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03.24.2003

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authentic italian
by Jordana Aamalia
1 2 3
continued from page 2

pizza
Every weekend, the wood-fire oven in my Nonaís backyard was heated up in preparation for one of her marathon pizza-making sessions. The pizzas would be frozen in vast quantities and unloaded upon dutiful visitors over the course of the week. I suspect, however, her primary motivation for making so many was to avoid having to cook for my Grandfather every single night!

basic dough
12 oz. white flour
1/3 oz. dry yeast (double the amount if using fresh)
1 cup warm water, though you might need more

pinch of sugar and salt
 

Sieve the flour into a heap on your workbench, making a well in the center. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water; add the salt and sugar, then pour into the well you have made. Use two knives (or your hands, if you prefer) to cut the wet with the dry, adding more warm water if you feel the dough is too hard; the dough should be reasonably sticky. This should then be kneaded until it forms a ball, and begins to feel elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until it has doubled in size. After this time, punch it down and roll it out to about a quarter of an inch thickness.

The number of pizzas you get from this really depends upon the size of your trays; you could make one large one, or several smaller-sized pizzas. I would advise you to let the dough rest again (probably only for a half hour), then punch it down, making sure to retain its ľĒ thickness. These should be baked in a hot oven for anywhere between ten to fifteen minutes, with their toppings, of which there are many variants.

I would start with a base of fresh tomatoes, sieved and peeled as described earlier, mixed with some finely chopped garlic, salt and olive oil. You may choose to top with anchovies (add them only in the final few minutes of baking, though, or they will dry out) and oregano; mozzarella and basil, prosciutto, or whatever combinations take your fancy, though I wouldnít combine too many flavors at once. For a truly authentic taste, drizzle over a little more olive oil just prior to baking. As with most Italian food, you want to be able to taste the oil.

o o o

A final suggestion: never be without a bottle of full-bodied red at the table. My Grandfather made his own (rather caustic) table wine from grapes grown in their garden, but I donít think it is necessary to go that far Ė a bottle of Chianti would just as easily suffice. Either way, it really would not be an authentic Italian meal without the boisterous, alcohol-fueled conversation. After all, the defining characteristic of the Italian dining experience is that itís shared.  The food may be central, but itís the act of bonding that occurs over the course of a meal that makes it so precious a tradition to embrace.

o

Jordana Aamalia is a freelance writer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. When she isnít busy conspiring to inflate the waistlines of those she holds dearest with her home-baked delicacies, she can be found lavishing obscene amounts of attention on her gorgeous kitty, Berlin.

check out these related articles: 
noodling around | perfect pizza | lasagna basics | holy ravioli!

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