You may remember my post of a few weeks back regarding my very cool new workstation atop my treadmill. What great fun to walk, talk and work at the same time. I have decided I need a goal which will keep it fun – something that will keep me motivated. So I have decided to walk to different destinations in Italy (virtually of course)! For my first quest, I have decided to walk from Taormina in Sicilia to the top of Mount Etna – a mere 61.4 km (126.7 miles) – a cakewalk I think! It will probably take me longer than expected due to all the upcoming business travel but away we go! Last night, in preparation for my virtual trip, I needed to fuel my body with carbs to keep my strength up (what a great excuse to eat carbs- woohoo! :o) And given my starting point, fond memories of perfectly executed pizzas at Trocadero Ristaurante Pizzeria in Taormina came to mind – mouthwatering masterpieces of thin crispy crusts, and incredibly fresh ingredients. So with a nod to my memories of Taormina and my friends at Trocadero, I made a pizza with roasted garlic, parmigiano and basil for dinner last evening.
Well, off I go! To the top! Ci vediamo presto (see you soon)! I will check in from time to time and keep you posted on progress. I even promise to bring you a bit of local color (like the famous pistachios of Bronte) as I toodle through the magical villages of Sicilia but for now – off I must go! Arrivederci!
Pizza with Roasted Garlic, Parmigiano and Basil
Pizza dough: (from La Cucina Italiana, August 2012 issue – yes, my issue actually says August 2012 even though it it still June. You can find ’00’ flour at your local Italian market.)
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
3 1/2 cups ’00’ flour or unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil for bowl
Toppings for pizza:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 head of roasted garlic, cloves removed and smashed into a pulp (directions below)
Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
Fresh basil leaves, sliced horizontally (chiffonaed)
Red pepper, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, sprinkle yeast and sugar over 1 1/4 cups warm water (100 to 105 degrees) Let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If yeast does not become creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to yeast mixture. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes or until the dough forms a coarse ball. Let dough rest with bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel, 5 minutes. Then remove towel and knead on medium-low speed, 2 minutes more, or until dough clears sides of bowl. If dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful. If it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. (If not using a mixer, dough can be combined in a large bowl and, on a lightly floured work surface, vigorously kneaded by hand, following kneading and resting times above.)
Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk; time may vary depending on room temperature and yeast.
Divide dough into 4 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface, leaving a few inches between balls. Loosely cover with a damp dishtowel (not terry cloth or you will be eating fuzzy pizza) and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours; time may vary depending on room temperature and freshness of yeast. If skin forms on dough while rising, lightly spray surface with water.
If using, heat pizza stone. Position rack in lower third of oven. Place pizza stone on rack. At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, heat oven to maximum temperature (500˚ to 550˚).
Assemble Pizza: Lightly flour a surface. Using your fingers (you can use a floured rolling pin if you must), press out 1 ball of dough with your fingers to shape into a round. Using your fingers makes the pizza shape more interesting! Make sure your dough is not sticking to your work surface so you can transfer it to the baking stone if using or pizza pan. Shape into approximately a 10 inch or so round. Be creative!
Drizzle the crust with olive oil to just coat the surface. Spread the garlic paste across the oil and sprinkle with lots of grated Parmigiano. Sprinkle with red pepper to taste and a few grinds of black pepper. Sprinkle the basil across the top.
Bake until the edge of the dough is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with a fresh drizzle of olive oil. Serve!
1 head of garlic (you can make more and save them for another use)
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Take the head of garlic (leave it unpeeled) and slice off the top 1/4 of the head to expose the cloves at the top. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap garlic in foil and place in the oven. Roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Yummy!