Cindy Wolf is the executive chef at Charleston and was a 2006, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2016 James Beard Foundation finalist for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic. Chef Wolf’s cuisine is …
Spring. It gives you a feeling of hopefulness, no? Me, I’m hopeful for asparagus. And peas. And oh yeah, rhubarb! (And tulips, peonies, hydrangeas…)
This post is a super simple one: a few of my favorite spring recipes. If you make these once, they will be in the rotation. Promise.
That’s me. Taking it all in.
I’ve never been one for fancy restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I love great food and service but I can do without the formality. I suppose I’m more of a Peter’s Inn or Corner BYOB kind of girl. So, this was my first time at Wit & Wisdom and I wondered…what would a girl from a tiny town with two traffic lights who now lives in the land of hipsters and pink flamingos identify with there? I figured that out pretty quickly when I visited for dinner a few weeks ago. It was pretty eye-opening actually.
Recently, when my friend Lisa had me over for dinner and said we were having Cooks Illustrated’s White Chicken Chili, I was excited. Lisa is a very good cook (and amazing baker!) and I knew it would be fantastic. And, it was SO GOOD. I cleaned the bowl and wanted more, but I was polite. Thankfully, Lisa sent me home with some leftovers and about two weeks later, I made some for myself. I turned down the ‘heat’ a little bit, but other than that, I followed the recipe.
I’ve written before about Cooks Illustrated. I have an online membership (just $35 per year) and I use it all the time. I used to be intimidated by the magazine, but then I just dove in and it’s amazing. I’ve learned about different cuts of meat, how to grill, the best knives and more. What I love best about cooking is that you can keep learning as you go – whether it’s about cooking techniques, tools or ingredients. Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen are excellent sources for all these things.
I love really good pizza. Give me a crispy thin crust with delicious, flavorful toppings and I’m a happy girl. My hilarious friend Richie would call my kind of pizza “artsy.” You know…arugula, goat cheese, prosciutto, roasted garlic…that kind of stuff. Fancy pants.
Everyone’s so busy these days, so I think it’s perfectly fine to use pizza dough from the prepared food section at a store like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Save yourself some time, hon. However, if you’d rather do the whole scratch thing (and save some money, too), it’s not hard at all. Here’s Ina Garten’s recipe. I’ve also made Pioneer Woman’s dough, too.
Whether you make the dough or not, the key to grilling pizza is to work super fast with a VERY hot grill. Be sure to have your crusts and toppings close by. Just put the crust on the grill, brush both sides with olive oil, grill both sides for a few seconds, add your toppings (I put the cheese on before the sauce like they do at John’s Pizzeria in NYC) and close the top (I turn the heat down a smidge) and grill for about 4-5 minutes. Easy as pizza pie.
What you choose to drink with your pizza depends on your own personal preference or mood and also different things go with different toppings. Check out my friend’s blog Scribbleskiff for some ideas (like pairing spicy, meaty toppings with an IPA…) The pairing combinations are almost endless! Lately, my fave combo is goat cheese, mozzarella and arugula pizza with a glass of Torrontes. And…now that I have the chickens out back, I sometimes top a pizza with a fried egg soon.
If you’d rather have a pro make your pizza, Baltimore has several great spots for delicious artisanal pizza. My favorite is Iggies in Mt. Vernon. I love, love, love the Cipolla pizza with onion confit, mozzarella, pancetta and ricotta. Also, the Funghi with mushroom ragu, leeks and mozzarella. Holy moly, it’s good. Oh, and p.s. Iggies is moving to Ruxton later this year. Good for folks in the county…sad for me.
You pretty much either love ’em or hate ’em. I used to be completely wigged out by them. I think that having a job cleaning them at a seafood shop might have scarred me a bit. (Thanks, Billy.) My mom has loved them forever. Me, I’ve got texture issues – biting into a soft, yet crunchy LEG of a crab?
Um, no. (Then, fast-forward two years…)