Archive | November, 2014

Thanksgiving Blessings

29 Nov

So much this week to be thankful for,

but most especially,

 the love of our families and friends.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Ciao,

Judy

Pizza…Really?

24 Nov

As a follow-up to The Dough Boys, if you haven’t yet seen the new Pizza Hut ad, it helps explain why Len always wants to make his own pizza instead of ordering someone else’s version.

See for yourself what the Italians in Sorrento think about American pizza. We concur.

 

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

The Dough Boys

14 Nov

What to do on a cold Saturday afternoon? Attend a pizza/ciabatta/focaccia class in my own home!

When I introduced Giovanni from my Italian class to my husband Leonardo, it was the beginning of a beautiful culinary relationship. Leonardo has long sought to perfect his pizza dough, ever since our trip to Napoli, and Giovanni is ever in search of the perfect ciabatta and focaccia. Hence, a joining of forces and a great learning and eating treat for those of us in the gallery.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

As dough rising is a many hour event, we were fortunate that Leonardo had made a few pizzas for us to enjoy during the lessons.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Giovanni began with focaccia.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

He loved my apron, so I let him borrow it for the day.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

His recipe includes bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and a potato;

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

and then a lot of patience waiting for the dough to rise before gently pressing it in his well worn pan.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

He then tops it with tomatoes and oregano and a bit of oil.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

After more rising and then cooking it in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes, the result is a focaccia with a crunchy, tasty crust and a fluffy chewy inside. Delicious!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

While the focaccia was rising, Giovanni started the next lesson: how to make ciabatta.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Unlike the focaccia, this starts with a BIGA or starter (yeast, water and flour) that is made well in advance.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Flour is added to the starter, and after a few hours wait, it doubles in size.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

While waiting for Giovanni’s focaccia to rise, Leonardo began teaching us how to make pizza dough.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Getting the yeast right is all important. Not too hot and not too cold or it won’t proof.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

He uses a blender to mix the 00 flour, yeast, salt and water.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Like the other doughs, it then begins the slow rising ritual. When it has risen, Leonardo divides the dough and begins making pizzas.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

He tops them with a variety of things his “customers” request…this one had anchovies (yikes) onions and capers.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

My favorite is sautéed onions and peppers. Soooo good and cooked to perfection!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

With the pizzas gone, (yes, we ate them all!), time to return to finishing the ciabattas. We learned from Giovanni not to handle the dough much and unlike pizza, not to fold it. Giovanni cut the dough gently in the right shape and “gingerly” placed each one on parchment paper.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

After a bit more rising, they were baked in a hot oven until golden brown.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

We filled these with cheeses and meats, and yes, we ate them too! Warm and wonderful with the coveted holes in the bread.

Italian language class in the morning. Bread making in the afternoon. All in a day’s work –  filled with friends, food, fun, and lots of vino! (Giovanna, sorry you missed the photo op.)

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Thanks Leonardo and Giovanni for a wonderful class. We learned a lot, but mostly we learned that we love to eat whatever you cook!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

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Hmmm…I think there’s a business here!

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

The Birth of a Cannoli

5 Nov

I stopped by the Ferrara Bakery in Chicago, originally founded and operated by my maternal grandparents, Salvatore and Serafina Ferrara

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and now by my cousin Nella and her husband Bill.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Although I had stuffed hundreds of cannolis in my teenage years, a requirement of all granddaughters during the holidays, I don’t remember ever seeing the cannoli shells being made.  I was in for a treat.

Once the dough is mixed, it is put on the long work table – picture huge amounts of pizza-like dough, but brown from the spices and much, much heavier.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

After the bakers get the dough into a log shape, they cut it into large pieces

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©Blogginginitaly.com

which are then flattened by hand, folded in half, and dusted with flour.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The dough is then fed through a press, creating long, thin sheets which are dusted heavily to prevent sticking.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

A form is used to cut the shapes

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©Blogginginitaly.com

which are then stacked and refrigerated overnight.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

The next day, the dough is rolled on metal tubes to create the cannoli shape

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©Blogginginitaly.com

and then fried to perfection!

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Eventually, the cannoli shell is stuffed with homemade cannoli cream

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©Blogginginitaly.com

and there you have it – an authentic Italian cannoli, made just like they still do in Italy.

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Delicious – before or after you order your lunch!

2210 W Taylor St, Chicago,  ©Blogginginitaly.com

2210 W Taylor St, Chicago,
©Blogginginitaly.com

While some things have changed since my grandparents’ days, most notably the addition of a full menu lunch, the handmade pastries and cookies look, smell and taste the same. After all, why mess with a good thing!

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

 

 

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