Clam pizza

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Clam pizza is such a Connecticut thing. I'm sure some would argue that it's also a New York thing, but I feel like Frank Pepe, the New Haven pizza institution, is best known for it's clam pizza, and thus, clam pizza is a Connecticut thing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I first tried this briny, garlicky pie on a trip to Connecticut long before moving here myself. And I've been on a Goldilocksian journey to find the best one ever since. They have either been too salty, not garlicky enough, or without cheese and that is not acceptable to me when it comes to pizza. (Don't yell at me, people who think seafood and cheese should never mingle.)

Some slapdash mis-en-place.

Some slapdash mis-en-place.

We have not yet found our favorite (sorry, Pepe's), but instead have been making our favorite. Full of three different kinds of cheese and two different kinds of garlic, this pizza tastes like clams and tastes like a proper pizza, but also SO MUCH MORE. 

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I used a pizza stone on a grill because a) not everyone has a grill, so you can easily recreate this in an oven with the pizza stone (see directions in the recipe); and b) because I've never grilled my pizza directly on the grates. If you're braver than I am, here are some instructions for that method.

If you aren't as into garlic (this recipe calls for 10 cloves!), either reduce the number of fresh cloves or just use the roasted ones. Their flavor is much mellower and blends well with the cheese.

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And please do garnish with the lemon and sea salt. They make a huge difference in the end product.

Clam pizza

1 pizza dough
Flour to prevent sticking when rolling out dough
Coarse corn meal, about 2-3 Tbsp
1 cup ricotta cheese
6-7 roasted garlic cloves (see method below)
2-3 large raw garlic cloves, minced
2 cans clams, drained (about 4 oz of clam meat)
1/2- 3/4 cup nutty cheese such as gruyere, sharp cheddar, gouda (not smoked), or fontina,
shredded
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
Parsley
Lemon wedges
Sea salt
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

For the roasted garlic:
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400. Smash 10 cloves of garlic, but don't remove the peels. Add them to a small oven proof container. I usually use a ramekin or a coffee mug. Cover with olive oil. Cook in the oven until the garlic is bubbling and fragrant and the cloves are very soft when (carefully! hot oil!) pushed on with a spoon, about 10 minutes.

Preheat your grill on high or your oven at 500. Remove the top rack of your grill or the second rack of your oven and move the remaining rack to the lower middle portion of the oven. (You want enough room above the rack to negotiate your dough onto the pizza stone, but be close enough to the top of the oven to easily brown your cheese. Add the pizza stone and let heat for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep all of your toppings. Add the raw and roasted garlic to the ricotta, drain your clams, and shred and combine the mozzarella and nutty cheeses. Set aside. 

On a floured pizza board, roll out or press out your dough until very thin. Lift up half of the dough and scatter the coarse corn meal underneath. Repeat on the other side. Jiggle your pizza board to make sure that the dough will slide off easily. 

If cooking in the oven, add your toppings before placing the raw dough on the pizza stone, periodically shaking the pizza board to make sure that the topped dough will slide off easily. If the toppings are weighing down the dough too much, carefully add more corn meal under the crust.

Slide the topped, raw dough onto the pizza stone carefully. Cook for 6-8 minutes without opening the oven. Check the pizza and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the cheese and the sides of the crust begin to brown. Check the bottom crust for doneness (it should be golden brown and crispy). Remove from the heat and top with chopped parsley, sea salt, lemon, and crushed red pepper flakes (optional).

If cooking on the grill, make sure all of your toppings are measured and easily spreadable. Slide the plain, raw dough onto your grill and quickly top with the ricotta and garlic mixture, the clams, and the shredded cheeses. Close the lid to the grill and let cook for 5 minutes. Check for doneness continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until the crust and cheese begin to brown.

Check the bottom crust for doneness (it should be golden brown and crispy). Remove from the heat and top with chopped parsley, sea salt, lemon, and crushed red pepper flakes (optional).

One note about grilling, the number of burners on your grill will change the speed at which this pizza cooks. A 6-burner grill might take less than 5 minutes, so check it sooner. A 3-burner grill might take a minute more. Use your judgement based on your grill or oven.

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Falafel waffles

Falafel waffles, guys. They're really really good. Also, hearing a 2 year old say "Falafel waffle" is hysterical. M studies at the Leslie Knope Institute of Waffle Appreciation, so I try to waffle things whenever possible. These are particularly successful. I usually feel pretty 'meh' toward baked falafel because they tend to be, in my opinion, mealy, dry, and little hard to swallow. Appetizing, eh? No so with these guys! I adapted a terrific recipe from Epicurious but added more spices, tahini to help bind and moisten the batter, and chunks of haloumi cheese.

Let's talk about haloumi. I love this cheese so so much. BUT, I have to add the caveat that it's rubbery when cold. Like, feels terrible on your teeth and makes a horrible sound when chewed, rubbery. But, once heated, this cheese is divine. Melted, roasted, grilled, etc, it's great. Grilled is my favorite because it becomes more oozy and gooey, but doesn't seem to fully melt. Anyway, this cheese is salty and a little briny, but very mild and in the waffles creates pockets of salty goodness.

The batter here is not your typical waffle batter and when I first made these, I thought for sure that they'd be a flop. Once combined, these ingredients make sort of a grainy, sandy, thick-ish mixture that bakes into a totally normal waffle. A couple more notes: I only use dried chickpeas that I've soaked overnight in these. I think that the canned ones fall apart too easily. I also used garbanzo flour to make these gluten-free, but you can use any type of flour you have on hand. Be sure to spray your waffle maker with some olive oil spray between each batch as these guys can stick.

Falafel Waffles

Roughly adapted from Cookie + Kate

2 cups chick peas
1.5 Tbsp (just grab a handful) fresh cilantro
1.5 Tbsp (ditto above) fresh parsley
½ large onion
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp coriander
2 Tbsp tahini
6 Tbsp garbanzo flour
8 oz haloumi cheese (1 medium-sized block)

Place all of the ingredients up to the cheese into a food processor and pulse until well combined and looking like medium grains of sand. Chunk up the cheese with your hands and mix into the falafel batter. Form into palm-sized balls (about 1/3 cup each) and cook in a well-greased waffle maker according to the appliance’s directions.

Yield: 12 small waffles

Whole 30: Day 20! (Two sauces and a confession)

I think I'm doing Whole 30 wrong. I'm periodically gripped by the feeling that I've eaten a forbidden food. It's almost like I've forgotten that I'm doing Whole 30. One could read this in two ways: It's possible that this has become habitual already, which seems like an important part of the 30 days. On the other hand, I'm afraid that my amnesia is due to the fact that I've changed what I eat, but not how I eat.

For example, yesterday I ate an entire bag of dried mango. (Sorry, I know no one wants to hear about this.) From a harm reduction standpoint, a bag of dried mango isn't exactly a snickers. But, does my body know that? Probably not. I've also been terrible about checking in with myself before snacking. Am I craving sugar? Am I thirsty? Am I actually angry, lonely, or tired? What if I'm just swallowing my feelings along with approved foods rather than "comfort" foods? I had hoped at the start of this 30 days that eating different foods would break the emotional eating cycle, but alas. There are still 10 days left to work on it.

On to more positive topics: Sauces!

Whole 30 romesco and chimichurri sauces. #meandthemoose #whole30 #romesco #chimichurri

Chimichurri *

Chimichurri is the best easy , herby sauce for zinging up any fatty meat. #whole30 #meandthemoose

1 cup flat leaf parsley (loosely packed)
1 cup cilantro (loosely packed) 
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 medium shallot
2 cloves garlic, halved
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 Tbs olive
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean the fresh herbs and tear off leaves. Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes, shallot, garlic, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. Add oil in a slow stream (if possible- when I use my small food processor, the top doesn't open while the blades spin, so I just dump the oil in with the other ingredients and blend away). Season with salt and pepper.

*A note about this chimichurri: In my research, I found A LOT of strong opinions back and forth about the amount of oil and acid in various versions. The closest recipe to mine is this one from Gimme Some Oven. You'll note that I halved both the acid and the oil. This chimichurri is best with a fattier piece of meat because the herbs and garlic are really the stars. I didn't want an oily sauce with a fatty steak. Oil + oil = gross. But I also didn't want a lip puckering amount of acid. One could combine citrus and vinegar to make a more complex acidity.    

Romesco     

Romesco sauce perks up vegetables and blander fish and poultry. #whole30 #meandthemoose #romesco

This is basically Bon Appetit's recipe with a few small tweaks. I never have sherry vinegar, so I sub in red wine vinegar. I also halve the parsley because I don't love parsley. I also oven roast my own red peppers because it's easy. Instructions below!

1 red bell pepper, roasted
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbs fresh parsley
2-3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To roast the peppers: Set the oven to broil. Place the peppers in a casserole or baking dish. Put the rack in the middle of the oven (I actually used my toaster oven). While cooking, keep an eye on the peppers so they don't burn. Flip a few times to ensure even browning. I don't let my peppers get too charred:

Wimpy char, but delicious flavor. #meandthemoose #redpeppers #romesco #whole30

Wimpy char, but delicious flavor. #meandthemoose #redpeppers #romesco #whole30

Once you have a light char on all sides, wrap the peppers in foil (beware the heat while wrapping) and let them steam for at least one hour. But feel free to forget about them and go about your day. Unwrap the foil, peel off the pepper skin, and they're ready to use!

Add the peppers, garlic, toasted almonds, tomato paste, parsley, red wine vinegar, paprika, and cayenne in a blender or food processor. Add the oil (again, pour the oil in a thin stream while blending the other ingredients unless using a small food processor). Season with salt and pepper to taste.