South Shore Bar Pizza

Where I grew up there is a regional food specialty known as South Shore bar pizza (or, if you are in an SNL skit, “bah” pizza). By regional I do not mean New England. I do not even mean Massachusetts or Boston. I mean the specific area of Massachusetts that is roughly south of Route 93 and mostly east of Route 24 (though a few towns along 24, like Stoughton, are definitely part of this story) and bound on the east side by the Harbor (or, again, if you are in an SNL skit, “habah”). The southernmost point is the Cape Cod canal. Hence, the South Shore.

Nearly every town within the South Shore has a restaurant that specializes in the bar pizza. The Lynwood Cafe in Randolph. Poopsie’s in Pembroke. Town Spa in Stoughton. While there are differences I’m here to tell you that the biggest predictor of which establishment you frequented was proximity. That doesn’t mean people don’t wax poetic about their favorite. Just try to get a Stoughton guy to shut up about Town Spa. It cannot be done.

A recent story about bar pizza in the Boston Globe (paywall) had my husband and I feeling nostalgic. We always get bar pizza when we visit our families on the South Shore. But, well, 2020. So we haven’t had it since last Christmas. I read the story, watched the video and cried. “Soon,” I thought, sighed and moved on with my life.

My husband read the story, watched the video and thought “I can do that.” So he bought bans, a food scale (?), a food thermometer and he was off to the races. And the results were impressive!

What makes South Shore pizza different? A few things:

  1. It’s made in a 10-inch pan, exclusively. There is no such thing as a “large” South Shore pizza. There’s one size. But if you think “Oh sure, I’ve had a personal pan size pizza,” keep reading …
  2. The crust is made with corn oil and it’s not stretched the way pizza dough typically is. Instead it’s pressed into the bottom of the pan creating a crispy, almost cracker-like crust.
  3. The cheese is a mix of mozzarella and … cheddar. It’s the cheese combo, I think, that gives it a distinctive taste. It’s also traditional, though not universal, to sprinkle the cheese all the way to the edge of the pan so there’s no real crust around the edge. Some places refer to this as “laced” because it creates a crispy edge of nearly-burnt cheese that looks like lace.

We increased the authenticity factor by making it with Pastene pizza sauce, a local variety that triggered an instant flavor memory for me.

While I’m still dreaming about my next trip up for the authentic original, our homemade version was better than I could have hoped for. It was a balm for the soul at the end of a very trying year.

What’s Cooking: Chicken with Olives and Carrots

I made this tonight. It came out so beautiful I had to snap a picture. Yummy, right?

We served Maddie the chicken and carrots but skipped the olives.  And she ate a few pieces of zucchini (which she calls “keenie”).  It’s not her favorite vegetable.  She had green beans and cauliflower for lunch, though, so I didn’t really sweat it.

Some other recent dishes:

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms: Pretty good.  I really like mushrooms, but they can be a pain.  Not sure this was good enough to be worth the trouble, especially on a weeknight.

Lentil Curry: I love this.  I have to make it on a night Preston is out because he doesn’t like curry.  But Maddie loves it and it’s easy, so it’s good for nights when it’s just the two of us.  Plus it re-heats well for lunches.

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli: Nothing special, but simple for a weeknight and it has all of Maddie’s faves: pasta, chicken and broccoli.

I also got my new issue of Everyday Food and have already cooked a couple of things: a prosciutto and mushroom quesadilla and orecchiette with bacon tomato sauce, which will be transformed into a frittata tomorrow night.  Unfortunately Martha doesn’t put current recipes on the site (silly, silly) so if you want to try them you’ll have to buy the magazine.  (See what she’s doing there?  Doesn’t that seem like a smart strategy because you buy the magazine instead of getting the recipe for free on the site?  But no, that’s dumb.  Because you aren’t going to remember to go buy that magazine.  But you might click a link, make a dish and then think, “Hey, these are good recipes, I should subscribe to this magazine.”  That’s a smart strategy.  Sorry.  I am wearing my marketing hat … )

So, what’s cooking at your house?

What’s Been Cooking At Our House

I haven’t had a chance to blog, but I have been cooking.  Here are some of the awesome dishes we’ve been eating the last couple of weeks …

Ginger chicken with peaches and onions served over rice: Really delicious and easy.  It’s made with frozen peaches — you don’t even have to defrost them — so I will keep the ingredients for this on hand.

Curried Rice with Shrimp: This was okay. I made it with frozen cooked shrimp that I got at BJs.  Next time I’m going to use uncooked shrimp — I think it would be better.

Lentil soup: Simple and delish. I have a couple different lentil soup recipes that I like and this one gets added to the rotation.

Tomato and olive penne: Really delicious and EZ.  Spicy, which I like.

Cold sesame noodles: I liked this, but more of a summer dish.  I’d add a bit of tofu to it for some extra protein.

Steak with shallot sauce: This was great.  (Unfortunately I can’t find a link for it. Argh.) Preston and I have a hard time with steak.  I LOVE it and I like it rare (like, slap it on the butt and send it out).  Preston wants it cooked and he’s not a huge fan of it in any event.  Since he doesn’t love the taste of meat he wants some kind of sauce.  I generally find sauces distracting and don’t love the extra effort.  THIS recipe was therefore perfect.  The sauce is super easy, super yummy and complements the meat without competing.  I’ll definitely make this again.

Shrimp, tomato and basil pasta: FreshDirect had cleaned shrimp on sale so I decided to try this new recipe.  I have about half a dozen good, easy shrimp recipes now.  This one is more of a summer dish, but since good-quality grape tomatoes are available year-round now you can really make it anytime.  I subbed penne for the linguine.  Maddie can do spaghetti (she was hysterical with the sesame noodles), but penne or rotini is easier for her and involves less clean up for us.

Beef stew: I wanted to make chili for the Super Bowl, but Preston had a hankering for beef stew.  I’m not going to say no to him cooking.  He wanted something easier than the version in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This was really good.  He seemed slightly unsatisfied, but I thought it was yummy.

Madeline, for her part, yummed down all of this.  Every dish.

What’s Cooking: Meal Plan for the Week of January 22

I’m totally on a Martha kick, which is funny since I don’t always love her recipes.  But the Everyday Food recipes are working out pretty good.  I just signed up for the magazine again.

Friday: Mustard-glazed cod / vegetable saute

Saturday: Filet (from Trader Joe’s — it’s frozen) / steamed spinach / red bliss potatoes (probably roasted)

Sunday: Ginger chicken with peaches and onions / rice / broccoli

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans

Tuesday: Lentil soup

Wednesday: Potluck night (meaning leftovers from earlier in the week or something out of the freezer)

Thursday: Tomato and olive penne

Here’s the round up of last week’s plan …

Friday: Mustard-glazed flounder, sauteed arugula, steamed cauliflower. (This was awesome.  So good I’m making it again this week.)

Saturday: Pasta with meat sauce (frozen), salad and bread.

Sunday: Roast chicken, potatoes, green beans

Monday: Broccoli with tortellini (This one is a reliable standby.  I could make it with my eyes closed and it’s always delicious.)

I flipped Tuesday and Wednesday around, but made both dishes …

Tuesday: Moroccan chicken stew with couscous (Yum, yum, yum.  And beyond easy.  This definitely goes into the regular rotation. I will tweak it a bit — a little less onion and less stock to make it less soupy.)

Wednesday: Ginger chicken soup with vegetables (Very good.  I’d make it again, but it is a bit of work — mostly chopping.  I would also do slightly less ginger.)

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer

What’s Cooking: The Plan for Week of January 15

Feel free to cook along at home …

Friday: Mustard-glazed flounder, sauteed arugula, steamed cauliflower.

Saturday: Pasta with meat sauce (frozen), salad and bread.

Sunday: Roast chicken, potatoes, green beans

Monday: Broccoli with tortellini

Tuesday: Moroccan chicken stew with couscous

Wednesday: Ginger chicken soup with vegetables

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of how last week’s plan panned out:

Friday: Black Bean Soup (I ended up doing a mash-up between this recipe and Joy.  It was okay.)

Saturday: Halibut with Lentils in Mustard Sauce (Very yummy.  A family fave.)

Sunday: Homemade chicken fingers and broccoli (and probably leftover lentils from Saturday) (I had to move this because I had to use the shrimp sooner than I anticipated.  I could have frozen it but that kind of defeats the point of paying extra for fresh.  Since Preston won’t eat curry — don’t ask — I had to go with this yummy recipe instead.  Big hit and it’s hysterical hearing Maddie ask for couscous.)

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans (As mentioned, Preston won’t do curry, so I have to save this one for a night he’s not home.  So I moved up the black-eyed peas with spinach.)

Tuesday: Black-eyed peas with spinach over rice (From Moosewood Cooks at Home) (Moved to Monday, homemade chicken fingers went here instead.)

Then, basically these two flipped, with the lentils being the leftover for Wednesday:

Wednesday: Crabcakes (frozen from Trader Joe’s) with broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer (currently have lots of pasta sauce, soups, etc.)

So here’s the brilliance of my plan: it is flexible enough to move around when needed.

Meanwhile, the “waste less food” mantra seems to be working.  It has just changed how I approach everything.  Today I made homemade chicken stock with some random frozen chicken parts — not enough to make a meal — and leftover celery to keep from having to throw it out.  Will be yummy to use on Wednesday night’s soup.

What’s Cooking: This Week’s Plan

For the purposes of meal planning my week begins on Friday because that is when I have groceries delivered from FreshDirect.  Preston brings home his schedule on Thursday so I have a rough idea of when he’ll be home each night of the next week.  We also keep a running list of stuff we need on a Post-It pad stuck to the cabinet door.  I scan the fridge and freezer, grab Preston’s schedule, grab the list and grab my Circa notebook filled with my favorite recipes.  When I get to FreshDirect I start with their President’s Picks — what’s on sale this week.  Then I start building my plan.  (I also have a “weekly order” shopping list saved with stuff like milk, eggs, diapers and so on.  That saves me a lot of time.  I also love that FreshDirect save everything you’ve ever ordered.  I can search by date (“What was that yummy thing I got last week?” by department (“Which of these Pinots is the one we’ve ordered before?”).

So here’s my plan for this week:

Friday: Black Bean Soup (Haven’t tried this recipe before.  Will probably tweak it a bit.)

Saturday: Halibut with Lentils in Mustard Sauce (I’m subbing scrod for the halibut.)

Sunday: Homemade chicken fingers and broccoli (and probably leftover lentils from Saturday)

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans

Tuesday: Black-eyed peas with spinach over rice (From Moosewood Cooks at Home)

Wednesday: Crabcakes (frozen from Trader Joe’s) with broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer (currently have lots of pasta sauce, soups, etc.)

What’s cooking at your house?  Post your recipes/ideas in the comments.

What’s Cooking: Warm White Bean “Salad”

I’ve had Martha Stewart recipes fail on me more often than I can count.  You’d think I’d learn.

Not only do I continue to get her magazine but I just bought this book.  I’m really dumb.  Especially since I’m guessing all these recipes can be found on her website for free.

In any event, I decided to make this one tonight.  If you can figure out why you would add a cup of water at the end, please tell me.  You can simmer this forever and those poor little canned beans are not going to suck up that water.  The worst part is that I knew that it wouldn’t work and did it anyway.  I mean, she’s Martha.  It must be right, right?  Wrong.

I ended up quickly making some couscous and serving the “salad” over the couscous.  It turned into a kind of light stew.  It wasn’t bad — tasty, even.  But it wasn’t what I was expecting.

There’s a lesson here, I think.  I’m a smart woman.  I’m a fairly accomplished home cook.  I know cooking basics.  And yet.  Martha has done such an amazing job branding herself and her company that I question myself and what I know about how food works in favor of her “expertise.”


What’s Cooking at Our House: Roasted Salmon

Madeline will truly eat anything. We are so lucky.

Tonight dinner was Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Mushrooms. We also had roast asparagus and then strawberries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. I should have roasted the asparagus a little longer — it was a bit too crisp for her. The salmon and potatoes she loved. The strawberries and ice cream were interesting. I think she was a little confused by how cold the ice cream was.

Nice spring meal …

What’s Cooking: Super Bowl Edition

This is my all time favorite meat chili recipe. It’s from the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking, but I’ve changed it quite a bit. Perfect meal for a cold winter night.

Madeline Forman score: Thumb’s up! She ate a hearty portion. My theory on feeding her spicy food is that babies all over the world get served spicy food. And so far she seems to like everything we make. I definitely stay toward the mild to medium spiciness and then Preston and I just add more spice to our portions if we want.

MacLeid’s Rockcastle Chili
Recipe adapted from: Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
Servings: 8 to 10

Sauté in a large pot until cracklings are golden brown:
½ pound bacon, diced

Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon. In the drippings, sauté briefly:
1 pound ground beef (The original recipe calls for grinding your own meat. I’ve done this and it is good, but not worth the extra effort. Buy good-quality ground beef, though.)
6 to 12 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, coarsely chopped

Deglaze the skill until foam disappears, with:
1 12 ounce bottle dark beer (We usually use some kind of winter ale.)

Stir in:
1 32 ounce can tomatoes, with juice
1 16 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

(The original recipe tells you not to drain and rinse the beans, but I don’t like it that way.)
6 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 12 ounce bottle dark beer

Simmer for about 3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Season to taste with:
salt and ground black pepper
red pepper sauce


What’s Cooking at Our House

Welcome to a new regular post featuring what’s cooking at Casa de Forman.

Tonight was Lemony Shrimp with White Beans and Couscous.  It came out pretty good.  I’d definitely make it again.  The one change I made was to zest the lemon before I juiced it and then I threw the zest in at the same time as the juice.  I was afraid it would be too lemony, but it was fine.

So, we can now add shrimp to the list of foods that Madeline will eat.  The full list includes: carrots, zucchini, brussel sprouts, sugar snap peas, arctic char, mushrooms, eggs, black beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, spinach, broccoli, clementines and olives.  I’m sure I’m forgetting something.  Basically we haven’t found a food she won’t eat.