Pizza Dough

January 7th, 2017

Pizza

Every Friday afternoon I get the dough ready to make pizza for dinner.

I’ve tried several dough recipes over the years and finally settled on this one:

1 1/4 ounces or 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar

stir both of these into 1 1/2 cups of warm water (about 110 degrees). You can do this in a bowl or I just use my glass measuring cup.

Wait ten minutes until mix is foamy.

Meanwhile, pour about

three cups of flour
and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

into a large bowl. Mix and then make a well in the center.

When yeast is foamy after ten minutes, dump into well of flour and stir with wooden spoon until mixed. will be sticky and wet

Transfer onto a floured surfaces and knead 7-8 minutes, adding additional flour as needed.

When dough is elastic and somewhat smooth, put back in bowl (that has now been cleaned, dried and lightly greased with olive oil). Flip dough once to coat both sides and then cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Let sit one to one and one-half hours or until dough has doubled in size.

Return to floured work surface. Cut in half, make into balls and then wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to use, preheat oven to 500 with large baking sheet turned upside down on lower oven rack.

On another baking sheet or big cutting board, lay out a piece of parchment paper.

Shape dough into desired oval or circle on floured work surface. Then move onto parchment paper and add fixings (sauce, etc.)

Then slide into inverted baking sheet in oven.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until desired doneness.

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.