National Pizza Pie Day is Today, February 9!! Celebrate the Day!

February 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM | Posted in pizza | 2 Comments
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National Pizza Pie Day is Today, February 9!! Celebrate the Day!

A pizza just removed from an oven

A pizza just removed from an oven

Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings. Pizza was originally invented in Naples, Italy, and the dish has since become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is called a “pizzeria”. Many varieties of pizza exist worldwide, along with several dish variants based upon pizza. In 2009, upon Italy’s request, Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded in the European Union as a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed dish.

 
In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, the pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

 
The bottom of the pizza, called the “crust”, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.

 
The most popular cheeses to use on pizza are mozzarella, provolone, cheddar and parmesan. Romano and Ricotta are often used as toppings and processed cheese manufactured specifically for pizza is used in mass-produced environments. Processed pizza cheese is manufactured to produce preferable qualities like browning, melting, stretchiness and fat and moisture content. Many studies and experiments have analyzed the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture processes, denatured whey proteins and other changes to creating the ideal and economical pizza cheese. In 1997 it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese was 2 billion pounds in the US and 200 million pounds in Europe.

 
Toppings
Myriad toppings are used on pizzas, including, but not limited to:
Anchovies
Bacon
Ground beef
Mushrooms
Olives
Onions
Pepperoni
Peppers
Sausage
Seafood
Sun-dried tomato
Tomatoes
Vegetables

 

In 1905, the first pizza establishment in the United States was opened in New York’s Little Italy. Due to the wide influence of Italian

New York-style pizza.

New York-style pizza.

immigrants in American culture, the US has developed regional forms of pizza, some bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Chicago has its own style of a deep-dish pizza. Detroit also has its unique twice-baked style, with cheese all the way to the edge of the crust, and New York City has its own distinct variety of pizza. New Haven-style pizza is a thin crust variety that does not include cheese unless the customer asks for it as an additional topping.

Cheese of the Week – Mozzarella

August 29, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Posted in cheese | Leave a comment
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Mozzarella is an Italian Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) food product. The term is used for several kinds of Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting (hence the name, as the Italian verb mozzare means “to cut”):

* Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella), made from domesticated water buffalo milk
*mozzarella fior di latte, made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk
*low-moisture mozzarella, which is made from whole or part skimmed milk, and widely used in the food-service industry
*mozarella affumicata (smoked mozzarella)

Fresh mozzarella is generally white, but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet. It is a semi-soft cheese. Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day after it is made, but can be kept in brine for up to a week, or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month, though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months. Mozzarella of several kinds is also used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes, such as lasagna, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in insalata caprese.

Mozzarella di bufala campana is a type of mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo raised in designated areas of Lazio and Campania, Italy. Unlike other mozzarellas—50% of whose production derives from non-Italian and often semi-coagulated milk[8]—it holds the status of a protected designation of origin (PDO 1996) under the European Union.

Fior di latte (written also as one word) designates mozzarella made from cow (and not water buffalo) milk, which greatly lowers its cost. Outside Italy “mozzarella” not clearly labeled as deriving from water buffalo can be presumed to derive from cow milk.

Mozzarella is available fresh or partly dried. Fresh it is usually rolled into a ball of 80 to 100 grams (2.8 to 3.5 oz), or about 6 centimetres (2.4 in) in diameter, sometimes up to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb), or about 12 centimetres (4.7 in) diameter, and soaked in salt water (brine) or whey, sometimes with citric acid added. Partly dried (desiccated) its structure is more compact, and in this form it is often used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, such as lasagna and pizza.

When twisted to form a plait mozzarella is called treccia. Mozzarella is also available in smoked (affumicata) and reduced-moisture packaged varieties. “Stuffed mozzarella”, a new trend as of 2006, may feature olives or cooked or raw ham, or small tomatoes (pomodorini)

Mozzarella di bufala is traditionally produced solely from the milk of the domestic water buffalo. A whey starter is added from the previous batch that contains thermophilic bacteria, and the milk is left to ripen so the bacteria can multiply. Then, rennet is added to coagulate the milk. After coagulation, the curd is cut into large, 1″–2″ pieces, and left to sit so the curds firm up in a process known as healing.

After the curd heals, it is further cut into 3/8″–1/2″ large pieces. The curds are stirred and heated to separate the curds from the whey. The whey is then drained from the curds and the curds are placed in a hoop to form a solid mass. The curd mass is left until the pH is at around 5.2–5.5, which is the point when the cheese can be stretched.

The cheese is then stretched and kneaded to produce a delicate consistency—this process is generally known as pasta filata. According to the Mozzarella di Bufala trade association, “The cheese-maker kneads it with his hands, like a baker making bread, until he obtains a smooth, shiny paste, a strand of which he pulls out and lops off, forming the individual mozzarella.” It is then typically formed into ball shapes or in plait. In Italy, a “rubbery” consistency is generally considered not satisfactory; the cheese is expected to be softer.

Mozzarella—which is derived from the Neapolitan dialect spoken in Campania—is the diminutive form of mozza (‘”cut”), or mozzare (“to cut off”) derived from the method of working. Scamorza cheese is a close relative, which probably derives from scamozzata (“without a shirt”), with allusion to the fact that these cheeses have no hard surface covering typical of a dry cured cheese. In Italian, and in the English use of the word mozzarella, the vowel at the end of mozzarella is pronounced, despite some people incorrectly dropping the vowel, erroneously rendering the word “mozzarell”.

The term mozzarella is first found definitively mentioned in 1570, cited in a cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi, reading “milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk”.

Bocconcini (Italian pronunciation: [ˌbokɔnˈtʃiːni]) (singular Bocconcino, [ˌbokɔnˈtʃiːno]) are small mozzarella cheeses the size of an egg. Like other mozzarellas, they are semi-soft, white and rindless unripened mild cheeses which originated in Napoli and were once made only from milk of water buffaloes. Nowadays they are usually made from a combination of water buffalo and cow’s milk. Bocconcini are packaged in whey or water, have a spongy texture and absorb flavours. This cheese is described by its Italian name which means small mouthfuls. It is made in the pasta filata manner by dipping curds into hot whey, and kneading, pulling and stretching. Each cheese is about the size, shape and colour of a hardboiled egg: indeed an alternative name used is Uova di bufala, or “Buffalo eggs”. Baby (“bambini”) bocconcini can also be purchased; these are a smaller version about the size of large grapes. Bocconcini of water buffalo’s milk are still produced in the provinces of Naples, Caserta and Salerno, as bocconcini alla panna di bufala, in a process which involves mixing freshly made Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP with fresh cream. A Bocconcino di Bufala Campana DOP is also made, which is simply Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, produced in the egg-sized format. Bocconcini of whole cow’s milk are also manufactured, where the higher liquid content, in comparison to standard mozzarella, lends them the soft consistency of fior di latte. Bocconcini can be bought at most Italian supermarkets and is often used in tomato, red onion and basil salads to accompany pasta.

Mozzarella

Country of origin Italy
Region, town traditionally Campania, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia
Source of milk water buffalo in Campania or cow’s milk in Puglia
Pasteurised Sometimes
Texture Semi-soft
Aging time None
Certification Mozzarella di Bufala Campana
STG and DOP 1996

One of America’s Favorites – Pizza

August 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Posted in cooking, Food, pizza | 2 Comments
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Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.
After its invention in Naples, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is

Pizza with gorgonzola, spinach and bacon

called a “pizzeria”.

Pizza (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpittsa], from the Latin verb pìnsere, to press) is Greek in origin. The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, and Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian as pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittāh. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.
In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.

The bottom of the pizza, called the “crust”, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.
In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, the pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

Pizza types

*Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana): Authentic Neapolitan pizzas are typically made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. They can be made with ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in a semi-wild state (this mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin).

 
According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant. There are three official variants: pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza napoletana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, STG) product in Europe.

 
*Lazio style: Pizza in Lazio (Rome), as well as in many other parts of Italy, is available in two different styles. Take-away shops sell pizza rustica or pizza al taglio. This pizza is cooked in long, rectangular baking pans and relatively thick (1–2 cm). The pizza is often cooked in an electric oven. It is usually cut with scissors or a knife and sold by weight. In pizzerias, pizza is served in a dish in its traditional round shape. It has a thin, crisp base quite different from the thicker and softer Neapolitan style base. It is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving the pizza its unique flavor and texture. In Rome, a pizza napoletana is topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil (thus, what in Naples is called pizza romana, in Rome is called pizza napoletana).

 
Other types of Lazio-style pizza include:
*Pizza romana: tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, oil

A pizza just removed from the oven

*Pizza viennese: tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, oil
*Pizza capricciosa: mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, oil
*Pizza quattro formaggi (“four cheese pizza”): tomatoes, and the cheeses mozzarella, stracchino, fontina, and gorgonzola. Sometimes ricotta is swapped for one of the last three.
*Pizza bianca In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally, rosemary sprigs. It is also a Roman style to add figs to the pizza, the result being known as pizza e fichi
*Pizza alla casalinga (“Grandma pizza”) consists of a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.
*Pizza is available frozen. Ways have been developed to overcome challenges such as preventing the sauce from combining with the dough and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid. Modified corn starch is commonly used as a moisture barrier between the sauce and crust. Traditionally the dough is partially baked and other ingredients are also sometimes precooked. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts. A form of uncooked pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is created fresh using raw ingredients, then sold to customers to bake in their own ovens and microwaves.

Due to the wide influence of Italian immigrants in American culture, the US has developed regional forms of pizza, some bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Chicago has its own style of a deep-dish pizza, Detroit also has its unique twice-baked style, with cheese all the way to the crust, whereas New York City has developed its own distinct variety of thin crust pizza.

A little about Pizza!

January 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Posted in baking, cheese, pizza | Leave a comment
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Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.

Originating in Italy, from the Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is called a “pizzeria”. Pizza is one of the national foods of Italy and the Italian people.

The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. In Byzantine Greek, the word was spelled πίτα or pita, meaning pie. The word has now spread to Turkish as pide, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian as pita, Albanian as pite and Modern Hebrew pittāh. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added.

In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.

The bottom of the pizza, called the “crust”, may vary widely according to style—thin as in a typical hand-tossed pizza or Roman pizza, or thick as in a typical pan pizza or Chicago-style pizza. It is traditionally plain, but may also be seasoned with garlic, or herbs, or stuffed with cheese.

In restaurants, pizza can be baked in an oven with stone bricks above the heat source, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven. On deck ovens, the pizza can be slid into the oven on a long paddle, called a peel, and baked directly on the hot bricks or baked on a screen (a round metal grate, typically aluminum). When made at home, it can be baked on a pizza stone in a regular oven to reproduce the effect of a brick oven. Another option is grilled pizza, in which the crust is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza, like Chicago-style pizza, is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven.

Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana): Authentic Neapolitan pizzas are typically made with tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese. They can be made with ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, and mozzarella di bufala Campana, made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in a semi-wild state (this mozzarella is protected with its own European protected designation of origin).

According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana,[6] the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant. There are three official variants: pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza napoletana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, STG) product in Europe.

Lazio style: Pizza in Lazio (Rome), as well as in many other parts of Italy, is available in two different styles. Take-away shops sell pizza rustica or pizza al taglio. This pizza is cooked in long, rectangular baking pans and relatively thick (1–2 cm). The pizza is often cooked in an electric oven. It is usually cut with scissors or a knife and sold by weight. In pizzerias, pizza is served in a dish in its traditional round shape. It has a thin, crisp base quite different from the thicker and softer Neapolitan style base. It is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving the pizza its unique flavor and texture. In Rome, a pizza napoletana is topped with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and oil (thus, what in Naples is called pizza romana, in Rome is called pizza napoletana).

Other types of Lazio-style pizza include:

Pizza romana: tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, oil
Pizza viennese: tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, oil
Pizza capricciosa: mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, oil
Pizza quattro formaggi (“four cheese pizza”): tomatoes, and the cheeses mozzarella, stracchino, fontina, and gorgonzola. Sometimes ricotta is swapped for one of the last three.
Pizza bianca In Rome, the term pizza bianca refers to a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and, occasionally, rosemary sprigs. It is also a Roman style to add figs to the pizza, the result being known as pizza e fichi
Pizza alla casalinga (“Grandma pizza”) consists of a thin layer of dough is stretched into an oiled, square “Sicilian” pan, topped sparingly with shredded mozzarella, crushed uncooked canned tomatoes, chopped garlic and olive oil, and baked until the top bubbles and the bottom is crisp.

Pizza is available frozen. Ways have been developed to overcome challenges such as preventing the sauce from combining with the dough and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid. Modified corn starch is commonly used as a moisture barrier between the sauce and crust. Traditionally the dough is partially baked and other ingredients are also sometimes precooked. There are frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts. A form of uncooked pizza is available from take and bake pizzerias. This pizza is created fresh using raw ingredients, then sold to customers to bake in their own ovens and microwaves.

In the 20th century, pizza has become a globally accessible dish mainly due to Italian immigrants that have brought their dishes to new people with resounding success and many times in racially and culturally resistive environments.

Due to the wide influence of Italian and Greek immigrants in American culture, the US has developed regional forms of pizza, some bearing only a casual resemblance to the Italian original. Chicago has its own style of a deep-dish pizza, Detroit also has its unique twice-baked style, with cheese all the way to the crust, whereas New York City has developed its own distinct variety of thin crust pizza.

1905 – Gennaro Lombardi claims to have opened the first United States Pizzeria in New York City at 53 1/2 Spring Street. Lombardo is now known as America’s “Patriaca della Pizza.” It wasn’t until the early 1930s that he added tables and chairs and sold spaghetti as well.

1943 – Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (a pizza with a flaky crust that rises an inch or more above the plate and surrounds deep piles of toppings) was created by Ike Sewell at his bar and grill called Pizzeria Uno.

1945 – With the stationing of American soldiers in Italy during World War II (1941-1945) came a growing appreciation of pizza. When the soldiers returned from war, they brought with them a taste for pizza.

1948 – The first commercial pizza-pie mix, “Roman Pizza Mix,” was produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Frank A. Fiorello.

1950s – It wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans really started noticing pizza. Celebrities of Italian origin, such as Jerry Colonna, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, and baseball star Joe DiMaggio all devoured pizzas. It is also said that the line from the song by famous singer, Dean Martin; “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that amore” set America singing and eating pizzas.

1957 – Frozen pizzas were introduced and found in local grocery stores. The first was marketed by the Celentano Brothers. Pizza soon became the most popular of all frozen food.

21st Century

December 9, 2009 – The European Union established a ruling to protect Naples’ Neapolitan pizzas. The EU’s ruling said Neapolitan pizza was now part of Europe’s food heritage, and that all pizzerias aspiring to supply and make the real Neapolitan pizzas must comply to strict traditional standards regarding ingredients and preparation that include using only San Marzano tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. This protect status will enable producers to not only boast about their exclusivity, but also charge a premium for the pizza.

Pizza can be high in salt, fat and calories. There are concerns about negative health effects. Food chains, such as Pizza Hut, have come under criticism for the high salt content of some of their meals, which were found to contain more than twice the daily recommended amount of salt for an adult.

European nutrition research on the eating habits of people with cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, throat or colon showed those who ate pizza at least once a week had less chance of developing cancer. Dr Silvano Gallus, of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Milan, attributed it to lycopene, an antioxidant chemical in tomatoes, which is thought to offer some protection against cancer. Carlo La Vecchia, a Milan-based epidemiologist said, “Pizza could simply be indicative of a lifestyle and food habits, in other words the Italian version of a Mediterranean diet.” A traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, fiber, vegetables, fruit, flour, and freshly cooked food. In contrast to the traditional Italian pizza used in the research, popular pizza varieties in many parts of the world are often loaded with high fat cheeses and fatty meats, a high intake of which can contribute to obesity, itself a risk factor for cancer.

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