Friday, July 30, 2010

Grilled-Chicken Alfredo Sauce Pizza

Grilled-Chicken Alfredo Sauce Pizza
As shared from the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

Makes one 13-inch pizza (or two smaller pizzas)

Note: I assemble my pizzas on a wooden or metal pizza peel dusted with cornmeal to facilitate transferring the pizza to the hot baking stone in the oven. Alternately you can assemble your pizza on large baking sheet (turned upside down), and dusted with cornmeal for transfer to the hot oven. You can spread the Alfredo sauce directly on the raw dough, but I usually pre-bake my pizza crust for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the toppings, and that's what I did this time as well.

For the chicken:
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast (half of a full breast), brushed with oil, salted, peppered then grilled until just done. Cool, then chop or shred into small bite-sized pieces. (Or you may use leftover, cooked chicken for the topping.)

For the "Alfredo" sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

The toppings:

The "Alfredo" sauce
Cooked chicken
1 cup grape tomatoes, red and yellow
1 cup grated mozzarella, fresh or aged
fresh basil leaves, or baby spinach leaves; washed and blotted dry
Olive oil, for brushing crust

approximately 1 pound pizza dough, (your choice- whole wheat or white flour dough)
shaped into a 13"-diameter disc, or two smaller discs if you prefer.
cornmeal or seminola flour for dusting the pizza peel


Adjust oven rack to the middle position with pizza stone on the rack. Preheat oven to 450* (F) Allow to heat for at least 30 to 45 while assembling the pizza.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir just until fragrance is released. Add the flour and stir for a minute or two until flour is cooked and just beginning to color, watch carefully (do not brown.) Whisk in the cream, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and taste for salt. Season lightly with salt if desired, and pepper.

Generously dust pizza peel or inverted baking sheet with cornmeal (or seminola). Place pizza dough on top, ladle desired amount of Alfredo sauce on top, covering nearly to the edges. Sprinkle basil, or spinach leaves over, then tomatoes, grilled chicken and the mozzarella. Brush the edge of pizza with olive oil, and sprinkle entire pizza with a little coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

With a quick, confident jerking motion move the assembled pizza to the hot baking stone. Bake the pizza until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional basil or spinach leaves. Allow to cool for a moment, then slice and enjoy.

Offer grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes when serving, if desired.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Easy Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
4 generous servings

1 can (14 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, half a palm full
2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco. (I use a little less)
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
Salt and pepper

* My additions (optional): Cubed, ripe avocado and chopped cilantro stirred in right before serving.


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand at least 15 minutes for corn to fully defrost and flavors to combine, then toss and serve.

Rachael says: "The corn will also place a quick-chill on this easy side-salad as it defrosts -- no need to refrigerate!"

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Szechuan-Style String Beans

You can make this with Chinese long-beans, or common string beans (green beans.) I usually increase the amount of sauce (double or triple), and serve with steamed rice as a main course.

Szechuan-style String Beans
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

6 to 8 servings as part of a traditional multi-course Chinese meal.
Serves 2 or 3 as a main course
1 tablespoon dried shrimp (can find in Asian markets, or on line)
1 pound string beans, trimmed and blanched until tender crisp, plunged into an ice water bath, then drained
1 ounce ground pork, chicken, or turkey (I usually use 4 ounces for a main course)*
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (I use more, and divide use)
1 teaspoon minced preserved Szechuan mustard green (I love this stuff in this dish, but it's difficult to find--- or substitute Kim Chee from the jar, finely chopped, or omit.)
1 teaspoon chili paste (from a jar; it's usually labeled Chili-Garlic paste), or more to taste
I usually double or triple these amounts depending upon how saucy I want the dish.
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chicken broth, or stock
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Prepare green beans as directed above, don't overcook! You want them barely tender and still slightly crisp, as they will cook further during final cooking. Set aside.
Soak shrimp in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes; drain and mince.
Brown the meat in a little vegetable oil, when it is nearly done add half of the minced garlic & the minced dried shrimp. Stir until heated through. Drain and remove to a bowl or plate.
In the same pan over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil until hot.

Add string beans and stir fry for a minute or two until hot.

Stir in the remaining garlic, tossing & stirring until fragrant.

Add the meat/shrimp mixture to the pan of string beans, stir until combined then add the seasonings; tossing well until all is heated through.

Note: If you like a thicker sauce, as I do, make a slurry with a little chicken broth & corn starch: After vegetables are nearly done, stir in the additional chicken broth/cornstarch mixture a little at a time to the green beans & meat until the sauce is thickened to your liking.

Before serving taste and adjust seasonings.


Recipe adapted from "Chef Chu's Distinctive Cuisine of China"

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