Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Egg and Pesto Breakfast Pizza

Weekend breakfasts are a treat for me. During the week, I do well to grab a Chobani yogurt cup on my way out the door because--as much as I like an elaborate breakfast--when given the choice between that and sleep, I’m going to choose sleep every time. So on weekends, I can have my sleep and eat yummy breakfast too.

This pizza did not disappoint. In fact, if I had had the stomach capacity to do so, I would have eaten the entire pizza in one sitting. And would have felt no shame. My pizza was actually a combination of three recipes from Naturally Ella (pizza), Faux Martha (no-rise crust), and Food Network (pesto). This pizza is definitely best for a leisurely morning when you have nowhere to be and no one to see, because there are quite a few steps—and you’ll get quite a few dishes dirty. But it’s so worth it!

It looks a bit like a face

This piece had two yolks. Heavenly!

Egg and Pesto Breakfast Pizza

1/4 cup water, heated to 110 degrees
1/4 Tbsp. sugar (yes, this is unusual to measure 1/4 Tbsp.)
1/4 Tbsp. olive oil
Heaping 1/2 tsp. rapid rise or bread machine yeast
1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt

Pesto: This will actually make about twice as much as you need for one pizza, but even this amount was almost not enough for my food processor. So just save the leftover pesto for something else.
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup walnuts
3-1/2 oz. Feta
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Pizza toppings:
1 cup grated mozzarella (approximately)
4 eggs
Freshly cracked pepper

Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with olive oil. Add the walnuts and toast for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant. Set walnuts aside to cool. While the walnuts cool, add the rest of the pesto ingredients (except the olive oil) to the food processor bowl, with the spinach on the bottom and everything else on top. Set aside.

Put pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

For crust, add flours, Parmesan, and salt to a single-serving size blender or food processor (such as a Magic Bullet). Pulse until combined and Parmesan is powdery.

Heat water and whisk in the sugar, oil, and yeast. (The recipe says to heat the water to 110 degrees. I don’t have a thermometer, so I just went for water that was hotter than my skin but cool enough that I could hold my finger in the water without discomfort.) Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes.

While the yeast proofs, finish the pesto. Add the cooled walnuts to the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined. Turn the processor to “on” and drizzle in olive oil until pesto reaches desired consistency, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl. I kept my pesto pretty thick. Taste and adjust herbs, pepper, etc., if needed.

Finish up the pizza crust. When the yeast is finished proofing, combine the liquids with the flour mixture, and stir until combined. Then knead into a dough. At this point, you can set it aside if needed, to finish up other steps. But the author of the recipe recommends going straight into rolling it out, so that's what I did.

On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough to about a 9-inch circle. Transfer to parchment paper. Spread with pesto and top with mozzarella. Moving quickly, remove pizza stone from oven and place on a wire rack. Put parchment paper with pizza onto stone, crack eggs over the top of the pizza, and put the pizza back into the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cheese and crust are browned and eggs are set.

Remove from oven and slide parchment paper with pizza onto a cutting board. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper. Cut and dig in!

Yield: 3-4 servings (1 nine-inch pizza)

Results: Is it too dramatic to say that this pizza is life-changing? Seriously, though, I never knew you could take something as awesome as pizza and marry it to something as awesome as breakfast. My mouth was so unbelievably happy! The pesto alone was good enough that I could eat it with a spoon. Then you throw in a hearty crust, cheese, and eggs with rich, creamy yolks . . . be still, my heart! Make sure that each serving has a yolk on it, because the yolk takes this pizza from good to delicious. After 8 minutes in the oven, my cheese was very browned but the egg whites weren’t quite set. Next time I might decrease the oven temp to 475 and cook for a couple minutes longer.
Variation ideas for next time: Add sliced fresh tomato and/or fresh asparagus (1-inch pieces) to the pizza. I would put the veggies on after the cheese, before the eggs. Maybe garnish with some cooked, crumbled turkey bacon?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine

Back in September I bought some ground lamb on a bit of a whim, then couldn't settle on a recipe special enough to use said lamb (it's not cheap, you know). So into the freezer it went, and there it stayed until last week when I discovered this Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine recipe from Real Simple. I'd never heard of tagine, it sounded like a really interesting combination of flavors, and I thought that using a slow cooker might be good in case the lamb was freezer burned.

Not the most photogenic dish, but very tasty!

To my surprise, the meat was not freezer burned (points for HEB packaging!). And the flavors were, in fact, interesting and incredible! I also just Googled "tagine" (also "tajine"), and it's a Moroccan dish named after the unique pot it's traditionally cooked in. There's also Tunisian tagine, but it's very different and resembles a frittata. Who knew?

I followed the recipe almost exactly, though I used ground lamb rather than 1-inch pieces. I also decreased the olives a tad since green olives aren't my favorite. And I left out the pistachios.

The original recipe says it serves 4, but you can easily do smaller portions and get more servings out of this. In fact, it's pretty rich, so I've been eating portions that are probably about half the size that Real Simple intends.  Smaller portions also helps make it more nutritious since this is not the lowest-calorie dish out there.

Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine
Copied word-for-word from Real Simple

1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
1/2 cup pitted green olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup couscous
chopped pistachios, fresh cilantro leaves, and lemon wedges, for serving

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together the lamb, carrots, onion, apricots, olives, garlic, flour, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup water.

Cover and cook until the lamb and vegetables are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).

Ten minutes before serving, cook the couscous according to the package directions. Serve the lamb on the couscous with the pistachios, cilantro, and lemon wedges.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Song Leading

I got to lead singing in chapel last week, which was both awesome and terrifying. I appreciate graduate chapel SO much, and one of the biggest reasons is because it's one of the only places I've worshipped where gender really, truly doesn't matter. Any and all positions of leadership--from planning to praying to preaching--are equally open to women and men.

But back to last week...

As many experiences are apt to do, it got me thinking about women in church leadership. You see, this was only my third time ever to lead singing. No one has ever taught me how to do it. I don't know how to do the hand-waving tempo-keeping thing. It didn't even cross my mind to direct the congregation to stand or sit. Everything I know about song leading, I've just picked up by watching other song leaders over the years. Because, while we do an excellent job of training our boys to lead from a young age, girls just don't get that same training (maybe things are better now, but when I was kid, that kind of training wasn't an option for girls). So while many men my age have been leading singing for 15+ years, I didn't start until last year. When little Billy Bob gets up, leads a song, and bombs it, people think, "Aww, he's 12 and cute! Let's encourage him to keep doing this and keep getting better!" It's less cute when a 27-year-old leads singing and bombs it.

I was talking about this with a friend last night, and she made a really good point. For us women, it feels like there's more pressure to be excellent at any act of leadership we perform. Since there are so few women doing public leadership tasks in church, each woman who does do something up front--at least to an extent--sets the tone/expectation for how women do that particular thing. For instance, say Billy Bob grows up and never becomes very good at leading worship but still volunteers every now and then. When he gets up and leads poorly, people just kind of accept that he's not awesome at song leading, but most people probably don't make assumptions about the rest of the male population's ability to lead singing. But as a woman, I feel like my performance--however good or bad--is a reflection on ALL women who may want to lead. "She really messed up the tempo on that last song. Maybe Paul was on to something when he said women should keep silent." Or, "She did a great job! We should get more women to lead singing!"

So here are my pleas:

Church - bear with us. So many of us desperately want to lead but don't know the ins and outs of how to perform certain functions within a worship service. Just because we're adults doesn't mean we've ever led a public prayer or served communion--much less done so lots of times. When we stand behind the pulplit and read a passage of Scripture, extend the same level of grace and encouragement you would extend to a 12-year-old. Oh, and starting teaching girls how to lead from a young age.

Worship planning teams/individuals - be intentional about inviting women to do things. Since public leadership roles in church are new to us, we may be hesitant to volunteer because we fear we'll do a bad (or even a mediocre) job. So we may need some extra pushing and encouragement. And if a woman bombs a Scripture reading, ask her to do another one anyway! Pretend she's 12 years old.

Women - jump in there and lead! Yes, it's terrifying. But it's also wonderful, and it gets less terrifying with time and experience. And the more your sisters in Christ see you lead, the easier it may be for them to step up and do the same. The church so desperately needs to hear your voice. Let it be heard.