Genuine Tiramisu smothered in mocha chocolate powder
Once I got hooked on Italy there was no going back.
As for Frank and myself, there were a lot of changes when we returned home from our first trip in 2008.
Grocery shopping became more of a treasure hunt than a weekly chore:
Would we be able to find fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella?
Which brand of balsamic vinegar is the best?
Who carries the freshest tiramisu?
And I have yet to find any juniper berries…
No more buying the frozen pizzas, we improvised and made our own at a fraction of the cost.
We reinvented salads to match those that we were served in Italy.
We started watching every documentary that featured Italian cuisine.
These documentaries introduced us to “Two Greedy Italians” who travel around Italy looking for those who have adhered to recipes and techniques that were handed down from generation to generation.
My ‘Two Greedy Italians’ cookbook
Using the recipes they featured in their series, I was able to successfully prepare my first batch of gnocchi using ricotta cheese instead of usual potato.
Also, I prepared an incredible Ragù served with a cheese polenta. Then there was the warm chocolate amaretto pudding that was too good to be true!
As for Frank, he nailed the Spaghetti Carbonara on his first try.
In case you haven’t heard, authentic Italian pizza is really nothing like pizza served here in North America.
The pizza bottom crust is incredibly thin, like that of a tortilla chip. Officially, there are only two recognized versions, a plain pizza served only with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of fresh basil, and then there is the pizza Margherita served with tomato sauce, fresh basil and fresh buffalo mozzarella.
Usually, restaurants will have more items available (like pepperoni and mushrooms) upon request.
I’ve heard it said that it takes at least ten years of training to make the perfect pizza dough.
Well… I’ve got a recipe that takes less than ten minutes to prepare and gives you an idea of what real Italian pizza is like. This beats the English muffin ‘mini-pizzas’ from our youth hands down!
Tortilla or Pita Bread
Fresh Mozzarella (Every grocery store carries this in the cheese section)
Tomato sauce, the better the quality, the better it’ll taste
Fresh Basil (Dried will do in a pinch)
Fresh garlic clove
Lay one entire round tortilla or pita bread on tin foil
Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil onto bread and spread it around
Apply a thin layer of tomato sauce
Shave or mince garlic clove and distribute it evenly around pizza
Dice fresh mozzarella into small dice sized cubes and distribute evenly to taste
Add basil garnish to taste
Open oven door place foil lined pizza on middle rack
Bake at 325 – 350 for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until cheese melted and browning.
After removing from oven, wait five minutes before eating
Of course this pizza recipe is not intended to compare with genuine wood oven fired Italian pizza, Tuscan tomatoes, and of course, classic home made pizza dough. Rather, it’s to give a glimpse into the simpler, more genuine flavours rather than the salty and chemical induced flavours that our palettes have grown use to.