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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Pasta/Pizza

TIP OF THE DAY: Recipes For Leftover Pasta

We made one box too many of pasta last night, thinking our guests would eat as much as we did. Now, what to do with all that leftover pasta?

If it hasn’t been sauced, there’s got lots of flexibility. Whether you have long form pasta (fettuccini, spaghetti, etc.) or short forms (elbows, penne, rigatoni, etc.), you can turn it into a completely different dish.

  • Buttered noodles. Season with garlic and/or fresh parsley and serve them as a side or a bed for grilled meats, fish, or stew.
  • Casserole. Casseroles are a catch-all for all types of ingredients. Toss the pasta in with whatever else you have in the fridge.
  •  

    Leftover pasta is a delicious addition to soup.
    Photo courtesy House Foods.

     

  • Cold sesame noodles. There’s no reason you have to use spaghetti in an Italian-style recipe. Thai peanut sauce, traditionally served with spaghetti, tastes equally delicious on bowties, wagon wheels and other short cuts.
  • Frittata. Combine the pasta with eggs, veggies and some cheese for a breakfast, lunch or light dinner dish. Here’s a recipe.
  •  

    A spaghetti frittata. Photo courtesy
    HonestFare.com.

     
  • Green salad. Mix short cuts in with the greens, and trim long cuts into shorter bites.
  • Pasta cole slaw. Mix cut-up long form pasta with shredded cabbage and your favorite cole slaw dressing.
  • Pasta salad. Cut long pasta into bit-size pieces as needed. Mix the pasta with your favorite veggies and a delicious vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar or Dijon mustard (how to make vinaigrette). Fresh herbs add the magic. Here’s are recipes for an easy pasta salad with tomatoes and spinach, and a Caprese pasta salad with mozzarella.
  • Soup. Long cut or sort cut pasta works well in any soup or broth.
  • Tuna-pasta salad. Pasta stretches that can of tuna very nicely. Here’s a southwestern-style tuna pasta salad recipe.
  • Sauce switch. Serve the pasta with a completely different sauce—a white sauce like clam sauce if you originally served a tomato sauce, or a vegetable puree—they’re all delicious atop pasta, and pumpkin purée is a nice touch any time of the year.
  •  

  • Stir-fry. Toss the pasta into the pan or wok with the veggies and protein. If you’re using long cut pasta, trim it into manageable strands.
  •  
    WHAT IF THE PASTA IS ALREADY SAUCED?

    Instead of simply reheating and serving, look for way to enhance the dish. For example:

  • Top with grilled, sautéed or steamed bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and/or onions.
  • Stir in sautéed spinach or chard.
  • Add capers, olives and optional anchovies.
  • Add a protein: crumbled bacon, diced chicken, prosciutto or ham, sliced sausage, etc.
  • Switch up the heat with minced chiles, hot sauce or salsa.
  • Use a non-traditional cheese, like crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese; or add diced mozzarella cubes.
  •  
    Do you have a favorite use for leftover pasta? Let us know.
     
    SEE ALL THE TYPES OF PASTA IN OUR DELICIOUS PASTA GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Soba Noodles & Soba Salad

    Soba noodles typically are served on a flat
    plate like pasta; but here, it’s swirled into a
    stylish dome. Photo © Lulu Durand | IST.

     

    Unless you live in an area with good Japanese restaurants, it may be difficult to find a dish of soba noodles. But if you check in a natural foods market or online, you should be able to pick some up and cook your own.

    Soba dishes are appealing party fare, from bowls of noodle soup meant to be slurped with gusto, to a mix-your-own cold soba noodle salad with four, six or more optional ingredients with which to customize one’s dish.

    Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat; the thin noodles are made from buckwheat flour. As with all pasta, soba noodles can be served warm or chilled (think cold sesame noodles and pasta salad). Here are some popular recipes:

    HOT SOBA NOODLE DISHES

  • Soup: A bowl of dashi broth, filled with soba, is typically topped with sliced green onion and a tempura shrimp; add a fried egg, sunnyside up, and you’ve got tsukimi tororo. You can customize the dish with mushrooms, nori strips (seaweed) and/or western ingredients such as kale or spinach.
  •  

  • Stir fry: Topped with a stir fry of baby bok choy, bell peppers, green onions, snow peas and a protein (chicken, fish/seafood, tofu).
  • Fish dishes: Seared ahi tuna with a sesame crust (recipe) or miso-poached cod are wonderful on a bed of soba. Asparagus or snow peas add complementary color and flavor.
  •  
    COLD SOBA NOODLE DISHES

  • Hiyashi soba: One of our favorite ways to enjoy soba is this “mix your own” concept served with dishes of optional ingredients. These mix-ins or toppings can include fresh cilantro, green onion slices (scallions), natto (fermented soybeans), nori strips, okra slices, oroshi (grated daikon radish), purée of yamaimo (Japanese yam) and a pitcher of dashi. You can add some optional heat, such as minced birds eye chile. Add a fried egg, sunnyside up, and you’ve got yakisoba.
  • Mori soba: Plain chilled soba noodles served on a flat basket or a plate.
  • Zaru soba: Mori soba topped with shredded nori seaweed.
  •  
    Soba salad, cold soba mixed with vegetables and sesame oil-soy sauce dressing is a contemporary fusion concept served outside Japan. House Foods, makers of premium tofu and organic tofu, has provided the recipe below, which uses traditional Japanese ingredients.

    But you can extend the fusion with western ingredients: hard-cooked egg, julienned ham and cheese, strips of roast pork or poultry, leeks or red onions instead of green onions, sliced red radishes…anything goes.

    In fact, one conceit for a soba noodles party is to have each guest bring a creative ingredient to mix in.

     

    RECIPE: SOBA NOODLE SALAD WITH TOFU

    Add optional asparagus and/or snow peas, diagonally cut, for another dimension of flavor. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. For example, we prefer more red bell pepper and green onions on the salad, and less sugar in the dressing.

    This recipe serves 6.

    Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (14 ounces), drained, patted dry and cut into ½ inch strips
  • 8 ounces soba noodles, uncooked
  • 1 medium cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick julienne strips
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green onions (scallions), minced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (how to toast seeds)
  •  

    Uncooked soba (buckwheat) noodles. Photo © Maria Lapsha | Fotolia.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST sesame seeds: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Immediately remove seeds from hot pan to avoid over-toasting.

    2. COOK noodles in a large pot, following package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Set aside and refrigerate.

    3. SPRAY oil on a nonstick pan and grill tofu. Set aside and refrigerate.

    4. WHISK together the dressing ingredients.

    5. TOSS together noodles, cucumber, red bell pepper and optional asparagus and/or snow peas.

    6. Add tofu strips and mix well.
     
     
    RELATED RECIPE

    Try this recipe with conventional wheat noodles: Japanese somen noodles with dipping sauce.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Enjoy Pasta More Often

    Add lots of veggies to make pasta a healthy
    dish. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    It’s National Nutrition Month, so we’re giving some credit to a food that’s often on the “avoid” list: pasta.

    Jackie Newgent, RD, CDN and a consultant to Barilla pasta, has pointed out a few facts that should be of interest to any pasta lover. The good news is, you can and should incorporate pasta into your diet regularly. The only trick is to be sure that the recipe and the portion size confirm to approved guidelines for “healthy pasta.”

    PASTA ALONE DOES NOT ADD POUNDS

    Excess calories create excess fat, not healthy portions of pasta. Pasta is a good complex carbohydrate food. Several studies have shown that a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat are crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing risk of diseases. A 2009 study from Harvard School of Public Health and Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that reduced calorie diets with carbohydrates ranging from 35%-65% of the diet were equally effective for weight loss as other diet options.*

     
    The key to enjoying healthy pasta dishes is the recipe:

  • Add nutrient-rich pasta “partners” to the recipe that are high in fiber or protein and low in unhealthy fats: beans, fresh herbs, lean poultry, seafood and vegetables.
  • Load up on the veggies. Pasta provides a delicious base to incorporate more vegetables into one’s eating plan.
  • Skip the heavy cream sauces loaded with calories and cholesterol and use a tomato sauce, pesto or olive oil and garlic.
  • Look beyond enriched white flour pasta to better-for-you whole-wheat pasta, and take a look at Barilla Veggie, a line of pastas made with 25% purèed vegetables. There’s one full serving of vegetables in each 3.5 ounce portion. It’s a great way to sneak veggie servings to those who avoid their vegetables.
  •  
    PORTION SIZE = 2 BASEBALLS

    The other key to a healthy pasta meal is keeping portions right-sized. A healthy portion is one to two cups of cooked pasta, the size of up to two baseballs. Use these two tricks:

  • Serve the pasta in a smaller bowl or on a smaller plate to make it look like a larger portion. Take a look at these wide-rim pasta bowls: They’re just the thing. And you can use them for portion control with far more than pasta.
  • Extend the portion size with vegetables. Make one-third to one-half of the dish steamed or sautéed vegetables: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, squash, zucchini and/or other favorites. Pasta Primavera is the perfect way to enjoy pasta.
  •  
    PASTA IS LOW SODIUM & CALORIE FRIENDLY

    A one- to two-cup serving of cooked pasta is calorie friendly (about 200 calories), low in fat (about 1 gram, with no saturated or trans fats), cholesterol free and low in sodium (unless you add salt to the cooking water).

    You can build toward your recommended daily 47g of whole grains with whole grain pasta. Whole wheat pasta has 4g or more fiber per two-ounces of dry pasta. Check the label: Some brands, enriched with flax seeds, have double that.

    Pasta is a cornerstone of one of the world’s healthiest diets, the “Mediterranean Diet” of Italy, which nutritionists consider to be one of the world’s best ways to eat.

     

    AL DENTE PASTA KEEPS YOU FULLER LONGER

    According to Oldways, a non-profit organization that promotes healthy eating, and the International Pasta Organization, there’s a reason not to overcook pasta: Cooking pasta to al dente, still slightly firm, allows you to reap the full benefits of pasta’s already strong ability to increase satiety, delaying hunger pangs and providing fuel for working muscles long after meals.

    Due to the special protein structure of traditional pasta dough, pasta has a low to medium glycemic index (GI) value depending on cut, which means that the body digests it more slowly than most other carbohydrates. That’s true for pasta that’s made from either soft or hard wheat.†

    PASTA IS A SUSTAINABLE FOOD

    Plant based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains and pasta, are beneficial for our bodies while also providing the smallest environmental impact.‡

     

    Chef Michael O’Boyle of Chicken Fried Gourmet does pasta the best way: 1/3 pasta, 2/3 veggies. Photo courtesy ChickenFriedGourmet.com.

     

    So you know what you’ve got to do: Use a dairy-free sauce, add lots of veggies and measure your pasta portion size. And enjoy pasta as often as you like.

    *Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 26 February 2009; 360(9):859-73.

    †Source: Oldways.org.

    ‡Source: Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Enabling Sustainable Food Choices The Double Pyramid.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Vino De Milo Gourmet Pasta Sauce & Bruschetta

    We first discovered Vino de Milo in 2005. It was a new line of gourmet tomato sauces for pasta and other dishes. Each flavor had a different wine in the recipe. It was a delight atop our pasta, chicken, eggs and tofu, and wonderful for gift-giving to cooks and non-cooks alike.

    But not every new product line survives and thrives. Some of our favorites have gone with the wind.

    That’s why we’re so pleased that Vino de Milo has grown and expanded, with bruschetta toppings, salad dressings and salsas.

    Today, we re-endorse the wonderful pasta sauces and the bruschetta toppings, both made from top-quality tomatoes that are so naturally sweet, no sugar is added. (Americans consume a ghastly 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, much of it from “hidden” sugar added to prepared foods.)

    Read the full review.

    You can purchase the products online from iGourmet.com:

  • Bruschetta topping, 16 ounce jar, $5.99/jar
  • Pasta sauce: 16 ounces, $5.99/jar; 25 ounces,
    $8.99/jar
  •  

    With bread in the freezer and bruschetta on the shelf, you always have an impressive appetizer or snack. Photo by Vitalina Rybakova | IST.

     

    To find a retailer near you, just email your zip code to sales@vinodemilo.com or phone 866.589.6456.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Heart-Shaped Pizza

    Here are two tasty Valentine tips from The Pampered Chef:

    It’s easy to share the love with mini heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day. Whether for lunch, dinner or “breakfast pizza,” you’ll have a hit on your hands.

    HEART SHAPED PIZZA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Refrigerated pizza dough
  • Pizza sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of choice: mushrooms, olives, pepperoni,
    sausage, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to at 425°F.

    2. DIVIDE refrigerated pizza dough into quarters and shape into hearts.

     

    An easy treat for Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy ThePamperedChef.com.

    3. BAKE on a lightly oiled cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. (This recipe used the Stoneware Cookie Sheet from ThePamperedChef.com).

    4. REMOVE from oven and add sauce, mozzarella and toppings.

    5. BAKE for 2-3 more minutes or until cheese melts.
     

    DIETING ON VALENTINE’S DAY?

     

    A Valentine sandwich. Photo courtesy
    ThePamperedChef.com.

     

    Congratulations for passing by all the not-so-great-for-you simple carbs.

    Instead, enjoy slices of apple, pear or other complex carbs (whole grain bread counts) and use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to make them festive.

    The photo shows a “Valendine sandwich” with a filling of peanut butter and a few raisins.

    You can also use the cookie cutter to make a cutout in bread, pancakes, whatever.

    Go for it!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Indulge In Smaller Portions

    Don’t bring a serving dish to the table:
    Spoon out portions into—or directly bake
    them in—ramekins. Photo courtesy Blake’s
    All Natural.

     

    Healthcare professionals and everyone who’s successfully kept off weight will tell you: You don’t have to give up your favorite foods. Just eat them in small portions.

    Unfortunately, we live in a “supersize me” culture. When we pay to eat out, we want our money’s worth: We’re pleased by huge portions and comment negatively on smaller ones. Research shows that, although people are more aware of the higher calorie intake of large portions, they tend to feel justified eating the amount that’s put in front of them.

    But when you cook at home, your advantage is the ability to control the amount of food they prepare as well as the portion size.

    With that, our tip of the day is: Make it mini.

    One way to ensure smaller portions is to buy smaller muffin tins for cheesecake, cupcakes, muffins, potato and pasta dishes, starchy sides and other carb-laden treats.

     

    Or, bake mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes in ramekins or parchment cups. We put our PaperChef Parchment Cups—Tulip Cups and Lotus Cups—to use. Beyond baking with ease, parchment cups are great for portion control with an attractive presentation.

    Steer away from bringing a serving dish or pot to the table. Pre-fill parchment cups, ramekins or other small dishes with individual portions and bring them to the table, where everybody gets one. To avoid seconds, pack any extras from the recipes into portion-control cups and stick them into the freezer.

    This recipe is by Matthew Kadey for PaperChef.com.

    MINI MAC & CHEESE CUPS

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole-grain elbow pasta
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon (about 150mL) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) low-fat milk
  • ? cup (80 ml) plain low-fat yogurt, preferably Greek-style
  • ½ cup (125 ml) chopped sun-fried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped chives
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grainy or Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml)salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
  • 12 PaperChef Tulip Cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the macaroni according to the package instructions, until al dente.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    3. DRAIN the pasta, return it to the pot and stir in the Cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese.

    4. LIGHTY beat the eggs and stir in the milk and yogurt.

    5. ADD the egg mixture to the pasta mixture along with the sun-dried tomatoes, chives, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

    6. DIVIDE the mixture among 12 parchment cups (this recipe used PaperChef Tulip Cups).

    7. HEAT the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.

    8. STIR in the bread crumbs and cook until browned, stirring regularly.

    9. STIR the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the toasted bread crumbs, sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake until set, about 15 minutes.

    10. COOL for 5 minutes before unmolding.

     

    MINI SCALLOPED POTATO CUPS

    Ingredients

    This recipe yields 12 appetizer-size servings.

  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fat-free half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup each sharp Cheddar and smoked Gruyère cheeses
  • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup real bacon bits or crumbled pieces
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  •  

    Use ramekins to control portion sizes. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F and spray 12 small ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. PLACE potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile…

    3. MELT butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more. Slowly stir in half and half, cooking until mixture is smooth.

    4. ADD cheeses, a little at a time; then stir in remaining ingredients.

    5. SPOON into prepared ramekins and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.
     
    Do you have a favorite portion control tip? Please share!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Use A Pizza Stone

    Pizza stones can be square or round. Photo
    of this top-rated pizza stone courtesy
    KingArthurFlour.com.

     

    Here’s a gift for anyone who makes pizza at home—or needs some encouragement to do so. This tip is from Chef Johnny Gnall. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    If you are a true pizza lover, your home should not be without a pizza stone…and a pizza paddle too. If you’ve never used a pizza stone, you don’t know what you’re missing! It’s the only way to achieve restaurant-quality crust at home.

    A pizza stone makes a great holiday gift for any pizza lover, from the seasoned chef to kitchen beginner. I assure you: it will change the way you eat pizza forever!

    For those who resist buying single-use gadgets: Rest assured, you can do more with a pizza stone than make pizza.

     

    The simple beauty of a pizza stone is its ability to get crazy hot and remain bone dry (crispy!), which are the exact conditions you need for something like pizza crust.

    Another benefit: Pizza will rarely burn on a stone. More precisely, the crust will burn before the bottom will, so even though you can’t see it, you don’t have to stress out that the bottom is burning while it sits on the blazing hot stone.

    HOW TO USE A PIZZA STONE

    The pizza stone should come with instructions, but here’s an overview:

  • PREHEAT. A pizza stone has to be preheated. Always place your stone in a cold oven, then dial up the heat. This enables the stone to absorb heat evenly. In addition, a cold pizza stone placed in a hot oven can shatter.
  • HOT, HOT, HOT. Preheat the stone in a 450°F oven.
  • PADDLE. Once the stone has reached the proper temperature, it is too hot to handle with a conventional oven glove. That’s why you need a wooden pizza paddle, which slides underneath the pizza and can also be used to remove the stone.
  • SEASONING. A pizza stone needs to be seasoned first, so that when oil from the pie seeps into it, the stone is clean. It should develop a nonstick patina over time.
  • USE A PADDLE. The paddle brings your pie from the counter top to the stone in the oven, removes it when cooked, and also can remove the hot stone from the oven.
  •  

    HOW TO CLEAN A PIZZA STONE

  • A bench scraper works well, particularly for removing hardened bits of melted cheese.
  • Most stones are dishwasher safe, and can also be wiped with a non-chemical cleaner.
  • Bear in mind that a pizza stone will pick up conditioning and beauty marks as you use it. Don’t worry about it being spotless, and don’t worry about bacteria: Pizza bakes at temperatures hotter than any bacteria or foodborne illness can withstand.
  •  
    THE PIZZA PADDLE

    If you want to make pizza with minimal muss and fuss, you should also own a pizza paddle. Then, along with the pizza stone, you’re ready to compete with the local pizzeria.

    The paddle, dusted with a bit of semolina flour or cornmeal, is the most effective way to get the raw, stretched pie onto the stone.

     

    Growing oysters off the coast of Louisiana. Photo courtesy Louisiana Seafood News.

     

  • Stretch an edge of the dough over the lip at the end of the paddle. When putting the pizza into the oven, touch this dough edge to the stone first.
  • It should stick to the stone and allow you to carefully slide the paddle out and leave the pizza behind. (Don’t worry; it takes a little practice to yield pretty pizzas.)
  •  
    Without a paddle to build on, it’s challenging to move the pie to the hot stone from whatever surface you’ve built it on.

    WHAT ELSE TO DO WITH A PIZZA STONE

    Beyond making a pie from scratch, a pizza stone is perfect for getting any number of dough-related items especially toasty and delicious; just think of the idea pizza, and apply that to:

    Canapés: Small appetizers like crackers and crostinis can get soggy if they sit with toppings longer than intended. A quick trip into a 350°F oven on a pizza stone will bring them back to life, strengthening the base and rewarming the toppings. Make bubbly, mini tuna melts on brioche rounds; remove and plate with ease using a spatula.

    Cookies: Picture your favorite chocolate chip (or other) cookie, hot from the oven, with a crispy bottom and a soft top, chocolate chips all gooey. A minute or two on a pizza stone will give you just that. Bonus: A crispy bottom stands up particularly well to a milk dunking!

    Cold/Leftover Pizza: Never again use a microwave to reheat your pizza, and that overly chewy crust that stretches like taffy will become a thing of the past! Five minutes on a hot pizza stone will have your slice tasting like it did when it arrived at your front door or your table at the pizzeria.

    Pastries: A danish, scone, or other sweet pastry will get hot without getting soggy if you put it on a pizza stone. Keep an eye on pastries with fillings or glazes, as they will conduct heat more quickly and need less time than you might think.

    Sandwiches: Open faced or closed, a hot sando made (or simply finished) on a pizza stone is unmistakably the most delicious way to enjoy it. The bread will get as crispy as possible, helping strengthen it for wetter fillings and condiments. Starting a grilled cheese open faced on a pizza stone helps get the cheese brown and bubbly, adding another layer of flavor to the sandwich when you put your two halves together.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Pizza Dough

    Pizza is one of our favorite foods. When we make it at home, we typically purchase a crust and add our favorite ingredients.

    Then we received a pizza dough recipe from from Bruno diFabio, whose pizza was just awarded the grand prize, Best Pizza, in the Worldwide Pizza Championship.*

    DiFabio is now a six-time winner as the best—and also the fastest—pizza maker in the world.

    You don’t have to be fast to try your hand at his excellent dough. Check out the recipe below—but don’t plan on enjoying it today. The dough has to sit for 15-18 hours; then each dough ball must be kept in its own container, refrigerated and covered, for 3-4 days before using.

    Try it and see if this recipe—the best dough in the world—is worth the time.

    Find more of our favorite pizza recipes.

     

    Pizza dough, waiting to be rolled and baked. Photo by Mariha Kitchen | IST.

    WORLD CHAMPION PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE

    Ingredients: Phase 1

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2 ounces warm water (exactly 97°F)
  • 2 cups of water (room temperature or cool)
  • 2.2 pounds high-gluten flour (not all-purpose)
  •  
    Preparation: Phase 1

    1. ADD the dry yeast to the warm water. Stir slightly. Let stand for 2-3 minutes.

    2. ADD the 2 cups of water and the yeast water to a large mixing bowl.

    3. ADD the flour and mix only until the ingredients are blended. The mix will feel slightly dry and lumpy; this is OK.

    4. COVER the bowl with a dish towel or cheesecloth.

    5. LET STAND for 15-18 hours at room temperature. The dough will triple in size and give off an amazing aroma. This pre-fermented dough is called a biga.

     

    Ready to bake! Photo courtesy Ré Napoli,
    Providence, Rhode Island.

     

    Ingredients: Phase 2

  • 2.2 pounds high-gluten flour 2 cups water (49°F)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon. sea salt
  • 1.5 grams olive oil (by weight, not converted to ounces)
  •  
    Preparation: Phase 2

    1. UNCOVER the biga and add half the flour and all the water. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

    2. ADD sugar and mix until incorporated.

    3. ADD salt and mix until incorporated.

    4. ADD olive oil and mix until incorporated.

     

    5. ADD the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated.

    6. REST the biga for 10 minutes, covered. This should yield about 5 pounds of dough.

    7. DIVIDE the dough into sections of about a pound each and roll them into balls. Each ball will roll out into a 13″ pizza. If you have more dough than you can use, you can freeze the balls, wrapped tightly.

    TO MAKE THE PIZZA

    1. PREBAKE the dough: Grease a 12-inch pan or large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal (optional).

    2. ROLL the dough on a lightly floured surface (the counter top is fine) roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. Transfer to the baking sheet.

    3. BAKE in a 425°F oven about 12 minutes or until browned.

    4. REMOVE from oven; add sauce and toppings.

    5. BAKE 10 to 15 minutes more or until bubbly.

    Find more of our favorite pizza recipes.

    *The World Pizza Championship is held annually in the town of Salsomaggiore Terme, in the province of Parma, Italy. oThe organizer is the Italian magazine Pizza e Pasta Italiana.

      

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    GIFT: Marinelli’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce

    So many holiday gifts are well-intentioned, but end up being things people don’t really need and don’t have space to store or display.

    One of our favorite gifts that’s always well-received is gourmet pasta sauce, with or without a package of gourmet pasta.

    Marinelli’s pasta sauce is a double winner: delicious and beautifully packaged. The new boxes (and jar labels) are such fun works of art, we’re not even wrapping them. (Those who sell packaged products take note: Look at the old, boring labels (just another jar of sauce) and the exciting new design (beautiful and giftable).

    Marinelli sauces are also certified gluten free, certified non-GMO, OU-kosher, sugar/sweetener-free and vegan.

    Handmade in small batches from the very best all natural ingredients, the pasta sauces are healthful and low in calories—and are not just for pasta. On carb-sparing days, we ladle it over spaghetti squash or steamed zucchini.

     

    Marinelli’s gourmet pasta sauce has both great taste and great packaging. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The sumptuous sauces are made in nine flavors: Hot & Spicy Sicilian, Meat Ready Bolognese (add your own meat), Mushroom & Onion, Oven Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper, Spicy Black Olive & Garlic, Sweet Sundried Tomato & Oregano, Tomato & Basil and Vegetable Primavera.

    The sauces are available on Amazon.com in six-packs, about $12.65/jar.

    Learn more at MarinelliSauce.com.

    Find more of our favorite pastas, sauces and recipes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Dumplings Or Ravioli From Thanksgiving Leftovers

    If you still have Thanksgiving leftovers, this tip from Chef Johnny Gnall shows how to turn them into favorite comfort foods: dumplings or ravioli. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    At Thanksgiving, just about every content source offers you a new take on what to do with leftovers. Here’s my take: Use them to stuff dumplings! It gives you the chance to practice your dumpling- or ravioli-making skills and produces some delicious pasta.

    Dumplings are a stuffed pasta similar to ravioli or tortellini, but with a thicker dough. If you have a pasta machine to press out thin dough, go for the ravioli!

    All the Ziploc bags and Tupperware in my fridge, crammed full of leftover Thanksgiving goodness, were soon transformed into dumpling goodness (and you can freeze any extra dumplings).

    So impress your family and friends with fresh, handmade pasta that lights up their taste buds and reminds them of that most special of eating holidays: Thanksgiving! I guarantee you they will GOBBLE it up, and may well demand that it become an annual event.

     

    You can use up the remaining leftovers in a sandwich…or you can make “Thanksgiving Ravioli.” Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    HOW TO MAKE “THANKSGIVING DUMPLINGS” OR RAVIOLI

    First, make a simple pasta dough by mixing 1 egg, 1 cup of sifted flour and 2 or 3 tablespoons of room temperature water. Professionals will do this on any clean, floured surface; but use a large bowl if you want to keep things contained and neat.

  • Combine the ingredients. Use your hands to gently bring the flour, egg and water together. If you find things getting dry and caking, add another tablespoon of water or two. If it’s too wet, add some flour.
  • Work the dough very gently. The more you handle it, the tougher any dough gets. So knead it softly and form it into a smooth ball. Don’t get frustrated if your first attempt doesn’t come together just as you’d expect. Feel free to scrap it and start over if you’d like—it’s only an egg and some flour. Don’t aim for perfect on your first few tries.
  • Roll out the dough. You can use a wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin. Try to get the thickness to about 1/8 of an inch, and keep your surfaces well floured, flipping the dough a few times to keep it from sticking as you roll it. Take a ring cutter with a width of 3-4 inches (the rim of a drinking glass or cup works in a pinch) and cut out as many circles as you can. Re-knead the scraps and roll out the dough to coax out a few more pasta circles.
  • Fill. Lightly brush the edges of one pasta circle with a diluted egg wash (1:1 ratio of egg to water) and spoon filling into the center, compacting it as much as you can without pressing on the dough.
  • Press on. Take another dough circle, brush one side with egg wash and place it, wet side down, onto the bottom circle. Gently press the edges of the two circles together (pressing too hard may cause it to stick to the surface). Once you’ve connected it all the way around, pick up your dumpling or raviolo (the singular form of ravioli) and now, more firmly, press its edges together.
  • Overstuffed? If you find you’ve overstuffed your little guy and filling comes out, wipe it off and use some flour on your fingers to absorb moisture. It’s important to create a dry, secure seal all the way around or the ravioli will open up in the water, spilling their contents like pasta piñatas.
  • Go for function over form. Do your best to center your filling and make your edges pretty, but put your focus on function over form. A well built, slightly less attractive dumpling or ravioli can be called “rustic” and still be successful, as long as it’s tasty. A poorly built pasta, on the other hand, can’t be called anything if it falls apart and doesn’t make it to the plate.
  •  

    Ravioli stuffed with leftover turkey and
    butternut squash. We even used up the last
    of the peas and the sage. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.com.

     
  • Filling trick. If you find, after cutting your pasta circles, that your dough is on the thicker side, you can make tortolloni—large tortollini. Place your filling slightly off center and fold the circle over on itself, almost like a semi-circular taco. Lightly brush the edges with the 1:1 egg wash before you fold, and keep your fillings compact and your seal tight.
  • How to make tortelloni. Once you have taco-like half circles, pull the two corners slightly downward and in toward one another to form tortelloni. It takes a gentle hand a little practice to get them nice looking, so put on your favorite holiday tunes and take your time.
  • Don’t spare the flour and water. As always, if things get sticky, dust with a little flour; if the dough feels dry, put a few drops of water on your hands. Keep any dough that needs to sit for a while (as you work on other dough) under a slightly damp paper towel or two. With doughs, you have to roll with the punches to get things just right.
  • Ready to cook! Cook the pasta in gently boiling salted water for five to seven minutes or until tender and al dente (how to cook fresh pasta). Pull out a “tester” and taste to make sure they are just right.
  •  

    RAVIOLI FILLING IDEAS

    Here are five delicious fillings I made for my own pastas, all from fully cooked leftovers straight out of the fridge:

  • Brussels Sprouts, Glazed Ham, & Pomegranate: Thinly slice the ham and Brussels sprouts; toss in a few pomegranate seeds per piece.
  • Classic Turkey & Cranberry: Mix shredded dark meat with a dot of turkey drippings, stock or gravy and a bit of leftover cranberry sauce. Bonus: If you can get a bit of turkey fat or gelatin to mix in with the meat, your pasta may approach Asian soup dumpling moisture consistency as it cooks and the filling liquefies. This could be one of the tastiest and most satisfying items you have ever enjoyed. Just make sure your filling holds together well enough to allow for successful pasta construction.
  • Turkey & Mascarpone: Substitute the tart cranberry sauce in the previous bullet for a dash of creamy mascarpone cheese and a tiny pinch of nutmeg. If you don’t have mascarpone you can use sour cream, or simply whip a tablespoon of heavy cream to soft peaks. The nutmeg is a really nice offset to the rich cream.
  • Maple Squash: Take a few pieces of roasted squash, pumpkin or potato and mash with a fork along with a teaspoon or two of cream, or sour cream or mascarpone (or Brie, fromage blanc, crème fraîche or cream cheese—get creative). Get the mixture smooth and creamy, taste and adjust for seasoning, then go in for the kill: a generous drizzle of maple syrup stirred. The maple takes the whole recipe to holiday heaven. If you really have a sweet tooth (or a nostalgia tooth, for that matter), finish with a shake of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Stuffing: Toss in the stuffing with any leftover fresh herbs, carrots and peas, even cranberry sauce.
  •  
    How to serve the dumplings? In broth, as a side or with a sauce of your choice. We like a white sauce, or try mixing tomato sauce or olive oil with some cranberry sauce.

    Use these ideas as a jumping-off point, but remember that the point is to eat up the leftovers in a fun and delicious way, whether they’re from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah or last Thursday.

    Review my tip on “Guerilla Cooking”, then head to your fridge, grab all leftovers you can carry and begin to perfect your handmade pasta technique!

      

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