Sunday, October 4, 2015

Balsamic Steak and Arugula Pizza for a National Pizza Month #SundaySupper with #GalloFamily

Balsamic Steak and Arugula Pizza for a National Pizza Month #SundaySupper with #GalloFamily

I suppose you could cross this off my culinary bucket list. I must admit that pizza seems like a rather pedestrian dish to be placed there, given my style, but I had a rather unusual version. There are few factors preventing me from preparing it but chief among them is the fact that, according to the recipe developer, the entire pie weighs in at ten to twelve pounds which is excessive for three people in my family. Possibly next February for a Super Bowl party...

For this dish, I decided to place the focus onto the flavor profile.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

Gallo Family Vineyards has decided to use this opportunity to challenge the team at #SundaySupper to pair its wines with pizza toppings in celebration of National Pizza Month, which is October in the United States. For it, each participant was able to select two wines to pair so I chose chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, primarily because I'm most familiar with them, so it would theoretically result in better pairings, but also because they are my favorite wines to drink. Not familiar with Gallo Family Vineyards? Well, they have provided a store locator so you can find their wines. Also, please consider giving them a 'Like' on Facebook, following them on twitter and instagram in addition to subscribing to their YouTube channel. Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.

When I was conceptualizing the dish, I thought I might pair the chardonnay with French flavors that complement chicken but it looked like many of my peers were also preparing chicken pizzas so I thought I'd pair the cabernet sauvignon. My favorite way to pair it is with beef so, per what has become my standard operating procedure, I consulted The Flavor Bible and was reminded of a flavor pairing I used a couple of years ago with a New York steak dish. It suggested to pair steak with arugula, Parmesan and balsamic vinegar. It has become one of my favorite flavor profiles and I knew it would pair nicely with the cabernet sauvignon so I used it again.

Dish Details

I adapted a number of different sources to create this dish. I used the pizza dough recipe found on page 31 of Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani with Melanie Rehak with the pizza sauce found on For the toppings, I used the balsamic marinade found at and paired it with Ina Garten's arugula topping found on


For the balsamic steak:
1 3/4-to-1 pound flank steak
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
Freshly ground black pepper

For the pizza dough:
1/4-ounce (1 packet) dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups water at a temperature of 100° Fahrenheit to 110° Fahrenheit
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the pizza sauce:
1 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese

For the arugula:
5 ounces arugula
Juice from 1 lemon
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Prepare the flank steak. Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag, then combine the garlic, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl and season with pepper. Pour the marinade over the steak and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove the steaks from the marinade 30 minutes before searing it and discard the marinade. Pat the steak dry and heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Once it starts to smoke, sear the steak, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice the steak into thin strips. It may also be necessary to cut each strip into bite size pieces. Set aside while you prepare the pizza dough.

2. Prepare the pizza dough and pizza sauce. Using a mixer with the dough hook attachments, combine the yeast, water and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour in small amounts, mixing well in between each addition until the dough is tacky but not sticky. Remove the dough from the bowl using olive oil if necessary and place on a lightly floured a flat surface. Cover the dough with a dry towel and let it rise for 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit then combine the first three ingredients in a blender and drizzle in approximately 1 tablespoon olive oil. Blend the sauce, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Assemble the pizza. Once the dough has risen, Roll the dough, shape it and transfer it to a sheet pan or pizza pan. Spoon some pizza sauce onto the dough, leaving three quarters of an inch space from the edge of the dough. Shower the pizza sauce evenly with the cheeses then top the cheese with the balsamic steak. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is crispy and the cheese has melted, approximately 9 to 10 minutes.

4. Prepare the arugula and finish the dish. While the pizza bakes, combine the lemon juice and olive oil in equal parts in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Toss the arugula with just enough to dampen, a scant couple of teaspoons. Once the pizza is finished in the oven, top it with the dressed arugula, slice and serve with your favorite Gallo Family Vineyard wine.

Final Thoughts

There are a couple of execution issues I'd like to discuss. First, my source recipe for the instructs to marinate the steak for only 30 minutes to 1 hour but I actually let it sit in the marinade overnight for a stronger balsamic flavor. Secondly, I wanted to specify here that my first attempt at pizza dough failed because I didn't measure the flour. Furthermore I had trouble mixing the flour after a few additions so I might add it all in at once the next time I attempt it. Overall, I was fairly satisfied with the dough because it was comparable to some pizzas I have had delivered. Honestly, pairing wine with pizza initially seemed unnatural to me, however the cabernet did pair with the flavors of the pizza exceptionally well so I will probably do so again the next time I make pizza at home.

Lastly, I'm not the only National Pizza Month celebrant, so be sure to review the others listed below.

Sweet Pizzas
Savory Pizzas
Also Featured: Simple Tips for Wine Cheese Pairings plus Pizza Recipes #SundaySupper with Gallo Family Vineyards.
Need more ideas for celebrating National Pizza Month? Check out Gallo Family Vineyards’ blog.

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pork Chops with Apple Dijon Sauce and Arugula Salad for a Fall Flavors #SundaySupper

Pork Chops with Apple Dijon Sauce and Arugula Salad for a Fall Flavors #SundaySupper

If memory serves me correctly, the team at #SundaySupper has repeated the theme of autumnal foods from last year. I remember this because I paired chicken with a sauce that utilized grapes which are coming into season about now. The repeated theme is okay with me because I'm always up for seasonal ingredients.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

In what will most likely be my last trip to the Redmond Saturday Market this year, I noticed apples had appeared at many of the farms' stands a couple of weeks ago so I purchased a few ruby jon apples and decided to employ the classic pairing of apples and pork. To affirm, The Flavor Bible noted a flavor affinity of pork, apples and mustard. It separately noted that pork chops pair well with arugula.

Dish Details

For the pork chops, I relied upon my favorite which is taken from Tyler Florence on Food Network. For the sauce, I was inspired by a recipe I found on but I had to make it over.


For the pork:
4 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt plus more for seasoning, divided
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed with the side of a knife
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 bone-in pork rib chops, approximately 1-inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 1/2 cups apple juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
4 ounces arugula
Juice from 1 lemon
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Brine the chops. Stir together the water, 1 cup kosher salt, sugar and apple juice until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Add the peppercorns and thyme into the brine, then the pork chops. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Prepare the chops. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Remove the chops from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the chops dry with paper towels, then season them with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and sear the chops, two chops at a time if they don't fit, approximately 3 minutes per side. Remove them to an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan, then roast the chops in the oven until their internal temperature reaches 140° Fahrenheit, approximately 30 minutes.

3. Prepare the pan sauce. While the pork chops roast, return the same skillet to the stovetop over medium heat and add the oil. Once it starts to smoke, toss in the onions to sweat, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the apples and brown lightly, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Deglaze the pan with the apple juice, then stir in the mustard. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Reduce until the sauce is thick enough so that when you slide your finger across a spoon dipped in the sauce, it holds its shape. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the nutter until it melts. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

4. Prepare the salad and finish the dish. Combine the lemon juice and oil in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Toss the vinaigrette with the arugula. To plate, place a pork chop in the middle off center, spoon some sauce over the chops then garnish with arugula on the side.

Final Thoughts

I must confess that the dish you see above isn't the dish I had originally conceptualized. I wanted to present it with a fourth component of a polenta cake. When I visualized the dish, I imagined the chop to rest against it with the bone raised to give the dish some height. I even had the chops frenched similar to the dish I published about a year ago. That being said, the dish was still very flavorful. The spice of the mustard balanced the sweetness of the apples nicely.

Check out A Guide to Apples plus Best Fall Recipes Ideas for #SundaySupper and this week's recipe collection:

Appetizers and Sides
Main Dishes
Desserts and Cocktails
Plus, A Guide to Apples plus Best Fall Recipes Ideas for #SundaySupper

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Recipe Redux: Evolution of an Amateur Food Photographer

Normally, the space where these words occupy in the body of my posts has a picture of the dish I have chosen to publish. Obviously, that format will not be followed today but I have a good reason.

I have several dishes to present.

Today, I will be discussing food photography; more specifically, my food photography. It's no secret that I've always felt deficient in this area when I compare myself to my peers. It's not all bad, however my favorite pictures I shot happened, for the most part, by dumb luck.

It's subjective, but I believe the best picture on my website is the one taken of the Watermelon Gazpacho Shooters for Chef Fabio Viviani but this picture was taken by a professional photographer:

In fact, my favorite picture I took for the website up until now was inspired by the picture above. My Strawberries with Red Wine Reduction and Whipped Cream dessert was taken at Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, California:

Another favorite of mine is the Pesto Glazed Chicken with Herbed Spaghetti dish but I had help. I was just replicating Chef Curtis Stone's presentation:

A third picture that has been popular among my readers is the Chicken with Mushroom Demi-Glace that was published almost two years ago. If I remember correctly, I didn't execute the sauce properly so it wasn't one of my better tasting dishes which is ironic since the picture was one of my best:

There have been other dishes where I have been satisfied with the plate presentation, but not the quality of the picture. They include:

Chocolate Espresso Gelato

Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins

Summer Panzanella

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon-Basil Beurre Blanc, Pancetta, Apple and Fennel

Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry-Red Moscato Sorbet and Moscato Zabaglione

Coffee and Molasses Brined Pork Chop with Roasted Corn Salsa and Watercress Salad

Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Red Wine Reduction and Roasted Winter Vegetables

In most of these pictures above, the main issues I continually had were with lighting and background. The gelato pic and even the pesto glazed chicken was taken at my kitchen table. The chicken with demi-glace, pork chops with apples, panzanella and scallops were taken on an end table in the family room where I put the plate on placemats. I used this area because it was closest to the best light source I had at the time which was a table lamp. The base is partially visible in the chicken with demi-glace. Taking advantage of the natural light available to me, I started shooting outside for a couple of months last year using a card table which is where the picture of the olive oil cake was taken, however at the time I didn't understand how to diffuse light and this picture in particular is overexposed. In fact, the zabaglione is barely visible. The pork chops with corn salsa and the duck breast dishes were taken at my current residence but in two different places: the pork was taken on my kitchen counter and the duck was taken on a wooden TV dinner table.

Last month, I took a leap forward when I purchased a mobile photo studio. I have published a couple of dishes that were shot using it but I wanted to know what some previously published food might have looked like with the tools available to me today so I went back and reshot some dishes:

Coq an Vin.

February 2012

August 2015

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs:

March 2013

August 2015

Unfortunately, the sauce started to separate a little in the updated picture.

Ravioli di Ricotta con Burro Bruno e Salvia :

December 2013

August 2015

I added a little spinach to the ricotta filling in the updated dish.

I published two versions of Steak au Poivre. The first post was published in January 2014:

I updated the dish a couple of months later in April 2014:

Updated picture as of August 2015:

and finally, Broccoli with Beef:

April 2015

August 2015

In this case, I specifically chose a dish that was originally published earlier this year because I wanted to contrast a recent dish. It's easier to notice differences between pictures taken years apart but will the differences be more subtle with versions taken only months apart? In the earlier version, I plated an individual portion in a bowl with a serving of white rice. In the updated picture, I presented the dish family style similar to a fine Chinese restaurant.

Final Thoughts

I must note here that the updated steak au poivre picture has become my new favorite. It concerned me at first because the white plate against a white background created a lot of negative space but I was told by a few trusted advisors that it makes the food on the plate pop. I have since used it as the wallpaper of the lock screen on my phone.

I hope to continue to improve my presentation in the future.