Pancetta, Fig & Arugala Pizza
With Roasted Tomatoes,
Garlic & Vidalia Onions

The wonderful Daring Bakers blogged pizza this past week, but not any kind of pizza, an authentic piziolla style pizza with high flying tossing and flipping, the way the pro's do it. Did you know there are major pizza tossing competitions in America as well as Italy? I was looking forward to this challenge and I thought with how often I make homemade pizza it would be a breeze. I should have taken pictures long ago but I kept putting it off and thought to myself I'll do it next week. This past week when it was posting time I was still getting over a cold and wasn't up to playing with the dough, let alone tossing it, so I unfortunately passed on this months challenge. :( So here it is Friday night, pizza night in our household! I had already planned on the types of pizza I was going to make for the challenge so I went ahead and made those tonight. Besides pizza, I made Panzerotti's, little folded pizza's, simply with cheese and sauce. For one of the pizza's I made my kids' favorite of pepperoni.. my little American traditionalists, and for my pizza I made Pancetta, Fig, and Arugala with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Sweet Vidalia onions. The house smelled so wonderful with the roasting of the vegetables! For some reason I still haven't been able to get fresh figs in my area, so I used some dried figs I have on had and reconstituted them in Madera wine. Madera has undertones of raisins, it was a wonderful choice for soaking and softening the figs. I had my Italian butcher slice the pancetta around 1/2 inch thick and then I cut them into cubes. After browning them slightly they were a perfect size. They continued cooking in the oven while the pizza's were baking. I left the arugala in semi large and whole pieces. Arugala is a peppery leafed salad type green. Very similar in spice to a red radish or horseradish. Very common in Italian cuisine. I also used fresh buffala motzarella medalions. I did try tossing my pizza'a but that didn't go well. I prefer draping my pizza dough over my hands and then pressing them into the dish. I'm definitely not pizziola pro material. I also pre bake my dough for 15 minutes. I know this is so not normal, but when I use heavy ingredients it it works better to get an evenly baked pizza. Here in the picture below you can see the little Panzi's.. very traditional in our home. I make panzi's in different shapes and sizes often in my home. On Christmas eve night, we make large Panzerotti's (as well as sea food) and stuff them with sausage, vegetables, sauce and cheese. I still need to get caught up on reading everyones Daring Baker Challenges! Have a great weekend Y'all! Ciao and Buon Appetito! Laurie

Lentil & Sausage Soup

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Fall is peaking through here on the West Coast State of California. Though we still have days of 85 degree temperatures and experience the flash of heat know as Indian Summer, our evenings are cooler and the tree's are beginning to glow with burgundy red, orange and yellow. It's always been my favorite time of year! For some it's the beginning of winter when melodious carols roll off the tongue and favorite tunes hit the radios, but for me it's the ushering in of a cooler season which promotes beautiful growth of apples, pumpkins, pomegranates and persimmons, the sweet smell of spice and the cheery warmth of a hearth glowing with happy faces sipping hot spiced cider and whipped cream topped cocoa. Soups abound at our house starting about now. I have been drooling at all the wonderful recipes from my favorite sites, taking notes and tagging recipes that I hope to try. But there are still the favorite recipes handed down from mom and created by family members which some have traveled the continents to come back with only a degree of a difference and maybe just a slight hand of alteration in ingredients. It's so fun to look at ancient recipes noting even the change in vernacular. This lentil soup recipe is so simple but hearty and delicious. In the Italian tradition many of our soups and stews as well as other tasty concoctions start with a Soffritto, a term used to describe a marriage of three, but literally sotto friggere a "sub-frying" or "under-frying" (sauté) of onion, carrots and celery (odori). This is the Italian form, whereas in France they call it Mirepoix and Spain a Sofrito. To get an adequate soffritto you aren't limited to onion, carrots and celery, I often include garlic or shallots as well as replacing the celery with fennel bulb. My preference! But this is the base to a good soup, stew or sauce.

Soffritto Recipe
1 large flavorful onion (in this soup I used cipollini) 2 large carrots 2 ribs of celery with their leaves or 1 celery and 1 fennel stalk 3 Tbs. or more of good extra virgin olive oil (it shouldn't be too dry) 1 Tbs. butter Finely chop all ingredients. Heat pan, add oil and butter,then add ingredients and sauté on low heat until soft and just turning color), about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Spicy Lentil and Sausage Soup
I bag dry lentils picked through and cleaned 3 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock 1 recipe Soffritto (above) 1 Pkg. Spicy Italian Sausage (sweet, medium, chicken.. it's all o.k.) 2 Zucchini cut in to small chunks 1 cup dry white wine *Freshly Ground Black Pepper *Red pepper flakes to taste 2 Fresh Thyme Sprigs 3 Fresh Sage leaves **2 tsp. Beurre Manie Good Quality Parmigianno Regiano Cheese Directions In separate pan brown the sausage, when done slice to 1/4 inch thickness. Set aside. Make Soffritto in the soup stock pot. Add the stock and simmer. Add the cleaned lentils plus the sausage. Cook till lentils are tender. Add the chopped zucchini, thinly sliced herbs and the white wine. Add freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. *Depending on the sausage you use, you may need a very small amount of heat. (pepper) That's why you add your seasonings at the end of cooking process. Cook for around 12 more minutes. **This is where you use your cooking intuition, if you would like a thicker soup add a few teaspoons of beurre manie. I don't always do this, I allow my lentils to break down enough to thicken my soup so as not to add too much more fat and starch. But when I do want a thicker soup I often add the Beurre Manie.


Baked Salmon and Fingerling Potatoes
with Roasted Garlic, Caper
and Lemon & Thyme Aioli

The secret to this dish is really the Aioli, a garlic mayonnaise which occurs by blending the egg yolks with a thin stream of oil slowly added during processing. Aioli is a common cooking additive in Italy as well as Provence France where yearly they celebrate the Aioli festival. The salmon is baked here in a foil pouch with a good spreading of Aioli and thyme sprigs in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. I use a foil pouch for each separate piece of fish. This timing is pretty acurate, but check periodically for oven temperatures vary. After spreading aioli dressing, seal pouch. When fish is done, open the pouch to reveal the top of fish. Bake till a little golden on top. *This doesn't always look very pretty, but the taste is outstanding! For the fingerling potatoes I first boil them in a pot of salted water and I add a few cloves of garlic. Can I use too much garlic? :) When easily pierced with a fork, I remove the potatoes and slice in half lengthwise. I toss with a half of a cup of prepared Aioli and lay in a roasting pan. I cook in a 400 degree oven till glazed well with aioli dressing and golden in color.
Roasted Garlic, Caper and Lemon Thyme Aioli 2 Cloves garlic Extra-virgin olive oil 2 -3 sprigs of Thyme 1 tablespoon water Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup Capers 2 egg yolks 3 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup light olive oil (*not extra virgin) 1/4 cup mayonnaise Take paper off cloves of garlic and put in a foil pouch with olive oil, thyme, water, salt and pepper. Seal the pouch around the edges and roast in the oven till garlic is tender, around 15 minutes. Process eggs, lemon juice, capers, salt and pepper in a blender, add the roasted garlic and thyme from pouch and process. Pour in the light olive oil in a slow, steady stream until the aioli emulsifies. Fold in mayonnaise and lemon zest, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with thyme.

Use Aioli on pastas, as dips, topped on scrambled egg in brioche.. the uses are endless! Buon Appetito, Ciao and hugs to you!! Laurie