La Pizza Rossa


Oh boy, have I been missing in action.

And before anything let me just say I am so very sorry for the neglect. Do I have an excuse? Not really. I mean nothing really different from what everyone else has been up to…work, holidays, family, life and all its glorious foibles. But I’ve never really been totally gone. Not from food (never from food!). And not from the thought of sharing recipes with you.

So, no more dallying with apologies of what was…onwards and upwards shall we?

First off, Happy New Year! Yes, jauntily capitalized as are all our intentions in the beginning of a year. What are mine? Again, not much different from all of yours I’m sure: health, purpose, family, time, organization. Things I won’t go into here…there are much wiser voices for you to listen to when it comes to intentions and resolutions and goals, and the inspiration needed to achieve them. Wiser by far than my bumbling self that has, in 40-odd years on this earth, not managed to figure it out yet. By a long shot.

But that’s not why you and I are here anyway right?

We are here for the food. For its deliciousness and comfort and certainty and simplicity and steadfastness. For the simple joy it can bring. For our love for it that sometimes seems the only constant in life. For the way the making of it can center us and quiet our souls in times of turmoil.

And in that regard I suppose there is one resolution I can make here…that I want to share food more, with you. Share recipes with you on this blog and perhaps on other platforms. Play more in the kitchen and share the experience with you through my Instagram and Twitter. Share food ideas with like-minded people and see it come into tangible fruition. Develop recipes for people that need them. And maybe one day even meet some of you, and cook and eat with you in person! Wouldn’t that be nice?

But first, the first step. Back in the kitchen and back on this blog.

Let’s start with bread.

La Pizza Rossa
(amended just very slightly from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros)

For the dough:

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (still comfortable on your fingers)
  • 20 grams fresh yeast (crumbled) or 10 grams active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 600 grams plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the tomato sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and squashed a bit
  • 800 grams canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

– Place the water, yeast, honey, olive oil, and 3 fistfuls of the flour in a mixing bowl. Mix with electric beaters until smooth.
– Cover the bowl and leave for 20-30 minutes until the mixture froths and looks foamy on top.
– Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Don’t get tempted to add extra flour.
– Now place a dough hook on your mixer and mix for about 4-5 minutes until everything is completely incorporated (see note below if you don’t have a dough hook).
– Cover the bowl with a couple of cloths and leave it in a warm, draft-free place (that’s pretty much everywhere in my flat) for about 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has puffed up well.
– Lightly oil a (11 x 15 x 1 1/2 inch) baking tray. Punch down the dough with one firm blow at the center. Spread the dough gently into the tray, pushing to the edges with your palms. If it won’t stretch easily, leave it to rest for about 5 minutes then try again, gently stretching from the center outwards (making sure it doesn’t break and it is more or less even all around).
– Place the pan in a warm, draft-free place. Arrange four glasses around the pan and drape a couple of tea towels, or a towel, over them like a tent to completely cover the pan. This is so the dough doesn’t stick to the cloth as it rises. Leave this for about 45 minutes or until the dough has puffed up.
– While the dough is rising make your tomato sauce: heat the oil with the garlic in a saucepan, and when you smell the garlic add the tomatoes and salt. Cook over high heat until the sauce loses its wateriness and starts to look thick and bubbly. You can use a handheld blender to puree it if you want it smoother but I didn’t bother. I do like to add a slick or two of olive oil when it’s just about done.
– Dimple the top of the dough with your fingertips (so the tomato sauce has nooks and crannies to nestle into), taking care not to deflate your dough. Scatter the tomato sauce on top of your dough and carefully spread it with the back of the spoon or ladle (it may seem like a lot but it keeps the pizza moist).
– Place the tray in a very hot oven (pre-heated to its highest temperature…or the highest you’d comfortably let it go if you are a chicken like me!) and bake for about 20 minutes (depending on exactly how hot your oven can go…please see note # 2 below) or until the pizza is golden and a bit crusty here and there (check that the bottom is crusty and crisp too).
– Cut into squares to serve. It’s best warm but room temperature is good too.

Note: If you don’t have a dough hook you can certainly also mix this by hand. Just slap it from one side of the bowl to the other until it comes together. The dough is too soft and sticky to really be able to knead.

Note # 2: I suggest checking before the 20 minutes are up…I took mine out at exactly 20 minutes and the bottom was a bit scorched. Something to note for next time!

Remember that petal pink KitchenAid Mini I scored last year? I have certainly put it through its paces. I made cupcakes over here. And then I used the meat grinder attachment and made sausage/meatballs over here. All the while proving that this little mini of a mixer packed a maxi power punch.

With all that under its belt I thought it time to give its dough hook a spin. I also hadn’t made bread in a while so it was the perfect time to do both.

Tessa Kiros’ cookbooks are some of my favorite. Not just for their recipes and detailed instructions, but also for her lyrical voice, idyllic stories, and wise life-musings. I’ve found comfort in her calm, familiar voice during many a rough time.

The recipe for her Pizza Rossa was one that I had bookmarked long ago but never got around to making. Its simplicity and hominess appealed to me and, what can I say, I love my carbs!

The recipe was perfect to test out the little dough hook (because it is indeed “little”…smaller than the regular dough hook on my standard KitchenAid). And I am happy to report that it performed commendably, making short work of the sticky dough.

The recipe produces a nice thick “pizza”, with the heft and bready-ness of a focaccia, making it a great midday snack…or even a meal with a simple side salad and perhaps some charcuterie to go with. You could also top it with grated cheese (and maybe some salami!) before baking for a more substantial pizza.

So…the first month of the year is almost over but I have just managed to get this post out. The first of more I hope. Much more. So will you stick around? I promise (yes promise!) to share more recipes, and kitchen moments, tips and tricks, and maybe even a few thoughts on life, right here.

But, just for now, first things first.

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