P1180002

Have you ever had the Silano pizza at Bertucci’s–the one with broccoli and chicken in a lemon cream sauce? I haven’t had it in years, but always loved it. Now that I feel comfortable making traditional pizza and scacciata, I wanted to try something different and springy. It’s really not difficult, it just takes a few steps–and you can spread them out throughout a Sunday to make it seem even easier.

Here’s a link to the dough. I recommend making it a day or two before and letting it do its thing in the fridge.

Let’s start with the lemon cream sauce on your actual pizza-making day. Make ahead earlier on and refrigerate it till it’s time to use if you like.

LEMON CREAM SAUCE FOR PIZZA

1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, zested and juiced (I got just over 1/3 cup lemon juice from one lemon)
Dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)—add enough to the lemon juice so you have just over ½ cup between the lemon juice and wine
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1½ teaspoons corn starch
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. As the butter melts, add the grated lemon zest; stir it around about a minute as it sizzles. Pour in the lemon juice/white wine, add salt, stir and bring the liquids to a simmer. Cover the skillet, and let simmer just a couple of minutes.

Remove the lid, slowly whisk in the cream and add corn starch. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes you have a thick, creamy sauce. Remove from heat, add nutmeg (if you like) and freshly ground black pepper. If you do refrigerate, you’ll want to warm it up a bit in the microwave so it’s easy to spread over the pie. I used my handy silicone pastry brush to apply super-simply. :)

FOR THE CHICKEN
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

P1170993

I used just under 10 oz. (generous ½ pound) of chicken breast
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper

Cut the pieces as evenly as possible, cook at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes. This should leave some of the chicken a bit pink so it’ll finish cooking on top of the pizza instead of drying out.

Slice the chicken to top the pizza.

FOR THE PIZZA TOPPING
About a pound or so of broccoli, cut in pieces–steam for just 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat
Fresh mozzarella (8 oz.), sliced so you can place discs evenly over the top of the pie
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
3-4 cloves of garlic, pressed
drizzle olive oil over top of pie

Generously oil a sheet pan.
Press/shape pizza dough into a pan forming a large rectangle or oval–whatever shape begins to form as you even out the dough. Mine is a little of each, HA HA!
Brush lemon sauce over crust.

P1170995
Add broccoli and chicken.
Brush remaining lemon sauce over top, then add fresh mozz, pecorino and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil.

P1170997

I baked for just 15 minutes on top of my pizza stone (permanently residing at the bottom of my oven) at 450 degrees F. Take a look at the 15-minute mark to see if yours is ready, too. If not, you may need anywhere up to 5 more minutes–just depends how thin you’re able to press out the dough. I let mine come to room temperature about 30 minutes before I got started, and I think that helped.

P1170999

Et voilà! Springtime is served. Care for a slice?

P1170896

This past Friday, my childhood friend Andrea posted a challenge:
“Only people that I grew up with will understand this, but somebody needs to post a decent recipe for two Sicilian foods that I love (and crave) (1) Sciaccata (2) Marinos Pizza with meat sauce. Katty’s Kitchen If anybody can do this…you can!!!”

Andrea had suggested it when I started making pizza, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure how to pull it off. I mean, pizza is pretty straightforward, but it’s a little more complicated to make something with a top and a bottom. At least, I thought would be. Most of all, since scacciata is a specialty of my hometown, I needed to make the most excellent one I could. Right, no pressure there! ;)

Wait a minute. If you didn’t grow up in Middletown, Connecticut, you may not even know what I’m talking about. I never realized the double-crusted, stuffed pizza-like creation I grew up with was unique to my town. You see, my hometown is the sister city of Melilli, Sicily. While others might not be familiar with scacciata, we natives took it on faith it would always be available here. Growing up, that meant a trip downtown to Marino’s Bakery on Ferry Street in the North End. And, as years went by, it also meant D&S over in the plaza off of South Main Street, where Taino Smokehouse is now.

If memory serves, we lost Marino’s sometime in the 90s. Then about 10 years ago, when I moved to the D&S side of town, D&S closed, too. Are you kidding? Where would we get the scacciata now? It served so many delicious purposes. Night before a holiday? Just plain hungry for something good? Gotta get scacciata. Broccoli was always a favorite; spinach a close second. Of course, there’s potato, too. You could even combine the three, depending where you went. And, if you had Sicilian grandparents or parents, they likely made their own variation right at home.

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to learn to make scacciata. I had even found an adopted nonna to teach me–our friend Mary Ann’s mom, Cora. But sadly, it never came to be. Until now!

Let’s break it down in three steps.

BROCCOLI SCACCIATA

First, the dough.
Same recipe as for pizza, just times two. So here, I’ll double the dough for you:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour – I use King Arthur
4 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the brown sugar in the warm water. While the water is still warm, add the yeast. Wait about 15 minutes to see the yeast start to activate.

Using the dough hook, add the olive oil and remaining dry ingredients and slowly start to mix. After the dry ingredients are wet, raise the speed and mix until a nice, smooth ball forms, about 15 -20 minutes with a Kitchen Aid mixer. Keeping the speed just below medium should prevent your mixer from taking a little walk across the counter! Now you should have a dough ball–coat it with olive oil, place in a large enough bowl to allow the dough to rise and refrigerate at least three hours. Overnight is better, or you can even let it age for a few days. I made my dough Friday night for scacciata on Sunday.

The dough looked like this when I took it off the hook on Friday. I almost thought I had kinda gone overboard with the size of the bowl I chose.

P1170846

But look how it grew overnight!

P1170848

Second, the broccoli and sausage filling.

Just under 2 pounds of broccoli, chopped–to yield 6 heaping cups of trees (yes, broccoli)
1 sweet onion, shredded
4-5 cloves of garlic, pressed
Olive oil to coat the bottom of a large saute pan
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage (Longhini in New Haven makes my favorite)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil

First, coat the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil, then saute the shredded sweet onion over medium heat. By the time 15 minutes have passed, the onions should begin to brown a bit and stick to the bottom of the pan a little. No worries, just add the hot sausage and it will all come together. This is a good time to turn on the broccoli, but more about that in a bit. Break the sausage into small pieces as you go. Just when the sausage is cooked about all the way through, set a timer for one minute, throw in the pressed garlic, stir, then remove from heat.

I used my double-decker bamboo steamer baskets to steam the broccoli.

P1170874
Once the water begins to boil, let the broccoli steam about 5-7 minutes. It should be bright green and fork-tender when it’s done. Stir broccoli into sausage/onion/garlic mixture, add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and salt. You just made 8 cups of filling! Holy smokes!

P1170879

Cover and store in the fridge till you’re ready to make your scacciata. We’re almost there, amici!

Third, let’s put it all together!
Ready? If you have a pizza stone–and, yes, you want one if you don’t have one already–set it on the lowest rack of your oven and let your oven preheat to 425 degrees F for one hour. Let your dough come up to room temperature as the oven preheats.

Don’t forget the cheese, please!
1/2 pound (or a bit more) shredded whole milk mozzarella
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano

Oil a large rectangular baking sheet. I can’t promise you anything scientific here. Divide the dough in the bowl into two halves. Put one half of the dough on the sheet and begin to flatten it and stretch it as best you can. Flatten and stretch and move and shape and hope for the best. You’re trying to make a rectangle, but guess what? If it’s sort of oblong and rounded, who cares? You just want a flat, even base shape on which to mound all the tasty toppings you made.

P1170880

Having the broccoli topping to press down into the dough actually helps spread the dough out a bit. You’ll see.

Next, we add the cheese.

P1170885

Looking good, right? Now the part that stressed me most. How to stretch out the other half of the dough in roughly the same shape, then move it to cover what you see above? AYEEEE!

Grab another rectangular pan and coat it with olive oil. Repeat as above: stretch and move and hope and pray and do your best to flatten into a piece of dough you can lift and stretch to form the top half of the scacciata. You can do it!

P1170886

WHEW! We got it! Fold up the bottom layer over the top to seal the filling in. See there are a couple of holes on the top? No problem at all.

Now, place your baking sheet directly on top of the pizza stone and bake at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let your masterpiece rest 5 or 10 minutes once you take it out of the oven.

P1170892

Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut. Look how nice the bottom crust is, too!

P1170897

I’m the happiest girl in M’town now that I can make my own scacciata. In fact, I’m so happy, I could go dance on the railroad bridge as Billy Joel did in this song featuring my hometown. Except it’s dark. And cold. Maybe another day. I can only tell you I made one of my own dreams come true today, and that’s enough for this kat.

As for you? You’ve gotta make this scacciata! Subito! Subito!

P.S. to Mary Ann: Tell Cora I did it! Love you both! ♥

P1170711

The first time I made this pizza, I told my mom I could cry how much it reminded me of the restaurant. “This is better than the restaurant!” She was right.

Alfredo's

The smell of my kitchen when I make pizza brings me straight back to Bridge Street, where my cousins and I spent our growing up years. I’d always say “my uncle’s restaurant,” but it was a family affair without a doubt. We all did our time there over the years–my mom and dad, my Auntie Sandra, my cousins Mike, Paul and Al, my Uncle Greg and yours truly! Oh, and the old man himself, Alfredo, that was my uncle.

I remember days of extra dough, which meant pizza fritte (phonetically “freet” in the dialect)–delicious fried dough balls, jumbled up in a brown bag of sugar. I remember buttering the tops of the loaves of bread, fresh out of the oven. I remember playing hide and seek in the cellar and the dirty ragbag incident. And, of course, the pizza.

When my #1 taster walked in the day I made this and said it smelled like home, I knew I must be onto something special. I certainly couldn’t ask for a greater compliment. So I present to you, pizza dal cuore–pizza from the heart! Straight from my heart, my hometown and my kitchen. Buon appetito!

FOR THE LOVE OF PIZZA: PIZZA DAL CUORE
Katty’s Kitchen’s spin on “Grandma Pizza”

The dough
First, the dough, courtesy of my invisible friend the Sicilian Prince. I merely halved his original recipe. His process makes more sense to me than the more popular Cook’s Country version, so I’ll stick with the Sicilian Prince, thanks.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 ounces) bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the brown sugar in the warm water.
While the water is still warm, add the yeast. Wait about 15 minutes to see the yeast start to activate.
Using the dough hook, add the olive oil and remaining dry ingredients and slowly start to mix.  After the dry ingredients are wet, raise the speed and mix until a nice, smooth ball forms, about 15 -20 minutes with a Kitchen Aid mixer. Now you should have a dough ball–coat it with olive oil, place in a large enough bowl to allow the dough to rise and refrigerate at least three hours. Overnight is better, or you can even let it  age for a few days.
The tomatoes
2 pints grape tomatoes
olive oil to coat your roasting dish (I use a large rectangular one)
2 slices sweet onion
4 cloves garlic, whole, peeled
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the lowest rack of your oven for later, when it’s pizza-making time. Layer the onions, tomatoes and garlic cloves into a large roasting dish. Toss with olive oil and Kosher salt.

Roast for 15 minutes. Use tongs or a spatula to move everything around, then roast for 15 more minutes. Ladle tomatoes into a colander, pressing down to squeeze out the extra liquid. After 15 minutes have passed, your work should be done. That extra delicious tomato and olive oil liquid you just strained–it’s your treat. Enjoy it like a bowl of soup. Or if you’re feeling generous, share it with someone you love and a nice, crusty bread.

The rest of the pizza
fresh mozzarella
fresh basil
fresh garlic, 2 cloves, please (optional)
3 tablespoons shredded Pecorino Romano
slices of pepperoni
crushed rosemary
more olive oil

Now it’s time to put the pizza together. See how your oven is conveniently preheated to 450 degrees F? Just leave it there.

Generously coat a stainless steel baking sheet with olive oil. Start spreading out the dough in the pan. I’ll be honest, my goal was to make a circle. Somehow, a heart began to form, so I ran with it. Given my love for good food in general and pizza specifically, it felt like it was meant to be. You can make a rectangle if you wish.

Give the top of the pizza a good splash of olive oil across the top to coat. Evenly place the tomatoes and onions over the dough. Squeeze the roasted garlic. Slice fresh mozzarella and layer over the tomatoes. Tuck in slices of pepperoni as you see fit. Snip fresh basil all over the pie. Crush a bit of rosemary, too. Press two fresh cloves of garlic and distribute as evenly as you can across the top.

P1170705

If you have a pizza stone, place the baking sheet directly on top of the stone on the lowest rack of the oven. If not, just put the baking sheet in the oven on the lowest rack. Bake for about 20 minutes or till your pizza is nice and golden brown. Slice and enjoy!

P1170669

They call them magic cookie bars, Hello Dolly bars, seven-layer bars. Call them what you like, they’re old-fashioned deliciousness baked up in a pan. Being the small batch kat I am, I like to bake a half portion in an 8″ square. It’s just enough to bring a bit of sweetness to the day without going overboard.

Today, I added Valrhona Dulceys to to the mix. It’s 32% blond chocolate–”creamy and toasty,” so says the bag. Yes, and almost vaguely salty, like fine caramel. You can find them at Whole Foods. Or go nuts as I did and buy a 3 kg bag from Amazon. Hey, go big or go home, right? Life’s short, enjoy the ride. Or at least make it a little sweeter when you can.

KATTY’S MAGIC COOKIE BARS

¼ cup butter, melted
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
sprinkle of cinnamon
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
¼ cup chopped Valrhona Dulceys (32% blond chocolate)
about ¾ cup flaked coconut—enough to make a generous coconut “snow” layer over the graham crumbs and butter
½ cup chopped pecans (I used ½ pecans, ½ sliced almonds today)
½ (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (SCM)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract to mix into the SCM

P1170664

Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish. Melt butter, then sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over the butter. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cover this layer completely with coconut, then nuts and chocolate. Stir 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract into SCM, then pour evenly over the pan.

P1170665

Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees F . Run a knife around the outside of the pan while still warm. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds.

P1170671

What are you waiting for? Dig in–it’s time to make the magic happen. CHOP-CHOP!

 

P1170574

I woke up this morning and found a message wishing me a happy anniversary. It’s been four years–162 posts!–of food and tasty beverages! Time flies when you’re having fun.

The past month, I’ve been on a frozen cheese blintz kick. It’s nice ‘n’ easy to throw a blintz in a pan with some butter and oil, then top it with homemade blackberry syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. In fact, it’s so easy to make, I made the syrup today as my blintz was sizzling. Of course, it would be delish on pancakes or waffles, too. Or  ice cream. But who eats ice cream for breakfast?

BLACKBERRY SYRUP FOR BLINTZES

6 oz. container of blackberries
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Ready for how easy this is? Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As the berries get soft, you can use a potato masher just to break them up a bit.

Let cool and store in the fridge. Enjoy a sweet start to your day! And remember this sage advice from our friend Frank: Nice ‘n’ easy does it every time. Snap. Snap. Snap.

P1170576

P1170558

Last weekend, I thought it would be fun to make carrot cake in the morning. So I went to the store and didn’t buy carrots. Nice going, Kat.

After I returned to my senses and the store, I updated a cake from my mom’s recipe files. So what’s my new spin on a classic? Less sugar (half brown, half granulated, please), a mix of oil and butter, toasted walnuts, coconut, some nutmeg, bourbon-soaked golden raisins (HOO-AHHH!) and a drizzle of bourbon over the cake once it’s out of the oven. To top it off, I whipped up my very own bourbon salted caramel frosting. Sound good to you, amici? Let’s make cake!

CARROT PINEAPPLE CAKE

½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup Maker’s Mark
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup corn oil
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups finely shredded raw carrot (about ½ a a pound bag or four carrots)
½ cup crushed pineapple with juice
¼ cup Baker’s coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Soak raisins in Maker’s for at least a couple of hours. Once they’re plumped, reserve the bourbon. Of course, we’ll use it later!

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugars, oil and melted butter 2 minutes at medium speed. Add, carrots, pineapple, coconut, raisins and toasted walnuts. Mix till all ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into greased 9″ square pan.

Bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes.

Drizzle some—or all—the bourbon used to soak raisins over hot cake. Not sure you want to use it all? CLINQUE! Cheers to you and your carrot cake! CENT’ANN’!

P1170555

P1170536

As a nut for all things almond-y, I wondered where I might find the very best almond syrup. It’s comforting to know the answer is right in your very own kitchen! All you need is sugar, water and almond extract or bitter almond oil.

I’m sure you’re already familiar with almond extract. LorAnn bitter almond oil is its bolder, much more concentrated cousin! Bitter almond oil is truly almond flavor to the extreme and must be used sparingly. Abandon all thoughts of “heaping” measurements here and keep in mind a little goes a long, long way. Take it from someone who ruined a whole pan of bread pudding learning that lesson the hard way.

ALMOND SYRUP

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon bitter almond oil or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Combine sugars and water in a small saucepan. Stir as you bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add almond flavoring (oil or extract). Let syrup cool, then store in the fridge.

Now, what delicious things shall we almond up? I love an almond latte, but I also have an orange marzipan tea that the syrup complements purr-fectly. You can add it to seltzer to make an almond soda. In fact, I mixed it with Polar coconut cream seltzer–talk about almond joy!

I leave you now to get cookin’ and get nutty on your own. You’ll be so glad you did! Because homemade almond syrup is…the kat’s ass! ;)

P1170532

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers