Sunday, July 10, 2011

Too Creepy/Weird?

This is my first attempt at a Frowning Francis pattern.  She was a LOT of fun to make, but I am glad she is going to a new home soon. I'm not sure I can take her staring at me like that!

This is the "Embellished Bird" pattern from the website. I also have the mermaid and zombie elephant patterns to play with. It is a nice little creative vacation to turn off the brain and just follow instructions for a change.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Grilled Pizza

When Jake bought me my grill last year, one of the first things I tried was Grilled Pizza, just because it sounded like so much fun.  I was right - it IS fun, and we loved it so much that I have been making it regularly ever since.  I have been asked several times for the recipe, but I haven't been able to come up with a good response because what I do is a mishmash of researching many many recipes in books and on the internet.  (Why yes, I do read cookbooks for fun, LOL.)

Anyway, I am going to take a stab at writing it down.  Feel free to e-mail me with questions!

The most important element of this process is a good crust.  The tastiest recipes call for a long cold rise, so you need to put the dough together at least 24 hours before firing up the grill.  I like Alton Brown's recipe.  Don't be fooled by the 1 star reviews - the people who deemed it inedibly salty obviously used regular salt instead of kosher.  (By the way, if you haven't switched to kosher salt yet, I recommend you do so.  Yummy!)

On the other hand, if you're like me and don't always plan your menus ahead of time, I have a fabulous 2 hour dough recipe from Eating Well magazine that comes together effortlessly in my food processor.  It isn't as tasty as the 2-day variety, but is definitely good enough, especially when one is craving pizza *today*, LOL.

After your dough has finished rising, punch it down and divide it into 4 equal pieces.  (8 pieces, if you're using Alton's recipe.)  Cut four 10" pieces of parchment paper, spray well with nonstick spray and dust lightly with flour.  Put one piece of dough on each piece of parchment and, using just your fingers, spread the dough out into a disk about 1/4" thick and don't stress about the shape.  Brush with a light coat of olive oil, then repeat with the remaining dough pieces and let them rest while you assemble your toppings.

Grilled pizza goes fast, so it is important to have everything ready before you start cooking.   Anything goes when it comes to choosing your toppings - my favorite combination is grilled red pepper, grilled zucchini, and grilled onion topped with mozzarella and parmesan.  I am still searching for the perfect sauce recipe...

So, your dough is shaped and rested, your sauce is ready, the toppings are set out, and the cheeses are grated?  Good.  Let's grill!

To start with, make sure your grill grate is pristinely clean and well oiled.  Fire it up and crank the heat to medium-high.  (I like to maintain a temperature around 450 degrees.)    When the grill is ready, put your crusts on the grate paper side up.  Leave the papers on.  Close the lid and DON'T GO ANYWHERE.  After 3 minutes, open the lid, remove the papers and check the underside of the crusts.  If they're a nice golden brown, they're ready.

Remove the crusts from the grill.  (I have my own pizza peel for this.  If you make a lot of pizza, a peel is worth the investment in money and storage space.)  Close the lid.  Lightly coat the "raw" side of the crusts with olive oil, then TURN THEM OVER.  (I forgot to turn them over once.  Don't repeat my mistake.)  Put a light coating of sauce on the toasted side of the crusts, add the toppings of your choice, then top with cheese.

Please note:  It isn't a good idea to pile on a huge mound of everything the way they do in most pizza parlors.  Go easy with the sauce, you should be able to see the crust through the toppings, and a single layer of each cheese is plenty.  Moderation is the key to a perfect Grilled Pizza.

OK, sermon over.  It's time to put the pizzas back on the grill with the lid closed.  After another 3 minutes, check to see if the undersides are nice and brown and the cheese is melted.  If not, leave them on for another minute.  If they're ready, take the pizzas off the grill, let them sit for a minute or 2 for the cheeses to set up, then serve.  Enjoy!

Not White-on-White

This lady doesn't have a name yet, but I am so happy with how she turned out that I am going to share her anyway. She is the product of yet another online class with the incredible Sherry Goshon, this time from the Crafty College at Doll Street.  Her body is wrapped wire, plaster cloth, and paper clay, while her arms and hands are cloth.  Her face is from Sherry's "Krystal" pressmold, and her hair is tibetan lamb.

The shining star of this piece though, is her wings, don't you agree?

These wings were custom made for me by Judy Serreseque from OOAK Artist Emporium, and a believe me they are worth every penny - I actually gasped when I opened the package when they arrived.  This doll was *supposed* to be a white-on-white piece, but I needed to add quite a lot of color to her to live up to those glorious wings.  The subtle texture is amazingly realistic.  The beads and glitter give it just the right amount of bling without being too much, while the Swarovski crystals are the perfect finishing touch.

I have tried and tried to create a white-on-white project, but I have never yet managed to do it.  Oh well, there is always next time!