Saturday, November 24, 2001
thought today i'd make a scilian pizza, the double-crusted sfincione. . .
however i was reminded that this evening my husband's older sister and her husband would be stopping by to spend the night before catching a plane back to south beach. so perhaps is not the day to dust every nook and cranny of the house with flour.
nonetheless, i'll give the recipe. make pizza crust. this takes most of the day, not in working, but in waiting the 4-6 hours for it to rise. this makes two sfincione.
here's the filling:
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
8 oz. prosciutto crudo, slivered
4 oz. mild, sweet salami, slivered
4 oz mortadella or other salumi of your choice, silvered
4 oz fresh ricotta cheese
6 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
12 sun-dried tomatoes, in oil or rehydrated, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced fine
1/3 c. fresh italian parsley, chopped fine
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
1-3 teaspoons crushed red hot pepper (optional)
1/4 c. olive oil
saute onion in oil until soft and golden, about 10 mins. let cool. combine all other ingredients with the onion in a large bowl. mix very gently. of course you can alter the proportions of the salumi to your own taste, or substitute or own favorite varieties. taste to make sure you've created something pleasing!
preheat your oven and pizza stone for 30 mins at the highest heat your oven can safely produce. (i can get 550 degrees F only out of mine.) divide the dough in somewhat unequal halves. divide each half into half again, so you have four pieces. flour your pizza peel, press out the bottom crust from a smaller part of the dough. pile in half of the filling. carefully press out and fit a larger piece of dough over the top. seal the edges very well together, crimp and seal with water. a leak will be a devastating mess! repeat to make a second scilian pie.
cut a 1-inch slit in the top to allow the steam to escape. brush the top with more olive oil and pop the sfincione in the oven for about 15 mins, until slightly puffy and golden. remove from oven and brush again with garlic or herb-flavored olive oil, if desired. bake the second one.
two pies should serve 4-6, but frankly, i think it's best as an appetizer with something else. i mean, it has so much salumi in it, it would be too much on its own. i'd serve it in small slices with a lot of grilled vegetables or a big bowl of minestrone.
something that i think might be an interesting variation that i will try sometime would be making this a fish pie, with inexpensive coarse white fish, squid, mozzarella, a little tomato sauce. . .you get the picture. using fresh anchovies would be quite traditional in palermo. or heck, just fill the thing up with as much ratatouille and fontina as you have at hand. . .
Friday, November 23, 2001
returned today from thanksgiving with my in-laws in philly. . .where i had a spectacular example of latte art.
a quick breakfast at the four seasons hotel in philadelphia came with a lovely heart latte. . .beautiful and picture perfect in every detail. to pour a heart latte requires perfect control of the foam, what pro baristas call milk texturizing.
alas, it was all looks and no taste: the coffee itself was made with la colombe beans. i've tried their "nizza" beans here at home; at the hotel they served the "corsica" beans. and sad to say, despite these beans' renown, i've never had a good cup from them. . .after admiring the heart, i took a sip of the bitter stuff and gently stirred in a large sugar cube as carefully as i could.
hats off to the barista's milk skills; but what a thing of beauty could have been, had the hotel only used beans like caffe d'arte's!
Thursday, November 22, 2001
today's a great day to mention just a few things that i've been meaning to catch up on. . .
for example, yoga. remember that? one of my favorite yoga teachers is erich schiffmann, and he has a relatively new bulletin board up. lots of good topics there for discussion and great feedback. it only has a few members right now, so join in and take pleasure in being an early bird.
also on this subject, renowned professor douglas brooks has written an interesting new book on yoga and philosophy. i plan to order it myself as soon as it's out. in the meantime, he's giving a workshop on the historical origins of yoga.
and last but not least, paula carino, a long-time reader and yoga teacher, has finally let us all in on her secret identity as a rock star. check out her fun album, aquacade.
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
in honor of the upcoming holiday, let's lighten up a little. . .but still keeping chattin' about chocolate. . .
two more points about the chocolate show. although i often gush with praise, let me take this moment to frown. and i'm frowning at lunettes et chocolat. this store is run by the same style-y designer who makes such great ugly-retro chic eyeglasses at so-ho's selima optique. because i have a wacky sense of humor, i've long adored her hilarious interpretations of rhinestone-studded catty-eyed glasses.
lunettes et chocolat carries her designs further; she sells not only glasses, but hats, etc; and chocolate. the woman manning (hah!) the booth at the chocolate show displayed 4 oz. bars wrapped in construction paper, graced with reprints of pinup girls from the 50s, decorated with stones and glitter. i asked her where the bar chocolate came from; she informed me that it was callebaut, the war-horse of belgian chocolate. and those bars? they sold for $15! now, that's style over substance. i mean, this girl could teach dean & deluca ("we accept cash, charge, or kidneys") a thing or two!
$15 for a 4 oz. bar of remolded callebaut in construction paper? i can buy that at two for the pot down the street for $15 a kilo. the joke's not on me here, lemme say that. . .i fled.
fled, straight to the booth run by patrick coston, pastry champion and now pastry chef at ilo. he's taking a page from jacques torres and selling his own chocolate. it was pretty yummy, i must confess. . .
excuse me while i faint on top of the keyboard and mr. right drags me back to bed. . .i may talk about chocolate but this cold is forcing me to live on soup, soup, soup. you'll know i'm at your thanksgiving dinner if you see a wan girl with a yoga mat begging for turkey broth. . .
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
still barely dragging my sad carcass around the city, but i wanted to take a moment to write a little more seriously about some of the important issues raised at the recent chocolate show. . .
such as the efforts of the world cocoa foundation to combat child slave labor on cocoa plantations in west africa. many readers may have been made aware of the ambiguous labor conditions on cocoa farms in the ivory coast, where most of america's chocolate comes from, by a recent article in the new york times.
now here comes my rant: although the times apparently is unsure of what child slave labor and abusive bonded labor looks like -- surely a child of 15 is not old enough to sell himself into slavery, even starting with the outrageous notion that anyone should be "allowed" to -- it seems fairly clear that most americans would be disturbed if they knew the production details of the chocolate in their common candy and cocoa mixes. that these abuses are well-established and have been going on since the late 1960s is to my mind all the more reason to combat them.
the foundation is also working on creating sustainable cocoa practices. and finally, although scientific studies are rarely complete, i was thrilled to see detailed information on the tangible health benefits of eating 1.4 oz. of chocolate per day. studies have concluded that this amount of chocolate, in place of other snacks, can slightly increase the amount of so-called "good cholesterol" in the blood; and that this amount also has the same beneficial heart effects attributed to that daily glass of red wine.
so replace your other snacks and that glass of wine with chocolate -- a little every day! 1.4 oz = 1/2 a bar of superb el rey a day! (note: el rey chocolate is made purely of venezuelan beans; less moral ambiguity there!)
Sunday, November 18, 2001
i must confess i've spent most of the day in bed, sick as a dog . .
but i wanted to point out for you another great find from the chocolate show: the unusual chocolates of le chocolat chapon, a small french maker who seems to lack an english web page.
these chocolates were wonderful. they featured unusual flavors like basil, coriander, chinese green tea, and one filling of ganache and crushed gingerbread! also, many of the chocolates are flavored with fresh fruit purees, like pear and mango.
chapon lacks an american distributor. but you can order selections by email chocolat chapon or fax them in france for more info at 01 60 20 28 68.
as for me, it's not chocolate, but chicken noodle soup today. . .