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Pizza cheese varieties have dramatically increased of the last 2 decades. In the early years the produced pies where topped with three or four pizza cheese varieties, within the past twenty – twenty five years, pizzaiolo and chefs have become more inclined to try different recipes and today you will find dozens of pizza cheese varieties on menus and cooking books.

Most utilized pizza cheese

Soft cheese
The top known and most used pizza cheese is Mozzarella, it’s semi-soft texture and exquisite melting capability is bar none.  Another very nice semi-soft cheese is the Provolone, a little more flavor and more costly but also has great melting capabilities. In northern Europe many pizzerias utilize Edamer and Gouda, both are medium-soft and melt very well, plus these two are less costly compare to Mozzarella.

Semi-hard cheese
The Spanish Asiago is a costly yet very tasty pizza topping, finely grated over the pizza immediately after removing the pizza from the oven gives it a special touch.

Hard cheeses
Pecorino Romano and Parmesan are also two pizza cheese variations used often in Italy, these two hard and aged versions are generally grated over a pizza after baking the pie. The stronger flavor of these two hard cheeses gives the pizza an additional flavor.

Blue cheeses
As mentioned due to the open minded chefs mozzarella is not the only an option, many tasty recipes call for blue cheeses such as Gambozola and Gorgonzola, these two varieties also are semi hard and melt relatively nice. Yet it’s distinct flavor will dictate the other toppings.

Specialty cheeses
Pizza lovers rave about many specialty cheeses such as Fontina, Caciocavallo and Taleggio among others already mentioned.

Creamy cheeses
Ricotta comes in two versions and both melt very nicely, also used but more rarely is cottage cheese this very soft version will have a little moisture on your pie.

Mixed pizza cheeses
More and more pizzerias use cheese mixtures to make their pizzas. These combinations add a unique taste and depth to the toppings, as well as costing less than non-mixed grated cheese. Typical pizza cheese blends include mozzarella or provolone mixed with Cheddar,  Gouda, Edamer, Gruyere or Muenster.

Bar none Mozzarella is the number one used pizza cheese variety worldwide, fresh, cubed, shredded or sliced. It originated in the Naples region of Italy and was first made from water buffalo milk. Original mozzarella was of very high moisture content, and has a short shelf life. The texture of original mozzarella did not lend to grating at all, and the cheese was usually cut into slices to be used, mainly on a “Insalata Caprese” or sliced thinly for pizzas.

Today’s mozzarella is made from cows milk and is of a lower moisture content. This extends the shelf life and eases the handling. Mozzarella is available in a variety of moisture and butterfat contents. A little experimenting to find which you like better will be needed, for different mozzarellas have different ways in which they melt and brown.

There is a fresh mozzarella sold that comes as balls of cheese packed in water. This cheese has a different texture and taste than regular mozzarella and can also be used on pizza. It does not grate as it is too soft, and it must be used fairly soon as it turns sour within a few days. But mozzarella isn’t the only cheese you can use for pizza.

Experiment with your imagination and let your taste buds decide on which pizza cheese varieties you will use.

This is a very tasty Pizza bread recipe with wine, you may add red or white wine depending on your desired taste.

Ingredients

0.1 L light red or white wine,
0.2 L warm water
1 fresh yeast (32 gr)
1 tablespoon honey
500 gr all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (dissolve in some of the 0.2 L of warm water and set aside)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions for the Pizza bread recipe with wine:

Place wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved add honey and mix through. Add about 100gr of flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a loose batter. Add the remaining flour and stir in as much as you can with the wooden spoon (2 to 3 minutes). Then add the dissolved salt mixture.

Bring dough together with your hands and turn out on to flour board or marble surface. Knead about 6 to 8 minutes until you have made a smooth, firm yet sticky dough, then add the olive oil and knead for another 2 to 3 minutes. Place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in the warmest part of your kitchen for at least 90 minutes.

Thereafter knead the dough, shape it into a loaf and place on a baking sheet, cut across the top with a sharp knife about 2 cm deep, in a diagonal pattern.  Let rest another 45 minutes then place into a preheated oven, temperature set to 180°C and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

This Pizza bread recipe with wine gives just a little different flavor so your friends will be very curious to find out what you have done to your bread.  Using a little less yeast and you can turn this Pizza bread recipe with wine into tasty pizzas.

Pizza with Clams – Pizza con le Vongole

Pizza with Clams might not be everybody’s taste, but if prepared right an absolute delicacy. Most pizzerias will use canned clams which can taste ok if seasoned correctly, but small fresh clams are the way to go. This recipe does not call for any cheese.

Ingredients for the Pizza with Clams:
Pizza dough
1 Kg fresh clams, the smallest you can get
250 ml water
250 ml white wine
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt to taste
500 gr fresh ripe plum tomatoes, cut into small pieces, or 2 cups loosely packed, drained, diced
Canned imported Italian plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preparation steps for the Pizza with Clams:

Prepare the pizza dough, let it rest and rise.
Preheat the oven to 220°C
Clean the clams under running water, then dry them
Place the clams in a medium-size skillet with water and white wine, bring to a boil over high heat
Cover the skillet and cook until the clams open* approx. 2 – 3 minutes
With a slotted spoon transfer the clams into a bowl
Detach the meat from the shell, discarding the shells**
Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat
Add half the garlic and stir
Add the clam meat and season lightly with salt
Stir a few times and remove from the heat
In a medium-size bowl combine the tomatoes, parsley and the remaining oil and garlic, season lightly with salt
Add 125 ml of the tomato mixture to the clams and mix well
Roll out the dough into a 30 cm circle and place it on a pizza pan
Spread the tomato mixture over the dough
Bake until the dough is golden brown, about 15 minutes
Spread the clams over the pizza and put it back in the oven for about 60 seconds

Serve hot.

*do NOT use any unopened clams, they are dead and if used you might become very ill.
**if desired the shells can be used for decoration on other dishes

Makes 2 servings of Pizza with Clams, a nice dry white wine will finish the dish.

This Tuscan White Bread is ideal to sop up flavorful soups and sauces as well as using for bruschetta. The Tuscan white bread is an easy and relatively fast recipe no long (overnight) resting periods

Ingredients for the Tuscan White Bread:
0.2L warm water
1/2 package fresh yeast
50 gr whole wheat flour
275 gr bread flour
20 grams semolina
2 tsp salt (dissolved in warm water)

Combine water and yeast and a dough mixer or a large bowl. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes,
Add whole wheat flour, and most of the bread flour to create a firm dough kneading about  8–10 minutes, then add dissolved salt, knead another 2 minutes,
Cover with a towel and let rise in a draft free area at room temperature for 2 hours,
Line a baking sheet with parchment; dust with semolina. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and form into a large, round loaf. Place loaf on baking sheet, seam-side down. Dust with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and rise another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190°C,
Dust the top of the risen dough generously with flour, and using a serrated knife, slice a crosshatch into the surface of the bread, about 2 cm deep.
Place a pan of cold water at the bottom of the oven to create steam.
Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 40–50 minutes.
Remove to a rack and cool completely on a rack before slicing into the Tuscan White Bread.

Focaccia bread is a part of any Italian dinner, The focaccia bread comes in many different flavors, which are mainly fresh herbs such as Rosmarino, thyme and Sage. Here is a tasty and fast recipe

This recipe makes 1 focaccia bread

350 gr all-purpose flour
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 small package fresh yeast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
175 ml water (+/- 43°C)
2 tbsp olive oil
50 gr mozzarella

Preparation steps to make the focaccia bread:

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper.
Mix in the vegetable oil and water.
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 230° C.
Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 3 cm thick rectangle.
Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve the focaccia bread warm.


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