Food

How to make a perfect Italian pizza dough

This is an how-to, long, long overdue, post. In case you need this dough for anything other than pizza, come back here and check. I also put the tag “dough” in the list, in case it’s going to be buried by the next posts.

Pizza dough represents the base for what it’s the modern concept of pizza, sold worldwide, in thousands of different variations of crust, topping, size, price and so on. It’s the base over which you can express your creativity in toppings. Though, is fun to notice that pizza is only one of the possible “outcomes”. For example, you could use this recipe to bake your own bread, if you want.

Making a dough do not follow a strict list of rules. In fact, any variations of the quantity of ingredients will still give you a dough. It can be personalized and adjusted according to allergies, taste, kind of flours, gluten tolerance, and availability of ingredients. As in bread, there can be many variation and flavours.The taste of the dough will influence the taste of the final product you are going to bake.

“…this dough reflects my regional, working, and family tradition in pizza making. As you may probably know if you had a look at my about page, I can claim a bit of expertise in making it. The pizza recipe is argument for another post…”

Time required: from 2 to 24 hours

Ingredients for 1 kg flour:
Pizza dough is the kind of product of which the portion are difficult to guess, and varies across country. To make it easier, I use kilograms of flour as a measure unit for the final outcome, and a bit of trial and error expertise: 1 kg will probably give you enough dough for 6/7 reasonably sized pizzas (1 pizza enough to feed 1 reasonably hungry person).

1 kg white flour (choose what you think is good for you and try it out for yourself)
3 sp of iodized salt
3 sp of extravirgin olive oil
3 sp of sugar
1 cube of fresh yeast OR 20 g of dry yeast
lukewarm water QS (quantum sufficiat) – start with the less the better

Preparation (about half an hour):
This preparation resemble the one used to bake bread. If you have bread-making experience, you are pretty much covered. If you have an electric machine, a robot, or someone else doing it for you, it’s just a matter of attention in mixing the ingredients together.

Start with 2 breakfast bowls and a clean, large, table area. Fill the bowls halfway with lukewarm water. In one you will put the salt, in the other one the sugar. Use different spoon to mix them. Put the yeast in the sugar bowls and stir it thoroughly until it dissolves completely in the water.Put the flour on the table, the whole kilo. It will look like a mountain of flour 🙂
Do not flat it, rather place your palm over the top and push it straight downwards, while enlarging it the more you reach the surface of the table. Now looks like a volcano of flour 😀
Make the crater large enough, and keep the “walls” high. This will help you in kneading the dough.

Empty the yeast/sugar bowls in the crater and start working the flour with it. It’s important that you don’t flood the flour, the yeasty water should not be enough for the whole kilo. It will look like a brown crater lake in a dormant volcano! The high walls are there for a reason: they keep the water from running around. Use the flour on the internal side of the walls and let them slide in the lake. This will keep the rest of the walls safe. Make a dough ball out of it, as good as you can it doesn’t matter now, and put it aside.

Rebuild the flour volcano as before, and empty the salt bowl in the crater. Work it until you are able to make another ball out of it. Only after this, you can mix the 2 balls together. The point of this 2-steps procedure is: do not let the yeast touch the salt prior than the flour does. The rising reaction induced by the yeast will stop if in direct contact with salt. The 2 bowls system is an easy and clean way to dose water levels and avoid this unwanted event at the same time.

Possibly, the water you have added so far is still not enough. This will give you enough leeway to add the extra lukewarm water you need to make the dough consistent enough so “it doesn’t stick anymore to your hands”. If the water is too much, add a bit more flour. The dough will have a plastic feeling and it will not stick anywhere anymore. You can in fact use it to collect all the flour leftover from the working area.

Now, spread it a bit on the table and poke it with your finger. The holes in it are for the oil. Spoon it on the dough and keep on kneading, until it nicely incorporates in it. Done for now!

Place it in a large container or pot and put on a lid, plastic foil, or a cloth to cover it. Let it rise for 1 hour. After that, cut the mass in pieces and start making dough balls out of it the size of a baseball ball (a bit bigger than a tennis or cricket ball). You should have enough dough for 6 or 7 of them. Place the ball in a tray and give them enough space to rise double or triple their actual size. Let them rise for another hour before using them, or place the tray in the fridge and use the dough the next day.

If you use (parts of) this method, please send me pictures of your dough, or put a link in the comments. The better ones could be showed here 😀

Thanks Ginny for the pic

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Chicken soup

Nice and warm!

It’s amazing to discover that this recipe has an entry on Wikipedia!

Now, let’s focus on it. In Italy we would made this with pasta, previously boiled in salty water and then drained, but in this case I will only focus on the soup, so feel free to add any pasta/noodles/rice you prefer.

Tip: if you are planning to accompany the soup with pasta, you can store the drained pasta directly in box separate from the soup, so it will not absorb the broth.

I am always in trouble to suggest a clear indication for servings related to soup, it really depends on how much you like it, or how many pieces of meat you are going to put in it. I tend to put more veggies in it, I like some consistency in the broth but not so meaty; this soup is actually excellent if you have some leftover from your farmer’s market, or the veggies you have are not enough to do something else.
The choice is yours.

Cooking time:
2 hours totally, ½ hour for cutting veggies, 1,5 for boiling the soup

Ingredients for 4/5 servings:
½ chicken, or 500 gr of chicken thighs
1,5 onions
2 leeks
6 chestnut mushrooms (or any other)
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
3 potatoes
2 glasses of passata di pomodoro (I cannot be bothered in writing all the time sieved uncooked tomatoes, seriously!)
1 bay leaf
black pepper
1 tsp. Aji-no-moto
0,5 tsp. salt

Preparation:
Wash and cut all your vegetables first, it will take a while but you will be rewarded! 😀 The size of the pieces is according to your taste, I really enjoy small pieces, though it takes longer to cut them; plus, bigger pieces give the same results. Use a large pot to put all the ingredients together with the chicken, skin and all. Generously season with black pepper; for the salt I tend to use less sodium in my recipe, which is why I use MSG for my meat soups.

Tip: you may eliminate salt completely and serve the soup with some grated parmesan on top.

Fill the pot with water and let it boil at low fire covered by the lid for 1,5 hours. If you don’t know how much water you need, an empirical eyeball measure will do: fill the pot with water till all the ingredients are covered, and then add another third of water. This will secure that the soup can cook on its own for the entire time.

Buon appetito!

 


(Credits: Hoyabird8 at English Wikipedia)


Red kidney beans and sausage

The best way to cook beans is with sausages, no jokes! I know this may sound gross to vegetarian, and I am the first to enjoy a beans salad (in some later post), but the salty and spiced texture of sausage is well coupled with the creamy texture of the beans; their flavours do mix perfectly together. By the way, this recipe is an excellent source of proteins, especially if you choose leaner sausages, for those of you interested in bodyfat loss or workout meals!

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 pork sausages
2 cans of red kidney beans of 400 gr each
1 onion
4 roma tomatoes
black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. paprika powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. of iodized salt

Preparation:
Switch on the fire at high. Chop the onion in small pieces and toss it in a pan with the salt, a generous grind of black pepper, the paprika powder, and the cayenne pepper. Add 2 spoons of olive oil; I am being conservative here because the sausages release some fat usually, according to how lean you choose them.

Put the pan on the fire and let it cook for 2/3 minutes, until the onions are gold (not brown). Cut the tomatoes in thin slices and put them in, you may cover with the lid for 4/5 minutes. In the meantime you can cut the sausages in pieces; they can be also made out of beef or any other ingredients, even vegetarian if you prefer to. I have just used pork meat as my personal taste.

To make things easier, you can open up and crumble them, then add them in the pan. Let the meat brown for other 4 to 5 minutes, it will also release part of the fat. Open the cans of kidney beans, drain the liquid inside, was and drain them again, then pour them on top of the sausages. Add a half glass of water now. You can cook them for other 10 minutes with the lid on top.

To be served with some bruschetta, or any other toasted bread. Are excellent also with some steamed vegetables aside.

Buon appetito! 

 

P.S.: thanks Nezemnaya for the shot!

Cauliflower salad

Gnam!

This is one simple salad that I am enjoying recently. The cauliflower has never been one of my favourite when I was kid, but you know, everything changes! I guess the only important direction is the spices we are going to use to season it. I like the lemon juice, some uses balsamico vinegar, your choice.

The quantity really depends on your pot and your good will. You may decide to boil the whole “head” and then store it in the fridge for day after or cut few florets out of it and boil them before eating, again your choice.
The recipe is going to be for 2 people, just to prepare 2 portions because I am quite sure you are going to have another one after the first 😉

Cooking Time:
it is actually 15 minutes from raw to mouth, plus another 10 in the fridge if you like them cold.

Ingredients (for 2 people):
1/4 cauliflower in florets
1 ts salt
grinded black pepper
a bit of chilli flakes
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon

Preparation: 
Cut the “head” in florets, if you don’t know what is it, I have inserted a comfy link in the ingredients list. It’s also here, if you need it 🙂 To make everything blazing fast, cut the florets in slices, as you would do for mushroom. The thinner, the less they need to be cooked. You can do this while bringing to boil the pot with salty water.

The trick is there, it should be just enough water to submerge the cauliflower. no point in putting more water. Add a dash of grinded black pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes in the water. Yes, do it. The fire should be at medium/high.
When the water is boiling, toss the cauliflower in and cover with the lid. It should take no more than 10 minutes to make the cauliflower soft enough to be easily holed by your fork, in case you are not sure and want to “probe” them.

When they are done, drain them completely and place it in the salad bowl. In case you want them cold, put the whole bowl in the fridge for another 10 minutes. No worries for the steam, is not going to harm your fridge!
Season with lemon juice and a dash of oil on top.

Buon appetito!

P.S.: thanks Jeremy for the pic 😉

How to prepare your own taco seasoning

I love tacos! and tortillas too!! and guacamole as well!!! but now I’m wandering about. This is (the first?) how-to post I write, it will be tweaked again I hope, according to the feedbacks.

Being about spices, the main issue is that, in many languages, spices got different names, different translations and in all the case, different tastes too, which could vanish the overall experience. The pictures of the spices I’ve used are as close as possible to what I’ve actually used in reality.

This list is not exhaustive nor fixed, feel free to customize it to your will and put the modification in the comment, it would be great!

 

Ingredients (for 250 gr of beef or any other substitute):

1,5 teaspoon (ts) of paprika powder mild paprika

1 ts oregano
ToastingOregano

1/2 ts grinded cayenne pepper
Cayenne Pepper

1 ts cumin seed
Cumin

1/2 ts of iodized salt (stormtrooper not included :P)
A-salt-ed!

1 ts of wheat flour
Pain au Levain - Sifting whole wheat flour

1/2 ts of dark cocoa powder
JPHOTO-2012-07-31-8179.jpg

 

(to recap)
1 and a half teaspoons (ts) of paprika powder mild
1 ts oregano
1/2 ts grinded cayenne pepper
1 ts cumin seed
1/2 ts of iodized salt
1 ts of wheat flour
1/2 ts of dark cocoa powder

 

Preparation:

This is the easiest part.
In a small bowl, put all the ingredients together and stir it. Make sure it’s not in contact with water in any possible way. Being all dry ingredients, you can even store it to use it another time.
Variation in the amount of cocoa may have the greater influence on the final taste, so try not to exaggerate with it.
This mix is excellent to be used in other recipes as the main seasoning or a tasty add-on!

Buon appetito.

 

 

P. S.: There are several ways of doing this starting from the whole spices instead of having them already grinded. What is changes is the final taste of it, stronger in the case of self-grinded spices.
Thanks to: Delphine, Amy,  You, Gustavo, JD, Rebecca and Jayca for the beautiful pictures!!!

Penne ham and mushrooms

Uncooked Penne

New recipe of the year, with one of the “most-commonly-found-abroad-after-spaghetti” type of pasta, penne rigate.

Small digression: the word “rigate” refers to the ribbed surface of them; such lines are called “righe” in Italian, so its adjective become “rigate”. 

<

p>Very fresh, very quick, and tasty as usual.

Ingredients for 2 people:

1/2 onion (red or white according to the wine)
1/2 glass of wine (red or white according to the onion)
100 gr of mushrooms  (any cheap will do)
50 gr of cooked ham (if possible sliced)
100 ml of tomato purée (or sauce or passata) (or roughly 2 glasses)
extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper
chilli pepper  (optional)
salt
250 gr of penne rigate
grated grana padano (or other hard cheese)

Preparation (it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes): 

Let one of the fire go to max while you are preparing. I would suggest you chop all the ingredients first, then you are kind of free to do the rest while saving time.

Chop your onion nicely in small pieces, and put it in a large pan together with a generous amount (3 tablespoons should be fine) of oil, grinded black pepper, a bit of grinded chilli or powder if you like, and a pinch of salt.
Chop the mushrooms in thin slices and put them apart.
Slice the ham (if not already) and cut it in small pieces, as with the onion.

Put the pan on the fire, and let the onions fry till gold. Do not forget to stir it often, if the fire is high enough and the onions very small, they will easily burn.
Put the ham in and lower a bit the fire (from 5 to 4, for instance).

Let the ham cook for 2/3 minutes before putting the wine in. This will “cool down” things a bit, giving you time to start boiling the water for the pasta. To quicken up, you may also pre-boil the water in a kettle.
By the time you do that, the alcohol should be evaporated. It’s time to put the mushrooms in, together with the tomato purée and a generous pinch of salt.

Add half a glass of water, stir nicely and cover the pan with its lid. Of course you have the lid for that pan, right? If not, just add some more water as it dries up.

Now focus on the pasta; as soon as the water boils, put a generous amount of salt in (1 tablespoon should be fine) and then the penne. Check the cooking time of your chosen brand and stir it from time to time when it boils to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Drain it 1 minute before the suggested time for “al dente”, usually penne rigate may vary between 9 and 11 minutes but YMMV, and keep some of the boiled-salty-starchy water in a mug, a glass may break accidentally because of the heat.

Pour the pasta in the pan with the sauce, put a third of the water from the mug in and stir it at low fire, so you can let the pasta simmer  a bit and absorb all the flavours from the sauce. This is the right time to grate some cheese in, the quantity will be according to your taste, but don’t be greedy!

Penne rigate can absorb a fair amount of water and sauce; as the sauce get dry, add some more boiled water in, but just to smoothen it up, we don’t need a soup! Add the last bit of water before getting the pan off the fire and let the pasta “rest” for a little while, to get the creamy texture just right!
To be served with some grated cheese on top.

Buon appetito!

Thanks J.D. for the shot

AdBusting CookBook

Very interesting plea and extremely well thought idea from a (so far) undisclosed German street-artist in Köln (Cologne, Colonia or whatever you call it in your language).

I managed to discover this news on Facebook, so I traced back the images on the blog of Ronny (danke!), and then the elaboration of the CookBook here.

The images I have found so far are these:

adbusting recipe 1 adbusting recipe 2

The original links are the following: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=696759907001582&set=a.332946690049574.89745.213775278633383&type=1&relevant_count=1

and http://leka.soup.io/post/362666681/50-57-025-6-54-650

Somebody would ask: what’s the point?

Simple,  because I am pretending to write a food, recipes, nutrion, simil-political blog, I would like the author of the Adbusting (or whoever fancy that) to write MY recipes over the ads.

In fact, I am still translating many of my recipes from Italian to English, to make them more easily readable by a larger audience. And by the way, an AdBusting Cookbook would easily be a spin-off of this blog, in fact I could shrink many of the recipes in order to write a condensed message over any board! 😉

I do think that this form of critique, shared on different media, is a very serious mind-challenge message. Kudos to whoever is the creator and executor of this, and please, if you happen to step on this post, feel free to use any of my recipes for the next piece of (culinary) art!

I can assure you they taste good 😀

Cetarese Linguine

 
Sea Tower - Cetara
This recipe come straight from the shores of Cetara, one of the many gems you can find hidden on the Amalfi coast, in the Campania region. It is just about 10 km from my town, but the flavours and the habitat you can find here have no match.

This is one of the many regional dishes: it has a long-standing tradition among the locals and on top of that is extremely tasty!

Ingredients for 2 people:

250 g linguine
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/2 small can of tuna in olive oil
1/2 shallot
1/2 small jar of pesto cetarese (*)
1/2 cup white wine
chili pepper
extra virgin olive oil
parmesan
black pepper

preparation:

Bring a pot full of salty water to boil, drop the pasta in when the bubbles are formed and wait for the time indicated on the package.
Drain the oil from the tuna can and place it in a large pan along with the chopped shallot , red pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil . Put also some grinded black pepper. Stir-fry until the shallot begins to brown and then add the white wine. Let the white wine evaporates completely before proceeding.
Slice the tomatoes in quarter and put them in the pan. Cover the pan and cook until the tomatoes begin to peel .
If the sauce is too dry , add a little bit of the water used to boil the pasta. it has both salt and starch inside.
Add the pesto cetarese , mix it into the mixture and close the fire.
Drain the pasta and pour into the pan , add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and mix.
Serve hot .

(*): Pesto cetarese is a specialty that you can buy in stores in Cetara (SA) . In the absence of this tasty seasoning, you can easily substitute with a paste made with: chopped green and black olives , capers , pine nuts, basil, walnuts, almonds and anchovies.

Buon appetito!

P.S.: thanks to Elicus for the great shot!

Fettuccine ham and cream

Fatte in casa

This is the first attempt of writing a recipe in English.

I have copy-pasted the first post of this kind I made in 2008 or so.
Feel free to comment with suggestions, pictures or way to improve it.

Servings for 2 people
Ingredients:
125 gr egg pasta fettuccine-like
100 g cooked ham
100 ml cooking cream
50 g butter
1/4 of 1 onion
1/2 glass of white wine
2 spoons of milk
salt
oil (extravirgin olive oil)
black pepper

How to:
Bring to boil a pot of generously salted water and put the fettuccine in. The rest of the preparation can be easily done in the meantime. Just pay attention to the time, because it’s very easy to overcook them and keep a cup of the boiled water. Finely chop the onion and put it in a pan with butter, a pinch of salt and a sip of olive oil, enough to avoid burning the butter. Sauté the onions until blonde. Add the finely chopped cooked ham and wet it with milk.

Cook over low heat with the lid closed until you hear the loud noise of the boiling milk. At this point, continue cooking without a lid until it gets sticky, then slowly add the white wine and give it time to be absorbed.When the wine is completely evaporated, add the cream, incorporate all nicely and put the pan off the fire.The pasta would be done by now, so pour it into the pan with a bit of the water from the cup and put it back on the fire, so it will better absorb the flavours.

Serve it very hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a pinch of grated pepper on top.
Buon appetito!

P.S.: amazing shot of Francesco Colazingari…Bravo!

P.P.S.: being at the new dawn of my blog writing, I need some feedback from you. So if you liked this, please feel free to answer the following poll or write something in the comments below. Thanks!

20 bottiglie di vino

 
 
Il vino, questo mio caro amico…
 
A parte l’ovvia ironia che mi accompagna quando si tratta di estremità olfattive, l’immagine colpisce per l’accostamento tra un calice di vino e dei circuiti elettronici.
 
Un contrasto molto forte, almeno per me.
Il vino lo collego sempre alla rusticità, ai tempi andati, al profumo di foglie secche dell’autunno che volano lungo i viali alberati spazzati dal vento autunnale.
Il vino mantiene caldo il cuore e accende le conversazioni.
 
Un buon vino è quanto di meglio si possa desiderare per poter gustare appieno un buon formaggio piccante arrotolato dentro una fetta di prosciutto di cinghiale.
 
E’ difficile spiegare cosa si prova a gustare un vino se non lo si è mai provato.
I sapori sono tantissimi, e acquistano d’intensità a seconda dell’accostamento che facciamo per gustarlo.
Meglio un bel piatto di affettati o un bel sigaro?
Meglio davanti ad un camino acceso o in mezzo a fredde raffiche di vento cercando di scaldarsi?
 
In ogni caso, non ce n’è mai abbastanza…
 
I circuiti elettronici li uso tutti i giorni. Mi trasmettono efficienza, freddezza, velocità.
Sono macchine, creazioni dell’uomo che devono obbedire ai suoi voleri.
Le possibilità offerte dalla moderna tecnologia sono già oggi impensabili anche solo 20 anni fa.
 
Chissà cosa ci riserva il futuro…nel frattempo….
…buone bevute a tutti