Munchies With Max: Fall Break Bake
By Max Gilbert ’13, Staff Writer
For me, one of the greatest pleasures about returning home is having access to my kitchen. When I went home for Fall Break this past weekend, I took full advantage of this benefit.

Watching an episode of “Everyday Italian” on the Food Network, I became inspired to make my own pizza. I am a pretty tough critic and a purist when it comes to regular pizza. I like a super thin and crispy crust with the perfect balance of gooey, salty cheese and sweet, flavorful sauce. Knowing that my home oven and lack of coordination to do any pizza acrobatics would prevent me from making pizza of this kind, I decided to take a more gourmet approach.

Inviting family and friends over for a “pizza party,” I resolved to make four pizzas. I made a plain pizza with a homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and homemade roasted peppers on an herbed foccacia crust. I covered another batch of the herbed crust with a simple pesto of basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts and topped it with roasted asparagus, grilled chicken and roasted peppers. This one was my personal favorite — the pesto kept the crust moist and was a perfect flavor combination with the asparagus and the chicken.

Getting even more creative, and feeling like I had opened my own Antonio’s, I made some plain pizza dough for two more pizzas. One crust I topped with Brie cheese, grilled ham and caramelized garlic and onions. The smoky ham with the gooey Brie and the sweet onions made this pizza quite popular. Finally, I tossed some shrimp in a chili-lime marinade and put it on a pizza with goat cheese, cilantro and red onions. All four pizzas, as evidenced by their rapid disappearance, were thoroughly enjoyed. Everyone had their own personal favorite, and this gave me the idea that next time I should prepare an array of toppings and crusts, and let people make their own personal pizzas.

The day before I was to come back to school I devoted to my other favorite activity, baking. I had to thank a friend who had driven me to the train, had promised another friend some brownies and I had promised one of my residents birthday cinnamon buns. For brownies I whipped up a few trays of my favorite triple chocolate sea-salted caramel brownies. These intensely fudgy and chocolatey brownies have a layer of sea-salt caramel running through the middle that really makes them dazzle your taste buds. I realized that although I had promised cinnamon buns, there would be no way I could get them back on the train. Instead, I devised a recipe for a fluffy, not-too-sweet cake. I then topped the cake with brown sugar, honey and cinnamon (what I would put on the insides of cinnamon buns) and used a knife to swirl the topping throughout. I then drizzled the top of the “cake” with a cream cheese glaze.

For fun, and because I had a lot of blueberries on hand, I also made a blueberry crumb cake. Oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar and lots of butter kept this treat moist, perfectly sweet and greatly comforting. I had extra cream cheese glaze from the cinnamon cake, and this dessert was calling out to be drizzled with some as well. When I got back to campus toting a huge bag full of baked goods, I was met with a joyous reception from both my friends and my residents. I was most curious to see how the cinnamon-bun-cake concoction would turn out, and it was extremely popular. The cake was as I had intended, doughy and almost bread-like to mimic the yeast bread in a cinnamon roll. The swirl of honey and cinnamon sugar throughout not only kept the cake both moist and sweet, but also really did make a slice of the cake look like a cinnamon roll.

My next trek home will be for Thanksgiving break. I have done the cooking for my family the past couple of years for this holiday, but this year Thanksgiving falls directly on my birthday. I decided that I don’t really like turkey all that much, and it is my birthday, and so I agreed to do the cooking if I could come up with a new menu. I’ve got a lot of ideas, and will report on my culinary creations the next time I get to be back in my kitchen.

If you would like these or any other recipes, or have any food questions at all, feel free to e-mail me at Happy eating!

Issue 06, Submitted 2010-10-20 01:13:24