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Saturday, July 21, 2001

my husband surprised me by reading this blog and beating me to bridge kitchenware. that's right -- i came home from yoga last night and found he had sweetly bought me a black steel deep dish pizza pan! i think this a show of support!

unfortunately, he did not know that i needed a 12-in. pan, and so bought a 10-in. pan. so i'll be going up to bridge myself this afternoon to exchange the pan. still, mr. right gets a gold star. and a spinach deep dish pizza.

some chicago pizzas have cornmeal crusts, although the more famous places tend to use regular pizza crust. the recipe for pizza dough i posted here previously is a new york style crust, that calls for no sugar or oil. the chicago pizza crust would normally have a tablespoon of both olive oil and sugar, which makes for a moister crust.

mr. right has asked for a cornmeal crust, so forwith, here's my recipe:

2-1/4 c. (10 oz by weight) Sir Lancelot high gluten flour
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1c. (8 oz) water
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon SAF yeast

attach the paddle beater to your stand mixer. in the mixer bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. mix at speed 3 for 30 seconds to blend evenly. gradually add the oil. replace the paddle beater with the dough hook and mix at speed 2. gradually add the water until the dough comes together. knead with the dough hook for 10 mins. the dough should be smooth and elastic. if not, knead for another 5-10 mins. check to make sure you see the "baker's windowpane" when you pinch off a piece of dough and hold it up to the light.

let rest for 5 mins. using a pastry or baker's bench knife, divide the dough in half. shape it into two balls, oil their surfaces, and place on a heavily floured sheet. sprinkle the tops with more flour. cover with plastic.

at this point you may let them rise for 4-6 hours until puffy or put in the refrigerator to rise overnight. if you chill them, take them out an hour before you want to roll them out so they can come up to room temperature.

this recipe should give you plenty of dough for two 12" crusts -- the top and the bottom crust of the chicago pizza. i usually let the dough rise overnight, myself. so you'll find the recipe for the spinach filling and light tomato sauce topping tomorrow, when we actually make the deep dish pizza!

posted by fortune | 7:42 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Friday, July 20, 2001

as promised, my trip to the new york iyengar institute. . .but first, a word about my search engine.

as you may have noticed, i use the free search engine from atomz. it does have some drawbacks, however. it lacks good phrase searching, and even using quotes or + doesn't help much. also, you do seem to get a slightly different search every time, even with the same keywords in the same order. strange hmmm?

finally, it also doesn't seem to find text in links, which is not so good, because many times you are in fact trying to find the important, linked items! so for example, if you were searching for my local coffee store, "two for the pot," which was mentioned and linked here on may 24, you couldn't find with this engine!

forgive me! over the next several weeks i will work on improving the search features as i can afford it. thank you for your patience.

now for the iyengar report:

the iyengar institute in new york is in the flatiron district in a recently remodeled building. it's easy to get to on several subway lines -- a very short walk from the N & R line esp. the institute has a suite on the 8th floor. when you buzz in, you are admitted to a small dark foyer with a tall desk. the reception area is very busy. first time visitors fill out a card and drop their shoes in the little cubbies.

the ladies' dressing room is nothing but a curtain to the side of the reception area with some pipe racks to hold hangers. it's one open area, so you cna't be shy. just pretend you're at the famous new york super-discount store, century 21, which likewise has an open dressing room.

if this leads you to think that the practice space is dreary, oh no. . .leaving the dark reception/dressing area, you take a few steps into a lovely, large, light-filled loft space, with huge old windows, graceful quiet ceiling fans, beautiful supporting columns, and a sprung wood floor to die for. the top of the room is decorated with large b&w pix of bks himself in various poses. to the side are bakers shelves holding many many blankets, wooden blocks, bolsters, etc. one portion of the back wall has been made into a section with ropes attached to it to use as stretching aides.

mats are free. class payment is on the honor system -- you put the money on a table by the window.

the iyengar philosophy holds that when you are new to iyengar, no matter how much experience you have with other types of yoga, you should begin with a level one class. level one classes mainly focus on the standing poses. the teacher, a woman in her 50s, began the class with a series of stretching exercises based on standing forward bend (uttanasana). in the 1-1/2 hr. class, we did several variations each of uttanasa, uktanasa (chair pose), trikonasana (triangle pose), down dog, parigasana (gate pose), virasana (hero pose), and shoulderstand. there were no sun salutations or vinyasa of any kind.

the instruction was not as technical and detailed as i had expected. actually i was used to receiving more detailed instructions on alignment from my vinyasa classes, where is it common to hear teachers say "keep your shoulders flat on your back," "rotate your upper arms toward the ceiling," "spiral your back leg," "move your front thigh inward and your heart center forward." the iyengar teacher did discuss the importance of raising the knee caps and flexing the thigh muscles by lifting and spreading the toes. she never talked about ujjai breathing or the bandas.

this isn't to say that i learned nothing from the iyengar class. the teacher had an interesting approach to chair pose, which made it much more difficult. she also had a way of getting into shoulderstand which i found helpful in keeping the midline of my body centered. and i had never been taught gate pose before at all. however, i was terrified by the use of 4 blankets in shoulderstand. i was sure i was going to fall off and break my neck!

since one class isn't really adequate to judge by, i will try another with a different teacher, probably a level two class if possible. this level one class did move very slowly. i found it challenging to keep my mind from wandering in the long explanations of the poses. which i guess is part of the work in iyengar -- to pay attention patiently. i'm also not always sure i took full advantage of the time to sink as deeply into the poses as i might have. these are things i will work on in the next class.

posted by fortune | 9:28 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Thursday, July 19, 2001

don't you think it's time we talked more about pizza?

i ran out of the best pizza flour on the planet -- king arthur's sir lancelot high gluten flour -- and had to re-order. king arthur told me they were experimenting with a new shipping system called "best way." well, i ordered on the 16th, and received the order on the 18th by fedex. that's right -- i got 2nd day fedex shipping for the price of regular shipping. way to go king arthur!

but buying this pizza flour has definitely put a bee in my bonnet: for chicago deep-dish pizza. i know, i know. i live in new york, and as such i shouldn't utter such thoughts. but the food police aside, my husband onced lived in chicago. however, he had long banished any hope of having a deep-dish pizza from his mind.

so -- i am now actively searching for a reasonably priced deep-dish pizza pan. these are usually 14 in. by 2 in. on saturday i will go in search of the pan: i'll start at zabar's housewares dept. and move on to bridge kitchenware or the broadway panhandler. then, if the weather on sunday isn't scorching, we'll check out the classic chicago spinach deep dish pizza a la edwardo's. . . which, if worse comes to worse, does happen to ship frozen all over the country!

you'll be the first to hear how it goes. . .

posted by fortune | 11:21 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

i was never a fan of anant jesse's previous band, the alt-pop group dramarama. so when i first heard this album, mantrica, i was surprised at how much i liked it.

the five 8- to 13-minute long tracks consist of a gleeful romp through 60s psychedelia with moments of peter gabriel, george harrison, and deep forest tossed in. however, anant jesse does use many authentic indian instruments on the album.

unlike other sanskrit chant or "kirtan" cds, anant jesse (aka john easdale) doesn't play it serious. he goes right for the groove. if you're a 60s- or kirtan-purist, you probably won't like this album. on the other hand, if you're willing to toss your preconceptions to the wind and dance, this album is a lot of fun.

it definitely makes the chants accessible to a younger, more modern audience, who would probably just dance to it without any idea they were listening to sanskrit.

anant jesse chants the sanskrit verses in an ultra-reverb enhanced drone for a george harrison "within you/without you" (on the sgt pepper album) effect. unlike the wispy gossamer of that beatles' song, however, the vocals here feel muscular, sinuous, and sensual, serving to underscore the dance grooves. maybe the sanskrit pronunciation isn't perfect, but the steady rhythm of the voice weaves in and out of the music in a pleasing way.

my only criticism is aimed at the liner notes. while they do give the english transliteration of the chants, the very poetic interpretations of them may confuse people as to their meaning. i wish anant jesse had given a "plainer english" translation of the chants as well as his literary ones.

i find doing yoga to this music completely effortless. i highly recommend it for a vigorous, flowing yoga practice. actually i find it's pretty good to listen to on headphones at work as well.

if you *were* a fan of dramarama, you might like to buy this album just for a stroll down memory lane. however, it's much different than the kind of music they were playing in the late 80s and early 90s.

cheapest place to buy this album? i think it's at the ultimate band list site.

posted by fortune | 10:01 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

my husband is all after me to save money, which is hard now that i have people emailing me the names of artisan chocolatiers! still, i did manage to save some money this month, despite buying pizza flour, a pair of on-sale driving loafers -- hey, my old ones had developed holes at the toe! -- and now a copy of the gita.

as long-time readers know, i've been struggling with trying to understand what to read about yoga. it's my nature to prefer to read the original texts -- i did go to st. john's college after all -- but it's hell to find a decent translation of any sanskrit book. i'd rather read hegel, honestly -- it's easier.

so after much discussion, i finally today took the advice of a yoga teacher i know, corrine gervei, and bought the swami satyananda translation. she claims it's readable. frankly, the gita's a huge book. since i'm already familiar with the sprawling story of the mahabharata of which the gita is a part, i'm going to focus on the more manageable gita, where krishna talks to arjuna before the battle.

what interests me most about krishna actually is how he resembles the greek hero achilles -- they both could only be killed by being shot in the heel. clearly some cultural influences there!

as for this purchase, i know my husband won't mind -- he loves those bright colors and groovy graphics you see in popular indian art. so he'll definitely be into the illustrations and cover!

posted by fortune | 10:46 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Monday, July 16, 2001

the promised chocolate tart!

you could use a regular pastry pie crust for this, but i think you'd be better off using the chocolate graham cracker crust in my chocolate banana cream pie recipe from last month! for minimum fuss of course, you could just use a frozen sweet pie shell. . .:

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk
7 ounces 56-70% bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped
1 large egg, slightly beaten
Unsweetened cocoa for garnish

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, combine cream and milk. heat on high for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 mins until warm enough to simmer. don't overheat or boil! add chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted and the mixture is well-blended. set aside to cool to lukewarm.

when cool, add the egg, and whisk until thoroughly blended.

pour the chocolate mixture into the crust. bake in the center of the oven until the filling is slightly firm but still trembling in the center, 12-15 minutes. watch carefully: ovens vary, and baking times will differ. don't overbake! place on a rack to cool. dust with unsweetened cocoa powder. serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or berries.

posted by fortune | 10:37 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Sunday, July 15, 2001

today i meant to go to a new restaurant in brooklyn that's been very favorably reviewed not only for its fish but also for its chocolate tart. and go i did.

however i have to tell you in all honesty that the dinner was so mediocre, i couldn't stand to stay for dessert. it was truly depressing. because all the reviews i read had been so promising!

in lieu of describing what was supposed to have been a tremendous chocolate tart, look tomorrow for my own recipe - a simple chocolate in an easy-to-make crust.

since we're finishing up a chocolate-focused week, let me tell you about a tiny canadian company that's supposed to have incredible artisinal truffles: mara's. (the redirect takes only a second).
since it's still summer, i can't order yet! but they're on my list!

posted by fortune | 8:06 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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