Friday, April 29, 2011

Milan Cooking Class Part II: Pizza Dough 比薩製作方法

How could you take an Italian cooking class without learning how to make pizza!  The first five days in Milan, I was so in love with their breads especially their bread sticks and crackers.  When chef showed me how to make pizza, I was so amazed how easy it is and we all can make it at home as long as you have a very hot and good oven.  Goodbye pizza delivery, you can have home made thin crisp pizza in two hours.  After return from Italy, I had a create your own pizza party at home and we turned out some amazing pizza right at home.  Here is the recipe and I hope you use it to impress your kids and friends.


All Purpose Flour 500g
Honey or malt 1 teaspoon
Lukewarm Water 280g
Yeast(dry or fresh) 12g
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 10g
Table salt 10g


Preheat your oven to the hightest heat 260 C or 500F Degrees.  Melt yeast, honey, olive oil in water.  Spread flour on table and create a large well in the middle. Add yeast  mixture in the well and slowly mix in flour from the inside.  When combined, add salt. mix until a dough is form and dough is smooth.  Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap and place in room temperature. Let rise for an hour or double in size.  Divide dough into your desire size.  To make personal small pizza, I divided it into 8 portions.  Cover with a moist dish cloth and let rest for another 15 mins.  Dust table with flour, shape dough into a round disk and using the palm of your hand flatten it to form a think disk. Grease baking sheet with a little olive oil and place disk on top.  Then you are ready to dress your pizza. Place pizza in the oven and bake for about 7-10 minutes until crust and filling is golden brown or crisp.  Enjoy.

Theory: Make disk as thin as possible, it is ok to have a hole, don't worry, just pinch and fix it on the sheet pan.  HOT HOT oven is key!  You can make the dough a head of time and refrigerate up to two days until use, just take it out from the fridge 30mins before use.  If you find your dough too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time and keep working.  If the dough is too wet or too sticky, add more flour on the table and keep working.  The dough should not be sticky nor flaky, it should just form a smooth dough that you can work without sticking to your hands.  Working with flour and yeast all depends on your atmosphere.  If it is the summer time, make sure your dough temperature stay within 30-50C or your yeast will die.  You can add or decrease water content depends on the humidity of the day.  Try it a couple of times and you will get your perfectly crisp pizza.

Try these combo:
Tomato sauce, fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella(Drained) and fresh basil.
4 Cheese of any kind with anchovy.
Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella, Parma Ham and top with chopped Rocket lettuce after pizza is out of the oven.
Pepperoni and mozzarella with tomato sauce and pineapple for the kids.
Nutella, marshmallow, banana slices and strawberries for a dessert pizza.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pasta Dough Recipe from Milan 意大利麵條的製作方法

Day 3 in Milan, I was so in love with all the pasta dishes.  Determined to make the most authentic Italian dishes at home, I booked ahead a two day Italian cooking class at La Cucina Italiana.  It is the most prestige private cooking school in town.  80% of their students are Italians and they too want to make Italian food the right way.

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After a 15 minutes walk from the hotel, I arrived at the school right next to the office of La Cucina Italiana Magazine.  Walking into a professional kitchen with a marble island in the middle, I was greeted by Chef Davide Negri, who will be my guide to a two day intensive crash course on authentic Italian staples, pastas and breads.  Born, raised and trained in Milan, Chef Negri call himself the panda of Milan, "Nobody is from Milan anymore!"  How can you get more authentic than that!

One great thing about making fresh pasta, it is basically the same recipe but you can make many different kinds of pasta.  It all starts from a very basic dough.  One special ingredient that will make this recipe authentic is the Durum flour, some people call it pasta flour, a bit yellow in color and a very strong flour. This is what make the pasta al dante! If you cannot find this, chef said to substitute with strong flour, or bread flour.
Durum Flour

Basic Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe:

200g All purpose flour
50g Durum flour (Strong flour)
2 Eggs
2 Egg yolks
1 tsp Extra Virgin olive oil (light flavored ones)
pinch of salt

Mix both flour together and create a big well in the middle.
Add remaining ingredients into the well.
Start from the middle, slowly mix liquid into flour until a dough is form.  Knead about 8-10mins.  Dough should be moist, soft but not too sticky.  If it is too dry, spray in a little water.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for one hour.  Cut dough into smaller size to fit into pasta machine
Starting with the widest setting of the pasta machine insert dough.  Sprinkle flour on dough before you insert into machine if it is sticky.  Insert dough through machine and decrease setting each time for about 4-5 times.  If the dough is too thin, fold in half and insert again into the machine
Stop at about 1/16 inch or second to the thinest setting and it should be thin enough for most pasta.

I made this recipe at home and find it a bit dry. So if your eggs are too small or maybe it is a dry day, add a little more left over egg white to the dough until dough is smooth.  I find a spray bottle with water also handy, give it s spritz and slowly work on it.  Towards the end the dough might seem hard to knead, it is perfect, you want it to be hard so it will be el dante.  The dough should also be just dry enough and not stick to you hands.  If you want to make color pasta, just substitute the volume of one egg with either cooked chopped spinich, tomato paste or squid ink.  You can even make chocolate pasta by adding some coco powder.  You might need a little extra moisture with that dough. 

Let pasta sheet dry for about 10 mins to prevent from sticking, roll it up loosely and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Pasta can be kept in fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to about three days.

Cut into squares or your desired shapes.  Boiled in salt water for about 3 mins and run through cold water.  Then add sauces and ingredients to make 5 layers and put into oven until sauce is hot.  No need to cook for a long time since noodles are already cooked

Using a long pasta sheet, fold into half and make a line in the middle.
Brush a small amount of water onto the small half of the sheet, just enough for it to stick.
Pipe your fillings about one inch apart onto the smaller half sheet.
Fold the larger half of the sheet over, covering the fillings.
Press in between fillings to remove air and seal in the fillings within the pasta sheets.
Cut sheets with knife or pasta cutter and raviolis are ready to be cooked
Cook in a large pot of salted water for about 2-3 minutes, mix with your favorite sauce and serve!

Try this at home and let me know how it turns out!
Spinach Ricotta Raviolis with Sage Butter sauce

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Cookie Bouquet took off!

Since the debut of My Cookie Bouquet at the Good Hope Singers Concert in  February, we have been busy turning out these sweet treats to different customers.  Using quality and all natural ingredients are a must for all Y.Lo products.  Each cookie is hand painted and decorated with candied jewels from Europe.  The cookies are carefully wrapped with ribbons, display into bouquets, center pieces or decorative gift bags to meet our client's needs.  Most people say they are too cute to eat, but I insist that you must taste it too.  They are just sweet enough, flavorful and melts in your mouth.  Taste is the most important part of all our goodies.  Here is a few sample of our recent work!