This Curds for You – Making Fresh Mozzarella

So you know how you’ve been futzing over tiny changes in your pizza dough? Or maybe you’ve been looking for that certain something to brighten up your pizza sauce and because it might be a bit dull right now? Well forget that – you’ve stend plenty of time worrying about dough and sauce, but how many sleepless nights have you spent worrying about how fresh your cheese is?? My guess would be less than you would care to admit. Here are two mozzarella making videos that will get you started on a whole new level of “pizza obsession”… whatever that is.

Enjoy!

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White Pizza from the New York Times

Winter Squash, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza (from the NY Times)

This flavorful autumnal pie uses winter squash purée as the pizza topping; the purée is spread like a sauce on the crust. You can find puréed winter squash (sometimes labeled as “puréed acorn squash” or “puréed butternut squash”) in the freezer section of most markets — thaw according to the package instructions before using.

  • Yellow cornmeal to dust the pizza stone (or nonstick spray to grease the baking sheet)
  • 1 pound fresh dough (from a pizza shop) or a frozen dough, thawed; or prebaked pizza crust – Or even better, try making your own dough!
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved through the stem, then thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup frozen winter squash purée, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano or pecorino, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts

1. Preheat pizza stone or oven. If using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes; if using a pizza tray or a large baking sheet, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Prepare the crust. If you’re using fresh dough on a pizza stone, dust a pizza peel lightly with cornmeal. Add the dough and form it into a large circle by dimpling it with your fingertips. Pick it up and shape it by slowly turning it by its edge, stretching that edge all the while, until the circle is about 14 inches in diameter. Set it cornmeal side down on the peel.

To use fresh dough on a pizza tray or a large baking sheet, grease the tray or baking sheet lightly with nonstick spray. Lay the dough on the baking sheet and dimple it with your fingertips — then pull and press it until it forms a circle about 14 inches in diameter on the pizza tray or a 12-by-7-inch, somewhat irregular rectangle on the baking sheet. If you’re using a prebaked crust, place it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or on a greased pizza tray or a large baking sheet.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the onion slices, reduce the heat to very low, and cook, stirring often, until soft, golden and very sweet, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, stir the squash purée, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until uniform. Spread this mixture evenly over the prepared crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border at its edge.

5. Top with the caramelized onions, then sprinkle the finely grated cheese and pine nuts over the pie. Slide the pizza from the peel to the very hot stone, or place the pie on its tray or baking sheet with the pie either in the oven or on the section of the grill grate that’s not right over the heat source.

6. Bake or grill with the lid closed until the crust is golden and somewhat firm to the touch, perhaps even a little darkened on its bottom, 16 to 18 minutes. Check fresh dough occasionally to prick any air bubbles that may arise so you’ll have an even crust on the pie. Slip the peel back under the pie to get it off the stone, or set the pie on its tray or baking sheet with its pie on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing. If you want to make sure the crust stays crunchy, consider transferring the pie directly to the wire rack after a minute or so.

A Great Pizza Read – Recipes from a Pro

Recently I’ve purchased Peter Reinhart’s fabulous pizza book, American Pie, and let me tell you: best – pizza – book – ever! The book details Peter’s travels through Italy, New York, California, Chicago and other locations in search of his most favorite pizza in the whole world. The first half of the book is his tales of pizza travel. The second half of the book, however, is a giant pizza resource center wherein Peter tries to re-create all of the various pizzas he had across the world and shares his recipes and findings with you. This would be cool enough for me to pick up a copy, but then you consider that Peter is a professional baker AND recipe product developer and suddenly his collection of dough, sauce and toppings recipes seem like the Lost Arc of the Pizzanant! I guess what I’m trying to say is that Peter’s book was not only a mouthwatering good read, but also has become my #1 go-to guide for new dough and sauce recipes.

I wanted to share with you a recent recipe I made from his book, as well as some photos of the results. This dough was much different to work with than my dough that I usually make, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the flavors and texture (not to mention the great big bubbles that formed out on the crown of the pizza) were well worth the learning curve. I would highly recommend you go spend $15 and pick up this great resource!

Peter Reinhart’s Neo-Neapolitan Dough

The dough to use for making New-Haven-style pizza and/or pizzas in the style of Lombardi’s, Totonno’s, or Grimaldi’s. Makes a “thin, crisp crust with airy pockets in the crown”. Slightly sticky and may be tricky to work with. Requires high-gluten flour.

Makes 4 10 ounce dough balls ( but I like to make 13.3 ounce balls)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. With a big metal spoon, stir together all the ingredients in a 4-quart bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer until combined.
  2. Fit mixer with dough hook; mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until all the flour gathers to form a coarse ball.
  3. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix again on med-low speed for 2 more minutes, or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks just a little to the bottom.
  4. *If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful.
  5. The dough should pass the windowpane test—snip off a piece of dough and gently tugging and turning it, stretching it out until it forms a paper-thin, translucent membrane somewhere near the center; if dough does not form this membrane, it probably needs another minute or two of mixing).
  6. Immediately divided the dough into 4-equal portions; round each piece into a ball and brush or rub each ball with olive oil.
  7. Place each ball inside its own zip-lock freezer bag; let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator overnight or freeze any pieces you will not be using the next day.
  8. The next day, remove the balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll them out to take the chill off.

Results

Thai Peanut Pizza from Ryan (W)

My buddy Ryan was over the other night and introduced this awesome Thai Peanut Pizza. Here is his recipe and a few photos from the evening.

Ingredients:

  • mozzarella cheese
  • Goat Cheese
  • Thai Peanut sauce (I use San-J brand, but you can use any you like, or heck even get adventurous and make your own)
  • Spinach or Arugula
  • Carmelized Red Onions with Balsamic Vinegar
  • Peanuts
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Cilantro

Directions:

  • Carmelize the red onions with olive oil on low heat. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until translucent. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let cook into the onions.
  • Roll out pizza dough and spread a thin layer of the peanut sauce.
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of the mozzarella cheese. You will want to be able to see plenty of the sauce through the cheese.
  • Place the spinach or arugula leaves
  • Sprinkle red bell pepper slices
  • Place the carmelized red onions
  • Sprinkle peanuts
  • Place the cilantro
  • Hand pull pieces of the goat cheese and distribute over the top of the pizza.

Yeast-Free Pizza Dough – Pizza for Restricted Diets

I’ve recently found it necessary to explore yeast-free pizza dough and so I’d like to offer this recipe up as a jumping off point for those celiac disease or are taking Isoniazid. I would suggest using double-acting baking powder as all the chemical leavening may just leave this dough is you let it rest for any amount of time. If you use double-acting baking powder, you’ll get an initial boost of CO2 when the powder is first incorporated into the dough, but you’ll also get a second burst of gas when you apply the heat a couple days later.

  • 2 c. bread flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl or your stand mixer. Mix until everything has come together and looks like a rough dough. Then stop, cover the bowl with some plastic, and let sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, start that stand mixer a-mixin again and mix for 5-8 minutes. Then, you guessed it, stop the mixer and re-cover it – let it rest for another 20 minutes. Lastly, place the dough in the fridge and let sit for a day or so – pull it out an hour before baking and let the dough return to room temp. Make a pizza and place it in a 550+ oven for a short amount of time.

The only thing I’m unsure about here is the rest in the fridge. Normally this would give the yeast time to develop flavor and begin to convert the dough into yeast by-product (CO2) but in this case that won’t be happening. My theory is that a day-long rest in the fridge might still be nice for the overall texture of your dough, and if it went into the fridge as a tight, tough ball of dough, the rest should give the gluten network that has formed time to relax and slacken so you can spread/toss your dough more easily. I’ll report on my findings here.

Good luck – and good eats!

-Ryan

I found the proportions for the ingredients listed in this recipe here. Thanks!

The Number One (#1) Secret Ingredient in Pizza Dough – You May Not Like The Answer

For a long time, I was an impatient pizza chef. After all, a recipe that required almost a week to prepare sounded ludicrous! Who could plan their eating habits that far in advance, I wondered? Well my friends, you and I have to become those exact people if we are ever to reach our lofty pizzaiolo goals. Time, after all, is the number one secret ingredient in pizza dough.

There is no one bigger ingredient in a dough recipe that will affect the flavor and depth of your dough. Brand of flour, oil or no, salt or no… all of these options are minuscule compared to the choice you make when you prepare a dough half  an hour before you bake it.

I have found this one rule to be true for almost all home pizza making: If the recipe calls for two hours of rise time in between mixing and baking, place your dough in a covered bowl, place the bowl in the fridge, and leave it there for three to five days. If the recipe calls for twelve hours of rise time, place your dough in a covered bowl, place the bowl in the fridge, and leave it there for three to five days. A long, slow, cold rise time will do wonderful things to your dough. In fact, about a day or so into the rise, pull the dough and and punch it down – then place it back in the fridge of course. This will further develop the flavor and texture (not to mention redistribute the bubbles which have formed in your dough).

So there you have it. I know, it’s kind of a bummer. As you read this article, the spark went off in your head “How about pizza tonight!” But what you need to retrain yourself to think is this, “How about pizza five days from now??”

It’s time to start paying attention to time, the secret ingredient in all pizza dough.

You People Love Your White Pizza – What the Food Network Has to Offer

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few months of writing this blog and it is this: you people LOVE your white pizza! The top ten most searched terms on the blog, as well as search engine hits, all have “white pizza” somewhere in the search string. So what is up? What’s with the white pizza obsession? Are you purists who would rather eat pizza in its original state before tomatoes arrived in Italy? Are you all on some kooky new diet where you can’t eat any fruits or vegetables and instead are only eating carbs and dairy? Or is white pizza America’s hidden secret favorite pizza and I’m only just now arriving at the white pizza party? I’d love to hear what your reasons for loving white pizza are!

Anyhow, I thought since you are SO into white pizza, I’d start creating a few white pizza posts specifically for you. Here are a few of the “celebrity” chefs’ takes on white pizza. Many of these preparations call for “pizza dough” without really giving you any specifics. I’d like to humbly point you to this post which I believe is the best dough recipe I’ve tried so far. Enjoy the recipes, and as always, leave me some comments and let me know what you’d like to see next from In Search of the Perfect Pie.

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe Traditional White Pizza

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe Roasted Garlic White Pizza with Garlic Sauce

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe White Pizzas with Arugula

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe White Pizza with Alfredo Sauce

Picture of Traditional White Pizza Recipe Pizza Bianca

Yugon Gold Potato White Pizza

I saw a pizza episode of “The Best Thing I ever Ate” the other day and Alex Guarnaschelli said that her favorite pizza was the Five Points, yukon gold potato pizza. Well this sounded interesting and new, so I ran out and whipped up what I thought the pizza would be like – and let me tell you, it sounds super funky, but man oh MAN it was good! See recipe and photos to follow.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza Dough – I used this recipe.
  • Mozzarella – I used fresh mozz here, which I liked a lot, but the grocery store stuff would work too.
  • One Yukon Gold Potato
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic Salt – I used Chico Spice Garlic Powder, made right here in Chico.
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to as high as it will go. Slice your potato up into the thinnest possible slices you can. Using a mandoline would make this process a piece of cake, but all I had was a knife, so I cut slowly and carefully. Next, spread out your dough onto whatever pan, peel, or whatever you are going to use to bake the pizza. Use a silicone brush to brush on a thin layer of olive oil. Next, give the whole crust a light sprinkling of garlic salt and rosemary, and then crack a bit of fresh black pepper on top of the spices. Then, spread out the potatoes in concentric circles around the pie. Place your medallions of cheese down on top of the potatoes. Put a few dribbles of olive oil down on top of the pie and I like to brush on some more oil on the outer crust (and dash on some more garlic salt on there for a yummy finish to each slice).  Place it in the oven until you see some nice browning on the cheese and crust and that’s it! You’ve got yourself potato pizza my friend! Enjoy 🙂

Tony Gemignani’s Pizza Dough – Both a Tossing and a Tasty Champ

Just saw Tony Gemignani on an episode of “Will Work for Food” and I had to go search out his recipe. Not only am I looking for a more hearty dough to practice my stunt pizza tossing, but I wouldn’t be too disappointed if it were also an award winningly tasty dough as well. I have a dough ball rising as we speak, so I’ll get back to you with my success/failure.

UPDATE: This recipe has become my favorite dough recipe. It tops all of my sourdough experiments, which is a bit embarrassing to admit. Try it out – you won’t be sorry.

This recipe goes with Tony’s Hand-Tossed Pizza

Yield

Makes dough for 3 pizzas (Tony claims this makes two 14″ pizzas – I say it makes three minimum, but you may even be able to get four thin pizzas out of it.)

Ingredients

  • 1  package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1  cup  warm (90° to 100°) water – not tap water, filtered only please
  • 1  cup  ice-cold water – filtered
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  salt – sea salt might be a bad choice here because it sometimes contains minerals that aren’t water soluable
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • About 5 1/4 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour – This is important: USE HIGH GLUTEN OR BREAD FLOUR.

Preparation

i. Place your oven rack on the lowest height possible. Preheat your over to as hot as it will go. If you are using a pizza stone, put it in, then crank the oven up. Turn on your oven hook intake fan – it’s going to get hot.

1. In a small bowl, with a fork, stir yeast into warm water. Let stand until yeast is dissolved and you start to see little bubbles forming on top of the liquid, about 10 minutes.

2. In another bowl, mix cold water, sugar, and salt until dissolved; stir in oil.

3. Place 5 1/4 cups bread flour in your stand mixer with the dough hook. Stir the yeast mixture again with your fork to blend, then add all liquids to the flour. Beat with the dough hook on lowest speed until mixture comes together and is generally smooth – 4 to 5 minutes tops. If the dough isn’t completely uniform, don’t worry about it.

4. Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap, or even better, a clean, brand new shower cap, and let it rest for 20 minutes.

5. Uncover the bowl and start the mixer going again on its lowest setting for another 5-7 minutes. You should see the dough is much more smooth and elastic looking now.

6. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured board; cut in half. With floured hands, pick up one portion of dough; pull opposite edges together toward center and pinch to seal. Repeat all around circumference to form a smooth, tight ball. Place each portion in a large Tupperware container which will allow the dough ball to at least double. Squeeze out air and seal bag, allowing enough room for ball to double. Chill at least 10 hours or up to 2 days.

7. After two days have passed, you will probably see the dough pushing up against the sides of the container. to remove it, run your finger down along the side of the ball to release it from  the sides. Then, flip the container upside down and you should almost be able to let gravity pull the ball out on its own.

8. Place the ball of dough directly into a large mixing bowl or lipped tray full of regular AP flour and coat the whole outside of the ball with a light coating of flour. It’s ok if it seems like a lot of flour, it’s mostly going to come off when you start to toss it around 🙂 In fact, while the ball is in the flour, go ahead and start flattening it into a pancake sized disc. You need to finese this, because what you are wanting to do is not pop all the bubbles in the dough, but reather spread them to the outter edges of it so they form your crust. Starting at the center, slowly massage your dough down to somewhat of a flat shape. Now you are ready to spread your dough. Instead of trying to describe it, why not just watch video lessons on it here?

9. Once you have your pizza spread out, spread a light covering of sauce on, starting from the middle and working your way out. Two things about this: Use less sauce than you think you should. One serving ladel per pie should be about good. Also, try to put less sauce, as well as toppings, in the middle. This is where everything is going to try to pool in the oven, so don’t start it off too thick.

10. Top and slide in your hot hot oven. It should cook in roughly 5 minutes, depending on how how your oven can get. What I like to do when I am not cooking on a pizza stone, is to cook the pizza on a pan until it is JUST starting to brown the cheese, then slide it out of the pan and just cook it on the rack, right above the heating element. This dries out the bottom of the crust further and makes for a crunchier crust. One thing to be aware of – if the pizza looks ultra wet because there are a bunch of fresh veggies on there, or you spread it so thin you could read through it, chances are your pizza is not very structurally sound and wouldn’t support the toppings if you were to take it off the tray. Yet another reason to keep the topping sitch simple I suppose 🙂

Tossing tips:

The setup: Remove your watch and any rings you’re wearing. Place the dough slightly off-center on the palm of your throwing hand (generally, if you’re comfortable spinning the dough counterclockwise, use your right hand; for spinning clockwise, use your left). Make a fist with the other hand, knuckle side up, and place it under the dough, beside your throwing hand, to support the other side. Hold the dough parallel to the ground, between your waist and chest.

The release: Turn the palm of your throwing hand toward you, then quickly twist your hand outward and up to launch the dough into the air. Catch the round with both fists, knuckles up. Toss with fast, deliberate moves; if you’re tentative and slow, the dough will be more likely to flop over or droop. Don’t get discouraged! In our test kitchen, a little practice produced amazing results (and a lot of laughs).

This recipe was originally published here.

Enjoy Travis!

-Ryan

Mario Batali’s Pizza Dough – Wine and Honey Makes a Sweet Pie!

This was posted a year or two ago in the New York Times and I thought I would pass it along because I’ve never stumbled upon a recipe that used WINE in the dough! If there was ever a pizza dough that was perfect for me, it would be a dough where I pour a glass of wine for me, and a glass for the dough 🙂

  • Makes two pizzas
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ ounces yeast (1 yeast packet)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Method:

Combine wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt and olive oil and mix thoroughly. Start by adding 1 cup of flour and make a wet paste. Add remaining flour and incorporate.

Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead for 2 to 3 minutes.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for 45 minutes.