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Notes from cooking school class

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  • Notes from cooking school class

    Here is a quick dump of some of the interesting things I found out on
    the Weds cooking lesson:

    1. You can flavor olive oil with Rosemary by putting a handful of
    Rosemary leaves and 1/2 cup of oil in a small steel pan, and letting
    it heat through at the very front of the oven. We used in on
    Schiaciatta, Focaccio and a desert called Schiaciatta al'Uvo (a grape
    tart).

    2. If focaccio is half way between bread and pizza, schiaciatta is
    half way between focaccio and pizzia. It's thin and a little crisp on
    the outside, but more doughy and softer than pizza. If you let a
    focaccio rise for 30-45 minutes before putting in the little finger
    prints, you only let the schiaciatta rest for a few minutes before
    cooking it. She only put 1 tbl oil in the dough for both, saying that
    most of the oil goes on before and after you bake.

    3. Don't cook focaccio (or schiaciatta) in terra cotta. The pan
    doesn't heat up fast enough and you get a soft, doughy bottom that
    isn't nice (something I've been doing wrong for years). Use steel.
    You can cook schiaciatta either directly on the oven floor or in a
    pan. We did ours in the falling heat after pizza and before bread,
    though I have successful done it in high heat. I tried two the other
    day that were about 6"x18". Some of the really cool bakeries make
    then about 12"x36".

    4. You can add even more olive oil after you have let your focaccio
    or schiaciatta absorb the oil you put on before your cook. The
    teacher claimed that some bakeries dunk theirs in a pan of oil after
    they come out of the oven. I guess that is where the liters of oil
    per person per year statistics come from.

    5. She poured he oil olive on pizzas from a can with a pour spout
    (like a little watering can), something I think is a good idea. You
    can go fast, and the oil spreads nicely when your pizza cooks.

    6. She didn't even mill her tomotoes. She just beat them up with two spoons.

    7. She did a nice drizzle of olive oil and a little tomatoe juice on
    the outside of the calzone. I have seen chefs do flat bread
    appetizers that way, with a little oregano.

    8. Italian anchovies are really nice. They come in glass, are a
    little less salty and a little bigger than the canned ones I am used
    to.

    9. Her view was that the wood fired oven renaissance came to Italy in
    the 70's. Following the war, everyone tried to go modern and bought
    electric ovens (American ovens as she called them), but after a while
    they started remembering their parent's oven fondly and people
    started renovating the old ones and putting in new ones.

    10. She also pointed out that many of the original Contadini ovens
    were stone, not brick. Cheap to build, and functional. The communal
    ovens were used by those without their own ovens. She remembered her
    mother went to the oven in the village owned by the bakery, which was
    made available once a week.

    11. You can't get a pizza oven too hot for pizza -- you just cook
    faster. I already noted this, but they did not recommend swabbing
    with a damp towel for pizza, as it lowers the oven floor temp too
    much.
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