Pizza with faina

Pizza with faina

One of my favorite food-related scenes in movie history, is the moment when father and son go into a restaurant and share a bottle of wine and a mozzarella, in The Bicycle Thief. We recently watched Gigante, an Uruguayan/Argentinian film, that I promise to stop talking about soon. In one scene, our hero goes into a restaurant and orders pizza with mozzarella, a beer, and faina. First of all – it reminded me of that scene in Bicycle Thief to such an extent that I was sure it was a tribute to it. Second of all – what is a faina?!? I was so intrigued that I researched it the second the movie was over. Faina turns out to be a Uruguayan version of socca…a chickpea flour-based bread. It’s mixed with olive oil, herbs, sometimes parmesan, and tons and tons of pepper. And then it’s baked in a hot oven, till it’s crispy outside, though still dense and soft on the inside. And then it’s sliced and each slice is eaten on top of a slice of pizza. How strange but tasty does that sound!

I had to try it. I like making pizza anyway. It’s fun and easy and everybody in my family happily eats it, which is always a pleasure. I’ve been trying for some time to make pizza with a thinner, crispier crust – it had always eluded me. It worked this time, though…I used less yeast, more water and olive oil. The dough was quite sticky, but not hard to work with. I put lots of herbs in the dough, and I topped it with a roasted red pepper tomato sauce, dollops of goat cheese, and lots of fresh rosemary.

And the faina. It seemed such a strange idea to me at first, but when I took one bite, it all made sense! The texture was nice with the pizza, but more importantly, it seemed like a vehicle for the pepper and rosemary…flavors that are nice with the pizza, but tend to get distracted in the sauce were distilled into a perfect form.

Here’s The Bouncing Souls with The Pizza Song. When I was in my early twenties I lived across the street from these fellows, and they lived a few doors down from the legendary Tata’s Pizza. Is that what they’re singing about here? We’ll never know.
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Spaniko-sushi with spicy sauce

Greens & feta rolls

I don’t eat seafood, so I don’t eat sushi, well…ever. But I like the idea of tasty little rolls that you can dip in a spicy sauce. So I came up with these little morsels. They reminded me of spanikopita because they combine greens and feta in a flaky crust, and they reminded me of sushi because of their shape. And they happen to be another addition in my series of savory pastries-that-make-an-elegant-vegetarian-appetizer-but-also-make-a-good-dinner-with-soup-or-a-big-salad!

I put black mustard seeds in the pastry, because I like their flavor with greens, and because they add a nice speckledy crunch. I used kale and spinach because I had them, and because I think the mild flavor of spinach is nice with the more assertive flavor of kale. And the sauce is a roasted red pepper and chipotle sauce. Quite spicy, and very pretty with it’s bright red tint.

Roasted red pepper chipotle sauce

Here’s Mean Greens by Eddie Harris.
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Romesco sauce

romesco sauce

Everybody loves romesco sauce! (Well, everybody except my 6-year-old son, but he claims to have eaten earthworms, so his taste is suspect. Shocking, I know! We’re vegetarian!) When people first taste romesco sauce, their faces instantly light up, and they have to eat some more and they say, “What is this? It’s delicious!” I’ve seen it happen many times!

Romesco sauce is a combination of roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, hazlenuts, almonds, bread, and lots of paprika. In an ideal world, you’d roast the peppers over an open fire, and roast the tomatoes for hours in your oven. In a slightly less ideal world, you’d roast the peppers on the flame of your gas burner. Sigh. I don’t have a gas stove, so I broil my peppers, and they turn out fine. And this time of year, I cheat and use roasted tomatoes from a can. (Hunts fire-roasted diced, as it happens). You could also use peppers from a jar. This sauce will still taste good!

It’s a very versatile sauce. Good with roasted vegetables, good as a dip for chips or crackers, good on sliced baguette, good as a pizza sauce, a pasta sauce, a sauce for savory pies (particularly those with lots of greens) or croquettes.

Here’s Art Pepper’s Red Pepper Blues.
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