Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mushroom-Prosciutto Pizza

Mushroom-Prosciutto Pizza
makes 2 10 or 12-inch pizzas



1 cup warm (105 ° F) water
1 envelope active dry yeast  (about 1 1/8 teaspoons)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus additional for work surface
4 teaspoon salt


18 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup Marsala wine
4 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 cup shredded fontina cheese



1.  In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.  If the yeast doesn't "proof" (get "foamy") pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.
2.  Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl  of a stand mixer.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the "proofed" yeast mixture.  Turn the mixer, fitted with dough hooks,  to high (labeled  knead on my mixer) and turn on.  Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).
3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.
4.  Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5.  After the dough  has doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 12-inch log.  Divide the log in half and form each half into equally sized dough balls.  Lightly oil a 2 large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place each dough ball into its own bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover each bowl with plastic and set in a warm, draft-free place until the nearly double in size again, about1 to 1 1/2 hours.


1.  Melt butter in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté mushrooms and shallots until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms are tender; about 7 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme; sauté 1 minute. Stir in the Marsala.  Correct seasoning to taste; remove from heat. 

construction and baking:

1.  Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the middle shelf of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 450° F.
2.  On work surface, place one of the dough balls and flatten into a disk, with your fingertips and palms, press it into a thinner disk of dough approximately 10 to 12 - inches round and about 1/8-inch thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness [don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy]).  Sprinkle flour over the surface of this thin disk (this will become the bottom of the pie when you place the disk on the peel  in the next instruction).
3.  Distribute some corn meal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough rounds to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel, lightly spread about ½ of the mushroom mixture evenly over crust; sprinkle evenly with ½ of the prosciutto and ½ of the fontina cheese (leaving about ½ inch of uncoated dough around the edge to form the crust). 
4.  Finally  sprinkle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the surface.
5.  Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edges of the pizza and distribute additional corn meal until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 12 minute in a 450°F oven. Remove from the oven, slice into 8 wedge shaped slices and serve.
6.  Repeat with the remaining dough and remaining  ½ toppings and cheese.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Taiwanese Style Crispy Pork Chops

Taiwanese-Style Crispy Pork Chops
serves 4
The first time we tasted this meal was on our trip to Taiwan to meet our daughter-in-laws family.  Unlike American pork chops, these delicious breaded and fried scallopini are fragrant with the subtle taste of Chinese five spice supported by the taste of the Char Siu Sauce they are marinated in, the longer they are marinated the more fragrant they become.   These crispy pork chops don't really need a gravy but if you like you can add several tablespoons of the marinade (to your taste) to commercial pork or beef gravy and serve the five-spice flavour gravy as an accompaniment.


4  –  ¾ inch, boneless pork chops
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Taiwanese michiu wine (substitute Japanese Mirin)
1/8 teaspoon  white pepper
1/8 teaspoon  five-spice powder
1 teaspoon  Char Siu Sauce (Chinese barbecue sauce, DO NOT substitute American Barbecue sauce)
3-4 cloves garlic, micro-planed
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup sweet potato flour (acceptable substitutes are tapioca  or corn starch)
6 -8 tablespoons of cooking oil


1.  One at a time, place each pork  chop in a large, re-sealable plastic bag and pound  the chop into a thin (1/2 to ¼ - inch thick) scallopini and set aside in the refrigerator.  

2.  When all the pork chops have been pounded, create a marinade by combining the soy sauce, the michiu wine, the white pepper, the five-spice, the barbeque sauce, and the micro-planed in a small mixing bowl.  Once the marinade has been created, pour it into a large, re-sealable plastic bag.  Place the pork chops into the bag and seal, squeezing out as much air as possible.  Allow the pork chops to marinate for several hours, turning the bag every so often, to allow all the flavours to develop.

3.  When the pork chops have marinated for several hours, build a breading station by placing the sweet potato starch, the beaten egg, and the Panko bread crumbs in three separate plates.  Bread each of the pounded pork chops  by first dredging each in the sweet potato flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the Panko bread crumbs.

4.  Once each of the pork chops have been breaded on both sides  heat enough vegetable oil to fill  a large, heavy bottomed frying pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch over medium high heat and fry the pork chops, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. 

5.  Serve accompanied by plain white rice, noodles, or a simple vegetable.

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