Pizza Italiano

October 19, 2008

Ingredients
Pizza Dough: Makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas

1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Pizza Ingredients

Olive oil
Cornmeal (to slide the pizza onto the pizza stone)
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, shredded
Feta cheese
Mushrooms, thinly sliced
Bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced
Italian sausage, cooked ahead
Chopped fresh basil
Pesto
Pepperoni, thinly sliced
Onions, thinly sliced
Sliced ham
Special equipment needed

A pizza stone, highly recommended if you want your pizza dough to be crusty
A pizza peel or a flat baking sheet
A pizza wheel for cutting the pizza, not required, but easier to deal with than a knife
Method
Making the Pizza Dough
1 In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid), add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes.

2 Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand.

3 Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If you don’t have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.

At this point, if you want to make ahead, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Preparing the Pizzas
1 Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

2 Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.

3 Prepare your desired toppings. Note that you are not going to want to load up each pizza with a lot of toppings as the crust will end up not crisp that way. About a third a cup each of tomato sauce and cheese would be sufficient for one pizza. One to two mushrooms thinly sliced will cover a pizza.

4 Working one ball of dough at a time, take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter – 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. You can pinch the very edges if you want to form a lip.

5 Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your finger tips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes.

Repeat with the second ball of dough.

6 Lightly sprinkle your pizza peel (or flat baking sheet) with corn meal. Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the pizza peel. If the dough has lost its shape in the transfer, lightly shape it to the desired dimensions.

7 Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza.

8 Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (watch your hands, the oven is hot!). Gently shake the peel to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal. Slide the pizza off of the peel and on to the baking stone in the oven. Bake pizza one at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want, toward the end of the cooking time you can sprinkle on a little more cheese.

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White Chocolate Cheesecake Bake

October 19, 2008

 

INGREDIENTS
3-1/4 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate
2-1/2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2-1/2 eggs
1-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2/3 cups finely chopped white chocolate
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon brandy

DIRECTIONS
1.Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Wrap the outside of a 10 inch springform pan with foil. Grease the inside of the pan.
2.Place the cream cheese, sugar, and flour in a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape bowl.
3.Melt 4 ounces of the white chocolate. With an electric mixer on low speed, mix melted white chocolate into cream cheese mixture. Keeping electric mixer on low, slowly beat in the vanilla and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Blend well. Pour mixture into the prepared spring form pan.
4.Place cheesecake pan in a water bath filled with warm water. Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 50 to 60 minutes, or until center of the cheesecake is just firm. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate until set before removing from pan.
5.To make White Chocolate Brandy Sauce: Place 1 cup heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Watch carefully so it doesn’t boil over. Pour hot cream over 2 cups of finely chopped white chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until melted. Add brandy and continue stirring until incorporated. Pour over chilled cheesecake and serve.

Luck Of The Irish Pancakes

October 15, 2008

Ingredients:
8 oz/ 250g/ 2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 large egg
1/2 pt/ 250ml/ 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well in the middle with a wooden spoon and add the egg. Break the yolk and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly to a thick batter. Do not beat, as this would develop the gluten in the flour and prevent the pancakes from rising. Fry in large dollops on a lightly-greased, hot griddle or heavy frying-pan. Drop scones are best served hot for tea, thickly spread with melting butter and syrup or jam.

Keeping it Healthy Salad

October 15, 2008

Ingredients:

* 1 medium green cabbage, shredded
* 2 carrots, shredded
* 1 green pepper, sliced paper thin in small strips
* 2 kirby cucumbers, peeled and sliced paper thin
* 1/3-1/2 cup sugar
* 1 onion, sliced paper thin
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 1 teaspoon oregano

Directions

1.Shred or slice (and I do mean paper thin) all vegetables.

2. Mix other ingredients and pour over the veggies.

3.You can make as quickly as a half a day before serving, but it is best to make it so that it can sit overnight.

4.Refrigerate immediately after mixing veggies and dressing.

Prize Winning Meaty Balls

October 15, 2008

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 pound ground beef
* 1/2 pound ground veal
* 1/2 pound ground pork
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
* 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
* salt and ground black pepper to taste
* 2 cups stale Italian bread, crumbled
* 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
* 1 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
2. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add the water 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold it’s shape if rolled into meatballs. (I usually use about 1 1/4 cups of water). Shape into meatballs.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. (If your mixture is too wet, cover the meatballs while they are cooking so that they hold their shape better.)
4. Place cooked meatballs into Marinara Sauce and cook for 15 more minutes.

Everyone’s Favorite (Miso Soup!!!!)

October 15, 2008

INGREDIENTS:

* 2 teaspoons dashi granules
* 4 cups water
* 3 tablespoons miso paste
* 1 (8 ounce) package silken tofu, diced
* 2 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces

DIRECTIONS

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine dashi granules and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in the miso paste. Stir in tofu. Separate the layers of the green onions, and add them to the soup. Simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Wings From The Far East

October 15, 2008

INGREDIENTS:

* 3 pounds chicken wings
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1/4 cup fish sauce
* 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup minced garlic
* 3 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers
* 1/4 cup sliced red bell peppers

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl combine the broth, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, cornstarch and paprika. Set aside.
3. In a hot wok or skillet add the oil, garlic and chiles. Stir fry over high heat until the garlic turns slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the broth mixture and stir until it boils and is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep warm.
4. Place the chicken wings in a 10×15 inch baking dish and bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes (until browned and crisp). Turn occasionally. Drain off the fat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the wings to a platter and pour the garlic sauce mixture over them, mixing well. Garnish with red bell pepper strips if desired.

Mouth Watering Steak

October 15, 2008

Ingredients:

* 2 flat iron steaks, about 1 pound each
* 1/4 cup of dry red wine
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
* 1 teaspoon dry mustard
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:
Place flat iron steaks in a shallow baking dish. Season with salt. Combine marinade ingredients and pour onto meat, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat grill for medium high heat. Remove meat from dish and discard marinade. Place onto grill and cook for 5-7 minutes per side. When meat reaches desired doneness, remove from heat all let meat sit for 3 minutes before slicing.

Out Of This World Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!

October 15, 2008

Ingredients:
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons hot water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 cup chopped walnuts

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DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Creamy Squash Soup!

October 15, 2008

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 Granny Smith apples
1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth
3/4 cup water
1 12-ounce package frozen squash, thawed
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup milk

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sage; cook 3 minutes to soften. Reserve 1/4 of one apple for garnish; peel, core, and finely chop remaining apple. Add to onion mixture with broth and water; heat to simmering. Cook mixture, covered, 12 minutes.

Add squash and ginger to apple mixture; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.