Antipasti, or little cold and hot appetizers used to be served before the main course with the intention to whet an appetite. Modern eating habits have changed. A variety of small plates often replaces a complete meal. This warm artichoke and seafood salad with melted cheese is an example of how versatile this traditional combination of ingredients is. Slight preparation modifications and you can serve it as a warm salad or appetizer, or with pasta, or on pizza. No herbs, spices, or other strongly aromatic ingredients overpower the delicate flavors of artichokes and seafood. Moderate seasoning and good extra virgin olive oil are all we need to make this dish shine.
Made with relatively low-moist fresh cheese, traditional syrniki don’t need a lot of flour. Less flour helps to maintain low-carb diet and appreciate the natural taste of cheese in cooked pancakes. Syrniki are light textured, soft and fluffy, with only a hint of sweetness and vanilla. Serve them hot or warm, simply with a dollop of sour or whipped cream. The more elements you add, the more exciting this dessert becomes. You can add fresh seasonal or preserved berries and fruits. On top of the cream, sprinkle syrniki with sliced and toasted nuts, or cocoa nibs, or any other crunchy crumbs to add more texture and flavor variety to the dessert.
Chef Patterson’s recipe has three unusual features. First, he uses high-gluten bread flour instead of all-purpose one. Second, the amount of baking powder is three times more than average. Why? Bread flour is capable holding more moister. It is strong enough to let scones rise and not to explode because of the amount of baking powder. It results in a fantastic, unforgettable texture of the scones.
To compare cachucha peppers to other green chili peppers I know, I’d say they are close to Spanish padron or Japanese shishito peppers in terms of texture. They are not meaty and slightly crunchy when cooked. To my taste, cachucha peppers are very flavorful and complex with clean and fresh grassy note. There is no heat in them at all. Thus their other name is sweet chili, Ají dulce, though there is no sweetness in them at all, at least when they are green.
Technically, it’s not pizza. It’s an open pie, an American pie with Gulf of Mexico seafood and white sauce. I don’t remember when I enjoyed pizza-like pie so much for the last time! The idea to use Gulf oysters belongs to the Engineer. I added scallops remembering how wonderful they are in seafood version of empanada gallega. It turned out great. We named it The Gulf of M: oyster liquor velute + scallops + gulf oysters + queso asadero + oaxaca string cheese + seaweed. I didn’t pre-cook oysters and scallops when made it for the first time, and it was soft of messy because of extra juices. But sooo gooood!
I saw this video on Facebook about 4 months ago. It shows this kind of pizza is made at Trattoria Pizzeria La Bufala: it is cross cut at the center, filled with some buffalo ricotta and black truffles, garnished with arugula, cherry tomatoes, and fresh buffalo mozzarella. I liked the idea so much, it had to be recreated in my kitchen! Obviously, in my home kitchen and with the ingredients available in Central Texas, I could only utilize the presentation idea. I refer to this idea as 4-pies pizza, thus the name.