Pizza Margherita

Michael McCollum 6/24/13 Margherita PizzaSimple is better. And this pizza is great! I first had this pizza in Napoli (Naples) on a tour. Our guide told us that Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita. This was later to be refuted, but not in Napoli!

This pizza goes well with a fine red wine, poor white wine, beer, or scotch, all depends what you have on hand.

Ingredients

Pizza Dough*
2 fresh tomatoes
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
6 garlic cloves
sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup Parmesan Cheese

¼ cup fresh cut basil

*Make your favorite pizza dough. Mine just happens to be the exact same recipe as the pre-made down at Trader Joe’s. So…..do I do ALL the work?
Again, I think not. Buy package and divide into two. You can make 2 skillet pizzas from one TJ package. If you want a scratch pizza dough recipe, my friend Maria sent me a great one. (Bottom of post)

Michael McCollum11/10/13Mix for Margherita Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread dough out in preheated 12 inch skillet. (heat skillet on top burner for one minute, wait a few more before spreading dough) Spread mozzarella cheese on dough. Peel, and chop garlic cloves, mix with coarse chopped tomatoes (big chunks, see photo) olive oil, add salt and pepper, mix, and spread on top of cheese. Bake in oven for 16 minutes. Remove from oven, add basil and Parmesan cheese. Let rest 2-3 minutes until Parmesan melts. Enjoy!

Word to the wise.
That skillet gets real hot, have a care when handling it!

PIZZA DOUGH
•    2 cups flour
•    1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
•    1 cup warm water
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    2 teaspoons white sugar
•    1 teaspoon salt
Blend yeast in water and add  the sugar and olive oil. Put 2 cups of flour in large glass or plastic bowl then add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork. , when the flour is wet then add your 1 tsp of salt.  (In Italy we say salt is added far away from the yeast)
When you have a ball you can put it out on your counter dusted with flour and begin to knead the dough until it is pliable and not sticky,  add flour if need be. (This should only take a few minutes) put back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in your oven with just the oven light on.  .   Let rise until double the size.

For Schiacciata
Take sheet pan and oil the bottom with olive oil (using your hands)  Then  with your fingers poke the dough to make dents.  Once you have done this drizzle ½ to ¾ cups olive oil letting oil go into dents and sprinkle salt on top.   Bake in 450° oven until brown
Buon appetito!

Ciao, Maria

 

American Pie Recipe

One of my family’s favorite recipes, handed down from generation to generation, is American Pie. This dessert pizza is not only a visual treat, but a gastronomical delight as well! The smell of freshly baked pizza wafting through your home will stir the appetites of the entire household.
Our forefathers first made this pizza just after the Revolutionary War, thus the circular shape of the stars in the original recipe of that time. We have traditionally baked this as an addition to our Fourth of July brunch, and it goes very well with a mimosa.
There were many early attempts to mass produce the American Pie pizza, but without the use of modern refrigeration, all were met with utter failure. The U.S. Postal Service has long discouraged mailing perishable items by mule, horseback or freight (with the exception of Christmas fruit cakes, which have a half life of 50,000 years).
With the advent of the Pony Express, the American Pie pizza could survive a two-day ride without too much dilapidation and loss or increase of flavor (increase in flavor is not good, far worse than loss).
Its popularity waned, and the recipe was almost lost to the ages. Now it is up to a hardy few culinary alchemists such as myself to carry on the American Pie tradition.
It’s as American as a mimosa!

American Pie Recipe
Ingredients
» Pizza dough (see note)
» 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
» 2 cups fresh strawberries
» 1 cup fresh blueberries
» 2-3 slices Monterey Jack cheese (or Swiss)
» 4 tablespoons sugar
» 1 mimosa
Instructions
Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
In a 12-inch skillet, spread pizza dough to edges. Add mozzarella cheese.
Slice strawberries in half, roll around in a little sugar for taste, and arrange as stripes on pizza.
Add blueberries to one quarter quadrant.
Cut Jack cheese into strips and a few small stars (or one big one) and set aside.
Bake in oven for 17 minutes. (15 if you use Maria’s recipe)
Remove from oven, remove from skillet, add “star(s)” on blueberry field. They will melt and keep basic shape.
As the strawberries may bleed a little (how patriotic!), slice more cheese into strips and add to top between strawberries, and let rest for at least four minutes.
Slice and serve with your mimosa!
Devour the American Pie immediately, as if it was the last pizza on Earth, for tomorrow it will look like that. Cooked strawberries do not appear as attractive on day two, and this pie is best eaten right out of the oven.
Note: Make your favorite pizza dough. Mine just happens to be the exact same recipe as the pre-made down at Trader Joe’s. So … do I do ALL the work?
I think not. Buy package and divide into two. You can make two skillet pizzas from one TJ’s package.

If you want a scratch pizza dough recipe, my friend Maria sent me a great one.

PIZZA DOUGH
•    2 cups flour
•    1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
•    1 cup warm water
•    2 tablespoons olive oil
•    2 teaspoons white sugar
•    1 teaspoon salt
Blend yeast in water and add  the sugar and olive oil. Put 2 cups of flour in large glass or plastic bowl then add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork. ,  when the flour is wet then add your  1 tsp of salt.  (In Italy we say salt is added far away from the yeast)
When you have a ball you can put it out on your counter dusted with flour and begin to knead the dough until  is pliable and not sticky,  add flour if need be. (This should only take a few minutes) put back into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in your oven with just the oven light on.  .   Let raise until double the size.

For Schiacciata
Take sheet pan and oil the bottom with olive oil (using your hands)  Then  with your fingers poke the dough to make dents.  Once you have done this drizzle ½ to ¾ cups olive oil letting oil go into dents and sprinkle salt on top.   Bake in 450° oven until brown
Buon appetito!

Ciao,Maria

Lasagne a la Kevlar Recipe

A long while back we purchased a pasta maker, the kind you roll through with a hand crank, not the high falootin electric models used in Beverly Hills. This was a more Bakersfield model. Hard to operate, and unforgiving of mistakes.
My wife Carrie decided to make 100% homemade Lasagna, complete with 100% homemade pasta. Following directions from pasta recipe, and pasta maker,and the rest of the recipe, she assembled the tasty dish, and baked it in the oven for about an hour.
Rich Italian flavors enveloped the kitchen. We could hardly wait!
After a short period of letting the dish “rest”, (the same mount of time spent on grieving a dead goldfish), we dug in. I mean we really dug in. I have never had to use a chisel to extract food from a baking tray, but with most things in life, I would soon get used to the practice.
After extracting the Lasagna from the dish and forcing servings onto waiting plates, we finally got down to business.
Unbeknownst to me, Carrie had neglected to cook the pasta, and after baking, it had set up to the consistency of floor tile. When asked, “How is yours?”, I replied that “it’s a little crunchy, but real good!”
After penetrating the protective outer layer, it was delicious!
One of my first thoughts was to contact NASA and have them use portions to protect the Space Shuttle on re-entry. Or maybe contact the military to accommodate their body armor needs. I did not voice these ideas, and I am still very happily married.
I did have waking thoughts of troops wearing Lasagna into battle and in tight spots, having to eat their “armor”
This would in turn give a new meaning to “I got your back”, meaning I ate the Lasagna attached behind you.
The following recipe will not be military grade if you cook the pasta. I highly recommend that you do.

Lasagne a la Kevlar Recipe

IngredIents

• 1 pound sweet Italian sausage in casings (package of ground will have texture issues)
• 1 pound lean (or not) ground beef
• 1/2 cup minced onion
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
• 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
• 1/2 cup red wine for recipe
• 2 tablespoons white sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1 tablespoon salt for sauce, 1/2 teaspoon for mushrooms
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 1 bottle red wine for chef
• 2 packages sliced mushrooms
• 1/2 stick butter
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 40 garlic cloves
• 1 box lasagna noodles
• 16 ounces ricotta cheese
• 1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

InstructIons

In a stockpot, cook uncased sausage, ground beef, onion and chopped garlic over medium heat until well browned. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and wine. Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper and parsley. Simmer, covered, for about two hours, stirring now and then if you prefer it unburned.
Now is an appropriate time to open the chef’s bottle of wine.
In a large skillet, cook mushrooms on stove top until water has left them. Add a little salt, butter and garlic powder, and keep cooking until browned.
Wrap small group of peeled garlic cloves in a paper towel. Set inside a terra cotta garlic roaster. Nuke in microwave for two minutes. Repeat until all garlic is soft and slightly
browned, set aside. (Alternative method without use of special equipment: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil. Put a handful of peeled garlic cloves in the center then drizzle olive oil on top. Fold up the foil packet and seal tightly. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes or until soft.)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for eight to 10 minutes per package instructions. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Ar- range noodles lengthwise over meat sauce, however many it takes; cut some with knife to fit.
Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese. Top with a third of shredded mozzarella cheese, slices or shredded. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Add layer
of mushrooms. Repeat layer, and add layer of whole peeled garlic instead of mushrooms on second layer, repeat third layer and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with nonstick foil (or to further countermeasure to prevent sticking), either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese. Ha!
Bake for 30 minutes. Re- move foil and bake an additional 30 minutes. Let it set for 15 minutes before serving.
Yum Yum!