Monthly Archives: July 2008

Olive, Feta and Basil Flatbread in a Flash

Yesterday afternoon, the boy casually informed me that his cousin was coming over for dinner. Tonight? I asked. I had been thinking of throwing together a quick pizza with the ready-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and calling it a day. But this cousin of his had worked at a New York restaurant and was a foodie himself. I couldn’t just make a quick pizza meal for this guy!

So I set to work. Instead of the pizza idea, I decided to put together a tasty flatbread that would pair together with a tomato and garlic stew with prawns I was thinking of making. Both are easy to make and are impressive. Add a nice salad and you’ve got a nice meal for company.

I scrounged around the apartment for some ingredients for the flatbread. Black olives? Check. Feta cheese? I knew there was some in the fridge… Herbs? Ah, yes, there was still some fresh basil left. Nuts? I knew I had some toasted pine nuts in the pantry. I picked up a couple of slices of prosciutto we had left and grabbed a bottle of olive oil.

I whipped out the herbed pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and assembled the whole thing in a matter of minutes. I would most definitely make this delicious flatbread again, either to pair with a soup or as an appetizer.


1 package of Trader Joe’s herbed pizza dough (find it in the refrigerated/prepared food section). You can substitute any prepared pizza dough or make your own.

1 can of pitted black olives (packed in water)

4 Tablespoons of feta cheese (I used the Trader Joe’s light feta)

I good handful of toasted pine nuts

1 good handful of fresh basil

olive oil

2 slices of prosciutto



1. Take the herbed pizza dough out of the fridge and let sit out in room temperature for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss flour or cornmeal over a pizza stone or baking sheet and stretch and spread the pizza dough to a thinness of your liking.

3. Pour a little olive oil over the top of the dough. Tear the prosciutto slices into little pieces and sprinkle on top. Chop the olives into small pieces and spread over the dough. Sprinkle the feta cheese and the pine nuts. Chop the basil and spread over all of the toppings. Add a couple of dashes of chili flakes and pepper.

4. Pop it in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Voila! Gorgeous-looking flatbread in no time!

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Posted by on July 17, 2008 in Breads


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When Ignorance is Bliss

Can your taste buds really detect the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and a $100 or a $1,000 bottle of wine? I’ve had this conversation endless times with family and friends. Most people agree that there’s some difference between the cheapest bottle of wine on a menu and something a little better, but when you start getting into the stratospheric levels, it’s really not worth it, they say.

My take is that you can tell the difference. Good wine is silkier, less rough on the tongue, has more body, more complexity.

Turns out we’re both right. According to the publication “Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?” from the American Association of Wine Economists published in the Journal of Wine Economics, Vol. 3, No. 1, it depends on who is doing the tasting. Regular folks can’t tell the difference between expensive and cheap wines. It’s really not worth it for them to blow $400 on a bottle of wine when a $40 or a $15 bottle would have done.

But the wine snobs, oh, they can tell. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Obviously it’s nice to be able to know that your tongue distinguishes between the best of the best and the cheap Two Buck Chuck.

Then again, you make for an expensive date.

I love this little essay in the Freakonomics blog on the New York Times about how Steven Levitt was always miffed that he was offered expensive wines when at Harvard’s Society of Fellows when just the cash would have sufficed. His advice:

No matter what, do not let yourself become a wine expert who can tell the difference between cheap and expensive wines. When it comes to your pocketbook and wine, ignorance is bliss.

The one thing Levitt missed is that neuroeconomics studies have found that people drinking expensive wine actually physiologically enjoy the pricey wine better (when they know the price, of course). In other words, your brain is actually tricked into thinking the expensive stuff is tastier and you can see it in the reward centers. So it’s not of much use if you’re doing a blind tasting, but if you’re treating yourself to a nice bottle of wine, you’ll at least enjoy it more, even if your pocketbook doesn’t.

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Posted by on July 17, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Three More Reasons to Drink Red Wine

Aside from the fact that it’s lovely, sumptuous and tasty, scientists have recently found three new reasons why you should pour yourself a glass of red wine tonight:

I’d write more, but I’ve gotta pour myself a glass of red wine right now. My health depends on it.

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Posted by on July 14, 2008 in Uncategorized, Wine


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