Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recipe: Pizza Toasties

No hot pockets here! My dad has long been enamored by hot pockets. I don't understand it. They don't taste real, they have palpable oozing grease, and they're chaulk full of preservatives. No thank you. They aren't even quick! Frozen, you have to stick them in the microwave, turn occasionally. It takes as much time as this following recipe, and mine's made from food, not whatever is in hot pockets. I don't see how anyone could not like this recipe, so let's hope the niece agrees.

Pizza Toasties
  • Bread. Preferably whole wheat, but go with the favorite variety on hand. I use pepperidge farm's calorie light whole wheat bread: it's thin and soft, full of nutrients but only 45 calories a slice
  • Cheese. Cheddar, Mozz, Swiss - sliced, shredded. Doesn't matter: go with the favorite or what's on hand.
  • Pizza Sauce. You can buy canned 'pizza sauce' already seasoned, but i make my own:
    • 1 can tomato paste.
    • 2 cloves finely diced garlic - may substitute with garlic powder or garlic salt, or omit entirely if the toastie recipient isn't too keen on garlic
    • Salt and Pepper - not too much, but enough to balance the sweetness of the tomato paste
    • Pinch dried oregano, 3-4 finely diced leaves of fresh basil, or generous pinch dried basil
    • Generous dash cayenne - again you may omit this if the recipient doesn't like heat, but i find it to be less spicy than it is balancing to the sweetness of the tomato past.
    • This sauce is good for several days, and in fact has greater flavor after the ingredients have hung out for a while together - so you may want to make the sauce the night before. Or just make it for these toasties and then enjoy the fruits of your labors the next morning with some freshly fried eggs on toast. Yummmmmmm.
  • Optional fillings- chop so as to reduce the chances of inner molten ingredients snapping back onto chins or lips, or falling out all over the plate or lap:
    • Black olives
    • Pepperoni
    • Onions
    • Peppers
For these toasties i filled with homemade pizza sauce, cheddar cheese - sliced, and pepperoni. I found this pepperoni at the store that tastes just like pepperoni, but isn't greasy and disgusting or made from cattle (or swine or whatever pepperoni is usually made from). I'll probably find out that Hormel is part of the evil conglomerate of America's food business, but i don't have the tools to make my own turkey pepperoni, so this will have to do for now. I cooked two toasties using two methods: A toastie maker, and a fry pan. Both have their ups and downs:

Toastie Maker
  • Quick and easy
  • Low mess
  • Even melting
  • Burns only at the edges if you watch the time - adding a nice crisp without char
  • Makes the toastie all squished - could be a pro or a con
  • No hot stove to stand over
  • Have to own a toastie machine, and have a place to store it
Fry Pan
  • Easier to burn the sandwich
  • Quick and easy, but requires turning and monitoring
  • More mess
  • Less even melt, though a lid over the sandwich helps to increase melt
  • Have to know what temp to set: i like to start on high, then decrease to medium when i put the bread in. Still, i tend to over char the bread a bit. Sticking to medium all the way may be better, but it takes longer.
  • Takes longer than the machine.
  • Most people have one
Either way, the basic procedure i use makes for quick, easy, low mess toasties:
  1. Gather ingredients.
  2. Set out bread on plate, stacked
  3. Slather sauce, then pepperoni, then cheese on the top slice of bread
  4. Meanwhile - heat pan or plug in toastie maker, spray with nonstick
  5. When surface is warm, carefully place loaded bread slice onto surface, centered
  6. Top with second slice of bread (you may choose to butter the top of this slice of bread, i just use more nonstick - if using the toastie machine that isn't necessary as you pre sprayed both surfaces
  7. Close machine, cover fry pan with lid
  8. Toastie machine takes about 5 minutes, but check ever 2 or so until level of cooked has been achieved. Fry pan takes a bit more time to ensure even melt - check underneath after 2 minutes and flip when desired char has been reached. Second side takes about half the time. Fry pan is trickier as ingredients may leap out when flipping.
  9. Ta - Da! Enjoy your toastie, but be careful: the inner pocket is hot! (and so much better than Hot Pockets!

There you have it! Tasty Toasties fit for a family. From gather and chop to melty delicious in about 10 minutes. And no preservatives necessary (well, except for that pepperoni... we'll have to wait until we build our pacific northwest native american smoke house for our own version of THAT ingredient)

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