Archive for the ‘Pizza Goon Videos’ Category

Winter Wonderland of Baking

 

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Sometimes inspiration comes at the weirdest times. This last weekend, I decided to bake my ass off again just to ward off the winter doldrums. The weather was forecast to rise to a whopping forty degrees which in Ohio terms is beach weather.  During the week, I foraged for all the fodder I would need to make some great pizzas and breads. Joel Fair and Torrey Evans got the ball rolling to make some killer dough for the Athens Farmers Market and at eleven on Friday night the baking began.

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First order of business was to collect all the frozen chilies that were thrust upon me from various farmers this summer. This is a moment of the greatest questioning in my pizzeria; “Does this look like a Ghost or a Hab?” says I. “I don’t know?” says Torrey. “Fuck it, how’s about I toss six of dem in this mix?” says I. “Sounds good to me.” Torrey responds laughing and shaking his head, (He is my ‘hot-as-hell-sauce-taste-tester’.) This weeks ‘Beelzebub’ pizza had the following chilies in the sauce: Paper Lantern, Fatalli, Red Habenero, Pickled Jalepeno, Red Jalepeno, Green Ancho and those lovely little Ghosties swimming in our organic tomato sauce with roasted garlic and a little red onion. Then I blasted out some thin pizza crust and topped the pizza with some Asiago Cheese and a few pickled cayenne peppers.

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This week I was also particularly proud not only of the fabulous local spelt dough that Torrey made but that I could use it to make some fabulous vegan Napoletana pizzas. Here I topped the spelt with filets of San Marzano tomatoes, (DOP), fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, Trapani sea salt and a vegan mozzarella cheese that I have been working on for a very, long time. I baked these babies at 650 degrees. (You know you’re a pizza psycho when you just stare at the melt from any given cheese…like I did all weekend!)

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On the same spelt crust (Grown only 20 miles away and milled in our town by Shagbark Milling) I spread a bright San Marzano sauce then made a spoke with local polenta with pine nuts. This was finished off with another pickled pepper and local arugula from Green Edge Gardens. (Upper left). On the right I made a Cornetta with fresh spinach, curry-roasted cauliflower with macerated cashews and macadamia nuts and finished off with vegan mozzarella and roasted red peppers.

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I also made my favorite. I call it a “Scaletta” with ciabatta dough in which I slice and impregnated with Calabrian Chilies, Castelvetrano olives and local King Family Bacon.

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And last but not least, was a Turkish style Pide made with local spelt that was topped with a roasted garlic pudding, roasted leek and then local Yukon gold and rose potatoes.

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So, along with some killer sourdough boule, mushroom schiacciata, baguette and several types of fougasse, we were off to the races. Below is a video of our repertoire. I may seem a little out of it because I had to set everything up in 20 degree weather grumbling the whole while about my lousy little baking life…which I love!

 

 

 

 

To Kill a Mockingcurd

 

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It’s a simple fact that fresh Mozzarella is the number-one melting paradise on any pizza. In fact, mozzarella is to pizza what leprosy is to diseases…or Jack the Ripper is to serial killers, bad analogies? Maybe, but using cheese that you have fabricated with your own hands shouldn’t be a scary task.

Melting mozzarella from curd takes the seemingly simple endeavor of making a pizza to the next culinary level.  This old-school method is seldom used in these days of corporate cheese manufacturing but taking the time to craft mozzarella makes a pizza very personal. This is the level of the long-ago craftsman who took pride and responsibility in cooking and operated with the gratification that every aspect of their pizza was simple and perfect!

There is a big difference between making fresh mozzarella and using pre-made mozzarella. The melt on any pizza is more buttery with a tinge of yellow you can’t get with corporate mozzarella which tends to leach out a milky sputum over a pizza when cooked with high heat.

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Now, it seems as though everyone has their own method to melt mozzarella from fresh curd but I rely on what an old Italian guy named Giuseppe showed me on the cliffs of Positano, Italy in 2011. It is a simple and straightforward way whose only tenant is, “Be patient, let the curd melt itself”. This has worked for me, so I stick with it.

Some mozzarella-melters take the slow method of heating the curd with hotter and hotter water while pulling and stretching over and over. I use a simpler method of holding smallish pieces on my pizza ovens until just warmer than room temp, (78-85 degrees) then pouring the hot, salty water over them as you can see in this video.

And here’s the Pizza I made with this mozzarella. Please forgive the abruptness of the starts and finishes, we were in the middle of service at the time.

I hope you get the time to make fresh mozzarella. It’s a great experience!