Monthly Archives: August 2013

Dough Ball Pizza

1 Dough Ball = 2 Thin Crust Pizzas or 3 Thinner Crust Pizzas

My friend Vino makes the best thin crust pizza – it’s crispy, bubbly and cheesy.  This summer I practiced Vino’s process of dividing a dough ball into smaller dough balls to create the desired “thinness”.  This recipe will make two or three pizzas, depending on your definition of thin.

Ingredients:

1 ball of pizza dough

1 box of Pomi strained tomatoes (or tomato puree if Pomi is not available)

Several colorful heirloom tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 package of mozzarella, grated

1 wedge of Gruyère cheese, grated

1 bunch of scallions, chopped

Fresh basil

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh ground black pepper

Sea salt

Like Vino, I buy dough balls at Serpes Bakery in Elsmere, Delaware.  If Serpes is not in your neighborhood, you should be able to find similar dough balls at your local Italian bakery.

Divide the dough ball into two or three pieces, and form the pieces into smaller balls.  Let these rise under a kitchen towel to three times their original size.  At this point, “punch” down the balls and use a floured rolling pin to roll out each ball into a round crust about 12 inches in diameter, incorporating flour and stretching the dough as you roll.  You can store these pizza crusts in the freezer for later use.  In fact, the crusts slide off the pizza peel more easily if they are frozen.

To make the marinara sauce for the pizza, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and three cloves of garlic in a pan over medium heat until the garlic is pale gold.  Add the strained tomatoes, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add some freshly chopped basil and stir with a wooden spoon.  Bring the sauce to a bubble and then turn down the heat to simmer.

Place a pizza stone on the grill or in the oven and preheat to about 550 to 600 degrees.  When the stone has reached the desired temperature, remove the crust from the freezer.  Place the crust on a pizza peel that has been dusted with flour to ensure that the pizza slides onto the stone.  Ladle sauce over the crust, then top with the mozzarella and chopped scallions.

Slide the pizza onto the stone and cook the thinner crust for about 5 minutes and the thicker crust for about 7 minutes.  The pizza is done when the crust is crisp, bubbled and browned.  Remove the pizza using the peel and place it in a large round platter to slice.

Repeat with the second crust, but top this pizza with sliced tomatoes and a combination of mozzarella and Gruyère as well as scallions.  If there is a third, consider a combination of sauce, mozzarella, Gruyère and any other cheese in your cheese drawer – Manchego, perhaps?

Crispy heirloom pizza

Crispy heirloom pizza

The Summer’s Best Tomatoes

Last weekend, Terrain at Styers – the nursery and oasis of home and garden gifts and artisinal food products – in Glen Mills, PA, held its annual Heirloom Tomato Festival.  There we found the most beautiful, tasty tomatoes of the summer.  Happy Cat Farm in Kennett Square, PA, offered baskets of cherry tomatoes of all colors, shapes and sizes.  Each variety has proven to have a distinct flavor – sweet, sour or tart.  Blue Moon Acres of Pennington, NJ, and Buckingham, PA, also traveled to the festival with its heirlooms and lettuces, including a microgreen sampler.  The salad du jour since the festival has been heirlooms and mozzarella topped with vibrant microgreens.  Check out Happy Cat Farm and Blue Moon Acres online to learn more about their products and how to visit.

Colorful heirloom tomatoes

Colorful heirloom tomatoes

Microgreen sampler

Peppery microgreen sampler

Toast Again??? Ideas for a Pullman Loaf of Brioche

I purchased a Pullman Loaf of brioche, the traditional French bread, at local bakery Black Lab Breads.  For several breakfasts, I enjoyed toasted slices of this sweet bread with French butter and raspberry jam, yet over half the loaf remained.  So, for a more decadent start to the day, I decided to make French Toast with fresh raspberries.  This recipe for Brioche French Toast is for six slices, but you can adjust the amounts accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of brioche about ¾ inch thick (use brioche that is 2 days old or toast the slices prior to making this recipe to prevent mushy French Toast)
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Butter

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the milk.  Mix in the cinnamon, lemon zest and vanilla.  Add several tablespoons of butter to a large non-stick frying pan or non-stick griddle on medium-high heat.  When the butter melts, dip each piece of brioche into the egg mixture and place in the pan or griddle.  Fry the brioche until both sides are golden brown.  Repeat for the remaining slices.

Serve with your choice of fresh berries and maple syrup or honey.  Making French Toast with brioche adds another dimension of sweetness to the dish – the bread itself is sweeter than regular bread and its airiness allows it to soak up more syrup.

DSCN3926

Buttery and Syrupy

The few inches of Pullman Loaf remaining after the French Toast were just enough to make croutons for a Caesar Salad.  To make brioche croutons, simply cut slices of brioche into cubes and place them on a tray or a piece of aluminum foil under the broiler, turning the cubes so that all sides become toasted.

Top your Caesar Salad with these sweet, crispy croutons…and stay tuned for my favorite Caesar Salad recipe.

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Sweet and Crispy

Summer at Sbraga

Check out my new article reviewing top Philly restaurant – Sbraga – on the Culinary Chronicles page.