Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza sounds delicious and never having been to Chicago, the taste of authentic deep dish pizza with the homemade red tomato sauce on top has eluded me. Looking at recipes from cookbooks, magazines, the Internet, cooking groups, and fellow bloggers has only added to the confusion of what an original recipe should contain. The only known factors are the sauce is on top and the fillers start first. Anything can go into a pizza. After dreaming of baking this concoction of bliss, I decided to step up to the plate, or baking oven in this case, choose my recipe from the site: the Reviewboard Magazine online. The author, Philip Ferreira, stated: "When I was a kid I used to work at a place in Chicago that made some of the best Italian food that I ever ate. One of their specialties was Chicago Deep Dish Pizza." Philip adheres to the fact of knowing the recipe and creating the deep dish pizza for his own family on a regular basis. In fact, Philip was kind enough to share the recipe on line.

The only fault I saw, and later will change the next time I re-create his recipe, will be to omit the cornmeal requested as an ingredient for the pizza dough and halve the recipe. The recipe given bakes 2 (16- to 18-inch) pizzas. I bought a 16-inch deep dish pizza pan at the Costco Business Warehouse and for the second pizza, I used my 16-inch cake pan. The Costco deep dish pizza pan was "not" deep enough. Not even close. My cake pan had 2-inch sides and was about perfect.

WARNING: The recipe requests 6 Pounds of cheese and I would use all 6 pounds if an individual decided to not divide the recipe in half. The pizza eaten cold the next day is just about as divine as when the pizza first comes out of the piping hot oven.

The homemade sauce is a definite "must have" recipe that I will use over and over. Delicious!! I would like to emphasize using FRESH Basil, Garlic, and Oregano. Using dried herbs will be a noticeable difference.

It takes about 3 hours so make sure you have everything you need before you start. This recipe is expensive, probably comparable to what it would cost to buy them. The ingredients need to be fresh.

Best Deep Dish Pizza Recipe:
You'll be able to make two good sized pizzas with this recipe. It takes about 3 hours so make sure you have everything you need before you start. This recipe is expensive, probably comparable to what it would cost to buy the pizzas already baked. The ingredients need to be fresh, and if you substitute or don't do something the way I tell you to, don't blame me for the results. =)

Best Deep Dish Pizza - What you need to start:

You will need an electric mixer with a dough hook. If you don't have one you can try and follow along by kneading the dough yourself (You will need to add another 45 minutes to this process if you kneed the dough).

Make sure you have the following ready:
2 18" deep dish pizza pans - Don't use a baking dish, go out and splurge on a few pans, this is serious pizza and you shouldn't go screwing it up by trying to make it in a 9x15 baking dish it won't cook right, it won't be the same and you will probably end up thinking this recipe stinks.

2 Tablespoons of Sugar (Needs to be sugar, the yeast feeds on it and won't proof without it).
4 Cups of Warm Water (110 degrees when you pour it in the bowl it will cool by the time you get everything else done)
4 Packages of Yeast or if you have the jar you can do 8 teaspoons of Yeast.
1 cup of First Press REALLY GOOD Extra Virgin olive oil.
9 Cups of Flour (Up to 10)
1 c. yellow cornmeal (optional)...I will not add next time

Best Deep Dish Pizza - Technique

Proofing the yeast is an important part of this process. You want your bowl of water to be about 95 - 100 degrees. Mix in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and stir it with a whisk. Once you dissolve the sugar in the water, put the yeast in and make sure it all gets wet. (Yeast tends to float on the top and some of it won't proof if you don't wet it).
Now walk away from it for about 10 minutes. It should be in a big bowl because this stuff is going to FOAM up and it will spill over if you don't have a big enough bowl - you have been warned ;)

In your mixer mix the olive oil and 5 cups of flour (if using the cornmeal, add this in too). Mix it up for about 1 minute and add the yeast slowly while it is mixing up. Slowly add the rest of the flour and let the mixer mix on about 1/3 speed for 5 minutes. The dough should not be sticky or wet, it should feel like really soft smooth elastic.
Coat a plastic bowl with a little olive oil and put the dough into the bowl (Big bowl). Cover the top of it with a damp towel and let it rise until it is double the size.

Punch it down and let it rise again.

Best Deep Dish Pizza - Prep Your Pans First!
Prep your pizza pans, spread a little olive oil on the surface and sides and sprinkle yellow cornmeal on the bottom of it. This will prevent the pizza from sticking to the pan. Alternately (and I do it this way quite a bit) you can take REAL butter and really give it a good coating all away around and in the pan. Layer it on very thick. It gives the crust an amazing flavor. Sprinkle with yellow cornmeal the same way you would if you used olive oil.

Best Deep Dish Pizza - Mix Your Cheeses and Make Your Sauce

Make your sauce & cheese mixes while you are waiting around for the dough to rise. Here is what you do:

Cheese Mix:
4 Pounds of Grated Mozzarella
1 Pound of Provolone
1 Pound of Romano, Parmigiano, Asiago mix (You can get them predone at the store in the deli section)

Mix the cheese mix in a big bowl so it is blended well.

4 28 oz Cans of Plum Tomatoes, Drain them and then put them through your blender for about 10 - 15 seconds you want them to be crushed up and chunky, but not liquid.
5 Teaspoons of FRESH Chopped up Basil
5 Teaspoons of FRESH Chopped Oregano
2 Tablespoons of Sugar (Or Splenda, I use Splenda)
10 Cloves of FRESH Garlic Peeled and Crushed with a Garlic Press
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup of Parmigiano Cheese Grated

Combine the ingredients together and make sure it has good time to sit and steep in the acids from the tomatoes. This will bring out the flavors of the seasonings.

Best Deep Dish Pizza - Bringing Everything Together.

Once your dough has doubled again take it out and divide it into two sections with a knife. Roll it out onto your deep dish pizza pans (last chance to go out and buy pizza pans if you are using a baking dish you will not get the consistency you need and you will not be happy). When you are laying the dough onto the pan push the dough to the edge. You can then turn the pan slowly while you pull the dough up the sides. If you have extra dough (and you should) roll it flat put it on a cookie sheet mist it with some olive oil, sprinkle it with garlic powder, Parmigiano, a little salt and bake it with your pizzas. You slice it with your pizza cutter after it's baked and dip it the left over pizza sauce. Presto free pizza bread / bread sticks.

Now that you have your pizza dough ready take a brush and brush olive oil onto the dough. Add your toppings (I use Portabella Mushrooms, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Green Pepper, Onion and Black Olives.) on the dough, then put half of your cheese mix on one pizza, half on the other. Use it all!

Pour your sauce on top until it reaches the edge of the dough (which should be all the way up the side of the pan), spread it out evenly and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Note: For all you folks that have never had Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, the sauce is on TOP so it's a red top pizza. This is traditional, and trust me it is good!

Best Deep Dish Pizza - Heat Your Oven and Make Sure You Let It Cool!

Preheat your oven and bake for 25 minutes on 350 degrees. After 25 minutes crank the oven up to 475 and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes. You want to watch the pizza and take it out when the top is light golden brownish and the crust is a light golden brown.

IMPORTANT: Let this pizza cool for 20 minutes, if you do not it will be all over the place. Once it cools for 20 minutes it will be just the right temp and will come out of the pan the right way. Cut and serve. This recipe should feed a family of 7 with maybe a slice left over.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lemon-Ginger Marmalade

I woke up Sunday morning to about 3 inches of sheer whiteness. The middle of March and the poor little flowers poking through the hard ground are probably in shock right now. The snow stopped mid-day and a wind storm pursued. Lights were flickering all day so the idea of making Lemon/Ginger Marmalade sounded right for this kind of cold weather but wrong if the power goes out.

For some reason I felt anxious about the idea of canning. To me, canning is usually reserved for summer time, with large quantities of everything ripe and juicy. The marmalade is a first winter attempt at canning and a small batch at that...6 cups maximum. I do not remember canning such a small amount of anything...ever. In the past, I forced myself to jump into canning by buying fruit and vegetables in bulk, straight from the farms. The idea was learn or have the produce spoil and lose all the excitement over saving so much money. I bought hundreds of pounds of peaches, apples, pears, onions, and tomatoes for just over 100 dollars the summer before last. The fun and feeling of accomplishment created an atmosphere of pride and excitement. I knew for sure, this time I would not forget and continue canning throughout the year. College, work, family, and life interfered with that thought process. Now, here I am, doubting myself again and thinking how much money I would actually be wasting to just let the lemons spoil or squeeze the juice out and make something else I could comfortably bake? Nope, I am doing this, wind storm or not.

Lemon and Ginger Marmalade

(adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine: March 2009) This golden-hued marmalade is right at home on toast, but it’s also divine stirred into plain yogurt or dolloped on coconut ice cream.

Makes about 5-1/2 to 6 cups

1-1/2 to 2 lb. lemons (6 to 8 medium)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh ginger

One 1-3/4 -oz. package powdered pectin

6-1/2 cups granulated sugar

(Ginger peeled with a spoon edge is better for preserving more ginger and only removing the actual peel.)

Peel the zest from the lemons with a vegetable peeler, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Slice the zest strips crosswise very thinly at an angle to make strips about 1/16 inch wide by 1 inch long—you’ll need 1 cup of zest strips. Put the zest in a 4-quart (or larger) saucepan.

Trim the ends from the zested lemons to expose the flesh. With one cut side down on the cutting board, trim the pith off the lemon all the way around and discard the pith. Quarter the lemons lengthwise and remove any visible membranes and seeds. Slice the wedges crosswise 1/4 inch thick—you’ll need about 1-1/2 cups.

Add the sliced lemons, ginger, and 2 cups water to the lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the zest is soft and the membranes start to break down, 6 to 8 minutes.

Whisk the pectin into the mixture. Increase the heat to high, add the sugar, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to smooth lumps. Boil vigorously for 1 minute, whisking constantly (move the pan off the burner momentarily if it threatens to boil over). Remove the pan from the heat and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Skim any foam and seeds off the surface of the marmalade. Stir gently to redistribute the solids. Transfer the marmalade to heatproof storage containers, let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for up to 1 month.

For longer storage at room temperature, can the marmalade. See the canning directions below.

To can the marmalade:
Transfer the hot marmalade to clean, hot canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace in each jar, and wipe the edges clean with a paper towel. Screw the lids on tightly.

Put the jars in a large pot of water fitted with a rack insert. The water should completely cover the jars by at least 2 inches. Return the jars to the pot of water and make sure the water covers them by at least 2 inches. Boil, covered, for 10 minutes. Use tongs to remove the jars; let them cool undisturbed on the counter. You should hear a popping sound as the jars cool, indicating that the vacuum seals have worked.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shrimp and Redfish Ceviche

I decided to add a picture of myself at work. I never share my work life in my food blog, basically because this is my place away from work and college. My relaxation and exploration, where I share new ideas and thoughts and where I find inspiration from others. Tomorrow I will be working in a ditch in 20 something degree weather, waiting to get home and finish my lemon and ginger marmalade. I peeled zest from 10 lemons tonight and put everything into the refrigerator for tomorrow night. Hopefully nothing will dry out.

My newest experience with raw seafood ~ Ceviche. Ceviche, I believe, comes from Latin America and means a form of citrus-marinated seafood salad. The citrus cooks the seafood. If a person leaves the seafood marinating in the citrus juices to long, seafood mush will be the result. I have never tried ceviche, much less create a dish with the mixture so with Chile Pepper magazine in hand, I put together my shopping list and jumped in.

The dish was made as an appetizer, just in case I was not overly enthused about the texture, flavor, appearance, or aroma. The appearance needs more work. I hurried the extraction of avocado slices and my first martini glass is missing a lime slice. The flavor has a Wow! factor, very tasty, and I love the colors. A lot should be said about simplicity of the dish and being able to assemble the ingredients the night before. Coming home from work and finishing the assembly took about 15 more minutes. With care of presentation, the recipe will be reserved for entertaining purposes because I will love showing the dish off...especially in fun glassware.

Shrimp & Redfish Ceviche
(adapted from Chile Magazine)

1 jalapeno, diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped (green part only)
5 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
8 oz. fresh redfish fillet, boneless and skinless (other light white, boneless, skinless fish fillets will work)
1 pound of fresh baby shrimp
8 ounces bloody Mary mix
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
8 limes, juice only
1/2 t. kosher salt
4 ripe avocados, diced
Frito chips as scoping ingredient (optional)

Cut the redfish into pieces roughly the same size as the baby shrimp. Place the redfish and shrimp into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Place the seafood into a plastic container and cover completely with fresh lime juice and allow to sit in the fridge overnight. The acid in the lime juice will cook the seafood. The next day, remove seafood from the fridge and strain off the excess lime juice. Mix the seafood with all other ingredients and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Serve with fresh corn tortilla chips or Frito's for dipping, or garnish with thin tortilla strips and avocado slices.