Posts Tagged ‘fresh mozzarella’

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!

Junior Chefs School and “Pasta-goon”

Just a few weeks ago, my uber-chef (and General Manager of Avalanche Pizza) Joel Fair and I enjoyed a hot afternoon at Junior Chefs School run by the fabulous Sarah Conley-Warbler and Kip Parker, manager of the Athens Farmers Market. This is a monthly school set up for local kids to learn from different chefs in the area (and even from pizza guys.)  Our target on this day was pasta, or as I like to call it “Eggy pizza dough that takes a dip in a Turkish bath.” (That tagline hasn’t quite caught on yet.)

First we made a well of of ONE CUP OF FLOUR AND CRACKED TWO EGGS IN IT.

We had made some examples of pasta including Taglioline, gargonelli, fettucini, squid ink and saffron carmelli, Rigatoni etc.

These kids were great learners and wonderful to work with. They caught on beautifully and, with the direction of Sarah, mastered the art of pasta.


 Then we passed the pasta dough through an Italian Pasta Machine to make it thin.

Cutting the pasta into Linguine and Fettuchini was done with the pasta machine and a Ciatarra, an italian metal-stringed intrument especially designed for making pasta.

That’s the ciatarra at the bottom of the above picture.

 Some junior chefs made some very long fettuchini that stretched almost three feet long.

 We were ready with food to add to our fresh pasta like (Clockwise from left) Integration Acres goat feta, local pattypan squash, local Bordeaux spinach from Rich Organic Gardens, imported Parmigiano Reggiano and at the bottom some Bottarga di Muggine, or salted and flattened grey mullet roe from Sardinia which tastes just like Beluga Caviar and is heaven atop pasta.

 Local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil was the favorite with extra virgin olive oil and salt.


 Thanks to Kip Parker and his pasta rig,  we were able to cook a tremendous amount of pasta “ala minute.”

 The kids ate so much, Joel and I had to scramble to make more for the vendors at the market.

 It was so rewarding to see the abundant smiles of the self-made pasta makers as they slurped away. Thank you Sarah Conley, Kip Parker and all the Junior Chefs.

This kids pasta recipe is simple,  straightfoward, easy to remember and it works!

1 cup flour  (with a little more reserved on the side)

Two eggs

Pinch salt

Make a well in the middle of the pile of flour on a strong, smooth countertop. Add salt. Break the eggs into the well and using the fingertips of your best hand (hand #1), break the yolks and mix with the whites and circle the fingers slowly in a small circle. Using the other hand like a “Karate Chop” (hand #2) or a dough scraper push little amounts of the flour into the middle of the well and keep mixing around and around with fingers of hand #1.


Keep going around in a small circle in the middle of the well and incorporating the flour with the help of the Karate hand. Use the Karate (#2) to keep all the flour in a small an area as possible.

Take your time as the flour and dough will seem to not combine. Keep going pushing the flour and dough together, as the chunk gets harder use hand #1 to grip the mass like a baseball and squeeze, then push against the table picking up all the loose flour.  Take both  hands and rub together slowly to drop all the loose pasta and push into the ball.

The pasta should be formed in a hocky puck so keep folding the dough over and over. If it is too dry add a very small amount of water, if too wet add small amount of flour.

Once hocky puck is formed put it in saran wrap for at least 30 minutes to let the gluten strands rest.

After it has rested, it is time to roll the dough with a pasta roller of with a rolling pin.