Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last Night's Feed

I've still been practicing the Napoletan style pizza doughs, and last night we had some more.  There were a mixture of straight all-purpose doughs, and doughs with a splash of stone ground rye flour. The early pizzas were made with a Marinara style sauce, with a crushed Tomato Sauce base.  The extra elements to the sauce are garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, Red Wine Vinegar and salt. No surprises there.  We like using Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes. I needed to make more sauce to have enough for the night and the weekend, so I whipped up another batch.  This time I included a small amount of toasted fennel seeds.  Once toasted, I busted them up a bit in my blade coffee grinder before mixing them into the sauce.  I'm a fennel-loving freak, so I wouldn't always do this, but I did love the subtle licorice-like flavor result blending with the prominent garlic-basil.  It would be especially great, I think, with a more substantial Pizza Americana dough with more substantial toppings.

Here are a few shots of the a few results:

Paula's Pesto sauce with sliced potato:

Margherita Pizza (Vegan) - used Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella "cheese".  Viva Italia!

I've had a really great time making Napoletana-style pizzas.  These pizzas will always have a special place in my heart, and will likely be a household staple.  I only wish I had a wood-fired oven.  That said, I think I'm going to move foreward with some new styles of dough.  Not sure what I'll play with next: Romano, Foccacia, Neo-Neopolitan, New York Style, Americana, Deep Dish, Grilled.  I have my favorites in this list, but we'll see where my interest and spontaneity take me next.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wild Rice and Onion Loaves

I was on a roll yesterday.  Getting the pizza dough started made me want to keep going and have some tasty bread on hand.  This bread includes onions (I had plenty on hand) and the real treat is the wild rice: hand-harvested MN wild rice. 

The bread turned out very nice.  Quite fluffy and the onion is very aromatic.  I love my onion bagels in the morning, so this will be a nice change with hummus, veggie spread, or nayonaisse.  The bread gets nice and cripsy in the toaster for a morning treat!  I know I'll be through this bread long before I'm ready for it to disappear.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010: Year of the Pizza

In the "Peter Zodimack" calendar, the fermentation animal of 2010 will be the pizza.  I was fortunate enough to receive Peter Reinhart's book, American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, for Christmas from my girlfriend.  She knows me too well.  I tore through the journalistic "The Hunt" section recounting his search for the world's best pizza. Within the reading, I was particularly drawn to the idea of a pizzaiolo, the craft brewer of the pizza world, especially in the case of the most basic/treasured Napoletana-style pizza doughs with simple but rich and complementary toppings. A dedicated overseer and creator of these pizzas from conception to consumption serves the final products well, ensuring a consistent, high quality, and hand-crafted pizza. These kinds of basic pizzas (in a kind of Reinheitsgobot purity law of pizza, Napoletana pizza dough consists of only water, flour, yeast, salt - no enrichments) seem to be most tied to much earlier humans cooking their flatbreads from grown and harvested grains (wheat flour derived over 1,000s of years from basic prairie grasses) over a great technology of the time - fire.  The book includes lots of great dough recipes covering a wide variety of styles, with suggested variations.  I'm also very excited by the various, unique sauces and toppings. 

Starting right off in January, I'll be immersing myself in making pizzas, taking time with several styles of dough.  I want to get good and familiar with each dough, and will see the changes that various variables like flours, yeast doses, time and temperature make on the doughs.  I hope to come out the other side with some winners.  I'll also be getting creative with sauces and toppings, as my pizzas will not contain dairy or meat.  I believe this will make the journey all the more interesting, as many people simply default to cheese on pizza.  I aim to explore an alternative. Great pizza with creative, unique, complementary, balanced toppings.  I am sure it will take, thought, and much practice and experimentation.

The journey starts today.

Here's my basic Napoletana Dough before heading to the fridge for overnight, slow fermentation.

Here's dough #2 for the day, again the Napoletana dough with 1 TBSP stone-ground rye flour addition per cup total flour used:

Now, to pick out a topping to try....

A Pizza alla Marinara con Mozzarella (homemade)


Pizza alla Marinara with sliced Garlic and vegan Parmesan
(before the oven)

After the oven: