Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook" & "Foodarama Party Book" - Black Forest Ham and Coat Cheese Pizza and Gala Cake

Date I made these recipes: February 22, 2009 (Academy Award Night)

The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook – Recipes from Spago, Chinois and Points East and West by Wolfgang Puck
Published by: Random House
ISBN: 0-394-53366-6
© 1986
Recipe: Black Forest Ham and Goat Cheese Pizza – p. 112-113

Foodarama Party Book – What to Serve-What to Do at parties for all occasions – Children, Teenagers, Adults by the Kelvinator Division, American Motors Corp., Detroit 32, Michigan
Published by: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
© 1959
Recipe: Gala Cake – p. 37

Well, folks, we are just hours away from the start of the 81st annual Academy Awards – can you stand the excitement?? I know I can’t—so many dresses to critique (it is about the dresses, right?), so little time.

Sadly, folks, the only movie up for an award (Best Supporting Actress) that I’ve seen this year is Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, a quirky yarn directed by Woody Allen (who else?) and that was only a week ago. I am, quite sadly, light years behind on my movie watching.

Once upon a time, though, I was queen of the cinema. I went to movies all the time, especially weekend matinees when it was cheap (today, you can’t even buy the popcorn for what I paid). I was even at the local Uptown Theater when they screened the documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, Harvey Milk being the subject of this year’s movie, Milk, starring Sean Penn. Who knew that this kid from the middle of nowhere would be so cutting edge?

Last year’s Best Actor, Daniel Day Lewis, was also the subject of a quirky 1988 movie, Stars and Bars that also played at the Uptown during a film festival. From what I recall, he played an art dealer who had to go down south to sign an up-and-coming artist named Freeborn (what would I do without http://www.imdb.com/?). The one scene I distinctly remember was when Day Lewis stayed overnight at a theme hotel and had to paddle a canoe (yes, a canoe) across a waterway built in the registration area to get to the registration desk. If memory also serves, he tipped the thing over. Perhaps you had to be there but it was damned funny. It was especially nice to see DDL is a lighthearted comedy for once; that guy does “serious” like nobody’s business.

But alas, people, between the cost of the movies (not to mention snack canyon) and the movie-watching public’s increasing inability to remain quiet in a movie theater (“This is NOT your living room, and yes, I know he has a gun, thank you very much!”), we stopped going. I hate to admit this, but the last time I was in a theater was for The Matrix 3. Why I bothered with that flick, I have no idea but after that, it was DVD rental or bust. (Incidentally, another make-it or break-it moment took place in a movie theater in a state that shall remain nameless for security reasons—my own security—involving me and a woman I referred to as a “(expletive) hillbilly.” It was a heat of the moment thing and I forget where I was (not to mention my manners) and out it came; my entire row, consisting of me, my husband, my brother and sister-in-law slid down in our seats the minute that phrase was uttered in anticipation of a life-changing incident (otherwise known as “death.”). The fact that I lived to tell about this is probably due to the fact that back then, guns were not allowed in the theater…I think.)

But I digress…in order to honor the Academy winners, I turned to the man who has fed the stars for years on end: Wolfgang Puck.

Although famous in Hollywood, Wolfgang opened up a restaurant here in the Twin Cities a few years ago called 20.21 - (http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/finedining/2021/minneapolis/ It’s located in the Walker Art Center (our modern art museum), is primarily Asian-influenced and just darned good. That Wolfgang knows his way around a kitchen even though he came, he saw (the opening) and then he left and went back to sunny California where he doesn’t have to bring his car battery inside during a cold snap like we do.

It was a little challenging making something from Wolfgang’s book but I finally settled on a pizza. I did not make the pizza dough recipe in the book because I’m lazy and because (as I’ve stated before), “why do for yourself what others can do for you?” Just go buy a large pizza dough from Broder’s Cucina Italiana (or your local pizzeria) and be done with it!

Now at first blush, the gala cake recipe doesn’t seem like it’s a good fit for a pizza and you’re right, but there was a method to my madness. Last night, Saturday night, was the second annual Arcademy Gala. Arc Greater Twin Cities is a nonprofit organization serving individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families, and I’ve had the privilege of volunteering for them for the past 22 years. Over time, I’ve chaired national convention events, the 50th anniversary party and last year, stepped in with T-minus 6 months to go to chair the 1st annual gala. Because the event is held in February, we decided to play on the group’s name, Arc, and throw our own Oscar-themed party. Both last year and this year were a hit with a lineup of outstanding entertainment and high-spirited fund-raising auctions. It is a great time for a great cause and for Twin Cities’ residents looking for a great evening out, this is THE event to consider.

And so in honor of THE event of the season, I selected this Gala Cake for my Oscar-evening lineup from the book, Foodarama. (I absolutely adore the name of this book! My husband and I used to throw a summer party on the huge deck of a previous apartment that we dubbed Deck-O-Rama. That party series – Deck-O-Rama 1 -5 – was a big hit but that’s another story for another day.)

Now this recipe calls for a combination of frozen and fresh fruit but if I were you, I’d consider going with the easier and less expensive option known as fruit cocktail; I did, and I never looked back. (Besides, this book was published in 1959; are you going to tell me that frozen fruit was preferable over fruit cocktail? I think not.)

“And the Oscar goes to….”

Black Forest Ham and Goat Cheese Pizza – Makes 4 small pizzas or 1 large one
1 recipe Pizza Dough (p. 110) divided into 4 equal pieces (or one large dough made from a box or purchased from a local pizzeria)
Extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 cup grated Italian Fontina cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese or an equal amount of fresh, sliced mozzarella
2 baby Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise to ¼-inch slices and grilled or sautéed in olive oil
1 cup cubed goat cheese (Note: it’s easier and slightly cheaper to go with crumbled goat cheese)
2 ounces Black Forest ham, cut into julienne strips
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped, with 1 sprig reserved for garish

Before we get started, let me tell you about all my variations on a theme for this pizza:
I don’t have a pizza stone and don’t intend to buy one and so used a pizza pan and it worked out just fine. You will probably have to bake it a little longer than planned to achieve the same results.
I made one, large pizza and purchased the dough from Broders’ Cuciana Italiana in south Minneapolis – http://www.broderscucinaitaliana.com/. I also bought my fontina cheese and my mozzarella there.
I used one baby eggplant since my husband is not a big fan and I sautéed them in olive oil and then drained them on paper towels before putting them on the pizza.
Goat cheese is expensive so I used half the amount and went with crumbled instead of cubed.
I couldn’t find Black Forest ham and so went with Viriginia ham instead. I doubt I missed much in the flavor category and it saved me a trip to several other grocery stores.

And now for our actual instructions:
Before you are ready to bake the pizzas, preheat the oven with a pizza stone inside to 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
Roll or stretch the pizza dough, a quarter at a time, into a 7- to 8-inch circle. Now let’s pause here a minute to talk about this dough. For some reason, this sucker did not want to stay put and my husband and I had to wrestle this dough like alligator wranglers in order to get it into shape and onto the pizza pan. I suspect it might be because the dough was cold (I threw it in the refrig for a bit while making other things before taking it out to warm up) but it was a major endeavor. Let’s just say we were sweating, tired and covered with flour!
One at a time, place the pizza on a wooden peel (paddle) dusted lightly with flour or semolina. (Yeah, right Wolfie—like we all have a pizza paddle just hanging around our kitchen someplace.)
For each pizza, brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle it with dried chili flakes according to how s spicy you like your pizza. Arrange a quarter of the fontina and mozzarella cheese on the dough. Then add a quarter of the eggplant, goat cheese and ham. Sprinkle some chopped basil on top. Assemble the three remaining pizzas in the same way.
Slide the pizza onto the stone and bake it for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling lively.

Gala Cake – no serving size given
½ cup frozen diced pineapple
½ cup frozen diced peaches
½ cup seedless grapes
¼ cup halved maraschino cherries
OR buy two cans of fruit cocktail and drain (so much easier)
1 cup heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar (added to the whipped cream)
½ tsp orange extract
½ tsp lemon extract
2 8 or 9-inch yellow cake layers (I purchased a generic yellow cake mix for all of $.99 – sweet!)

Thaw and drain the frozen fruits (or drain your fruit cocktail). Add grapes and cherries if purchased separately. Whip cream; sweeten to taste with confectioners’ sugar. Fold in the flavoring extracts, then the drained fruit. Fill and frost cake layers with the whipped cream-fruit mixture. Garnish with additional fruit, if desired.

Note: the photo in the book shows that the cake is frosted in between layers and on the top but not on the sides. I decided not to frost the cake at all and instead pulled out my frosting as I went along and added it to the cake as if it were a whipped-cream topping. It saved on space in my refrigerator and didn’t turn my cake into a soggy mess.

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