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hols etc

Just a little post to confirm I am still among the living, and to wish all visitors a Happy Hols. Busy beyond reason, but should be getting back to some sort of regular blogging sched shortly. And hey writing even too, imagine that.

Also shouts to Pom-Pom for successful graduation! Hope you like-a da pizza!

Ilsa, Ilsa, gimme your other hand honey, I can’t hold you!

Nicolle’s Chicago Style Pizza
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Okay, due to popular demand I’m going to present here my secret -passed down from the Moors of Scotland- pizza recipe. This is all from scratch, and it takes a generous amount of prep time, and anything worth doing is worth doing right, so take your time.

I like to make CSP a major event, because it’s such a great dish and makes for a good social activity. It’s important to note this recipe is for two pies, which I usually top according to the guests, as I’m not all that picky. Plus if you drink, like I do, a few friends nearby is always fun. Remember, the eyebrows you save may be your own.

Equipment
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an oven (and fire extinguisher if need be)
2 large mixing bowls
a measuring cup
teaspoon set
stirring implements – forks, spoons, chopsticks, etc
can opener
knives! or just knife if you want to be rational about it
2x 9-12″ Deep Dish pizza pans- I use the Hard Coat Anodized Deep Dish Pans’ (prod #: AL-CPTHAX) from A Best Kitchen (http://www.abestkitchen.com/store/pizzapans.html) – They’re 2 Inches Deep, and with repeated use they’ll get properly blackened like the ones you’ll see at Pizzeria Uno/Due in Chicago. This recipe will work for 2x 9-12″ pies. The 9s will get you a thicker crust, which is great with the extra sauce, or a quick olive oil/black pepper/basil mix. 12s give more toppings, little thinner on the crust, but you end up eating like one slice a piece.

Ingredients
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Dough:
2 cups warm Water
3 1/2 cups of Flour
2 packets of active dry yeast
1 cup of Cornmeal
1 tablespoon Salt
1/4 cup Virgin Olive Oil

Topping/Filling:
1 to 1 1/2 lb Mozzarella, sliced
1 lb Sausage, Pepperoni, whatever meats you want
28 oz Can crushed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely minced OR 2-3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
3 BAMS” fresh shredded basil
1 cup Medium Onion, Green Peppers, Mushrooms, Pineapple, whatever you want

Now that you’re basically armed with whatever you might need, it’s a good time to mention that all good recipes are based off the Chef’s intuition and feeling. Improvise! If you like oregano more than basil, use the oregano. You know what you like, and where your tastes run, going off-book is expected in good cooking.

Preparation:
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Pour the warm water AND the Yeast (1 pack per pie) into a large mixing bowl and let sit for approx 30 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of cornmeal, salt, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Mix well with mixing implement. While mixing stir in as much of another 1 cup of flour as possible. You want a very elastic consistancy, somewhat dry, but not crumbly. If you over do it, olive oil is your friend. If you haven’t resorted to using your fingers, by now flour your hands and get to kneeding. Split the dough in half sending each to a seperate bowl and kneed both. You’ll be adding flour if it’s too moist, and then give the two doughboys a time out for about 45 minutes to rise double.

Once the dough has doubled in bulk. Punch it down and kneed it briefly. Another 15 minute rest.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Prep the pie pans by generously oiling sides and bottom and sprinkling cornmeal sparingly in each. For each evenly press the dough until it comes up the sides (it’s going to resist a bit) Let the dough rise another 15-20 minutes before filling.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Chop your veggies, the cheese, etc. Cheese-wise you want to cut into nice slab sized pieces. I get 2 16oz Polly-O Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese hunks and end up using 1 1/2 of the them.

Now pizza construction proper begins. CSP is famous for it’s strange layering- that is Cheese first. Lay the cheese slabs across the bottom of the dough. The more cheese, the better. My first bite of CSP I almost choked to death on the massive amount of cheese- it was totally great. Next you add the toppings- pepperonis, green pepper, whatever you’ve decided on; distribute over the cheese, then add a generous *Emril-style BAM! of the basil on each pie, same with the garlic. If you’re not a qualified Emril-style BAM!-er then just throw the spices and garlic in the general direction of the pies, it’s hard to mess up. Light drizzle of olive oil, then top with the crushed tomatoes. Then for good measure another sprinkle of basil and it’s ready to go into the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes at 500 degrees.

Since by now you’ve been working on these pies for a while, I know you and your guests are probably hungry. What I generally do is plate the extra ingredients, cube the rest of the cheese and with some of the tomatoes and olive oil serve to the guests while we wait for the pies to be done. Also, now’s a good time to refill your booze. Everyone else has been drinking while you’re working, now you’ve got to catchup!

As with any pizza, once the pies come out, they’re like molten lava, so you want to hold off for a few minutes to cool, unless you’re into third degree burns. Once you think it’s safe, you can maneuver the pies out of their pans onto a cutting board for slicing. Then prepare yourself for the delicious rapture that is Chicago Style Pizza.

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That’s it, not too complicated, but always delicious results. I improvise a bit each time to try for different results. Last go round I used 2/3rd of the salt called for in this dough recipe and substituted about 3 teaspoons of garlic power instead, and it yielded some tasty results.

Now, if you somehow screw this up and burn your house down I am totally not to blame. The fact of the matter is, this is ‘Nicolle’s CSP recipe’ and I’m not liable for any face-melting Nazis that might result from you tampering what is otherwise holy, got it?

 

How we do in pizza towns

Assuming you didn’t destroy the Earth, these are the results you’re looking for.

passed down from the moors of Scotland

Well, I see I’m going to need to be extra diligent about posting on weekends when I don’t have a connection and I tend to be extra busy. Saturday brought a bit of idle time in which I became inspired to do my world-famous Chicago style pizza. This pizza of legend is something I really get a kick out of doing, and which most everyone who has had it really gets a kick out of eating. Sans kitchen, I’ve been hard pressed to do this since college, so for Saturday I commandeered Xiaoxin’s and ran by my place to get the extensive pizza making supplies which I own, and fresh ingredients.
Chicago Style Pizza is a dynasty in and of itself, so properly, I tend to make it quite the event, with invites, music and appropriate pontificating to build up expectations. Xiao and Heather had never had any before but I knew two pizzas was going to be too much for just three, so I called Megan and Jeremy as well, as they’d never hear tale of the glory of the pizza either. With equipment and ingrediants gathered, attendees set, it was time to begin.
Everything is from scratch and the real art of my CSP (Chicago Style Pizza) is the dough. When I undertook to learn the secrets of CSP I was very intent on getting as close to Pizzaria Uno/Due as I could. Quick search turned up about a bajillion ‘real’ Pizzaria Uno recipes, so each time I’ve made it I vary the dough a bit to try for different results. This weekend produced some of the best damn dough I’ve ever had, if I do say so myself. Which I readily do.

Once you finesse your dough, giving it a few beatings, massages and time outs pizza construction begins. CSP it like some sort of delicious bizarro anti-pizza built upside-down. Cheese first. And so much cheese it is. I actually went kinda light on the cheese here, because the collective cheese tolerance levels were a bit low, but you get the idea.

Next comes the toppings. I’ve done all kinds of toppings, but kept things simple this go round with one pie being classic pepperoni and the other being a veggie- onions, green peppers and mushrooms deal.

You really just want to cram in as many toppings as you can. You’ll notice my pie pans aren’t that big, only 9″- which is a small pizza. But there’s a reason they call ’em deep dish. So lots and lots and lots of toppings.

Then we hit up the sauce. And calling it sauce is kinda a misnomer. I use crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and a dash of garlic and onion powder. It’s really plenty. I have tomato sauce in the shot, but I grabbed that just in case I needed it, which I never do.

And that’s it, you pop these guys into a 500 degree oven for 25 minutes and bam. Now this isn’t a recipe and I’m not giving you the sekrets of the pizza or anything, but I might if anyone is interested. No shots of the finished pizza cause we ate that stuff like staving dogs huddled around the oven. And for five people eating, I still have about a whole pie left over waiting for me. The thing to do is, since it’s a good 2+ hrs prep time, once you get the pies into the oven you start scarfing the leftover toppings and stuff. Other serving suggestions- keep some ranch and bleu cheese nearby cause you really do end up with a lot of crust, which makes it perfect for dipping.

So, there’s a little photoblog about Nic’s Holy CSP. Those lucky enough to have experienced it themselves will tell you it’s damned good. Those unfortunates who haven’t may solicit my pizza skills with a brief 200-word essay on ‘Why I deserve Nicolle’s pizza’.