Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Peperonata Pizza

I've not written for almost a week, and I find that I missed doing this! We went away for a few days, then my birthday and other social-type things to do, then getting Jack ready for a business trip (no, there is no food in southern Virginia... so I baked all day on Sunday), all added up to little time for posting.

Sunday was, as always, Pizza Sunday.

The last time that I made pizza dough was using Beth’s recipe from the website, A Year In Bread. It was a really good crust, but I had felt that perhaps making this crust in the morning to bake later that day didn’t give the dough enough time to properly develop its flavors. So this week I put together the dough on a Thursday night and allowed it almost a full 3 days to rise in the refrigerator. That seemed to make a huge difference in the pizza crust. It was still a crisp crust with a nice texture, but the flavor was much improved.

I also cut out a step in that mixing-of-the-dough process which Beth describes. I realize that there must have been a reason that, after the initial blending of the ice water, flour, and yeast, the mixture is placed in the refrigerator for ten minutes before adding olive oil and salt. But I didn’t have the time, so I mixed the salt with the flour, and the olive oil with the water, and I used the paddle attachment of my Kitchen Aid to mix/ knead it for 2 minutes. After that, the dough was placed in the refrigerator for a total of 68 hours (about 2 ¾ days).

Still bubbly and active after almost 3 days of refrigeration.

Another addition to the recipe was taking this dough out of the fridge for an hour before I divided and shaped it. I find that almost-room temperature dough is much easier to work with than a cold dough.

Well, after those changes, this week’s pizza was incredible. Crisp crust, wonderful flavor. I topped it with reduced-fat mozzarella, peperonata, Boca Italian "Sausage", and asiago. Jack and I have different "favorite" parts of pizza. His are the toppings with the thin, crisp crust underneath. I could just eat around the perimeter of the pizza-- I love bread! That bubble o' crust in the photo below was my favorite part of the pizza. I adore the "puffy crust". :)

I made peperonata for the first time many years ago, probably 20 or so, when I had a very bountiful garden full of tomatoes and bell peppers. As I recall, I had probably canned close to a hundred quarts of tomato sauce and tried my hand at making ketchup, all to reduce the amount of tomatoes in the garden. As for the peppers, I had far less of those, but still enough to prepare and freeze an awful lot for use over the winter. I made several batches of this recipe and froze it in serving-sized portions. That was the same year my grandmother gave me her big ol’ Montgomery Ward upright freezer, which is still humming away behind me as I write this. Knock on wood—I often wish for a new freezer, this one needs to be defrosted every fall and it’s a day-long chore, but as long as it continues to do its job I will keep it.

I found the original peperonata in a book called Northern Italian Cooking by Biba Caggiano and over the years have adapted it to our tastes. It is great over a thick, shaped pasta such as rigatoni as well as an accompaniment to roasted chicken and, of course, topping a pizza!

* Exported from MasterCook *


Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

--------- ---------- ---------------------------------------

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 ounces bell pepper -- cut into 1/4" strips (about 1 2/3 cups)

4 ounces sweet onion -- cut into strips (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

14 ounces canned diced tomatoes -- not drained (or ¾ pound diced fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a medium sized, covered skillet over medium/low heat. Add bell peppers and onion and cook at a nice, slow sauté until the vegetables are soft but not browned, 8-10 minutes; stir frequently. Add garlic and stir for another minute.

Stir in canned tomatoes, turn up the heat a little until the mixture begins to simmer, then cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the red wine vinegar (essential, do not substitute any other type), stir to combine, and simmer, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


"1 3/4 cups"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 136 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat; (41% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 627mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

This is enough peperonata to top one 14” pizza or about 6 ounces cooked pasta. Add crumbled dried or chopped fresh basil, if desired. Also hot pepper flakes are a good way to spice things up!

And, as an ending note, last week I was in a panic state because Spooky had to get his teeth cleaned. I won't go into ALL of the reasons, but they were valid ones (I think so, anyway) and I was incredibly relieved when it was over with no extractions, no dire results from the pre-anesthesia bloodwork. A couple of days later, I was walking past the rhododendrons when I saw a black "stick" on the ground underneath. Upon closer observation, it turned out to be a Spooky Paw. I got the camera, called his name, and woke him up:

This was one of those warm spring days where I would have loved to nestle in the cool rhododendrons and nap, but there's always so darn much for humans to do!


Rebecca said...

The pizza looks gorgeous, and happy birthday, but I had to comment on your statement that they have no food in southern Virginia, although I know you were joking. What I have noticed when we drive south, which we do from time to time because my husband's band performs in Raleigh, N.C. once or twice a year is that you can't find COFFEE once you pass a certain point, good coffee anyway. Like to keep you awake on the highway. All the Starbucks disappear at the service plazas, and except in certain hip college towns, you just don't see good coffee shops like you do everywhere else in the country.

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

Hi Rebecca,
I've never been down that way so I was unaware of the lack of good coffee. :) Reason enough to stay around here!
I would ask my husband if he noticed this, but he doesn't drink coffee (crazy man...) so he wouldn't have picked up on that local anomaly.