As culinary school is winding down and I have learned basic techniques from turning to braising I have begun working on a new culinary project…Cozumel Chef, fusing Mexican cuisine with French. Not appetizing? Ok maybe not but lets just say when you add butter and salt to anything its almost French cooking. Though I may not be marrying the two cuisines I have taken the things I have learned from school and have begun experimenting with Mexican flavors to create my menu for my private chef business.
For the most part I have been working on my non-culinary school nights with two great cookbooks for contemporary Mexican cooking; Mexican Modern: New Food from Mexico and Modern Mexican Flavors. My Polishman, Pawel has become my guinea pig and dishwasher in this endeavor (god love him for that because there is nothing more than I hate than washing dishes after I cook). Pawel also has become my number one fan and toughest critic. Since I have entered culinary school his palet has become sensitive to my French cooking ways and since I have been cooking Mexican he has been a tough crowd to please. Not that my Mexican cooking is bad it has been missing something…you guessed it salt and butter, but I have since taken this to heart and have worked even harder to bring out the French in my Mexican. During and after my meals we talk about what’s next on the moving to Cozumel check list, we talk about the meal we just ate and quite often Pawel hashes out crazy business ideas to add to my private chef services.
After my most recent meal, lamb chops with white chocolate mole and braised tilefish with saffron potatoes and chorizo I was left with a lot of leftover Mexican ingredients. What do you do with leftovers on a random snowy (can’t wait to be in the blazing Cozumel sun) night? Why you make pizza!! A quick pizza dough recipe from good ‘ol Better Homes and Garden cookbook, some sliced swiss cheese, jalapeno, freshly sliced Spanish onion, chorizo, hearts of palm and frijol negro and presto you have “everything but the kitchen sink” pizza.
As per usual we tossed back critical feedback on the meal and during clean up Pawel came up with the brilliant idea of having people send you things from their cubard to create leftover pizzas (an idea similar to a company called reknit where you send in your old sweaters to the company and the site creator’s “mom” re-knits your garment into something new such as an ipod soft-case…Fantastic idea!). As we continued to bounce this idea back and forth we came to the conclusion to perhaps add this to my services. Pizza and margarita parties or as I would like to call it “End of Vacation Pizza” where I would use whatever potential leftovers are in the vacationers condo to create a unique pizza party experience.
Pizza Dough Recipe
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (120°F to 130ºF)
2 Tbsp cooking oil or olive oil
1. Combine half of the flour, the yeast, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds with an electric mixer (I used my KitchenAid stand mixer, but you can use a handheld). Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Add the remaining flour until the dough is soft and smooth like leather, not sticky.
2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until moderately stiff, but still smooth and elastic. Divide the dough in half and roll each into a round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (this prevents the dough from potentially sticking to the bowl). Let the dough rest in a warm spot with a damp towel over the dough for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3. Pre-heat oven to 500º (Note: I recommend baking on a pizza stone if you have one, I did not and I thought my dough was a little dry and tough). Have your oven rack set in the middle of the oven.
4. When your dough has risen and you are ready to make PIZZA PIE, put the dough a on a floured surface. You can attempt tossing method, but I don’t recommend this method if you have not worked in a pizzaria