Jack is Cooking Pizza II

Well Hello Internet!

Pizza is something i happen to make quite frequently, although every time i make it i play around with the dough recipe, constantly searching for the best combination of ingredients and methods.  Last night i finally cracked it.  I made the best damn pizza crust i have ever made, and from here on out i do believe that this is the way i will make my crusts.  After all what is a pizza without a good crust, as you can really put anything you want on it.

This post will focus on the crust mainly, and i will leave it up to you as to what you put on it!  We all have our own tastes, and my personal taste as i mentioned in the previous post is my slight dislike of tomato sauce.  NOT that i won’t eat it! i’ll eat anything.  However given the choice, i’ll just choose something else.  Like fresh tomatoes – in a non sauce state of being.

The trick i found with this crust was to use much less yeast, and a lot more time.  So make this the day before you want to eat your pizza.  the first step is pretty easy, I just through it all together right before I went to bed.  It only took about 5 minutes.  leaving the dough to rise overnight, gives the yeast extra time to ferment, and fill the dough with air.  it leaves you with a deliciously crusty, chewy, light, and bubbly pizza crust, that is soft, yet not overly bread-y.

One note i would have to say, while it is not absolutely necessary i HIGHLY recommend picking up a pizza stone for your oven.  I got one at the Kitchen Supply on bowery for $10.  It make all the difference.

Here is what you will need to make the best crust ever:
2 cups flour + more for dusting
1 cup (or less) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1.  in a bowl, mix together the flour the salt and the yeast.  Slowly add the water until it comes together in a ball.  don’t let the dough get too wet, but if it does, just add a bit more flour.  you want to be able to pick it up as one ball of dough, without it sticking to your hands, yet without the ball falling a part.  it is a fine balance.
2.  set this ball of dough in a clean bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  let no air inside!  you want a tight seal.  Place the bowl on top of your fridge, or in another area where it is about 75° and not drafty at all.  Let it sit here for at least 18 hours.
3.  when you return, the small ball of dough should have expanded immensely!  mine was more than double the size.  it was also all bubbly on top, and smelled absolutely delicious.   The yeast had done its job well.
4.  turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter, and shape it back into a ball.   That’s about it!  no kneading is required for this dough.   After you have made a perfect looking ball, dust some flour on top and place a damp towel over it for one hour.  During this hour you can preheat your oven (with a pizza stone preferably) to 500° F  or as hot as it will go.
5.  Prepare your toppings.  you can put anything you want on a pizza.  remember if you are going to use fresh greens, or fresh basil, they will not survive the oven temperatures, so put them on after you cook it. anything else is fine.  
For this particular pizza i used:
Caramelized onions,
fresh ham
fresh garlic
cherry tomatoes
goat cheese
and arugula
6.  After the oven is preheated, and the dough has rested for an hour, it’s time to assemble the pizza.  i use a pizza peel since i have a pizza stone, so i find it best to arrange the pizza right on this to make the transfer to the oven easier.  First sprinkle some corn meal on it, this will allow the pizza to slide off nicely.  
Stretch the dough out until it is pizza sized. – You can get it pretty thin, as it will balloon in the oven. 
If you can do the fancy stuff they do in the pizzerias, this dough will work extremely well for that!  At this point with the toppings you are on your own!  arrange them however you want.  
Finally, however, brush the crust all the way around with some nice olive oil.  This will make it really nice and golden on the edges.  
7.  Bake it in the oven, for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned, even getting pretty dark in some spots, as all good pizza will tend to do!  Remove from the oven and put on your final fresh toppings!!
mmm mmmm delicious!

Jack is Cooking Baked Rigatoni with Herondale Farm Sausage

Well Hello Internet!
I don’t normally like to eat pasta dishes with tomato sauce, but there are a few that i really like.  Normally i find that i like tomato sauces if they involve meat, like sausage or ground beef and also ricotta cheese.  So i made this delicious pasta dish which i suppose could be described as a baked ziti… but i don’t want to call it that as that conjures up many images of exactly what i don’t like.  
So this i call a Baked Rigatoni with lots of delicious sausage and Ricotta Cheese, to add a bit of greens i also included some kale, you know… just because.
Anyway, here is the recipe:
Olive Oil 
4 Cloves Garlic (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
1 pound Herondale Farm Sweet Italian Sausage (removed from the casings)
1 bunch Kale (finely chopped)
2 14 oz cans of diced tomato
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
salt and pepper
1 lb of Rigatoni
1 lb of fresh Ricotta
2/4 lb fresh mozzarella
a handful of Parmesan cheese 
1. Preheat the Oven to 400°.  Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a pan on the stove.  Add the Garlic and Onion, and cook until slightly translucent.  Mix in the ground sausage and cook until it is nicely browned.  Once the sausage is browned, add the kale and toss to mix.  The kale will get nicely cooked throughout this, so cook it until it has only just begun to wilt.

2.  Add the diced tomato, the water, and the herbs de provence.  Season with Salt and pepper and bring it to a boil.  
3.  While this sauce is simmering, cook the pasta.  Cook it until it is very Al Dente, so its still just a little bit hard in the middle.  Its going to cook a lot longer in the oven, so the pasta will absorb the sauce and become nice and soft.  When the rigatoni is cooked add it into the sauce and mix it all together.

4. Put everything into a Baking dish, or as i have done – a trusty creuset.  Take the Ricotta cheese and add spoonfuls to the mix.  The trick here is not to mix it in entirely, but to rather leave pockets.  so take spoonfuls of it, and plunge it down, repeating over and over until you have injected all these bubbles of ricotta cheese.  Keep some leftover and put it all over the top.

5.  Top everything with the mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over along with some salt and pepper.

6.  Place the dish in the oven, and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the cheese on top is starting to turn golden.

7.  Let the whole dish sit for a few minutes so the cheese solidifies, and gains a nice crust on top, and serve!

mmmm mmmm delicious!