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Sponsored Post: Perfect Pizza at Home with Craftsy

finished pepperoni

This post is the next installment in my sponsored content partnership with Craftsy. This time, I took Peter Reinhart’s Perfect Pizza at Home course. It was amazing and changed my relationship with homemade pizza forever. Read on for more!

rising pizza dough

I’ve long been of the belief that even bad pizza can be good, if the circumstances are right. For instance, free pizza that appears in your workplace around lunchtime. It doesn’t have to be particularly excellent pizza in order for the ravaging hordes to descent and empty those boxes in record time.

risen dough

Also in this category is pizza eaten at the airport during a layover, pizza obtained in the late night hours after one too many drinks, and pizza provided by friends after you’ve helped them move.

And, until last week, this category included my own homemade pizza.

flattened dough

Years ago, I got myself a pizza stone and tried to up my homemade pizza game. However, every attempt yielded gummy, tough crusts and toppings that slide right off the slice with the first bite. I kept making it, because of my belief that even bad pizza could be good. In my heart, I knew it could be better, but I never took the time to make it so.

sauced pizza

Happily, it has all changed thanks to Peter Reinhart’s free Perfect Pizza at Home course. This is a class offered by Craftsy and it has totally changed my homemade pizza ways.

pepperoni pizza unbaked

The class is broken up into five sections. After a quick introduction, Peter goes into a primer on dough. I was interested to learn that you get far better dough incorporation if you use your mixer’s paddle rather than the kneading hook for the dough. I had always assumed that the hook was best.

sliced pepperoni pizza

I appreciated the variety of dough options that were offered in that section (hooray for the part whole wheat crust). I was also taken by instructions to pull and fold the dough every five minutes. It didn’t take any major kneading to create a light, perfectly chewy dough and I’ll be doing it this way from here on out.

bottom char

Next up was the segment on sauces and cheese. I’ll confess that I already have a favorite pizza sauce (the recipe is in Preserving by the Pint), but it was liberating to be told that a bit of cheddar cheese tossed with your mozzarella is perfectly acceptable.

mushroom pizza

I think I learned the most from the making and baking segment. There are so many good tips about shaping your dough into the pizza shape (make sure to let the dough rest in between stretching attempts, or it will keep bouncing back) and getting the pizza stone good and hot (crank the oven as high as it will go and heat the stone for much longer than you’d think).

mushroom crust

I was also encouraged by the gluten-free pizza unit. My sister can’t handle the gluten and I love the idea that I can still make her delicious, satisfying pizza.

If you want to take the Perfect Pizza at Home class, click here to register!

For more on my year-long partnership with Craftsy, head over to the first post in the series, all about my experience taking their free Knife Skills course.

Official disclosure statement: This post was sponsored by Craftsy. I was compensated for my time. However, all opinions remain entirely my own.

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Sponsored Post: WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife Giveaway From Craftsy

Cook's Knife

Photo courtesy of Wüsthof

My love of fancypants kitchen knives is well documented and one of my very favorite knife makers is Wüsthof. I have a number of their knives on the magnetic strip in my kitchen, and use them nearly every day.

The Wüsthof knife I reach for most often is WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife. It’s well balanced, stays wickedly sharp, and is a joy to use. The one that lives in my kitchen came with my husband when we combined our households back in 2008. He still refers to it as his knife, but I think we all know that it’s really mine.

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about Craftsy’s free Complete Knife Skills class and all the useful things I’d learned from it (along with a recipe for carrot and red pepper refrigerator pickles). In order to continue the knife skills love, Craftsy has kindly offered to give away one WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife to a Food in Jars reader.

This giveaway is a little different from the ones I typically offer here, in that you need to go over to the Craftsy site to enter your name (comments left on this post won’t get you entry this time). If you don’t have one, you will need to create an account on Craftsy in order to enter, but it shouldn’t take long and they are good citizens when it comes to user information.

There’s just one entry per person. The winner will be chosen at random. The giveaway closes at 11:59 pm on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

Click here to enter to win a WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 8-inch Cook’s Knife!

PS: All Craftsy food and cooking classes are up to 50% off through the weekend, so if you’ve ever wanted to learn more at Artisan Bread Making, Mother Sauces, or Vietnamese Classics, this is your chance to do so at a bargain!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

 

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March Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, New West KnifeWorks, Preserving Now, and The Clay Studio

jars of herbs

It’s the beginning of a brand new month and that means it’s time to thank the companies and businesses who help keep this site chugging along.

In the top spot is jar accessory maker Cuppow! They are the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and, more recently, of the BNTO, a cup that fits into a wide mouth mason jar and transforms it into a lunch box. Domestic shipping is free on all their products right now, too!

Second on the list is our friends at Fillmore Container. They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. And I hear that they’re going to have the new green jars in stock by next week!

Next up is  New West KnifeWorks. Based in Wyoming, they are makers of gorgeous, sturdy, crafted in the US kitchen knives. They are a joy to work with.

I’m also happy to welcome Preserving Now back! Operated by Lyn Deardorff, Preserving Now is both a website and school dedicated to helping people expand their canning and preserving skills. If you’re in the Atlanta area, make sure to check out her schedule of upcoming classes and events!

The Clay Studio is back with us again! This Philadelphia-based non-profit was founded in 1974 and is dedicated to affirming the importance of the ceramic arts. They work to make clay an accessible medium to a broad range of people. I regularly drool over the many gorgeous pieces in their shop.

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Sponsored Post: Complete Knife Skills with Craftsy

pickled carrot set-up

Friends! Welcome to my first-ever sponsored post. I’ve teamed up with Craftsy for a year-long series. See more about our partnership at the end of the post! Enjoy!

I am a self-taught home cook. I’ve never been to culinary school and I haven’t taken a cooking class since I was seven years old and my mom enrolled me in a “Kids in the Kitchen” series at our local community center. When I was young, I learned by watching my mom, my grandma Bunny, and my great-aunt Doris.

trimming and slicing carrots

During college, I picked up a few tricks from my roommates and discovered a lot through trial and error. And when I was in my early twenties, the Food Network was my guide (people may knock Rachael Ray, but I learned a lot from her in 2002).

I’ve done pretty darn well in this vein, but there’s always been one area where I knew I could do better. Knife skills. For years, I meant to take a class on the subject, but first the budget was too tight and then in later years, I couldn’t find the time.

red pepper

So, when Craftsy asked me to try out their free Complete Knife Skills course, I was a very willing pupil. Taught by Chef Brendan McDermott, the course consists of four components and takes just over an hour and 45 minutes to complete.

Chef McDermott starts out with an introduction to the necessary knives, moves into the four basic cuts, offers an array of tricks and short cuts, and finally gives you the details necessary to maintain your knives.

all ingredients prepped

You’ll also learn fun tidbits, like how to sharpen a knife using the bottom of a ceramic mug, how to quickly open a bottle of beer with a chef knife (!), and even how to split a handful of grape tomatoes with a single knife stroke.

I was particularly impressed by how easy he made it look to cut a carrot into gorgeous julienned strips. I’ve long struggled to create uniform matchsticks and so always opt to use a mandoline slicer when prepping a cut like that. However, inspired by his example, I decided to make thin-cut carrots and red peppers for a refrigerator pickle, sliced up with nothing more than my mighty chef knife.

zest confetti

Here’s how to do it. First, prepare the brine. Mix one cup apple cider vinegar with one cup fresh water, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Heat until the salt and sugar dissolves.

Grab two hefty carrots that weigh about a pound in combination. Trim the ends and cut the carrots in equal lengths. Trim away the sides of the carrots so that you end up with a neat orange rectangle. Carefully cut the carrots into slim planks. Stack two or three of the planks and cut them into matchsticks.

building pickles

Set the carrots aside and prep one red pepper by slicing off the ends. Cut the pepper into two equal halves and trim away the interior pith and seeds (Chef McDermott demonstrations this beautifully in Short Cuts component). Thinly slice the red pepper so that they roughly match the size and shape of the carrots.

Take a small lime and trim off both ends. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slice away three or four strips of zest. Switch back to a chef knife and mince those strips into confetti.

cilantro

Using a clean, wide mouth quart jar, begin to build your pickles. Place 1/2 teaspoon each black peppercorn and crushed red chili flakes in the bottom of the jar. Add two garlic cloves (crushed or sliced, depending on your preference) and the lime zest confetti. Add a layer of fresh cilantro leaves and stems (about half a cup packed).

Then, gather up a handful of your carrot and red pepper matchsticks and place them in the jar. I like seeing them upright, but you can pack them in any way you’d like.

pouring brine

Once all the carrots and peppers are in the jar, carefully pour the warm brine over the vegetables. It should be enough liquid to fully cover the veg, but since this is a refrigerator pickle, it will be okay if there’s a bit uncovered. The carrots and peppers will act like straws and sip up the brine even if they’re not entirely covered.

Place a lid on the jar and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours before eating.

finished pickles

Note: For a spicier pickle, consider adding some fresh jalapeño pepper rings. I actually intended to do this, but managed to leave my jalapeño at the grocery store (truly, I know I put one in my basket, but it just didn’t make it home with me).

Sign up for Craftsy’s free Complete Knife Skills class to learn how to make these great cuts for your own batch of refrigerator pickles.

Sponsored content like this is virgin territory for me. I’ve not done anything like this up until now because I’ve never felt like the opportunities presented were the right fit. However, I’m working with Craftsy because I feel like their mission aligns with the things I try to do here. Over the next year, I’m going to be working with Craftsy on a series of sponsored content pieces and I’m excited to see where this partnership goes. I hope you enjoy the ride along with me!

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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