Monday, November 21, 2016

Pancit canton shrimp salad and potlucks

Sauteed green beans with shiitake mushrooms
and bacon. Two large loaves of artisan-style bread
are in the background.
This is one of those dishes that wasn't prepared with a recipe. Many of my dishes have their origin in the minute. I throw the dish together using ingredients in the fridge and cupboard. These dishes are those that I have prepared many times during my career. You could say that the recipe is embedded in my head.

For the second time in a week Debbie and I offered bread and a vegetable dish for a potluck. The first took place last week at a Thanksgiving gathering of a local church family. I prepared two loaves of no-knead bread and sauteed green beans with shiitake mushrooms and bacon. Three scraps of bread and a couple mushroom pieces were all that remained. One person asked me for the bread recipe after the meal.

Saturday we took pancit canton shrimp salad to a memorial service at the same church. For the second time, I offered a dish that was put together on the spur of the moment. The impromptu salad for the potluck, which followed the service, was inspired by my years of sevice in and of of the Philippines. I combined romaine lettuce, canton noodles, carrot sticks and baby shrimp. The salad was tossed with an Asian inspired vinaigrette. It fit in with the salad and sandwich theme for the potluck.

Pancit canton shrimp salad.
To prepare the salad, cooked 4 ounces canton noodles (called pancit canton or canton sticks) in chicken broth until al dente. (Follow the instructions on the package.) After draining and cooling, I cut one head of romaine lettuce and ran a large carrot through the mandoline using the smallest julienne setting. Eight ounces of cooked baby shrimp were thawed as well. Any number of vegetables could've been prepared at this point, including sliced radish or diakon, halved grape tomatoes and chopped cilantro.

The vinaigrette was prepared without measuring. Three cloves of finely minced garlic, tablespoon or two of cane vinegar, teaspoon or two of toyomansi (Filipino soy sauce with calamani), small spoonful of Dijon mustard, few drops of sesame oil and coarsely ground black pepper were whisked together in a bowl. I then streamed in canola oil while vigorously whisking to form a vinaigrette. While I can't tell you the ratio of vinegar to oil that I used, it was somewhere between 1:2 and 1:3. I enjoyed the garlicky sauce with its peppery bite.

To assemble the salad, I first tossed the shrimp in a couple tablespoons of the vinaigrette.While the shrimp marinated for a couple minutes, the lettuce, carrot and noodles were tossed together in a large bowl. The salad was tossed with the remaining vinaigrette, followed by shrimp. Serve cold.

Notes: Purchase Filipino products in any well-stocked Asianmarket. While Filipino soy sauce (toyo) adds a distinct flavor, any soy sauce can be used. Toyo has a mildly subtle flavor to it. Filipino cane vinegar is prepared from the juice of cane sugar (sukano ilocano). Calamansi is Filipino lime. Lemon or lime can be substituted for the calamansi in the Filipino soy sauce. I have yet to locate calamansi (fresh or bottled) in Northern California.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sicilian-style cast iron skillet pizza

I haven't prepared skillet pizza in over four years for 'Round the Chuckbox. In February 2012, I baked a pizza in a 17-inch cast iron skillet when my baking stone "bit the dust." Three month later, when the home oven quit working, I baked a take 'n bake pizza in an inverted 14-inch Dutch oven. I felt it was time to feature another cast iron pizza.

After testing a recipe from the Serious Eats website two weeks ago, cast iron skillet pizza sounded good. I wanted a recipe that I can use at my summer job and when camping. This recipe will serve both purposes. It can either be baked in a half-sized (13x18-inch) sheet pan or in two large cast iron skillets (10- to 12-inch diameter).

The camp edition of the pizza can be baked with charcoal briquettes or inside the home oven. While this recipe uses a stand mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid 5-quart mixer), the Serious Eats website has instructions for hand-mixing the dough. You can use an inverted Dutch oven as well. I will post hand-mixing instructions when I get a chance.

The full-sized (18x26-inch) sheet pan will be used for the camp. It takes six to eight sheet pan pizzas for each 100 campers. Pizza is often pared with honey barbecued chicken wings, pasta salad and a loaded salad bar. We typically feature cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, vegan pizza and a meat-lover's pizza.

I proofed the dough on the picnic table on the patio. The skillet in the foreground in a Lodge No. 12. The other one is a Wagner 1891. My wife and I purchased the Wagner in the early 1980s when we were first married.
The pizza is ready for toppings. Each skillet pizza needs 1/4- to 1/2-cup sauce, 3 to 4 ounces shredded cheese and 2 to 4 ounces meat (if used). I added a bunch of sauteed spinach to both pizzas. Four ounces sliced chicken sausage with feta and spinach was used on the larger pizza.
You have to pile the charcoal briquettes to achieve a close approximation of 550 degrees F. Lighting 10 extra briquettes will give you extra heat should you need it.
Finished pizzas. The crust could've been a bit more crisp. The smaller pizza is vegetarian.
Sheet pan pizza prepared from the same recipe. I will use this recipe to bake pizza in full-sized (18x26-inch) sheet pans for Oakland Feather River Camp, where I am the executive chef. Four sheet pans yield 96 slices.

This recipe requires two large cast iron skillets, 10- to 13-inches in diameter. Match each skillet to the rimmed Dutch oven lid (or camp-style Dutch oven) that fits best. The 12-inch lid will fit the smaller skillet while the larger skillets will require the 14-inch lid.

To bake in a rimmed 13x18-inch half-sized sheet pan, pour remaining oil (in second paragraph of instructions) into a half sheet pan. Place dough on sheet pan and let rise as directed. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat home oven to 550 degrees with rack in the middle position. Proceed to stretch dough to the sides and corners of the pan, as directed. Double toppings and bake 15 to 20.

This recipe was adapted from the website.

17-1/2 ounces bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
12-1/4 ounces room temperature water

Combine flour, salt, yeast and 2 tablespoons oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Add water and mix on medium speed until it comes together and no dry flour remains. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is stretchy and smooth, about 6 minutes. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but pull away from the sides.

Divide oil between 2 cast iron skillets and spread over surface with hands. Divide dough in half and place one piece in each. (Add slightly more dough to the larger skillet when using mismatched pans.) Rub top surface with oil until thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until dough has spread out to nearly touch each rim of each skillet, about 2 hours.

Carefully remove plastic wrap. Using oiled hands and being as gentle as possible to maintain air bubbles, push and stretch dough into corners of each skillet by pressing out from the center and lifting and stretching it beyond the rim of each skillet. The dough should pull back until the skillet is just filled with dough.

Light 45 to 60 charcoal briquettes in a charcoal chimney about 30 minutes before the dough is ready. One lid is needed since you will bake the pizzas one at a time. For 550 degrees, use around 45 briquettes (30 on lid and 15 under skillet) on the 12-in camp-style Dutch oven lid. The 14-inch lid requires around 60 briquettes (40 on lid and 20 under skillet).

Top each pizza with about 1/3- to 1/2-cup sauce, 3 to 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, plus additional toppings as desired. Place the first skillet on trivet. Place the lid from a Dutch oven on top of the skillet. Bake with charcoal briquettes for 550 degrees until bottom is crisp and top surface is bubbling, 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat for second skillet. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes. Slice as desired.