Entries tagged with “Classes”.



First… Some Piz’za History

Piz’za (n) – A baked pie of Italian origin consisting of a shallow bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and often other toppings, such as sausage or olives.

The Origins of Pizza
Considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries, modern pizza attributes itself to baker Raffaele Esposito of Napoli (Naples), who in 1889 created a special pizza for the visiting Italian King Umberto and Queen Margherita. The pizza, named after the queen, was patriotic in its resemblance to the Italian flag; red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese), and green (basil). It received rave reviews, setting the standard by which today’s pizza evolved.

The idea of using bread as a plate came from the Greeks, who ate flat round bread (plankuntos) baked with an assortment of toppings. The tomato came to Italy from Mexico and Peru through Spain in the 16th century as an ornamental plant first thought to be poisonous. True mozzarella is made from the milk of the water buffalo imported from India to Campania in the 7th century. So, the Neopolitan baker, as the saying goes, put it all together. Also, in 1830 the world’s first true pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’ Alba in Naples, opened and is still in business today!

Pizza migrated to America with the Italians. Gennaro Lombardi opened the first U.S. pizzeria in 1895 in New York City at 53 1/3 Spring Street, but it wasn’t until after World War II when returning GI’s created a nationwide demand for the pizza they had eaten and loved in Italy that pizza went public. In the late 1950’s, Shakey’s and various other mass production pizza parlors appeared and further popularized pizza.

Pizza in this day and age is not limited to the flat round type. It’s also deep-dish pizza, stuffed pizza, pizza pockets, pizza turnovers, rolled pizza, pizza-on-a-stick, pizza strudel, etc., all with combinations of sauce, cheese, and toppings limited only by one’s inventiveness. However, the best pizza still comes from the individual pizzaiolo, a pizza baker, who prepares his yeast dough and ingredients daily and heats his oven for hours before baking the first pizza.

Chef Cali’s Pizza Sauce

Makes: 3 cups

INGREDIENTS
1 can (28-ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, in juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, to sauté
1 small white or sweet onion, finely diced and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch sea salt
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
Pinch sugar, optional

PROCEDURE
Empty the contents of the tomato can in a mixing bowl and coarsely crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands, leaving them just a little chunky.

In a heavy bottom 2-quart saucepot, add the olive oil, over a medium high flame and heat a little. Add the onions and sauté until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and sauté about a minute until golden. Quickly add the crushed tomatoes to the mix. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add the fresh basil and oregano.

You can add a touch of sugar if desired or if tomatoes are tart. Simmer on a low flame, stirring often for at least 15 minutes.

If not using right away, cool down and store in airtight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.

Chef Cali’s Pizza Dough

Makes:  2, 14” pizzas

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope active (not instant or rapid rise) dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons, a 4 oz. jar of yeast = 14 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet

PROCEDURE
In a bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to combine.

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.

Add the yeast mixture, cold water, and oil. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Allow dough to rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, let rise another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place cookie sheets in oven (inverted). Form a 10 to 14-inch pizza crust and place on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with yellow cornmeal. Place topping on the crust and place the pizza, with the parchment paper, in the oven on hot inverted cookie sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

ABOUT YEAST … Yeast is a living, microscopic, single-cell organism that, as it grows, converts its food (through a process known as fermentation) carbon dioxide. This trait is what endears yeast to breadbakers. The art of breadmaking needs the carbon dioxide produced by yeast in order for certain doughs to rise. To multiply and grow, all yeast needs is the right environment, which includes moisture, food (in the form of sugar or starch) and a warm, nurturing temperature (70° to 85°F is best).

The breakdown of the yeast causes effervescence, the giving off of gasses which get trapped in the dough, and the lump of dough expands. As the bread is usually in a tin, the only way it can expand is upwards. A lump of dough not in a tin will expand sideways as well as upwards.

ChefCali Teaches Community Education Cooking Classes in Barrington, Illinois

Beyond 220, a self-supporting program is a combined effort between the District 220 Educational Foundation and Barrington Community Unit School District 220. Our goal is to offer courses to extend learning opportunities and increase knowledge and skills in order to enrich the lives of community members. Courses range in subject from technology to cooking to financial help and exercise. Most courses are held at Barrington High School. All students must be at least 18 years old. For more information on the Beyond 220 program, please call 847-756-2511 or 847-842-3510 or send an email to gobeyond@cusd220.org, or visit http://www.barrington220.org/ntopnav-community.asp

Knife Skills

The essential class for all home chefs. Learn how to purchase, store, sharpen and care for your knives during the first half of class, then, go “hands-on” and learn to cut your kitchen time in half as we take you through the art of chopping and slicing. This is a must-take class! Please bring the knife you use most from home, a cutting board, dishtowel and apron.

Class fee: $20
Lab fee: $5 per student
Class limit: 12
Two sessions offered
Thursday, September 17, 6:30-8:30 pm or Tuesday, October 27, 6:30-8:30 pm

The Art of Sushi – a Hands-On Class

Experience the art of sushi making … go hands-on as you learn three kinds of maki rolls and three pieces of nigiri, then feast on your artistic, and delicious, creations. Please bring the knife you use most from home, a cutting board, dishtowel and apron. Class includes sake and Japanese beer tasting.

Class fee: $40
Lab fee: $10 per student
Class limit: 12
Two sessions offered
Thursday, September 24, 6-9 pm or Thursday, October 15, 6-9 pm

Global Fish

This exciting and dynamic fish class teaches you not only how to select and store fresh fish but we provide you with award wining recipes! Halibut in Parchment Paper with Dilled Lemon Butter, Whitefish Provence with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Capers, Olives and Eggplant, Asian Tuna Steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, Shrimp Scampi, Grilled Santa Fe Salmon with Black Bean Salsa and Chipotle-Tangerine Vinaigrette. Demonstration class; recipe packets will be provided along with tastings.

Class fee: $25
Lab fee: $10 per student
Class limit: 26
Tuesday, November 3, 6-9 pm

Appetizer Extravaganza – Just in Time for the Holidays

The ultimate entertaining class, just in time for holiday parties. Wow your guests with these delicious, creative and beautiful appetizers: Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms, Crostini with Eggplant and Peppers, Shrimp and Mango Spring Rolls with Sweet Chile Dipping Sauce, Silver Dollar Crab Cakes, Artichoke Strudel. Demonstration class; recipe packets will be provided along with tastings.

Class fee: $25
Lab fee: $10 per student
Class limit: 26
Tuesday, November 10, 6-9 pm

Knife Skills – The Finer “Points”

The importance of knives to a chef cannot be overstated. High-quality, well-made, well-maintained knives are fundamental kitchen tools that form the foundation of kitchen work. The best tools make it easier for the beginner to learn cutting skills properly, right from the start. It is well worth spending the time and money necessary to get a good knife and become comfortable with the skills involved in sharpening, steeling and using knives for a variety of cutting tasks.

WHAT IS IT MADE OF?

STAINLESS STEEL – stainless steel doesn’t stay sharp for very long because it needs a surface harder than the metal to sharpen it …

CARBON – high carbon content knives rust, pit and stain … it is a soft metal so it chips easily … it sharpens easily because it’s a soft metal but it looses its edge quickly … carbon is the complete opposite of stainless; carbon takes a keen edge and is razor sharp.

What’s the answer? A blend of metals that gives you the best of both worlds. High carbon stainless steel is produced by blending iron, carbon, chromium and other metals, such as molybdenum, in a specific ratio to form a blade that is stainless, resilient, and capable of receiving and holding a sharp edge.

FORGED VS. STAMPED?

Stamped knives are made by cutting blade-shaped pieces from sheets of metal of previously milled steel. In general, a stamped knife is inferior to a forged knife.

Forged blades are made by heating a rod of high-carbon stainless steel to around 1700 degrees. The heated metal is dropped into a mold, and then struck with a hammer to pound it to correct shape and thickness. One of the advantages of a forged blade is that its thickness tapers from the spine to the edge and from the heel to the tip, which gives it the correct balance. After the blade is shaped, it is tempered to improve its strength and durability. Forged blades are generally more durable, better balanced and of good quality.  Forged knives have bolsters (the “guard” pieces between the blade and the handle) … forged knives usually have a full tang (the piece of metal that is an extension of the blade the runs the whole length of the handle).

THE ANATOMY OF A KNIFE

In addition, to the blade and handle …

The bolster is the point where the blade meets the handle. The bolster gives the blade greater stability and strength. This is a sign of a well-made knife, one that will hold up for a long time. Some knives may have a collar that looks like a bolster but it is actually a separate piece attached to the knife (these knives tend to come apart easily and should be avoided).

The tang is part of the blade itself. It is the point at which the handle is attached to the knife. Tangs may be full or partial. A full tang extends the entire length of the handle, giving the knife a greater heft in the handle. Knives with a full tang are sturdy, well balanced and long lasting. A partial tang does not run the full length of the handle. Partial tang knives are not as durable as full tang knives.

SHARPENING AND HONING TOOLS

No knife kit can be considered complete without sharpening and honing tools because the key to the proper and efficient use of any knife is making sure it always stays sharp. Knife blades are given an edge on a sharpening stone or simply, sharpener, whereas knives are maintained between sharpenings by honing with a steel. Think of it this way: steels are used to realign the edge on your knife while sharpeners are used to put a new edge on your knife once it has dulled.

Tips on steels:

The easiest and safest length for a steel is at least 2 to 3 inches longer than the blade of your largest chef knife. Whenever you are using your knives, you should have a steel handy. Get into the habit of using a steel on your knives before you start cutting. Steels are NOT used to sharpen the edge; they are used to realign it, because with use the edge starts to roll over to one side. 

A word on electric knife sharpeners or “pull through” sharpeners … in general we do not endorse using either of these processes … because electric sharpeners operate at high speeds, there is a danger of over sharpening the blade. Even a short time can grind away too much of the blade, causing excessive wear and significantly shortening the knife’s useful life. “Pull through” sharpeners are sometimes not balanced properly and can put an uneven edge on your knife. The solution … taking care of your knives with a steel and a sharpener. If you care for your knives properly you will never need to take them to a “professional” to be sharpened.

CLEANING YOUR KNIVES

Hot soapy water and hand-dried – clean the entire knife including the handle. Knives are NEVER to go into the dishwasher – the high heat and harsh detergents can ruin your knives. In addition, there are too many opportunities for the knife to be jostled by the water pressure and either (a) damage the blade or (b) someone reaches into the dishwasher to empty it, doesn’t know where the knife is, reaches in and grabs the blade not the handle. NEVER IN DISHWASHERS!!

CUTTING SURFACES

Wood, only! Cutting directly on metal, glass, marble or plastic will dull and eventually damage the blade of your knife. Also, wood boards are self-healing – that is, small scratches close up enough to prevent bacteria from growing in them. Plastic boards retain bacteria (example: when chopping parsley or cilantro on your plastic boards you can never clean the big green splotch left by the herbs … now think of that as chicken juice … YUCK!!! – The fact is, once you make a cut into a plastic board you’ve effectively “gouged” the plastic and it never repairs and lots of scum and bacteria build up there … enough said?)

Tips on wood chopping blocks:

Wash them with hot soapy water with a bit of household bleach. Rinse with clean water and let air dry, standing up, so the air circulates around the board. Blocks do not go in the dishwasher. Treat the board with block oil every couple of months to keep the wood supple. Size … your board should be as large as the largest knife in your kitchen.

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