Hello! It’s been a while. Things have been kind of crazy around here so I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to work on the blog. I’ve been doing plenty of cooking though, including twice-monthly test recipes for Leite’s Culinaria (French toast with Earl Grey syrup, red velvet cupcakes, and lots more!), a spread of finger foods for Easter, a strawberry-rhubarb crostata for Mother’s Day, and rosemary shortbread and classic macaroni salad for a Memorial Day cookout. There’s no shortage of good, homemade food around here, that’s for sure!
I recently finished my second session of Italian classes. This semester included direct and indirect objects pronouns; reflexive verbs; past, future, and imperative tenses; idiomatic expressions and more. Definitely more challenging, but also a lot of fun. Our class was small (only 6 people) so we got to know each other. We ended the semester with our own little festa, including homemade arancini, biscotti, and limoncello; pizza from Red Rose, pastries from La Fiorentina, and red wine. I plan on taking a 6-week review course this summer at the ICC and continuing with the third and final level offered in the fall.
April marked my “blogiversary” – a year since I first began this journey! My skills and confidence in the kitchen have grown and my cultural and linguistic knowledge of Italy have certainly improved, but there’s still more work to be done regarding genealogy/family history and a more thorough exploration of Italian food. So “My Year of Italian Cooking” will continue on, until I feel a bit more satisfied with my progress.
Last but not least, some Italian food! Though I initially said I didn’t want to bother with Italian-American favorites we already know and love, there’s something to be said for conquering the classics and finding reliable, crowd-pleasing recipes. So, I will let you in on a Serafino-Clover-Brown kitchen secret: homemade pizza is cheap, easy, versatile, delicious, and almost everyone loves it! This winter we made a LOT of pizza, and though Nick is still perfecting his crust (it’s hard to replicate a wood-fired pizza oven), I think we’ve made strides. Pizza dough is one of those things you can throw together in the late afternoon if you don’t mind a short rise or you can prepare it 24 hours in advance if you’re the “think ahead” type. We’ve dabbled in different doughs (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s dough from River Cottage Everyday, Smitten Kitchen’s lazy dough, and Sally’s Baking Addiction’s dough); it takes time to figure out what texture you like (I prefer chewy and a little puffed up; Nick’s a thin-crust disciple) and how to render that at home. But our pizzas have always been good. Actually, they’re great!
What I love most about pizza is how individual it is – add whatever toppings you like and voilà, you’ve created your perfect pie! It’s all about good ingredients, the mingling of gooey cheese and flavorful sauce, and the crunch of a quality crust. So pick one of the dough recipes listed above, take some inspiration from our pizzas below, and start making pizza at home!
I should note that while it helps to have a pizza stone or a pizza pan (pictured below), a regular old cookie sheet will work too, you’ll just have a rectangular pizza instead of round. Make sure to always sprinkle your pan with cornmeal or flour before putting down the dough. Set your oven to 475-500 degrees F and cook your pizza for approximately 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on it the first time around so you know what works for your particular oven.