I absolutely love Italian food. I am fluent in sauce, cheese, meat, and herbs. How could you not love it? One of my favorite dishes is lasagna. As much as I love it though, it’s not exactly the dish I think about making when I come home from a long day of school or work. That’s the beauty of this recipe. I get all the aspects that are so delicious about lasagna with half the work and time. On top of that, this dish is very filling because it’s more of a stew. I use a lot of cheese and sauce which adds a bit of a tasty broth to the dish. It’s so good and just as easy. One pot on top of the stove. No baking in the oven, no layering, no making cheese mixtures. There’s just no need. There is an easier way…this way. After a long day, this is what gets me back to being at peace. I’m sure it’ll do the same for you.
I love pizza. I mean…duh. Love eating it and love making it. It’s actually therapeutic in a sense. I’ve been making pizza at home for many years. I thought the dough I was using before was great. That is…until I came across this recipe and method. Since then, my standards have remained high and they will not come down for any other recipe. When I make my pizza at home, everything has to be legit. I’m talking basil from my garden, San Marzano tomatoes, butter and oil mixture for the crust. I take it quite seriously. You will too once you try this for yourself. Trust me, you’ll get addicted. If you’ve never made pizza dough at home, 1st, what’s wrong with you? and 2nd, this is hands down the only one you have to try. It produces the perfect dough.
This recipe actually comes from pizza master, Tony Gemignani, who authored the book, “The Pizza Bible.” It has not failed me yet. It produces a nice crispy, foldable slice of pizza with intense flavor. It’s a lot of waiting and a lot of work, but trust me….it’s VERY worth it!
It’s poolish day! What the heck is poolish? It’s just some flour, water and yeast mixed together. This is what’s called a starter. It puts a little oomph in your dough and really intensifies the flavor. Once mixed, let the poolish sit out at room temperature overnight, covered with plastic wrap.
Put your poolish in the fridge for about 30 minutes before starting your dough. Combine your warm water and yeast and stir vigorously. Let it sit while you work on everything else. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and malt powder. Mix for about ten seconds. Add the ice water and mix for about 15 seconds.
Now, add the yeast-water mixture and mix for ten seconds. Add in the poolish and mix for about 30 seconds.
Add the salt and mix and the oil and mix. Mix on medium speed for about a minute or two or until the dough wraps around the hook.
Move the dough from the bowl onto an unfloured clean surface.
Begin kneading the dough until a smooth ball is formed. Move the ball to a lightly oiled bowl.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave it at room temperature for about an hour.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the bowl from the fridge. Degass the dough by punching it down. Pour out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with a dough cutter in half or quarters. Fold the dough onto itself into a ball. Move the ball onto an oiled baking sheet. Keep about 2-3″ between the dough balls. Cover with plastic wrap that is also oiled. Place in the fridge overnight.
Let the dough come up to room temperature before working with it. Use a pizza stone and a very hot oven to bake off your pizza.
See how I do it:
- 0.12 gram (1/3 of 1/8 a teaspoon) active dry yeast
- 47 grams (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) cold tap water
- 47 grams (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) high gluten flour
- 4.5 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 70 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm water (80°F-85°F)
- 453 grams (3 1/2 cups) high gluten flour
- 9 grams (1 tablespoon) diastatic malt
- 225 grams (4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) ice water
- 9 grams (1 tablespoon) sea salt
- 5 grams (1 teaspoon) extra virgin olive oil
Put the yeast in with the water an whisk vigorously for 30 seconds. If it's alive move on, if not, dump it out.
Add the flour in and stir well with a rubber spatula until combined. It will look like pancake batter.
Scrape down the sides and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit out at room temperature overnight.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. If not using right away, you can store it in the fridge for up to eight hours.
Bring to cool room temperature before using.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast and stir vigorously for about 30 seconds. Let it sit to the side.
Combine the flour and malt in the bowl of the stand mixer with a dough hook.
Mix for ten seconds on low speed.
On low speed, pour in the ice water and then the yeast/water mixture. Mix for about 15 seconds.
Add the pool and continue to mix on low for one minute. The dough should come around the hook. Flip the dough over and add the salt.
Continue to mix for another minute on the lowest setting.
Pull the dough off the hook and add in the oil.
Mix for one to two minutes until the dough wraps around the hook.
Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface and knead for two to three minutes until smooth.
Move the dough to a bowl and cover with a damp towel at room temperature for one hour.
Put a few drops of water or oil over the top of the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
The next day, degas the dough by punching it down or transferring to your stand mixer and turning your mixer to low for about 30 seconds.
Use the dough cutter to cut the dough into two pieces. Weigh it if necessary.
Hold the dough edges between your hands with your fingers curled inward on top of the dough. Begin to fold the left and right sides up to meet in the center. Repeat.
Continue this until a smooth ball is formed and then pinch a seam together firmly to make the tight ball. Pinch hard enough to form a really tight seal.
Place the dough ball on an oiled baking sheet and cover with an oiled plastic wrap. Place the balls about 3" apart.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
The next day, it's ready for use! Make sure you bring the dough to room temperature before using it.
Highly suggest using a pizza stone. Use a very hot oven, like 500°F for cooking your pizza. Use a high gluten flour. You're looking for 13-14% protein. Knead by bringing some dough out and pulling it back in. Be gentle on the dough. Bring to room temperature before starting to make your pizza.
I have a great affinity for Italian food. In fact, besides Lebanese food, it’s my go-to cuisine. One of the great staples of Italian food are meatballs. They’re akin to the Lebanese Kafta, but with sauce and cheese. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. When I’m sick spaghetti and meatballs, I just stick the meatballs in some good toasted bread with some sauce and cheese and I’m a happy girl. Meatball subs are such an easy meal that I love to make. They’re great when you’re in a pinch for something quick, because you can make them in under half an hour. They taste great and are so easy to make. Now, I’m no Italian, but I think these meatballs are pretty good. They’re my meatballs, my way. This is how I make meatball subs.
First, I like to cut up the onions and garlic and place them in a bowl. You want minced garlic and small dice for the onions.
Next, add in the breadcrumbs and cheese. I use Pecorino Romano, but you can use Parmesan. I also use Panko breadcrumbs, but you can use Italian instead. It’s really whatever you prefer. At this point, I also add in the seasoning and red pepper.
Next, I add in the herbs. Fresh parsley and basil here.
Add in the whole egg and give it a mix.
Add the beef. I use ground chuck. Mix it until just combined. Don’t overmix.
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the meat and roll between the palms of your hands into a ball. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375°F and bake it for about 10-13 minutes.
Once cooked, remove from oven.
I like to finish cooking the meatballs in whatever sauce I’m eating with them. In applications like Spaghetti or meatball subs, I always cook them in sauce. Not for long, just a minute or so.
For meatball subs, I like using bolillo or sub bread. I chop up onions, green peppers and banana peppers. I use an Italian cheese blend, with some grated Pecorino on top.
See how I do it:
- 1 small to medium sized white onion, small dice
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup Panko or Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/8 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 3-4 basil leaves, torn
- 1 egg
- 1 lb ground chuck
Chop up the garlic and onions and place in a large bowl.
Combine with breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, seasoning, cheese, parsley, basil and egg.
Mix until thoroughly combined.
Add the beef and mix until combined. Don't over-mix or over-handle the beef.
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the beef and roll out memat balls between the palms of your hands.
Place the meatball on a greased baking sheet. Continue forming the balls until finished.
Bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes or until browned on the outside and firm on the outside.
Finish cooking in your favorite marinara sauce for a minute or two. Make it into a sub and enjoy!
The meatballs will store in a container, cooked for up to five days in the fridge. For the sub, obviously you can use any good sub bread and any toppings you'd prefer.
Lemon, vanilla and berries. You can’t really do any wrong with these flavor combinations. The Italians get that. Many of their desserts are small-form, light and not too sweet. And many of their desserts involve these great flavor combinations. They really have nailed the formula for guilt-free desserts. One of the many Italian sweets that is well-known to everybody is panna cotta. In case you have to brush up on your Italian, panna cotta translates to “cooked cream.” And guess what, that’s exactly what panna cotta is. It’s just cooked cream, milk and some other goodies. Very simple and very delicious. Now, one of the key ingredients in panna cotta is gelatin. You need the gelatin to help set the cream. Many of you may not be able to use gelatin, due to it not being available or maybe religious/moral reasons. Well, luckily for you, there are other options. They do sell halal beef powdered gelatin for all the Muslims out there. You can also use agar agar. This is a natural vegetable counterpart. It will help firm up and set the panna cotta, but you don’t have to worry about it coming from an animal. As you see, there are many options when it comes to gelatin and gelatin substitutes. So, don’t let that stop you from making this very easy and tasty dessert. Great for a rewarding sweet for yourself or for entertaining guests.
We’ll need granulated sugar and gelatin.
Lemon and vanilla.
Lastly, heavy cream.
Start by sprinkling the gelatin over the top of the cold milk. Make sure all the gelatin is coated in milk and let it sit and bloom for about five minutes.
Next, combine the sugar, heavy cream and vanilla in a sauce pan that has a thick bottom.
Scald mixture. Don’t boil! Whisk until combined. Take it off the heat and add in the bloomed gelatin and whisk until dissolved. Also, add in the lemon juice and whisk to combine.
Pour into containers and let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes. Wrap in saran and refrigerate and chill for four hours to overnight.
After they’re set, unmold by placing the container in a bowl of very hot water for a minute or two. Go around the sides with an off-set spatula and use a blow torch if needed. Give it a shake or two on the plate and that should help unmold it as well.
Serve with some berries and sauce and enjoy!
See how I do it:
- 1 1/2 C heavy cream
- 2.5 oz granulated sugar
- 1/2 t vanilla extract or paste
- 7.5 grams gelatin or agar agar
- 1/2 c milk
- 2.5 oz lemon juice
Bloom the gelatin in the cold milk.
In a thick bottom pot, scald the cream, sugar and vanilla. Don't boil!
Remove from heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin.
Stir in lemon juice.
Pour into molds or containers and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
Refrigerate and chill until set. Anywhere from four hours to overnight.
If you know me, you know that I appreciate all things Italian. The culture, the country, the language and of course the food. The Italians are well-known for taking simple ingredients and making them shine. Simplicity is the key in Italian food and I really appreciate that. They somehow carry that mentality to desserts as well, which is hard to imagine. While many want to overcomplicate desserts, the Italians say “no way!” They want simple ingredients to shine. They want smaller portions and lighter desserts. Semifreddo is a great example of that. Semifreddo literally translates to “semi-frozen.” That’s what semifreddo is. It’s a half-frozen mousse. Much lighter than ice cream, but with the same creaminess. It’s very easy to make and very versatile. You can flavor a semifreddo pretty much anyway you’d like. You can also serve it anyway you’d like. Me, I decided to not overcomplicate it. I made a vanilla semifreddo and served it with strawberry sauce and a few fresh strawberries. The next day, I made a fresh strawberry compote. I served it slightly warm and oh my gosh was it delicious. The cold and warm contrast in desserts always works best. What I’m saying is, flavor and serve as you please! Learn the technique and have some fun with it.
Make sure you have your eggs at room temperature and your heavy cream cold. Having your ingredients at the proper temperature is always important in executing desserts. Grease a loaf pan and line the loaf pan with plastic wrap with a little overhang. Place in freezer.
Separate your eggs. You’ll only use 1/3 cup of the egg whites for this recipe. Reserve the rest for another recipe or discard the rest. In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together your egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla extract and vanilla beans if using, with a whisk or hand beater until lighter yellow and thickened. With a hand mixer, it’ll take about 2-3 minutes. With a whisk it’ll take about five minutes. Place the heat-proof bowl over simmering pot of water and continue to whisk for about 3 minutes until volume is about doubled. Take it off the heat and whisk for another minute.
Zest in the lemon zest and whisk in.
In a stand mixer, whisk the cream of tartar and egg whites on high speed. When tracks begin to form, gradually add in the other 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whisk on high speed until a moist, shiny, firm stiff peak forms.
Fold in the meringue into the egg yolk mixture gently.
Without cleaning the bowl or whisk, pour in the heavy cream and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form.
Fold in the whipped cream into the mousse mixture.
Remove the loaf pan from the freezer and pour the mousse gently into the pan and slightly flatten the top. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.
After 4 hours.
Dip the pan in hot water for about 10 seconds and use an offset to unmold the semifreddo.
You can serve the semifreddo with any kind of berry, compote or sauce.
I have a deep appreciation of all things Italian. If you didn’t know me, you may think I am an Italian, due to how much I love and respect many Italian things. I love the country. I dream of visiting the countryside of southern Italy. I love movies that feature actors of Italian decent: Pacino, De Niro, Palminteri, Liotta, Brando, etc. Of course, I definitely love Italian food. The use of meat, veggies, sauce, cheese…you’re definitely speaking my language. Though, I love all things Italian, I am not an Italian. I’m Lebanese. So, technically these won’t be “authentic” meatballs, but they are still very tasty nonetheless. This recipe is a slow cooker recipe. That means prep it, forget it and get other things done…yay!
The things I love about making meatballs are that they are so easy, very tasty and very versatile. If you don’t like an ingredient, you can often substitute it. Want to make it with all pork? Go ahead. Want to use a meat mixture made of pork, veal and beef? Go ahead. This recipe is easy, versatile and will get you some tasty meatballs.
Start out with some breadcrumbs. I grinded up some leftover Italian bread and you can do the same with any bread you have laying around. If you just want to use pre-made breadcrumbs, then go ahead.
Add in the milk, onion, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper and fresh parsley and mix to combine.
Add in the egg and mix to combine. Add in the parmesan cheese and mix to combine.
Add in the meat and fold in to combine.
Pour in the San Marzano tomatoes into pot base of your slow cooker. Gently squish the tomatoes in between you hands. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, fresh parsley, sugar. Mix just to combine. Add in the toppings you’ll be putting on top of your sub. I’m putting in mushrooms and white onion. Mix until combined. Form your meatballs and place them on top of the sauce. Pour a little more sauce on the top.
Cook on low for 4-5 hours. At the two hours mark take the lid off. With 30 minutes remaining, put the lid back on and continue to cook.
Eat them as you please 🙂