Like Via 313? How to make Detroit-style pizza in a brownie pan

An 8-inch-by-8-inch pan can do so much more than make brownies. That’s the idea behind Kathy Strahs’ new book “The 8×8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners, Desserts and More — In One Perfect 8×8-Inch Dish” (Burnt Cheese Press, $24.95), which advocates that this everyday baking pan is the perfect vessel for making food for a family. Instead of the 9-inch-by-13-inch pan, the smaller, so-called brownie pan is perfect for baking or roasting whole cuts of meat, casseroles, enchiladas, quiches, frittatas, pot pies, lasagnas and, yes, brownies, blondies, bread puddings, cakes, bars and even cookies.

One of the highlights of the book is this Detroit-style deep dish pizza, which Austinites might not have heard of if not for Via 313, the pizzeria that started as a food truck and now has a brick-and-mortar location near the “Y” in Oak Hill. Via 313 still has two trailers open near downtown, and it has a second fixed location planned for Guadalupe Street, just north of the UT campus.

Detroit-style pizza from a brownie pan. Photo by Kathy Strahs.
Detroit-style pizza from a brownie pan. Photo by Kathy Strahs.

Strahs’ take on this deep dish pizza requires a little foresight: You have to start the dough the night before, but the long, slow rise makes for an extra-flavorful crust. She purees a no-cook sauce in a food processor, but you could definitely use store-bought sauce if you’d like. As for the toppings, she goes with sausage and green bell pepper, but you could use whatever you and your fellow diners are in the mood for. One key to authentic Detroit-style pizza is that the sauce goes on top of the other toppings, usually with the pepperoni or other meat on the bottom, and the cheese is pushed all the way to the edge, to create a crispy top to the outer edge crust.

8x8-BookCover-comp-Final-091415_1024x1024One note about the baking vessel: The best of these regional pizzas are baked in steel pans, not aluminum. (Common lore has it that the first Detroit-style pizzas were baked in unused oil drip pans.) You can use a regular metal 8-inch-by-8-inch pan, but avoid glass or ceramic dishes or a nonstick metal pan, which can’t withstand such high heat. You could bake the pizza at a lower temperature, but it will take longer and the edges won’t be quite as crispy. For top-of-the-line square pizzas, you can buy what are called blue steel pans online through sites such as detroitstylepizza.com or lloydpans.com.

Detroit-Style Deep Dish Pizza

2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 cup water, at room temperature
For the sauce:
1 (14.5 oz.) can no-salt added canned diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the toppings:
2 cups (about 8 oz.) shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb. bulk Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

The night before, combine the flour, salt, yeast and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Add in the water and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Knead the dough in the bowl for several minutes, until the dough comes together and becomes too sticky to handle. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature overnight (at least 8 hours, and up to 15 hours).

The next morning, add the remaining olive oil to an 8-inch-by-8-inch metal baking pan (without a nonstick coating) and spread it all over the bottom and sides with your hands. Punch down the dough and transfer it to the baking pan. Turn the dough over once in the pan to coat it with oil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

Ninety minutes before baking, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it rise and spread at room temperature. Thirty minutes before baking, make sure an oven rack is in the middle position and heat the oven to 550, if it can go that high. If not, heat to its highest, non-broil setting.

Drain the tomatoes for the sauce in a colander. Give them a good 20 minutes to drain all the excess water,which will keep your pizza from getting soggy. While the oven is heating and the tomatoes are draining, brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s cooked through and no longer pink. Once the tomatoes are drained, blend them with the garlic, salt, basil, thyme, oregano and pepper in a food processor. Set the sauce aside.

Gently push and stretch the pizza dough into the corners of the baking pan, as well as up the sides if the dough allows. Sprinkle a handful of cheese on top of the dough. Add sausage. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, all the way to the edges (you’ll be rewarded with irresistible crusty cheese on the sides). Add peppers and olives, then dollop the sauce on top — as much or as little as you’d like.

Bake until the cheese is melted, browned and crusted around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the edges of the pan to help release the crusty cheese, if needed, as you lift the pizza out of the pan. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “The 8×8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners, Desserts and More—In One Perfect 8×8-Inch Dish” by Kathy Strahs (Burnt Cheese Press, $24.95)

Celebrate National #ChocolateCakeDay with recipes & more

Hyde Park chocolate cake from Texas French Bread. (Mark Matson/For American-Statesman)
Hyde Park chocolate cake from Texas French Bread. (Mark Matson/For American-Statesman)

It’s National Chocolate Cake Day – among the best food-based holidays, we think – so here are a few recipes and tips to help you get in the spirit:

Gluten-free chocolate chiffon cake with chocolate ganache, courtesy of Holly Postler/@hollypostler.
Gluten-free chocolate chiffon cake with chocolate ganache, courtesy of Holly Postler/@hollypostler.

This recipe for chocolate chiffon cake has a simple ingredient list and is fit for your gluten-free friends. Get thee to a kitchen, stat.

For an alternative option, check out a video tutorial on how to make a molten lava chocolate cake.

These baking cookbooks have options ranging from chocolate coconut torte to cookies, brownies and more. (And if you’re looking to bake more in 2016, don’t miss Addie Broyles’ year of baking and tips for how to become a better baker.)

If cupcakes are more your style, consider a visit to one of the world’s best cupcake shops, conveniently located in Austin.

Do you have any favorite chocolate cakes around town or recipes to share? Let us know in the comments.

Taco cleansing with kale, caramelized onion enchiladas

These enchiladas verdes are filled with sauteed kale and onions and topped with a cilantro, feta cheese and avocado slices. Photo by Addie Broyles.
These enchiladas verdes are filled with sauteed kale and onions and topped with a cilantro, feta cheese and avocado slices. Photo by Addie Broyles.

During my enchilada kick for last week’s column, I made an almost-vegan contribution to the taco cleanse party.

What’s a taco cleanse? Only the biggest food trend of 2016. OK, the biggest food trend *so far*, but you can check out my story from today’s paper to find out why the Austin-based cleanse has gone big.

For these kale and caramelized onion enchiladas, I used a canned green sauce, which was a little thin for my liking, but the tacos were quick for a weeknight meal. I ended up sprinkling a little feta on top, which disqualifies them from a true Taco Cleanse taco, but I wanted a little salty cheese kick to offset the earthy filling.

I was only making one serving, but if you are making more, place the enchiladas in an oven-safe dish and heat briefly under a broiler before garnishing with cilantro and avocado and serving.

Kale and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 small white onion, sliced into thin strips
4 kale leaves, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup green chili sauce
2 corn tortillas
Chopped cilantro, sliced avocado and feta cheese, for garnish

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions until they start to soften, or until they are fully caramelized, whatever you have time for. Add kale and saute for another 5 minutes.

Heat the vegetable oil in a small saute pan and place the green sauce in a small plate. Using tongs, cook one tortilla at a time for about 20 seconds on each side. Dry off excess oil with a paper towel, and coat the tortilla in sauce. Place on a plate and either fill or top with the sauteed vegetables. Spoon on more sauce, garnish with cilantro, avocado and feta and serve. Serves 1.

— Addie Broyles

Thom’s Market opens on Riverside Drive

Thom's Market opened its second location today on Riverside Drive. Photo from Thom's Market.
Thom’s Market opened its second location today on Riverside Drive. Photo from Thom’s Market.

Those of us who work near the intersection of South Congress and Riverside are thrilled to see that the second location of Thom’s Market has opened at 160 E. Riverside Drive.

Thom’s is technically a convenience store, but it’s one of the best places to find Austin food and drinks, as well as beer, wine and some prepared salads and sandwiches. The other location is at 1418 Barton Springs Road.

What you don’t know about Girl Scout cookies

The Girl Scout cookies you know and love. Maybe. Photo by Addie Broyles.
The Girl Scout cookies you know and love. Maybe. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Girl Scout cookie sales start this week, but you already knew that.

These beloved cookies have taken on next-level status in the past decade — at least from the vantage point of this former Girl Scout who wishes she could have joined the Boy Scouts so she could go camping instead of make sit-upons.

Not that I’m bitter about it or anything.

In all honesty, I’ve tried to get over my own myopic view of Girl Scouts and, by extension, their cookies. I eat them now and then when someone opens a box at the office and will buy a box or two out of generosity to the young entrepreneurs, but I’m still not 100 percent sold that selling cookies is the best way to teach empowerment to young people, no matter the gender.

I was grateful this week to read Melanie Haupt’s piece in the Austin Chronicle that sorts out of these questions from the perspective of a feminist mom with a young daughter getting ready to make her first cookie sales. At the end of the article, Haupt starts to touch on other issues of class, race and public health, and to be honest, I’d like to read a whole lot more about what the Girl Scouts does make it easier or more accessible for all young people to participate. (I was delighted to read earlier this week that Girl Scouts organization does allow transgender girls to participate, but then disappointed to find out that they don’t support sex education, despite being an organization for adolescent girls and teens. *Insert perplexed emoji*)

Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. We’re supposed to be talking about cookies, right?

Cookie sales start this week and continue through Feb. 26, and this year, the Central Texas organization added online sales that benefit the local troops and allow them to expand marketing efforts and track some sales online.

The Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Savannah Smiles and Rah-Rah Raisins cost $4, and the gluten-free Toffee-Tastic cost $5. The shipping fee is pretty steep, but you can choose to have your favorite Scout deliver your cookies and skip the shipping charge. Find a booth near you by going to gsctx.org.

If you’ve ever been curious about why Thin Mints in California taste different than the ones in Texas, check out this surprisingly comprehensive story in the LA Times about the history of the cookies and the two (very different) bakeries. They also did a taste test of all the different varieties sold in the U.S.

Mushrooms, pecans are the secrets to this better tomorrow vegan chili

Justin Warner's Better Tomorrow Vegan Chili (right) uses pecans and mushrooms to mimic the flavor and texture of ground meat. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Justin Warner’s Better Tomorrow Vegan Chili (right) uses pecans and mushrooms to mimic the flavor and texture of ground meat. Photo by Addie Broyles.

In tomorrow’s food section, I’m running a pair of recipes from the #MyHomeTable cooking challenge I’m attempting this month. (Here’s the scoop behind 30 days of cooking at home.)

The first is for that killer cornbread recipe I blogged last week, and the second is for a vegan chili (recipe below) that I made for a food swap.

For better or worse, we’ve been eating a lot of chili this month. One reason — my 5-year-old decided that he finally loves my regular pot of chili made with beef, pork, sweet potatoes, black beans and has been asking for it every day — but I also wanted to try this vegan chili from Justin Warner’s cool new cookbook, “The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them” by Justin Warner (Flatiron Books, $35)

I was interested in the idea that pecans could mimic the mouthfeel of meat, as well as the idea that mushrooms would add what he calls the “forest-floor bass note” we expect from such a hearty dish. I was really impressed with the results. Several coworkers commented that it had too much cinnamon, so you might use less if you’re not a huge fan, but other than that, it’s definitely a dish I’d made again, even for non-vegan friends.

A note about Warner’s book: We’ve seen quite a few science-focused cookbooks this fall, including “The Food Lab” and the second edition of “Cooking for Geeks.” But what I liked about Warner’s was that it was nerdy, but not quite so encyclopedic as the others. Over the course of his career, he’s deconstructed why certain foods work on a very macro level and make the taste receptors in our brain go crazy.

The law of lemonade, for instance, is sour meets sweet, which explains the appeal of pickle-brined Chick-Fil-A chicken and honey mustard sauce. The law of bagel and lox is smoked meat plus acid and fat. Knowing that helps a vinegar sauce-smothered brisket (or a brisket sandwich with no sauce and pickles) make a whole lot more sense.

This vegan chili follows the guacamole law, which is that fresh sources of fats, such as avocados, coconuts, nuts, olives, kidney beans and legumes, can be just as creamy and satisfying as the animal-based ones.

Better Tomorrow Vegan Chili

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
16 oz. button mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean, and quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups pecans (about 7 oz.), toasted, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon or garam masala (optional)
2 (15-oz.) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups vegetable stock (or vegetable broth, and cut the salt by half)
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 oz. dried mushrooms, pulverized in a blender (optional)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
Ideas for garnish: Shredded cheese or vegan cheese sauce, sliced scallions, avocado slices, tortilla chips, pickled carrots, sour cream, scrambled eggs

In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring only once, until browned, about 6 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot and stir to incorporate. Simmer until the vegetables and nuts are soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate overnight, and reheat before serving. Keep the chili in the fridge for up to four days. Serves 6 to 10.

— From “The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them” by Justin Warner (Flatiron Books, $35)

 

Love muffin tops? Check out this soft pecan cookie recipe

These date and pecan cookies have a surprisingly tender texture and softness. Photo by Addie Broyles.
These date and pecan cookies have a surprisingly tender texture and softness. Photo by Addie Broyles.

What a nice treat to come back to work from a long weekend and be handed a cookie.

My co-worker, Josefina Villicaña Casati, who runs the Ahora Si newspaper, loves to cook, and over the weekend, she made these date and pecan cookies that she first made last fall. It’s a recipe from the New York Times’ much-debated “United States of Thanksgiving” package in 2014. I’m not a huge fan of dates, but I’m definitely happy to eat a cookie for breakfast.

At first bite, I knew I wasn’t eating any old cookie. This super soft cookie reminded me of a muffin top — not *that* kind of muffin top, silly. I’m not sure if it was the dates, pecans or just-right chewy texture, but they tasted healthier than they probably are, which also made me think of muffins. Seriously, I just came off of a season of eating cookies, and I hadn’t had any cookies like this.

The original recipe called for walnuts, but I always pick pecans over walnuts. You could use raisins instead of dates, but, boy, the dates were tender and flavorful here.

Date and Pecan Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1
tsp. salt
2
tsp. cinnamon
1/2
tsp. ground cloves
1 cup
soft unsalted butter
1 1/2
cups light brown sugar
4
large eggs, lightly beaten
1
Tbsp. baking soda
4 cups
chopped pitted dates
4 cups
chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line one or more baking sheets with parchment. Place flour in a bowl and whisk in the salt, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar together by hand or in an electric mixer. Beat in eggs. The mixture will not be smooth. Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon hot water and stir it in. Stir in the dates and nuts. The batter will be heavy and not easy to mix. Work in the flour mixture, about a third at a time. If your electric mixer has a dough hook, use it for working in the flour.

Scoop heaping teaspoons of batter onto prepared baking sheet or sheets, making craggy mounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Space them about 1 1/2 inches apart; the cookies will not spread very much. (Alternatively, for neater cookies, you can roll the batter into balls between your palms, then lightly press them down with the back of a spoon or the tines of a fork.) Allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking. Depending on the size of your oven and your baking sheets, you can form the cookies ready to bake on sheets of parchment paper on your countertop, then transfer them to baking sheets in shifts.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Let cool, then dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar. If you plan to freeze some of the cookies, do not dust them with confectioners’ sugar; wait until after they thaw. Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies.

— Adapted from a recipe in “Treasured Recipes Old and New 1975,” a community cookbook by the Schuyler-Brown Homemakers Extension in Iowa Falls

Farmhouse Delivery acquires Greenling, expands food delivery business

Farmhouse Delivery announced to the news of the acquisition to all of its new and current customers Friday. Credit: Farmhouse Delivery, artist Sarah Presson
Farmhouse Delivery announced to the news of the acquisition to all of its new and current customers Friday. Credit: Farmhouse Delivery, artist Sarah Presson

Before Instacart, UberEats, Favor and just about every other food delivery business in Austin, there were two big players dropping off food at your house: Farmhouse Delivery and Greenling.

Greenling, founded in 2005, always seemed to have a wider customer base, and even though they worked with some local farms, had a more corporate business model. Farmhouse Delivery, on the other hand, started in 2009 and operated out of a farm in East Austin. The website wasn’t as slick and the focus was more niche on hyper local ingredients, including dairy and meat.

Both Greenling and Farmhouse expanded outside Austin by 2013, but by 2014, other delivery services started to nip at their heels. Favor, Postmates and then UberEats offered mostly restaurant delivery service, but when it came to getting groceries delivered, Instacart shot to the top, first by partnering with Whole Foods, then H-E-B, Costco and a number of other prominent retailers. Heck, even Greenling partnered with Instacart for a while.

But by last fall, Greenling was either ready to go under or be acquired. Over the weekend, Farmhouse Delivery announced that it had purchased its once-rival for an undisclosed sum.

Claudia Grisales’ story has all the details about what the acquisition means for employees and customers of both services (Urban Acres, a Dallas food delivery company, was also part of the deal), and I’m particularly interested to see how the now bigger Farmhouse can distinguish itself from Instacart, whose shoppers I see just about every time I’m in the grocery store.

How much bigger is grocery delivery going to get? Most of us thought that customers wouldn’t pay the extra cost to have someone else do their shopping for them, but the popularity of these delivery services is proving us wrong. Does that mean that Farmhouse has a better chance of survival than Greenling did when it first launches, a decade ahead of the curve?