Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pizza with panache

So, I have mentioned a local recreational cooking school around here via my Baking Course posts (I promise, I have more of them!), but I have not mentioned some of their one-off classes which are phenomenal.  I have attended the fresh pasta workshop and the fresh pizza workshop.  Most recently, I had the pleasure of taking my foodie friend Tara with me for the pizza workshop.  The teacher, Julie, is an authentic Italian chef with quite the credentials.  But it is her lifetime of experience the students benefit from most in these classes.  She is a wealth of knowledge and is ready and willing to answer all the questions we have. 

I have been wondering for a long time why pizza recipes call for corn meal for dusting.  I learned at the class that the cornmeal acts as "little wheels" to help the prepared pizza dough to transfer from the pizza peel to the the hot stone in the oven.  Genius!

On the menu for the class were:
Fresh Pizza Dough
Pizzas: Margherita, Quattro Stagioni ("Four Seasons"), Smoked Salmon w/ Goat Cheese; and Carmelized Onion, Mushroom and Fontina
Calzones: Four Cheese and other creations of the imaginations of the students
Flatbread from the Grill

Needless to say, we ate well that night as we learned a lot about traditional Italian pizza and were encouraged to get in the kitchen to make our own combinations.  Julie teaches the foundations of food, leaving lots of room for variation and playfulness.  My favorite combination of the night was the Carmelized Onion, Mushroom, and Fontina.The class is interactive and is a great way to meet new friends interested in food (as we did!).    As for pictures, Tara's talented techie husband helped us out by creating a link to the pictures from the class.  Thanks, Spencer!

The best part of the evening was the opportunity to take some fresh dough home to make pizza for our families.  Tara and I jumped at the chance and Drew was thankful!  The next night, while I did some things around the house, I sent Drew to the store to come up with his own toppings for our pizza.  He did great, bringing back fresh mozzarella and pancetta.  I threw some marinara down, added these toppings and some very thinly sliced red onions and we were set!  The results were amazing (that's it pictured above).  We are going to be having pizza regularly around here, I think!

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