Al Pastor Taco Pizza

I first met a taco pizza when I visited Dubuque, Iowa for the first time, seven years ago! I was seriously into the concept of taco toppings on a pizza crust and got totally jazzed when I moved to Grand Forks the following year and discovered that taco pizza is everywhere here too. Even though I didn’t grow up with it, it made me nostalgic for the kind of tacos that my mom would make when I was little, from the boxed kits- ground meat mixed with a packet of seasonings, shredded orange cheddar, and shredded iceberg lettuce. Super basic. Common taco pizza is essentially that on a pizza crust, plus olives, crushed tortilla chips, and side ramekins of sour cream and salsa. It’s tasty, but a lot of its tastiness for me comes from the nostalgia factor, not necessarily from the fact that it’s an exceptionally good taco situation.

Eggboy and I have had too many extremely good taco situations in LA and Chicago to let this go unnoticed. Our joint dream taco is al pastor, complete with pineapple, cilantro, onion, lots of lime, and tomatillo salsa. (His fave is from Los 3 Ponchos, in Chicago. He once ditched me at a Purim party nearby there to go eat three of their tacos. This was after we’d had dinner there before the party. Where does he find the stomach space for all of this food??) So when his birthday last year fell on pizza Friday, I got to work combining the magic of a great al pastor with the perfection that is Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough. I quickly learned that when you have two perfect things like that, you don’t need much else. I held it all together with melty oaxaca cheese and salty fresh queso fresco, and we just about lost our eyeballs in the back of our heads, it was so good. All of the perfect smoky/sweet/salty flavors of al pastor were there and the doughy pizza crust with the melty cheese took it to a crazy level. The cheeses here don’t overpower, they just bind everything together in meltiness and allow the al pastor to shine. The grilled pineapple makes an entirely new case for pineapple on pizza, and the cilantro and onions sprinkled on at the end add freshness, crunch, and prettiness! I’m obsessed with this pizza. Eggboy is too. It’s 10000% worth the two-day process it takes to make—day one: mix the dough, marinate the meat. Day two: grill the meat and assemble. So as part of my meal prep back in March, I made one and stuck it in the freezer for Eggboy’s first Father’s Day!!!! 

Happy Almost Father’s Day to the best taco eater and Bernie dad in the world! 


Al Pastor Taco Pizza

Makes 2 14” Pizzas

Ingredients:

Al Pastor:

1 (14oz) can pineapple rings, juice and rings separated

1/4 c distilled white vinegar

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 guajillo chiles, dried, seeds tapped out

1 lb pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces

Assembly:

All-purpose flour, for dusting

About 2 pounds pizza dough (I recommend Jim Lahey’s no-knead dough)

1/2 c tomatillo salsa, plus more for topping and serving

10 oz queso fresco, crumbled

10 oz oaxaca cheese, torn into small pieces

Chopped fresh cilantro

Chopped yellow onion or pink pickled onions

Lime wedges

Clues

To make the al pastor, in a food processor, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt, cumin, black pepper, cloves, and chiles and blend until smooth. Place the pork shoulder in a bowl and pour in the mixture from the food processor. Fold to combine, cover, and let marinate for 4 hours or overnight. (If letting this sit overnight, this is a good time to start your pizza dough.)

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Use tongs to lift the pork out of the marinade and grill in batches until browned and cooked through. Also grill 8 of the pineapple rings until charred. Transfer the pork and pineapple to a cutting board and chop the pineapple into bite sized pieces.

Preheat the oven to 500ºf with a pizza stone if you have one. On a floured surface, divide the pizza dough in half and roll each into a 14” round, dusting with flour as needed. Transfer to a baking sheet or parchment paper (which will make getting it on and off a pizza peel much easier). Top each pizza with 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa, about 5 oz queso fresco (reserving a little bit for topping after baking), 5 oz oaxaca cheese, and 1/2 of the al pastor and pineapple. Bake for about 9-12 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese has brown splotchy marks. Top with a splatter of salsa, cilantro, onions, lime, and reserved queso fresco. Slice and enjoy!


Bernie, Two Months!

Hello from Bernie’s 10th week! She is nearly 2 1/2 months old and smiles more and more each day! We have settled into the best little routine where every morning we have wiggle time, then go to the gym to stroll and listen to Unorthodox, and then come home and make a big summery salad for lunch. In the afternoon we do a fun thing like read crinkly tail tale books or swat at hanging vegetable toys before snuggles and nap time (that’s when I watch Jeopardy and read Bringing Up Bébé). Then we make dinner and Eggboy and I watch Fargo while we wait for Bernie to poop so that we can then give her a bath without worrying that she’ll poop in it (yep, learned that one the hard way haha). It’s peak maternity leave livin’ around here and we are soaking it in. Also the weather has been amazing, so we are, as Bernie puts it, “GOO!” Some highlights from this past month include:

-Our first little family picnic! On Memorial Day, we grilled sausages, potatoes, and broccolini, and drank rhubarb soda while we enjoyed the evening breeze.

-Bernie’s first out of town visitors! Jaclyn and Katie came to town and we had the best weekend ever, which included a trip to Fargo for the Antiques Roadshow (with a stop at Silver Lining Creamery after), the North Dakota Shakespeare 5K (err- we walked 3Ks of it ;), an afternoon picnic in the backyard with cookies and cookie dough (and carrots for balance), and cinnamon roll pancakes at Darcy’s.

-Cuddle time with Mrs. Moose. Bernie’s been grasping and swatting at toys and in true baby fashion she definitely prefers the super saturated weirdly colored high contrast ones. The muted rainbow lover in me is like “😳🙄 But Bernie, this hot pink neon green bumble bee clashes terribly with your navy car seat, mustard outfit, and olive pacifier…” but it’s ok, maybe one day she’ll love dusty rose like I do??

-Bernie’s first Syttende Mai, Norwegian Constitution Day! She is 5/16ths Norwegian, so we went to Sons of Norway and ate lefse, krumkake, rømmegrøt, and all of the other faves. She wore her Norwegian accessories from our friend Trude in Norway and had the best time!!

-My first Mother’s Day, it was delightful! Bernie and I worked on her cookbook and snuggled the day away. Then the following week it was my birthday and we went out to lunch wearing identical outfits and spent the rest of the day baking cookies and cake!

-Bernie talks soo much!! We have great conversations about Ooo and Ahh and Goo, I love them.

-She has gotten very tall, she has Eggboy’s legs. Hallelujah!

Ok, we’ve gotta go pick rhubarb!! Bernie’s sending some friendly hiccups in your general direction and I’m waving! Bye!

-Yeh!

Rhubarb and Pistachio Rugelach

Rhubarb season, la dee da! [Insert Disney princess humming and singing with the birds!] Everything in the yard is green and happy, the chickens are laying, the cats are hunting, and the rhubarb is very bright pink!!! Let’s get down to business. With dreams of last year’s sea salt chocolate rugelach, I realized it was time for a springtime jam version! And what makes the best springtime jam? Rhubarb from the backyard, of course! And you know I love rhubarb with rosewater and pistachios, so those naturally wiggled their way in too. The result is a buttery, not-too-sweet, nutty cookie that has a hint of sourness from both cream cheese and rhubarb. It’s rustic yet a little fancy, and it’s an ode to both my Jewishness and the farm because without the rhubarb patch on the farm, I probably would have never made these. And they certainly couldn’t have been done without my mom’s perfect rugelach in my cookie genes.

That’s all! 

(And hey, if you want to switch up the jams and/or nuts, do it!!)


Rhubarb and Pistachio Rugelach

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients

Dough

2 1/2 c (325g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/3 c (66g) sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

zest of 1/2 orange or lemon

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed

8 oz (226g) cream cheese, straight from the fridge

2 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract


Filling

3/4 c (245g) rhubarb jam, homemade or store-bought

1 tb orange or lemon juice

optional: 1 tsp rosewater, or to taste

1/2 c (64g) finely chopped toasted pistachios

Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water

Topping

a few pinches flaky salt

2 tb sugar or coarse sanding sugar

1/4 c (32g) ground toasted pistachios

Clues

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and zest in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the cubed butter, distributing it all over the top of the dry ingredients, and dollop in the cream cheese (1” dollops should do it, but it doesn’t need to be perfect). Turn the mixer on low and stir until the mixture is mostly mealy and there are still some larger clumps of butter and cream cheese in tact. Continue mixing and add the yolks and vanilla and then continue mixing until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

To form the rugelach, first make the filling by combining the jam with the orange or lemon juice and rosewater, if using, and set it aside. Working with one dough disc at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking, until it is a wide rectangle, 18” by 9”. Use an offset spatula to spread on half of the jam in a thin even layer, leaving a 1” border along the long edge that’s furthest from you. Sprinkle with half of the finely chopped pistachios. Brush the 1” border with a thin layer of egg wash and then start on the end closest to you and roll the dough into a long tight log, placing it seam side down. transfer to a cutting board or baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days (depending on fridge space, you might want to cut the log in half so you’re dealing with four shorter logs as opposed to two really long ones). 

If you’re only refrigerating for a couple of hours, no need to cover the logs. If longer than that, cover with plastic wrap. 

To bake, preheat the oven to 375ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. brush the logs with a thin layer of egg wash, sprinkle with a few pinches of flaky salt, a lot of pinches of sanding sugar, and a good pile of ground pistachios. Cut into 1 1/2” slices and transfer to the baking sheets, 1” apart. Bake until golden brown on top; begin checking for doneness at 24 minutes. (You might notice that the cookies seem to sweat and leak out some fat and jam while in the oven, this is completely normal.) Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy them warm! Leftovers can be stored at room temp for several days.


Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Hello, I am so excited about this cake mix!!!! It’s everything I love in one tidy highly giftable package: cute jars, sprinkles, typewriter cards, string, peanut butter (!), a menorah candle disguised as a birthday wish, and the anticipation of cake! Developing this might have been my favorite part of meal prep especially because it’s the most fun and also, well, it’s for my birthday today! I just figured, who knows if Eggboy will have time to bake my annual yellow cake, and I’ll certainly be too busy to pipe a dang embroidery marzipan llama. So what’s the easiest next best option? A homemade peanut butter cake mix with chocolate glaze mix that I can whip up with a Bernie in one arm and a whisk in the other. I assembled the mix back in March and it’s been sitting in my pantry since. (I kind of feel like I should have half a dozen of these on hand for future cake emergencies, no?) I’d never made anything like it before but realized after looking at my peanut butter cake ingredients that most of the ingredients are easily available in powdered form. Powdered peanut butter and powdered milk were the only two things that I didn’t already have on hand but I bought some at the store and tried them out and they worked so well! So the only things that are required for assembly are an egg, oil, and water, just like a store-bought mix! The result is a really moist and fluffy cake with a shiny chocolatey glaze. I made a set of dala horse cakes, just enough for our little family, but this can be made in a round 8” cake pan or easily doubled and made into a sheet cake!


Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Makes 1 One-layer 8” Round Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

3/4 c + 2 tb (175g) sugar

1/2 c + 2 tb (81g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c (65g) cake flour, or more all-purpose flour

1/4 c (28g) powdered peanut butter (such as PB2)

2 tb (14g) milk powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/8 tsp baking powder

Glaze:

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

1/4 c (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I like dutch cocoa for the darker color)

2 tb (14g) powdered peanut butter

1 tb (7g) milk powder

Other bells and whistles:

A birthday candle

A card with directions (see below)

A packet of sprinkles and other colorful candy

Other decorations as desired

Clues

In a medium jar (I used a 1/2 L Weck jar), layer the sugar, flour, cake flour, peanut butter powder, milk powder, salt, and baking powder. In a separate smaller jar (I used a 1/4 L Weck jar), layer the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, peanut butter powder, and milk powder. Cover and wrap up cutely with a candle, directions card, a packet of sprinkles, and any other decorations. Go wild! Gift it to the birthday person! 

Directions To Bake (print this out or make a card on a typewriter if you’re into that)

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease an 8” round cake pan.

  2. Dump the large jar into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1 large egg, 1 cup water, and 1/4 cup oil and whisk to combine. 

  3. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan.

Glaze:

  1. Add 3 tablespoons water to the small jar and mix until spreadable, adding an additional tablespoon of water if it’s too thick to spread. Pour over cake.

  2. Decorate and enjoy!