Monthly Archives: June 2017

Leftover Focaccia Panzanella Salad

This weekend I will be playing in my 17th KMS golf tournament. I have been on the board of the foundation for over 10 years and it is an honor to be apart of something that innocently started with a few family and close friends after losing a very dear person in all of our lives. The tournament and foundation has turned into something bigger than anyone could have predicted. We were just a bunch of family and friends that wanted to honor our friend in a fun way that he would have loved. It is the only fundraising we do and the monies collected go to supporting the health and well being of children in the greater Monadnock area. It really is my favorite meeting when we go through all of the grant requests and hand out thousands of dollars to the ones that meet our mission statement. I just wanted to share that little part of me that I am very proud of!


I also sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top 

So last weekend I made pizza in my cute little Uuni pizza oven out on the patio. I of course made way more than we needed or could eat. I froze the dough and just made a frittata with the leftover sausage, ham, peppers, onions and mushrooms.
I have a tendency to not want to throw away perfectly good; case in point the focaccia bread that I made a few weeks ago was quite large and way more bread than anyone should eat in one sitting. While the bread is delicious fresh out of the oven; it doesn’t really taste the same the next day. I ended up make 2 different leftovers with it. I hinted that I would make cheesy garlic bread – I did and it was amazing. No I didn’t take pictures but trust me – make it!!! Melt a little butter and add a little crushed garlic to the butter and spread it all over the bread. Cover in shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese has melted Aahhhhhhh  

IMG_5261The second leftover was used to make a side panzanella salad; which is basically just a leftover bread salad. I sliced up some red onions very thinly, made an easy dressing and added some baby arugula just to have some greens next to my delicious steak.
1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Honey
1 clove Garlic crushed
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl add the crushed garlic, vinegar, mustard and honey. Drizzle in the olive oil set aside until the salad is ready.


Cubed day old (mine was a lot older – kept in the fridge)
Red onion – a few thinly sliced pieces
Baby arugula
Tomato – remove some of the seeds if you can (I used up some cherry tom’s I had in the fridge)

Place the cubed bread in the oven to dry out even more, I like them lightly browned. Not quite as hard as croutons. Place the arugula, onions, tomatoes and the cooled bread in a large bowl, cover with the dressing toss and serve.

Homemade Pizza Dough & Sauce

Happy Father’s Day!
I am not sure what happened but this day kind of snuck up on me. I know you are asking how is that even possible. It is a busy time of year for me. I am on a fundraising board which I have been on I think for the last 10 years but I have proudly supported them since the beginning 17 years ago! Both my kids have their birthdays and my youngest just turned 25 UGH not sure how that happened either. The time goes by so fast; it seems like in a blink of an eye they went from just starting to walk and talk to running and talking back. Then came their their license and off to college and back. Through it all I couldn’t have asked for a better father for my children.


Our first time playing with the Uuni this last Nov

So how are we going to celebrate this extremely hardworking man? Luckily he loves food just as much as I do. I am sure many people are going to be grilling out today and I thought about that but then decided to make homemade pizza in my Uuni pellet burning pizza oven and invite over both of our fathers to share in the yumminess!
15036315_10207738742531251_9143904106138992854_nI had never even heard of an Uuni oven before but there was a raffle sheet at the office so for $20 I wrote my name on 5 tickets and forgot all about it. Then a month or so later I got a call that I won! Pretty crazy actually and it is a crazy little unit but I love it. We had some friends over a couple of weeks ago and unanimously declared this little $20; to me item; was SO worth it and such a fun social thing to do, plus made excellent pizza. It says you can make other things in it but I haven’t explored that yet.
14938181_10207738747891385_3594414411391080513_nI know you can buy pizza dough at most markets and can even ask your local pizza place to buy some of their dough but my dough is better than any I have ever brought home. That goes the same as with my pizza sauce.


Cooks the pizza in about 60 seconds – yeah baby!!!

Basic Pizza Sauce
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 28 ounce can peeled, crushed tomatoes with puree
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup dry white wine
Several shakes of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in  3-4 quart sauce pan and cook the garlic for 30 seconds. DO NOT allow it to brown or burn. If you do start over; add the remaining ingredients and simmer; stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and the flavors meld about 30-40 minutes. Any leftovers can be frozen.


I just pulled this out of my freezer

Basic Pizza Dough – enough for 2 round 14” or 1 rectangle 11”x17”
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
14938302_10207738748251394_3402989645596747515_nCorn Meal helps keeps the dough from sticking on the pizza peel or stone or whatever you are placing and transferring the dough to.

Pour the water and yeast into a large bowl or your stand mixing bowl. Stir and put a pinch of sugar in it. Let is stand in a warm draft place for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate into bubbles. If it doesn’t bubble you are going to have to start over.
Add the olive oil and then sift the sugar and salt. Into the yeast mixture.  Work the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If you are using a stand mixer with the dough hook, let the machine knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. If you are doing it by hand work the dough till it feels springy. If it’s too stiff add a little warm water a teaspoon at a time.
IMG_5255Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl that’s been lightly oiled.
Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm draft free place. Until the dough has doubled in size takes about an hour or so.
Punch the dough down, place on a lightly floured surface. This is the time to decide what size(s) you are making and split the dough as needed.  I tend to make individual pizzas so I break mine down quite a bit.


This is my current dough I made a little bit ago

Roll out your dough ball and place on a lightly cornmeal pizza peel, stone or sheet pan. At this point you can cover it a let it rise a little again for a thicker crust or just put a little sauce, cheese and your toppings.  It’s best to not LOAD your toppings but place them sparingly so the pizza moves around easily for you. Not a fun mess to clean up topping debris after a split pizza dough.  Bake as you will in a very hot oven around 450’F for 10-30 minutes depending on how large your pizza is.

Boston Baked Beans

I am going to assume we are going to be getting into BBQ season around here; Once it stops raining that is and gets out of the 50’s – Sorry SF another weather update here. He told me I’ve had a lot of weather talk lately. It’s been bizarre so i’m just sharing wink wink! Currently I am sitting out on the porch with my laptop, a glass of wine, Pandora playing and enjoying the end of the day first nice day in a long time and writing my blog for this weekend as we are going to be away.

Since I have been sharing all of my favorites with all of you, I find it easier to google myself for my recipes than to go through my ridiculous pile of paper recipes. Pretty sad huh? or is it pretty cool? I know typing in cookingatclarktowers and what I am looking for is a lot faster. On Sunday I googled me (that cracks me up) looking for my Boston baked bean recipe. Nothing came up and I thought that was impossible that I haven’t shared it yet. I could swear that I did and I even had a part of what I thought I said in the blog. I will confess that I might be in there and I have labeled the title something else and wordpress (or just me) can’t locate it? I have been trying to get better at this blogging world but I still have a LOT to learn.
IMG_5199Back to the BBQ comment Baked Beans at a BBQ is a must for me I love baked beans ; I know this is a bit controversial; well that’s a strong word but I have a few friends that hate them. My BFF KP has proclaimed that she ONLY likes mine so that is saying something; I think. See this is one of the comments I swear I wrote but whatever I am going to share it now OR again since I made them on Sunday and they were delicious and worth trying.  I will also admit while they are delish and relatively easy, the baking in the oven takes a long time. This is something you have to plan ahead of time. I know there are a ton of shortcuts to delicious beans but I promise these are worth the effort and again very easy just hands off time consuming.

1 package of navy pea beans – soak overnight
1 lb salt pork – rind cut off, pork diced / I had a ham bone leftover from Easter in the freezer
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 large or 2 medium vidalia onions – sliced
⅓ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
IMG_5210In a large bowl soak the beans overnight covered in water
Strain and add beans, fresh water, the salt pork and the baking soda to either the stock pot you are going to bake them in or another pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes.  Skim off some of the foam.
IMG_5198Strain keeping the liquid in a medium sized bowl and then add the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, dry mustard and the salt and pepper stir to combine.

In a bean pot or dutch oven (which I used) layer onions, salt pork and beans.  Do this a couple of times.

Cover with the liquid. Place in a 300’F oven for 5 hours. Don’t cringe I’m sure you can do many other things around the house while they are baking.


Worth the wait!!!

Thank you to a pretty old Betty Crocker recipe!


Basic Focaccia Bread

I am sure this will not come as a surprise but I LOVE food! I know I know thank you captain obvious! Well my daughter and I; well mostly me as I needed some moral support; have decided to take a much closer look at our food intake since someone might be having a pretty big birthday later this year. So it took less than a week to find out that too many carbs, not enough protein and too large of portion sizes are not really great recipe for your figure. Yeah I know another captain obvious moment here. When you see it in black and white kinda hard to deny.
IMG_5194So what do I do when we have a friend coming for dinner, my husband asked me to make the Pasta Sausage pesto dish I blogged about last week. Yeah that makes it 3 times I’ve made it in the last 2 weeks. And I decided I really wanted to make focaccia – really Donna too many carbs and makes a jelly roll pan full what is wrong with you! Maybe I am rebellious in nature? Maybe it’s the red hair thing? I really have no idea but I wasn’t sorry I made it. I was already thinking of how I would make it next time. Adding rosemary and or thyme some garlic even some caramelized onions does that not sound absolutely delicious.
IMG_5176If you have ever made focaccia and found the recipe online, you probably already have this recipe because why mess with any other when you have the master of dough making Anne Burrell’s at your fingertips. She is a master of all kinds of dough making plus so much more. I am going to share her recipe here because it’s really yummy and though it sounds like it takes a long time. The hands on part isn’t so you can do other things while the dough is rising. Next up is what to do with leftover focaccia bread as it really is a use it or lose it kind of bread.  Croutons? Breadcrumbs? Cheesy Garlic Bread? the possibilities… 
IMG_51911 ¾ cup warm water
1 package or 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 cups all purpose flour plus some for kneading
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Some coarse salt for sprinkling on top
1 cup extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup in the dough, ½ cup for pan

In a small bowl or the measuring cup combine the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand until the yeast bubbles this can take 5-15 minutes. If it doesn’t bloom/bubble start over.
IMG_5178Once ready add the flour, kosher salt, ½ cup olive oil into the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook mix on low until combined. Once the dough has come together and released from the sides. Continue to knead on medium speed for 5-6 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add a small amount of flour so you can handle it.
IMG_5179Transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times, if it is still too sticky sprinkle with a little flour.  Add a little olive oil to coat the bowl and add the dough back into the bowl to rise. Cover with plastic and put it in a warm place to allow it to double in size. This takes about an hour.
IMG_5180IMG_5181Coat your jelly roll pan with the other ½ cup of olive oil – if you are worried about it being too much, you can add less but you are making focaccia which is an oily crusty bread – just saying!
IMG_5183IMG_5185Add the dough to the pan and start pressing it so it fits into the pan. Flip the dough to make sure that the oil gets over all of it. Continue to work the dough in the shape of the pan. Using your fingers to make dents into the dough. I didn’t make actual dimple holes in the dough but I will the next time. Mine has dimples but they are not as defined as if I actually made the holes.
IMG_5190Place the tray in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which should take an hour. About 30-45 minutes in preheat your oven to 425’F.
IMG_5193Liberally sprinkle the top with some coarse salt and then lightly drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting

Thank you Anne – you are a Rock Star