About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.


Focaccia, Pizza, Bread, and Other Special Doughs Archives

May 20, 2011

Focaccia (with onions, Genoese style)


I really love focaccia and Marcella’s recipe in Essentials has been my “go to” choice for years. She gives us a few variations and I’ve done some others on my own but this is the classic, onion focaccia of Genoa.

First you proof the yeast for about 10 minutes:


I used my mixer with a dough hook for the initial mixing of flour, yeast, olive oil, salt and water.


And finished with the gratifying kneading by hand.


The dough is left to rise--first in a ball on the baking sheet and then pressed into the rectangle shape of the pan.

Because I don’t have the 18 by 14 inch pan, I divided it into a large and small ball for two pans.

Before you put the focaccia into the oven you make dimples all over the dough using your fingers. (I have longish nails so I use my knuckles.) Then a mixture of olive oil, water and salt is brushed on, pooling into the dimples.


The onion topping is simply olive oil and onions briefly sautéed.


For the small pan, I just used a bit of fresh rosemary.


They’re baked in a hot oven and best eaten when still warm. I had to give some away to my neighbors so I didn’t eat the whole pan of it myself.

Like I said—I really love focaccia!


May 21, 2011

Crescentina - Bolognese Focaccia with Bacon

I was so excited when I saw this was one of my recipes. The day this recipe will post, I will be ARRIVING in Bologna for 13 days, after my week in Venice.

This recipe is done in the food processor. First you chop the bacon very finely. Yeast is dissolved in warm water, then added to flour, salt, sugar and more warm water in the bowl of the food processor. More flour and water is added and you have a ball of dough.

The dough will double in size in about 3 hours when you will heat a baking stone in a hot oven. The dough is spread with your fingers on an oiled baking pan, covered in plastic wrap and it will rise some more. Score the dough and brush it with beaten egg. The dough is baked in the pan on the baking stone for 30 minutes, and becomes a beautiful golden color.


I also thought the BOTTOM was beautiful!


The scent of bacon in the warm focaccia is divine, and it is just delicious!!!

As luck would have it, though I have been to Bologna on three previous trips, I have never eaten at Diana. Guess where we will be TONIGHT for dinner? I will take a photo of their Crescentina Bolognese, and add it to my post tomorrow!

May 22, 2011

Basic Pizza Dough

I feel so lucky this week. Since this recipe is the first in the pizza series, all that was required of me was to make the pizza dough according to the directions and then top with whatever I wanted. My first choice was fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil, but that is one of the next recipes in the book, so that I couldn’t do that. I decided to try a recipe from epicurious.com. It is a gorgonzola, proscuitto, fig, and arugula pizza. Yum.


I have to say that I don’t usually make my own pizza dough, because I have been spoiled by Missouri Bakery. They are an Italian bakery “on the hill” that makes really wonderful baked goods. They also make one of the best pizza doughs that I have ever had. We sell it in our store frozen, and all you have to do is thaw it, roll it out, and then top it. Since my son is addicted to pizza, we make it at least once a week when he is home. I was so excited to finally be able to try my hand at making the dough from scratch. The pizza dough came together really easily. I let it rise for about three hours, divided it into 2 balls and rolled out the dough to make the pizza. I did try the hand tossing method, but I was afraid that I was going to drop it, and I needed both crusts for the night, so I didn’t toss it very high. I finally just used the rolling pin to thin it and then my fingers to form it.


The final products tasted great. I made a pepperoni pizza for Zach and then the gorgonzola pizza for Michael and me. My dough came out much softer than the Missouri Bakery dough which made for a crust that was crisp, yet tender. The Missouri Bakery dough bakes up to be a thicker crust that is chewier. Both of these crusts are very good and I like having the option of each.


May 23, 2011

Pizza with Margherita Topping: Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil and Parmesan Cheese

I’m originally from the northern Midwest. I like my pizza with hand tossed crust. I have been known on a few occasions to have deep dish crust but I’m not from Chicago so I can live without it. My introduction to thin crust pizza was the summer after I moved to Saint Louis almost ten years ago.

Saint Louis is known for thin crust pizza. Well, that’s what St. Louisans believe anyway. They are in love with this soggy cracker like thin crust pizza covered in Provel cheese. This cheese is a horrible hybrid of Cheddar, Provolone and Swiss cheeses. It in no way resembles the wonderful cheeses it is made from and has the desirability of wet American cheese. I have been on a quest to find wonderful thin crust pizza every since. I have even tried to create it at home without success. Until now…

Pizza with Margherita Topping: Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil and Parmesan Cheese

Imagine my delight when this beauty came out of the oven. This is the best pizza I have ever made. The aroma is intoxicating. My first bite I closed my eyes while chewing and imagined it was the middle of summer. I am walking through a garden pulling ripe tomatoes off the vine and picking fresh basil from the stem. Mmmm.

The crust is thin and crisp. The canned San Marzano tomatoes I cooked down for the sauce have an intense tomato flavor. The imported buffalo-milk mozzarella is rich, creamy with a slight hint of salt. Fresh fragrant basil, a splash of olive oil and a little parmigiano- reggiano add to the joy. This pizza has a perfect ratio of ingredients. Delicious!

May 24, 2011

Marinara Topping: Garlic, Tomatoes, and Olive Oil

Question: What's wrong with this picture? Answer: Too much sauce.
Question: What's right with this picture? Answer: Lots and lots of sauce.


The reason there is so much sauce is the reason why it's OK to be there. My grandson was having a cooking lesson while we made the pizza. He was extraordinarily proud of the sauce we made. "From real tomatoes, MeeMaw!" When he began spreading it on the dough, I didn't have the heart to stop him until he had used every drop of his creation.

I peeled the tomatoes and my grandson stripped them of their seeds and excess liquid. He was very careful to get every last seed.


After cooking the tomatoes down with olive oil, we spread them over the top of our prepared pizza dough. (See Beth's post from Sunday to discover why I didn't make my own dough from scratch.) Then we added salt, sliced garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil before sliding the pizza into the oven to bake.


In one of Marcella's cookbooks - Marcella's Italian Kitchen - the dedication reads. "For my star pupil. His enthusiasm at the table has fed mine in the kitchen; in the kitchen beside me, as my official taster, his judgement has never failed me..."

I'll never write a cookbook, but if one of my grandchildren decides to grow up and become a chef, I wouldn't be opposed.

May 26, 2011

Sfinciuni - Palermo's Stuffed Pizza


Wow, I can't believe I only have one recipe after this one left to finish out our Pomodori E Vino project. What an experience this has been.

And how great to finish up with another fantastic recipe. Marcella explains that Sfinciuni is to Palermo what pizza is to Naples and elsewhere. It is two thin layers of dough that enclose a filling, called the conza, then the edges are pinched together to seal the filling in.

While this is similar to a pizza, it's also different. The dough was so nice to work with - soft and smooth. The filling is a mixture of onion, ground beef, unsmoked ham, Italian fontina cheese, ricotta cheese, and white wine. When I tasted a piece of this, the dough reminded me more of a bread dough than a pizza dough. I guess it was the texture of it-a little softer than a crunchy thin crust pizza. It really doesn't matter what it reminded me of, as all I know is that is was really good. Can't wait to make the varieties you'll see my co-cooks do next - Tomato and Anchovy and Broccoli and Ricotta. Humm, I do have a tub of fresh ricotta that I made a couple of days ago...

May 28, 2011

Broccoli and Ricotta Sfinciuni

And here it is . . . my last recipe to make as a part of this blogging activity.

I wonder if that is why I was a tad later than normal - trying to savour the experience for as long as I could. It is my pattern to have things made months in advance of my posting date. This I baked today. In fact, Paul is down doing the dishes while I try and finish the post prior to the clock rolling over to Sunday.

I made the mistake of calling this dish a conza. It is not. The conza is the filling; the dish is a sfinciuni - a stuffed pizza from Sicily. Marcella's dough is easy to make (I followed the food processor directions) and it came together perfectly. The result was a light and crispy dough that was solid enough for this heavy topping.

The filling is simple - essentially sautéed garlic and broccoli.

Once the dough has risen and the filling cooled you're good to go, as they say.

The dough is split in half and rolled into two rounds. On top of one you sprinkle bread crumbs. Spread fresh ricotta on top of the crumbs. Layer the broccoli/garlic mixture on top of the ricotta, and then sprinkle it all with parmigiano. A quick sprinkle of more bread crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil and you're ready to place the second round of dough on top.

The two rounds of dough are sealed - ensure that none of the wonderful filling can escape while baking. The entire thing brushed with water and into a 400 degree oven it goes for 30 minutes.

Once baked, let it sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

The result was an amazing addition to our dinner tonight. All we needed was a nice salad on the side, a glass of vino, and we were happy guys!

And there you have it kids . . . we're done . . . done like an amazing dinner inspired by the genius of Marcella Hazan. Lots of wonderful food, some not so wonderful because of our personal food issues and NOT the lyrical directions in 'Essentials', but all in all a brilliant journey through some of the most inspired and well-written recipes I've experienced in my 30 + years of cooking.

When I started this journey I pledged to be honest. I'd rave about what I loved and what I didn't love as well. If things worked I'd talk about that and if they didn't I'd wonder what I had done to cause the issues. I think I've been true to this. Happily we loved most everything! *smile*

I know that there were a couple of times when Marcella was frustrated with my analysis but in the end it was more important for me to be honest. I had no desire to be a cheerleader - the world is too full of cheerleaders. Honesty is a rare thing indeed in my humble opinion.

Grazie per l'ispirazione, il cibo fantastico, le sfide, e le memorie.


May 29, 2011

Mantovana-Olive Oil Bread

The closest that I have ever been to making bread in the past is by using a bread machine. I didn’t really like the consistency of the bread that it made, so I stopped using it. Why should I make inferior bread when we are so lucky here in St. Louis to have so many great Italian bakeries. I certainly didn’t want to waste my time trying to make bread that would be surpassed by the bread that they make. Well, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. This recipe makes the most delicious dense, crusty bread that is on a par with our bakeries.


Actually, Marconi Bakery, makes a very similar bread to this, and I know it well, since my husband makes a special trip down to pick up bread from them every Saturday to sell in our store. When he unloads his van, the bread is still warm, and it is a treat to smell the aroma wafting up from the warm loaves. Michael has admitted that the smell is so enticing that many Saturdays he doesn’t make it back to the store without cracking open a loaf and eating some on the way back. When my son was younger, he would have friends stay over on Saturday nights for sleepovers. There were many Sunday mornings that we would come downstairs and find two loaves of bread decimated by the boys late night cravings. You know it has to be good for adolescent boys to prefer bread and butter over chips or popcorn.


When I started this bread my fear was that I would mess up the recipe and I certainly didn’t have time for it not to work. I shouldn’t have feared because Marcella has made the process so easy, that if you just follow her direction closely, the bread will come out nicely. I really enjoyed the process although I have to admit, I almost beaned my son with the dough as I was picking it up by the end and forcefully banging it on the counter. Apparently I was a little aggressive and he almost got caught in my backswing! Not to worry though, we made it through injury free. When the bread came out of the oven, the first thing that I said was “I have made Marconi bread”. I was so happy. Finally a bread recipe that I know will be worth the time to make and my family will love. Actually, Michael said that this was better than Marconi bread. Now, in this family praise doesn’t come much higher than that.

May 30, 2011

Pane Integrale - Whole Wheat Bread


I was planning to make this after work yesterday but with temperatures over 90 degrees the last thing I wanted to think about was baking bread. Yes, I do have air conditioning but I refuse to turn it on this early in the year. So I decided to pretend I was a baker and make it overnight after the temperature dropped a bit.

All the instructions and ingredients are the same as Beth’s Olive Oil Bread from yesterday except the flour proportions are different. In this recipe you use a combination of stone-ground whole wheat flour and unbleached flour. The steps are not difficult but the process takes a while because of all the rising time.

This is the first time I have made a loaf of bread. I think it turned out very well. The loaf has a sturdy crust with a nice crumb. I enjoyed it with butter and orange marmalade. Fresh bread for breakfast could turn into an addiction.


May 31, 2011

Pane di Grano Duro

For the past few years, I've been lazy about my bread baking. I've been using the techniques Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois evangalize in their book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day."

There is nothing wrong with their five-minute-no-knead bread. It is quite delicious. And because of it, I make homemade bread much more frequently that I would otherwise.

But, once in a while, it just feels like a special accomplishment to do something the hard way - without shortcuts.


This bread is all about the choice of flour. You want the high gluten, hard durum wheat flour.
As Marcella explaines - "It makes a very fine-textured and fragrant bread, with a biscuity quality, that tastes even better when reheated and used a day after it is made."


I pretty much wore myself out kneading, and kneading, and kneading. The dough is shaped into a ring, brushed with water, scored and baked. The result did not disappoint. We enjoyed every bite. And since there was just Dan and I, we made it last for four days. By that fourth day, it was perfect in the bottom of a bowl of soup.


And now I'll go back to making my lazy, slacker's bread.

June 2, 2011

Piadina - Flat Griddle Bread

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Wow, I can't believe it. My last recipe to cook for the Pomodori E Vino blog. Definitely not my last recipe to cook from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking though. I'll write more of my thoughts in my last blog entry for this project, but already, as I'm typing this right now, I have tears forming in my eyes. This has been an adventure for sure.

Enough of the reminiscing for now. Back to the recipe. Today's recipe is Piadina, a thin flat bread from the Romagna area. Marcella explains that traditionally, this bread is cooked on a terra-cotta slab called a testo. Since most of us have no access to a testo, we can substitute with a heavy cast iron skillet. This bread is very easy and quick to make. Mix together flour, olive oil (or shortening), milk water, salt, and bicarbonate of soda, then knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll out pieces of the dough in a circular shape, very thin, then place in the hot skillet. This doesn't take much time to cook - 3 or 4 minutes for each piece. At this point, the bread is speckled with dark brown spots, but still chewy and tender. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Marcella suggests serving this with one of the recipes in the vegetable section of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking - Sauteed Mixed Greens with Olive Oil and Garlic. That's what I served mine with, except I had to adapt. I forgot to buy rapini at the store, so I was lacking the bitter aspect of the greens. It's a mixture of spinach or Swiss chard, rapini, Savoy cabbage. Besides forgetting the rapini, I still didn't have the correct mix due to not being able to find all of the ingredients. I used spinach, kale (small, tender leaves), and Napa cabbage. And the outcome was delicious.

Try making this when you want a very quick bread to serve as an accompaniment or even as your main dish. I served the Piadina with the Mixed Greens, along with a nice glass of red wine, and I'm still stuffed, a couple of hours later.

June 3, 2011

Consum--Griddle Dumplings

Marcella says you will not find this word or the dumpling itself outside of Romagna. I certainly had never heard of it before. I would love to try it next time I'm in Italy.

It starts out with preparing the greens, a ratio of 2 pounds swiss chard and 1 pound rapini—washing, boiling and sautéing in olive oil and garlic.


(These turned out to be the best greens I’ve ever cooked! Eating the leftovers the next day was a real prize.)

Step two is making the piadina dough. (You can read Cindy’s post from the day before for more details on piadina.) Using the well method, it gets kneaded on the counter top.



Mine was very stiff and it took a good amount of energy to get it to be nice and elastic. We used the pasta maker to make thin sheets of the dough and cut it into squares.


Each square is stuffed with a layer of the greens; then it’s folded over to make a triangle shape.



The stuffed dumplings are browned on the griddle for about 5 minutes.


I thought we had made a lot but they were gone quickly. Perfect with a nice bottle of wine!


June 4, 2011

Focaccette- Cheese-Filled Pasta Fritters

These little fried cheese-filled fritters are a perfect snack or appetizer. I bet they would also be great with a sweetened filling as a dessert!


A dough is made from flour, olive oil, salt and warm water. It is kneaded, and left to rest for 2 hours.


The filling contains fontina, ricotta, parmigiano, salt and pepper. Roll out the dough, cut it into rectangles, add filling, and fold over like ravioli, using an egg white to seal the edges.


The fritters can rest on a clean dishtowel until you are ready to fry them in vegetable oil until golden. This is a delicious savory treat!


June 5, 2011

I Ripieni Fritti-Fried Stuffed Dumplings


This is my last recipe post for this adventure. Also it is the last recipe in the book. Isn’t that the saddest thing that you have ever heard? I won’t wax poetic at this point, but I will surely miss this.

This recipe is simple to make, but very hearty. A simple dough of flour, water, salt, baking powder and olive oil is kneaded together and then rolled out. 3 inch squares are cut out and then filled with a variety of items. The recipe in the book gives two types. One is tomato, caper and anchovy and the other is a combination of savory and mild cheeses. I chose to use the combination of ricotta and gorgonzola. These are then sealed and deep fried until they turn brown.

Michael helped me with rolling the dough out. I found it funny that for the last post he would actually be around to help. Of course, this doesn’t include helping to eat all of the recipes, because you know that he has always been there for that part. This time he also saved my dumplings from burning, because I foolishly thought I could fry and finish stuffing them at the same time. Bad Idea! Anyway, when we finished frying them he couldn’t wait to try them and had wonderful things to say about them. I really liked them too. The combination of flavors was tasty. I think this would be great to use for appetizers maybe with both types of fillings for variety.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Pomodori e Vino in the Focaccia, Pizza, Bread, and Other Special Doughs category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Fish and Shellfish is the previous category.

Frittata is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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