Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Today, a rare glimpse inside the mind of DUN, DUN, DUN…A tomato hater.
For the record: please state your name, relation to the interviewer, and how long you have hated tomatoes.
My name is Michael, I am husband to the author of the website sarcasticcooking.com, and I’ve hated tomatoes in most contexts as long as I can remember.
What is it about a tomato that you dislike?
I would have to say their “tomatoeyness.”  Some tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes, are extremely tomatoey, and nearly intolerably so.
What do you mean by “too tomatoey”?
Do you know the flavor of the juice inside a tomato? If you take a whole tomato of any kind and bite into it, the texture and flavor of the seeds and juice inside the tomato, after the skin is broken, is the flavor I describe as tomatoey.  It’s terrible.
Not only that flavor, but the juice inside of a tomato, that slimy and gooey texture, makes me squirm. 

Are there any kinds of tomatoes you do like?
I can handle a sliced tomato, because those tend to have most of their “tomatoeyness” removed in the process.  Actually, a sliced tomato can be a really refreshing topping on a sandwich, provided it isn’t too tomatoey.  I also love salsas and pico de gallo, so I don’t mind tomatoes in small amounts.  But, when they’re whole and in their natural form, juices and all, I can’t handle.
I also get chills anytime I look at a bloody mary.  I guess that’s usually a love it or hate it kind of thing, but I am clearly on the “hate it” side of the tomato juice debate.
Why do you think your wife keeps trying to force you to eat tomatoes and tomato products?
She’s very determined and she loves a challenge. I mean, she could make me buffalo wings and pepperoni pizza every day the rest of my life and keep me happy, but where is the challenge in that?  It’s like playing John Madden football on “rookie.”  You can run the same play 30 times in a row and win 70-0. I’m that easy when it comes to food but not necessarily very fun to cook for [play against].
Moreso, though, she has an unhealthy obsession with tomatoes, and loves to watch me squirm before a meal.
Does the thought of eating a pizza with only tomatoes on it scare you?
Scared, confused, angry (why can’t we just have Lou’s?), I’m not sure I know exactly how I feel, but it does look beautiful, and I will give it a shot because she won’t let me eat any of our prosciutto otherwise.

Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
2lb of Mini Heirloom Tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic, grated
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Pepper
1 Tablespoon of olive Oil
1 Teaspoon of Balsamic Vinegar
Flour for the Rolling Surface
1 Tablespoon of Corn Meal
Let the pizza dough sit at room temperature for twenty minutes before you try to roll it out.
In the meantime, slice all of the mini heirloom tomatoes in half. Add them to a bowl with the garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix and let marinate while the pizza dough comes up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle flour on top of your work area. Roll the dough into a ball and place it in the center of the floured work area. Roll the dough out until it is about 12” or more.
Sprinkle the pizza stone or pizza pan with the corm meal and a light drizzle of olive oil. Place the pizza dough on the pan. Pinch and curl the edges of the pizza up to make a crust.
Place the heirloom tomatoes on the pizza, alternating cut-side up and cut-side down. Keep going in circles until you reach the center.
Brush a little of that marinade from the tomatoes on the crust of the pizza.
Bake the pizza for 15 minutes.
For a crispier pizza, after the 15 minutes, turn the broiler on high for 5 minutes. Keep the oven door cracked to make sure the crust doesn’t burn.
Top the pizza with some fresh basil leaves, salty slices of prosciutto, and slivers of parmesan cheese.
True or False: Those are your bite marks in the pizza.
True…I was coerced.
Did you like this pizza?
Much better than I feared it would be. A success for tomato haters and lovers alike.
There you have it folks! A tomato hater becomes a kind of tomato-liker…

Kiwi Lime Tilapia Ceviche

Everyday life is boring and dull sometimes. Here is the typical Friday of the average worker bee:
Wake restlessly after pressing the snooze button at least two times.
Roll out of bed. Shower.
Coffee. Skip breakfast.
Traffic. Annoying morning radio DJ talk.
Arrive at work.
Dick around on the computer for at least an hour.
Work tirelessly until lunch.
Lunch. Sigh of relief.
Back to the grind. Semi-snoozing the afternoon away at your desk.
Maybe nobody will notice if you sneak out early.
Boss catches you last minute and asks for some dumb project within the last hour of work.
As you curse your life, you think, “God, I need a vacation!”
Run as if you are being chased by a serial killer to your car. Drive home. Slowed down by traffic.
Get home….Sigh. Take off your work clothes immediately.
Eat dinner and forget the troubles of the day.
Seriously. This is it for most of us. That is why I love food. On those days where you think you need a break or need a vacation, food has the ability to comfort you or take you miles away to a tropical island of serenity and crystal clear waters.
When I am going through one of those days, I let my thoughts meander back to my honeymoon with my husband, inCabo San Lucas,Mexico.
It was my heaven. The food. The weather. I loved it all.
My favorite memory was sitting at an umbrella covered table sipping margaritas all day at this ocean-front restaurant called The Office.
I remember the freshness of the seafood, the cold crisp taste of lime in the margarita, I remember the feel of my feet in the sand, and I remember looking around at all the people with huge smiles on their faces. Not a care in the world. Maybe that’s why everything tasted so good, who knows.
The most beautiful thing they served at the Office was the ceviche. Say it with me: SUH-VEE-CHAY. Good! Basically, when you make ceviche, you are “cooking” fish in the acidity of the fruit or vinegar. The acidity breaks down and denatures the fish, mimicking what happens during the normal cooking process. (There is your Bill Nye the Science Guy lesson for the day).
Back to Mexico…The ceviche was a combination of octopus, tilapia, and crab in lime juice with a little cilantro on top. It came out in a huge margarita glass. It was so simple and still so beautiful and complex.
On days where I want to go back to Mexico, but I can’t, I bring Mexico to my house. Ceviche is so easy to make. Take your favorite fresh fish, add your favorite citrus, a dash of salt and pepper, let it sit for at least an hour, and POOF! A vacation in your mouth!
2 Tilapia Filets
Juice of 2 Limes
1 Kiwi, peeled
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Pepper
1 Teaspoon of Fresh Cilantro
1 Shallot, finely minced
1 Serrano Pepper, seeded and finely minced
Cut the tilapia into small ½ inch cubes.
Peel the kiwi. Slice off the flesh surrounding the seeds. If you get a few kiwi seeds in the slice, it’s ok.
Add the kiwi, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro to a food processor. Blend until completely liquefied.
Add the tilapia to a small bowl, pour the marinade on top of the tilapia, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Mix the finely minced serrano pepper, the finely minced shallot, together in a small bowl with a little bit of chopped cilatro and salt and pepper.
Top the ceviche with a little of the pepper and shallot mixture to cut the sweetness.
Serve with endive, butter lettuce, romaine lettuce, or even a nice fresh ‘slaw. You can eat this solo or in a taco if that scares you too much.
Well, if you need me…I won’t be here, because I am in Mexico.

I hope you will join me!

Buffalo Chicken Bites Three Ways

When talking over the upcoming recipes and food ideas to be featured on the blog with my husband, I brought up this recipe. Here is how the conversation went down:
“So, Wednesday is Polish Pork Chops. I don’t know why they are called Polish. Do you?” I asked. “Am I missing something?”
Silence – Husband
“Then Thursday…I don’t know what to call these. They are like boneless buffalo chi…” I started to say.
“Stop! You had me at buffalo.” He said.
Here is how the conversation went down in my husband’s head:
“Woahmp wahmp wahmp. Mwahh waah blah blah?”
(Internal monologue: I wonder how my fantasy basketball team is doing tonight? Did I put deodorant on today?”
“Hmmm… Blah blah buffalo blah.”
(Internal monologue: I wonder if she is going to make me eat a salad again. Wait! Did she just say buffalo?)
My husband seriously wants to eat like everyday is a super bowl party. He could live off buffalo anything, pizza, wings, chips, salsa, and dips. For real.
The sad thing (but awesome for him) is he gains no weight!
I’m just waiting until the day his metabolism slows down. Then these vegetables and salads won’t look so bad!

Ingredients for Chicken Bites
2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into small bite size pieces
1 Tablespoon of Taco Seasoning
¼ Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon of Salt
½ Teaspoon of Pepper
1 Cup Low-fat Cultured Buttermilk
1 Egg, beaten
2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch
Vegetable Oil, for frying


Ingredients for Honey Chipotle Lime Sauce
1/3 Cup of Lime Juice
¼ Cup of Honey
1 Tablespoon of Chipotle in Adobo*
½ Tablespoon of Unsalted Butter
*Place the entire can of chipotle peppers in a food processor. Process until the chipotle peppers have become a paste.
Ingredients for Parmesan Garlic Sauce
½ Cup of Buttermilk
½ Cup of Grated Parmesan
1 Teaspoon of Grated Garlic
¼ Teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
½ Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
½ Tablespoon of Unsalted Butter
Before you say, “There are only two sauces above Stefanie! What the heck!” The third sauce is just whatever buffalo sauce you like plus a ½ tablespoon of unsalted butter. I used Frank’s Buffalo sauce. It is my favorite.
I also kept in mind some of our gluten-free friends, and grilled some chicken breast bites instead of breading and frying them.
FYI This is a great Super Bowl party recipe and also a great recipe for fried chicken breading. It is so good that you can eat the bites without any sauce on them. But, where is the fun in that?!?!
Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Place them in a large dish so they are in one single layer.
Combine the taco seasoning, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; whisk to mix. Season the chicken breast pieces, cover dish with plastic wrap, and then place them in the fridge and store overnight.
Let the seasoned chicken sit out at room temperature for at least an hour before you start frying it.
In a large bowl whisk the egg and buttermilk together. In another large bowl, combine the flour and corn starch using a whisk.
Working with one piece at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk/egg mixture then, let some of the excess drip off before placing it in the flour/corn starch mixture. Coat the chicken in flour, then place it on a pan to slightly dry off before you fry it.
Fill a large non-stick skillet or a cast iron pan about ¾ of the way up with vegetable oil. Heat the oil until it is approximately 320 degrees.
When the oil has come up to temperature, start dropping in five pieces of chicken at a time, and fry them for ten minutes total. Turn them once at the five minute mark.
When about 1/3 of the chicken is fried, toss them with about ½ cup of buffalo sauce. It is best to do this when they are hot, and then place them on a wire rack to drain and cool.
After the next third is done, toss them with the honey chipotle lime sauce and then place them on the wire rack to drain and cool.
If you are grilling some of the bites, grill them for about four minutes per side. Then toss them in whatever sauce you like (I tossed them in the garlic parm) then place them on a wire rack to cool and drain.
Serve up the bites with all the traditional fixins: celery, carrots, blue cheese dressing, and ranch dressing.
Also, if you are feeding somebody like my husband, even though these can be eaten with a fork, I’m sure you will still need lots of napkins.

Polish Pork Chops

My mom has made these Polish pork chops for as long as I can remember, and to this day I still have no clue why they are inherently Polish.
It’s just pork chops, crushed tomatoes, onion, and mushrooms. What is so Polish about that?
Oh gosh, what if this is some Polish joke I am just too Polish to get?
Noooo, right?
Maybe it is called Polish because it is just so effortlessly amazing! (Like most of us are).
Ingredients (Serves two)
2, 4oz Boneless Center Cut Pork Loin Chops
A Dash of Salt and Pepper (to season the chops)
2 Shallots, sliced
½ Pint of Sliced Button Mushrooms
1 Cup of Crushed Tomatoes
½ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Pepper
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on each side. Heat a medium skillet over high heat for a minute or two. Add the pork chops to the hot skillet. Sear for a minute to two minutes on each side.
Remove the pork chops from the pan and place on the side. Reduce the heat to medium/low and add in the sliced shallots.
Cook the shallots until they are just starting to turn translucent.
Add in the button mushrooms. Cook the shallots and mushrooms for 5-7 minutes, until both start to carmelize.
Add the pork chops back to the pan.
Cover the pork chops with the crushed tomatoes. Add in the salt and pepper. Place a lid on the chops and cook for fifteen minutes over medium heat.
 They aren’t the prettiest, but what they lack in appearance they make up for in taste.
The Polish pork chops are a meal in itself, but also go great with boiled potatoes, rice, or even some buttery egg noodles.
NOTE: If there is some kind of joke I am not getting please don’t tell me, I would like to remain blissfully clueless and proud of my Polish-ness. Thanks.

Oven Roasted Cod in Lemon Parsley Brown Butter

This weekend was very busy for my husband and me. We started off with the gender announcement dinner and get together for our new future nephew.
Saturday we spent the day celebrating our nieces’ birthdays. It was a Disney Princess themed party. I, along with my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law, assisted these tiny 4 year-old ladies in transforming into princess’ by doing their hair, makeup, and nails. It was so cute to see these little sprites run around in full princess regalia and still be childish enough to start a “princess” burping contest over lunch. The day was also a great form of birth control, because I don’t know if we are ready for the addition of teeny tiny toddlers to our lives juuuust yet.
Sunday was a day of stress. My husband graded AP English finals all day while I dealt with a war on technology. My website was down, our internet was freaking out, and God forbid, I was out of touch with the twitterverse for an entire day!
It was after all this that my husband and I decided we needed to return to some of the simpler and quieter things in life.
Last night we took a few hours to unplug from the phones, computers, and television. My husband has played the guitar for many years and last night we decided that for a few hours every night, instead of watching TV or playing around on our phones and computers, he would teach me how to play the guitar.
It was nice to have the apartment filled with music (albeit not so good music) and laughter instead of the incessant hum and blue light of the television.
Keeping with our new simple nightly tradition, I have prepared for you a super effortless and easy fish. I paired it up with some orzo cooked in white wine. Seriously, keep it simple and take some time to unplug from the matrix and rejoin the world around you.
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
1, 1lb Filet of Cod
4 Teaspoons of Lemon Parsley Brown Butter
A Dash of Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Panko Breadcrumbs
A Squeeze of Fresh Lemon Juice, for finishing
Ingredients for White Wine Orzo
1 Cup of Orzo
3 Cups of White Wine
1 Teaspoon of Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon of Feta Cheese
Prepare the brown butter in advance according to my recipe. Place a teaspoon of brown butter in the bottom of an oven-safe dish and then place the cod on top of it. Place the other three teaspoons of brown butter on top of the cod. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
Set your broiler on high. Place the fish under the broiler for 10 minutes. NOTE: Keep your oven door cracked open to maintain the high heat and to keep an eye on the fish.
Meanwhile, bring the white wine to a boil. Boil the orzo in the wine for 7 minutes. Drain the orzo. Combine the orzo, parsley, feta, and a dash of salt and pepper in a small bowl.
After the ten minutes, remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs on the top of the fish, and then return the fish to the oven for another five minutes.
That’s it! Super simple, right?
Cut off a piece of fish for yourself and serve it with the white wine orzo and a squeeze of lemon juice to add a note of brightness.
Now, go spend some time away from technology doing something you love! Seriously.
But, don’t forget to come visit me again tomorrow!
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