The Perfect “Napoletana” Style Pizza

basil slices Wild Mushroom and Margherita

Over this summer I’ve thought about the places I’ve been and there’s one city that keeps coming up. Have you ever felt at home somewhere even if it’s not your real home? I feel this way every time I am in Venice. During the three days it’s taken to proof this pizza dough I tried to pinpoint a reason for my attraction to Venice. All I could come up with is that it’s surrounded by water, has good food, everything’s old and the city has a distinct smell. The smell isn’t appreciated by everyone but I like it. Maybe I like Venice because time stands still there.

The thin pizza dough recipe used here is in Food and Wine’s April 2013 issue. You can find the recipe online, too, at foodandwine.com. The caption above the recipe reads, “Time—not a 1,000-degree oven—is essential for these delicious, Neapolitan-style pies.”

Time…and the desire to make real pizza…are exactly what I have during this long summer break. It takes 3 days to prepare the dough and the recipe lives up to its advice.  It is worth the wait. “The dough for a great crust—delicate and crisp on the outside, tender and elastic on the inside, with a subtle, complex tang—needs at least [three days] to proof (leaven with yeast).”

Remember that it takes 3 days for the dough to proof. Did I mention that already? i.e. Start on a Friday if you want to eat pizza on a Sunday. Use a little less salt than the recommended 3 tablespoons. Two tablespoons is enough. Taste the raw dough before seasoning any of the toppings with salt.

Doppio Zero (double zero) flour is a must. It’s a very fine version of flour and is used for Italian doughs and pastas. I found Doppio Zero flour at Doris Italian Market and Bakery in Pembroke Pines. I felt at home here, too. Doris’ produce is much less expensive than the variety you find at major supermarket chains. For example, Fresh Basil or Oregano for $1.29 vs. $3.99 a package at other markets. Visit Doris’ Market if you can and wander the aisles even if it’s just to see how many varieties of pasta and tomato sauce are in existence. Below are the styles/toppings you can try. They are perfect enough for this perfect dough.

PS-Napoletana pizzas have nothing to do with Venice…because they are named after the place where they originated–Napoli.  But this doesn’t change the way I feel about Venice.

The Pizza Toppings

Margherita
Spread ½ cup Perfect Pizza Sauce onto the dough and top with ¼ lb sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a light grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake the Pizza at 500 for 6-8 minutes. (8 minutes for a more crispy crust) Remove from oven and top with about 10 basil leaves.

Perfect Pizza Sauce
Pass one 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes through a food mill. Blend the puree with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt.

Squash and Arugula
Grade Parmigiano-Reggiano over the dough and top with ¾ cup shredded Fontina, 2 ounces thinly sliced summer squash (about ½ small squash), 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary and 1 or 2 chopped Calabrian red chiles (I omitted the chiles). After baking at 500 F for 6-8 minutes, top with ½ arugula leaves.

Portuguesa
Ingredients:
Perfect Pizza Sauce
Thickly shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Ham slices, chopped into one inch pieces (omit for vegetarian)
2 Hard-Boiled Eggs, dropped into ice water immediately after boiling. Wait 15 minutes, peel and slice.
Sliced Onions, boiled and drained
Canned peas, drained
Black olives, drained
Fresh Oregano

Spread the Perfect Pizza Sauce (see above) on the pizza, then top with mozzarella, ham, (I omitted the ham to make this vegetarian), egg slices, onions, peas, black olives and oregano.
Wild Mushroom with Caramelized Onions, Fontina and Rosemary
Adapted from Bon Appétit | September 2004

Ingredients:
3/4 lb. assortment of wild mushrooms (Shittake, Oyster, Portobello)
½ shredded Fontina cheese
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
1.5 onions, sliced lengthwise then crosswise
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 teaspoon olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter with ½ teaspoon olive oil in another heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 11 minutes. Add rosemary; season with salt and pepper.

When ready to bake the pizza, lightly brush the dough with garlic oil or olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Fontina cheese. Scatter 2 1/2 tablespoons onions over the cheese. Scatter 1/2 cup mushrooms over the onions. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 500 F for 7-8 minutes.

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Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries

Recipe by Food and Wine Magazine, Photo by Priscillakittycat.

Recipe by Food and Wine Magazine, Photo by Priscillakittycat.

My mom called this a 24 hour cake after she tasted a bite.  “It won’t last 24 hours in this house!”  It would be nice to find at least some crumbs tomorrow morning to accompany a cup of tea but it doesn’t seem likely.

The cake tastes like something from a gourmet bakery but it’s easy enough for a novice cook to prepare.  The prep time is only 20 minutes.  PS – when you buy the buttermilk and open the container, don’t be misled into thinking it’s spoiled when it pours out like watery yogurt and tastes a little sour.  It’s supposed to be that way.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups blackberries, plus more for serving
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with 2/3 cup of the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, ending with the dry ingredients; do not overbeat. Gently fold the batter just until blended, then scrape into the pan; smooth the top.

Scatter the 1 1/4 cups of blackberries over the batter; lightly press them in. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar over the cake. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out the cake and remove the paper. Turn the cake right side up and let cool completely. Serve the buttermilk cake with whipped cream and more blackberries.

Citrusy Vegetable Wraps

Recipe by Everyday with Rachel Ray, Photo by PriscillaKittyCat.

Recipe by Everyday with Rachel Ray, Photo by PriscillaKittyCat.

Baptist South Miami Hospital’s Outpatient area waiting room has some good magazines.  They also offer free coffee, tea, shortbread cookies and warm blankets–for patients and family members.   I waited in a cozy corner, wrapped in a warm blanket…and copied this recipe from EveryDay with Rachel Ray.  The Almond Mayonnaise that accompanies the wraps is a healthy alternative to regular mayonnaise and it actually tastes better than mayo.

On the night I made these, I put the plate of wraps on our dinner table, walked back to the kitchen and watched out of the corner of my eye to see how my family would react to something so healthy and meat-free.  They slathered on the Almond Mayo and gobbled these up.

I bought the Vietnamese Rice Paper at the Beijing Mart on 163rd Street, North Miami.  You just dip the paper in a bowl filled with warm water and it’s ready to fill and roll.

Recipe from  Everyday with Rachel Ray.  Photo by PriscillaKittyCat.

Recipe by Everyday with Rachel Ray. Photo by PriscillaKittyCat.

The Ultimate Cheese Wheel

fotog foodie

I love cheese, but seriously, who doesn’t? Check out this awesome cheese wheel infographic I discovered on the interwebs. It’s pretty magical and I am thinking it will look nice framed in my kitchen next to the All you need to know about beef in one infographic.

The Charted Cheese Wheel
by popchartlab.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

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Bacon and Leek Quiche

I have yet to try a Grace Parisi recipe that isn’t good.  This recipe is an exception to the non-meat diet I adopted.  When I make these quiches, I use a different pastry recipe.  It’s much easier than baking the pastry before adding the filling and baking again.  With the pastry recipe I use you can just fill the pastry and bake all at once. The filling is all Grace’s.

Recipe by Grace Parisi for Food & Wine Magazine, Photo by PriscillaKittyCat.

Recipe by Grace Parisi for Food & Wine Magazine, Photo by PriscillaKittyCat.