Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pizza Dough

I promised that I would post the long-awaited pizza dough recipe. I have delayed, because I have tried many, and have yet to settle on my 'perfect' recipe. This is the best one that I have been using a lot lately, so I figured it is high time to share it. However, I will add this caveat: I placed an order on King Arthur Flour's bakers catalogue and it hasn't arrived yet. I might have to update my recipe here once I get my items and start experimenting with them. I am excited to see how that goes, but this works every time.

Pizza Dough

3/4 cup of white wine (I usually use pinot grigio, and it doesn't have to be a freshly opened bottle. NEVER buy cooking wine! Keep any leftover wine in your fridge to use in cooking. Especially in baking, it doesn't matter if it isn't brand new.)

1/4 water
2 & 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 -2 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 & 1/2 cups t0 3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt

Heat the wine and water for about 25 seconds in the microwave until around 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. I recently read on the King Arthur website that yeast is kind of like you. If you don't have a thermometer, test the water on the inside of your wrist to see if it is warm enough. If it feels hot to you, it's probably too hot for the yeast. Once you determine that the water is the right temperature, sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the water and let stand for 5 minutes. (I have found that it helps to walk away at this point- you can leave the yeast for longer than 5 minutes, it is probably pretty happy at this point. The water should be foamy and fragrant before you do anything else to it.)
Add the sugar, olive oil, and 1 cup of flour to the mixture. It's important to never add the salt until you have at least added one cup of flour. Salt and yeast are not friends, and the flour acts as a buffer between them.
Another interesting thing that I have recently learned- Most of us are using WAY too much flour in our recipes. Unless you are sifting before you measure, you are probably scooping up to 6 ounces per cup of flour. Most recipes in cookbooks are tested with a 4 ounce cup of flour. Sounds minimal, but I have noticed that this makes a HUGE difference. If you don't want to sift, fluff up your flour with a spoon and spoon it into your measuring cup then tap and level off the top. Also, sometimes it helps to use the half-cup measure throughout the process. This prevents you from dumping in too much flour all at once and then you are past the point of no return.
So you now have 1 cup of flour mixed in. Go ahead and add the salt and 1 additional cup of flour. Mix all of the ingredients together to form a rough ball of dough. Add the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of flour gradually just until the dough is not sticky. Then stop. Knead for about 15 minutes. If kneading by hand, sprinkle flour on the work surface only to prevent sticking. After 15 minutes, let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then check for elasticity. If the dough doesn't feel elastic (windowpane test- Tear off a piece of dough and see if you can see a membrane when stretched.) knead for about 10 more minutes. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Remove from the fridge and let come to room temperature. Also, you can heat your oven up to 150 degrees, place the bowl (keep the plastic on) inside, and then turn off the oven to speed up this process. After doing either step, remove the dough and gently deflate all of the gas. You are now ready to roll out your pizza!
I use a baking sheet covered with foil. I usually heat my oven to 415 degrees and place the rack in the lowest setting. I mist the foil with cooking spray and sprinkle it with kosher salt. Top your pizza and slide into the oven. I don't usually set a timer, but I think it takes about 15 minutes to bake. If your crust is brown on the bottom, but you want to brown your toppings a bit more, place it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Remove promptly, slice, and serve! You are going to love it!


Has anyone read these cookbooks and do you have an opinion on either?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Soo excited!

I got a letter in the mail today. It was from one of the guests at Dan's wedding. We sat with the Ramakers at the rehearsal dinner on Friday night. We had a great time discussing Tucson, where they live now, and hearing about their lives which had taken them from Washington state to Wisconsin, and finally now to Tucson. We had a lovely time and really got to know these special people. Kathy and I discussed our love of baking, and she told me that she had a foolproof recipe for cheesecake. I told her that I would love to try it and that I didn't have a go-to cheesecake recipe. She said that she would send it to me.

After we got back, our fridge decided to stop working. So after purging everything from the fridge, I had done a costco run a couple weeks ago. I came across these vanilla beans, not knowing exactly what I would use them for, but knowing that I had wanted to try something with real vanilla beans for a while. I had forgotten about the cheesecake recipe, not realizing that this is the perfect kind of thing for real vanilla beans.

It's funny when happy accidents like this happen. I can't wait to make my cheesecake, but since it serves 10 easily, we will need some help eating it. Any takers??

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More from Milwaukee

The beautiful cake- it was white cake with a raspberry layer and a cream cheese layer. Fitting with the dairy theme, the cream cheese layer was incredible. K for Kinsfogel...
The wedding, reception, rehersal, rehearsal dinner, all events were pretty much within walking distance in downtown Milwaukee. We hadn't gotten a car, we took a couple cabs, but mostly we were walking wherever we went. One of my favorite ways to vacation!
The MAC- Milwaukee Athletic Club. The reception was here in a huge ballroom.
I didn't bring a lens with a zoom, so this turned out pretty blurry. The room had huge crystal chandelliers and a white ornate ceiling with pink and green hues.
The top of the room had these pretty iron faux balconies from the windows above. If you went up to the 4th floor, you could actually look down into the room from these windows. The photographer actually went up there and took some pictures of everyone dancing.
After a lot of dancing!
Such a fun party! It's always funny to see what songs really get the crowd going and up on the dance floor. The funniest song to me was actually a New Kids on the Block song... haha, when was the last time you heard one of those?! The even funnier thing, was that the bride and one of her friends are going to the concert in Portland when they come there. It was cute to see them totally rocking out to NKOTB. Of course, those of us girls of a certain age were then prompted to share stories of our favorite NKOTB member from 'back in the day'. Hilarious.

The group went out to a couple different places after the wedding. We made it to the first one for about a half-hour, and then we called it a night around 12:30am. We had an 8:00am flight back to San Diego, which was way too long and cramped, so we didn't want to be too miserable on it. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peach and Strawberry Pie

So I had my first foray into pie making this weekend. Chris' dad was in town for the US Open, and I had asked Chris what kind of dessert he would like for Father's day. Chris suggested a peach pie, not knowing that I had never made a pie, or how much work it can be! However, I had been eyeing a pie recipe for a couple weeks, so this was a perfect excuse to dive in!

I am pretty well versed in tarts, I have made a couple different ones even just in the past few days. I took a Chocolate Carmel tart to work last Friday and I made a quiche when our friend Adam was visiting a couple weekends ago. But pies, no, I hadn't gone there yet.

So I did my research and decided to use a pastry blender rather than my food processor. My food processor is getting old and is pretty small. I didn't want to have to do two batches to get my two crusts. So I bought this pastry blender at Crate and Barrel. I did some research on Smitten Kitchen to see how to make the crusts. I really would like to try a recipe with only butter and no shortening, but since I didn't want any meltdowns for a special event, I figured better safe than sorry. If anyone has experience with butter only, can you tell me if it works?

To make the filling, I had bought some peaches, but I was pressed for time, so I defaulted to frozen peaches. They were great, and the boys never knew that I didn't spend all that time pitting and peeling peaches. The strawberries were huge and the flavor was unbelievably flowery. They were in the peak of ripeness.

After mixing, and chilling for an hour, the dough was ready to go.
I was looking for a fluted pastry edger at C&B, but they didn't have one. Luckily Williams-Sonoma had this one.

I wove the lattice over the top and crimped the edges. Not as perfect as Mom's usually are... but it tasted good. I am excited to work on perfecting the crust. I might have to bring you out Mom just for a quick refresher course on that! I am sure we would have fun trying different pies. Chris has requested a lemon meringue and a banana cream pie at some point. Looks like I will have no problem practicing!

Peach and Strawberry Pie


3 cups of all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup chilled vegetable shortening, diced

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons chilled butter, diced

10 tablespoons ice water (I didn't use all of the water, but wondered if I would have had less cracking of the dough as I was rolling it out if I had. Does anyone know?)

For the filling:

4 cups frozen peaches (about 1-2 bags from the grocery store)

3 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 cup golden brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch (I increased this by a teaspoon or two, and probably could have increased it even more.)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten with a splash of water for the glaze

Combine crust ingredients in a large bowl and cut in the shortening with the pastry blender. Add the water 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough starts to come together. Once fully moistened, gather the dough into a ball and cut it in two. Form each half into a ball and place them in separate plastic bread bags. Press down to flatten balls slightly into disks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until chilled. Can be done in advance.

Mix the filling ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. I let this defrost on the counter for about an hour and a half before baking.

Assembly: Take the first dough disk out of the fridge and remove from bag onto a generously floured counter. Allow to come to room temperature for about 10 minutes. Flouring the rolling pin and gently roll out the dough to approximately 13" in diameter. Place into a buttered pie dish letting the sides hang over the edge. Spoon the filling evenly into the crust. Roll out the second dough disk in the same manner as the first. Using your fluted pastry edger or a pizza cutter, slice 3/4 inch strips of the dough. Place the longer strips across the middle of the pie, saving two. Place five strips across the top of the pie. Working one at a time, start on one side and fold back 3 of the 5 strips. Lay a new strip across the 2 remaining strips, then fold back the 3 strips to cover. Continue, alternating folding back the 2 or 3 strips as you weave the lattice top. Trim the excess dough and strips around the sides leaving about an inch overall. Press the bottom crust and strips together and crimp with your fingertips. Brush with the egg glaze and sprinkle with coarse-ground sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in the pan on a rack for an hour before serving.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Images from Milwaukee

Bridal party- Hard to see but Chris is kneeling in the front: I couldn't get real close to any of the real picture taking. Hopefully the photographer and Dan will post their photos soon.

Stained glass in the church and the outline of Chris. The glass was really pretty, and it looked almost like it had been painted on. I didn't frame this one, I just took what the camera gave me. Sometimes that works out!
Reception hall.
Marc Kreisler helped me play with the time delay feature on my camera. It was so cool! This photo was actually taken over 20 seconds, which is why you can see the candle flickering. You really need a tripod, because over that much time, any movement is going to cause a blur. I didn't have a tripod, so I set my camera down on the table and went for it. Again, a lucky accident. I am so excited to play around with this feature going forward! (PS: Did you notice the whipped butter? That was an individual serving. No kidding! It was super good too. I swear I didn't eat the whole thing, but I was tempted!) Action shot of the cha-cha, or perhaps the entrance dance. The happy couple entered to Justin Timberlake's I'm bringing Sexy Back which sort of set the tone for the rest of the night. They actually learned the cha-cha for their first dance, which was to a traditional song. It was really cool to see how intricate the moves were on the dance floor. It wasn't long before we all made it onto the dance floor!

Having trouble adding more pictures. I will add more as soon as it starts working again!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Torrey Pines in the spotlight

If you haven't seen it on tv yet, this is where we will be spending our weekend:

We are truly so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. It has been so much fun to see everything that has been going on around the golf tournament. I have been working so close to the event, and you would think it would just be a madhouse up here, but it has been amazingly managable. I avoided the traffic on Tuesday and Thursday, but braved it today because Tiger and Phil aren't teeing off until 1:30 pm. I am so excited to go see the action this weekend. We won't be able to take in cameras, but I did get these fun shots during the practice round on Wednesday afternoon.

This is the back of the leaderboard: Looks like it is still a pretty manual process!

Hope you enjoy the tv coverage and Happy Father's Day on Sunday! I love you Dad!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

If you live in San Diego

Or if you come to visit us this summer... Perhaps we will go to the Little Italy Mercato! This outside street market is set to open this weekend. I can't wait to check it out. The market will feature local vendors and organic produce and other foods. Local chefs will be on hand as well to provide information about the food and ways to prepare it. Should be interesting!! I will update once we have a chance to check it out!! It might not be this weekend, but hopefully soon!

I clicked over to Emily Falconbrige's blog today and noticed something familiar... she and her family are in italy, and they took a picture of some pizza that they had in naples. I swear, the pizza I made last night looked a lot like this! Now, if only I didn't have to work and had the gelato shoppe as well, I would be set! hehe. I would love to go to Italy sometime soon. I think I will make it down to Little Italy first, but the photos look great.

Walking in... er, Milwaukee

So while the guys played softball and toured Miller Park, I took to the streets of Milwaukee to see what the city is like. I stayed downtown, once I left the hotel I spotted a Borders in the distance and figured it was as good a direction as any. It was cool and breezy, and the city was pretty clean. The river runs right through the area that I was in, and that was pretty cool. There were a few boats on it here and there, and I even saw this water cleaning boat that scooped up trash as it buzzed by.

The city is pretty old, so there was some cool architecture all around. I particularly liked this building, even though it probably didn't really fit in with most of the rest of the city.
I couldn't imagine my luck when I stumbled on this fruit stand. Total jackpot when you have been travelling. I love having fresh fruit on the plane and in the hotel room. For a cool $1.87 I got a green apple, a yellow delicious apple, an orange, and four bananas. Okay, for someone who says that they don't complain about flying... here I go again. I mean, honestly, what is up with airport/airplane food options? It's like, ah ha! We have you captive, and now we are going to make you eat all this awful stuff because, guess what, that's your only option! Ugh. We got lucky on the way home, the magazine shop in the terminal had packs of Wisconsin cheese that you could take home. We got some string cheese and it was fabulous. I really did notice that all the dairy while we were there was exceptional. Especially the butter. Yum. So anyway, I thought I would take a shot of the fruit, because, it basically made my day.

PS: The yellow delicious apple was amazing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fly, fly away

Amazing what you can see from 30,000 feet. I can't wait to tell you all about our trip to Milwaukee! I have to organize my thoughts and photos, so that will be coming soon. I can't believe this picture worked so well from the airplane window. Wow. Fun stuff. I will probably be bothering sleeping passengers in the future as I snap from the windows going forward! We had a great flight going to Milwaukee- but just an okay one coming back. I try not to complain about flying, because it seems like as long as it is event-free, it's good. However, that being said, airplanes are one place in life that being tall is so not an advantage! Chris literally had the back seat of the guy in front of him in his lap on the way home for about an hour straight. I actually asked the person to put their seat up a little bit, he seriously couldn't do anything! Not fair. I think they should stop making the seats recline at all. I know it's nice if there is no one behind you, but it sucks if the person in front of you does it. So uncomfortable. Okay, I said I wasn't going to complain about flying, so that's it. ;)
Okay- Milwaukee pics to come soon. See you later!