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Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

If you don’t like pizza then you might not be human. Everyone loves pizza. If you don’t, I feel bad for you son. I’ll eat 99 Pizzas and won’t hate one.

There are songs, debates, wars and love all made over what pizza is and what it should be. For fun, start a discussion with random people about if they like pineapple on pizza. If that doesn’t work, ask them if they think deep dish or thin crust is a better pizza. Then just walk away from the mayhem you have just created like nothing ever happened.

Pizza is a balanced meal because it hits all the major food groups, carbs, dairy, meat and vegetables. You can customize pizzas to just about whatever toppings you want on it. However, the Ninja Turtles pushed the boundaries on what you should put on pizza. If you put jelly beans on a pizza, then you are either a child, a psychopath or a Ninja Turtle. That is a pizza I probably won’t eat… Probably…

Also, don’t forget about this great country we live in where a pizza can be made of tacos, cheese burgers, mac and cheese or just about any unhealthy preparation you can think of.  God bless America.

Since we’re talking about controversial ways to make pizza, I made mine with gluten free crust. After I told some friends I made my dough this way they immediately questioned why I would do such a thing. It wasn’t because of an allergy but I explained that I like the taste of some gluten free products such as pretzels. You tend to get a crunchier taste and since I was going with thin crust style, why not make it easier by making it gluten free? Obviously, people were furious, I lost a few friends, my manhood was questioned, but I enjoyed what I made and it was delicious.

The gluten free dough was not what I had expected though. I had made regular pizza dough before during my time working at Italian restaurants as a young papino… We didn’t worry about gluten back then… It wasn’t a thing… Can you believe that? The gluten free dough did not stretch much at all like regular dough with all that glorious gluten. I did have to end up using regular flower for the rolling process, but if you do have a gluten allergy make sure you have extra available to make your life easier. Cornmeal will work as well but sometimes a blend of cornmeal and flower works best for taste and texture and your dough doesn’t stick to your counter or rolling pin. Below is the mostly easy process I used to make pan pizza… Enjoy.

Directions for Pizza Crust

I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust. Follow directions on the package to prepare

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 500° or as high as it will go (do not set broil your pizza will burn from the top).
  2. Roll out the pizza dough with a rolling pin then use your hands to gently press the dough in a round shape.
  3. Once you have the right shape, move the dough to a cast iron pan on med-high heat. Drizzle the dough with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
  4. When the dough starts to bubble, use a small ladle or large spoon to spread pizza sauce from the middle all the way to the end of the crust (Cover the entire crust, it will caramelize the edges of the pizza and you won’t have any non-crust eaters just throwing that part away).
  5. Sprinkle mozzarella to your liking and add your favorite toppings. I used pepperoni, onions, pepperoncini, parmesan and prosciutto. I finished the prosciutto pizza with arugala and parmesan after it came out of  the oven.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until everything is melted and crispy to your liking.
  7. Slice, eat and enjoy….

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Garlic Cloves, minced

2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (Preferably San Marzano or Organic)

3 oz. or ½ 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a pan on medium heat, add oil, garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant.
  2.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper. Stir together, taste seasoning and adjust as desired.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir occasionally and simmer for 30 minutes.

*Pro-tip, make the day before so the sauce is cool and flavors have time to meld before using.

*Place leftover sauce in a freezer bag to use on future pizzas or any dish that calls for marinara.

Sun Peaks Resort

As I get ready for my next snowboard trip, I have been reminiscing of the trip I took last season. Most people are familiar with the legendary largest ski resort in Canada also known as Whistler Blackcomb but have you heard of the 2nd largest? I didn’t at the time.. Maybe that was just me? Regardless, Sun Peaks resort is a world class ski resort that brings a unique experience that competes with Whistler.  

Honestly, I cannot compare the two resorts as far as ski conditions because I have only been to Whistler in the summer to ride the mountain bike park. So please take my comparisons lightly. My goal is to go to Whistler next winter season when we’re expected to have better conditions than the unpredictable El Niño pattern we’re experiencing now.

Although I haven’t yet experienced the snow in Whistler, I think I can expect the quality of snow to be much like the PNW region where I live. The snow at Sun Peaks was much dryer and lighter than I was familiar with, maybe because it seems like less humid and colder climate. My coldest day there dropped to -14° Celsius. Factor in the wind chill and it was bone chilling cold at times. One of my favorite lifts was the Burfield express which crosses a wide-open terrain and reaches the highest peak of the resort. If they could make that a covered lift to block the wind, that would be great (Lumbergh’s Voice). The Burfield lift gave access to some of my favorite runs with deep powder, I spent a lot of time on that side of the resort.

Back in Time Trail

Not only was the condition of the snow great but also the accessibility of so many amazing trails. The condo we rented was on the side of the village near Mt Morrisey. The main village is located on side of Mt Tod. There aren’t as many as runs on Mt Morrisey, but it is less crowded and just as much fun to be had. We found you can take the “back in time” trail to get back over to Mt Tod by reaching the Burfield base area. It’s slightly difficult taking the back in time trail on a snowboard at first because of some flat spots, but just get as much speed as possible and you shouldn’t have much trouble. Pro-tip, don’t follow your buddy who thinks they found a “short-cut” through some residential areas to get back to the Mt Tod side. Most likely they don’t know where they’re going and you’ll end up having to hike a couple miles back to the main village. Maybe you get lucky and catch a ride on a shuttle or passer by but if not, it’s not fun. After a couple of my buddy’s “short-cuts” I stopped following him and said “smell ya later dude”. That decision paid off more than once.

Stepping out the condo to start boarding

The condo we booked was located about ½ mile from the village and paid about $120 USD per night. It was a nice 2 BD, 2BA condo with a full kitchen, laundry, hot tub and underground parking. Located perfectly in a quiet neighborhood with views of the ski lifts from the balcony.

The village is not as large as Whistler, but has everything you need. Plenty of shopping, restaurants, bars, grocery and liquor stores. On the first day we got supplies from the supermarket in the village to save money on breakfast and snacks. Other times we just hit up some of the restaurants such as Oya a Japanese restaurant and Mantles restaurant and lounge. These were probably my favorite places we ate otherwise you can’t go wrong with any of the pizza restaurants.

Bento lunch at Oya

It seemed like the night life wasn’t as abundant as Whistler’s, not necessarily a bad thing if you’re not into that, but I like to party. Overall Sun Peaks has more of a quiet family getaway vibe. It’s perfect if you are looking for a less crowded relaxed experience.

Shot from the drive through Bellingham Wa

I can say for sure the drive to Whistler is far more scenic than it is to and from Sun Peaks. This is not a deal breaker by any means but the drive to and from Whistler is breath-taking at times, it’s hard to beat. Driving to Sun Peaks is just mostly highway views of the mountains, a mostly standard experience of driving to most ski resorts.

Overall Sun Peaks was a great snowboard trip. It definitely sets the bar high as far as value for the amazing accommodations and experiences to be had. I look forward to going back in the future after knocking a couple other ski trips off my list.

View from Mantles Restaurant and Lounge

Chicken Congee

Congee is another one of those meals that can be easily made with some leftover ingredients. In fact, I don’t recommend making this if you don’t have some leftover rice already in the fridge, it just works better. Traditionally congee is made with white rice, but I used brown rice because it is what I usually eat at home. However, I wouldn’t get carried away and use just any kind of rice because a short grain type of rice is going to work best. Congee is best during cold weather months and when you are not feeling well. It will cure the common cold.

Ingredients

2 cp Cooked Brown Rice (cooled preferably leftover)

1 qt Low Sodium Chicken Stock

2 cp water

1 small yellow Onion diced

2 clove garlic chopped

½ Roasted Chicken (cooled and shredded)

¼ cp Maggi

Salt and Pepper to taste

Green onions sliced

Sesame oil

Instructions 

  1. In a pot on medium heat, add onions, garlic and  sauté until translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add rice, chicken stock and stir to combine. Set pot on a low simmer and stir every 15 minutes for approximately 1 hr.
  3. Add water, chicken, Maggi and season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer and stir every 15 minutes for another 30-45 minutes.
  4. When rice is bloomed and the congee looks rich and silky almost like soupy oatmeal consistency then it is ready. Add seasoning of salt (or more Maggi) and pepper to taste as necessary and serve while hot.
  5. Garnish with scallions, sesame oil and drizzle of soy sauce or Maggi. Serve and enjoy.

Seared Blackened Tofu Balsamic Salad

Sometimes when I’m scrounging through the odd pairing of ingredients in my house, I come up with weird sounding recipes that surprising turn out well. That’s how this one came recipe came about. I had tofu, mixed greens, red onion and I almost always have ingredients to make a balsamic vinaigrette. The only thing I felt this dish was lacking was tomatoes. Either way, this was delicious and I would definitely make it again.

Ingredients

Blackened Seasoned Tofu

1 Firm Tofu 15 oz package

1 Tbsp Cayenne

1 Tbsp Paprika

1 Tbsp Black Pepper

1 tsp salt

Balsamic Salad

½ Red Onion Sliced Thin

1 Clove minced garlic

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 Tbsp Honey

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

2 Cups prepared Mixed Salad Greens

Caramelized Red Onion

  1. Slice ½ of a red onion thinly
  2. Add oil to a med-high heat pan then add onions
  3. Continue to cook and stir red onions until translucent with a caramelized texture, then set aside.

Blackened Tofu

  1. Cut firm tofu into 1” x 4” blocks and dry on paper towels
  2. Mix together Paprika, Cayenne, Black Pepper and Salt.
  3. Spread blackened seasoning on all sides of the tofu until completely covered.
  4. Put olive oil in a hot skillet med-high heat and carefully sear tofu until both sides are darkly browned.
  5. Set aside on paper towel when done

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. Add minced garlic, honey, mustard and balsamic to a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while mixing vigorously to emulsify the vinaigrette.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Assemble

  1. Add caramelized onions to balsamic vinaigrette and mix together to coat.
  2. Add mixed greens toss together with dressing, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  3. On a plate, carefully place greens on the bottom, then onions then place blackened tofu on top.
  4. Serve and enjoy….

Ramen Danbo Review

With the ever growing amount of Ramen restaurants in the Seattle area, Ramen Danbo is my new favorite. They have locations in Vancouver BC, Capitol Hill Seattle and coming soon to Brooklyn NY. Even though they are expanding their footprint and it doesn’t seem like an exclusive restaurant, it also proves they’re doing ramen right.

RamenDfront

Ramen Danbo Capitol Hill Seattle WA

I love the flavors of Ramen Danbo’s broth, chashu and noodles combines. You will not get served an over-cooked egg here, you can sense their attention to detail they take when making their ramen. Nothing turns me off more than when I get served a hard-boiled egg with my ramen.

The only thing I find unfortunate with Ramen Danbo compared to other ramen restaurants is how they charge you to customize your ramen if you want the extras to get it the way you want it. Obviously this can get pricey the more you add-on.

I had the Miso Rekka Ramen with soft-boiled egg, nori and kikurage (Pictured above). You also choose the noodle thickness, firmness and type of broth. Even with the added charges I left Ramen Danbo happy because I got everything just the way I wanted and everything tasted great. If you are ever near one of their locations give them a try, you won’t be disappointed. Keep in mind, they do not take table reservations, this is a very-much first come, first serve style of dining.

http://ramendanbo.com/

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