Friday, September 14, 2007

And That's Italian!

Did you like the Sopranos? One of the most liked actors on the show was Steven Schirripa (Bobby). Can he act, yes. Can he cook, we’ll see. Steve Schirripa’s Hungry will premier in December on the Lifeskool Newtwork. This nine-episode show will feature ‘what else’, Italian-American dishes from his cookbook “The Goomba Diet: Living Large and Lovin’ It which was published last year.
Steve will introduce some of his favorite New York restaurants. You will meet top chefs and learn to slice and dice. Learn about cheeses and cannolis. It sounds like fun!

"It's going to be a mixture of comedy, history [of foods] and of course the cooking part and the stuff about lifestyle," Schirripa told the trade. "I'm a regular guy, and this is regular food for the masses. Whether you're here in New York or in St. Louis or Ohio, you're going to relate to it."

Even though the show ‘Sopranos’ is over, the name still carries on – in the supermarkets. Of course, spaghetti sauce will be offered. Salad dressings, starting with Caesar dressing, frozen pizzas, olive oil, and barbecue sauce will also appear.

Yesterday morning, I saw “Behind the Bash” with Giada on the Food Network. It featured the premier party for the Sopranos. What a party! They decked out the Roseland Ball Room as an Italian street fair. The Sopranos invited 1000 friends and got down to the business of having a good time.

I always think that it’s interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. They showed the design crew come in that morning and set up red banners and thousands of lights. Vendor stalls were erected, displaying all types of Italian food. A few real vendors were invited to participate, some of the vendors were already known to the Sopranos stars.

Then there was the food - tons and tons of food. It amazes me to see how that quantity and quality of food is prepared.

One of the food items that was featured was the All-American favorite – PIZZA. But not just any pizza, it was a thin crusted Focaccia Pizza with fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella.

Thin Crusted Focaccia Pizza with Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella
Recipe courtesy Match Catering
Show: Behind the Bash
Episode: Sopranos Premiere Party
2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
2 1/2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons for greasing the baking pan
1/2-ounce dry yeast
1/2-ounce honey
1 3/4 pounds all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
3/4-ounce kosher salt
1/2 cup cornmeal, to dust baking pan
18 Roma or Italian plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup packed basil leaves, chiffonade
6 cups grated mozzarella
Salt and white pepper

Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees F or a regular oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the water, 2 1/2 ounces of olive oil, yeast and honey. Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt, and mix with a dough hook on medium speed until the dough is pliable and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is a little wet, you may need to add a little more flour. The dough should be moist, but not stick to the hands. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Brush the remaining olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet about 18-by-26-inches and dust with the cornmeal. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick and prick the dough all over with a fork or rolling docker. Brush off any excess flour and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake the dough until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Cool.

When the dough has cooled, evenly top with focaccia with the tomato slices, covering the entire surface and lightly season with kosher salt and white pepper. Sprinkle with the basil chiffonade and lightly top with the mozzarella. You should be able to see the tomatoes through the cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and slightly colored. Cool the pizza slightly and cut into 2-bite triangles.

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

The finale was a Hazelnut Layer Cake with Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache and Toasted and Gilded Hazelnuts. This cake was amazing! When people talk about a cake that is rich, they usually mean the taste of the ingredients. But this cake was rich in another sense, there were $275.00 worth of gold gilded hazelnuts on top. Here is the recipe.

Hazelnut Layer Cake with Espresso Buttercream, Chocolate Frangelico Ganache and Toasted and Gilded Hazelnuts
Recipe courtesy Match Catering
Show: Behind the Bash
Episode: Sopranos Premiere Party
3 3/4 pounds hazelnut flour
1 1/4 pounds all-purpose flour
32 eggs
2 pounds sugar, plus 1 3/4 pounds sugar
48 egg whites
Frangelico and Espresso Simple Syrup, recipe follows
Espresso Buttercream, recipe follows
Chocolate Frangelico Ganache, recipe follows
4 pounds hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped, for garnish
Gilded Hazelnuts, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F on convection or 350 degrees F in a regular oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnut and all purpose flour, breaking up any lumps. Set aside.
In the mixing bowl of a 20-quart standing mixer set on high speed, whip together the whole eggs and 2 pounds of sugar until tripled in volume, pale yellow and forming thick ribbons, warming the bowl of the mixer with a propane torch to increase the volume of the eggs. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl of a 20-quart standing mixer set on high speed, whip the egg whites and remaining 1 3/4 pounds sugar until thick, glossy, and firm peaks form. Fold the flour mixture into the whole egg and sugar mixture, and then fold in the egg whites.

Divide the batter equally onto 6 (18-by-26-inch) parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until the corners brown and the batter doesn't adhere to your fingers when you touch the cake, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

To assemble the cake: Place a layer of the hazelnut cake on a prepared cake board or inverted sheet pan. Brush with about one-sixth of the simple syrup and spread a generous layer of the buttercream over top. Place another layer of the cake on top and soak with the simple syrup. Spread a layer of buttercream and then a layer of ganache. Place the next layer of cake and repeat the previous steps until you have used all 6 layers of hazelnut sponge cake, ending with a layer of buttercream on the top.

Chill the cake completely to set. When chilled, trim the sides, and frost with a final layer of buttercream, reserving some buttercream for garnish. Return to the refrigerator again to set the top. Spread the remaining ganache over the top to make a smooth finished coat. Trim any excess ganache from the sides of the cake.

Press the toasted and chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake. Decorate the cake with buttercream piped from a star tip filled pastry bag, and decorate with the gilded hazelnuts.

Frangelico and Espresso Simple Syrup:
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup Frangelico liqueur
1 cup strong coffee
Combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the alcohol has evaporated. Cool completely.
Yield: 8 cups

Espresso Buttercream:
2 1/4 pounds sugar
Water, to moisten sugar
32 egg whites
6 pounds butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coffee extract
Pour sugar and just enough water to moisten it in a large heavy bottomed pot. Bring sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Brush down any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pot with pastry brush dipped in water. Once the sugar has come to a boil, stop stirring and cook the sugar to the soft ball stage or 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. When the sugar reaches 240 degrees F, reduce the heat to low and whip the egg whites on high speed in a 20-quart standing mixer to firm peaks. While the mixer is on high, carefully pour the melted sugar into the whipped egg whites, being careful not to burn yourself on the molten sugar. Once the sugar is combined with the egg whites, reduce the mixer speed to medium, and continue to whip the egg whites and sugar until completely cool, approximately 30 minutes. When the egg white meringue is cool, turn the mixer back up to high, and gradually add the cubed butter. The butter may separate and become watery, but continue to whip on high until the water is re-incorporated. It is very important that the egg white meringue is completely cool so as not to melt the butter. When all the butter has been added, continue to beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the coffee and vanilla extracts.
Yield: 19 cups

Frangelico Ganache:
10 pounds semisweet or 54-percent cocoa chocolate, pistols or chopped
16 cups heavy cream
1 cup Frangelico liqueur
Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream and Frangelico to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes and then whisk together until smooth and all of the chocolate is melted. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature so it reaches a spreadable consistency.
Yield: 16 cups
Gilded Hazelnuts:
1 pound hazelnuts, toasted
Nonstick cooking spray
Gold leaf (*See cook's note)
Lightly spray the hazelnuts with nonstick cooking spray and wipe off any excess. Place a single nut on the gold leaf and gently brush the gold onto the nut. Set aside to garnish the finished cake.
*Cook's Note: Gold leaf is edible and available at specialty spice and pastry supply stores.
Yield: 1 pound hazelnuts

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

In case you would be interested, the Sopranos food is Neapolitan food. This style of food is based in southern Italy around the Naples area. Neapolitan food is simple, fresh and wholesome. It is not fussy food.

Food Trivia
A cookbook helped to standardize the Italian language.. In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi published
“The Science of Cookery and the Art of Eating”. Up until that time, each region of Italy had its own dialect. Artusi’s cookbook, which was written in formal Italian, was so popular that it greatly influenced the creation of a common language for the entire country. :: Defining Your Blogs Worth: TopSites:

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