Foothill gourmet: Terrific tips

By From page B2 | November 12, 2012

In my opinion, I can never have too many cooking or organizing tips. In today’s column, the tips come first. One of them might strike your fancy, plus save you time. Following the hints is a delicious recipe for a pizza blanca recipe. Pizza Blanca is a pizza that uses a white sauce instead of a red sauce.




To corral an unwieldy pile of plastic bags, an empty paper towel roll makes a great hideaway.

Forgot to leave your butter out for your morning toast; use a vegetable peeler to cut a thin ribbon that’s easy to spread.

While the toaster/counter top oven is on, place plates on top of the toaster oven. The radiating heat warms them up and delivers food items to the table hot.

Save empty butter wrappers in a zipper-lock bag in the freezer. When the recipe calls for a greased pan, use a wrapper or two to grease cake pans or cookie sheets.

Use a salad spinner to spin away the moisture in grated potatoes. Grate the potatoes directly into the basket of the salad spinner, then place basket in spinner and spin away the moisture.

Use wax or parchment paper to roll out cookie dough. Sprinkle water on a clean surface and lay a sheet of wax or parchment paper on top. The water will cling to the paper and hold it in place, creating a stick-free surface for the dough. Place the dough on the paper. Cover dough with a second sheet of paper. Roll out the dough and cut cookies. Toss paper for a quick cleanup.

To make panini sandwiches without a panini press: Set a large, seasoned, oiled cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place assembled sandwich in skillet. Place a smaller cast-iron skillet or other heavy pot, on top of sandwich to press. Cook until the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown, then flip and repeat the process on the other side.

For variety, pizza can be served without a red pizza sauce. If you want to make a meat pizza without pizza sauce, brush the top of the dough with olive oil first. Then place the meat and other toppings on the pizza. The olive oil provides a moisture barrier for the dough.

A finished plate is pleasing to the eye if it contains different colors, different textures and different flavors. Visualize a combination of poached chicken breast with a white sauce, mashed potatoes, and steamed cauliflower. Too much white and not visually appealing. A chicken breast on a bed of greens with a roasted red pepper sauce is more pleasing to the eye. Keep it simple and use common sense. A plate that is too elaborate is just as bad as one that is bland.

Some other plate guidelines: Keep food off the rim of the plate, the food is then more eye appealing. Adding a garnish creates color and balance. Let the attractiveness of the food show through the garnish; the garnish should accent the entrée not hide it.

Always follow this last rule, never place a garnish on the plate that is inedible. Enjoy a fabulous New Year.

Try this recipe for a tasty cheese topping instead of red pizza sauce.

Pizza blanca: Mix in a processor for about 1 minute stopping to scrape down the sides: 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 shallot, 4 large cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper. You can make this sauce up to five days ahead. Cover and refrigerated. Spread sauce on crust sprinkle with up to 1 pound fontina or grueyere cheese. Bake until edges of pizza are lightly browned.

Enjoy the tips and the pizza blanca recipe.

Donna Brown

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