Pizza Friday

Every week we have Pizza Friday, though now, it sometimes happens on Saturday or Sunday. Since we got our wood fired oven, we have a calendar and every weekend is booked with family and friends coming for pizza “Friday”. We love hosting and feeding everyone great food and everyone loves eating it!

This will be the first of many Pizza Friday posts as we highlight some of our creations and those with whom we shared them.

Let’s start last with last year and our first of many wfo Pizza Fridays.

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This night we had a “make your own pizza” night. We provided several different meats, veggies and cheeses to choose from. We had capicola (a dry-cured salami), calabrese (a very spicy salami) and thinly sliced pepperoni. There was broccoli, asparagus and sauteed red bell peppers with onions and mushrooms. For cheese, we offered mozzarella, provolone and grated parmesan.

The first pizza we make each night is our “tester” pizza, which has become a tradition. It’s a simple, but oh so tasty, pie with drizzled olive oil, coarse salt and fresh rosemary. It is meant to test the temp of the oven floor to make sure it’s not too hot for baking. This has become a favorite pie for all of our family.

Next we let everyone create their own pies and made them pose for a picture with their creation!

12036869_10207525630529908_637915288799688256_nJamie had a pie with a little capicola, veggies and mozzarella

12038146_10207525631369929_1939915533582771802_nEllen had a veggie pizza with broccoli, provolone and parmesan

12049380_10207525630729913_5446446054962949568_nHazel had a combination pie on which she made three different sections. One with veggies, one with pepperoni and basil and one with just sauce and mozzarella

12038143_10207525631889942_6147054868581165221_nCarolyn made hers with calabrese, capicola, provolone and parmesan

12043120_10207525631209925_467597515420943216_nAnd finally, we had lil baby Sawyer, who enjoyed some sauce and cheese on his piece.

It was a great evening, the first firing of the oven went off without a hitch and thus begun our new Pizza Friday tradition.

 

Easy Ciabatta Recipe

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ciabatta in oven

Something I love as much as, or more maybe, than pizza, is bread. A crunchy boule just out of your wood fired oven is heaven on a plate. A few weekends ago, instead of pizza Friday, we had bruschetta for dinner. Fresh tomatoes and herbs from our garden, flavorful mozzarella and a drizzle of Italian olive oil with this ciabatta bread fresh out of the oven was a wonderful ending to a long work week! Add a bottle of crisp white wine to cool the summer temps and all is bliss…the perfect summer meal.

Ciabatta means “slipper” in Italian and the bread originated in Verona in response to the French baguette. The baker who created the first recipe, named it ciabatta because the shape of the dough reminded him of his wife’s slipper. Ciabatta is known for it’s crisp crust and open crumb and a ciabatta loaf is typically elongated, broad and flat. I chose to make rolls instead of a loaf, which were irregular in shape and size. I didn’t use my pizza peel to transfer them from the baking sheet to the oven, choosing instead to pick them up gently with my hands and place them directly on the oven floor.

ciabatta whole                                                         ciabatta crumb

I made a double batch, so I had a lot of rolls in the oven at the same time. It was a little difficult to move them front to back so they cooked evenly and I ended up using my hands for that too because my peel wouldn’t work in the tight quarters. They become fairly firm very quickly, so it is easy enough to move them around without affecting the quality of the finished product.

As I said, we had bruschetta, but these rolls are fabulous with just a drizzle of flavorful olive oil as well. I encourage you to try this easy recipe.

Mangia!

bruschetta


Easy Ciabatta

Yield: 12 rolls or 2 loaves

BIGA:

1/2 tsp yeast

1/2 cup warm water (to the touch)

1 cup all purpose flour

Add yeast and flour to the water and combine with a whisk to form a paste. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight (either on the counter or in the fridge)

After sitting, the biga should have a ton of bubbles on top. This, and the rising of the dough, are what will help the final bread have a beautiful crumb with a soft interior and crunchy exterior.

DOUGH:

2 cups water

1 tsp yeast

The Biga that you had resting

4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add yeast to the water in your mixer bowl and stir to wet all the yeast. Add all of the Biga to the water and break it up with a spatula until stringy.

Add salt to the flour and stir, then add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl. Stir to form a thick dough. Let mixture stand for 20 minutes so the flour can absorb all of the water and the yeast can proof a little.

Use the dough hook on your mixer and let the mixer run for a good 15-20 minutes on medium speed. This will really bring the dough together and help build the gluten. At first, the dough will really stick to the bottom of the bowl, but eventually it will come away from the sides and start slapping the sides. If you don’t get to this point by the halfway mark of the mixing time you may need to increase the speed on the mixer. When you stop the mixer, the dough will all fall back into the bowl and be very loose. As long as it is smooth and shiny, you are good to go.

Keep the dough in the mixer bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let this rise at room temp for 2 or 3 hours until it has tripled in bulk.

In order to most easily handle this wet dough, make sure you use A LOT of flour on your work surface. Scrape the dough out onto the flour and handle gingerly because you don’t want to break all of those beautiful bubbles that are just below the surface of the dough. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and then cut the dough into either 2 loaves or 12 rolls. I used a pizza cutter and it worked great, you could also use your bench scraper.

Flour your hands and gently place the dough onto a floured baking sheet. Leave the dough sit for another 30 minutes or so (can go a lot longer if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend letting it sit more than an hour and a half). The bubbles will really start to come out on the surface after this resting period.

Bake in your wfo at around 350-400F for 15-20 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. You can also bake in your kitchen oven at 475F on a baking stone for 20-30 minutes.