Pizza Perfection

It’s not every day I pull off five (nearly) perfect pizzas.

But today, I (nearly) did it!

(There was just the one that didn’t slide smoothly off the pizza peel and turned out looking a bit more like a calzone, but it was still delicious!)

Using the NYT’s pizza dough recipe from Roberta’s pizzeria in Brooklyn, I have yet to make a bad pizza.

I’ve certainly made ugly pizzas, but narry a bad one!

My First Pizzas

Back in January, our Bug asked for pizza for his birthday dinner. He had meant Papa John’s takeout pizza, but since his grandfather was visiting and family friends were joining us, I nixed that idea tout de suite.

I went in whole hog. I ordered a pizza stone and pizza peel on Amazon, and started researching good pizza dough recipes.

I bought 00 flour from a fancy grocery store (turns out Giant has it, too), and made the dough a day in advance and let it rise in the fridge overnight.

On his birthday, we had guests for dinner and I was making a dish I had never made before. I was breaking my mom’s cardinal rule of entertaining: Always serve a dish you’ve made before and know you can make well!

What the hell. The kid wanted pizza.

By some miracle, the dough turned out perfectly. I put together three absolutely delicious pizzas.

Granted, the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a bomb and there was flour EVERYWHERE. But the pizzas were good.

Fast forward to today

I’ve had a few disasters between that first time and now. The fact the pizza turned out so well for the Bug’s birthday must have been beginner’s luck.

Each disaster has been a learning opportunity (don’t overload the pizza!), and almost every time I make it, it gets better.

So I was super proud of the pizza I made today.

Not only that, I was super proud of myself for being so organized that despite there being flour everywhere for the pizza making, cleanup was a breeze.

I’m really getting the hang of this…

Next time the challenge will be to sneak some vegetables onto the boys’ pizza.

Homemade_Nutella_Recipe

Homemade Nutella Recipe: Say Good-Bye to Palm Oil

Homemade_Nutella_RecipeDo you love Nutella but feel guilty about consuming such obscene amounts of palm oil?

OF COURSE YOU DO. Everyone does. How can you not love Nutella?

This week I discovered this homemade Nutella recipe by Lollie Rock posted on mamansquidechirent.com (loose translation: momswhorock.com). Since it is in French, and since I discovered a helpful trick to make this recipe easier, I thought I’d share with you guys.

Homemade Nutella Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of hazelnuts, skinned and toasted (see below for a great trick!)
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of hazelnut oil

Directions:

After skinning and toasting your hazelnuts, toss them in your mixer. You’ll want a good mixer to be sure that you get a nice, smooth consistency (unlike mine which resulted in a somewhat granular–but not unpleasant!–Nutella). Blend them until they have a smooth, buttery consistency. (Alternatively, save yourself some time and find hazelnut butter at the store).

Next, add the rest of your ingredients one by one, mixing each in thoroughly before adding the next. Starting with the hazelnut oil will help keep things nice and moist.

Mix thoroughly. If you find your Nutella is too dry or grainy, add a touch more hazelnut oil until it gets the consistency you want. Don’t worry about the amount of oil: you’ll never get as much in there as in the real thing.

How to skin and toast hazelnuts like Julia Child

I read somewhere that the best way to skin and roast hazelnuts is to put them in the oven at 175°C (350°F) for 15 minutes, then rub them in a tea towel to get the skins off.

I also read that this technique is only partially effective. So I did some googling and found this article from mybakingaddiction.com that revealed a secret shown to Julia Child: boil the hazelnuts in 2 cups of water and 3 tablespoons (you read that right!) of baking soda.

Here’s how it works:

Boil: 2 cups of water. Add: 3 tbsp of baking soda. Pour in your hazelnuts. The water will turn black and will foam up. Boil for 3 minutes (or thereabouts). In the meantime, prepare a bowl of ice water.

Pick out one hazelnut to test. Drop it in ice water and if the skin slips off easily, drop the rest in. Then simply slip the skins off the rest of the hazelnuts one by one, and place them on a tea towel to pat dry.

Toast in the oven at 175°C (or 350°F) for 15 minutes. Your kitchen will smell lovely.

Here is a video of Alice Medrich showing this technique to Julia Child (with a great hazelnut biscotti recipe to boot!):

Bonus info: Why you should avoid palm oil

The production of palm oil is linked to the destruction of rainforest in Indonesia, further endangering species like the orangutan. Visit the World Wildlife Fund’s website for more information about palm oil and why you should avoid it.