Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pizza on the Grill

Before I get the nerve up to show you any photos, I just wanted to tell you that I know - I KNOW - the pizza looks a touch bit darker.

Burned, you say? No... no...

Nothing a bit o'spinach won't cover up!
Erm... (cough cough)... uh... yes... totally not burned to a crisp in the middle... Not. At. All.

It all started out so well, you see.

Basic Pizza dough
As this was my first attempt at grilled pizza, I wanted to follow the directions. They said to keep things on the dry side, so instead of pizza sauce, I did some roasted garlic spread (½ head roasted garlic and some olive oil mixed together - I should have done the whole head!).

Toss cloves of garlic with some olive oil, wrap in foil and throw into a 350ยบ oven for 30 minutes or so. Pop out of the skins, mash up with some olive oil and admire your genius.

So then comes the fun part. Here's what Fine Cooking told me to do:

1) On your grill (ours was a 2 burner), crank the heat to high on both burners, grease the grate and leave the lid down to allow to get all toasty for 10 minutes. Remember, the BBQ will be functioning as an oven, so you want to open it as little as possible.

2) Roll out the pizza dough as thinly as possible.

Following that direction was, I think, part of my undoing. There is such a I thing as too thin. Like... you shouldn't be able to see the counter through the dough.

3) Very carefully bring the dough out to your grill. Reduce both burners to medium. Grab the two corners closest to you. Have someone else open the lid of the BBQ, and you should quickly place the dough on the racks, as though you were putting a tablecloth on a table. They said that, not me. Let cook for 3 minutes.

You know, a lot can happen in 3 minutes. After 1 minute, I could smell burning. I said, "Nah, they said three!"

I checked after 1½ minutes. The bottom crust was burned.

4) Use tongs to pull the dough off the grill onto a waiting plate. Flip over so the grilled side is up. Top with whatever you're adding.

From top right: cooked pancetta, spinach, brie and roasted garlic.
5) Turn one burner off, and place pizza back on grill (over off burner). Close lid and allow to cook for 7 minutes.

Mine took another 15. I added the spinach right at the last minute, and just allowed it to wilt slightly.

I think the burning issue could have been resolved through the use of low heat... or no heat on one side. In spite of the burned crust, it was still insanely delicious.

So there's something to this... I'm just not sure what yet.

We ate this with a gin-limoncello-thyme cocktail, also from Fine Cooking and used some lemon-thyme from my Mum's garden.

All in all, we had a few adventures, swore a bit and ate off our laps by candlelight.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back and not-quite ready to face reality

For the past two weeks, I was here:

My husband poses in all his glory.
Our cottage (read: my parents') is in Norway Bay, Quebec. The place is so English, the local town ran the language police out. As a consequence, all of our stop signs read: STOP. That's right, no bilingualism for this area!

We had some terrible weather (naturally, the good stuff came in the weekend we left). The hill beside the cottage washed out after we got more than 100mls in an afternoon.

The hill was pretty smooth when we got up...
I wish I had a before shot!
Worst part about this? All the gravel on our property now.
The rain washed out the beach too.
In spite of the crumby weather, Phil and I got out on the kayaks three times, including one last run that had us paddling in waves the size of which I hadn't seen since Hawaii. We practically surfed in to the beach, it was that awesome. I wish I had a waterproof camera for photos!

We had a horseshoe tournament. It was a hard fought
battle of middling skills. Out of respect for my husband
I won't gloat about who was declared the overall winner.
Ah, a trip to Henderson's (the local Depanneur) wouldn't be
complete without frozen treats! Or so we told ourselves. It was a 5k
walk, round trip!
Stay tuned for posts about peach cobbler, pizza on the BBQ and a grilled thyme limoncello cocktail. Oh! And stories about our neighbours and the Creepy House.

I sense a teen novel location here...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Preparing to leave

We'll be heading back from the cottage on Sunday, and I'm so not ready to leave yet - especially as the weather will be turning hot and sunny this weekend.

Reality awaits: dentist appointments, back to school and the possibility that our landlady didn't get the work done on our apartment.

Today: I had leftover lemon scented peach cobbler for breakfast.

Let's focus on the positives.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So you think you can pickle.

I'm obsessed with finding crunchy dill pickles.

No. Seriously. It's a problem. Ever since I was introduced to Claussen pickles, nothing else will do. Nope. I'm never going back to you, Bicks. I spurn you and your soft pickles.

The platonic form of pickle
Think about it? Does anyone really want a soft pickle? I mean, really? A soft pickle.

I thought not.

When I was at the St. Lawrence Market last week, I came across a big basket of pickling cucumbers and I just knew my time to shine was here.

Okay, they aren't Claussens... but these homemade babies rank a pretty close second! Man, so easy and delicious! All the crunch you could want!

Note: These pickles have a shelf life as they aren't processed in a hot water bath. I give them a week or two, but I'll update you if I die in the meantime.

Pickles That Will Make You a Legend

1 small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
2 lbs pickling cucumbers (they're small) scrubbed, and cut into ¼ inch thick rounds
a handful of dill, stems and all, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp mustard seed
2 tsp peppercorns
1½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp dill seeds

Clear enough?
 1. In two clean quart jars, layer the onion, the pickling cucumber and the dill.

Just like so!
2.  Place peppercorns and mustard seed in a bag and crush with a mallet or frying pan. I'll admit, my mustard seeds stayed pretty whole.

3. Combine peppercorn mixture with remaining ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and stir just until sugar is dissolved. Divide liquid evenly between your two jars, place both in the fridge (without their lids on) for 24 hours, then cap with lids and bring them out to that bbq party you're invited to this weekend. Tell them you'll supply the pickles.

Then sit back and enjoy as your legend grows.

Go on. I'm pretty sure you deserve a beer or two for that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

PIP: Wedding Week Recap, part 5

I should really call this one the outdoors edition!

We had an awesome day o'fun with our brothers, beginning with hiking the Waihe'e Ridge Trail in the Maui West Mountains.
Two minutes before this photo was taken, I got a phone call saying that my school board had a full time job for me! Huzzah!
Trail up
Views near the 1 mile marker
Looking up the Valley
I look terribly impressed, don't I?
 Due to the rain that came in, we decided to hike back down before reaching the top, but we basically had the trail to ourselves! Where else can you say that on Maui?

On the way back down, heading into the eucalyptus forest.
Ocean in the distance
After the ridge, we decided to check out the 'Iao Needle: the sacred phallic symbol of the Hawaiian god of the ocean, Kanaloa. It's a huge rock that rises 1200 or so feet from the ground.

The 'Iao Valley was the site of an instrumental battle in the late 1700's. King Kamehameha I destroyed Maui's army here, which was part of his attempts (successful) to bring all of the Hawaiian islands under his control. The battle was so bloody that bodies were piled one atop the other. The battle site was named Kepaniwai which means "the damming of the waters".

Confession: I stood in the river. Was that wrong of me?
'Iao Needle
The river at the 'Iao Valley
Attempting to cool my feet off.
Later in the week, Tom, Phil and I hit the NorthWest tip. It has the most gorgeous scenery! It looks almost alien to me.

North-west tip of Maui, looking back inland.
More views from the Northwest tip. This is near the blowhole.
Driving back to the West Coast. Hairpin turns and gorgeous mountain views!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

PIP: Wedding Week, part 4

Of course, after the wedding was over, the real shenanigans could begin!

Tom and Phil at the Maui Brewing Company
Al: The first to double fist Father Damien
Two days after the wedding, we had a day with the guests. In the morning we went snorkeling and kayaking, and in the evening, we went to the Old Lahaina Luau.

Alas, I only have pictures of the latter!

The newlyweds!
Old Lahaina Luau dancer
Half of our guests (most of the young crowd)
They're a sexy bunch, aren't they?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

PIP: Happy Anniversary to Us! Wedding Week Recap, Part 3

One year ago today, the man I love and I got hitched in the most romantic, breathtaking spot I can think of: Olowalu Plantation House, Maui.
It was such an amazing day! I had so much fun with family and friends, and more to the point, I'm so glad I married a man who's thoughtful, funny, puts up with my sudden bursts of enthusiasm followed by a 180 turn of opinion, handsome, charming and has a great bum.

It's a bonus.

I can't believe it's been a year since we sat in those chairs, and ate that cake (mmm... passion fruit mousse), said our vows and sang our ridiculous song. I love you Mr. Furiu!

I don't want to bombard you with pictures you've already seen, so if you're curious, you can check out our wedding pictures and slideshow (click featured: Alyson & Phil) on my amazing photographer's (love Joanna Tano!) website, or you can see my knot.com bio here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PIP: Wedding Week Recap, part 2

If you ever plan on having a destination wedding, be prepared to do lots of running around. Although we had to do that, we also had lots of time to hang out at the beaches, eat and play with everyone.
Jenn, me and Katie (J&K were my bridesdudes)
Ocean at Kahekili Beach Park
Mum, Dad and Tom getting into the water.
Of course, the day before the wedding, I had to go get a manicure and pedicure. We went to the Grand Wailea's spa... oh the foot massage was to die for!

 And then, of course, the rehearsal dinner!

Mmm. Food.
Playmobile bride and groom in a pineapple cake
View above me from where I was sitting at the table
I was so excited about marrying Phil the next day - I thought I wasn't going to be able to sleep at all, but I was surprisingly calm. Stay tuned tomorrow for wedding pictures!

Monday, August 16, 2010

PIP: Wedding Week Recap, part 1

As crazy as it feels to me, it was a year ago this week that Phil and I got married. It was SUCH an amazing vacation, and we were so lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who flew from Canada, the US and England to Hawaii. It was a week long party!

My parents were amazing enough to use their aeroplan points to fly us first class! So, Phil and I went to Honolulu for 2 nights before heading over to Maui for 16 more.

Did you know you get free booze in the Maple Leaf Lounges? Hello!
Phil stretching out in his pod.
Happiness is having your feet outstretched!
We woke up on Waikiki Beach.
Breakfast of Champions
I take it back. Mine was the breakfast of champions!Poached eggs with Portuguese sausage. NOM.
I made the pilgrimage to the mother ship.
This was lunch for two! Coconut ice cream, mac nut shorbread, chocolate... sigh.
Me at dessert time at Alan Wong's. What a table d'hote that was!
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