The Best Pizza Dough

The pizza dough recipe I posted earlier is a good one but this is the best I have found. The key ingredient is the farina 00 flour, which is very fine. This flour is what is used in most pizza restaurants. It can be found in any Italian market, such as Mazzaro’s Italian Market in St. Petersburg, Florida, or Italian grocery store, such as Caputo’s in the Chicagoland area.

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The Best Pizza Dough
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

Makes crusts for 4 pizzas of about 10 – 12″ diameter

1 package of active dry or fresh yeast
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 1/4 cup warm water, 105 to 115F
2 ½ cups farina 00 flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp Kosher salt

Heat the water in the microwave for 1 minute. Test with an instant-read thermometer to make sure the water reaches at least 105F.

Place the yeast in a small bowl, pour ¼ cup of the warm water over the yeast and, with a fork, mix it to form a slurry. Put the sugar in the remaining water and whisk to dissolve. Pour the slurry into the sugar water and let it stand for 2-3 minutes until the yeast begins to foam.

In mixer, combine the flour and the salt and whisk to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients. Add water-yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until the mixture comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and starts to climb up the dough hook.

Place the dough in to a medium-sized oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours in a warm spot. Use proof setting on your oven, if you have one.

Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking them under the bottom of the ball. Then on a smooth, un-floured surface roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for about 1 hour before rolling out and dressing with pizza topping ingredients of choice.

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Mazzaro’s Italian Market

Mazzaro’s Italian Market on 22nd Avenue North in St. Petersburg, Florida is genuine trip into an Old World European market. The only market like this that Ample Bites has experienced in the U.S. is Freddy’s Pizzeria in Cicero, Illinois (see earlier post). Mazzaro’s is Freddy’s “on steroids”.

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Mazzaro’s offerings include produce, a full butcher counter, fresh and frozen seafood, coffee roasting, a coffee bar, beers and wines, cheeses, a bakery, a deli, and a counter with prepared foods and fresh-made pasta. On top of all of the aforementioned delicacies is a vast selection of canned goods and grocery items, most of which are Italian favorites and brands.

Ample Bites made a first (and definitely not a last) visit at the tail end of the lunch hour and the place was packed with patrons. The prepared food counter and deli were 15 to 20 people deep. Many were ordering a sandwich or pasta for lunch. Some where picking up prepared items for dinner tonight. The traditional Italian favorites like Eggplant Parmesan, the Meatball Sandwich with Sauce and Provolone, and the Panini all looked delicious but the seared Sesame Tuna Wasabi, which is served on grilled bread with pickled ginger and alfalfa sprouts, caught my eye.

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The coffee bar was full of folks enjoying an espresso or cappuccino and a pastry. Many appeared to be people watching or observing the adjacent bakery and fresh pasta preparation areas.

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The sweet bakery items are all authentic and beautifully prepared. The fresh pasta shapes seemed endless and the fresh pasta dishes looked amazing. The Cheese Manicotti with Lobster looked particularly intriguing to Ample Bites.

The wine cellar and cheese area was a very active area. The cheeses ranged from prepackaged brands to fresh mozzarella, provolone and many varieties of aged gorgonzola. The wine selection is not huge but Mazzaro’s sells a quality spectrum from a domestic Napa Valley offering to Tuscan Chianti Classico and Brunello.

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Outside the store is a small covered seating area where patrons can dine-in and enjoy prepared items.

A thirty-minute spin through Mazzaro’s barely scratched the surface of the Italian market experience. Thankfully I had just finished lunch or my basket would have been filled with much, much more than the Gorgonzola Cheese Spread, a prepared pizza (to be frozen and baked later), a can of clam stock, a loaf of fresh-baked bread, two dark chocolate candy bars, a block of Fontina cheese, a jar of San Marco pizza sauce, some Farina 00 flour, and a bottle of 2011 Banfi DOCG Chianti Superiore.

Thankfully these provisions won’t last very long and a return visit will be necessary soon.

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