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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: pizza dough

America is a land of many cultures. Our ancestors came from around the world to settle here and that is what makes our country so unique and diversified. This diversity is also obvious in our food and I feel it is so important to preserve those recipes. It was one of the reasons I started my blog seven years ago because I had hoped to preserve my family’s Italian recipes for those who came after me.

Growing up in NJ, I took for granted the pizzeria downtown for Friday night dinner, the bagel shop for Sunday breakfast and the taco stand for a quick lunch. In just about any city in America, it is relatively easy to find: Lebanese, African, Ethiopian, Chinese, Mexican, Greek, Indian, French, Japanese, Italian, Polish, Korean, Vietnamese, Jamaican, etc. food. Each wave of immigrants has brought a new level of food identity and traditions to our country.

Some of my past series have described the individual uniqueness of the regions of Italy, the food of America’s many Little Italies and the cuisines of the Mediterranean. In my new series, I want to celebrate the cuisine of the many cultures represented in America by preparing the dishes and sharing the recipes with you.

Rank Ancestry or race Population Percent of total population
1 German 46,403,053 14.7%
2 Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 38,785,726 12.3%
3 Mexican (of any race) 34,640,287 10.9%
4 Irish 33,526,444 10.6%
5 English 24,787,018 7.8%
6 American 22,746,991 7.2%
7 Italian 17,285,619 5.5%
8 Polish 9,385,766 3.0%
9 French 8,272,538 2.6%
10 Scottish 5,409,343 1.7%
11 Puerto Rican (of any race) 5,174,554 1.6%
12 Norwegian 4,445,030 1.4%
13 Dutch 4,289,116 1.4%
14 Swedish 3,933,024 1.2%
15 Chinese 3,852,099 1.2%
16 Asian Indian 3,303,512 1.0%
17 Scotch-Irish 3,046,005 1.0%
18 Russian 2,843,400 0.9%
19 West Indian (non-Hispanic) 2,824,722 0.9%
20 Filipino 2,717,844 0.9%

Italian American Pizza

Pizza became most popular in America after soldiers stationed in Italy returned from World War II. During the latter half of the 20th century, pizza became a dish of considerable popularity in the United States. The United States pizza restaurant industry is worth $37 billion and has an organized industry association. However, in my mind homemade makes best.


Easy Overnight Pizza Dough

Makes one 16 inch round pizza. Prepare the dough one day ahead. This process makes the best pizza dough.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

26 oz container strained or finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

Topping

Pizza sauce, recipe above
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3 oz sliced pepperoni
Black pepper and oregano for sprinkling on top

Directions

One day before making the pizza:

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.

Spray a large ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients for the pizza sauce in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

Mix the ricotta with ½ teaspoon salt. ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon dried parsley.

Prepare the crust: flour your hands lightly and pat the dough evenly into a lightly oiled 16″ pizza pan.

Top the crust in the following order: slices of mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni, ricotta cheese dropped by tablespoons, and oregano.

Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 20–25 minutes or until the crust is golden, the cheese is melted, and the toppings are thoroughly heated. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

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Easy Overnight Pizza Dough

Makes one 16 inch round pizza. Prepare the dough one day ahead. This process makes the best pizza dough.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 teaspoon honey

1 cup lukewarm water

3 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Sausage and Peppers Topping

8 oz spicy Italian Sausage, cut into thin slices

1 lb small bell peppers, sliced thin

1 large onion sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

Olive oil

Pizza Sauce

26 oz container strained Italian tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

One day before making the pizza:

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.

Spray a large ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.


Combine all the ingredients for the pizza sauce in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

Preheat a large sauté pan on medium-high and place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, then add sausage and cook until browned about 6 minutes, stirring until no pink remains. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, peppers and onions and saute until the vegetables are tender.

Let stand 5 minutes to cool.

Prepare the crust: flour your hands lightly and pat the dough evenly into a lightly oiled 16″ pizza pan. Top the crust with slices of mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, peppers, onions, and sausage.

Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 20–25 minutes or until the crust is golden, the cheese is melted, and the toppings are thoroughly heated. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.


Nothing says summer like a pizza made with fresh tomatoes and basil. It is one of our favorites and we look forward to this time of year when these ingredients are at their best.

I also have come up with an easy to make pizza dough that doesn’t require a lot of attention. It works perfectly every time. You just have to remember to make it a day ahead.

Putting the pizza together and baking it are a breeze, which is just what you want for this time of year. Make a green salad to go with the pizza and dinner is complete,

Easy Pizza Dough

Makes one 15 – 16 inch round pizza. Prepare the dough one day ahead.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups Italian flour or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Topping

3 medium fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle.

Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.

Spray a ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza.

Place the sliced tomatoes on paper towels to drain.

Turn the oven to 500 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto an oiled pizza pan and push the dough to the edges with your fingers.

Spread the pesto over the dough and cover the pesto layer with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place slices of fresh mozzarella over the tomatoes.

Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.

 


Veduta del Golfo di Napoli

The Province of Naples is a mixture of colors, culture and history. The beautiful islands that dot the blue waters of the Mediterranean are like jewels in a necklace. In a sea so blue that it blends with the sky, three islands can be found: Capri, Ischia and Procida. Mt. Vesuvius  overlooks the city and the beautiful bay. The sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are of great archaeological value and are famous worldwide. The entire area is interspersed with finds from a long-ago past, especially those that saw the presence of the Roman emperors that first recognized the beauty of this terrain.

Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the area in the second millennium BC and Naples played a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Later, in union with Sicily, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.

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Naples has the fourth-largest urban economy in Italy, after Milan, Rome and Turin. It is the world’s 103rd richest city by purchasing power and the port of Naples is one of the most important in Europe with the world’s second-highest level of passenger flow, after the port of Hong Kong. Numerous major Italian companies are headquartered in Naples. The city also hosts NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, the SRM Institution for Economic Research and the OPE Company and Study Center.

Neapolitan cuisine took much from the culinary traditions of the Campania region, reaching a balance between dishes based on rural ingredients and seafood. A vast variety of recipes are influenced by a local, more affluent cuisine, like timballi and the sartù di riso, pasta or rice dishes with very elaborate preparation, while some dishes come from the traditions of the poor, like pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans) and other pasta dishes with vegetables. Neapolitan cuisine emerged as a distinct cuisine in the 18th century with ingredients that are typically rich in taste, but remain affordable.

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Parmigiana di Melanzane

The majority of Italian immigrants who went to the United States during the great migration were from southern Italy. They brought with them their culinary traditions and much of what Americans call Italian food originated in Naples and Sicily.

Naples is traditionally credited as the home of pizza. Pizza was originally a meal of the poor, but under Ferdinand IV it became popular among the upper classes. The famous Margherita pizza was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy after her visit to the city.  Cooked traditionally in a wood-burning oven, the ingredients of Neapolitan pizza have been strictly regulated by law since 2004, and must include wheat flour type “00” with the addition of flour type “0” yeast, natural mineral water, peeled tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.

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Pasta with Meat Ragu

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti is also associated with the city and is commonly eaten with a sauce called ragù. There are a great variety of Neapolitan pastas. The most popular variety of pasta, besides the classic spaghetti and linguine, are paccheri and ziti, long pipe-shaped pasta usually topped with Neapolitan ragù. Pasta with vegetables is also characteristic of the cuisine. Hand-made gnocchi, prepared with flour and potatoes are also popular.

Other dishes popular in Naples include Parmigiana di melanzane, spaghetti alle vongole and casatiello. As a coastal city, Naples is also known for its numerous seafood dishes, including impepata di cozze (peppered mussels), purpetiello affogato (octopus poached in broth), alici marinate (marinated anchovies), baccalà alla napoletana (salt cod) and baccalà fritto (fried cod), a dish commonly eaten during the Christmas period.

Popular Neapolitan pastries include zeppole, babà, sfogliatelle and pastiera, the latter of which is prepared for Easter celebrations. Another seasonal dessert is struffoli, a sweet-tasting honey dough decorated and eaten around Christmas.

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Sfogliatella.

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Zeppole

The traditional Neapolitan flip coffee pot, known as the cuccuma or cuccumella, was the basis for the invention of the espresso machine and also inspired the Moka pot.

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Naples is also the home of limoncello, a popular lemon liqueur. Limoncello is produced in southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi, and islands of Procida, Ischia, and Capri. Traditionally, limoncello is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, also known as Sorrento or Sfusato lemons. The lemon liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. Varying the sugar-to-water ratio and the temperature affects the clarity, viscosity and flavor.

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Making Limoncello

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Tomatoes entered Neapolitan cuisine during the 18th century. The industry of preserving tomatoes originated in 19th century Naples, resulting in the export to all parts of the world of the famous “pelati”(peeled tomatoes) and the “concentrato” (tomato paste). There are traditionally several ways of preparing tomato preserves, bottled tomato juice and chopped tomatoes. The famous “conserva” (sun-dried concentrated juice) tomato is cooked for a long time and becomes a dark red cream with a velvety texture.

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Mozzarella di Bufala.

Buffalo mozzarella is mozzarella made from the milk of the domestic Italian water buffalo. It is a product traditionally produced in the region. The term mozzarella derives from the procedure called mozzare which means “cutting by hand”,  that is, the process of the separation of the curd into small balls. It is appreciated for its versatility and elastic texture. The buffalo mozzarella sold as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana has been granted the status of Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC – “Controlled designation of origin”) since 1993. Since 1996 it is also protected under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication labels.

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Neapolitan Ragu

Neapolitan ragù is one of the two most famous varieties of Italian meat sauces called ragù. It is a specialty of Naples, as its name indicates. The other variety originated in Bologna. The Neapolitan type is made with onions, meat and tomato sauce. A major difference is how the meat is used, as well as the amount of tomato in the sauce. Bolognese versions use very finely chopped meat, while the Neapolitan versions use large pieces of meat, taking it from the pot when cooked and served it as a second course. Ingredients also differ. In Naples, white wine is replaced by red wine, butter is replaced with olive oil and lots of basil leaves are added. Bolognese ragù has no herbs. Milk or cream are not used in Naples. Neapolitan ragù is very similar to and may be ancestral to the Italian-American “Sunday Gravy”; the primary difference being the addition of a greater variety of meat in the American version, including meatballs, sausage and pork chops.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rump roast
  • 1 large slice of brisket (not too thick)
  • 1 pound veal stew meat
  • 1 pound pork ribs
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, pureed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves

Directions

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Tie the large pieces with cooking twine to help them keep their shape. In a large pot heat the oil and butter. Add the sliced onions and the meat at the same time.

On medium heat let the meat brown and the onion soften. During this first step you must be vigilant, don’t let the onion dry, stir with a wooden spoon and start adding wine if necessary to keep them moist.

Once the meat has browned, add the tomato paste and a little wine to dissolve it. Stir and combine the ingredients. Let cook slowly for 10 minutes.

Add the pureed tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper and stir. Cover the pot but leave the lid ajar. (You can place a wooden spoon under the lid.)

The sauce must cook very slowly for at least 3-4 hours. After 2 hours add few leaves of basil and continue cooking.

During these 3-4 hours you must keep tending to the ragú, stirring once in a while and making sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Serve with your favorite pasta.

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Pizza Margherita

Pizza Dough Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 cc) warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups (500 g) flour (Italian OO flour)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Topping for 1 pizza

  • 1 cup (250 g) tomatoes, puréed  in a blender
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 oz (60 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Directions

For the pizza dough:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and stir to dissolve it. Set aside until the yeast starts forming bubbles, about 5 minutes.

Sift the flour. Pour the flour into a large bowl or on a work surface. Form the flour in a mound shape with a hole in the center. Pour the yeast mix in the center, then the olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Using a spatula, draw the ingredients together. Then mix with your hands to form a dough. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface. Place the pizza dough on the floured surface.

Knead the pizza dough briefly with your hands pushing and folding. Knead just long enough for the dough to take in a little more flour and until it no longer sticks to your hands.

With your hand, spread a little olive oil inside a bowl. Transfer the dough into the bowl.

On the top of the pizza dough, make two incisions that cross, and spread with a very small amount of olive oil. This last step will prevent the surface of the dough from breaking too much while rising.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth, and set the bowl aside for approximately 1½ – 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume. The time required for rising will depend on the strength of the yeast and the temperature of the room.

When the dough is about double its original size, punch it down to eliminate the air bubbles.

On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into three equal pieces. On the work surface, using a rolling-pin and your hands, shape one piece of dough into a thin 12 inch round layer.

Transfer the dough to a pizza pan. Using your fingertips, push from the center to the sides to cover the entire surface of the pan.

For the pizza

Preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C). In a mixing bowl place the tomatoes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the tomato mixture evenly over the pizza.

With your hands, break the basil leaves into small pieces. Distribute the basil uniformly over the pizza. Spread the rest of the olive oil on the pizza. Add salt to taste.

Bake the pizza for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add the mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 10 more minutes. Lift one side to check for readiness. Pizza is ready when the bottom surface is light brown. Top with few more fresh basil leaves, if desired, and serve immediately.

naplescalamari

Pasta con i Calamari

Small clams and other fish are sometimes added with the calamari.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 whole fresh squid
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 peperoncino
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 8 oz paccheri pasta

Directions

Cut the squid body into slices and halve the tentacles if they are large.

Clean, remove the seeds and finely chop the tomatoes. Rinse and chop the parsley. Peel and slice the garlic.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the peperoncino. Stir in the calamari and cook 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes and parsley and stir through. Salt to taste.

Cover and cook on medium for 15 minutes.

While the calamari is cooking, cook the pasta al dente. Remove some of the pasta cooking water.

Stir a bit of the pasta water into the sauce and cook a few minutes longer.

Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce and stir through.

Garnish with a few basil leaves.

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I make pizza just about every week at our house because I think my husband loves pizza more than any other food. It is also an economical dish and usually healthy. Between the two of us, we get 3 meals out of one pizza: two dinners and one lunch. I usually try to make our pizzas with seasonal vegetables because they make the most tasty pizzas, in my opinion. Once in awhile, we will splurge and go for the deep-dish Chicago style sausage pizza. Over the past two months, I have made the following pizzas with veggies I had on hand and I am sharing those recipes with you. The sausage pizza was a treat for my husband’s birthday.

Use your favorite pizza dough or use my easy to make no knead dough. The recipe makes enough for three pizzas and the dough stores beautifully in the freezer. I like this recipe more than any other I have tried. The overnight refrigeration adds to the dough’s great flavor and makes a crunchy but tender crust.

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Easy No Knead Pizza Dough

Ingredients for the dough

  • 3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 8 cups 00 Italian Style flour or 7 ½ cups bread flour

Directions for making the pizza dough:

Pour the water into a 5 quart bowl or lidded food container. Add yeast and salt to the water.

Measure the flour with the “scoop and sweep” method. (Dip cup into flour and scoop it up. Level the cup with the back of a knife.)

Add all the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You only need to mix it until all ingredients are combined. No kneading is necessary. (The dough will be very moist and will actually conform to the shape of the container you put it in.)

Cover, but don’t seal the lid tightly, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it begins to flatten on the top (about 2 hours).

DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! This method is designed to retain as much gas in the dough as possible. After rising, refrigerate the dough in the container and use the dough over the next 14 days. Once it’s refrigerated the dough will collapse slightly and it will not rise again in the container — that’s normal.

Directions for making pizza:

Pull up and cut off a 1 1/3 pound piece of dough from the container of refrigerated pizza dough. My pizza pans are large, so I usually get 3 pizzas from a batch of dough.

Extra dough may also be frozen. I freeze two portions of dough, individually, in freezer ziplock bags. To use, defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Hold the dough in your hands and dust your hands with flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.

Form a ball, by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides and rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go.

Place the ball in an oiled pizza pan and press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Place an oven rack on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

After the dough has rested, add the toppings as indicated below.

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Roasted Broccoli Rabe and Tomato Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the broccoli rabe, tomatoes and shallots with the olive oil to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle lightly with some salt and pepper.

Spread the vegetables onto 2 large baking sheets.

Roast until the tomatoes have deflated and the broccoli rabe is brown around the edges and cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Divide the mixture in half. Use one half of the roasted vegetables for the pizza and the other half as a side dish for another dinner.

For the Pizza:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • Half of the roasted vegetables
  • 8 oz mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, cut in half

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the dough. Arrange the roasted vegetables evenly over the cheese. Do the same with the sliced olives.

Drop tablespoons of ricotta cheese over the vegetables.

Place the pizza pan on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

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Pizza with Artichoke Hearts, Fontina Cheese and Tomato

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted (or use canned if frozen are not available)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 thinly sliced plum tomatoes
  • 8 oz sliced Italian Fontina cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cook the defrosted artichokes in the olive oil with the garlic, onion and the juice of one lemon until softened and the onions are caramelized. Add the oregano and black pepper.

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Place the sliced Fontina on top of the dough. cover the Fontina layer with the shredded mozzarella cheese and then the Parmesan cheese.

Arrange the artichoke mixture evenly over the cheese. Do the same with the sliced tomatoes.

Place the pizza pan on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

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Deep-Dish Sausage Onion Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of pizza dough at room temperature
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • 8 ounces Italian fennel sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese

Directions

Generously grease a 10-inch springform pan with oil. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with cornmeal.

Place the pizza dough in the prepared pan. Using oiled hands, press and spread the dough evenly over the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (30 to 35 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the filling:

In a medium skillet cook sausage and onions over medium-high heat until brown, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks.

Drain in a mesh (or one with small holes) colander. Using paper towels, pat sausage and, then, wipe out the skillet to remove additional fat.

Return the sausage and onions to the skillet and stir in tomatoes and basil. Cook and stir until heated through.

To assemble the pizza:

Arrange the mozzarella cheese slices over the bottom of the dough lined pan.

Spoon the filling over the cheese and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the edge of the crust is crisp and golden and the filling is bubbly.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the side of the springform pan and cut the pizza into wedges.


 

 

IMG_0189In 2007 Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, authored, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking” and it does just that!

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You simply mix the recipe ingredients in a large bucket, cover and let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 hours; then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. You will have enough dough to make 3-4 loaves of bread or 3-4 pizzas with very little work. Once I discovered the Artisan Bread method, I have been making most of my breads following their process.

If you would like to know more about this method visit their website: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/.  The authors have recently written a book on how to make gluten-free bread with this method.

I like to use Italian “00” flour for making pizza. Italian “00” flour is lower in protein and makes a supple, smooth and easy dough to shape.The “00” refers to the grind of the flour and this flour is fine-textured. The resulting baked goods are light, airy and have a crisp snap to the crust. It’s ideal for pizza, flatbread, focaccia and crackers.

I purchase the flour from King Arthur. Of course, you can use other types of flour but the ingredient amounts will vary slightly.

Homemade Pizza with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Pesto

No Knead Pizza Dough

I use the method and recipe for the dough from “Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The bucket should not be airtight, so leave the lid ajar or, do what I did, drill a tiny hole in the top center of the lid.

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Ingredients for the dough

  • 3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 7 ½  cups 00 Italian Style flour

Ingredients for Oven Dried Tomatoes:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 recipe oven dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • Crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions for making the oven dried tomatoes:

Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pour the oil into a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the minced garlic over the oil in the pan. Place the tomatoes in an even layer on the baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Bake for about 90 minutes until the juices have stopped running, the tomato edges are shriveled and the tomato pieces have shrunken slightly. Make ahead and store in the refrigerator.

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Directions for making the pizza dough:

Pour the water into a 5 quart bowl or lidded food container. Add yeast and salt to the water.

Measure the flour with the “scoop and sweep” method. (Dip cup into flour and scoop it up. Level the cup with the back of a knife.)

Add all the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You only need to mix it until all ingredients are combined. No kneading is necessary. (The dough will be very moist and will actually conform to the shape of the container you put it in.)

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How the dough looks after it is mixed.

Cover, but don’t seal the lid tightly, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it begins to flatten on the top (about 2 hours).

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DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! This method is designed to retain as much gas in the dough as possible. After rising, refrigerate the dough in the container and use the dough over the next 14 days. Once it’s refrigerated the dough will collapse and it will not rise again in the container — that’s normal. Extra dough may also be frozen with equally excellent results.

Directions for making the pizza:

Pull up and cut off a 1 1/3 pound piece of dough from the container of refrigerated pizza dough. My pizza pans are large, so I usually get 3 pizzas from a batch of dough.

Hold the dough in your hands and dust your hands with flour, as needed, to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Form a ball, by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides and rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go.

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Place the ball in an oiled pizza pan and press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

After the dough has rested, add the toppings.

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Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the dough. Spread the pesto sauce over the cheese layer.

Distribute the tomatoes evenly over the pizza and grind some fresh black pepper over the top.

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Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Place the pizza on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

This will be one of the best pizzas you have ever had.

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summerpizzacover

Pizza is a very adaptable dish that works with any seasonal ingredients.

In winter, I usually make a pizza sauce that is similar to my pasta sauce for our Friday night pizza. In the summer, however, I like to take advantage of being able to use fresh tomatoes and other fresh vegetables on my pizzas. Our favorite summer pizza is a simple one topped with sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and mozzarella cheese.

The best tasting pizza crust is made the day before you want to use it. Here is an easy no-knead recipe that is adaptable to any shape or even for grilling.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Makes two 16-inch pizza crusts

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups water

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot.

The next day, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Stretch the dough to the edges of the pizza pan or roll the dough into the desired shape.

summerpizza

Farmers’ Market Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the pan
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, see recipe above
  • 5 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Position an oven rack in the next to lowest setting.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and then the onion and thyme; cook for 3 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add bell pepper and garlic to the pan; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn, salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over the dough. Spread the corn mixture evenly over the cheese and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake 15 minutes. Arrange tomatoes evenly over the pizza; bake an additional 5 minutes or until the crust is browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil. Slice into 8 pieces.

summerpizza1

Summer Squash Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Coarse salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place pizza dough on an oiled baking pan and stretch dough to form an oblong crust, about 15 inches long and 11 inches wide.

Brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with garlic and dot with feta cheese.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel wide, thin strips of squash and place them on the pizza; stop when most of the pizza is covered (do not put too much squash on the pizza or the crust will become soggy).

Bake until the crust is browned and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the baked pizza with oregano leaves and coarse salt. Cut into squares and serve.

summerpizza2

Salad Pizza 

Ingredients

  • 7 cups mixed lettuces (red leaf, leaf, radicchio) or mesclun
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced
  • 5 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 8 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Optional Garnishes: prosciutto, roasted red peppers, olives, anchovies

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuces, onion and tomatoes. Set aside or prep several hours ahead and refrigerate.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the crust up to the border and return the pizza to the oven just until the cheese begins to melt.

Allow the pizza to cool for 10 minutes.

Toss the salad with the dressing. Cut the pizza into wedges. Serve a wedge on a large plate. Top with salad and sprinkle the greens with grated Parmesan.

Top the pizza with any of the other optional garnishes and serve.

summerpizza4

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine olive oil and the sliced garlic in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the spinach and sauté 1-2 minutes or just until the spinach wilts.

Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Combine ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses in a mixing bowl.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Spread the combined cheese mixture over the crust and evenly distribute the spinach over the cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown.

summerpizza5

Pizza with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pizza dough at room temperature, see recipe above
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and let them rest on paper towels for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over the dough.

Spread pesto over the cheese and arrange the tomato slices over the pesto.

Bake for 20 minutes.



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