Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chicago-Style Stuffed Pizza

There are two specialty ingredients I use in this pizza: pizza seasoning, a blend of Italian herbs and spices, garlic, onion, and salt; and semolina, golden durum wheat ground too coarse to call flour, but perfect nonetheless for bread, pasta, and pizza crust.

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

6 cups (27 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup semolina
1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons melted butter  Mix till thoroughly combined.

Add 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Use enough to make a smooth dough. You’ll use less in the summer, or if you substitute all-purpose flour for the semolina; and more in the winter, or if you’re in a dry climate.

Mix till everything is cohesive…

…then knead to make an elastic, fairly stiff dough.
Place in a large, greased bowl; cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

As you can see by the ruler, this isn’t a really vigorous riser.

 For best flavor, after its initial 1-hour rise, refrigerate the dough for several hours, or for up to 24 hours. You can use the crust after its first 1-hour rise, but its flavor will improve with the longer, slower rise offered by refrigeration.

While the dough is rising, we’ll make the sauce.

Or not. Feel free to use bottled pizza or spaghetti sauce; your own recipe, or whatever you like. Bottom line, you’ll need about 28 to 30 ounces of sauce – just under 4 cups.

To make your own, start with canned (or boxed) tomatoes. Here’s a 28-ounce can on the left; a 26-ounce box on the right.
Canned crushed tomatoes on the left; aseptically boxed chopped tomatoes on the right. Your choice; I happen to like the chunkier boxed tomatoes, so that’s what I used.

Coarsely grate 1 small onion; you’ll have about 1/2 cup of onion. Sauté it in 1 tablespoon of butter.

When the onion is starting to brown, add 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. Cook for about 30 seconds, and remove the pan from the stove.

Add the following:
1 teaspoon dried oregano; or 1 teaspoon Pizza Seasoning
4 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste*

*The amount will depend on the saltiness of the canned tomatoes. Under-salt a bit, as the sauce will cook down and the flavor intensify.

Simmer gently for up to 1 hour, to concentrate the flavors. This is what the sauce looked like after 30 minutes.

And here it is after 45 minutes – see how nicely it thickened?

While the sauce is simmering, fry up some mushrooms, if you like. This is 8 ounces of button mushrooms, each chopped in half.

I happen to like mushrooms in my pizza. If you don’t care for them – leave them out. Or substitute peppers. No Pizza Police here.

Sausage is traditional in Chicago stuffed pizza. You’ll need 1 pound of bulk sausage.

Don’t like sausage? Leave it out.  Want to make your own? Here’s how.

Mix together the following:
1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more for spicier sausage)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Refrigerate till ready to use.

OK, let’s start assembling this baby. Place the dough on a lightly greased work surface. A kneading/rolling mat works well here.

Divide the dough into two pieces. One should be about three-quarters of the dough; the other, one-quarter. If you have a scale, one piece should weigh about 36 ounces; the other, about 13 ounces.

Divide each piece of dough in half again. You’ll now have four pieces of dough: top and bottom crusts for two 9” stuffed pizzas.

Start with one of the larger pieces of dough.

Stretch, then roll the dough into a round large enough (about 15” to 16”) to line the bottom and sides of one pan, with some overhang.

You’ll be rolling the dough quite thin; it helps to cover it with some lightly greased parchment as you roll.

Roll one of the smaller pieces of dough into a circle about 9” in diameter.

Cover both pieces of dough, and go away for 15 minutes. Or use the time to roll out the other two pieces of dough. Either way, you want to let your rolled-out dough rest for 15 minutes; it relaxes the gluten, allowing you to handle the dough without it shrinking.

Butter the bottom and sides of two 9” x 2”-deep round cake pans, then drizzle olive oil in the bottom of each.

 Fold the larger piece of dough into quarters…
...and center it in the pan.

Take half the sausage, and pat it into an 8” round, to nestle into the crust. I found it works well to put it on an 8” parchment round…

…flatten it under another round of parchment…

…then pick the whole thing up and flop it into the crust, peeling off the parchment.

You’ll need 1 pound of sliced mozzarella, 8 ounces for each pizza. “Tile” (fan) the mozzarella into the crust, atop the sausage.

Add your fillings of choice. This pizza’s getting black olives and artichoke hearts. The other will get those mushrooms I fried earlier, plus a box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.

Put the smaller piece of rolled-out dough atop the fillings.

Crimp together the top and bottom crusts.

It’s coming together nicely, eh? Cut slashes in the top, to allow steam to escape as the pizza bakes.

Repeat the whole process with the remaining dough and ingredients, making another 9” round pizza.

Cover the pizzas, and let them rest while you preheat your oven to 425°F, about 30 minutes.

Just before baking, top the pizzas with the sauce…
…and sprinkle with a total of 1 1/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, aged Asiago, or your favorite hard cheese grated cheese. Use half the cheese (a scant 2/3 cup) on each pizza.

See how the crust has started to puff?

Put the pizzas in the oven.  Bake till the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

Lucky we used a 2”-deep pan, eh?
I decided to add a garnish of pepperoni on top of one of the pizzas. TOTALLY over the top.

Remove the pizzas from the oven, and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes.

Loosen their edges…
…and gently turn them out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

To do this, place a round cooling rack atop one pan, and turn the whole thing over. Lift off the pan, place a rack on the bottom of the pizza, and turn the whole thing over again, so the pizza is now right side up.

Like this. One 3-pound pizza, coming up!

Use a pair of scissors or baker’s bench knife to cut wedges. Serve warm, with a fork.
Here’s a good view of the layers: crust, then sausage, mozzarella, spinach and mushrooms, crust, tomato sauce, and more cheese.

YOU CAN make this entire recipe into one enormous 6-pound pizza by baking it in a 14” deep-dish pizza pan.

Be my guest! I found it kind of hard to handle.

from: King Arthur’s Flour

Homemade Pop Tarts

Most recipes I have come across use a pie dough for the pastry but I was really stuck on getting a crust that was a little more sturdy — one with an egg. Often I see fillings of just jam, yet a little thickener added to the jam goes a long way towards keeping it from being too wet and soggy inside. Finally, a lot of versions I came across while I was digging around offer some sort of apology that the glaze (should you make one) isn’t as hard as the packaged ones, that a homemade version really wont hold up well in an upright toaster or that the brown sugar filling doesn’t have the odd stiffness of the ones you can buy at the grocery; this version does not. Sure, it may lack the sturdiness and shell-like slick of a packaged Pop Tart, but it has the buttery, flaky, no-toaster-required-to-soften-it transcendence the grocery store aisle version can only dream about, and hooray for that.

Homemade Pop Tarts
from King Arthur Flour


2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Cinnamon Filling (enough for 9 tarts)

1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Jam Filling

3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Alternate Fillings: 9 tablespoons chocolate chips, 9 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut paste or 9 tablespoons of a delight of your choice, such as salted caramel or a nut paste

To Make Cinnamon Filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

To Make Jam Filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

Make The Dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble The Tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9" x 13" pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Tip From King Arthur: Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.

Bake The Tarts: Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

Whole Wheat Variation: I was itching to swap out 1/2 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour. I am sure it would make it more deliciously breakfast.

Pop Tart Minis: The biggest struggle I had with these was the size. I actually like my baked goods on the tiny size, thus I think this could make an adorable batch of 16 2 1/4″ x 3″ rectangles.

Savory Pop Tarts: Nix the sugar in the dough and halve the salt. Fill with pesto, cheese, ground nuts or olives, or any combination thereof. Brush the tops with additional egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Please invite me over.

Do ahead: The sweet versions should keep at room temperature in an airtight container for a week. If you’d like to make them further in advance, I vote for freezing them unbaked between layers of waxed paper, and baking them as you need.

Chicken Asparagus Roll-Ups

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed
• 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 4 slices provolone cheese
• 1 cup panko bread crumbs


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Grease a baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, tarragon, salt, and pepper until the mixture is well combined. Set aside.

2. Cook asparagus in the microwave on High until bright green and just tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Set the asparagus spears aside. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (resealable freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken breast with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Repeat with the rest of the chicken breasts.

3. Place 1 slice of provolone on each chicken breast, and top the cheese with 4 asparagus spears per breast. Roll the chicken breasts around the asparagus and cheese, making a tidy package, and place, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish. With a pastry brush, apply a coating of the mayonnaise mixture to each chicken breast, and sprinkle each with panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken to make a coating.

4. Bake in the preheated oven until the crumbs are browned and the chicken juices run clear, about 25 minutes.

Notes:  You get alot of "Wow" factor for a pretty simple dish to make. I'd recommend putting some of the sauce in the middle of the roll up for more flavor.

I added a tablespoon of the sauce between the chicken and provolone before rolling.

For the sauce, I used light mayo, omitted the lemon zest and salt, and added a little cayenne pepper to spice it up a little. I used a slice of proscuitto and shredded swiss cheese instead of a slice of provolone, and used 6-7 pieces of asparagus

Iron Skillet Apple Pie

• 1/2 cup butter
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 5 Granny Smith apples -- peeled, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
• 3 (9 inch) refrigerated prerolled pie crusts
• 1 cup white sugar, divided
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small chunks


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Place 1/2 cup butter into a heavy cast iron skillet, and melt butter in the oven. Remove skillet and sprinkle with brown sugar; return to oven to heat while you prepare the apples.

3. Remove skillet, and place 1 refrigerated pie crust on top of the brown sugar. Top the pie crust with half the sliced apples. Sprinkle apples with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon; place a second pie crust over the apples; top the second crust with the remaining apples, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Top with the third crust; sprinkle the top crust with 1/4 cup sugar, and dot with 1 tablespoon of butter. Cut 4 slits into the top crust for steam.

4. Bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving Calories: 734
Total Fat: 33.7g
Cholesterol: 49mg