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building the perfect pizza, part one

Category : Cuisine

Continuing on the theme of enjoyable meals to make in the comfort of your own kitchen and enjoy with family, pizza is and always will be a favourite. It is relatively easy to make, certainly not shy of gusto as well as very affordable. Like many of my much-loved items, beyond the ingredients picked out, it is best prepared in a large, warm kitchen with the sounds of family and friends echoing throughout.

Please note my intention in providing this recipe is not a substitution for cooking school or similar high culinary experience but merely to bring an affordable approach that has served me well for many years into your home. With respects to the ingredients, without question please ensure that you are maintaining your personal budget but if possible choose higher quality items as they do have an impact on the final product. This of-course applies to other concerns because while the choice of ovens, various pieces of equipment will improve the final product, if not tantalize the concerned reader, nothing should deter you from becoming your family’s resident “pizzaiolo”. That may be a surprising comment for aficionados of pizza but I think it is imperative to present cost-effective approaches to cuisine and equally ensure that the most important element, with family, is stamped hard on the final product.

Building a fine pizza starts with the ingredients and while it should be no surprise to my readers, an air of “simplicity” rules supreme. Pizza starts with dough, lovingly built with fine quality flour, water, yeast, sea salt and the lifeline of my kitchen, extra-virgin olive oil.

The proper flour for Pizza is finely ground, denoted as “00″ and has a lower gluten component. That should be readily available in your local store but if you are using all-purpose flour, you will want to pay extra care to sift and you will need to add olive oil to the mix.

Preparation of the dough

Add 370 millilitres (1 1/3 cup) of warm water into mixing bowl, with 1 gram of yeast (brewers) and approximately one-half cup of flour (from a total mix of two full cups). Please note there are specialty yeasts available as well as “rapid” versions available but I prefer a more traditional route. Naturally, if you prefer to make use of such items, there will be a slight modification with the recipe and will typically only involve the time for the dough to rise. While sifting is not an absolute necessity in this situation, I tend to but it is absolute necessary if you are using all-purpose flour. Pay great care that the water quality is high and is free of impurities as this will have a direct influence on your final product. Slowly blend in approximately ¾ tablespoons of sea salt (ten grams) and remainder of (sifted) flour ensuring flour absorbs water. If you are using all-purpose flour, you will need to add six tablespoons of olive oil.

Mix in bowl for roughly ten to fifteen minutes, by-hand, as dough builds into slightly “sticky” ball and set on clean surface for one to two hours, covered by damp (bleach free) cloth.  Allow the dough to rise, then separate into “pizza balls” slightly larger than the palm of your hand which upon practice you will find are approximately 225 grams, plus or minus ten percent.

Storing “pizza balls” in a container, with sufficient space between each, set aside for six-plus hours, where that time they will be ready for use.

This is where the fun slams into top-gear because now the “pizza balls” are ready to create your disk. As always, ensure a cleanly kitchen environment, taking a single “pizza ball” from container, placing on working area and pressing it out evenly from centre out, twirling the disk evenly. The eventual disk will fit perfect to the standard size pan or stone of thirty centimeters (twelve inches) in diameter and ready for the next step of building your actual pizza.

Many will talk of the speed in which they spin out a quality pizza as well as the uniformity but I will not and in-fact will tell you the exact opposite. I take my time, embrace the moment and can assure that nothing from my kitchen is “perfect”. It is life’s dance, it is the imperfections that make the journey extraordinary. Like a tango with all its subtleties and personal traits, it is the reason why this little item from my kitchen is part of a Style of Life.

the next of this series, will review how to build a proper pizza sauce.

For more recipes and culinary secrets from John Davies to improve the quality of life, please add The Renegade Kitchen on Facebook. He can also be reached on his his personal page on Facebook , the main Renegade Training™ page and Twitter.

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Potato Pierogi Recipe

Category : Cuisine

A recipe for Potato Pierogi from my yet to published book “A Style of Life“.

One of my favourite standby meals in the winter is pierogi’s. The recipe is very simple to make, fun to enlist family young and old alike to toil with you in the kitchen, as well as being extremely affordable. The former statement is probably more important because there is little to compare a kitchen full of the sounds of family sharing time together, building a meal they will celebrate. If you receive one benefit from “A Style of Life”, I hope it is to enjoy the fellowship of family and friends across this table of life.

That said, I wish to stress making a batch of pierogi’s is fun, albeit a delightfully messy experience in the kitchen and surprisingly easy. You will need to show patience in the process but that is a hidden joy of the recipe. Live life, slow down.

Ingredients

Topping and filling
10 tbsp unsalted butter
5 cup diced white onion
8 cup mashed potatoes
8 oz. farmer’s cheese
Outside wrapper
2 large egg yolk
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup distilled water
6½  cup all-purpose well-sifted flour

Final assembly
2 large egg whites blended with 2 tbsp. water
All-purpose well-sifted flour as needed

Wrapping – blend egg yolk, milk, oil, and water in a bowl with flour in larger bowl. Blend ingredients until dough consistency.

Knead for three minutes before lightly dust with flour such that dough is smooth. Place dough in refrigerator for thirty minutes.  .

Melt butter in large saucepan with onion at medium heat for eight to ten minutes Combine with potatoes, cheese, salt, and pepper.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll to approximately five millimetres thickness. Cut into smallish circle, roughly seven centimetres in diameter and set aside. As you carve out circles, knead excess together, re-roll and repeat process.

Place a dollop of ingredients in the middle of each dough and brush with egg white. Fold over and press edges with fork. Ensure the casing is fully enclosed or the filling will spill out during the cooking process.

Place pierogi’s on floured board, careful to separate each.

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pierogi’s for two minutes before draining and setting to the side. In a large saucepan, coated with butter, fry slowly until golden brown and serve with sautéed onions, applesauce or sour cream.

For more recipes and culinary secrets from John Davies to improve the quality of life,  please add The Renegade Kitchen on Facebook.  He can also be reached on his his personal page on Facebook , the main Renegade Training™ page and Twitter.

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