October 2013


OzPizza-02

Before embarking on my recipe for a Classic Pizza you need to make decisions on two ingredients. Both are easily omitted so use them or not, But they are like signature ingredients to me and I wouldn’t dream of making a pizza without them 🙂

Polenta (corn meal) on the tray:
Before putting rolled out dough onto your baking tray, sprinkle the ungreased surface with a light dusting of Polenta. The sandy texture does three things.
1.) Adds a texture to the crust base that used to identify a traditional Italian Pizza.
2.) Allows air-flow beneath the pizza that helps the crust bake more evenly.
3.) Creates a no-stick surface. Your pizza will slide right off the baked tray.

(If you elect not to use Polenta, rub your baking sheet sparingly with olive oil.)

Sea Salt in the dough:
I’m a huge fan of natural sea salt. I love the big chunky granules that need to be pummeled with mortar and pestle. One day I neglected to finish the pummeling and added the partially ground salt to the pizza flour by mistake. The result was unexpectedly delightful and I’ve since made it a part of my pizza bases and homemade breads.

Instead of the salt being evenly distributed in the dough you’ll find these tiny nuggets of salty flavour that periodically burst in your mouth, turning every bite into a virtual treasure hunt. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll quickly become addicted to the adventure!

(If you opt to use plain table salt, use ½ tsp less than the recipe calls for below.).

OzPizza-01

My Classic Pizza recipe is in two parts: The Sauce – made ahead of time and left to stand in the fridge and The Base – begun at least 1 ½ hours ahead of serving time.

The Sauce

Preface: About once per year, when tomatoes are the most plentiful and least expensive, I will indulge in a flat and make my own sauces from scratch, just the way Mama Sr. (a lovely Sicilian woman from New Jersey) taught me almost 50 years ago. Whole tomatoes, capsicum (bell pepper) red onion, brown sugar, paprika and dried parsley are all slow simmered for several hours before being emulsified with a speed stick and put into canning jars. Throughout the year, these jars become the bases for all my Italian sauces, from traditional spaghetti to sweet chilli, to my own version of homemade ketchup. But for this exercise I am using store-bought tomato paste, sold in Australia in 1 cup jars as opposed to the small, slender tins sold in the US. For this recipe, 1 jar of tomato paste would equal 3 US tins.

Note:  As a diabetic, I use only stone fruits as they are the lowest GI and only those brands that declare there is no added sugar But is sugar isn’t a concern, feel free to experiment.

Ingredients:
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup (aprox) juice from tin of stone-fruit (apricot, peach or mango)
1 tbsp each dried oregano, basil, parsley
1 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp each table salt and black pepper

Blend all ingredients (do not cook) and store in fridge until ready for use. Excess amounts will keep nicely in fridge or freezer. Depending on how much sauce you prefer on your pizza, this could yield enough pizza sauce for as many as 12-16 pizzas and last for several months.

 

The Base

Ingredients:
3-4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
¾ cups cold milk
¼ cup hot water
1 packet dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp partially-pummelled chunky sea salt (see above)
The Base Step 1

Add hot water to cold milk. (Result should yield tepid mixture. If not, adjust with either hot or cold water and pour off all but 1 cup.)

Whisk in sugar + dry yeast. Let stand 5 minutes (until yeast rises).

In large bowl, with your fingers, blend salt and 3 cups flour. Make a well and pour in milk/yeast mixture. Smoosh it all together into a loose pile. Drizzle a nice grade of olive oil (or grapeseed oil < my fav) in three long strokes across the top (think Zorro) and then seriously knead the lot. Add dustings of flour as needed (usually between ½ and ¾ cups total) until dough is no longer sticky and forms a nice firm ball. (Should take less than 5 minutes.)

Cover with clean cloth or paper towels and place in a dark, cool corner to rise for 1 hour. (It’s ok to fudge on the timing. Either side of an hour is fine as long as it’s risen some – and even letting it go for up to 2 hours is ok too – you’re only going to punch the air out of it anyway.)

The Base Step 2

When you’re ready to knead the dough again, stop and preheat your oven to 180c (375f) and prepare your baking sheets.

This recipe will make two rectangular pizzas the size of a standard cookie sheet. The crust is thin (like a New York Pizza) but will hold its shape. To make a thicker crust, either use all the dough to make one pizza, or make two small rounds. Your choice.

Either sprinkle a fine layer of Polenta on the trays or lightly oil with whatever oil you’re using in the dough mix.

Dust your rolling surface and knead dough ball for just a couple of minutes. (If you’re doing 2 pizzas, divide the dough ball in half. I use a kitchen scale but you can eyeball it.)  

The Base Step 3

Now get out the rolling pin and start stretching the first (or only) ball into shape. Flip the dough as you roll it out so the rolling action gets both sides of the dough. Just keep at it until the dough is the shape and size you’re after. Each time you flip the dough be sure to dust a tiny bit more flour onto the surface so it never sticks.

If you’re using the Polenta, lift the finished dough with both hands, (I’m short – the dough goes about halfway up my arms to to keep the dough from ripping) and then GENTLY lower it straight down (like a helicopter) onto the granules. Resist the urge to stretch the dough out to the edges of the tray as any mucking about will disrupt the evenness of your Polenta layer. You can, however, push and poke and stretch your dough on the oiled baking tray to your heart’s content!

The Pizza!

Assemble your toppings – anything goes but I always manage to come back to my old stand-by of chopped mushrooms, pineapple, Bermuda onion, black olives, salami and either ground beef or pork – grated Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese.

Spread sauce over the pizza dough leaving an inch at the very edge. I was taught to use a soup spoon for this process but I know some cooks use a spatula. No worries.

Add your toppings.

I hesitate to give a cooking time as I use an old oven that never cooks the same meal twice in the same time. But if I had to guess I would say around 20 minutes for the thinner crusted pizzas and maybe 5-10 minutes longer for the thicker crusts. This is just a guess – I start checking it at 15 minutes and then have a sticky beak every 5 minutes after that.

Mangia!
-Oz

Working on writing out that pizza recipe and this fell onto my FB page… had to stop and share!

Happy Halloween!

Blackheath fires

From the Gold Coast News FB page:
NSW STATE FIRE EMERGENCY

WOW! An amazing photo sent in from a resident in Katoomba on the road to Blackheath in NSW where the fires were raging this afternoon…INCREDIBLE image Annalise Wilson. Feel free to SHARE everyone…

Dale Sharpe
Weather Photographer
GOLD COAST – News, Events, Weather & Surf

I’ve uploaded the original photo (960×480) – click image to enlarge and get the full effect of this incredible photo. How frightening it must be in these areas. How small we humans are in comparison to the rest of the universe. This is by far the most humbling photo I’ve seen in a very, very long time. If ever.

Thought I would share this with you. My Facebook Family has come to expect this level of perfection from my cooking adventures and it didn’t seem fair to leave out my Blog Family. So the following is the true story (and recipe) of how I made Pizza for my husband last night – both of us with differing degrees of  broken right arms and each doing what we can to get a meal on the table. (He chopped the pineapple and mushrooms – I did the rest. His break is newer than mine and he’s male, elevating his injury to a rank way above mine. I’m letting him get away with this.  For now.)

Perfekt Pizza 3125

CREATING A PERFEKT PIZZA:

1. Take a nap. Oversleep.
2. Wake up nice and groggy and, using a tall glass, pour 1/4 cup hot water into a mix of 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 packet of dry yeast. Knock it over while replacing the kettle on its stand.
3. Start over.
4. Repeat making the yeast and hot water and milk. Once the glass is full knock it over again, this time backhanding it while putting the milk carton away.
5. Start over. This time manage to get all ingredients into the glass. Sneak out of the room (before the glass figures out you’ve gone and falls over just to mock you) and let the yeast rise. Sneak back in after 5 min and pour into 3 cups plain flour. Splash with olive oil (about three ribbons across the top) and knead until it forms a ball. Cover.
6. The dough needs time to rise so… go back to bed for an hour.
7. Wake up groggier than before. Place the dough on a floured rolling sheet. Knock table bin (brimming with veggie scraps) onto the floor. Make sure it sails across the entire room getting bits of food evenly spread on the lino.
8. Get all your toppings and sauce on the pizza dough. (Seen here are salami, pineapple, mushrooms and onions,) Realize the one thing you forgot to add to your shopping list was Mozzarella.
9. Scrounge thru the fridge to get enough cheese. Any cheese. Spot the container of Parmesan in the back of the fridge. It’s frozen, so shake the container really really hard. Don’t bother checking to see if the lid is all the way shut. The cloud of Parmesan cheese will add to the festivities and give your hair an authentic Italian look.
10. Half burn the pizza because you stopped to post your experience on Facebook and voila! Perfect homemade pizza! Every time!

Mangia!
-Oz

From Raw Story:

Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is working to change the law so he can mount a 2016 presidential run, according to a New York Post report.

The newspaper quotes unnamed sources who say the actor, who’s in New York City to promote his latest movie, “has been talking openly about working on getting the constitutional rules changed.”

The source said the 66-year-old Schwarzenegger, a Republican, intends to file the necessary paperwork to challenge the rules.

The U.S. Constitution forbids foreign-born citizens from holding the chief executive position, but some legal experts have said it’s not completely clear that courts would enforce the law instead of letting voters decide.

Constitutional amendments require two-thirds majority approval in both the House and the Senate and then must be ratified by at least 38 of the 50 states.

The Austrian-born Schwarzenegger, who became a U.S. citizen in 1983, said three years ago in a “Tonight Show” interview that he would run for president if the law were changed.

 

This part of the constitution is the ONLY thing standing between us and Ted Cruz! Don’t friggin’ change it now!!!

arnold-schwarzenegger-money-quote
Go make another movie or something!

 

Courtesy of Liberal America

 

unsupervised vagina

From the Daily Beast:

Hallelujah! The Senate on Wednesday reached a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling—and what’s more, House Speaker John Boehner is ready to push it forward in the House. There’s no indication at this point that Republicans will block it. The agreement funds the government through January 15, and raises the debt ceiling through February 7. A separate Senate motion is in the works to commit the two chambers to working on long-term revenue deal.

 

CNN has this video with Warren Buffet.

And Politicususa has the best news of all:

A new ABC News/Washington Post is putting more pressure on Republicans to surrender. The poll found that disapproval of the Republican handing of the crisis has reached a record high of 74%.

If last week’s finding that a record 70% of Americans disapproved of the Republican Party’s handing of the government shutdown/debt ceiling scared Republicans, this week’s numbers explain why Mitch McConnell is running to Harry Reid to make a deal. In two weeks, disapproval of the Republican handling of the situation has gone from 60%-74%. A whopping 54% strongly disapprove of the way Republicans are handling the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. Congressional Democrats have a 61% disapproval rating on the handling of the shutdown and debt ceiling, but they are in a much better position than the Republican colleagues.

The Republican Party’s plan to blame all of this on President Obama has failed miserably. It doesn’t matter how many times Republicans refer to “Obama’s shutdown.” The president’s polling remains virtually unchanged. Fifty percent disapproved of the president’s handling of the crisis last week. This week that number has risen three points to 53%. The American people are blaming all of Washington, but they are blaming Obama a whole lot less.

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