Wednesday, March 30, 2011

weir dough recipe

I love when classes sell out! It means there's going to be some good energy in the class. I had that last weekend in my sold out pizza and pasta class in my studio kitchen in SF.

On the first day, Saturday, I sent around the recipes and I saw a few of the students kind of laughing. "Weir dough?" they said. I proceeded to tell them where the term came from.

Years ago, my best chef friend Gary Danko was making pizzas at one of his restaurants using my recipe for dough. We were just fooling around in the kitchen working alongside each other. He asked one of his chefs to go get the dough from the walk-in. "You mean the Weir Dough?" he asked. I had to laugh. I've called it that since.

A few pointers about pizza making-

  • Make sure to use dry yeast that is within the expiration date.
  • To make your sponge, start with warm water. That's 110 F degrees. Mix the water with flour and dry yeast. Let it sit/bubble up and do it's thing for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour.
  • Make sure you knead the dough (like really knead it to develop gluten) for at least 10 minutes. Don't cheat and do it for less. If you feel kind of lazy and aren't up for a work-out, use your electric stand mixer. Yup, you gotta buy a KitchenAid.
  • Place the dough in a very well-oiled bowl and turn it over to coat the top with oil. Cover with plastic.
  • Make the dough at least a day in advance and do a long slow rise in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Use King Arthur bread flour. It has the most consistent protein content.
  • Bring the dough out of the refrigerator at least 3 to 4 hours before baking the pizza.
  • An hour before baking, form the dough into balls and place them on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with plastic and set a room temperature until ready to use.

Here's my recipe for Weir Dough and my next post will be the recipes we made on Saturday,- a delicious asparagus, pickled onion and prosciutto pizza, incredibly amazing gorgonzola and tomato pizza and a calzone filled with ricotta, oven-dried tomatoes and fennel sausage.


l/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (110ºF)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups King Arthur bread flour
1/2 to 3 /4 cup lukewarm water (110ºF)
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make a sponge, combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water, yeast and ¼ cup of the flour in a large bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes or up to an hour until it bubbles up Add the remaining 1 3/4 cup flour, ½ to ¾ cup lukewarm water and salt. Stir together with a wooden spoon to mix the dough thoroughly. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is soft yet still very moist. Oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over to coat it with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap tightly and a towel and pulace in the refrigerator overnight.

Makes 2 10 to 11-inch pizzas

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

david lebovitz's chocolate tangerine sorbet recipe

I can’t believe that it was 25 years ago that I started cooking at Chez Panisse. When I got there, David Lebovitz was already working in pastry. I worked in the café but I definitely related to him. We were both New Englanders growing up about an hour away from one another. I also liked his dry, cynical sense of humor and very meticulous attention to every detail. I also liked his style of desserts. They were bold and rich in flavor, used lots of fresh fruit and nothing was ever too sweet.

You can imagine how happy I was when he wrote his first cookbook way back when. I had already been writing for a couple years but after his first book came out, I got the best compliment. One of my students said, ”I love to cook from your cookbooks and David Lebovitz’s… The recipes always work.”

Years later when David first moved to Paris, he and I met up for dinner at this Moroccan place called Chez Omar. I remember it being so smoky I could hardly see David's face across the table but still he made me laugh talking about Parisian smokers, the postman losing his packages and speaking French which he had yet to master. But I wasn’t laughing the next morning in my hotel room when the smell of smoke on my clothes from the night before had permeated everything in the room.

A few months ago, David sent me his newest book, “Ready for Dessert.” Just seeing that cake with creamy chocolate frosting on the cover made me want to run into the kitchen and grab my offset spatula. Instead from the book, I made the Fresh Ginger Cake loaded with spicy hot ginger and black pepper. Amazing!

I was really stuck the other night when friends were coming to dinner. I couldn’t think of what to make for dessert. I didn’t have much time and wanted something easy. I thumbed through David’s book and came across a recipe for Chocolate Tangerine Sorbet. Ah, the perfect finale for my dinner.

I want to thank you David for your wonderful support over the years, your friendship, your great recipes and of course, for sending me this fantastic cookbook.

Chocolate-Tangerine Sorbet

1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the tangerine juice.

Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes 1 quart