Authentic Italian Pizzas

We had a pizza making class held at our house. The instructor is very passionate about food and took several cooking classes. He lived in Rome, Italy for a few months just to take a cooking course on how to make pizza in Italian. Thankfully, he did not need to be fluent in the language to learn how to cook but he took a lot of notes and filled in the gaps by asking his classmates while treating them to coffee or lunch. He took the time to teach us how to make an authentic Italian pizza and what different toppings we could use.

 I’ve never eaten so many pizzas in one day! They were all very delicious! He used very general ingredients that are easy to obtain but also taught us what ingredients we could use to make the pizza authentic and even more delicious. Some ingredients include mozzarella cheese from buffalo milk, fresh tomatoes, fine 00 flour, and salsiccia (Italian sausage.) It also helps to have an oven that can go up to 550°F and using a pizza stone. The instructions are not as precise with measurements as my usual recipes. The instructor would use his judgement when sprinkling herbs or placing toppings. In general, I would sprinkle about ½ to 1 tsp for each herb such as basil or oregano.  Here’s to enjoying more delicious Italian food! 😊

Freshly grated parmigiano cheese for the margherita pizza.
Pasting sausage meat for the Salsiccia et Broccoli pizza.
Salsiccia et Broccoli pizza before adding the broccoli.
Adding freshly grated parmigiano cheese for the Salsiccia et Broccoli pizza.

Time: 12 hours + 30 minutes
Yield: 5-6 small-medium pizzas

Essential Ingredients

  • Grapeseed or peanut oil
  • 28 oz of peeled tomatoes or homemade tomato sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmigiano cheese
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground pepper

Ingredients for pizza dough

  • 27 oz very cold water (from the fridge)
  • 2.86 lb flour (00 flour or bread flour or all purpose), shifted through mesh
  • 10 g active yeast
  • 20 g salt
  • 16 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp bean powder

Ingredients for toppings (suggestions)

  • White mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • Prosciutto, sliced
  • Salsiccia et Broccoli (Sausage and Broccoli): 1 lb of salsiccia or ground beef or pork, pinch of salt, ¼ tsp pepper flakes, ground pepper to taste, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano, ½ lb broccoli florets, cut into small pieces

Instructions for preparation

  1. Mix active yeast in a small bowl of warm (not hot) water.
  2. Put about 80% of the cold water in a large mixing bowl. Mix in all of flour and bean flour. Mix in the yeast mixture. Mix in salt and olive oil. Mix in the remaining 20% of cold water and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Loosely wrap the bowl and let it rise for 12 hours at around 80.6°F.
  4. Prepare the tomato sauce by blending canned tomatoes, pinch of salt, and 1 TBSP olive oil. Let the flavors blend in the fridge for 12 hours.

Instructions for Toppings

  • If preparing mushrooms for toppings, spread the sliced mushrooms and let it air dry overnight or 12 hours.
  • If preparing Salsiccia et Broccoli pizza then mix salsiccia or ground beef or pork, salt, pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and pepper together. Slightly boil broccoli florets in a pot of salted water.

Instructions for making the pizza base & different toppings

  1. Preheat the oven to 550°F.
  2. Coat the pizza pan with oil.
  3. Spread flour on working area and keep adding flour as needed. Divide the dough by 200-250 grams.
  4. Knead and spread the dough using a rolling pin. Try not to overwork the dough. Place the dough in the pizza pan. Make the outer rim a little higher so that the sauce does not overflow. Make small holes (that does not pierce through the dough) using a dough roller or fork all over the dough surface.
  5. Bake for 3-5 minutes depending on the oven until partially cooked.
  6. Let it cool for another 3-5 minutes.
  7. For a margherita pizza: Spread oil on the base of the pizza. Use a small ladle to scoop tomato sauce and spread the sauce on the pizza. Add enough shredded mozzarella cheese to cover the pizza. Sprinkle basil leaf on top. Bake pizza for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle olive oil on top of the pizza and grate parmigiano cheese on top. Serve immediately.
  8. For a mushroom pizza: Spread oil on the base of the pizza. Use a small ladle to scoop tomato sauce and spread the sauce on the pizza. Spread mushroom slices and add enough shredded mozzarella cheese to cover the pizza. Sprinkle basil leaf on top. Bake pizza for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle olive oil on top of the pizza and grate parmigiano cheese on top. Serve immediately.
  9. For prosciutto pizza: Spread oil on the base of the pizza. Use a small ladle to scoop tomato sauce and spread the sauce on the pizza. Rip two slices of prosciutto into bite size pieces and spread. Add enough shredded mozzarella cheese to cover the pizza. Sprinkle basil leaf on top. Bake pizza for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle olive oil on top of the pizza and grate parmigiano cheese on top. Serve immediately.
  10. For Salsiccia et Broccoli pizza (no tomato sauce): Spread oil on the base of the pizza. Rip bite sized pieces of the prepared meat and gently paste onto the pizza base. Spread the broccoli florets. Sprinkle garlic powder, black pepper, and oregano. Add enough shredded mozzarella cheese to cover the pizza. Sprinkle basil leaf on top. Bake pizza for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle olive oil on top of the pizza and grate parmigiano cheese on top. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

I’ve been eating oatmeal nearly daily for the past few months. I love the health benefits of oatmeal and it seems to be one of the few breakfasts that my whole family can enjoy together. My mother nowadays likes to eat avocado, banana, and fruits for breakfast. Chai likes to eat a western style breakfast including bread and pastries. Oatmeal is a wonderful compromise for my family to enjoy since it’s nutritious, gluten free, and full of fiber. I love to top our oatmeal with cinnamon, golden flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, and raw honey.

This was my first time baking oatmeal instead of cooking it on the stove. It’s an extremely easy recipe! This dish can be enjoyed for breakfast or as a healthy snack. It has a nice aroma due to the spices and fruit while its sweetness is enhanced with dates. If you would like it a tad sweeter, then I suggest drizzling it with raw honey.

Yield: 8 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 large medjool dates, chopped
  • Optional: pumpkin seeds to decorate

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in the middle. Spray a large baking pan with oil.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients (banana, pumpkin, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract) until well combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (rolled oats, sugar, spices, salt, baking powder) and mix well.
  4. Stir in the dates. Pour batter into baking tray. Optionally decorate with pumpkin seeds.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes and serve warm.

Kale Quinoa Salad

This is a very healthy and delicious salad! It’s also very easy to assemble when you have the ingredients prepared in advance. It takes even less time if you use canned beans but I suggest soaking the beans overnight and cooking them in the morning, while you’re cooking the quinoa, for a less processed food. It’s an easy and delicious way to get your serving of grains, beans, and vegetables. My family also really enjoys this dish so I’ve been making it on a weekly basis this summer. The dressing is also a family recipe that my mother taught me. It’s simple, healthy, and delicious! I put it on all of my salads! I suggest to finish the dish within a few days since it is a type of salad. It’s a perfect dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ! 😊

Yield: 8-10 servings
Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups kale leaves, chopped into small pieces (don’t use the stalk)
  • 2 cups quinoa cooked with broth
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 8.75 oz unsalted sweet corn, drained and washed
  • 1 tomato, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • ½ cup olives, chopped
  • lemon juice, 2 tbsp


Dressing Ingredients (adjust to taste)

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 TBSP honey
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large serving bowl, spread the chopped kale on the bottom surface.
  2. Spread quinoa, beans, corn, tomato, olives, and avocado on top of the kale. Add lemon juice on top.
  3. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dressing together. Add dressing to the salad and mix well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think this is my first time making peanut butter chocolate chip cookies but they came out so well! It’s difficult just to have one and I’ve been gaining weight because of them! ☹ It’s a struggle because I enjoy eating them but I also want to lose the last 10 lb from my post-partum weight. I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from time to time but haven’t eaten peanut butter for years. I recently made fresh peanut butter using my Vitamix and it was delicious! You really can’t compare freshly made products from processed ones. I’ve been getting addicted ever since I made fresh peanut butter.

These cookies are a perfect way to use up some of your peanut butter at home. It’s a sweet indulgence that both kids and adults will enjoy! 😊

Full of peanut butter 🙂

Yield: 16 large cookies
Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat or regular pastry flour
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips (or whatever flavor you prefer)
  • 2 tsp flaked salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in the middle.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, peanut butter, and baking soda on low-medium speed until well mixed.
  3. Add vanilla extract and 2 large eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add flour and mix on low speed until flour is incorporated.
  5. Add chocolate chips and mix on the lowest speed for a few seconds or until chocolate is well distributed in dough.
  6. Gently make golf sized balls from the dough and spread out the balls so they’re not too close to each other on the baking tray.
  7. Chill dough in fridge for at least 15 minutes. This step is optional and helps cookies keep their shape.
  8. Distribute flaked salt evenly on top of the cookies for that extra crunch.
  9. Bake cookies for 13 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  10. An additional optional step is to gently press down on the cookies with the bottom of a glass cup for a chewy texture.
  11. Let the cookies cool and enjoy!

Mitarashi & Kinako Dango

Dango is one of my favorite Japanese desserts! It is delectable with matcha or jasmine green tea during the afternoon or after a meal. I try to treasure every bite and become a little sad when I’ve reached the last dango on the bamboo skewer. ☹

The best dango I’ve tried was at the Shibuya station in Tokyo. It was so soft and delicious with the right amount of sweetness! It spoiled me to the point that I couldn’t eat supermarket dango ever again! Luckily, I can make my own dango at home whenever the craving hits. There are different toppings or sauce to dango such as mitarashi (soy sauce), kinako (toasted soybean powder), goma (sesame seeds), anko (red bean paste), zunda (edamame paste), and more! My favorite flavors are the mitarashi and zunda! I’ve put up the mitarashi and kinako dango recipe below. I hope you enjoy this special Japanese sweet! 😊

Mitarashi dango
Kinako dango

Yield: 15 dango pieces
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup shiratamako (sweet rice flour)
  • ½ cup joshinko (Japanese rice flour)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Kinako powder (optional topping)

Ingredients for mitarashi sauce (sweet soy sauce)

  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP mirin
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP potato starch + 1 TBSP water

Instructions

  1. Mix shiratamako, joshinko, and sugar in a bowl. Gradually add warm water and gently knead into a dough.
  2. Form 15 small dango balls from the dough.
  3. Fill and boil a pot of water that can generously cover the dango. Slowly add each dango to the boiling water and let it cook until the dango float on top. Cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Move the dango balls into a bowl with iced water. Drain well and put 3 dango pieces on one bamboo skewer.
  5. In a small pot, combine the soy sauce, mirin, water, and brown sugar. Stir well and let it boil. Meanwhile, mix potato starch and 1 TBSP of water until well combined in a separate bowl. Slowly add the potato starch slurry into the pot of sauce. Stir until well combined and take off heat when the sauce thickens. Let sauce cool.
  6. Top dango with either sweet soy sauce or kinako powder.