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March, 2009:

Review: Dangerous Dan’s

On Saturday night dog-sitting duties found us walking in the heart of Leslieville / Riverville / South Riverdale in search of a decent spot for dinner.  Reliable Fish & Chips closes at the ridiculously early hour of 7 PM on Saturdays and it was obvious that a reservation was a must to get a table at the trendy (and apparently excellent) Table 17.   Indecision and the warm weather led us as far as Dangerous Dan’s hoping for a good burger and a look at what the neighbourhood was like before Rowe Farms and the Leslieville Cheese Market set up shop.  Dangerous Dan’s is right across the street from a seedy “gentlmen’s club” (Jilly’s) and doesn’t look like much from the outside but I have read on Chowhound and heard from friends that it’s a good place to get a straightforward burger at a decent price.

The Big Kahuna burger at Dangerous Dan's.  (Photo by Kat)

The Big Kahuna burger at Dangerous Dan's. (Photo by Kat)

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Adventures in Pizza II: The Finished Pie

Pizza cooking on the bottom of cast iron pan

Pizza cooking on the bottom of cast iron pan

Two days to make pizza calls for two days of blog posts.  Seems fair to me.  Yesterday I went over the process I used to make what I consider the ultimate pizza dough.  When we left off the dough was relaxing, fermenting, and possibly rising a very little bit in the refridgerator.  After its overnight stay there it has to be left to stand at room temperature for two hours (three is probably better if, like our apartment, you keep your kitchen around 17 degrees celsius).

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Adventures in Pizza I: The Dough

Pizza 4

(Here’s the second part of the series that deals with the technique of cooking this pizza.)

We eat a lot of pizza.  More to the point we eat it a lot of different versions of pizza.  Pizza for Kat and me can be a quick lunch, a convenient delivery when we don’t feel like cooking or a more involved from-scratch process.

When making pizza at home the shortcut that I am least willing to take is the use of pre-baked shells.  I find that they taste both inauthentic and, well, bad.  Canned tomato sauce: Serviceable and with a bit of spices mixed in even very good.  Pre-shredded cheese: Not great but not totally offensive.  The pre-baked shells though, have the taste and mouth feel of the cardboard they are packaged with.

Having reached this point I have turned a bunch of times to either making my own dough or buying the balls of dough from the grocery store and using them that day or later, out of the freezer.  I have definitely had varying degrees of success, especially when it comes to transforming the dough from a  ball into a very thin round that can be topped and slid into the oven without tearing.  Repeatedly, I read the recommendation that if the dough resists being stretched thinly enough it should be left to rest for five to ten minutes.  This sometimes works but nearly as often just gives the dough round an opportunity to slowly recede in the inward direction while maintaining its resistance to stretching.

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Tomatoes Start

Ten cells of tomatoes in the windowsill greenhouse

Ten cells of tomatoes in the windowsill greenhouse

All of gardening is about amazing transformations.  Personally I’m most in awe of the tiny tomato seed that is as thin as a stamp and no larger in any other dimension than a grain of rice but manages to produce plants that are five feet tall and bear upwards of 10 lb of fruit each.  Today this year’s crop of tomatoes took the first step in the process.

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Quick Pickle II: Ginger

Ginger 1When ethnic cuisines are exported, mass-marketed, and made available for home delivery here in North America (“pizza-fication” perhaps?) their quality usually suffers in two ways: Shortcuts are taken in technique and inferior ingredients are used.   Thankfully, it is tough to get a master sushi chef if you’re only willing to pay minimum wage (I imagine) but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be nearly as difficult to get discount wasabi and pickled ginger.

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