HHDD #17: Pizza! The Round up!

All week I have been going from one blog to the next, ogling at gorgeously delicious posts on every imaginable kind of pizza. I've been busy bookmarking and tagging and making little notes for future pizza ventures. You see, it was no too long ago that I made pizza crust from scratch for the very first time. All because of Donna Hay. And now, almost a month later, 42 others have followed suit! So, without further pomp and primping, let me present the fantastic entries for Hay Hay it's Donna Day! Pizza!:

From our dear Barbara, of Winos and Foodies, previously from New Zealand, newly planted in Gold Coast, Australia, the fabulous creator of this event, and to whom we all owe our Donna Day-ing, we have Fig Balsamic Shallot with Fetta and Proscuitto Pizza. The shallots are glazed with fig balsamic vinegar...can you say yum?

From Auckland, New Zealand, Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy whips up a Sausage Pizza with Sun Dried Tomato, Olive & Feta Salad. Another big Donna Hay fan, she has all of Donna's cookbooks! Hey Tammy can I bring my library card over to your house? :)

Dayna of the Vegan Visitor had her first "real European" pizza experience when she was just 15 and she shares with us her epiphanies about it and going "cheeseless". Check out her Oven Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Sauce Pizza and you might just too!

Bridget from Philadelphia, PA tells us of how a first bad impression eventually turned to a love of anchovies...and how she has them on pizza. Well, not exactly pizza in the Italian sense but the very French pissaladiere. Go over to her blog, The Way the Cookie Crumbles to check out her rendition of this French classic.

A little Asian flavor is infused into the mix by Erin of The Endive Chronicles. Hailing from Westhampton, New York, she takes us all the way around the world with her Thai Chicken Pizza...an homage to a well-loved place in Seattle where she used to go with her husband during lazy Saturday strolls.

From Norwalk, California, Lalaine of The CookMobile prepares a Spinach, Roma, and Ricotta Pizza. She also uses a tried and tested pizza crust recipe that she shares with us all...yay! :)

Blogging from Australia, Pam of The Backyard Pizzeria (what a great blog name for this event!), shows us her take on the classic Pizza Margherita...or is it a Caprese Pizza? Any way you call it, tomato, mozarella, and basil is like the little black dress of pizzas...always in style and never fails!

Sarah of Sweets By Sarah makes a simple but sublime sounding Pizza with Pesto, Blistered Grape Tomatoes and Mozarella. I love how "blistered grape tomatoes" sound...and I'll be trying pesto as a base for future pizza preparations. Thanks Sarah!

Gilli over at So So Simple Food stays true to her blog's name and shares with us her So Simple Pizza. For this occasion she just makes it pizza bread (bakes it without toppings) and serves it with some Castello cheese and tomatoes on the side...plus some white wine. Although hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Gilli was on their boat, the Cajun Moon, when she made this!

My great friend and travel buddy Christine makes time in between travels to hunker down and create a pizza for this round of HHDD...her first time to participate. Thanks Nens! She whips up a Mushroom Provolone Pizza with Truffle Oil...oohlala! Like me, Christine's a Manila girl. You can read about her food and travel exploits at her blog, Ramblings From a Gypsy Soul.

From Salt Lake City, Utah, Holly of phe/MOM/enon also joins her first HHDD! She prepares an old favorite of mine, BBQ Chicken Pizza...but wait...it get's even better...her's is a BBQ Chicken and Bacon Pizza! A pizza after my own heart...

Another pizza with bacon (hooray!) come to us from Katie B. of Other People's Food. She prepared an amazing sounding White Cheese Pizza with Grilled Corn and Wood Smoked Bacon. I told you it sounded amazing didn't I? :) Katie's from Herndon, VA and has been waiting to make this particular pizza for a while...I'm so glad she got to do it for HHDD!

The talented Myriam from Zurich, Switzerland of the beautiful Once Upon a Tart adds another dimension to this round up by taking the pizza and turning it into a calzone, the pizza's stuffed counterpart! Check out her gorgeously photographed Potato and Leek Calzone...but make sure you have some lunch first! Hunger-inducing!

I love it when there is fresh things on top of my pizza, and that's just what Manggy of No Special Effects has done with his Maple-Glazed Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza by topping with fresh arugula after it comes out of the oven. I don't know what I like better though, his lovely looking photo or the flavor combination of maple-glazed pumpkin and blue cheese...YUM!

Mimi from Brooklyn, New York, and author of the blog Mimi on the Move, fixes up a Mediterranean Style Pizza with marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozarella, rosemary olives, hot pepper flakes, and homemade pesto sauce. You shouldn't miss the photo of Mr. Mimi tossing the pizza dough in the air!

Jenjen of the charming blog Milk and Cookies, writes from Sydney, Australia and has made a beautiful Sausage and Bocconcini Pizza...just look at her pictures and prepare to drool! I love the way the the sausage and bocconcini look like cute little rounds on the pizza...like polka dots!

Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska (blogging from Anchorage!) shares a pizza topping that is also a Greek stew -- check out her Artichoke, Olive, and Tomato Pizza. Laurie decided to forgo shopping for the month of January and use up all that has been piling up in her freezer and pantry...we're lucky she had stocked away the delicious ingredients to put this pizza together!

I discovered the charming Bordeaux's blog Marita Says after my trip to Bangkok last year. Bordeaux is based in Bangkok, Thailand and I now relive my wonderful Thai memories through him and his posts. For HHDD he whipped up a Spanako-pizza -- egged on by a love for Spanakopita, a greek spinach and cheese pastry.

From the Netherlands, a sweet pizza is brought to us by Linda of Make Life Sweeter! Boy, does she live up to the name of her blog with her Brioche Pizza with Strawberry Jam and White Chocolate! What first appears as tomato sauce and cheese is actually a sweet surprise :)

Ellie of the Kitchen Wench, based in Australia, wows me with Lamb Pizza with Roasted Capsicum and Chive yogurt. This sounds like a favorite dish turned into a pizza...mmm! Although this is the pizza she entered for HHDD, she went to town with pizzas and made four different kinds!

From Canada, the irrepresible Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas prepares a mouth-watering Steak & Gorgonzola Pizza. This certainly packs a punch! What a hearty meal this would make! :)

Jenny from Little Rock, AR puts together a Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Onion Pizza on her blog I'm Hungry. Looking at those caramelized onion strips up close is making me hungry too!

Oggi of I can do that!, a fellow-Filipina now based in Ashburn, Virginia, makes a very luxurious sounding Duck Confit and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Pizza. I love duck confit so you can imagine how smitten I was with this!

From New Zealand, Arfi of the blog HomeMadeS posts about caterpillars and their imminent transformation (check out the cute photos!) and getting back on the baking track. Being creative with what she had on hand she topped her pizza with leftover sauages, tomato paste, kalamata olives, and chopped basil.

Suzana from Lisbon, Portugal (oh one day I will see Portugal!) makes an utterly sophisticated Pear, Pancetta and Gorgonzola Pizza with Walnut Pesto and Spinach. Pear, pancetta, and gorgonzola? I can imagine what a wonderful combination of flavors! Her blog is Home Gourmets :)

Our favorite Food Blogga, Susan from Southern California fixes us a Fennel Sausage and Rapini Pizza. Rapini is also known as broccoli rabe, broccoli raab, or rape. Greens on pizza rock in my book (as does sausage ;) )...check out Susan's pizza tips as well!

Dhanggit of the blog Dhanggit's Kitchen, another fellow-Filipina who now resides in Aix en Provence, France, has let her Asian roots show with her Chicken Curried Mango & Mozarella Pizza. Lovely combination Dhanggit! You know I'm up for anything with curry! :)

Amy from San Jose, California, blogging at Delicious by Nature, give us another dessert pizza -- Cherry Dessert Pizza! I'm loving all these dessert pizzas :) Amy, I would have eaten more than my share too!

And speaking of sweet pizzas...my favorite cream puff Ivonne, of Cream Puffs in Venice, has whipped up these irresistable Caramelized Pizza Sticks with Almonds. And if that wasn't decadent enough, what better than a pot of chocolate to dip them in? :) Fantastic job for her first HHDD!

Gail from Maui, Hawaii is Cooking at the Pacific Outpost and she has made a Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Apple Pizza. The flavors worked so well together that it was finished at dinner! :)

Glamah16 blogs at Coco Cooks in Chicago, Illinois and has come up with this delicious Apple, Ham, Red Onion Pizza on a Whole Wheat Sage-Flecked Crust. She used two cheeses, one being smoked Provolleta which came shaped as a little piggy! Yes, you must go over there right now and see it! :)

Dolores from San Ramon, CA does a Pear and Pancetta Pizza (with blue cheese -- I love these fruit, cheese, and cured meat pairings!) on her blog Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. She even drizzles some lemon and ginger infused cream honey on top!

From San Fransisco, Denise of Chez Denise et Laudalino makes Donna Hay's Classic Tomato Pizza! Looks just as simple and delicious as Donna's! Love the toasty crust edge :)

Gretchen from Lima, Peru serves up a tasty Shredded Chicken & Vegetable Pizza over at her blog, Canela & Camino. The topping consisted of shredded chicken, swiss chard, roasted bell peppers, and toasted garlic...sounds lovely!

Doesn't that look like a cover of a Donna Hay magazine? Who else but Bron of Bron Marshall: Classic & Creative Cuisine! Not just a gorgeous "cover shot" but also a pretty appetizing combination of flavors in her Mango Chili Prawn Pizza. Based in New Zealand she talks about New Zealand and their neighbor Australia and all the things they like to share :) And interesting read to boot!

From the UK, Katie of Apple & Spice makes a Carrot, Mushroom & Pumpkin Seed Pizza. I love the thick fluffy edge she got on her pizza...will be trying to recreate this next time! Thanks for sharing your technique Katie :)

Kari from Seattle, WA, blogging at AnticiPlate makes a Goat Cheese and Butternut Squash Pizza. Butternut Squash! I like! :) It has some prosciutto on it too!

From Quebec, Canada, Lynn gets all excited about pizza (us too Lynn!) and creates a delectable Caramelized Onion, Fig and Prosciutto Pizza with Goat Cheese. Another sublime combination! Check out her blog and then I do the dishes...love that name :)

At A Spoonful of Sugar, Angela from the UK a most comforting pizza -- Meatball Pizza! I could just curl up with this on a rainy night and feel all my worries melt away :)

In Australia, KJ of A Cracking Good Egg bakes the gorgeous La Pizza Rossa. Unlike traditional thin crust pizza, this more like a "soft pillowy bread". KJ got the recipe from one of her most favorite cookbooks -- Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros...so nice to hear as I'm a Tessa Kiros fan myself! :)

Dianne from Savannah GA blogs at 1700 Miles of Cooking with her friend Mimi about their Nearly Perfect Pizza they had during their Pizza Night. Aah, pizza night...one of things I love about pizza :)

And here's Mimi's post about the pizza night at 1700 Miles of Cooking! These pair of friends still manage to share cooking fun even with 1700 miles between them!

And in case you didn't see it when I first posted...here's my pizza right here :)

So that about wraps it up! The round up for Hay Hay it's Donna Day - Pizza Edition is officially closed! I hope you all enjoyed whipping up your pizzas as I did hosting this event.

Now comes the tough part for you...to choose one winner among all these fabulous entries! The voting begins now and will continue until February 9, 2008, afterwhich I will be announcing the winner. The winner gets to host the next round of HHDD as well as a prize courtesy of me :) Since you have all shown such enthusiasm and creativity with this theme, I hunted for a cookbook to both commemorate and continue all the pizza madness as the prize -- Pizza by Diane Morgan & Tony Gemignani! (Tony is a 5-time world champion pizza thrower and they've got crusts in here that go from Naples to New York!) As a bonus, I will also slip in a little cookbook on some on my local eats here :)

So check out the entries and email your vote to me at eighty_breakfasts(AT)yahoo(DOT)com!

P.S. If you are wondering why this round up is a day early, it's because I leave tomorrow with my good friend and travel buddy Christine for the Northern reaches of our archipelago...Can't wait! See you all when I get back! :)

Lemon Meringue Pie...Do I Dare?


(please excuse the horrific lighting…by the time I finished this pie the sun had set…forcing me to use creepy indoor lighting)

After missing last month’s Daring Bakers challenge, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss the next one. Since joining this lovable bunch of bakers, I have been able to exercise my baking muscles to churn out such things as Sticky Buns, Bostini Cream Pie, and Tender Potato Bread. Each challenge brought about new knowledge of baking techniques and tips (with over 300 Daring Bakers in your support network, there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared!). So I was looking forward to getting back in the swing of things this month.

And this month’s challenge is…Lemon Meringue Pie. Zoiks.

You have to understand a few things about me and this dessert…number one being, well, simply put, I don’t actually enjoy eating it. Second, I am not a big fan of meringue…at all…ever. Suffice to say I have never made, nor thought of making, this dessert. I have never made meringue either! And egg whites are an old nemesis of mine...

But that is why I joined this group…not to bake what I have baked a hundred times before, but to conquer things that I have never baked before…things I would never even think of baking…things that make shiver and shake and yet, as any Daring Baker would, still swagger into the kitchen, Microplane zester in one hand, citrus reamer in the other, to look that lemon in the eye and whip those egg whites into shape.

And that’s what I did. Sort of.

Bumps in the road are part of every challenge, and as I was already expecting, this one yielded more bumps than usual for me. First, the crust. Working with crust or pastry of any kind, or any ingredient that needs to be “chilled” is a major challenge in my kitchen, whose heat and humidity are off the charts. You need to work very, very fast, and “chill” things in the freezer instead of the fridge. My crust, which stuck and tore all over, turned out to be quite literally a patch-up job at best. Of course, you couldn't see that once the filling was in ;)

So, the filling. It seemed to come together like a charm…thickening quickly and blooming into a beautiful shade of yellow. I poured it into the pre-baked and cooled crust and hoped for the best.

I started on the meringue, my knees knocking a bit. How challenging is it to do something you feel is your weakness, at the same time knowing you won’t enjoy eating it? Very. But, as is often the case when I push myself to do something out of my ordinary circle of things, I was pleasantly surprised. I like making meringue! Watching the egg whites magically turn pearlescent as you add the sugar. Piling mounds of sticky, cloud-like pillows onto the pie. Swatting at it with a spatula to coax peaks and swirls out of its surface. Then seeing it get all toasty in the oven. Like toasted marshmallows. It’s a very bibbity-bobbity-boo moment (it’ll do magic believe it or not!).

Don’t let the swirly, toasty peaks fool you though. Beneath their peaceful exterior lie a filling that just wouldn't set. Yes, hiding sneakily beneath the surface, waiting to surprise me when I tried to slice the pie for my guests! Criminy. If you have any suggestions for me they will be much appreciated! Should I have let the pie and filling set in the fridge before adding the meringue? Should I have cooked it for longer and thickened it up more? Help wanted :) It was much better after a night in the fridge as it firmed up some…

From the taste testers: The pie was enjoyed by my mom, who loved it. I gave some to my best friend K and she liked it but thought it was a little too tart (although she did liken it in general to her grandma’s lemon meringue pie…thrill!). C thought it was too tart as well. My kind guests said they liked it but I'm not sure if they were just trying to be being polite to my runny pie...

Me? As someone who doesn’t really enjoy lemon meringue pie, I am the worst judge of all. I thought it tasted like, well, like lemon meringue pie…something I still don’t really love, but something I now know I can make :)

Thanks to Jen the Canadian Baker for choosing this challenge and giving me the opportunity to make something I wouldn’t have made otherwise! I think I can finally distinguish between “soft peaks” and “stiff peaks”…yay! :) Jen, you don’t know how long I have been agonizing over the difference…so from the bottom of my heart…thank you!

You can find the original recipe here. Check out the other fabulous creations from the Daring Bakers here!

Breakfast #16: Granola (with yogurt)


I am very, very lucky that God saw it fit to bestow me with a mad love of all things grain-y and wheat-y, alongside my obsession with all thing pork and fatty. It’s really a mystery and a miracle, how the world works. My love for that which is supremely bad for me, is gracefully counter-balanced (I hope!) with my craving for healthy grains/wheat/oats. As much as I can wax poetic about chicharon and bacon, I can also pay the same tribute to things like bran flakes and muesli.

Bran flakes, muesli, granola, oatmeal…any form of grain, wheat, oat, grit, or grub. I love them all. Maybe even those I have yet to meet (and I do look forward to that meeting!). There is just something about their nutty, fiber-y personality that makes me keep coming back for more.

Their being good for me has nothing to do with my love. I don’t love foods because they are good or healthy, or part of the Super Duper Six. I love them because of their taste and texture…because of the way they make my taste buds smile when I have them. And this year I have decided to do just that – make my taste buds smile. No counting calories, no diets, no equations and conversions. And no referring to food as “carbs” and “protein” and “fat”. I’ll say their names loud and proud (Rice! Veal cheeks! Goose lard!). I’ll eat what I want, and not bother with what I don’t. I will listen to my body – its needs, and wants, and cravings. And hopefully, in the midst of this, I will find my own personal equilibrium – set by my body and its secret rhythms, and not by anyone else’s rules and regulations. In 2008, food will be my friend.

An ambitious goal, perhaps even dangerous, but I’m determined. So thank goodness that chicharon is not the only thing I like to eat!

(Adapted from Market Manila)
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant or “quick”)
  • 1 1/4 cups nuts (I used a combination of walnuts, cashew, and fresh pili)
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a combination of dried figs, raisins, and dried mangoes)

- Mix the oats and nuts in a bowl – I used my hands.
- In a separate bowl mix the oil and the honey. Whisk briskly with a wire whisk until oil and honey become a homogenous, sticky syrup.
- Pour the honey/oil mixture onto the oats/nuts mixture and stir well until thoroughly blended.
- Place mixture on a foil-lined cookie sheet and spread out flat and even.
- Place pan in a 180-190C oven and roast for about 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, stir the mixture. Stir again once or twice before it’s done. Remove from the oven to cool (I transferred the granola to another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to cool).
- When cool add the fruit and toss until combined. Store in a clean, dry, and airtight container.
This recipe is based on this one from Marketman. I had bookmarked it eons ago and, in my usual hundred-years-to-action fashion, I only tried it now. But it is never too late for granola…even more so when it is as simple and as yummy as this! I halved most of the quantities here (I’m probably the only one going to be eating this in my place) and made it more a general formula than a strict recipe. I just indicated the volume for fruits and for nuts, and you can feel free to use whatever combinations of each your heart desires.

I had some to top my yogurt (as pictured here), and will be having future breakfasts with it in my cereal with milk, and sprinkled on my oatmeal. This is my first attempt at making granola from scratch and I must say, I am quite pleased :) I have even set some apart for my mom! I hope she likes it :)

Don’t forget! Deadline to submit your entries for this round of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day is this Saturday, January 26. The theme is Pizza and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I have already received entries and I don’t envy those who will be doing the voting…they are all fantastic and the choice will be a tough one!

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Wine


We all need our little luxuries every now and then. I don’t mean great big luxuries like private yachts or a hotel chain named after you. Little ones like a sublime square of top quality chocolate or a dress that makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn. You know…the small stuff.

In the realm of gastro-luxuries I have me favorites – foie gras, fancy French restaurants, really good chocolate, spare-no-expense sushi dinners…and Brussels sprouts.

If you have been reading this blog for a while now, you would know that I absolutely adore this much-maligned vegetable. But a luxury? Brussels sprouts?

Consider this: Over here, a small Styrofoam pack of about 300-400 grams of Brussels sprouts would cost me as much as one round of veggie shopping at the grocery. Want a clearer picture?

One 300-400 gram pack of Brussels Sprouts = 1 big head of cabbage (1.2 kilo) + 174 grams young corn + 174 grams snow peas + 1 bunch cilantro + 500 grams cauliflower + 500 grams calamansi (calamondin, our local lemon-lime) + 600 grams white onions + 3 bunches lemongrass + 3 packs black peppercorns

Another way of looking at it:
Brussels Sprouts in one meal = Vegetables for 3 meals + random aromatics for other dishes

Sigh…but perhaps it is the infrequent consumption that comes with its high price-tag that makes this little veggie so luxurious to me. After all, if you can have something everyday, doesn’t it stop being a luxury?

So when I do splurge on Brussels sprouts, I like to treat them well. This lucky bunch got bathed in a splash of sweet dessert wine.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Wine

  • Olive oil
  • 400 grams Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and cut into halves or quarters (depending on size)
  • 30-50 grams bacon, cut into small strips
  • 2 tablespoons Botrytis Semillon (or any dessert wine of your choosing)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- Heat some olive oil in a pan.
- Add bacon when oil is hot and sauté until done but not too crisp.
- Add sprouts and sauté until it starts to soften and get brown around the edges.
- Cover pan for about 5 minutes or until sprouts are soft.
- Uncover pan and add wine, deglazing and scraping at any brown bits on the pan.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serves two.

Botrytis is actually a disease that strikes the Semillon grapes. One type rots the grapes and damages the harvest. The other however, referred to as the “noble rot”, acts on the sugars and concentrates them…producing enticingly sweet and full-flavored dessert wines. We had some left over from a dinner party that I was planning to poach some fruits in, when I came upon the sprouts and the wheels in my head started turning. My beloved Brussels sprouts + chic dessert wine + smoky bacon = sweetly glazed luxurious sprouts and bacon deliciousness!

It’s good to spoil yourself once in a while…you deserve it! :)

Breakfast #15: Vietnamese Coffee

Coffee is the fuel that powers me. It is such an integral part of me that I can’t see my life without it. I love it with my every cell and molecule. If you drew my blood you would see that it is 50% coffee (the other 50% being bacon…I know, I know, I live on the edge…but it’s the secret to my success I swear it!). And although caffeine is a stimulant, coffee actually soothes and calms me.

I drink coffee at any time of day. I can drink it after dinner and fall right to sleep. But the very best time for me of course is in the morning…when it signals, for me, the beginning of a new day. For years now I have been brewing my own every morning, the ritual of it eventually becoming as meaningful as the coffee itself -- the few minutes of quiet that is absolutely mine, the sound of the coffee gurgling its way out of the maker, the smell of it that envelopes me and tells me to wake up…

…and all the cool paraphernalia that you get to use!

My regular morning ration is a double shot made with my espresso maker (just an old mini Krups…although I really long for this one…sigh), which I take in a tall glass of steamed/frothed milk. I have stealthily observed my neighborhood baristas and I try to replicate their swift maneuvers with my little Krups. I also have a drip coffeemaker for when I have a big group over, and a small French press for when I’m feeling, mmm, French. My next project is getting myself a stovetop espresso maker so I can get all nostalgic about my morning coffees in Spain. Meanwhile, on other coffee fronts, my favorite cup and saucer set was a wedding gift – white porcelain cups with pewter handles and saucers. My latest cup acquisition came from my mum-in-law – tiny ivory demitasse cups from Germany.

This is why I never begrudge the big boys their toys…you see, I have mine too.

And now this charming Vietnamese coffee filter…I am completely smitten! I actually got this a while back. My best friend K brought it back for me from a trip to Vietnam, complete with a bag of Vietnamese coffee. What is the value of a best friend who knows what you like? Priceless!

As is the Vietnamese way, I placed a generous amount of sweetened condensed milk in a glass, spooned some of the Vietnamese coffee grounds into the filter, and poured in some hot water. After waiting for a respectable amount of coffee to drip down into the waiting pool of condensed milk, I took off the filter, stirred, and enjoyed. A little non-Vietnamese thing I do: Don’t stir all the condensed milk, so after you are done with your coffee, you have some sticky, mocha-flavored condensed milk to slurp!

What gets you going in the morning? :)

Postscript: In making my pizza for HHDD, I had to buy some semolina for sprinkling. The smallest bag in the shop was 1 kilo. So 1 kilo minus some sprinkling leaves me with a whole lotta semolina. If you have any recipes using semolina, and I do mean any, please pass them along! You can email me at eighty_breakfasts(AT)yahoo(DOT)com. Thank you!