Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Perfect Pizza Dough

I probably make pizza ever other week. I come home throw the dough together, let it rise. And by the time Nick gets home, it’s ready to roll out.

It all starts with the rising of the yeast. As my friend Mory said, “It should look like a pint of Guinness.”

After wet ingredients are mixed and kneaded with dry, place in a well oiled bowl.

Let sit for an hour, covered with a dish towel or saran wrap.

The dough was more puffed/rounded. But by the time I got around to taking the photo the dough relaxed.

And don’t forget to get the freshest mozzarella you can find.

Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated.
When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a small amount together: if it’s crumbly, add more water; if it’s sticky, add more flour – 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it’s smooth and elastic.
Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e. over a gas pilot light) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.
Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza paddle with flour and slide it under the pizza dough.
Brush the crust with a thin layer of olive oil, and top with your favorite flavors. You can make a “white” pizza which consists of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. Then there is the traditional with marinara sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh basil. Get creative! The world is your pizza!
Slide the pizza onto parchment lined baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Banana Rum Ice cream with Salted Caramel

 My mother in-law, Sandra sent me this recipe for banana rum ice cream. The recipe said to serve ice cream with chocolate sauce, but I opted for my fleur du sel caramel sauce.  I let my bananas turn nice and black and soaked them in dark rum. I made my salted caramel sauce first to let it get nice and thick.

On to the ice cream…

And for the grand finale

PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton

For the Ice Cream

425ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split

6 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled

Juice of 1 lemon

140ml sour cream

6 medium egg yolks

115g sugar

2 tbsp dark rum
To make the ice cream, place the milk and vanilla pod in a saucepan. Set over a low heat and slowly bring up to boiling point, but don’t boil. Cover and set aside.

Mash the bananas with a fork and once they have turned to mush, mix in the lemon juice and sour cream.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they become paler, then slowly whisk in the warm infused milk. Immediately return to the saucepan (with the vanilla pod) and, using a wooden spoon, stir continuously over a low heat for about 20 minutes or until the custard has thickened to the consistency of runny double cream. Then immediately stir into the mashed bananas so that the custard quickly cools. Remove the vanilla pod, add the rum and purée the custard. Cover and chill.

If you have an ice-cream maker, freeze the mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container, cover and freeze until needed.

If you don’t have a machine, pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover and freeze for an hour. Stir the mixture with a fork and repeat, stirring every 40 minutes, until it is frozen.

Blackberry Macarons

No I did not spell it the wrong way. These cookies are from France and are not spelled, “macaroon”. They’re so sophisticated, they only need one ‘O’. Less is more.

I must say the master of french macarons is Chef Pierre Herme. As far as I know, he does not sell his little masterpieces in the US. So you will just have to go to Paris to fetch some.

The base of this cookie is a Swiss meringue. Which is sugar and water heated to 248 degrees F. Then the heated sugar is poured into frothed egg whites; as the mixer is going.

There are a few key items you must do while making these:

*Bring egg whites to room temperature


Almond  flour and confectioners sugar getting mixed into meringue

*Pulverize and sift twice, almond flour and confectioners sugar
*Mix dry into wet just until combined. Making sure not to over work batter

*Let unbaked cookies sit out on tray at room temperature for at least an hour….Or 3 days as Chef Herme does.

*When baking, make sure to leave oven door ajar. This prevents macarons from cracking and baking to fast.

To flavor my macarons, I added two tablespoons of pulverized and sifted freeze dried blackberries.


Traditionally the filling is a french buttercream. I decided to use blackberry jam for my filling. Just a personal preference.

I know this may seem complicated and involved, but it’s worth it.

From Pierre Herme:

125 g almond flour

125 g confectioners sugar

Blitz in food processor. Sift, and set aside.

125 g sugar

31g water

47 g whites

250 g almond sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat sugar and water to 248 degrees F.  At 237 degrees F whisk whites.

Once heated, add sugar in a slow, steady stream as mixer speed is on medium. Whisk meringue until cool. This is the part where you can add color and/or flavorings.

Take meringue off mixer and gently mix in almond flour/sugar mixture, just until combined.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, pipe out quarter sized macarons. Let sit out for at least one hour.

Bake for 10 minutes as door is maintained opened with a wooden spoon.

Let cool completely, fill, sandwich, and bon appetite!