Thursday, January 25, 2018

Let's make pizza

By reading a book! A video blogger has her brother make pizza following the pizza cookbook written by Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery, titled The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. It looks like a very good book.

He's amusing. He reminds me of dad cooking, reading the book step by step instead of all at once before starting. So you know where you're going. They're smart people. I don't understand this. 

It's strange watching people's different approaches.

One time I was called upon to make dinner at somebody else's house. The couple hosted me for two days and this was a way of saying thank you. They had very good cookbooks on their bookshelf. I decided on Beef Stroganoff so chose three cookbooks to compare. The recipe in Betty Crocker Cookbook was simple. If I remember correctly, and I am, it called for tin of mushroom soup. No way. That idea is rejected. That's a copout right there. The recipe in Joy of Cooking is more complex, more sensible. The recipe in NYT Cookbook was overly snobbishly ridiculously complex with a hundred ingredients and multiple nonsense extravagant steps. Some things mere teaspoons for a huge batch. But real ingredients and very good ideas, like Worcestershire sauce. An example of a ridiculous step was, "fry onions in oil. Discard onions." That was just to flavor the pan and the oil. Flavor the pan? Get outta here. A step easily skipped with no detectable loss. But onions are a good idea. I'll add them. Two books showed the sauce is served over noodles, but different types, one served over rice. So, the carbohydrate doesn't matter. It could be potatoes, or bread or polenta. They used different cuts of meat. Betty Crocker called for hamburger, I think. The only thing all three had in common was the inclusion of sour cream. None called for fresh mushrooms.

I put away the books and, now a Stroganoff expert, set off to make my own version. I added mushrooms because I like them. I was serving the plates when I suddenly remembered I forgot to add sour cream for the last step. Boy, did I feel stupid. I spaced out a crucial ingredient. And there it all was on the plates ready to go out to the patio. Everyone was sitting out there waiting. So I spooned sour cream on the top of each pile and sprinkled basil flecks over the whole thing. For green dots. Everyone said it looked great. And it tasted good too. And each person could control the amount of sour cream they mixed in. They thought that was a brilliant invention. My own personal twist. They were duly impressed with my outstanding creativitah. "Yes. Sure. Right, I totally meant to do that." *averts eyes* That's the ticket.

He's not a dummkopf. Explain to me. Why is he having so much trouble? He knows a cup of water is 8 oz. So 15 oz of water is just shy of two cups. 


Some Seppo said...

My Stroganoff was always made two ways due to my Mom's mushroom allergy.

Cube stew beef and brown in oil. Add onions. Add beef broth. Add salt, pepper and a couple (at least) of bay leaves. Add red wine in 1/4 of amount of broth. Cook until beef cubes are tender. Add (or not) mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms soften.

In the meantime cook starch of your choice. Add sour cream to Stroganoff.


Quantities vary because I don't know how many you are cooking for. Or if you are my Mom.

Some Seppo said...

Oh, forgot the flour thickener. Before adding mushrooms, pull 1/2 cup (or more) of liquid from the pot, let it cool, throw it in the blender with 1/4 cup (or more, depending) of flour. Whirl until mixed. Throw it back in the pot, cook until thickened and you don't taste raw flour.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The sour cream as a 'side' for the stroganoff is a brilliant happenstance! I'm stealing that.

I've been making pizza lately because our little town doesn't have a decent pizza place. A frozen pizza from the store is better. SO far, I've managed to get the pizza dough down to a science. Now. Working on the toppings and the best mix of cheese, topping, sauce ratio.

Next to conquer.....Chibatta Rolls. Again. No source for these.

This guy is being purposely stupid. It isn't cute. I'll give him some slack for not knowing some things, but come on!! Is this a standing mixer. Duh!!

Question for Chip: Do you weigh the flour when making bread, pizza dough etc or just measure? It doesn't seem to matter for the pizza dough. I measure a bit light (slightly less than it calls for) and then knead in extra until it feels right.

Chip Ahoy said...

I scoop flour with a simple measuring cup, either plastic or metal.

I did weigh the flour once. To see how much a scoop weighs. So now I can match the weight of flour to water closely.

A shallow scoop is 4 oz. So, two shallow scoops of flour equals 1 cup of water.

I level scoop is better.

Humped scoops makes a firmer dough.

Then, as always, as every recipe involving flour states, keep the flour container opened to adjust because, honestly, it depends on the day, on the flour, the manufacturer, the type, bleached, unbleached, protein level, whole wheat, humidity level, barometric pressure, elevation, your mood, the gravitational forces of nearby bodies, the electromagnetic field, solar winds, the phase of the moon, the time of day, etc.

With pizza dough, I really like adding 20% semolina flour. And I really like smashing the dough into a pile of corn meal and rolling it and flipping it over cornmeal to have the final dough strengthened by semolina and provided an interesting texture by cornmeal. I copied that from Denver Pizza Co nearby.

I also copied sliced fresh jalapeños that roast with the pizza as my all-time favorite topping. It's excellent when roasted as Mexican cooks do. Whereas jalapeños from a jar or tin that are marinated with vinegar are gross. The vinegar changes it in a negative way. The Pizza company also has pepperoni and cheese and that's it. That is the best thing on their menu. And I'll add, the kids at Floyd's Barber love that pizza. I buy them the largest they make, and I had been dividing it in two, the second part without jalapeños, in case there are any antijalapeñosites over there, but they told me that is their favorite thing. And I'm glad because everyone is in agreement. With me.

The great thing about pizza is, I can make dough for it right now. This minute. And stick it in the refrigerator and let it sit in there for three days and it will be a lot better then than it would be right now. That's what Nancy is saying in her video on YouTube and in her book.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The great thing about pizza is, I can make dough for it right now. This minute. And stick it in the refrigerator and let it sit in there for three days and it will be a lot better then than it would be right now

Thanks Chip. I'll try the semolina. I already finish the pulling, stretching and shaping of the crust with cornmeal :-) Nice crunchy texture and flavor is interesting too.

I've been making double and quadruple batches and dividing the dough into balls. Brush them with olive oil and then freeze in ziplock baggies. They thaw out just fine and don't seem to lose their ability to keep rising.

Its kind of neat. Spend one day making dough and then have the extras for a pizza or two or three later without all the proofing, kneading etc. Just thaw and let rise.

ndspinelli said...

I always put extra olive oil in my pizza dough, makes it easier to work.

ndspinelli said...

I will make big batches and freeze the extra. Just thaw in the fridge months later and it's perfect.