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Archive for May, 2011

We recently had another great cooking class at the store. Our friend and great teacher, Steve Boss taught us how to make pizza dough and pizza sauce as well as tricks for getting the best results. We also played around with lots of different topping ideas.

Steve spreads his “little bit longer sauce” over a partially baked crust…

Steve squeezing roasted garlic on a pizza crust…

Here is a pizza margherita (minus the fresh basil) hot out of the oven! The crust was nice and crispy, slightly charred underneath.

Boss Style Pizza:

makes 6, 10″ crusts

1 c. semolina flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. farro flour

1/2 packet of yeast (3.5 grams)

a big pinch of salt

1 1/2 c. warm water, between 120-130*F

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the water and using your hands or a polish dough whisk mix the dough until it gathers into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 7-10 minutes.

Lightly oil a clean mixing bowl and place the ball of dough in it. Cover with a cloth at let it rise in a warm location for 1-2 hours.

When Steve is making pizza for a large group, he likes to pre bake the crusts. This is how he does it…

Divide the dough into six pieces and roll out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Bake in a 450*F oven for 1-2 minutes, until the dough begins to rise. Let cool. If you are going to be using them the same day, set them aside in a stack leaving the parchement between each crust. If you aren’t going to use them the same day, wrap them really well so they are airtight, they can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a few weeks.

Quick Sauce:

Lightly pulse a 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes. Add a little salt and a little sugar (if necessary.)

A Little Bit Longer Sauce:

Prepare the “Quick Sacue” and add:

1 Tbsp. salt packed capers, rinsed

dried oregano

dried thyme

fresh pepper

1/4 c. grated parmesan

4 cloves roasted garlic

Simmer on low for about an hour.

To assemble the pizza:

Place a pre-baked crust on a pizza peel and rub a touch of olive oil on it, spread a thin layer of sauce on it, add topping of choice and cheese. Bake on a pre-heated pizza stone in an oven set as high as it can go. As every oven is different, I would recommend checking it after 5 minutes. Check the bottom of the crust to make sure it has some nice dark spots. Remove with pizza peel. Slice and serve.

Topping ideas:

-fresh arugula (after baking)

-capers and olives

-roasted garlic and rosemary

-feta, olives, and artichoke hearts

-roasted red peppers

-fresh basil (after baking)

- just tomato sauce (pizza marinara)

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After a week of cool and cloudy weather the sun finally came out this weekend which means that our asparagus patch took off! I went outside and harvested several pounds of tender spears.

Tonight for dinner I made myself a very simple and delicious meal. I took two sheets of feuille de brik (a Tunisian phyllo dough-like pastry) and brushed them each with a little melted butter and olive oil.  I selected several spears sliced them and sautéed them in a little water and butter.

I divided the asparagus amongst the two sheets, I then added some Prairie Breeze cheese (a local cheddar) to one and an egg to the other.

I folded them up and placed them in a hot frying pan. When they were almost finished I popped them in the oven under the broiler for a minute or so to get them extra crispy. I also made myself a very simple salad of feta cheese and sweet peppers.

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Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be able to make candied violets that end up looking presentable; although I am not completely there, I am at least getting closer. My backyard is full of  violets so the other day I went outside with a little basket and collected some of the prettiest ones.

I made a simple syrup 2:1 sugar and water and added a little rose-water to it to enhance the flavor. I pounded some sugar in my mortar and pestle so it was “superfine” and then began to candy the violets. I dipped each flower in the syrup…

…carefully opened the blossom back up with a fine paintbrush, and sprinkled them with the superfine sugar – being careful to coat the front and back of the flowers. I placed the flowers on a sheet of waxed paper to dry. They have been drying for a day now and are still a little moist. I am hoping that when all is done, they won’t crumble.

I also am in the process of making a bunch of marzipan roses. Yesterday at the store I got some almond paste (which I prefer over marzipan because it is less sweet) and some natural food coloring, made from beets. I added the red coloring to the almond paste until it was the shade of pink I was going for. I took a small portion of the almond paste, rolled in to a log and covered the rest with plastic wrap so it wouldn’t dry out. I sliced off 6 small pieces and rolled them into little balls.

I then gently flattened them out with one end of the disc thinner than the other. I found the having a little bowl of water nearby to rinse my fingers every once in a while helped keep the “petals” from sticking to my fingers.

When all 6 petals were ready, I started rolling them together with the thinner end at the base of the blossom.

Overlay two petals and begin to roll them up, add a third petal and roll a little more, repeat until all the petals have been incorporated. (These pictures were taken in low light, I apologize for the poor quality but they should give you an idea of how to put the petals together.)

You can trim the end at an angle to help the flower sit upright.

Both types of flowers make great decorations, especially for cakes.

(Note: As long as the marzipan is stored in an air tight container you can make the flowers in advance. They are very simple to make but they do take quite a bit of time so plan ahead, maybe recruit some helpers if you need a lot.)

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