Archive for August, 2014

Dad’s Raw Pizza Sauce


It’s Pizza Night at Casa di Mintz. Two perfectly plump dough balls dusted with ‘double zero’ flour sit in shallow pools of olive oil, waiting to be tossed and turned. Ramekins line the countertop filled with the likes of crispy pancetta, sautéed shitakes, and balsamic reduction. Sometimes there’s fresh pesto. Usually there’s burrata. There’s always wine. This, friends, is what I call heaven. More accurately, I call this home.



My dad, master pizzaiolo that he is, has been spearheading Pizza Night for more than a few years now. The frequency at which his dough recipe is tweaked occurs almost as rapidly as his obsession with artisanal pizza has grown. His arsenal includes a Kitchen Aid Mixer (see: the FIRST Pantry Raid), food processer (all hail Cuisinart), a magical wand that you point at the oven and it tells you how hot it is, and his iPhone*.

*The iPhone is there so he can post braggy photos that make people hold their breath for the day they get invited to Za Night. Take a look at #crustcam on Intstagram. Time to get on my good side, folks.


Back in the kitchen, it’s 8 PM and time to get cooking. We put on some Sinatra and clear out, letting Dad do his thing. If you’ve ever been in the kitchen with me, you know I like the hold the reins. Well, if you’ve ever wondered where I get it from, talk to Mark Mintz. Disclaimer: he’ll probably try to sell you a house.

I’m not complaining though…I’ll happily give the man his space in anticipation of The Best pizza in the world. And it is! No matter what combination of fancy flour the guy uses or from whatever distant place the olive oil has travelled, Pizza Night never disappoints.



But that moment – the one I just mentioned where I’m sitting on my tuchas while Dad does all the work – I had to earn that. The day before, I played sous chef, passing flour, chilling water, and answering real estate calls, all in the name of what we call The Dough. The day of, we trail through the supermarket aisles debating over which toppings to try, always ensuring that we get out of there with the makings for at least one OG Mintza.


Back in the days of Trader Joe’s dough and store bought pizza sauce, the formula for Pizza Night was simple. Dough + sauce + fresh mozzarella + prosciutto + caramelized onion. But, then we asked ourselves, why make things easy? Easy tasted good, but not GREAT. Today’s OG Mintza is made of whatever dough Dad’s currently perfecting, this raw pizza sauce, burrata, crispy prosciutto, caramelized onion, and then balsamic reduction drizzled on top. It’s my #1 Must Have every time I come home, and always ends up with The Dez and me licking the plates.

So, here’s Dad’s Raw Pizza Sauce. It’s fresh, with a little kick, and is freakishly easy to make. Similar recipes will instruct you to defame your sauce by simmering it to “bring out the flavors.” Trust me – they are wrong. San Marzano (and you must use San Marzano) tomatoes are holy, I tell you. Simmering them would be like adding a cup of sugar to whipping cream or putting a spoiler on your VW (I’m looking at you, Craigslist). You just shouldn’t do it. Like my pal Alice Waters says, stick to good ingredients and your really don’t have to do much legwork.




Anyway, I’m sworn to secrecy as far as dough is concerned, but I will say that Trader Joes’ dough isn’t half bad. If you want to try your hand at true pizzaiolo-dom, try Nancy Silverton or Gabi Moskowitz’s recipes.


Whatever you do, ditch the Dominoes and do Pizza Night the right way: with this sauce, your own dough, and a couple bottles of wine. And don’t forget to invite me!



  • 1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 can high quality tomato paste
  • ¼ red or yellow onion
  • A few sprigs fresh oregano
  • Approx. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1. Remove seeds from tomatoes – they make the sauce bitter. Try pinching each tomato with both thumbs to “pop” them open and drain seeds. (see photo above)

2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until combined.

3. Make pizza!

Super Soba Bowl

super soba bowl

I like micro things. Micro greens, microwaves, microbrews, micro fleece…all wonderful in their own right. Microclimates, though? That’s another story. Because San Francisco is so friggin’ hilly, it’s a different season around every corner. For me, this means bundling up in my stuffed animal pelt in the morning and stripping down to spaghetti straps by the time I get to work. It’s a strange way to live, I tell ya!

As micro as the climates are here, the neighborhoods are even more so. Lower Haight and “The Haight,” for example, are opposite worlds, where an invisible line is drawn between brunch territory and stoner stomping grounds. The other day, I found myself at Haight & Ashbury, where I invented the game ‘Homeless or Millennial.’ The street was sprinkled gingerly with head shops intermingled with dive bars, while the potent scents of marijuana and Nag Champa were relentless.

While most might consider the generous supply of dispensaries to be the defining characteristic of The Haight, the real crown jewel of this micro-hood is the Whole Foods store. For one, it’s filled with seriously good eats, and for two, the outdoor seating area is peopled generously with ‘Homeless or Millennial’ test subjects.

I went into Whole Foods in pursuit of some veggies for this here recipe, which is nearly identical to one that Deb Perelman recently posted on her food blog, Smitten Kitchen. The produce department was colorful and abundant with the likes of heirloom everything and non-local nothing. Reaching in for the radishes, I noticed that they were actually dirty, and as a result, so was my hand. After being vaguely frustrated about the mud on my paw (what am I, a Bichon Frise?), I realized that radishes come from the ground and hence should be dirty. And, for that matter, ALL of this super pricey stuff came from somewhere near or in dirt! Is it really that remarkable that some of the leftover brown stuff stays stuck?

whole foods produce

Thing is, I’ve got a relatively serious compulsion for shopping at Trader Joe’s. As much as I love not spending “Whole Paycheck” on dinner, I don’t love that all my produce comes pre-bagged, pre-washed, and pre-prepped. Call me crazy (or just a genuine San Franciscan) but I want to have a relationship with my produce – a relationship not unlike that between a helicopter parent and her offspring. I appreciate the effort Joe, I really do, but I like my radishes dirty and their leaves attached. And damn it if I don’t have the right to read their text messages, too!

buckwheat soba

I like Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for a few reasons. 1. It’s quick. 2. There’s no rush. Since it’s served cold, there’s no running around the kitchen like a Mexican Jumping Bean. 3. It’s easy. Really, very little “cooking” is asked of you. 4. It’s good. I’m talking refreshing, crunchy, healthy goodness that screams summer, especially if you don’t live in one of the polar vortex microclimates like some of us. If you do, though, put on a sweater and make this anyway. You won’t regret it, at least not nearly as much as you’d regret most other purchases in The Haight.

healthy dinner recipe


  • 4 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 4 radishes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 scallion
  • ¼ of a large cucumber
  • 1 avocado

1. Follow cooking instructions on soba noodle package. I boiled mine for about 8 minutes. Once done, pour the noodles into a colander and rinse under cold water to prevent sticking.

2. While noodles are cooking, make the sauce. Whisk together miso, ginger, sugar, Cayenne, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and lime juice.

3. Slice radishes and cucumber tissue-paper thin. Slice avocado lengthwise. Chop scallion.

4. Divide noodles between two bowls. Pour half the dressing into each bowl and gently toss until the noodles are coated. Arrange veggies in the bowl and enjoy!

Kale Pesto

kale pesto

What do olives, feta, Dolmas, and kale have in common, aside from their Mediterranean origins? Easy – They were all considered utterly repulsive by yours truly, at one point or another. These delicacies have all, gratefully, recovered from their former habitation on my do-not-get-anywhere-near list and have since climbed the ladder into my good, no great, graces.

Kale is a particularly interesting case. I don’t quite know when I hopped on the Kale Caboose (possibly sometime around when this Instagram was taken), but I do know that I jumped aboard like a desperately unpopular hobo afraid of being left behind. If everyone jumps off a bridge, you probably shouldn’t, but if Bon Appetit says you should eat kale, you’d better oblige.

healthy pesto recipe

I started with simply sautéed kale. A bit of lemon and garlic made me nearly forget that what I was eating tasted all too similar to the innards of a lawn mower. I soon learned about massaging the kale! Not only was this green stuff the object of everyone’s affection…now it demanded to be pampered like a self-righteous bachelorette! Yet, like a 6’3 and brawny Swedish woman living full-time in Vegas, I obliged, and massaged the heck out of that damn kale till it was good and tender.

magic bullet recipe

With time, I became fond of my leafy, leathery, and all too trendy captor. I raved (and still dream about) Mei Mei’s Magical Kale Salad and would travel offensive distances for my helping of Sweetgreen’s Kale Caesar. I might have a case of Stockholm syndrome for my dearly beloved kale, but I’m happy being naïve enough to go on loving it.

homemade pesto recipe

This Kale Pesto has been in the making for quite some time. That’s not to say I’ve been tweaking and perfecting multiple batches before sharing with you. No! To be fair and honest, this is the first time I’ve made it. What I mean is, my willingness to potentially defile the great and sacred name of  “pesto” with a potentially malicious and bitter vegetable was no small accomplishment. It took a lot of gumption to get where I am today, but I am proud to say that Kale Pesto is actually, really and truly, good eats.

pantry raid

Now, when you make this – and I really hope you make this – don’t expect it to come out like pesto of the basil variety, because it won’t. This stuff is intense. Good intense! This pesto forgoes the stubborn texture of the raw leaves for the silky, rich, and entirely pungent flavors within. It’s sharp and green-tasting in the best way, and blends flawlessly with potent parmesan, citrusy Meyer lemon, and earthy pine nuts. It’s all brought together in harmony by the olive oil, which makes everything silky and whole.

magic bullet pestopine nuts and kale

Like traditional pesto, its uses are rather diverse. In the few days that it’s been in the fridge, I’ve mixed it with gnocchi, tossed it with salad, smeared it on crackers, and fluffed it into couscous. I can imagine it would also be delightful on turkey sandwiches, with over easy eggs, or with sautéed summer veggies. Unlike kale’s rather rigid posture, this pesto is malleable in every which way.

healthy pasta sauce

And, while traditional pesto will usually cost you an obnoxious amount of money for fresh basil, this recipe calls for less than a bunch of kale, leaving plenty of leaves left over for Swedish massages, should you be so inclined.


  • 8 leaves of your favorite kale (I used Dinosaur from my garden)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (But not the pre-shredded kind. C’mon!)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (Use Meyer lemon for a sweet touch)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt to taste.

1. Tear kale into pieces, removing the stiff stems.

2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or super-awesome blender. Pulse until combined. You may need to use a spatula to coax ingredients together every so often. Add more olive oil if mixture is too thick. Serve immediately or store in the fridge, where the flavors will magically meld together.

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