Celestial Arts is pleased to introduce Totally Eggplant, Totally Picnic, Totally Pizza, and Totally Tomato, the latest set of die-cut cookbooks by Helene Siegel. Produced in this tremendously successful format, these books are still pocket-sized for handy reference at the store, in the kitchen, or in the garden; still ingredient—or occasion-specific, and still full of tantalizing, easy-to-prepare recipes that range from appetizers to main courses!
Well-loved by almost everybody, pizza has long outpaced both the hot dog and hamburger as America's favorite fast food. Pizza has ancient roots in the seasoned flat breads mentioned by both Virgil and Horace. American pizza began its real ascent after World War II when returning soldiers sought out European flavors and food. What results is something decidedly larger in both style and popularity. Siegel begins with a basic dough recipe and then encourages experimentation and play in the kitchen with nods to individual regions and cultures. Favorites include: Plum Tomatoes and Mozzarella, Sausage and Arugula, Pesto Goat Cheese, White Beans and Olives, Bay Scallops and Asparagus, and Barbecued Duck and Leeks.
Helene Siegel has written most of the Totally Cookbook series. She is also the author of the Ethnic Kitchen Series (HarperCollins, 1992-1994) including Italian, Chinese, Mexican, and French Cooking for Beginners; and co-author of Mesa Mexicana (Morrow, 1994), City Cuisine (Morrow, 1990) and Ma Cuisine (Random House, 1988). She is a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, The Times Syndicate, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine magazines and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. She is a member of the Southern California Culinary Guild and International Association of Culinary Professionals. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and a well-fed dog.
Only in America could a Californian lay claim to an Italian-Mexican pizza. Promise not to show this to any Italians, who have been known not to take such innovation lightly.
Place beef in small bowl, pour in oil to cover, add chile flakes, and marinate at room temperature 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 515 degrees F with pizza stone in place.
Roll out dough on cornmeal-coated paddle. Coat with tomato sauce, leaving edges bare for crust. Combine cheeses and sprinkle half over sauce.Top with peppers, onion, and beef in spoke pattern. Sprinkle with cilantro and remaining cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.
If you are new to bread baking, pizza dough is a great place to start. For very little effort the rewards are bountiful. Bread baking is never a precise science, as the ratio of water to flour varies according to climate and the condition of the flour. Just add the water gradually and use less or more according to the feel of the dough. When moist and slightly sticky, but not so tacky that it is difficult to work with, it's ready. To correct a dough that is too wet to handle, add flour a small handful at a time.
Fill a measuring cup with 1/2 cup warm water. Stir in the yeast and sugar. Let rest until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Combine flour, semolina or cornmeal, and salt in large mixing bowl. Stir in olive oil. Stir in the yeast mixture, and then slowly add remaining water until stiff and sticky. Turn onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth, moist, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover with damp towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.
Punch down once or twice and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Cut into 6 pieces for individual pizzas. Gently knead each into ball. If baking soon, cover with towel and reserve on board. To store, wrap each tightly in plastic and store in refrigerator up to a day, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator until soft.
Combine the 1/2 cup water, sugar, and yeast as in by hand method.
In a processor fitted with plastic dough blade, combine flour, semolina or cornmeal, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the oil and briefly process.
With the machine running, add yeast mixture through the feed tube. Slowly pour in remaining water just until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and forms a ball on top of the blade. Process an additional minute. Remove and knead on floured board about 1 minute. Follow by-hand instructions for rising.
Combine the 1/2 cup water, sugar and yeast as for by-hand method.
In mixer bowl combine flour, semolina or cornmeal, salt, and olive oil. Mix with paddle to combine. Switch to dough hook and turn machine on slow. Pour in yeast mixture, and then slowly add remaining water until dough forms a ball around hook. Knead at medium speed about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth, moist, and elastic. Remove and follow by-hand instructions for rising.
Preheat the oven to 515 degrees F 30 minutes or longer with pizza stone or tiles on a medium-high rack.
Generously scatter cornmeal on pizza paddle to prevent sticking. On the paddle, flatten the dough ball with the palm of your hand and lightly dust the top with flour. Also dust the rolling pin.
Roll out the dough, from the center out, lifting and turning often, and adding more cornmeal as necessary. When dough is a 9-inch circle, lift, add additional cornmeal near the edge or paddle, and position dough as close as possible to the edge. Add toppings and place in the oven quickly to prevent sticking.
To place in oven, insert paddle, at slight upward angle, and with a quick back-and-forth motion slide the pizza onto the stone.
To remove, have a plate nearby and reach in with a long-handled spatula to transfer to plate. Long sleeves are a good idea for reaching into such a hot oven. Always let baking stone cook off in oven before removing.
by Helene Siegel
Illustrated by Carolyn Vibbert
Publication Date: May 15, 1996
Reprinted with permission
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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