Home Cooks: Just Married

Photo by: Jenna Kutcher (Wisconsin wedding photographer highly recommended by the Kocas ) Click the photo for more info.

Newlyweds Dawn and Matt Koca love cooking together, and already they’ve got several traditions in their home kitchen. They’re advanced cooks, with a particular flair for Mexican dishes, which they like to make vegetarian just for variety. But that isn’t to say they shy away from seafood, or good old lasagna!

“New Years king crab legs and sautéed asparagus.”

On New Year’s Eve they make one of my favorite things in the world, Alaskan King Crab legs. It strikes me that for newlyweds, these two are doing something right. Traditions in the kitchen are the heartbeat of the home, and what is familiar and made important in a household.

“This was one of Matt’s dishes…filet with cognac butter, shaved Brussels sprouts with crunchy shallots and some creamed carrots with herbs and creme fraiche…all from Cooking Light magazine.”

“Matt is also a very good cook. When he does decide he’s going to make something, it’s usually something elaborate or just out of the ordinary, which is nice. We make homemade pizza together every Friday night. We work well together in the kitchen and that’s always fun!”

“Pizza night when we were trying out different doughs.”

Dawn gets some of her cooking chops from living with a chef for a year. But she doesn’t consider that where she really learned to cook. Her first memory of cooking? Peanut Butter in a pan…”basically just a peanut butter sandwich fried up in a pan like a grilled cheese.” Of her real cooking education she says “mainly I’ve just taught myself through trying lots of different recipes and figuring how to tweak them to my liking.” Amen to that. Experience is where the skills really develop, in this home cook’s opinion.

“Me with a Bloody Mary before hosting my family over for Thanksgiving”

For weeknight go-to meals, Dawn and Matt love a good taco night (I mean, who can argue with that?!). They like to make either shredded chicken, ground turkey or quinoa and black bean tacos. A great Sunday dinner at the Koca Kitchen: “a roast chicken, or pasta with my Sunday sauce that cooks all day.” What time shall we arrive, Kocas?

“Matt learning how to make the tomatoes from my Mom. Best tomatoes ever!”

Favorite miscellaneous treat Dawn mentions, “ I make a yummy Asian peanut sauce that I could put on anything!!

Dawn’s comments on being a passionate newlywed cook partnership: “ Matt and I already have some fun memories of both of us making silly mistakes in the kitchen, but I’m ready for more! It is so nice to have that partner to partake in your meals and to help come up with more ideas, especially when they already enjoy what you cook! I really am also ready to start making more of my own, from scratch recipes.”

“Our first lobster tail dinner…just liked the setting in this one.”

I love the spirit with which Dawn and Matt approach cooking. A partnership where each thrives and learns. A place of love over the pot, creativity and the true romantic nature of finding the love of your life to share all of those other loves like cooking, laughing and celebrating life.

Dawn and Matt wish to share the following adapted recipe for their crispy thin pizza crust:

The recipe we found works best in our favor came from Pinterest and a site called Spark Recipes, and we’ve adapted over many Friday nights of trying different things (we love the thin cracker like crust and this is it…with a few of our own tweaks!).

KocaCrustWhole Wheat Thin Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup warm water ( with a sprinkle of sugar mixed in)
3/4 TBL olive oil (this is what we found to work best)
This makes 2 14″ pizzas.  If you only want one, the dough freezes well.

Plus any of your favorite spices.  We like to add some garlic powder or basil and depending on the pizza we are making, sometimes some fresh rosemary.  Whatever you like!

Mix in the sugar with the warm water and add the yeast.  Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Pour into a large bowl (we use our KitchenAid mixer).  Add flour, salt, olive oil and any other spices you may want.  Mix together.  Because we do ours in the mixer I let it mix on low for a couple of minutes to get the kneading process started.  The transfer to a floured area where you will knead for 5-7 minutes.  Because I let mine mix in the mixer I only knead for a couple of minutes.  Once it is mixed until a little bit sticky, transfer back to an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.  We found you do NOT want to let it rise too long because it gets sticky and it is difficult to handle.

Heat up the oven, with your pizza stone in it for an hour at 500 degrees.  This is also key!

Roll out the dough on a floured surface.  Transfer the rolled out crust to the pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal.  Poke the crust using a fork to make holes in the dough.  Slide onto the stone that is in the oven and bake until golden brown.  Take out of the oven, flip it over and top with your ingredients.  Throw back on the pizza stone and bake until done.

Many thanks to The Kocas for sharing their home kitchen with M Delish Boutique readers. If you would like to share your home cooking and kitchen thoughts, please CLICK HERE. Fill out the simple form, leaving blank anything that doesn’t apply to your cooking interests. I will contact you with follow up questions, and I do not publish any home cook profiles without your approval!

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