Archive for the ‘Pizza Goon Videos’ Category

Phyllis

First, I do recognize that the term “fanatic” should never follow the words “kind-of,” or “probably kind-of” in any given sentence. These qualifiers, or quantifiers of the degree of fanatisism are a way to leave an “out” or a quick stage-left exit for the person extolling these virtues of being a fanatic. Using this terminology is probably, kind-of wimpy on their part because either you are a fanatic or you are not.

Now, with that messy paragraph over with, I will say that I am infatuated with making ciabatta. I love push the limits of hydration, natural levening, pre-ferments and flours to produce the perfect cell-structure under the crunchiest crust and yank as much of the wheat taste out of the loaf as possible. I guess that makes me a ciabatta fanatic.

I think I’ve  read every book on the subject of ciabatta and all the recipes seem as different as the bakers themselves!  This is why a year ago, I decided to go my own way, take the ciabatta path less travelled, beat the bushes and mix the dough my way and then NEVER WRITE IT DOWN! This may sound utterly insane to the nitpicky and anal-retentive bakers and thier weight-based percentages but isn’t insanity approximately 84 percent of fanatisism?

           

I made the above mushroom pizza with a DOP Montasio cheese and porcini/white truffle pudding with my ciabatta dough fortified to a lesser hydration with some more high-protein flour, (left). My spinach, English Stilton and red pear schiacciata was rendered the same way, (right).

This weekend I kind-of came to the conclusion that my ciabatta fanatisism is deeply rooted in experimental lack of knowledge instead of the tried and true path of absolute, documented knowledge, (the latter path usually begins with; “never…” or “don’t…”). I still don’t understand why some bakers stick to thier mixing and baking routines in such tight parameters. Isn’t that freakin’ boring? Why not just do it by feel? What would the world be like without ugly people and animals?…freakin’ boring!

So I am here to tell anyone who is listening; To hell with negativity, measurments and conjecture, I’m just gonna feel the dough. 

My ciabatta now talks to me in different ways every week when I cut into it. Either with a whimper saying, “I coulda been a contender…” or shouted out with a, “You a badass ciabatta man John!”

Doing bread and pizza dough by knowledged-based feel instead of recipe is so much more exciting because it’s about creation dude!

Crazy huh? Well here’s Phyllis, the ciabatta.

 

Cool Pizzas and Breads in February

Yea, it’s cold standing in a giant parking lot in February but as I monitored the weather channels over the past few days, I saw a window of opportunity this Saturday to bake some killer breads and pizza variants. I made the pan pizza (above) that was my ode to a pizza I saw at the Campo di Fiori in Rome, Italy. This pizza carried sliced zucchini and Peruvian purple potatoes tossed in egg and Parmesano and baked on a wonderfully creamy and crunchy Sicilian-style dough with an aged mozzarella and provolone.  The best part was the creamy Bellwether Farms Crescenza, from Sonoma County, California.  In spite of the cold weather, we sold out in a few hours. Thank you sunshine, farmer’s market customers, Avalanche General Manager Joel Fair, the staff and Laura for hanging out in the cold.

    

I recognize that my culinary efforts sometime skirt the realm of madness but I ignore it because the Italian kimchi I made (top left) was the BOMB! Just like Korean kimchi, I used the traditional combo of fish, garlic and chilies. My creation consisted of napa cabbage, roasted garlic, lemon zest, sun-dried tomato pesto, anchovies ground into a paste,  some excellent imported Calabrian chilies and oil for a great zing. I used King Family pork to make some fabulous meatballs (above middle) with chopped garlic, pizza cornicione breadcrumbs, red onion, rosemary, fennel seed, fresh basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I made a a poolish on Tuesday of almost 100% hydration that spent the night in my mixer. On Wednsday morning, I mixed a Bianca dough with a high protein flour and 70% hydration using the autolyse method. See the gluten net as I tested the window pane (photo above right).

 

You may think this is high-maintenance but the glorious pizza these maddening combinations produced was spectacular! The Bianca dough came out great (above left) and I topped the dough with aged provolone and mozzarella, the Italian kimchi, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella for a big OMG! The pizzas sold out incredibly fast (above right). Man, you should’ve smelled these bad boys as they popped out!

 

Along with the above monstrosity, I had time to put together my favorite combo: Gruyere cheese and curry (above left). I roasted onions with curry powder and then added raisins to re-hydrate. I used a 16-ounce schiacciata dough topped with fresh spinach, the curry mix and imported Gruyere! Holy Moly is all I can say. I also made a smaller but equally potent schiacciata with a harder dough called “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Swiss” (above right). Ironically, this had absolutly no cheese made in Switzerland. The Finlandia Swiss and the stronger French Emmental paired with local ham, bacon and some shaved imported Serrano ham I just picked up.

  

The breads I made included the massive Flintstone Wheel (a Tortano-style uber-couronne, photo top left), my lebanese Barbari using local Amish spelt from Shagbark Milling and Seed with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and toasted cumin seeds (shown in the middle), and the sea salt and herb fougasse with extra virgin olive oil (above left).

  

I just love making ciabatta loaves! This weekend we made some large loaves (left) with a local spelt couronne studded with cherry and walnut. We also made a small ciabatta (middle) into two types of sandwiches: the first an imported Serrano ham from Spain with arugula, pistachio pesto, tomato and imported brie, and the second a Caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato. I especially love looking at the crumb on ciabatta because of the irregular cells and the shiny gluten strands that indicate a killer loaf!

  

Last but not least is the always popular Leek-a-choke fougasse (above left) with leeks, artichoke and parmesan cheese. A very special fougasse I made this weekend included a Thai-inspired flair (above middle) and included pad Thai, roasted napa cabbage integrated with local peppered bacon, pickled local Amish daikon and tons of black and white sesame seeds. As the fougasse rested, I topped it with a four-month-old curried kimchi that I marinated in a Thai peanut sauce for three days. Man, talk about FLAVOR in capital letters!

Anyway, if you’re still with me and my mania, check out this video before the market at set-up time. I screwed up some introductions like saying ‘Fiore del campo” instead of Campo del Fiore and some other stuff but that’s what you get when an old man bakes all night. For those of you wondering, yes: my hands are sanitized.