January 24th, 2010

00 flour pizza

pizza again

we’ve made our own pizza several times before, each time a little differently. the first time, i was trying out my baking stones, and this past summer, we tried making pizza on the grill. each time, i was amazed at how easy the process went and how delicious the end result was. this time around, i had a secret weapon to make the pizza even better – 00 flour.

pizza again

the flour came from Kalustyan’s, a specialty foods store we visited in new york city. the place is basically a warehouse of spices, jams, mixes, olives and anything else you might have a hard time finding at your local supermarket. seriously, check out their website, and prepare to salivate.

pizza again

in italy, flour is classified by how finely it is ground, from most coarse (2) to most fine (00). the classifications go deeper (there are even myriad types of 00 flour to choose from in italy), but the general rule is that 00 is best for pizza and pasta. i wanted to try it out and see how it compared to ordinary all-purpose flour.

pizza again

everything i read about 00 flour before getting started assured me that it would extremely easy to use, which proved to be very true. the dough came together extremely quickly and cleanly, even as i mixed it with my bare hands. after a few rises, it was easy to shape into rough discs. handling the dough as little as possible results in a chewy, crispy crust, while overworking it gives you a dough that’s too dense and tough. luckily, these kept their shape without too much trouble.

pizza again

one of the biggest challenges of making pizza at home is getting the oven hot enough (most home ovens don’t reach 800 F). when the girl and i moved into our new place last summer, i was skeptical that the electric oven we would now be using would stand up to the gas oven we had become accustomed to previously. to the contrary, the electric oven has heated more quickly and evenly, and in the case of baking pizza, finally gave us the just blackened melty mozzarella cheese we wanted.

pizza again

here’s one with a pesto base, caramelized onions, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. these pictures are making me hungry again.

pizza again

this pizza (one of the favorites of the night) was topped with a bean salad, mexican cheese and cilantro. overall, the difference in taste between the 00 flour crust and the all-purpose flour crust (both recipes below) was pretty minimal. regardless, it still may be a fun idea to try again, either with a different 00 flour brand, or incorporating it into pasta rather than pizza.

pizza again

continue reading and get the recipe »




January 17th, 2010

baked egg

baked egg

when the girl and i moved in together this past summer, we knew we’d have some doubles of kitchen equipment, but it didn’t become apparent how bad it was until we filled two giant plastic storage bins with extra utensils, plates, pots, broiling pans, and stand mixers (to be fair, the two stand mixers we have actually both belong to me). despite the excess, we somehow keep finding kitchen “things” that we didn’t know we needed – like mini ramekins. until recently, i figured they were only good for a) crème brulée and b) filling with mise en place on cooking shows. it turns out you can also use them to make an incredibly simple, fast and delicious breakfast.

baked egg

you can see here the basic ingredients for a baked egg (ironically my mise en place is not in ramekins). the original recipe i found used some fresh herbs and cheese, but i quickly realized this was an opportunity for me to bring back an old tradition. you see, back in college, my roommates and i made a lot of chicken parmesan. when we finished breading and frying the chicken, the two things we were always left with were eggs and bread crumbs. so, while the cheese melted on the chicken, we scrambled the eggs with the leftover bread crumbs, dubbed it “breggs,” and ate it as an appetizer.

baked egg

this is sort of a grown-up version of breggs. it can be fun to customize each one with different toppings – but any topping that requires cooking should be cooked beforehand, as they’re only in the oven for a few minutes. if you make a baked egg just right, breaking through the crust will reveal a perfectly runny yolk. it’s a deceptively easy breakfast that looks elegant yet rustic and tastes completely delicious. what are you waiting for?

baked egg

continue reading and get the recipe »




January 5th, 2010

almost no-knead bread

almost no-knead bread

so, after another brief (ha!) hiatus, i’m back sharing my kitchen adventures. to be honest, besides being consumed by work this fall and winter, it took me a little while to get excited about baking again. planning time to bake, take pictures, and post took away some of the spontaneity and fun of it, but a few things have helped me get back on track lately. one, the girl got a new digital SLR, with which she has generously let me play. but two, more importantly, i spent a few days at my parent’s house for christmas, and i was reminded of the care my mom puts into the dozen plus varieties of cookies she makes for the holidays each year. she does it because she loves to bake, and she loves to see others enjoy her baking. it’s the reason i started blogging in the first place, and it’s re-inspired me. i feel privileged to share these photos and recipes and stories with all of you.

almost no-knead bread

so onto the bread. this is not the first time i’ve attempted no-knead bread, but it is the first time it’s actually come out right, and i have christopher kimball to thank for that. until just recently, the girl and i had 6 meager tv channels in our place, one of which was the truly awesome WETA “create” network which is nothing but PBS cooking and baking shows. every night, it was jacques pépin, julia child and, our favorite, america’s test kitchen.

almost no-knead bread

i was surprised to see their version of no-knead bread that, well, required some kneading. it also included a bit of beer, which got me interested. i decided to get back on the horse and whip up a batch. for the most part, it follows jim lahey’s original recipe, but the beer gives it a bit of flavor, and a tablespoon of vinegar helps stabilize the loaf. the ingredients still come together quickly and easily.

almost no-knead bread

almost no-knead bread

and like the original, the majority of the work is done overnight as the bread rises (8-18 hours).

almost no-knead bread

don’t mind me, just doing a quick knead, won’t be a sec.

almost no-knead bread

ok, all set.

almost no-knead bread

almost no-knead bread

i’ve learned that when the recipe tells you to score the bread, score it deep enough to really open up the dough. the idea is to direct where the bread will expand during the “oven spring” (when it first hits the heat of the oven and expands). i happen to have a bread scorer, but any sharp knife will do.

almost no-knead bread

this bread truly comes out best when baked in a dutch oven. it’s the best way to get the heat and steam needed for a good rise and the perfect crust. don’t be afraid of a deep, dark crust – bread baked in a home oven usually takes more time than in a commercial oven, because it’s harder to get the temperature high enough at home.

almost no-knead bread

almost no-knead bread

it’s amazing that a dough that takes all of 5 minutes to prepare could produce such a beautiful crumb and robust taste. it’s great by itself, or even better toasted with a little butter. if you’ve tried the original no-knead recipe (either with success or failure), it’s worth trying this one as well.

almost no-knead bread

continue reading and get the recipe »






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