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Pineapple + Ham Pizza - Gluten Free Without Fuss

Pineapple + Ham Pizza - Gluten Free Without Fuss

What did you do this weekend? We were blessed with some great weather perfect for rambling in the city and outdoors. It was too good to spend much time in the kitchen, so it was a weekend for quickly made good meals, including this gluten free pizza creation!

There is something about pizza that is very more-ish. It is by far one of the easiest ways to put a smile on someone's face regardless of age. I brings out the child in people and the feeling of contentment that spreads like a glow within. It is a true equalizer amongst all; a channel to everyone's heart without a fail and largely, because it is so so so affordable.

Imagine then those who, like me, cannot eat wheat. It feels like your favorite toy has been taken away from you and you'll never see it again. Aye! Not foie gras, not oysters, to a gluten free/wheat free person, the pizza can become in the moment, the epitome of gastronomy, simply because of its forbidden-ness. Yet, what if It needn't be so?

With a little sorcery of gluten free flours, psyllium, yeast and determination, this crust comes out akin to a Neopolitan style pizza; very thin and crisp, yet chewy and satisfying wholesome. It is easily to cut in slices and easier still to hold and enjoy just like a pizza slice. I made a pizza that was divine retribution in of itself!

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Southern Comfort for Strength

Southern Comfort for Strength

My absolute winter favorite is collard greens. I love eating them for their flavor but I love them even more for the irony that I associate with it. You see, for me, collard green is a distinctive Southern comfort. I don't get it often because I want to perpetuate the myth of its luxury that I have created for myself.  When I do, I inevitably slow cook it, overall hours, or even days, drawing out the flavors into the dish and building up the anticipation of that climactic first taste.

This dish here I cooked for 24 hours. No, that is not an exaggeration. My sincere gratitude to whoever invented the slow cooker. It is a cook's best companion any time of the year, but, particularly in winter. It is cheap, energy efficient and versatile. And, it is perfect for cooking collard greens. Your southern mama may not approve of this new fangled device but give her a taste of this Ham Hock Cured Collard Greens and I'll bet she will be wanting one of them cookers herself!

Read more and find out the story of this dish.

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Weekend Edition: Brooklyn - Celebrating 50 years of Parma Ham in Style

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I confess, I have been a staunch Manhattan-er for the worse part of my life in the city, which, well, is a long one. Yes, I say 'worse' because really I missed out on so much! Call it lethargy, call it reluctance, call it bedazzled, the truth is until two years ago, I sniffled crossing the borders of the microcosm I live in and even when I did huddled back to my UES cul-de-sac with alacrity!

I do sound rather stiff, don't I? Oh well! I make no bones about it. That was then. In the past... Phew! I am a

butterfly now flitting away towards the sun

....Thanks to dedicated efforts of friends, I have managed to shrug off that silly cape and molted into an adventurous soul

seeking pleasure wherever it is on offer without geographic discrimination

.

Props
sandwich & Drink

So, anyway, I have been making rather frequent trips across to the different parts of Brooklyn! It really is not all hip or hippie, but it does have something for everyone and every mood. There are the European strongholds in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, the younger neighbor Cobble Hill that is slowly becoming a Williamsburg II and there is, of course, Williamsburg. When the arty party bug hits, it's the latter you head to. There is art, there is adventure and there is a revolution. Many woe the yester days of casual artistic gatherings giving in to orchestrated elitism and superlative rents. But, hey, that is the story of New York, isn't it?

One of my favorite places in Williamsburg is the Wythe Hotel. It is a boutique hotel that hosts many food related events and itself has quite a good offering in its restaurant. Plus, it has a rooftop bar with a stunning view of Manhattan. That is the advantage of height-controlled Brooklyn - panoramic views all around. Last week, I was invited to

celebratory event marking 50 great years

indulging in the perfectly cured leg of ham, organized by

Parma Ham USA

as part of the Parma Palooza. Since 1963, the

Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma

has ensured that every ham branded with the Parma crown meets the highest standards of quality and taste!

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The company joined hands with 10 brilliant New York city chefs and restaurants to create an evening of pure dining pleasure. There were new concepts and new chefs as well as established favorites. The tasting event was a wonderful exploration of how beautifully prosciutto marries and enhances flavors from simple to elegant. Chef's creations included simply wrapping it with fruits or bread and cheese to pairing the crispy ham with seafood to inducing Asian flavors to churning it into a rich, savory ice cream. Every bite and they were conveniently bite sized was perfectly cooked and it was a great opportunity to meet the brains and talent behind some of the best places to eat in the city.

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There are not too many times in one's life that you get these see chefs cooking for you in front of you and everyone present made the most of it. What made the event more interesting and engaging, was the ability for diners to provide instant feedback by voting for the best bite they had tasted during the evening. Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird needs no introduction. He walked away as the Prince of Parma Ham having been adjudged to have the best small plate. His Octopus Saltimboca with Proscuitto di Parma sitting on a bed of braised chickpeas was indeed a brilliant creation.

Wild Rise Pizza - Prep
Wild Rise Pizza - served

Some others I loved were eternal favorite Elizabeth Faulkner's scallop and crispy ham, prosciutto ice cream by Odd Fellows Ice Cream & Co., Sea Urchin and prosciuttopaired by Mission Chinese, Autumn Squash saltimboca by Reynard. The surprise of the evening was the sourdough crust pizza made by Wild Rise NYC in the engineering genius of an oven that takes a mere 90 seconds to bake an incredibly flavorful Roman style pizza! The parma ham event was organized on a Thursday and I told everyone I spoke to since about this pizza and promptly visited their pop-up joint in Dumbo last Sunday. I can't get enough of it and I not a pizza person!

The event was very well attended and made even more entertaining by a giveaway of whole cured legs of ham to anyone who was brave enough to get the parma crown tattoed on their skin. On last count I heard atleast seven legs had been spoken for and I had a couple of amusing conversations with those who got them done! Entirely fascinating indeed!

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On the whole, the event was very well put together and even if you had not been a fan of prosciutto going in, they definitely made it very hard to not be one coming out. I had not such qualms already being a die hard fan of that particular cut of the pig meat and

absolutely reveled in the opportunity to sample such varied creations

. Kudos to the firms organizing the event for bringing together such an eclectic cast in perfect harmony and making it so much fun.

Good Morning Weekend!

Baked eggs - ham, yellow beets, spinach


Ah yes! It's here again. Finally. Thank ye Lord... Yes, the weekend!!

After 5 days of stress, tension, hard work, doing things one doesn't really enjoy, facing life, facing the realities... it's finally time for a release, an escape, enjoying life, living the fantasies....

Egg sandwich - chives scrambled egg, spinach on scone


The dual life indeed. We all live it; To varying degrees. Sometimes its a duet, sometimes a gamble. Which will win, who will survive the game? That life's constant score..

We change, we live, we choose, we move on... nothing is constant, everything has a place, and all is never lost... It's a cycle and it isn't how fast you get around but how much you enjoy it and live in it..

scrambled eggs in pan


And, that depends on where and how you start the circle... I say, put your best foot forward and start with an awesome breakfast! Of farm fresh eggs... some fresh greens.. a touch of ham perhaps... a sprinkle of herbs or the kiss of spice ... the day's bread..

Shirred or Stirred - the eggs are the star of the meal and the way to get a healthy start for all that the weekend has in store and the week after has to bore...

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Continue for the recipes...



Shirred Eggs over Yellow Beets, Spinach and Ham


For each individual serving:
1 egg
1-2 yellow beet sliced thin (using a mandolin), depending on slice
1 cup raw spinach, loosely filled
4 thick-ish slices of German ham
1/2 tsp dukka
salt as needed
1 T butter, melted
 
Preheat the oven to 400F.
 
Blanch the beet slices in boiling water and set aside. Butter the individual bowls. Arrange a layer of beet slices, slightly overlapping them. Brush with melted butter and season with salt and dukka. Place 2 slices of ham, top with spinach. Sprinkle some dukka. Repeat the ham and beet layer, brush with more butter and sprinkle the remaining dukka. Crack the egg over the arrangement.
 
Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 3 more minutes until the whites are fully cooked yet the yolk is runny. Sprinkle with z'atar and serve immediately.



Slow Scrambled Eggs

5 eggs
1/4 cup light cream
2 T fresh herbs
2 T melted butter

I strongly recommend a cast iron pan to make scrambled eggs. The slow heat makes for the creamiest, soft cooked eggs.

Brush the pan with the butter. Break the eggs into a cold pan and pour half the cream. Switch the heat on to low. Gently stir the eggs and cream together. Never beat the eggs and let it cook real slow. Patience is indeed a virtue on this one.

Continually stir the eggs till they are custard like in texture. This takes about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs. The eggs will continue cooking from the heat. Gently stir the remaining cream into the scrambled eggs when it reaches the consistency you want. The cream will stop the cooking.

Serve immediately.


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