Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Italian Night

Ciao! It was Italian night in my kitchen last night.
For dinner, we had pasta with bolognese sauce and garlic toast (made with the last scraps of the olive herb loaf).

If I had thought about it on Monday, I could have started some focaccia, which is what I was really craving to go with dinner. The recipe I found said it takes about 10 hrs, so it obviously wasn't going to make it to the table in time. I decided to take a stab at it after dinner. I had to make a sponge (a mixture of yeast, honey, warm water, and flour) and let that sit in the fridge overnight. I also measured out the other ingredients that made for speedy assembly this morning. I'll post this recipe and pictures tomorrow.

Going along with the Italian theme, I made a double batch of pizza dough (makes 4 crusts), which is a must-have staple in my freezer. I divided the dough in 4 parts, and froze it in little oil coated ziplock bags. They defrost in about a day in the fridge and cook up in about 15 min, so with a little pre-planning I can have a speedy, homemade, and pretty tasty pizza.

Everyday Pizza Dough x2
(adapted from Jim Lehey's My Bread)

3 c whole wheat flour
4 c bread flour
5 t active dry yeast
1.5 t kosher salt
2 t sugar
2.5 - 3 c warm water (100° - 110° F)

Mix everything in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Dough should be sticky (start with 2.5 c and add water as needed). Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hrs.

A peak of the dough rising.

Divide in 4 parts. At this point, I usually freeze them in ziplocks coated with oil.

Pizza dough ready to be bagged up.

If you are ready to make pizza, take one part of the dough and spread it lengthwise on a heavy cookie sheet. Then spread out from the middle to the edges. I usually pull the dough up from the pan and spray the pan with some spray oil to keep it from sticking. If I spray the dough before I stretch it, it never spreads out all the way. Then top I top with my favorite toppings and bake in the oven preheated as high as it will go (mine goes to 550° F) till crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly, usually about 15 min.
If you are working with frozen dough, let it defrost over night in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 15 min before you handle it.

My mixing bowls are having a romantic Italian date. That's amore!
Mixing Bowl Date

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