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Mikey’s This and That

A few random food observations on a snowy Madison Thursday afternoon…..

*Is there a reason why many canned soups have this gummy, almost plastic sheen of a taste these days? This is particularly true of so-called diet soups which I think use gummy fillers to make up for the loss of fat–i.e. loss of flavor. But they wind up making a chemical concoction that has totally turned me off of canned soup. I’ve been trying to make more of my own, which always tastes better, but it’s not always easy to find the time. Thankfully football season is over (well not really thankfully) which means more cooking for the week on Sundays with the wife.

*Salads just are not appealing in the winter. I sometimes find myself not getting enough vegetables in the winter, and a big reason is that I have almost no desire to eat healthy salads. That’s a summer thing, right? Maybe I need to make more soups. Where have I heard that before?

*I can’t believe Kristen fell on a sword on Top Chef: Seattle last week and didn’t throw Josie under the bus as she should have. I pegged her as the potential winner. I haven’t watched Last Chance Kitchen…but maybe she still can win if she won her LCK battle. But wow, Josie. Please go away.

*Speaking of Food TV, did you guys catch the first episode of that Rachel vs. Guy Celebrity cook off show on Food Network? That’s one of those reality shows that grabs its players from the depths of wherever they get contestants for Celebrity Fit Club. This season they’ve got the likes of Carney Wilson, Hines Ward and an actress and a socialite I’ve never heard of. And then there was Gilbert Gottfried. The poor dude doesn’t know how to boil water. So the first episode, he makes a peanut butter sandwich. Then, as he’s battling another contestant for elimination in the same episode, he makes a peanut butter sandwich AGAIN. Dude, who is your agent and why would they put you through that?

*I often profess my love for Trader Joe’s on here. But I’ve come across something that’s amazing even by their standards. This Speculoos Cookie Spread. It won their award for customer favorite product of 2012, so I bought a jar. Holy smokes. It’s like peanut butter-like crack in a jar. I don’t even know what it is made out of…but it’s like a “butter” that is sweet and has cookie pieces and hints of cinnamon and….well, just go try it, and if you don’t love it, then you don’t like food. It’s impossible to not like it.

Cool Hummus Pizza

So it’s freaking hot. I mean, we live in the great white north, and last Thursday it was 107. In fact, we had 4-5 days of 100-plus heat and it’s been consistently in the upper 80s and into the 90s as well for the last month or more. It sucks too that there has been no rain, but that is another story. Anyway, it is times like this that it’s good to break out hot weather cool foods such as green salad with a protein, pasta salad, or cold soup such as gazpacho. But eventually you run out of options and get tired of these things, especially when there is no relief in sight for the heat.

Last night I busted out a creation I had in my head–the cool hummus pizza. And it was as good as the idea itself, if I don’t mind patting myself on the back a bit.

Here is what to do. Buy a ready-made ball of pizza dough, or if you can’t find any, pick up one of those tubes of dough you might find near the cinnamon rolls. Roll it out into a round (or square, whatever you prefer), brush with a little olive oil, and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown (it might bubble up a bit, that is fine). Let it cool for about 15 minutes.

Then spread the crust with about 3-4 a tub of hummus. Top with sliced cucumber, chopped tomato, chopped kalamata olives, feta cheese and parsley…and if you like, some pickled hot pepper rings. Slice and serve.

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