Fast Tip Friday: Singleton’s Pizza

Singleton's Pizza 11When I was younger, and my dad was away at sea and my brothers had gone out for the evening, my mother and I would sometimes take it easy from dinner preparation for one night and do something quick and dirty with the leftovers we had in the fridge. Now that I’m a grown-up, it’s the perfect thing to cobble together on nights when the Pie is out of town and all I want to do is plant my butt on the couch with a beer and watch the game. You just need three things: leftover spaghetti sauce (the chunkier the better), cheese, and rice cakes (this also works on pita, na’an, and any other form of flat bread). Singleton's Pizza 1

Heat up the sauce a bit and grate some cheese.

Singleton's Pizza 2Gren has realized I have the cheese grater out. Singleton's Pizza 3

Gren is trying to inhale the cheese from where he’s standing. I love it when he wrinkles up his face like that because I know if he could see himself doing it he’d be totally embarrassed.

Singleton's Pizza 4Line a baking sheet with parchment, move your oven rack to the middle, and turn on your broiler (don’t move it to the top or you will simply set all this on fire). Place your rice cakes(or flatbread) on the baking sheet. Top the rice cakes with your warm sauce. Singleton's Pizza 6

Add grated cheese. Give some to your dog or he won’t go away. To make it less sad singleton, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and that made me feel a little less lazy and pathetic.

Singleton's Pizza 7Broil until the cheese is melted to your satisfaction. Singleton's Pizza 10

Eat!

Singleton's Pizza 9

Tabouleh, Take Two

Tabouleh Take Two 19

Mid-September in Ottawa is when the garden tomato harvest is at its peak.  For as long as my parents have lived in this house, they’ve had more tomato plants and therefore more tomatoes than they really know what to do with.  This year, however, was a different story.  Having spent a large chunk of last winter and spring in Florida, my parents got their plants in too late to have a particularly good yield.  In previous years, my parents have given plants and tomatoes to everyone who will take them.  This year, those recipients are paying them back.  So the next two dishes this week will be tomato based while I try to get the tomatoes used before they go soft.  This is my second tabouleh recipe here on the blog (first one is here), and this one is more or less traditional, though I added a few extra spices just for fun.

Tabouleh Take Two 1

Start with 1 cup bulgur, and about 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Stir those together in a medium-sized bowl.

Tabouleh Take Two 5

Cover the oily bulgur with 2 cups boiling water; give it a stir and set it aside for at least 15 minutes.

Tabouleh Take Two 10

Now grab yourself an enormous hunk of fresh parsley (probably about 2 cups total). We have two kinds in our garden — this fluffy one:

Tabouleh Take Two 2

and this more flat-leaved variety.

Tabouleh Take Two 3

You also want a hunk of fresh mint (about half a cup).  This has seen better days (it was the only survivor of our weed-burning escapade at the back of the house), but it’s still good.

Tabouleh Take Two 4

I was feeling lazy so I chucked all those things in a food processor.

Tabouleh Take Two 8

So much easier than mincing!

Tabouleh Take Two 9

Now comes the annoying part: you have to dice AND SEED all your tomatoes.  If you don’t seed them then your tabouleh will be mushy and that’s just gross.  I used about 10 medium-sized tomatoes for this particular recipe.

Tabouleh Take Two 11

When you’ve got all the tomatoes done, season them with salt and pepper.  I also threw in a dash of ground coriander and another of cayenne.  I figured the coriander is also a parsley sort of thing so it could only boost the flavour.

Tabouleh Take Two 12

Chuck in your other herbs.

Tabouleh Take Two 14

Your bulgur has by now absorbed all the water that it’s going to, so you’re going to need to drain it.

Tabouleh Take Two 13

Use either cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to get as much water out of it as you can.  I find the cheesecloth helps because I can just pick it up and squeeze it.

Tabouleh Take Two 15

Add the bulgur to your tomato mix and add a few dollops more olive oil.  Stir in lemon juice to taste.

Tabouleh Take Two 16

Serve garnished with a piece of parsley, or stuff a bunch into a pita for a quick snack!

Tabouleh Take Two 18

Halloum Sandwiches

I’d never seen halloum (or halloom or haloumi) before, and then it popped up at our local Save Easy, which is run by Loblaws.  Because we will try pretty much anything (well, I will, and the Pie will if I don’t tell him what it is), we bought some.  It has the same texture and tastes similar to a very large cheese curd.

And it sat in our fridge for a while until I internet researched ways people ate it.

Most people just fry it up and put herbs on it and stuff it in sandwiches.  Easy enough.  So that’s what I did for a nice Sunday sammich for me and my man.

Take a pocketless pita (or one with a pocket and you just don’t open it) and smother it with mayonnaise.  Slice up a tomato in thick slices as well and dust the slices with salt and pepper.  Slip them onto one half of the pita.

Pick yourself several leaves of fresh basil and drop them on top of the tomato.

Slice the halloum so each piece is about a quarter of an inch thick.  The package I have advises me to divide the amount into eight slices, so that’s what it comes out to.  I used three slices per sandwich (one with four), which uses up two whole little 250g packages and makes five sandwiches.

Slide them into a hot skillet and brown both sides.

Pop the hot grilled cheese on top of the tomato and fold over the top of the pita.

EAT.

Tabouleh tabouleh tabouleh

I really like the word tabouleh.  I remember eating it often as a kid.  It’s a good quick salad and it works well in a pita sandwich.

We made this recipe with couscous, but you can substitute it for quinoa or bulgur or other grains.

Stir the couscous and oil into the water and allow to expand for 2 minutes.

To prepare the couscous, bring a cup of salted water to a boil in a small pot.  Remove from the heat and pour in a cup of couscous.  Add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stir, and allow the pasta to expand for two minutes.

Return the couscous to a low heat on the stove.  Drop in 2 to 3 teaspoons of butter and stir until well-blended.  Allow to cool.

Add butter to couscous and stir on low heat until melted.

We got this tabouleh recipe from the Joy of Cooking (2006 edition) by Rombauer & Becker, and we replaced the bulgur with couscous, of course, and  we weren’t all that good at measuring, either, so we fiddled with the amounts.

Finely chop 2 to 3 tomatoes, 2 cups of fresh parsley, 1 cup of fresh mint, and 1 bunch of scallions or green onions. See my tips and tricks entry on how to finely chop herbs.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, emulsify 1/3 cup olive oil with 1/3 cup lemon juice.  To do this, I took a very small whisk and rubbed it between my palms until the liquid was creamy and custard coloured.

Use a small whisk to emulsify the ingredients.
Rub the whisk briskly between your palms until the liquid is custardy.

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, tomatoes, onions, and herbs together thoroughly.  Toss with the olive oil/lemon juice emulsion and serve.

Serve as a salad or in a sandwich.

We spooned the tabouleh into open pita pockets lined with baby spinach and home-made hummus and ate them with Garbage Soup.

Pita pockets with hummus, tabouleh, and baby spinach.