Store-bought pizza dough pizza

Adapted from The Kitchn, makes 2 pizzas. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. store-bought dough, at room temperature for at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup (or 3 tbsp) of Rao’s Pizza Sauce, per pizza
  • 4 cloves of garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil
  • prosciutto
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and sautéed
  • handful of mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1 cup mozzarella di bufala, thinly sliced
  • handful of basil, torn
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • cornmeal or all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Set your oven to 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Defrost pizza dough on top of stove.
  2. Sautee raw toppings.
  3. Tear off a large piece of parchment paper roughly 12 inches long. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk with your hands and place it on the parchment. Use your hands to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling. Brush a thin film of olive oil on a baking sheet. 
  4. Pre-bake the crust for 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.
  5. Top the pizza. Spoon half of the sauce onto the center of the pizza and use the back of the spoon to spread it out to the edges. Pile on half of the toppings and half of the cheese.
  6. Bake the pizza right on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pizza. If using parchment, slide it out from under the pizza and discard. Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  7. Repeat making a second pizza with the remaining dough, cheese, and toppings.

Tips I came across on multiple websites:

Crust

  • Let the refrigerated dough sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or more before rolling.
  • Let the oven heat for at least half an hour before baking your pizzas. If you have a baking stone or steel, place it in the lower-middle part of your oven.
  • Set your oven to 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your comfort. You can make good pizza at 450ºF/232ºC. 
  • Flour a clean wood chopping board (if big enough) to use as a work surface.
  • Don’t roll out the dough — press out the edges to make a crust (don’t press the middle), then stretch with one hand and rotate with other hand, then toss from hand to hand. video
  • Cover the dough and give it a 10-minute break to relax the gluten, when needed.
  • Pizza size: no more than 10 inches/25 cm in diameter.
  • Use olive oil on the sheet, and on the edges before baking. Spread olive oil on both sides of the crust.
  • If you don’t have cornmeal, use Parchment paper. FYI: The paper catches on fire if it touches the heating element.

Sauce

  • Pre-bake the crust for 3-4 minutes before adding toppings.
  • Add enough sauce so that when you spread it, you can still see the dough underneath: 2-3 tbsp of sauce per pizza. Less is more!

Toppings

  • Preheat the oven; While you’re waiting, set up your toppings.
  • Pre-cook raw ingredients (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, meat, etc.)
  • Keep the toppings to just a handful at most. If you load homemade pizza down with a ton of toppings, it may take too long for the crust to cook.
  • For the cheese, use a low-moisture, whole milk mozzarella. If you want to use fresh mozzarella, drain it and pat it dry. 
  • If you plan to add some fresh arugula or herbs to your pizza, top the pizza with hand-torn basil after it’s out of the oven.

References: Good in the Simple, Garlic Delight, Pillsbury, The Kitchn

Next time I will try Brie, Sage, and Prosciutto toppings; or pesto in place of sauce and top with chicken, fresh tomato, and buffalo mozzarella. I would also try to make garlic knots (dough knotted together with garlic, parsley, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese). I forgot to defrost the dough ahead of time, so I followed this trick from Baking Kneads to wrap the oiled up put it in the oven at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (used the bread proofing setting) for one hour, then check if it is ready (risen to double its size). If it is not fully defrosted, back in the oven for 30 minutes. We used a baking sheet, not a pizza stone, and Parchment paper.

~Jessica

Scrambled eggs with prosciutto and mozzarella

Adapted from Cook Like Your Grandmother and Eating European

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of mozzarella, diced small
  • 1 slice of prosciutto, torn
  • 1 small onion, minced (I didn’t have, but used ½ a green bell pepper instead)
  • a pat of butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a non stick frying pan.
  2. Add vegetables and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add prosciutto and cook until a little bit crispy, another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Pour egg mixture over everything and cook until almost set.
  5. At the end add mozzarella cheese and cook it until the cheese melts.
  6. Serve immediately with a piece of fresh bread on a side.

I picked up some Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) which I love, especially slightly heated up. Using more eggs would have made a better base to hold everything together, but cooking for one! The Italian translation would be “Uova strapazzate con prosciutto crudo” — check out this video I found! Parsley would look good on this. I’ve been picking up $2 potted flowers ever since my aunt got me the holiday Poinsettia (which suffered from extreme cold migrating during winter break and lost 75% of its leaves and petals).

~Jessica

Herbed summer squash pasta bake

IMG_2707Adapted from smitten kitchen

Ingredients:
250 g De Cecco pasta
olive oil
3 summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
Juice of half a lemon
45 g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large or 5 skinny scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separate
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
25 g (3 tbsp) all-purpose flour
350 mL (1 1/2 cups) broth
thyme, oregano, salt and more pepper to taste
finely grated parmesan cheese
smoked Gouda, cubed small
chopped basil

Directions:
Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in a pan on medium-high, season with salt and pepper, and fry the zucchini for 10 minutes without burning, browning both sides. Remove, and sprinkle the squash with some lemon juice. Melt butter in the pan on medium heat and fry the scallion whites and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the flour until absorbed by the butter. Slowly add the (milk) broth, incorporating each time you mix it together. Season with lemon, salt, and pepper. Simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and mix in all herbs. Season to taste. Add the gravy sauce to your baking dish. Add the pasta, squash, and cheeses. Stir to combine. Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown. Serve hot, topped with chopped basil.

I subbed broth for the whole milk and smoked Gouda for the mozzarella. It made the sauce a quite nice gravy, surprisingly. I also had two tomatoes and some reserved puree that needed to go somewhere so… Mystery pasta bake. Yum! In hindsight, however, this would have been super delicious without the addition of tomatoes, although Amber really didn’t mind them.

~Jessica

Pizza dough

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Dough
6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour

Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting workspace
1/2 pound torn-up buffalo mozzarella
Few leaves of torn-up basil (not in season here)

Poach the tomatoes in boiling water for one minute only, and then drain. Peel them once cooled. Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic, stirring for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir for another minute. Do not let the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon. Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste without burning your tongue. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

~Jessica

No-yeast pizza dough pizza

Adapted from the BBC Good Food

350 g flour
2 pinches of baking powder
pinch of salt and sugar
2 spoonfuls of olive oil
170-225 mL warm water

Mix the dry ingredients separately, then add in the water and olive oil. Combine until you form a ball. Let this sit in the fridge (preferably 4-5 hours), covered by a damp cloth, while you prepare the toppings.

Pre-cook your toppings (e.g. ham, mushrooms, artichokes, San Marzano tomatoes, onions, etc.) in some olive oil/butter, sliced onions, and minced garlic. Don’t overcook, as they will bake in the oven as well. Grate your cheese (mozzarella di bufala Campana, pecorino romano, scamorza, etc.).

Punch down the chilled dough, and roll flat (a wine bottle works here). Top with chopped tomatoes, then the vegetables. Brush olive oil on the crust. Bake at 200 deg C for 10 min, add the mozzarella (or other cheeses), then put back in for another 15-25 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

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~Jessica

P.S. Different Italian pizza types:

  • pizza napoletana
  • pizza alla marinara
  • pizza capricciosa
  • pizza pugliese
  • sfincione.

Fried tomato galette with corn and zucchini

Adapted from smitten kitchen

refrigerated puff pastry dough
15 ml olive oil
coarse sea salt
250 grams cherry or grape tomatoes
1 ear corn (I used canned)
1 small (225 g) zucchini and summer squash, diced
1 bundle (3 to 4 ounces or 85 to 115 g) scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (2 ounces or 55 g) grated parmesan
mozzarella
ricotta

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Saute tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes at high heat until they burst. Add zucchini and cook on medium until soft. Add corn and scallions and cook until done. Remove from heat. Preheat oven at 200 deg C. Add vegetables onto puff pastry with the cheeses. Pleat edges and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve.

Happy Earth Day!

~Jessica

Baked ziti, in a manner of speaking

Adapted from smitten kitchen

Glug of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, minced
125 g turkey strips
500 g can of crushed tomatoes
pinch of dried oregano
Red pepper flakes, to taste
450 g pasta, cooked al dente and drained
220 g mozzarella, coarsely grated
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
100 g frozen spinach
To serve: Dollops of your favorite ricotta and slivers of basil leaves =)

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I used fettuccine instead of ziti, and added a bit of chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms, for nutrition.

Preheat oven to 225 deg C. Cook pasta until al dente (at least 2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time). Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. Coat with glug of olive oil, and heat oil. Add the protein of your choice and cook with onion, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and salt over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes or until meat is browned; stir frequently. Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. If it’s become quite thick, stir in reserved pasta water. Add spinach and cook until wilted, ~1 minute.

You can either 1) layer or 2) mix the pasta together, casserole-like, before baking. If 1) coat drained pasta in a little olive oil so they don’t stick. Ladle sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, then layer of pasta, another layer sauce, then mozzarella and ricotta, another layer of pasta, add the remaining sauce, and top with remaining cheeses, including Parmigiano.

If 2) Stir in drained pasta and heat together for one minute. Pour half of pasta mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish, lasagna pan, or other 3-quart baking vessel (or divide among smaller ones, if you’d like to freeze some off). Sprinkle with half of each cheese. Pour remaining pasta and sauce over, and finish with remaining cheese. Bake in heated oven for 30 minutes.

~Jessica

P.S. Feel free to cook in some bell peppers, a la Simply Recipes.

Roasted peppers with capers and mozzarella

Such a classic, authentic recipe.

Adapted from smitten kitchen

To marinate overnight:
6 bell peppers (if you can get a mix of colors, go for it)
splash of red wine vinegar
Salt, to taste
1 clove of garlic, minced

Roast at 200 deg C for 1 hour, rotating every 15 minutes. Let cool. Remove skins. Slice into strips. Toss with the vinegar, garlic, and salt. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve:
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 glugs of extra-virgin olive oil
2 spoonfuls of capers, drained
some flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
1/2 pound ball of mozzarella, sliced (use the really fresh stuff, if you can get it =)

IMAG3617.jpgEat with crusty bread and a glass of red wine.

~Jessica

Zucchini and ricotta galette

My favorite savory tart of all. Adapted from smitten kitchen

1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
250 g ricotta cheese
some grated Parmesan cheese
220 g shredded mozzarella
some slivered basil leaves

That’s right. Three beautiful cheeses. I think the ricotta and a good fresh mozzarella are what really do it for me.

IMAG3082

Sorry no finished photo — ate it too quickly!

~Jessica