July Cooking Club

It was fantastic, I hosted at my new house and made my guests bring their own chairs because I own exactly 2! chairs.

But the weather was perfect, it was cool with just a slight breeze and sunny. And the food. Oh my lord, the food. To me this was probably the best cooking club we've ever had.

Summer made watercress and watermelon salad, it was perfect. Deliciously light and the crisp watermelon contrasted so wonderfully with the sharp tang of the gorganzola. I went back for thirds:


Serves 4

2 cups medium diced seedless watermelon
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
3 bunches watercress greens, ends trimmed
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Honey Orange Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
14 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing: Whisk all ingredients except oils, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Combine olive and canola oils and while whisking, slowly pour into orange juice mixture. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. To serve: In another bowl, combine watermelon, nuts and watercress. Add just enough dressing to coat the greens. Serve topped with cheese.

- Substitute watercress for mixed greens, just as good.
- Use 1/2 or less of canola oil, the dressing comes out a bit tangier.

Yumi made a delicious grilled eggplant salad. The eggplant, which is already a favorite of mine, was paired with smooth and mellow goat cheese and pine nuts. I was heartily tempted to steal the entire plate and crouch in the corner calling it 'my precious' while devouring it and not sharing at all.

Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

3 tablespoons olive oil
7 Japanese eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch wide slices
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup basil, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Drizzle the olive oil over the slices of eggplant and toss to coat. Grill the eggplants until tender and grill marks appear, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Place the eggplants side-by-side on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, goat cheese, basil, and mint. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

The main course was grilled pizzas, which if you've never had them are the most amazing fantastic way to eat pizza. The crust gets unbelievably crispy and the toppings melt perfectly. It really will ruin you for most other styles of pizza. Don't be afraid of making the dough yourself, it really is alarmingly easy. Plus if you practice your in-the-air-tossing technique your guests will be appropriatedly amazed and you will forever be considered awesome.

Toppings of course can be your favorite, these were all delicious and I highly recommend using fresh mozzerella because their really is nothing better.

Half a grilled pizza with the eggplant salad and half with basil and fresh mozzerella:

Olive oil, fresh basil, fresh tomato and fresh mozzerella make this one our hands down favorite:

And then my other personal favorite bacon and pineapple with fresh mozzerella. I know most people go for the ham with pineapple but really I enjoy the extra salty kick the bacon lends which is the perfect compliment to the sweet pineapple:

Grilled Fanastic Pizza


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
6 cups high gluten flour (I like King Arthur Flour)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil

I do mine on a grill, but you can do it in the oven.

Sprinkle the yeast over 1/2 cup warm (105 to 110 degrees) water and allow it to

dissolve and activate, about 5 minutes. Combine the flour and salt and mound it onto a cool work surface creating a high walled well in the center.

Combine the yeast mixture with 1 1/2 cups of cool water and pour into the well. Slowly begin to mix the water and flour, a little at a time, moving your fingers in short, coun-ter clockwise circles around the border of the water.

When the dough is firm enough to hold its shape, scrape the remaining flour over it and knead until the mass is smooth and shiny, approximately 7 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil to prevent a skin from forming, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead once more. Let the dough rise again for about 40 minutes, punch down again and form into dough balls.

Roll out the dough (approx o inch thick) and coat with olive oil. Place on wax paper and coat top with olive oil (be generous) cover with another sheet of wax paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough, stacking them as you go.

Heat grill to medium (or medium low- depending on how hot your grill gets).

Remove pizza from the wax paper (remember it needs to be coated well with olive oil) place on grill. Let it get a nice set of grilled marks on it and then flip with a spatula.

Add sauce, cheese and toppings. Close grill cover and allow to cook until the some of the cheese just starts to melt, the underside of the pizza should be golden brown and have some nice grilled lines on it. Remove from grill, the rest of the cheese will melt after removing it from the grill.

Cut into slices and serve.

And to end the night on a sweet note Nancy brought fresh berries dressed simply in homemade lemoncello, mint and basil. It was the perfect finish to the evening.

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  • At July 25, 2007 5:25 PM, Blogger Lincoln said…

    Wow. That made me hungry...which then made me sick because i'm going to fly in an F-18 in a couple hours...and then I got hungry again because I realized I hadn't eaten in a while because I don't want to throw up. So thanks....you've completely confused my insides.

  • At July 27, 2007 6:41 AM, Blogger Alan the Great said…

    Fettucini Alfredo, from memory at 3:37 AM:

    First, make some fettucini or other pasta. It's pasta, figure it out.

    The more important bit:

    In a small saucepan over low heat, saute a clove of garlic in olive oil until just before it browns. Add a small container of whipping cream, stirring constantly because it bubbles over if you stop for more than a second.

    Add a pinch of nutmeg, and... sorry, don't have the exact measurements... a few shakes of parmesan cheese. Keep stirring until thickened, then remove from heat and serve immediately.

    OPTIONAL: Slice up some green onions, and toss those in.

    And that's what I remember. I can't help feeling like I'm missing something, though...

  • At July 27, 2007 8:57 AM, Blogger Skeezix said…

    I usually go for spaghetti carbonara late at night.


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