I decided to take a tiny break from dreaming about Spain and spend some time in my much neglected kitchen. As lovely as it is to reminisce about our summer honeymoon, now two months fresh in my mind, there is also plenty going on this month to get excited about. It’s Fall and it’s a beautiful season with great food and opportunities to come.
Recently, I attended the 3rd annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival held in San Francisco. While I was only able to attend the Saturday session, it was jam packed with awesome moments: hearing a panel of awesome bloggers speak about their experiences (like Joy the Baker and Peas and Thank You), the Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon‘s 4th floor city view, watching Tyler Florence whip up some delicious looking pan roasted pork chops, a hosted dinner by Alexia Foods that consisted of prawns and filet mignon finished with a dessert plate, and catching up with a good friend over a blackberry margarita at The Redwood Room.
Throughout the day, I had the opportunity to meet food bloggers whom I had followed for some time, as well as made new food blogger friends. I am happy that I was able to connect with Nam from The Culinary Chronicles, Stephanie from Lick My Spoon, Jennifer from Tiny Urban Kitchen, Jamie from Balanced Palate, Devaki from Weave A Thousand Flavors, Joy from Joy’s Misadventures, Julie from Willow Bird Baking, Kiera from Sweet Kiera, and Monica from Everything Awesome About Food. Shout out to you all and the work and passion you put out into the culinary world online.
Another highlight of the day was receiving a complimentary copy of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ latest cookbook Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. I still had yet to bake a pizza entirely from scratch, even though I attempted to do so several months back with a Farmer’s Market inspired pizza.
What better time to haul out the dough and rolling pin than for the long Veteran’s Day weekend? It was practically a weekend long journey to mentally psych myself up to the task. I poured through the first few chapters of Jeff and Zoe’s book on Friday evening, familiarizing myself with the ingredients, the dough-making process, and how to utilize the tools I had available in my kitchen. I did not have a pizza peel or baking stone, nor did I feel like going out to purchase one. All I had was an aluminum pizza pan with tiny air holes on the bottom. That worked out fine for me.
I spent last night making the dough, since it requires a two hour rising time at room temperature. What’s great about their simplified recipe is that it allows you to make batches of dough and have it just sit in the refrigerator until you need it (it lasts for 14 days, or 3 months frozen, and will taste better over time).
I was surprised at how easy it was to create the dough and even easier to bake the 10 – 12 inch pizzas with it. The crust turned out wonderfully crisp, light, and had some bite to it without being dense. If I rolled the dough ultra thin, the crust came out like a nice chewy cracker. Toppings were also minimal, but full of great flavor – my favorite combination in the kitchen. It was such an enjoyable and quick experience that I ended up using all of my dough and baking 5 pizzas that afternoon. Now I understand why it is advised to make a large batch of dough (I chickened out this morning and only made half a batch). I believe I have just discovered my go-to recipe for homemade pizza. Good thing the husband enjoys pizza as much as I do.
As a companion to the pizza, I also cooked a spicy sausage and cannelini soup. I wanted to stick with Italian comfort foods and felt that this hearty soup is a savory compliment to the simplicity of freshly baked pizzas. It’s a great meal to warm up your taste buds during the chilly Fall evenings.
Tomato and Sausage Pizza
Adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day
1 2/3 cups lukewarm water (100 degrees F)
1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast
3 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (scooped and swept off with a knife)
1/2 tablespoon course salt
Mix briefly the water with yeast and salt. Pour the water mixture into a pot and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until it is fully incorporated. Cover the pot and let the dough rise at room temperature for two hours. Store the pot in the refrigerator until ready for use. It will keep for 14 days. Makes about four 12 inch pizzas.
adapted from Gourmet
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 basil leaves, chopped
Pepper for seasoning
Heat the garlic with olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients and simmer the sauce uncovered for 40 minutes or until it reduces to your preference.
Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
Fresh basil, chopped
Italian sausage, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
For the Pizza
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roll out a piece of dough into a ball shape the size of an orange. Use a rolling pin to roll out a flattened 1/8 inch thick pizza. Spray the pizza pan with olive oil and place the pizza dough on the pan, topped with 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce and pizza toppings. Bake the pizza for 8 – 10 minutes.
Spicy Sausage and Cannellini Soup
Adapted from Fine Cooking
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3/4 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch of collard greens, chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces, washed, and lightly dried
1 can low-salt canned chicken broth
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
In a Dutch Oven or pot over medium heat, cook the onions with olive oil for 5 minutes, until soft. Turn to medium high, and add the Italian sausage to the onions. Break up the sausage into 1/4 inch pieces using a wooden spoon and cook for another 5 minutes, until brown. Mix in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the cannellini beans into the pot.
Using tongs, add the greens into the mixture in batches. Pour in the chicken broth and water and cover the pot to let it simmer for about 8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup topped lightly with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.