Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recipe Ideas and Cooking Instructions for September 15th Pop-Up

Pizza Dough

Tips for a successful pizza!

Take the dough out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to use it. Form it into a ball by placing it on a work board, and cupping your hands around it, use a circular motion and the tension formed by rolling on the work surface to form the ball. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface, dust the top with flour and cover with a towel. Let it rest for an hour to relax the gluten. Preheat your oven with a pizza stone to 450 degrees. Generously sprinkle a flat pan or pizza peel with semolina and set aside. You will be assembling the pizza on this.

Generously flour a work surface and dust the top of the dough ball with flour. To form the pizza you can either roll it briefly with a rolling pin, or stretch it by hand, or a combination of both. I recommend by hand as this will teach you how to handle the dough. Begin by dimpling the dough with your fingertips, leaving about an inch at the edge for the crust. Pick up the dough and using your fists, start from the middle and gently stretch the dough, working outward, to an even thinness. Don’t worry about the shape, it will look beautiful when you take it out of the oven.

Transfer to your semolina sprinkled pan. While you are assembling the pizza, check a few times that the dough isn’t sticking to the pan by gently wiggling it. The pizza dough should slide readily on the semolina. If you have a sticky spot, just lift the dough a bit and toss some more semolina under the sticky spot.

A good base for the bottom of the pizza is a mixture of finely minced garlic in some good olive oil slathered on. Top your pizza with whatever makes you happy, but resist “loading” the pizza, a light touch with the toppings is best.

Slide your pie onto the preheated stone in the oven and bake, rotating for even brownness until desired doneness. You can use a pizza peel or metal spatula to lift the pie a bit and check the color of the bottom to help guide you. This should take about 15-20 minutes. However, pay more attention to how the pie looks while it’s baking, rather than the time. All ovens are different and baking times are merely guidelines in many cases, nothing more.

Slide finished pizza onto a cutting board, brush the crust with olive oil, slice it up and get to it!

Happy pizza making!

Spicy Calabrian Sausages

Savory and fiery, these sausages will definitely wake up your palate! Cook the sausages over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet, or on the grill, 8-10 minutes in total, until cooked through. The juices should run clear but freely. Turn them every 3-4 minutes to avoid burning on one side.

Kept in your refrigerator, they will last 4-5 days, or they can be frozen for up to a month.

A few ideas on how to serve them:

These sausages would be delicious served alongside some sauteed bitter greens, such as rapini, and roasted potatoes.
Or, remove the sausage from the casing and crumble it onto a pizza before baking for a delicious topping.

One of our favorite things to do is to make sausage sandwiches with arugula, pecorino cheese, caramelized onions, and sauteed sweet peppers. Yum! Don't forget the aïoli!

The other night, we cooked up a big staff meal of bronze-cut pasta with these spicy sausages, some of our tomato sauce, and basil, and it was fantastic (see full recipe below).

Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Basil

This sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to a month. To use, just gently bring to a boil.

For pasta, always add hot pasta to hot sauce. For pizza, just ladle room temperature or cold sauce onto the dough before baking.

One special thing we love to do with heirloom tomato sauce is to poach fresh farm eggs in it for breakfast. Simply thin out the sauce with a little bit of water, and use it as the poaching liquid for your eggs (be careful not to add too much water--the sauce will definitely be thicker than what you're used to poaching eggs in). You can add a few chili flakes, and if you like a little flair, some crushed cumin seed and a splash of sherry vinegar to the sauce. Serve with grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic.

Fresh Bronze-Cut Rigatoni Pasta

This rigatoni is extruded through traditional bronze plates, which leave the pasta micro-grooves that encourage sauce to cling to the noodle.

Keep refrigerated. Though the pasta is fresh, it can be dried for a few days in the refrigerator and then stored in the cupboard. If you'd like to try that, then spread the pasta out on a cookie sheet, let it dry out in the fridge until it's hard, and bag it up and store in a dry, cool spot.

The rigatoni can be cooked just like any other dry noodle you've made before: simply boil 2 gallons of water per pound of pasta you plan to cook, heavily salt it until it tastes like ocean water, then add the pasta. Stir from time to time, and cook until al dente, which depending on the freshness of the pasta can take anywhere from 3-10 minutes.

Serving suggestions:

At this time of year, think about serving the Rigatoni with Basil Pesto, Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes.

For the pesto:

Pick the leaves from: 1 bunch of basil, to yield about 1 lightly packed cup

In a mortar and pestle, pound to a paste: 1 garlic clove, peeled with a pinch of salt

And continue to pound: 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Add: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Transfer this mixture to a bowl. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and put them in the mortar. Pound the leaves to a paste. Return the pounded pine nut mixture to the mortar. Pound the leaves and pine nut mixture together. Continue pounding as you gradually pour in: 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.

(If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can make pesto in the blender.)

Boil 1 pound of pasta as described above, adding 1/2 pound of trimmed green beans to the water, cut to the length of the pasta, when the pasta is half-way cooked.

When the pasta is cooked, strain it and toss in a large bowl with 1 1/2 cups basil pesto and salt. Mix in a pint of stemmed and halved cherry tomatoes and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Durum pasta always pairs well with tomato based sauces, so anything from marinara to puttanesca sauce would be perfect. We made a delicious pasta the other night when we were making the sausage:

Bronze-Cut Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrian Sausages and Heirloom Tomato Sauce

Chop and saute one small onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil until soft and brown. Add two cloves of chopped garlic.

Uncase and crumble 3-4 sausages in large pinches into the pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown.

Add 1 1/2 cups heirloom tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer.

Boil 1 pound of pasta as described above. Drain and add into the sauce and toss. Add a handful of torn basil leaves and garnish with grated parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.


  1. I bought a quart of your heirloom tomato sauce and the spicy Calabrian sausage at yesterday's Pop Up in Oakland. I was reluctant to buy the sauce without tasting first, but on Samin's recommendation, I took the plunge, despite the sauce's priceyness. First, the sausage: excellent. It was lean, tasty, well-spiced and easy to prepare. The sauce, however, was a little disappointing. True, you did warn me it was a little on the sweet side due to the sweetness of the heirloom tomatoes, and, yes, it was prepared with pure, quality ingredients, but it was a little too sweet for my taste. I prepare my sauce with imported San Marzano tomatoes spiced only with fresh onions, basil and a little white wine. I'm afraid my sauce (learned from an Italian restaurateur in New Jersey) is still my personal gold standard. However, I will return to try your pasta and buy the sausage. BTW, I believe the sweeter sauce would work well in Bolognese and lasagna.

  2. Hi John!

    I stand by my claim! I will HAPPILY refund you for the sauce if you like. Thank you for your comments and your kind words! I can't wait to see you next time.


  3. Samin,

    That's very kind of you but unnecessary. Plus, I'll be using the remainder of the sauce tomorrow :)

  4. My spouse and I finished off the sauce last night, wiping every drop out of our pasta bowls. We loved the lightness of it. It was so amazingly fresh and flavorful. I'll definitely buy it again.