able to spend as much time with my grandparents as I would’ve liked.  Though I know all of them loved me dearly, a big part of me feels guilty because I was never able to return the favor.  I try to send cards, art projects and pictures whenever possible but a lot of times I feel it’s just not enough.

I attribute my constant happy attitude to the overwhelming amount of love that I received when I lived in China.  My parents would tell me all my grandparents would almost argue over who would hold me next, and being the youngest one of the family it was natural for everyone to spoil fat little round me.  Yet I don’t remember any of it.

Now that I’m older, and with only one grandparent remaining, I’ve come to realize that this trip will probably be the most important one of my life.  I left when I was a 2 year old baby and this time I am coming back as a young adult.  I have so many questions that I want to ask my grandmother, about our family history, about the life lessons she’s learned, and perhaps any embarrassing stories about my mother that I later can pull out and chuckle at her about. 🙂

But most importantly I want to give my grandmother a good impression, to show her that I am confident in myself and my abilities as well as introducing her to the love of my life.  She has adored Collin since the first day she laid eyes on his picture, telling my mom that “He is a Hollywood movie star.”  I’ve been racking my brain as to what I should buy her from here that she could enjoy in China, but nothing seems good enough.  What could a 92 year old woman need?

So with one month remaining before the big trip, I am beginning to freak out a little bit.  It starts with the little things, like not being 100 lbs like all the other girls in Shanghai to bigger things like What can I do to express all of my gratitude and love to my grandmother?  Especially with my mother not coming with us, I even question the level of my Chinese.  What if my Chinese is so shoddy that they can’t understand me?

I push these pestering questions to the back of my head and try not to worry about things that I am unable to control or simply just too minuscule to matter.  I should just concentrate on the present.

And presently I am enjoying eating healthy this year.  My meat consumption has been cut down tremendously, however because I have a pretty active workout regimen at times I feel myself getting tired.  Do any vegetarians out there have any tips as to what good foods will provide energy and give me the protein my body needs after an intense workout?

I found this salad to be pretty satisfying, I love the combination of sweet and savory so this was the perfect combination for me.  I found these beautiful Medjool dates at a local Mediterranean market and found an interesting recipe the other week in Nancy Oakes’ Boulevard cookbook.  Warm Medjool Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese, the title itself made my mouth water.

I made the dates by her recipe and made the salsa and salad on my own.  If you’re interested in obtaining the original recipe just shoot me an e-mail and I can send it to you.  I thought the strawberries meshed well with the dates while the cucumbers and pecans added a nice crunch.  I brightened the salsa with some fresh lemon juice that paired well with the goat cheese.  Though a peculiar combination, the flavors were quite delightful 🙂

For my greens I chose Mesclun, Spinach and Arugula, all are pretty mild in flavor except for Arugula, which packs a peppery earthy kick that I really enjoy.

To toast the pecans, preheat the oven to 350F.  Put the pecans in a small baking pan and toast for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly browned.  Remove from the oven and place in a bowl, set aside.

Ingredients for Warm Medjool Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese:

(serves 2)

  • 8 Medjool Dates
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 cup Mesclun
  • 1 cup Arugula
  • 1 cup Spinach

From Boulevard:

For the Dates – Make a lengthwise slit in each date and pull out the pit.  Roughly divide the goat  cheese into 12 pieces, stuff into the dates, and press them closed.  Place, seam side down, on a small sheet pan or baking pan.  Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.  Just before serving, heat the dates in a 350F oven for 1 to 2 minutes, or until warm.  (I placed mine in for 7 minutes until the goat cheese was browned)

Ingredients for Strawberry Cucumber Salsa:

  • 4 strawberries, husked and small diced
  • 1/8 cup celery, small diced
  • 1/8 cup cucumber, small diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and taste with salt.  Set aside until ready to serve.

To serve the salad, toss the mixed greens in a little lemon juice if desired, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in a mound on a plate and place the salsa ontop.  Place 4 warm dates on each plate and serve immediately.

Starting from this post, I will be listing the price per serving of each meal I make.  This wonderful idea actually came from my friend Karen, who is a tax analyst by the way (this made me chuckle) and I thought it was a great way to not only show people how inexpensive it can be eat well but it can finally convince all my friends that cooking at home is SO MUCH CHEAPER than eating out all the time (and much more cleaner might I add)!

Price of items:

  • 4 strawberries – $1.00
  • 1/4 cup pecans – $0.75
  • 1 celery stalk – $0.15
  • 1/4 cucumber – $0.25
  • 8 medjool dates – $1.50
  • 2 ounces goat cheese – $2.00
  • 3 cups Mixed Greens – $1.10

Cost per Serving: $3.38

WOW!!! In the words of Borat “VERRRY NIIICE, I LIIIKE” Thank you Karen for the fabulous idea.  I think this way I am actually able to show readers and friends how inexpensive it is to cook at home as well as eating healthy. My biggest tip would be to look through your local grocery ads to see what produce is on sale and in season, that way you get optimal quality ingredients at a good price.

I will be heading off to Houston this weekend to visit my parents as well as to pick up our visas for China (yipee!!).  Hope everyone has a great week and I’ll be back on Monday hopefully with fun food adventures in Houston.

Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza in Two Ways

What makes a good pizza?  Some say the sauce, others say the cheeses, I say…THE CRUST.  At work we’ve just started serving gourmet pizzas as a lunch item and I found Woflgang Puck’s  recipe to be absolutely phenomonal — It’s crispy, it’s chewy, with just a touch of honey…it would go great with any toppings you choose.  The toppings I chose were not your usual pepperoni or supreme, I picked some “unique” ingredients to say the least haha but I ask you to keep an open mind 🙂  You can make any combination you want, I think that’s what makes pizzas fun to make.  Be creative and see what you can come up with!

My first combination was shaved Brussel Sprouts with Porcini Musrooms and Red Onion topped with Parmeasan Romano cheeses drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar.  I kept the cheeses at a minimal to keep it low in calories and made sure to slice my vegetables very thin so they can quickly roast in the oven when the pizza is baking.  My second combination was Rosemary Potato topped with Roasted Pine Nuts and Fresh Arugula drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Both pizzas are very light, you can add more cheese if you prefer — mozarella works really well with both combos. 

Ingredients for Woflgang’s All-Purpose Pizza Dough:

(Makes 4 small (8-inch) pizzas or 2 large (14 inch) pizzas)

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105F to 115F)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bread bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.  Add the honey and stir together.  Let sit 2 or 3 minutes, or until the water is cloudy.  Stir in the olive oil.

Using a stand mixer: Combine the flour and salt and add it to the yeast mixture all at once. Mix it together using the paddle attachment, then change to the dough hook.  Knead at low speed for 2 minutes, then turn up to medium speed and knead until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. Hold onto the machine if it bounces around.  Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for 2 or 3 minutes longer . The dough should be smooth and elastic.  When you press with your finger it should slowly spring back, and it should not feel tacky.

Kneading the dough by hand: Mix together the yeast, honey, water, and olive oil as directed in a medium-sized or large bowl.  Combine the flour and salt.  Fold the flour in a cup at a time using a large wooden spoon.  As soon as you can scrape the dough out in one piece, scrape it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes (you can leave it for up to an hour).  When it is read the dough will stretch as it is gently pulled.

Divide the dough into two to four equal balls, depending on how large you want your pizzas to be.  Shape each ball by gently pulling down on the sides of the dough and tcuking each pull under the bottom of the ball, working round and round the ball 4 or 5 times.  Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball around with your palm until it feels smooth and firm, about 1 minute.  Put the balls on a tray or platter, cover them with pan sprayed plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave them to rest for at least 30 minutes.  At this point, the dough balls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.  You will need to punch them down again when you are ready to roll out the pizzas.

Preheat the oven to 500F.  Place a pizza stone in the oven to heat.  In the meantime press out the dough.  Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface.  While turning the dough, press down its center wit hthe heel of your hand, gradually spreading it out to a circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter for small cricles, 12 to 14 for larger pizzas.  Alternatively, use a rolling pin to get an even circle.  With your fingers, for ma slightly thicker raised rim around the edge of the circle.  Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then top the pizza as you like.  You can transfer the pizza to a lightly oiled pizza pan if you like, or you can bake it directly on the stone.

Depending on your taste, spread the dough with marinara sauce or pesto sauce (about 2 tablespoons for small pizzas, 1/4 to 1/3 cup for larger ones).  If you dont have sauce, a can of tomatoes, drained, chopped, and seased with salt and chopped sauteed garlic, will do.  Top with shredded or grated cheese of your choice .  Add thinly sliced vegetables such as Roma, tomatoes, pitted olives, red peppers, or red onions, sauteed sliced vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, or artichoke hearts.

Ingredients for Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Porcini Mushroom Pizza:

(makes 2 x 8″ pizzas or 1 x 14″ pizza)

  • 2 tablespoons spaghetti sauce or wolfgang puck sauce
  •  3 brussel sprouts, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup porcini mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/8 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon grated romano
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Take your pizza dough and roll it out to two 8″ circles — roll the dough as thin as you can without ripping it.  Using a ladle or spoon, spread the tomato sauce all over your dough leaving an inch around the edges for the crust.  Lay the mushrooms down first then the onions, top with the shaved brussel sprouts and minced garlic.  If you do not have a pizza stone, you can use a regular baking pan. 

 Bake at 500F as previously instructed for 8-10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and crisp.  Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cut into squares or triangles and serve immediately.

For the Rosemary Potato Pizza I usually add goat cheese, but I was unable to find what I was looking for at the store I went to last night.  It really pairs well with the pine nuts and rosemary.  I also added some vegetarian sausage, it wasn’t great so I would recommend you guys leaving it off.  Did anyone notice that both combinations were vegetarian? 

Ingredients for Rosemary Potato Pizza with Roasted Pinenuts and Arugula:

  • 1/2 medium red skinned potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1 stem rosemary, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pinenuts
  • 1 cup arugula, picked and rinsed
  • salt pepper to taste

Take your pizza dough and roll it out to two 8″ circles — roll the dough as thin as you can without ripping it.  Using a ladle or spoon, spread the tomato sauce all over your dough leaving an inch around the edges for the crust. Lay down the potatoes first and then the goat cheese.  Sprinkle with rosemary and place in the oven at 500 F.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crust is golden and crispy. 

Remove from oven and top with toasted pinenuts and fresh arugula and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Taste with salt and pepper.  You can sprinkle Parmeasan and Romano cheese ontop as well.  Cut into squares or triangles and serve immediately.