Homemade Marinara Recipe

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Marinara is a staple in Italian and Sicilian food. It’s fairly easy to make and there are so many variations of that it can be tailored to fit almost any pasta, vegetarian or meat dish… Perhaps you just want to have a snack and want a good tasting dip for breadsticks.  Follow these recipes and you too will be able to serve up some delightful entrées that will please your family.

Basic Marinara:

  • 4 – 28 oz Cans Italian Style Peeled Plum Tomatoes (I use a company called Tuttorosso)
  • 4 – 26.5 oz Boxes of Chopped Tomatoes (Pomi)
  • 2 – 28 oz Cans Tomato Puree (Tuttorosso)
  • 4 – 6 oz Cans Tomato Paste (Contadina)
  • 56 oz water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, julienne
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp dried oregano or 3 Tbsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup grate Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Using a food processor, blender, an immersion blender or even your hands, puree the chopped tomatoes and peeled tomatoes. In a large stock pot add 1 tsp olive oil and sauté the onions over medium high heat for about 30-60 seconds, then add the garlic, cooking for about 10-15 seconds, just enough to brown the garlic. Quickly add the wine and reduce heat to medium. Add all of the tomato products to the stock pot along with the water. Bring the mixture to a soft boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cover and cook for a minimum of 4 hours and continue to stir the sauce periodically throughout the cooking process. Don’t cook the sauce for more than 6 hours and no more than 8 hours unless you are using it for lasagna or pizza. Now you have a flavorful marinara to enjoy.

Recipe variations:

  1. Replace oregano with with 6 Tbsp dried basil or 4 Tbsp fresh basil
  2. Replace Romano cheese with an Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) or any type of Italian hard cheese (add accordingly to taste)
  3. Replace water with low sodium vegetable stock
  4. Replace thyme with 2 Tbsp dried rosmary or 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (use food processor to provide a fine chop of herbs). Be warned that using oregano with rosemary is not a great idea, their flavors tend to clash with one another and will leave your sauce tasting more on a bitter side.

*When using rosemary for sauces, sautéed dishes, compound butters, infused oils or breads/pizza, remember to remove leaves from stem, but it is not necessary to do so if you are making stocks or roasting food.

Wine Examples:

  1. Barolo [great for a sauce if serving over game meat like venison, bear or rabbit] (Italy)
  2. Brunello di Montalcino [perfect for a sauce when serving over rabbit or rich-pasta dishes like baked ziti or lasagna] (Italy)
  3. Conte Priola Pinot Noir [wonderful edition to sauce that’s served over pork and chicken] (Italy)
  4. Colosi Rosso Sicilia [goes great when making a sauce for bear or rabbit] (Sicily)
  5. Cusumano Nero d’Avola Sicilia [a beautiful touch to a marinara that will flow atop grilled lamb or rabbit] (Sicily)
  6. Chateau Bellevue Bordeaux [not only is this a nice wine to drink, but does wonders for a sauce served over pasta dishes] (France)
  7. Chateau La Jorine St. Emilion – Bordeaux [great with a sauce for serving over venison or chicken parmesan] (France)
  8. Luc Pirlet Merlot [like the Bordeaux, this wine enhances the flavor of a marinara that’s be severed on top of pasta] (France)
  9. Alspaldi Rioja Cosecha [compliments the game meat (venison) it’s served with due to the hints of cherry and blackberry] (Spain)
  10. El Prado Tempranillo Cabernet [inexpensive, yet it adds a sublime fruity flavor to a marinara that won’t leave pasta unfinished] (Spain)
  11. Valserrano Rioja Reserva [even though there are Asian spices mixed mix in, it goes surprising well in a pizza sauce] (Spain)

Most of these wines I buy from a local wine dealer, Total Wine, http://www.totalwine.com, which has an exceptional and wide variety of wines, spirits, and beer. Check them out for any of your alcoholic needs, plus the Orlando store has knowledgeable staff and wonderful management.

*NOTE: Now you can change the flavor profile by adding a combination of red wines or using different types of reds. Experiment and come up with your own recipes. These recipes are building blocks for those of you who wish to try new things.

Goda di un gusto della Sicilia!

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Brown Veal Stock

Brown Veal Stock:

  • 8 lbs veal bones (the best place to find bones are you local butcher and are typically inexpensive), trim and knuckles should be included.
  • 1 Sachet d’Épices
  • 1 gallon + 64 oz cold water
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 lb Mirepoix (approx. 8 oz onion, 4 oz carrot, 4 oz celery), large-dice
  • 2 tsp Salt (I use coarse sea salt)
  • 2 fl oz vegetable oil or as needed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Coat the roasting pan with a light film of oil and heat in the oven. Remove the pan from oven after a few minutes and add bones to pan, then return pan to oven. Roast the bones, turning periodically, until they are a deep brown. Roast bones for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Once the bones are roasted, transfer them to a large stockpot and add 1 cup of cold water and the salt. The roasting pan needs to be deglazed by adding 1 cup of water, then add the dripping from the pan to the stockpot. Bring the stock to a simmer over low heat. Depouillage as needed. (skimming the impurities from the surface; the foamy substance that floats on top).
  4. Heat a medium-size pan (Rondeau, wide and fairly shallow pan with two handles, is prefered) over medium high heat, add a small amount of oil, just enough to provide a light film on the bottom of the pan. Add the mirepoix, stirring occasionally. The onions should turn a deep golden brown (the process known as caramelization); This takes about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir often, continuing to cook the mirepoix, about 1 -2 minutes; It will have a sweet aroma and begin to take on a rusty brown color. Then add 3-4 ladles full of stock to the mirepoix and stir. This mixture needs to simmer about 5 hours, then it can be add to the stock. You will also need to add the sachet d’Épices to the stock when you add the mixture.
  5. The stock needs to continue to cook while the mirepoix mixture is simmering. Be sure to depouillage as needed. Also you will need to taste the stock periodically. At this stage the stock will cook for about 1 more hour. (This step is completed after the mirepoix mixture has been added.) Total simmering time is 6 – 8 hours.
  6. Finally, Strain the stock. It can be used now or stored for later use, but if it it stored it needs to be rapidly cooled.

**Safe methods for cooling:

  1. Ice-water bath – easy and commonly used method. Divide food into smaller containers, then place containers in a sink or large pot filled with ice water, stirring the stock to cool more evenly and faster.
  2. Ice paddle – Plastic ice paddles are a great and easy way to cool stock. They can be filled with ice or filled with water and then frozen, if you have a big enough freezer.

These methods can be combined for even faster cooling.

NOTE: Mirepoix is a combination of different aromatics that enhance the background flavor of a dish. Depending on the type of cuisine, there are 4 basic mirepoix combinations you should know…

  1. Basic Mirepoix
  2. White Mirepoix
  3. Asian Mirepoix
  4. Cajun Trinity (Louisiana Creole and Cajun dishes)

Growing your very own cuilnary herbs!

How many times have you started cooking and said to yourself, “Oh, I forgot to get basil at the store…”? Well, if you’re like the rest of us it has probably happened at least once. I’ve learned my lesson and try to the have the most commonly used herbs on hand, which I grow myself. Growing herbs is surprisingly easy because they do most of the work themselves.

You have two options to choose from:

  1. Growing from seed
  2. Growing using a start (A start is a plant that already has an established root system.)

You can buy seeds and starts from any local nursery or home improvement gardening center (Lowe’s and Home Depot have some of the best priced for start plants. The following are websites for your gardening needs.

Many of these herbs do well indoors, but depending on your Zone/region you may have better luck growing outdoors.

Here is a list of commonly used herbs that are necessary for cooking (no matter what type of cuisine you make):

  1. Genovese Basil (cultivar of ‘sweet basil’)
  2. Purple Basil (popular in Asian cooking, has several varieties)
  3. Chervil
  4. Chives
  5. Coriander Seed (popular in Asian cooking)
  6. Cilantro (the plant part of coriander seed, also popular in Asian cooking)
  7. Dill
  8. French Tarragon
  9. Garlic Chives
  10. Mint
  11. Oregano
  12. Parsley
  13. Rosemary
  14. Sage
  15. Thyme
  16. Green onions (scallions) – even those these are not classified as an herb or spice they are extremely easy to grow and can be done so by using store bought ones and cutting off the bulb, leaving about an inch or two above the bulb. Place in water to hydrate the roots for a few days then transfer to a pot or planter.

In most Mediterranean cooking there are just a handful of herbs that will be used for almost every dish.

  1. Genovese Basil
  2. Garlic chives (great for garnishing, salads, and panini)
  3. Oregano
  4. Parsley
  5. Rosemary
  6. Sage
  7. Thyme

I have found that in parts of Zone 9 and 10 (where I live in Florida) Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme grow much better from starts rather than seed.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map:

zone_map2

There are a variety of  books from your local library or bookstore that discuss growing, but sometimes it’s trial and error, as it was in my case. You can even take some classes from your community college or look to volunteer at a co-op to learn more.

 

 

 

Vegetable Stock

This stock is one of the easiest stocks to make and takes anywhere from 30 – 40 minutes to cook.

Vegetable Stock:

  • 1 gallon cold water plus about 32 fl oz
  • 3 lb mirepoix, large-dice (ratio is always 2:1:1/onion:carrot:celery)
  • 3 lb nonstarchy vegetables (leeks, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, parsnips, etc..)
  • 2 tsp salt (I use coarse sea salt)
  • 1 Sachet d’épices

Directions:

  1. Place a large rondeau (wide, fairly shallow pan with two handles) over medium high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water in pan to ensure it’s hot before adding the vegetables.
  2. Once pan is hot, add the onion first. Let them cook for a few minutes, you will notice that they start to sweat, but don’t let them caramelize. Once this happens turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots and celery.
  3. At this point it is more of a preference of the chef as to how long you let the vegetables sweat. I usually let them cook for about 8 minutes or so (this is one reason I don’t let the onions caramelize because they run the risk of burning and adds that burnt taste to the stock).
  4. Once the vegetables have been sweated, add the cold water, salt and Sachet d’épices. Reduce the heat to low heat and cook for about 40 minutes. If you are adding any other vegetables or vegetable trimmings, to include skins, then you may add them at this time. Depending on what type of flavor you are trying to achieve or the dish you are making be sure to understand that different vegetables will change the profile of the stock and may not go well with everything.
  5. Be cautious as the stock begins to cook down; this is why I add a little extra, usually about 1 1/2 cups, cold water. Also, by having the extra water will give you right around 1 gallon of stock.
  6. For best results, do not cover and stir occasionally. There is a term used called depouillage. This is the method of skimming the impurities from the surface of the stock as it boils. The impurities are very noticeable as it becomes that frothy, foaming like substance that gathers at the top. Take a slotted spoon to depouillage and discard the impurities. This is essential to having a good quality stock.
  7. After the stock is done cooking, remove from heat and strain the stock. The best piece of equipment to use is a chinois, also know as a ‘china cap’. Begin the cooling process or if you may use it right away.

*Safe methods for cooling:

  1. Ice-water bath – easy and commonly used method. Divide food into smaller containers, then place containers in a sink or large pot filled with ice water, stirring the stock to cool more evenly and faster.
  2. Ice paddle – Plastic ice paddles are a great and easy way to cool stock. They can be filled with ice or filled with water and then frozen, if you have a big enough freezer

Please read my Techniques and Methods page for more information on the proper cooling methods.

*NOTE: Once the stock has been completely cooled another useful way you can store and use stocks are in the form of ice cubes. This allows you to use small amounts at a time and are very convenient for single use; not every recipe is going to be made for a large group. Cheap plastic ice trays are perfect for this. I usually freeze multiple trays then, once frozen, I transfer them to a container so that I can properly date them. You may either transfer them to another container or you may simply leave them in the ice trays and place the trays in a plastic zipper top bag. Just be sure to remove as much air as possible before placing in the freezer.

 

 

Country Style Roasted Chicken

This recipe is quite easy, even for those with little or no experience. Before we get started there are a few things I would like to cover… Poultry is eaten around the world in abundance, but for the purpose of this recipe it is more specifically tailored after the country side of Italian cuisine, however, it can be adapted to any whole roasted chicken dish. In Northern and Central regions of Italy poultry is eaten often where as Southern Regions (certain areas may not be suitable terrain to successfully raise poultry) like Sicily, Calabria, Apulia, and Sardinia, poultry is not consumed as often sometimes not at all. Seafood, pork, lamb, goat, and wild game meat is more likely consumed, however, some recipes have been changed over the years here in America due to a lack of quality meats; lamb, game, and goat are not as readily available in certain parts of the states so we have to make due. Also, depending on the region different types of fats are used, olive oils are used more often in Central and Southern Italy. Northern Italy uses butter and animal fats over olive oil. I am not saying that olive oil is not used in Northern Italy, it’s just not used as much.

***PLEASE READ*** This is very important. While working in kitchens and attending culinary school we did not wash poultry. By washing poultry it can produce bacteria and increase your risks of getting sick.

Be familiar with FDA Food Safety procedures and protocol.

Here are some help resources you may want to checkout:

https://www.fda.gov/Food/default.html

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/index.html

https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm255180.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/FoodborneIllnessesNeedToKnow/default.htm

Country Style Roasted Chicken:

  • 6 lb whole chicken
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 small apple or orange, halved
  • 2/3 cup olive oil or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in half crossways
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 tbsp dried thyme
  • 4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground marjoram
  • 2 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 cups Vegetable or Chicken stock

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, marjoram, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  3. On a cutting board, preferably a yellow color coded one (yellow for poultry), remove any gizzards  or packages from inside the cavity of the bird.
  4. With a parring knife, make a small incision at the top (where the cavity opening of the chicken is). Work your fingers underneath the skin, separating the skin from the meat; don’t go too far back but work it down the top and sides of the breast.
  5. Next, take 1/2 of the amount of butter or oil and massage it into the meat underneath the separated skin. This will help keep the meat moist not to mention it will add flavor.
  6. Take the apple/orange, onion, celery and bay leaves and place them inside the cavity of the bird.
  7. Using the remaining butter or oil and gently rub onto the skin. Be thorough and cover the entire chicken. Then sprinkle the herb and spice mixture all over the bird, covering every part you can (do not turn the chicken over to cover the bottom which is not necessary).
  8. Place the chicken in a deep roasting pan. Pour the stock into the pan. The stock should not be cover more than 1/4 of the chicken.
  9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, making sure it is not touching the bird if at all possible. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (ovens vary so time may be different). The internal temperature should be 165ºF (the temp must be holding steady for 15 seconds) at a minimum and I don’t recommend anything higher than 175ºF. When collecting the temperature on the whole chicken place the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast but be careful not to get a false reading (if the thermometer goes into the cavity of bird it will give a lower/ false temperature).
  10. Once the internal temperature reaches 165ºF, remove the chicken from the oven. Be very careful transferring the chicken from the pan to a serving dish, not only will it be extremely hot, but you don’t want it to fall apart as you pick it up. I usually use a pair of heavy duty two-prong forks to transfer it.
  11. Carve and serve! A nice merlot, cabernet or chianti pairs well with the roasted chicken.

*NOTE: There are many types of side dishes that can accompany roasted chicken. Potatoes, asparagus, carrots, parsnips, roasted tomatoes, etc… Keep an eye out for more of my blogs as will be starting to compile menus for your enjoyment!

Pizza Pie in the Making

tasty-italian-pizza-thumb13650278Over the years I have been able to compile a great number of recipes, both from my father’s family and my own. Since I love food to look it’s best as well as taste amazing, I have fine tuned my family’s recipes to fit a more elegant, vibrant, and modern twist of some terrific classic dishes. If you’re anything like me and almost everyone out there in the world, then you like pizza.

Many traditional pizza pies will have only olive oil, cheese, fresh herbs, and a variety of sliced vegetables or cured meats; Pizza actually dates back to the Roman days of Ancient Greece (which wasn’t referred to as ‘pizza’ and had possibly been around even before Romans occupied ¹Greece during the 1st millennium BC), where there were many kiosks or carts that made a flat bread style dough and added only cheeses, oils, cured meats and vegetables. It wasn’t until later that pizza had become what we know and love today.  Now some people like all the crazy toppings like pineapple, BBQ chicken, steak, BBQ pork, and so on, but that is a far cry from what a pizza should be… My opinion is it should never go on a pizza, but that’s just my opinion. Pizza needs to be simple and have just a few ingredients as the toppings so that you don’t lose the flavor of each ingredient.

¹Earth ovens were used during this time  as they were the most primitive form of a pizza oven. There are records that indicate portable earth ovens were being used during the Iron Age.

 

Pizza dough is critical and must be looked after properly. I like to make homemade dough, but when I’m in a rush or make several pizzas for a party I’ll use Ready-to-Use (actual unbaked dough) dough from my local grocer’s (Publix) bakery. It cost about $3.00 (Publix) and cuts the prep time down to more than half the time it would take to make dough from scratch, but there is something to be said for making your own dough. If you go the route of purchasing dough, then remember that you still must let it rise in a dark and warm (not pre-heated, rather natural temperature) area. For either store bought or homemade dough, after it rises you will kneed the dough for a few minutes then form it into a ball again and let it rise. I usually allow 30-45 minutes for the second rising. After the second rising you must kneed it once more for a few minutes; sometimes I will let it sit for about 10 minutes before I form the dough to the pan.

Recipes for flavored pizza dough:

Pizza Dough

  • 3 cups King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-gluten Flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast (always check expiration date)
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/4 cup of the flour, the package of yeast and salt. Sift the mixture to distribute the dry ingredients evenly. Next, make a hole in the center of the flour mixture and add the warm water and oil. If using the an electric counter top mixer, then blend the mixture for 1/2 minute on lower speed, scraping the bowl. Beat 3 minutes at a speed setting of
3 or 4.

*NOTE: make sure that you are using the dough hook attachment for your mixer. Stir in the rest of the flour mixture, but saving about 1/4 – 1/2 cup. Use a spoon or fork to mix together. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 5-8 minutes, adding a little flour to make the dough moderating stiff; the dough should be smooth and elastic.
Roll the dough into the shape of a ball and place in a bowl then cover with a dry towel and place in a dark, dry area, like your oven (turned off). Waiting until the dough has doubled in size before removing it from the bowl. I find that it works best if you knead the dough a second time for approximately 1 minute, then roll the dough back into the shape of a ball and placed back in the bowl then cover and let it rest in a dark, dry area. The dough will rise again and then you are ready to roll out the dough into the desired shape. This recipe will make an 18″ thin crust or a 14″ large round pizza. If making a rectangle shape, then it will make a pizza approximately 18″ x 12″.

*NOTE: The hi-gluten flour will help make the dough more elastic and helps to make it rise better.

1. Garlic and Cheese Crust

  • 1 pizza dough (see recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese

2. Herb Crust

  • 1 pizza dough (see Recipe)
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 2 tsp coarse Sea Salt

3. Sun-dried Tomato Crust

  • 1 pizza dough (see recipe)
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, roughly chopped (must be drained well if using tomatoes kept in oil)
  • Pinch of Fine Grade Sea Salt

Whether you’re creating these Specialty crusts or your own, the special ingredients must be folded in the dough by hand and blended well to ensure that the dough has an even amount of ingredients throughout the crust.

Infused oils are another great way to and flavor to a crust, though I haven’t seen too many pizzerias or restaurants use infused oils. You can either buy infused oils or make them you self. Infused oils are relatively easy to make,all you need is good quality Extra Virgin olive oil and a creative mind.
The following are some good recipes to try.

1. Roasted Garlic Oil

  • 1 1/2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Bulb of Garlic

Preheat oven to 375 F and adjust the rack on the lowest setting . Place whole garlic bulb on a sheet pan, leave the outer skin on the garlic. Place pan in the oven on the lowest rack and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Ovens vary so make sure to check the garlic to prevent it from burning.
Once the garlic is done, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Once the outer part is cool enough to touch begin to peel the skin off and pull apart the cloves. Carefully peel the cloves and remove the soft garlic. Be care because the garlic could still be hot. Once all the cloves are peel place all of the garlic in a mixing bowl. With a fork, lightly press the garlic to release the aromas and flavors. Place garlic in an air tight container (I use glass mason jars) then add the oil. Close lid tightly and place ins a dark, dry area and leave for 48-96 hours. When you are ready to use the oil, it must be strained. Using a fine mesh strainer or a chinois strainer (also called China Cap; “chinois” is a French for Chinese) lined with 1 layer of cheese cloth. Because of the viscosity of the oil it may take a while, but the end product is worth the wait! Place strainer over a larger bowl or measuring cup (preferably 4 cup) and begin to pour the oil over the strainer. Once all the oil is strained, then pour into a clean jar and close lid tightly. Now you have a homemade infused oil. Shelf life will hold for about 2 weeks.

2. Rosemary Oil

  • 1 1/2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Fresh Rosemary leaves
  • 4 Whole Peppercorns

Using wax or parchment paper, roll out a sheet about 2 ft long. Spread the rosemary out on top of the paper and with a rolling begin to gently roll over top the rosemary. The rosemary needs to be bruised in order for the essential oils to be released. Roll back and forth a few times. Place rosemary in an air tight container (I use glass mason jars) then add the oil. Close lid tightly and place ins a dark, dry area and leave for 48-96 hours. When you are ready to use the oil, it must be strained. Using a fine mesh strainer or a chinois strainer (also called China Cap; “chinois” is a French for Chinese) lined with 1 layer of cheese cloth. Because of the viscosity of the oil it may take a while, but the end product is worth the wait! Place strainer over a larger bowl or measuring cup (preferably 4 cup) and begin to pour the oil over the strainer. Once all the oil is strained, then pour into a clean jar and close lid tightly. Now you have a homemade infused oil. Shelf life will hold for about 2 weeks.

3. Pepper Oil

  • 1 1/2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 3 Whole Pepperoncini Peppers, drained of excess juice.

On a cutting board, cut the tops off of the peppers and make 2 small incisions lengthwise. Place pepperoncini in an air tight container (I use glass mason jars) then add the oil. Close lid tightly and place ins a dark, dry area and leave for 48-96 hours. When you are ready to use the oil, it must be strained. Using a fine mesh strainer or a chinois strainer (also called China Cap; “chinois” is a French for Chinese) lined with 1 layer of cheese cloth. Because of the viscosity of the oil it may take a while, but the end product is worth the wait! Place strainer over a larger bowl or measuring cup (preferably 4 cup) and begin to pour the oil over the strainer. Once all the oil is strained, then pour into a clean jar and close lid tightly. Now you have a homemade infused oil. Shelf life will hold for about 2 weeks.

When making a pizza, whether you’re using a sauce to spread over the dough or going for a more traditional pie, remember to use the freshest ingredients that you can; this is the difference between night and day. You might want to consider buying vegetables that are in season and local rather purchasing something that has to travel 500 miles to your destination. Food usually will look and taste better when using fresh ingredients.

Here are some ideas for you to try next time you make a pizza:

  • Mushrooms, green bell peppers, and yellow onion
  • Roma tomatoes, Italian sausage, and fresh basil
  • Black olives, green bell peppers, and Roma tomatoes
  • Pepperoni, Pancetta, green bell peppers, and diced tomatoes
  • Zucchini, black olives, diced tomatoes, red onion
  • Italian sausage, diced pepperoni, mushrooms, purple onion
  • Anchovies, Roma tomatoes, and purple onion

If using onions, the best way is to slice them thin using a julienne cut (long thin strip, think of a match stick).

Also, if using a marinara sauce, the sauce must be cooked down to remove excess liquid. Nobody wants to eat a soggy pizza. When you cook down the sauce you are basically cooking over med. low heat for and extended amount of time. A typical marinara will cook for at least 4 hours and no more than 6 hours. You have to keep a close eye on the sauce and stir frequently so that doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. A pizza sauce should be fairly thick (consistency should be a little less thick than tomato paste). I usually use straight, 100% tomato paste and blend a few herbs and spices to it; this goes right on the pizza at room temperature before putting the pie in the oven.

The recipes above are ones that I use, but almost any type of spice and herb can be used to make infused oils. The juice from citrus fruits can be use as well, which would go well with seafood, but that will be covered in another topic later on.

I hope that you can enjoy these recipes and create a wonderful collection of mouthwatering pies, the possibilities are endless. Mangiamo!

Other Useful Brown Stocks

These stocks are very useful when you want to enhance the flavor of the dish you are creating. They all follow the base for Brown Veal Stock.

Brown Lamb Stock: The veal bones and trim are replaced by an equal amount of lamb trim and bones. Mint stems, cumin seeds, or rosemary can be added to the standard sachet d’épices; one or more of these herbs should be added.

Brown Game Stock: The veal bones and trim are replaced by and equal amount of game bones and trim. Depending on the dish I am making I will add rosemary, thyme, oregano, or garlic cloves in the sachet d’épices. Remember… With wild game, just think rustic, woody taste.

Brown Pork Stock: The veal bones and trim are replaced by an equal amount of fresh or smoked pork trim and bones. Oregano stems or crushed red pepper can be added to the sachet d’épices. **If using smoked pork bones and trim here is a list of woods to use:

  • Alder
  • Oak
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Almond
  • Pear

The woods listed above also go well with beef, game meats (rabbit, venison, alligator, etc..), lamb, poultry and water fowl. Oak, Almond, Apple are good woods for seafood too. Be cautioned that with certain species of trees such as, Maple, Mesquite, Hickory/Pecan  tend to give the food that more of that American BBQ flavor. Pecan is from the same family as hickory, however, it does produce a slightly different taste when it is used to cook or smoke with.

Hickory:

  1. Beef
  2. Chicken
  3. Pork
  4. Lamb
  5. Mildly flavored game meat (rabbit, etc…)
  6. Seafood steaks (Swordfish, shark, tuna steaks)

 Pecan (does not go as well with game meat as hickory does):

  1. Beef
  2. Chicken
  3. Lamb
  4. Pork
  5. Duck

Maple:

  1. Pork
  2. Chicken
  3. Duck
  4. Lamb
  5. Venison

Mesquite:

  1. Chicken
  2. Duck
  3. Rabbit
  4. Pork
  5. Lamb
  6. Venison

 

*Please remember that not every type of tree can be used for cooking. Some give off toxic fumes when burned or will leave your food tasting like the contents of the entrails of the animal you slaughter…Not a good idea! There are great woods out there for cooking and some just for survival, we’ll stay away from the latter.