Pizza and Muffins and Curry and Coffee…!

Looking over my Flickr account, I’ve eaten quite a bit of yummy things and not taken the time to write about it here! That’ll change right now, then.

A little over a week ago, my sister decided she wanted to make some garlic knots at lunchtime, so we ordered a pizza to go along with them from the only place near campus that was delivering that day, Cosmos Cafรฉ. The timing wound up perfect, as the pizza arrived just as the garlic knots were coming out of the oven.

Homemade Garlic Knots
Garlicky dough-knots
While they were certainly fresh and delicious, my sister and I agreed they could’ve used a bit more garlic-and-oil topping. Next time, we’ll be keeping that in mind. At the same time, we found that her baking stone makes a wonderful difference with the texture of the bread. The outside gets a nice, dry crust while the inside stays perfectly soft. While lacking a little in the flavor department, these garlic knots had truly authentic dough.

Cosmos Pizza with Peppers and Onions
Cosmos pizza with peppers and onions
The pizza was pretty comparitive. It did possess the thin crust, not-to-much cheese, and yummy veggies that comprise my pizza preferences in those areas, but the sauce was just good, not fantastic. It well-satisfied my pizza desires, though, and I would definitely order from Cosmos again.

Another Pizza Shot
I ate it–yep yep!
Here you can see that the cheese and crust are in balance. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when pizza has more cheese than crust. That’s plain just too much greasiness, ick. At the same time, I much prefer thin-crust pizza to Sicilian-style, so dramatically more crust than cheese is also in the Terrible Pizza section of my book. This pizza could’ve had less cheese and that would’ve put it into the Perfect Pizza section, at least with respect to cheesiness, but it was certainly far from disagreeable. :]

Hmm…I think if I don’t paginate this entry, it’s about to get excessively long, so continue on to the full entry page if you’d like to read more about what I’ve eaten and cooked and eaten again!

Pecan Muffins
Pecan muffin army

They had lovely rounded tops
Late last week, I made muffins as a gift for my dad. He likes to eat small, light breakfasts, so I figured some regular-sized muffins would be right down his alley. I took a recipe for slightly-sweet, plain muffins that I found and modified it with some beautiful chopped pecans (one of his favorite nuts). You can find the recipe for these muffins on the second page of this entry.

I mainly used the muffin/cupcake papers out of laziness, heh; I didn’t feel like having to thoroughly grease the tins before pouring in the batter, nor did I want to clean the pans when I was done. Little did I know, I’d actually wind up preferring the Brunelleschian domes the tops form when cooked in the papers as opposed to the flatter tops of the apple coffee cake muffins I made in greased tins. I’m sure it wasn’t recipe-related, as both muffins looked equally airy in the interiors, and the pecan muffin batter was actually about twice as thick.

Gear Muffins
Enticingly cracked tops
The Muffin is Going to Eat You!
A threatening muffin–or is it being threatened? ;]
Wrapped Muffins
One batch of muffins to go, please!
The tops also featured the typical cracks of baked quickbreads, inviting you to explore the soft, crumby insides scented and spotted with gorgeous pecans. A crisp, browned exterior giving way to the moist and flavorful body of the muffin. Perfection!

With such an alluring appearance, how could I resist tasting one? Besides, I had the justification of them being a gift, and as a first-time recipe, I couldn’t possibly give them to someone else not knowing if they were tasty or not! ๐Ÿ˜‰ So one muffin succumbed to the dangers of my digestive system, much to the delight of my tastebuds and appetite. Mmm… :d It truly was just slightly sweet and very light, with a delicately rich flavor contributed by the chopped pecans. The larger pieces of nuts added a firmness of bite that complimented the soft crumb of the bread. My dad was equally pleased, and just as I expected, found they would make a perfect breakfast. ๐Ÿ˜€

After all was said and done, I wrapped them up and off they went to my dad. They apparently keep rather well just contained securely in good plastic wrap, and a quick warming in the microwave brings them to the perfect temperature for consumption.

Homemade Shallot-and-Mushroom Pizza
There’s nothing like good homemade pizza
Pizza View from the Top
Half mushroomy, all shallotty :d
Despite the fact that the pizza from last week had fully quenched any pizza cravings I’d have for the next couple of months, when my dad proposed breaking in his own baking stone (he’d been wanting one for years, and when my sister seemed equally interested when I showed her the one I bought for my dad, I got one for her, too :)) with a homemade pizza, I felt desire bubbling yet again. My dad is reknowned for his homemade pizzas–everything done from scratch except for the cheese. Now that it was going to be baked on a stone, I knew it’d finally reach the level of perfection he’d always been striving for.

After putting together a lovely pizza dough, my dad fixed up an absolutely delicious, chunky, flavorful tomato sauce and started prepping the veggies as the dough rested. Using up some leftover shallots from homemade French onion soup fixings and a package of white mushrooms was a fantastic idea, but since my sister utterly despises mushrooms, they only graced half the pie. To me, that just meant even more on my slice, and I certainly won’t complain about that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pizza Crust
Perfectly-browned, crispy, thin crust beauty
Cut Homemade Pizza
Pizza Perfection
Once assembled and baked, the full glory of the pizza stone’s crust-perfecting capability was revealed. This crust was thin, just as I like it, and oh-so-crispy-crunchy yet nowhere near the burnt end of the brownness spectrum. I can’t think of any way it could be more perfect, but I bet my dad will surpass it with his next pizza, now that he’s getting more familiar with the workings of the stone.

As for how the rest of the pizza turned out, I have confidently named it the Best Pizza Ever. The sauce, as previously mentioned, was amazing, the veggies cooked up gorgeously–shallots caramelized, mushrooms perfectly sweated–and the cheese we used was fresh mozzarella and fresh-grated parmigiano reggiano. Seriously folks, as far as the basic components of a pizza go, this pie is the top of the crop. The additional toppings, of course, are completely subject to individual taste. I quite enthusiastically gobbled up two slices of this pizza!

My dinner the next night wasn’t quite as epiphanic, but it was impressive in its own right. I made a curry sauce using a jar of Thai green curry paste that was a muchly-appreciated gift from a friend to go atop chicken and a side of linguine.

Chicken Curry with Linguine
I :heart: curry!!
I’ve never met a curry I didn’t adore, and apparently I can make a good curry off the top of my head, as well. About half a can of evaporated milk and a couple of heaping tablespoons of the spicy paste went into a pan, and I heated the mixture until it started to thicken. Then I sprinkled in a tiny bit of cornstarch and continued cooking until it was a nice consistency. After adding some chunked chicken breast to the pan, I covered it all with aluminum foil and baked it in the oven at 375 until the chicken was done, about 20-25 minutes. It came out fabulously, as you can see. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since I don’t have any rice, I improvised with some linguine (Italian girl, what?) for a side dish suitable for soaking up all the extra curry sauce. This was definitely one satisfying dinner. ๐Ÿ˜€

Finally, I’ve reached the end of the photo-documentation that has accumulated in my Flickr account…

Fresh-Brewed Coffee
Strong, intense coffee
This morning I brewed a pot of coffee from the grinds my dad gave me when I moved into this apartment. If I’d had a grinder, he’d given me whole beans, but it wasn’t until later than I bought a Magic Bullet and could grind the beans myself when I want to brew some coffee. Now I’m itching for some whole beans from him, so I can fix up a pot that’s just that much better. ๐Ÿ™‚

My dad and I both are truly coffee fanatics with a genuine appreciation for a good cup o’ joe. This appreciation extends so deep that my dad goes to the trouble of not only grinding his coffee fresh before brewing but also roasting his own raw beans in small batches so as to always have the best, freshest, and richest beans for his coffee.

The result of this sort of passion? Coffee that so far surpasses anything storebought that it isn’t even worth comparing the two. Starbucks? It’s dishwater compared to what comes out of our home coffeepots. My dad’s coffee brews up like chocolate: deep, rich, smooth, and never bitter. You don’t drink this stuff to get your “morning fix”; this is a beverage fit for the gods. It’s the only coffee I’d ever consider drinking truly black–no milk or sugar at all.

Creamed Coffee
Creamy and delicious
However, sometimes I’m feeling something a little creamy, and in that case, just a dash of coffee creamer adds the texture my mouth is aching for and a subtle sweetness that is all is needed to make this brew absolutely divine. This is a cup of coffee you savor, sipping slowly, reveling in the way the liquid slips over your tongue and caresses your tastebuds with an intensity of flavor that delights and never overpowers.

My dad’s roasted beans give way to heaven in a cup. And I think I’ve just talked myself into having another as an afternoon treat… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Pecan Muffins
Makes 1 dozen standard-size muffins

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease muffin cups or use papers. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk and oil. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add egg mixture to flour and stir just until flour is moistened. The batter be lumpy, and a few streaks of white are okay. Gently stir in the nuts being careful NOT to overmix.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown, with cracked tops.

4 thoughts on “Pizza and Muffins and Curry and Coffee…!

  1. Wow, your dad’s pizza sure sounds good… Makes me want to eat pizza again. I can eat half a pie by myself lol. I haven’t had pizza for a long time because I was traumatized by eating pizza made by Mexicans in Manhattan for a month while I was working. Coffee that makes Starbucks taste like dishwater? Your dad sounds like a man of many talents. I’ll never go to Starbucks again after reading this entry… I feel jipped for drinking overpriced dishwater. :dead:

  2. Well, I ate almost a quarter of that pizza, so I think eating half wouldn’t be that much of a feat. It wasn’t a HUGE pizza. Now, half of the Cosmos pie is another story altogether… O_o

    Seriously, I only ever go to Starbucks if I’m wanting a caramel machiatto. All the sweetness of the yummy caramel balances the crap that is the coffee. I got a capuccino once and was thoroughly disgusted by it. XP I’m still not over the fact that I wasted nearly five dollars on a cup half filled with foam, half filled with bitter, slightly milky, wannabe espresso. ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. Yeah I meant the huge ones… Yes, I’m the skinny guy that can eat everything. Let’s go burn down Starbucks for ripping us off. Just kidding. ๐Ÿ˜†

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