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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pizza success

I used the pizza calculator to come up with this recipe. My aim was to get a New York style pizza with a chewy crust, crispy bottom, yet foldable; and this is as close as I have come. My husband like it so much he even ate the crust which he never does!

Here's ther ecipe if anyone wants to try it. I use a good grams scale since I think it's important with any bread baking to weight out the ingredients.

For on 15 inch pizza

Flour (I used Sir Lancelot) 301.44 grams
Water (use very cold)          192.92
Instant dry yest                         0.6
Sea salt                                     3.01
oil (vegetable)                          3.01
Place the water and salt in a mixer like a Kitchen Aid. Stir. Combine the flour and yeast and add it to the water. With the paddle attachment, and using low speed, mix for two minutes. Then add the oil . Mix on low another minute or two .

Now, switch to a doug hook and knead on #3 for 8 minutes, or till smooth and elastic and the dough passes the window pane test. When mixed, cover it and let it rest an hour at room temperature.

After the hour of rise, form a ball with the dough and place it in a very lightly oiled bowl. Turn it over so it's lightly oiled on both sides. Cover it well and refrigerate one to three days.

The day you'll be baking the pizza, remove the doug from the fridge around 1pm. Let it rest for an hour. Then  form a tight ball and cover it and let is rest another couple of hours before forming and baking.  *** 1 hour before actually baking preheat your oven to 550 with a pizza stone on the bottom rack. Another thing I do it place another stone on the shelve above. That helps the top cook at the same speed at the bottom.

When ready to form the pizza have your pizza peel covered lightly with coarse corn meal, and have all your topping ready. Remove the dough and place it on a lightly flour3ed work surface and quickly form the pizza. If you overwork the dough it can get tough. When the dough it formed, put in on the peel and quickly top it with your favorite sauce,  good quality mozzarella and other topping you might be using. I sprinkle the tiniest bit of oil on top and baked till done which takes about 6-8 minutes. Remove pie and let it sit a minute or two before cutting.

PS: there are very good how to videos on you tube showing the proper way to stretch the dough. Learn to do it the proper way. Never use a rolling pin!

Bone Appetit!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New pizza dough and pizza sauce

Today turned into a cooking day after a morning visit with our son and a friend. Once I finished a bunch of morning and early afternoon chores like de-icing the walkway which was resembling an ice skating rink, putting up some Christmas decorations, and email, etc,etc., I finally found my way back to the kitchen after lunch.

 My pizza dough for tomorrow is now made, and in the fridge for an overnight cold rise. It's a new  recipe I created using an on line pizza calculator to come up with what I hope will be a good clone for a New York style dough that I I grew up eating - thin, crispy, yet foldable and chewy. I used a King Arthur Lancelot flour today and I like the consistency of the finished dough. I'll only use half of the dough batch  for one pizza and if the dough works out well, I'll let the rest of it sit in the fridge another day so I can compare the flavor between a one or two day cold rise. 

The longer, cold rise, allows more flavor to develop in the dough. I guess you could say it gives it a little bit of a sourdough flavor after a day or two.

I also made a batch of pizza sauce using Cento certified San Marzano tomatoes in a puree that I bought on line. Every tomato in the can was bright red. I loved that the can has a white liner, so there's no direct metal contact with the contents. I saw these being used in a you tube video on making true Neapolitan pizza, by a chef from Naples. It's a lot pricier than most but one can made enough sauce for eight 14 1/2 -15 inch pizzas. I have other varieties on hand and over the winter will be using them with my new sauce recipe and see if the higher price is worth it.    

Both the new dough and pizza sauce recipes are the result of a lot of research and then using bits of other recipes to create my own. There's lots of flavor in the sauce from the garlic and herbs and my not so secret ingredient - a 1/2 tsp of anchovy paste for a 28 oz can of the San Marzano tomatoes. It is sooooo good!

I also use 1T each of olive oil and butter to saute 2 large cloves of pressed garlic, and half of a peeled, onion, which is removed when the sauce is done. The tomatoes are processed in the food processor until there are some very tiny pieces, and before it turns into a puree; or if you want to remove the seeds, which I sometimes do, you can just run them through a food mill using on of the coarser discs. The tomatoes are added to the garlic onion mixture, once the garlic has released it's aroma (about a minute),  along with one to one and a half tsp of salt or to taste, a pinch of dried red pepper flakes, about 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves, about a tsp of dried basil, the anchovy paste and a teaspoon or more of sugar depending on how sharp the tomatoes or garlic made the sauce. I also give it a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.

I cook this covered on a very low heat to develop the flavors and until the onion is softened. When done, I remove the onion and press in a sieve or strainer to release the juices into the sauce, stir and package the batch in 8 equal portions in small plastic containers. I have a medium sized ladle that I use to measure one serving size and then freeze all but what I might be using within a few days.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kitchen is on vacation for most of the day

The town is turning off our electricity any minute and the electrician will be here at least 4-5 hours connecting everything we need in case of long power outages, to the new generator.

I was in the studio at 6am mixing, de-airing,  pugging and bagging clay and afterwards had  a hearty cinnamon oatmeal breakfast which will hopefully hold me a long while. After breakfast  I was back in the studio gathering some tools and my little portable table, a bucket of water and slip  so I could work in bed making some clay impression stamps and rollers and practice slip trailing. I need a lot of practice with this new skill I'm attempting to learn.

It was 18 degrees here this morning and the house is going to get cold pretty fast and the only auxiliary heat we will have is the gas fireplace in the bedroom and living room. So the plan is to retreat to the bedroom, close the doors and hope it will generate enough heat. If not, I'll be donning a lot of layers and getting under the covers!

The last picked plum tomatoes  are ripe enough to make a Puttanesca sauce which I was going to make for friends tonight; but we had to change those dinner plans and will be taking them out to the Mexican restaurant instead - not a bad alternative.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuna Noodle casserole aka sixties soul food for easterners

Winter has arrived and it's time to think about all those comforting, maybe not so healthy dinners. On a day like today  I am going to take out my old 60's stand by Better Homes and Garden cookbook and find the tuna noodle casserole recipe. Broccoli will be the healthy addition to tonight's body and soul, warming casserole. Of course, I will also have to make some of those decadent, high fat, Pillsbury crescent rolls to go with it. It's the perfect marriage of two carbohydrates.

The problem with using these old recipes is the every shrinking of canned foods. These days the cream of celery soup that is called for in the recipe, has shrunk a few ounces, so I'm force to buy 2 cans instead of one. For years it was only the candy bars that were shrinking and in recent years Campbell's has joined the ranks of  "give them less and charge them more".

Years ago I purchased a set of very, very old cookbooks and was warned at the time that I had to be careful, because apples, for instance, one or two hundred years ago were much smaller.  So the apples have gotten bigger, but everything else seems to be shrinking. If I live another twenty years, which is highly unlikely, the candy bars might wind up being the size we now give out to trick or treaters.

Time to check my recently sprouted basil. I have it growing under a grow light in my meditation room along with a big pot of lemon grass.

Monday, December 2, 2013

No knead sourdough

Just took this no knead sourdough out of the oven. Now I just have to wait till it cools so I can taste it. It certainly is a pretty loaf! This is my first time making a sourdough version of the no knead bread and if it tastes as good as it looks and smells, I'll be making this a lot more often.

Since it's a cold, rainy day with some light snow in the forecast, it seems like a good soup night, so I'll be making Julia Child's French onion soup. I was going to use gruyere which is my preference, rather than swiss cheese, but neither of my local, large grocery stores had plain gruyere, so I'll be doing Julia's version instead. 

Thanksgiving was great. Since our son was doing two deep fried turkeys, and our daughter-in-law doing most of the veggies, I made coleslaw, pate and a couple of cranberry sauces. There were about twenty of us at dinner and we all went back Friday for the leftovers.

The best cranberry sauce was a cranberry apple that was the winner hands down. I'll be making that to go with other meats as well. It would be great accompaniment to other fowl and pork dishes.

If anyone wants the recipe, you can find it on the Food Network web site; or just google "cranberry apple sauce" and it should have a link to the recipe.