I thought about making a lasagna with a bechamel sauce to carry the cheese but went with ricotta instead. Why mess with a good thing? I mixed a couple of eggs with the ricotta, a package of chopped spinach, a little shredded mozzarella, and a fair handful of Parmesan. The tomato sauce was from a jar I canned last summer, with some crumbled and browned Italian sausage. I had a loaf of fresh mozzarella to layer over the top. Worked out nicely, had a good flavor, and this time I managed to wait a little while before I plated a serving so it held together better than my usual.We bought a set of these individual sized casseroles so I made a Mrs J sized portion for her. I like the looks of the dishes and I’m going to do a mac & cheese in them one of these days.
I went to the pantry and found a quart of last year’s tomato sauce for a pasta meat sauce. I made quite a bit, adding a big onion, several peppers from the patio garden, Italian sausage, lots of minced garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs. We had it on spaghetti for lunch, leaving plenty sauce for a supper dish. TaMara’s cast iron purchase made me do this in one of my skillets. This 10 incher is just big enough for 8 ounces of cooked rigatoni with sauce and some mozzarella we had leftover from yesterday’s pizza.I noticed that a couple of the recipes I looked at called for assembling the dish in individual sized casseroles but I don’t have anything suitable so I used the pan I had. I discovered why the mention of individual portions – you need a helper with scissors to cut the mozzarella strings when spooning the pasta into bowls!
I let my bread machine do the dough for this one while we were making a quick store run. I knew I wanted a thin crust so I made a half recipe from here. They were out of the mozzarella pearls I wanted so I made do with slices. The tomatoes are a grape variety that I halved and cored with a spoon to leave just the shell. I’m a big fan of what they would term “meat lover’s pizza” – several different meat toppings and mushrooms and olives and onions and on and on, but these minimalist types are really very good.I usually add the fresh basil after these come out of the oven so that it doesn’t turn black and crispy but I’ve seen them made that way, pretty sure there isn’t a rule about it.
The local Amish run store stocks a considerable selection of different flours and I took a chance on these two, not having much of a clue just what they were, exactly. The durum name rang a bell and I thought it might be useful in making pasta but the prairie gold meant nothing at all to me. Google to the rescue!
I didn’t have these in mind when I started looking around for a pizza dough recipe that proofs in the fridge overnight using just a little yeast, but when I came across this “Now or Later” recipe from King Arthur they seemed perfect. I went with 1-3/4 cups of the prairie gold and 1-1/4 cup of the durum. The mention of their pizza flavoring sent me on a separate track, trying to see if I could make something like it with ingredients on hand. I went with a half teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder, and a couple teaspoons of dried thyme. I let my machine mix it all, then placed it into a bowl, covered the dough with plastic, and left it overnight in the fridge.
After pulling from the refrigerator and letting it warm enough to be pliable it was stretched out into a baking tray, covered with plastic wrap and left to rise a little more before topping it, half with tomato sauce, ham, sausage, onion, pepper rings, and fresh mozzarella and half in the classic margherita style.The flours did give the dough a golden hue, and the pie tasted pretty good. I don’t know if the flour seasonings I added helped all that much but they sure didn’t hurt it any.
This is another one of those doughs that stayed out on the counter all night – two cups of bread flour, a quarter teaspoon of yeast, one cup of water, a wee pinch of salt and a sprinkle of sugar. I massaged it into place in my pizza pan and let it rise there for another hour then par baked it at 425 for five minutes. There isn’t a real sauce, per se, just some roasted grape tomatoes that I made last summer and then froze just for something like this. It also has bacon, thin sliced coppa, some ham, a caramelized onion, mozzarella, and some nice Parmesan grated over it at the table.
I’ll just pop these leftover slices into the freezer just like this and then seal the individual slices in vacuum bags, they make great grab-’em-and-go lunches for Mrs J when she heads out to the shelter.
So then, what to stuff these babies with was the question. There are many more recipes out there than I had peppers for so I stuck close to the basic recipe of tomatoes + meat + rice, after toying with one that featured an egg baked on the top. Maybe sometime…
I made two versions today, one with sauteed grape tomatoes and pancetta and the other with crumbled Italian sausage and roasted grape tomatoes. Don’t ask which is which in the photo, though if pressed I would say the pancetta variant is in the foreground. Both recipes combined the meat plus tomato with brown rice and shredded mozzarella. They baked at 400 for about 25 minutes, more shredded mozzarella added to the top during the last few minutes.I didn’t parboil the peppers, hoping they would turn out soft enough. I think they were just right. I cut the first pepper right down the middle but that resulted in a pair of pepper platters rather than two bowls so I ended up cutting about a third off of the remaining peppers and using the two thirds left for filling and baking. I opened a jar of my famous Awesome Sauce to pour into the bottom of the casserole. It was pretty thick and was looking to dry out and burn so I splashed a little water in there when the cheese topping went on. Both versions were tasty. Mrs J couldn’t pick a favorite, liking them both equally.
This year, the margherita pizza celebrates its 125th birthday. One of the world’s favourite foods was reputedly invented at a pizzeria nowadays known as Brandi (00 39 081 416 928;brandi.it) at Salita Sant Anna Di Palazzo 1-2 in the city’s Chiaia neighbourhood. In 1889, its pizzaiolo, Raffaele Esposito, and his wife, Maria Giovanna Brandi, were summoned to the nearby Capodimonte palace and asked to invent a pizza for the then-queen, Margherita.
(Via)I’m sure this crust is much too thick for a purist. I started the dough yesterday with 2 cups of bread flour and then added water to equal 65% of the weight of those 2 cups. I used a handy electronic kitchen scale to weigh the flour but I don’t remember now what that came to. Anyway, multiplied that by .65 to get the weight of the water I wanted. Add a scant 1/4 tsp of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to the liquid, plus a tablespoon of olive oil and stir into the flour. The dough was very wet so I only kneaded it a little and then plopped it into an oiled bowl and covered with plastic and a damp towel. It was left overnight to rise.I punched the dough down this morning and returned it to the bowl to continue proofing. Why the fuss with weighing the water and flour?
Hydration affects the process of bread building and the nature of the final result. Generally speaking, the more water in the dough, the more open the final bread’s crumb. Bread can also be classified according to three categories based on hydration: stiff, standard or rustic.
I rolled the dough out on a floured board and transferred it to my rimmed pan for baking, brushed the top with garlic oil, and distributed the toppings. This one got the traditional Margherita treatment with mozzarella and Roma tomatoes and went into a 500 oven until the crust and toppings got a nice color. Add the basil after the pie comes out of the oven or it will burn to a crisp.I like ground red pepper on my slices, along with fresh grated black pepper and salt. Drizzle more of the garlic oil over it and enjoy!