Bread Experiment #2

3.5 cups bread flour
1 cup water
1 cup active sourdough culture
2 tsp fine sea salt

Combine Ingredients and knead.
Proof for 5 hours
Punch down and form a ball
Proof for 3 more hours

Preheat oven with stone to 450 degrees bake for 15 minutes
spray the oven with cold water every 5 minutes (humidity in the oven helps form a crust)
reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes

Let cool for a half hour.

This one definitely had the best form. The dough was firm, easy to shape and rose much higher than the previous one. I had used all-purpose flour on my first attempt, and my culture was more active this time.
Flavor-wise, this one was fairly bland compared to the first one, which had a deliciously strong sourdough flavor.


How Peter Thiel foresaw the economic crisis

41 year old Peter Thiel:
hedge fund manager
venture capitalist
PayPal co-founder and CEO
global macro hedge fund president
early investor in the popular social-networking site Facebook

Apparently he foresaw the economic crisis.


Prionailurus viverrinus

The Fishing Cat

"A species can't be declared nearly extinct
until it has been declared totally cute"

Prionailurus viverrinus (Fishing Cat) has been declared endangered by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature.
And it has just been declared totally cute.


Neopolitan Pizza on the Grill

Is a bad idea:

1. You'll burn the house down.
2. You'll break your pizza stone.
3. You'll burn the pizza.

It's a good idea:

1. You just might make a great pizza that you can't make in the oven.


Pizza on the Grill

In late June I thought I had a major pizza-making breakthrough. I began cooking Pizza on the grill. My initial results were quite good. I fumbled around following several different recipes that called for grilling the dough first and then adding toppings. this ended up being far too dry, and definitely not the type of pizza I'm trying to make.

I then began identifying the keys to a successful pizza on the grill.

1. Get the coals as hot as possible. I mean really friggin' hot.
se a crap-ton of coals and keep the lid closed for 15-20 minutes before sliding the pizza on. If cooking multiple pizzas, have coals started on a chimney on the side and toss them on top in between pizzas.

-Open the lid just enough to slide the pizza in, and then close immediately .

I don't have the kind of thermometer that can measure the actual heat in my cheap-o grill. i'm holding out till I allow myself to buy the Electronic Specialties ESIEST 65 - Laser Guided Infrared Thermometer. I'm sure the temperature isn't nearly as hot as my goal of 800 degrees, but it has to be hotter than the 500 degree oven I had been using.


A poem about yeast

- At a pizza party
- We danced in the kitchen
- Saccharomyces-the most sensual fungus

- Sporulating feelings divide and grow
- Fermenting our love into eternity
- First in the bowl, then in the dough

- The aerated dough softens and rises
- Yeast eats sugar, producing CO2 bubbles (France 1966)


Mt. Pizza, the glorious place where kings dine.
Mt. Pizza, the mysteries will leave you lost
till eternity finds you with cheese in your beard.
Only the true and able can venture on your greasy slopes;
only the pure taste and know of real pizza hope.


EU declares Pizza Napoletana a "Regional Specialty"

The EU, in an effort to ensure the survival of regional producers in the global marketplace, protects certain local products by recognizing them as a "Regional Specialty". Recently, Pizza Napoletana has been labeled a regional specialty, protecting the local producers and it's originators of Naples.

Pizza Napoletana, often called Pizza Margherita is said to be named after Queen Margherita, who in 1889 requested a pizza with the colors of the national flag; a red tomato base, white mozzarella, and green basil.

The European Union’s Committee of the Regions enforces the designation of "Regional Specialty" by inspecting anyone within the EU who sells pizza called Pizza Napoletana to ensure it meets the standards defined by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana.
  • The diameter must be no more than 35 cm (14 inches) in diameter and no thicker than 1/3 of a centimeter at its center
  • The tomato base must be made from the San Marzano variety of tomatoes
    • San Marzano = from the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius
  • The olive oil used must be extra virgin
  • The cheese topping is buffalo mozzarella
  • All ingredients must be from the Campania region
  • The oven must be wood-fired, and the pizza must cook in less than two minutes
Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana offers certification training ($1,300 for 3 days, $2,200 for 1 week).

The European Union’s Committee of the Regions is dedicated to promoting local products regional markets. Regional marketing helps rural areas by "enabling a link to be forged between the product and a region's landscape and culture" and "protecting (regional products) sometimes means that a culinary heritage, contributing to regional identity, can preserved".

How to make Pizza Napoletana


Behind the scenes

Pepe's Pizza in New Haven, CT

44 days till I eat their pizza


Pesto Pizza

Last night I made a pretty kick-ass pesto pizza - California-style thin crust pesto with mozzarella and tomato. It was pretty easy, and there are some obvious ways I can make it better next time. I'm very excited about my future with pesto pizza.

** Before I begin, I must warn you that this post is intended for the serious Pete-za followers who are interested in playing along at home**
** Also, send in your Pete-za party photos and stories. I can make you a pizza blog superstar**

1. Pesto Pizza

Oftentimes, I inspire myself to do great things. I had made some brilliant pesto the other day using frozen basil leaves. It turned out so incredible, I had to use it on a pizza and blog about it.
Based on my years of pizza eating, I thought a thin crust would be most appropriate. I hadn't intentionally made thin crust before, so I picked up some tips from a recipe I found on the internet for a California-style thin crust, and combined these tips with the standard dough recipe I had written about previously.

1.1 Dough

There are 4 important deviations from my previous dough recipe to make the crust thin. (use a rolling pin, dust dough with flour while rolling it thin, "dock" the dough with a fork, and pre-cook the dough without toppings)

1.1.1 Combine 1/2 cup of warm water with 2 tsp yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir to prevent yeast from clumping. Let stand for 10 minutes. It should be foamy and cloudy.

1.1.2 Add olive oil, 1 cup of warm water, some salt, and beat in 2 cups of flour with a wisk. Ideally, you should use a high gluten flour (bread flour). I used all-purpose flour, since it was what I had on hand, but will try to keep bread flour on hand.

1.1.3 Switch to a wooden spoon , and add flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix. Keep adding flour until dough forms a ball, but is still moist and shaggy.

1.1.4 Cover bowl with Saran Wrap; let stand for 15 minutes.

1.1.5 Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, adding flour to keep from sticking to your fingers. The dough should still be moist.

1.1.6 Put the dough in a bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Turn the dough over to make sure all sides are coated with olive oil.

1.1.7 Cover again and put the bowl in a warm place and let it rise for an hour. It should double in size. Ideally, the dough should rise slowly over a 24 hr period in the refrigerator. However, I'm not so good at planning ahead.

*Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees*

1.1.8 Return the dough to the floured surface and knead until smooth. Dust the dough and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out flat, making sure to continuously dust the dough and counter with flour. Flip the dough over several times. Thin-crust pizza dough should be somewhat dry and dense. You will need to dust the dough with flour several times as you roll it out in order to incorporate more flour into the recipe. This also helps ensure that the dough will not stick to the countertop and your rolling pin.

1.1.9 Carefully place the dough onto a pizza pan, making sure to cut off excess dough. I screwed this part up my first time. The dough fell apart, and I had to ball it up and start again. My second attempt was a success.

1.1.10 Using a fork, prick the dough thoroughly. This prevents the dough from bubbling up. This is called 'docking' and there is actually a 'docker' tool you can use, but a fork works just fine.

1.1.11 Place the dough in the pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. This prevents the ingredients from weighing down the dough before it can crisp.

1.1.12 Add toppings and return to oven for 12 minutes, or however long it take to get good and crisp, but not too crisp.

1.2 Pesto

Using a large food processor, I processed the following ingredients. I have no idea about the quantities. I continuously tasted the outcome and adjusted the ingredients accordingly.
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • a couple handfuls of Walnuts
  • misc. mixed greens
  • Parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic
  • lemon
frozen basil looks really gross, but it's packed with flavor

It should also be noted that I used top-shelf fresh mozzarella from Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor. I firmly believe that if you're going to splurge on one ingredient it should be fresh mozzarella.



-From special guest pizza bloggers, Lena and Joanna-

On February 11, 2008, a revolutionary declared from a kitchen in Chicago: "It is my firm belief that the current economic crisis in America can be attributed to the low-quality, high-price, corporate lobbyist pizza crooks who prevent millions of Americans from eating high quality, affordable, healthy pizzas every day. Frozen pizzas in supermarkets, and chain pizza restaurants are ruining America."

This crisis has not been manifested more perfectly or grotesquely than in the pizza roll.

Americans, it is time to stop buying these machine-made, artificial grease-and-sauce turds with your credit cards. The ingredients are in your cabinets. They are in your local market. The labor is in your hands. The knowledge, on this blog:


We began with Pete-za's recipe for homemade pizza dough

We kneaded the dough as instructed, but instead of flattening out one big dough ball, we separated it into mini dough balls and flattened them into thinner, mini crusts.

This step presented our first obstacle. Mini dough does not flatten well into rectangular shapes. Pizza rolls are rectangles, we thought. This isn't right. But then, we realized: THEIR pizza rolls are rectangles. We moved on.

Once our nascent rolls were flattened, we covered them with sauce. About an hour earlier, we had softened diced baby portabella mushrooms, diced red pepper, and chopped garlic in some red wine that had been sitting on the counter for a couple months. (We predicted--and we believe accurately so--that these ingredients would not soften as well within a roll as they would in the open air of an extremely hot oven.) We combined these with pieces of chopped fresh mozzarella, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

We folded each pizza package over once, sealing the edges with our thumbs, being careful not to allow sauce or toppings to hemorrhage onto the counter or ourselves.

At this step, it did not occur to us to seal the roll all the way around its perimeter, including the folded edge. We believe this would have yielded a more roll-like result, in contrast to the calzone-ish appearance of this first batch.

We transferred the rolls to a well-oiled pizza stone that had been covered in flour and cornmeal. With our oven preheated to 425 degrees, we set our timer for 14 minutes (an estimate). The bottom side of the rolls appeared to be well-baked in that amount of time, so we turned
each roll over for another 14 minutes in the oven.

The rolls were crisp and crusty on the outside while doughier toward the center, which one taster characterized as a "good mouth feel." The flavor of the red-wine softened veggies and garlic came through the higher crust ratio nicely. The fresh mozzarella, though thoroughly
melted as hoped, was overpowered by the breadiness of the roll's crusty shell.

Implications for Research and Practice
Further experimentation with stronger-flavored ingredients (more spices, fresh basil, more garlic, or pepperoni, for example) and a more powerful cheese (Parmesan would be a good choice) is certainly warranted. Overall, however, the homemade pizza roll was a triumphant
departure from Totinos and would serve as a delicious snack or meal, or even as an appetizer for your next local meeting of democratic pizza chefs.

In solidarity,
Lena and Joanna


Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., takes a bite of pizza at American Dream Pizza in Corvallis, Ore., Friday, March 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Slice of ham and pineapple pizza tattooed on man's head. The Hawaiian Delight is one of my favorite pizzas as well.



I had a party...

...a deep dish pizza party.

The pizza was deemed insufficient.

I'll keep trying.

I promise.





up for sale

it's what i want for my birthday this year.

it'll cost us 2.6 million dollars


Chicago style

Pete-za Pete-za's been taking it easy lately.
I've been enjoying the idle pleasures of life.
In these idle moments, I find clarity.
The clarity to overcome a deep pizza funk (see previous post 3.18.08)

My original goal with this blog was to perfect a traditional Pizza Napoletana at home.

This requires an 800F+ oven. Not possible in my apartment.

As such, I began focusing on a more realistic goal:

Deep Dish Pizza

I've always liked deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati's, Gino's East, Pizzeria Uno, all pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned.

The best part is the pizza bakes at 425 degrees. Anybody can do that.

Many pizza snobs love trashing Chicago style pizza. Saying that at best Chicago pizza is a good casserole. This only slightly offends me as a Chicagoan.
I don't think it's worth comparing Chicago deep dish to thin crust pizzas (New York, New Haven, Neopolitan). They're completely different.
However, both can be made deliciously, involving essentially the same ingredients. So this blog will now celebrate pizza in all of it's delicious forms.

This is a photo of my new cookbook made by Cook's Illustrated. They have 4 pages dedicated to deep dish pizza. My deep dish challenge started here the other night.

We pretended what it would be like to make a pizza after the apocalypse (Earth Hour). I screwed the recipe up at least five times, but it still turned out great. It was incredibly easy, I can't wait to actually follow the recipe next time.

I'm going to try putting the cheese on the bottom next time.

Crust was too dense. I want it to be buttery and flakey.

I tossed some fresh basil on top.

More deep dish experiments and recipes this week.


Happy Easter

NOBUNNY loves you


Spotted Eagle Ray

Brought to you by wikipedia, MarineBio, youtube, Associated Press, Florida Museum of Natural History, and of course Google.
The spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari, Euphrasen (1790), or bonnet ray, is a cartilaginous fish found in shallow coastal waters by coral reefs and bays, in depths down to 80 meters (260 feet). Spotted eagle rays can weigh 500 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 10 feet. They are known to occasionally jump out of the water but are not aggressive and use the venomous barb at the end of their tail only for defense.

For $110 you can own your very own spotted eagle ray jaw.

Some may confuse the spotted eagle ray with the bullnose ray. Which is a little ridiculous given
the bullnose ray's dorsal fin origin, which is significantly closer to the level of the rear margins of the pelvic fins than the spotted eagle ray's dorsal fin origin. What's even more ridiculous is that the bullnose ray isn't even found in the Gulf of Mexico or the majority of the Caribbean Sea.

The spotted eagle ray is distributed worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters, even off the coast of Belize. (Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, Atlantic Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific west coast of the Americas).

Also called papagaio (Portuguese), it is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

Also called the spotted whipray, they frequently form large schools during the non-breeding season.

Also called fai manu in Samoan, these wonders of the world are identified by the numerous white ringed spots on their blue dorsal surface.

Also called amak-e-khaldar in Farsi, they were originally described in the systematic sense in 1790 .