Mini Zaatar Pizzas

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but my ancestry is part Middle Eastern. My grandfather’s parents came from Syria & Lebanon. And that side of my family is HUGE. We have family reunions at the beach where 100 of us are trying to have dinner in 2 apartments. We have big feasts of stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ganoush, kibbe, kibbe nay, meat fatayers, spinach fatayers, pita, tabbouleh, baklava, mjadra, and more.

When we were growing up my cousins & I coveted the meat fatayers my grandmother made. Fatayers are little triangle shaped pies… sort of like the British pasty, except the fatayer dough is softer. We’d sneak into the kitchen at night and steal them out of the refrigerator. Clearly, I don’t eat them anymore, but there are so many great “beef crumble” substitutes that they’re practically the same when I make them today.

Though my grandmother is not of Middle Eastern descent (English all the way) she learned how to make all of the family recipes. She also raised 7 children while granddad honed his entrepreneurial skills to support his family. Last year she gave me one of her Lebanese cookbooks (she had 2 copies!) and I looked through it cover to cover over and over again. Since then, I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons to make more middle eastern dishes. I’ve also figured out how to make the perfect (in my opinion) Tabbouleh, which I shall post next time I make it.

Zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern blend that usually contains a combination of the following: thyme, cumin, anise, coriander, fennel, salt, sesame seeds, lemon, pomegranate molasses, and sumac. I love sumac. It has a tart kick about it that is just so tasty. The first time I had Zaatar it was spread over pita bread with olive oil. I toasted it and ate it by itself. I ate all of it. It was so good – definitely comfort food.

Mini Zaatar Pizzas

For the Dough: (Makes 4)

  • 3/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp Warm Water
  • 1 Pkg or 1 Tbsp Yeast
  • 1 Tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Honey
  • 1 Cup Bread Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Sumac

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 Cup Zaatar (the more, the better!!!)
  • Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, finely sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.

I made the dough a little bit sweet since the Zaatar is salty & a little bit tart. I just really like the contrast but you can change the dough recipe how you like in terms of saltiness or sweetness.

Combine warm water & yeast. Add sugar & honey. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast are activated and the water begins to look foamy. Add the salt & sumac. Add the flour one cup at a time. If using a dough hook, keep on low speed. Otherwise, stir with wooden spoon to combine. My dough was a little bit tough. Make sure not to over mix. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a smooth ball. Separate into 4 evenly sized balls, cover, and let rise in a warm spot for about an hour. I always microwave something (like water for tea) and then stick my dough in the microwave afterwards. My dough was ready in about 30 minutes and it looked much prettier after rising. It should double in size. With extra flour (dough will become sticky after rising) shape the balls into discs for your pizzas. The thinner, the crunchier.

Combine the Zaatar, oil, and black pepper to make a paste. Spread on top of the dough and top with onion slivers. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown and the onions start to brown.

Let cool before eating so you don’t burn your tongue!

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Boca Food!

I haven’t posted in like a week! I was vacationing in Boca Raton, Florida for a long weekend.

The first morning we got pastries from Bakery of France including Brioche, Croissants, Chocolate Croissants, and some raisin pastry. Everything was delicious but I’m not a huge fan of raisins so that one wasn’t for me.

A picture of the Brioche via a Yelp Reviewer.

We also went to dinner at Seasons 52, which was DELICIOUS. All of their dishes are designed to be less than 475 calories and use seasonal ingredients. Their dinner menu for autumn had a great number of vegetarian dishes and the concept is very inspiring. I ordered the Organic Baby Spinach salad and the Goat Cheese Ravioli then had the Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse for dessert. There are no pictures on the website of any of the meals we ate so I’ll just post a picture of the dessert!!

Picture of the miniature desserts via Seasons 52 website.

On Saturday night we had an 8 o’clock dinner reservation at Uncle Tai’s, a very nice & quite tasty Chinese food restaurant. We ordered the Honey Crispy Shrimp, Sliced Fish Hunan Style, and Crispy Beef (which I, of course, did not try), and vegetable fried rice. The Fish was definitely the best. I’m not entirely sure which dish is featured in the picture below but it’s the only picture I found from their site!

Picture via Uncle Tai's Website

A couple more places we went:

Flakowitz Bagel Inn – HUGE breakfast plates. I ordered a 4 egg omelet with broccoli and cheddar cheese. It was ENORMOUS. And it came with breakfast potatoes and a bagel & cream cheese. Talk about enough food to feed a family of 4 (or a small army).

Renzo’s – Italian food. SO GOOD. We ordered a large cheese pizza which was hot & melty and just the way pizza should be. Also ordered some Arancini balls which were yummy yummy yummy. And they came with the best marinara EVAR. Then I got a Veggie Muffaletta sandwich which was the size of my head. I only ate most of half. It had grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, greens, roasted red pepper and mozzarella.

Señor Burrito – Got the spinach enchiladas. They were covered in an amazingly good tomatillo sauce. I love mexican food.

Jambalaya Pizza

All weekend Stephen wanted to make Jambalaya. I think he’s wanted to make it for some time now. So on Friday when we went to Wegmans we picked up some vegetarian sausage. We’d never tried replacement sausage before so I quickly Googled the best brands and read that Field Roast was a winner (it definitely was). We bought the standard “Italian” flavor.

Now, last weekend when we went to Wegmans a gentleman convinced us to make our own pizza dough. We make our own pie crust, our own pretzels, and so on but we’d never made our own pizza dough for some reason. Well, we decided to heed his advice & Stephen bought some pizza dough yeast.

Late afternoon we decided to make the pizza crust but we weren’t going to have enough time to make a pizza so we deliberated on what kind of pizza we would make when we got home from a couple of meetings. Why not try to make a jambalaya inspired pizza?

Jambalaya Pizza:

For the Dough:
  • 3 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour (a little extra for kneading)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 Package Yeast (2 1/4 TSP)
  • 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
For the Topping:
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, large dice
  • 1 Medium Onion, slivers
  • 1 Green Finger Chili, diced with seeds & ribs
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Field Roast Italian Sausage (vegan)
  • 2 Small Tomatoes, diced (roma would work)
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Dried Thyme
  • Trappey’s Red Devil Hot Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese

To prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 cup warm water with a packet of yeast and brown sugar. Stir gently and let sit for about 5 minutes to activate yeast. Then stir in the flours using a rubber spatula, until ball forms. Flour a flat dry surface, turn out the dough, and kneed. Add flour as necessary. Tip:  flour your hands! Next oil a bowl and place dough into bowl. Allow 30min-2hour rise time, depending on climate conditions. To expedite, we covered bowl in foil and put it in front of a space heater on low!

Flour (or semolina) a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Punch down risen dough to remove air pockets. Turn out onto pan and spread with fingers to size of pan. Rub lightly with olive oil & cracked black pepper. Cook at 425 Degrees for 5 minutes or until just turning light golden.

Heat olive oil in medium/large frying pan. Add liberal amount of cajun seasoning and sizzle to bring out flavor. Sautee bell pepper & onion over medium heat until tender. Add chili and continue to sautee. Add bite-sized pieces of Italian Sausage. Add garlic & tomatoes to pan. Add pinch of dry thyme. Add plenty of hot sauce (to taste). The vinegar adds a nice kick of acidity and punches up the flavor. Turn heat down while all ingredients cook.

Spread sautéed mixture on slightly precooked pizza dough. Sprinkle with desired quantity of mozzarella cheese. We kept the cheese light this time, just using up the remaining cheese from the fridge.

Bake at 425 Degrees for 10 more minutes or until cheese bubbles and turns light brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 2 minutes. I know it’s hard to wait.