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A16: Food + Wine

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Written by Carolyn Jung   
List of viewable recipes from "A16" by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren
ImageAs a long-time fan of the toothsome pastas and blistered thin-crust pizzas at A16 restaurant in San Francisco, I jumped at the chance to review the new “A16 Food + Wine’’ cookbook by the restaurant’s chef, Nate Appleman, and wine director, Shelly Lindgren.

The long, narrow, always humming restaurant opened four years ago. It’s been a darling of restaurant critics and diners alike since Day One. Named after the Italian motorway that runs from Naples to Canosa in Puglia, the restaurant specializes in the bold, rustic, irresistible flavors of Campania.

This is not your typical cookbook. In fact, the recipes don’t even start until page 64. The front of the book is devoted to wine. For those whose knowledge of Italian wine starts and stops with Chianti, this will rev up your taste buds to explore a whole lot more. Indeed, in Campagna two-thirds of the native grapes are white, not red. You’ll learn about the characteristics of such white varietals as Bombino Bianco to Falanchina to Pecorino (yes, it’s not just a sheep’s milk cheese, but a citrusy, flinty, crisp wine, as well).  Reds are not forgotten. You’ll learn what pairs best with such reds as Aglianico and Magliocco.

Armed with the knowledge of the wines of the region, you’re ready to get down to cooking hearty Southern Italian “peasant cooking’’ that’s been updated by Appleman. A16 fans will find all their favorites here, including the recipe for the meatballs served each and every Monday night as a special. “Meatball Mondays’’ have grown so popular that when the restaurant tried to discontinue it a few years ago, diners nearly revolted.

Recipes for bruschetta with Dungeness crab, rapini and anchovy; and chocolate and sea salt shortbread cookies are easy and straight-forward. Recipes for homemade pastas such as cavatelli or ricotta gnocchi are more demanding and lengthy. But precise instructions give you the nudge you need to go ahead and attempt them.

From the start I knew I wanted to try the pizza recipes. I can’t get enough of the Neopolitan-style pies at the restaurant, so I was dying to know if I could replicate their sublime texture and flavors using my home oven with a pizza stone inside.

You have to plan in advance when making this dough. It takes nearly three days to make it. But don’t worry; most of that time, the dough is just proofing very slowly in a bowl in your refrigerator.

I have to say I was skeptical about the dough recipe at first. After all, it calls for only ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast to four cups of flour. Surely, that wouldn’t be nearly enough to do anything, I sheepishly thought.

I was wrong. My dough did rise, and it was probably the smoothest, most elastic, and easiest pizza dough I’ve ever worked with. Combine the yeast, water, olive oil, salt and flour in a stand mixer. The machine does all the work. Then turn out the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge overnight. The next day, punch it down, and return it to the fridge for another 24 hours. When ready to use, divide the dough into four balls and allow it to rise on the countertop for two hours. That’s it.

Since I only needed two dough balls that night, I froze two of them before the final rise on the countertop. A week later, I defrosted them overnight in the fridge, then allowed them to rise on the countertop for two hours before baking them. They were as good as the first two I didn’t freeze.

I followed the instructions for the Pizza Bianca and Pizza Pomodoro with Ricotta recipes in the book, topping the former with grated grana, green olives, basil, and fresh mozzarella; and the latter with diced fresh tomato, grated grana, basil, and fresh ricotta. The piece de resistance on both was a clove of garlic sliced thinly with a mandoline, then scattered over each pie.

Wow. The crusts baked up thin and crisp in the center, and chewy and pillowy on the edges. The toppings were bright, flavorful, and not too heavy for the crusts. And the addition of the thin garlic slivers was brilliant – adding a very bold punch of garlic without its usual harsh burn.

I don’t get to A16 as often as I would like. Now, though, it’s nice to know that anytime I crave the restaurant’s pizzas, I can whip up a pretty close rendition at home with just a little bit of advance planning. I’ll drink a glass of Montepulciano D’Abruzzo to that.

Neopolitan-Style Pizza

Reprinted with permission from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press.

Makes 4 (9- to 10-inch pizzas)

More than the toppings, a good pizza demands a light, sturdy, flavorful crust. While pizzas bake quickly—an experienced pizzaiolo will transform a round of raw dough into a blistered pie in less than three minutes—making the dough is a slow process. After eating pizzas at several pizzerias in Naples, I noticed that the crust at Da Michele had the deepest flavor. A handful of visits later, I figured out why: a bit of older, fermented dough is added to each fresh batch, giving the crust more complexity and a slight tang. A similar effect can be achieved by allowing for a long fermentation time. This not only gives the crust that tang but also provides an added benefit: as the dough ferments, it also becomes stronger and easier to work with. With this in mind, we use a small amount of yeast relative to the flour and let the dough develop flavor gradually as it ferments and proofs for two to three days.

Yet dough is unpredictable. Heat and humidity affect fermentation times; so do salt and yeast. That’s when practice is important. Some people have a natural feel for the dough, but with enough practice, anyone can learn how to make a decent crust. If you are not used to handling pizza dough, make one with a little less water (say, a cup) and a little more olive oil. Drier dough with more fat is easier to handle and manage. If you prefer to make the dough from start to finish in a few hours, add double the amount of yeast to speed up the rising time. Try several batches until you become comfortable, and hold off inviting friends over for a pizza night until you have the technique and rhythm down.

One of the pizzas that follows calls for fresh mozzarella. Because the cheese has a high water content, never top a pizza with more than 3 ounces. If more is used, the pizza will be soggy, a problem we encounter when we receive orders for pizzas with extra mozzarella. Also, not all fresh mozzarellas melt the same. If you find that your mozzarella browns too quickly and hardens before the crust has finished baking, experiment with adding the mozzarella halfway through the baking process. Ideally, the mozzarella will melt into the tomato sauce, staying creamy rather than becoming chewy.

Dough

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1⁄2 cups warm water (100˚ to 105˚F)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups “00” flour or all-purpose flour
  • Toppings of choice (recipes follow)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

To make the dough, in a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let proof for 10 minutes. If the yeast has not dissolved into a soft, frothy paste in that time, hunt down a fresher batch and repeat the process. Stir in the olive oil and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour and yeast mixture and mix together on low speed for about 2 minutes, or until the dough is shaggy and most of the water has been absorbed. Knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and looks smoother. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead on medium-low speed for an additional 10 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth, soft, and warm to the touch.

Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turn the dough so that both sides are lightly coated in oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, punch down the dough with your fist, then fold over the sides and turn the dough over in the bowl. Re-cover and return to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. One at a time, cup the pieces in your hands and tuck under the sides until you have formed a smooth ball. Place the balls on the floured work surface, providing plenty of room between the balls, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let the balls proof for 1 1⁄2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in volume. Keep a water-filled spray bottle handy, and if you see a skin forming on the surface of the dough, spray the surface to dissolve the skin. The skin will prevent the dough from rising properly and will make shaping the dough difficult.

To make your oven pizza ready, place a pizza stone on the lowest rack and preheat the oven to its maximum temperature (typically between 500˚ and 550˚F) for at least 30 minutes.

To shape a ball of dough into a pizza base, place it on a well-floured work surface. Using the tips of your fingers, pat down the ball, flattening it into a disk. Place the palm of one hand in the center of the dough and gently but firmly press down. At the same time, with the other hand, pull the dough outward while rotating it clockwise to form a flat circle with a slightly raised edge, or cornicione. If the dough feels resistant as you stretch it, set it aside, covered with a damp kitchen towel, while you work on a second ball of dough. This will give the gluten a chance to rest, making the dough more pliable once you return to it. The entire time you are working on the dough, maintain a thin layer of flour underneath it to prevent it from sticking. If you don’t feel confident handling pizza dough, try starting with a rolling pin to ensure you begin with an even circle, and then return to hand stretching. Continue to stretch the dough, allowing time for it to relax as needed, until it is 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

Generously dust a pizza peel or a rimless baking sheet with flour. Slide the pizza base onto the peel, and then immediately shake the peel to ensure the dough isn’t sticking to it. Dress the base with the selected toppings. To transfer the pizza to the pizza stone, place the peel over the stone and quickly jerk it back. The pizza should slide smoothly off the peel onto the stone in one piece. It is important to bake the pizza immediately after putting the toppings on it, or the dough will soften and stick to the peel. If you are grilling the pizza, follow the instructions below, making sure not to add any of the toppings until the base has been brushed with olive oil, grilled on the first side, and flipped over.

Bake the pizza for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is crisp and golden brown and the top is bubbling. Take care not to open the oven door often to maintain the high oven temperature. Using the peel or baking sheet, remove the pizza from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, and cut into 4 pieces with a knife or pizza cutter. Serve at once. Repeat with the remaining 3 balls.

Pizza Bianca

Reprinted with permission from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press.

pair with Montepulciano (Abruzzo)

makes 1 (9- to 10-inch) pizza

This is a great reminder that not every pizza needs tomato sauce. Briny green olives and dried chile flakes cut through the richness of the cheese.

  • 1⁄2 cup coarsely grated grana
  • 1 Neapolitan-style pizza base
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 5 to 10 green olives, pitted
  • Pinch of dried chile flakes
  • 1⁄2 clove garlic
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick disks

Evenly scatter the grana over the surface of the pizza base, followed by the basil leaves, olives, and chile flakes. With a sharp paring knife or a mandoline, slice the garlic into paper-thin slices and distribute them evenly over the pizza. Judiciously distribute the mozzarella over the top. Bake as directed.

Pizza Pomodoro with Ricotta

Reprinted with permission from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press.

pair with monica (Sardinia)

makes 1 (9- to 10-inch) pizza

Perfect for the height of summer when you have too many tomatoes on your counter, this pizza is the most delicate one we make. The recipe calls for a beefsteak tomato, but the pizza is also terrific with a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.

  • 1 beefsteak tomato (about 4 ounces)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh ricotta, drained if necessary
  • 1⁄2 cup coarsely grated grana
  • 1 Neapolitan-style pizza base
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • 5 fresh basil leaves

Core the tomato, cut into 1⁄4-inch chunks, and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt to taste, toss gently, and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Place the ricotta in a separate small bowl, add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, and mix well.

Evenly scatter the grana over the surface of the pizza base. With a sharp paring knife or a mandoline, slice the garlic into paper-thin slices and distribute them evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle with the chile flakes and basil leaves, and judiciously distribute the tomato and ricotta over the top. Bake as directed.

About A16 Food + Wine

ImageAt San Francisco's acclaimed A16 restaurant (named for the highway that cuts across southern Italy), diners pack the house for chef Nate Appleman's house-cured salumi, textbook Naples-style pizzas, and gutsy slow-cooked meat dishes. Wine director Shelley Lindgren is renowned in the business for her expeditionary commitment to handcrafted southern Italian wines. In A16: FOOD + WINE, Appleman and Lindgren share the source of their inspiration--the bold flavors of Campania. From chile-spiked seafood stews and savory roasts to delicate antipasti and vegetable sides, the recipes are beguilingly rustic and approachable. Lindgren's vivid profiles of the key grapes and producers of southern Italy provide vital context for appreciating and pairing the wines. Stunning photography captures the wood-fired ambiance of the restaurant and the Campania countryside it celebrates.

Available at Amazon.com

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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I think the amount of yeast lo
Cathy (Unregistered) 2011-03-21 10:55:19

I think the amount of yeast looks wrong here. The amount of olive oil too looks low.


See
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pizza-recipes/pizza-dough

• 1kg strong white bread flour or Tipo ‘00’ flour
or 800g strong white bread flour or Tipo ‘00’ flour, plus 200g finely ground semolina flour
• 1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
• 2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
• 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 650ml lukewarm water
pam (Publisher) 2011-03-21 12:29:10

Cathy,

The amounts listed in the recipe both for the yeast and the olive oil are right. Everyone always thinks it can't be right because it's such a miniscule amount. Nate Appleman has even said people used to call him when he was at A16, saying he must have put the wrong amount in the recipe in the book. Try it as written it is great!
Chef Tournant
Christian (Unregistered) 2011-04-05 20:29:58

I concur with Cathy, I have this book and it is full of recipes to perfection. When we first made this dough, we had an entire evening of conversation about how great and springy this dough was.

It really is genius.
pizza dough shortcut
PizzaHomeChef (Unregistered) 2011-09-18 18:54:11

If you know your yeast is performing up to snuff from recent previous baking, you can skip the proofing and add the yeast as one of the dry ingredients, along with flour. More at http://pizzahomechef.com/pizza-school
flour weight?
SteveB (Unregistered) 2011-12-29 21:21:12

Are you weighing the flour? I started with 480 grams of the 00, but the dough was very, very wet. I added about a 1/4 c more but it was still very wet and difficult to even get into the bowl and coat evenly with olive oil.

Thanks,
-Steve
pam (Publisher) 2011-12-30 16:51:41

Steve,

Nope - The recipe doesn't give a weight. It is 4 cups.
3 day or 24 hours? How Many P
Paul (Unregistered) 2013-01-27 07:54:26

The article starts out as a 3 day dough, but the instructions seem to be for a 24 hour batch. How many times does one punch down the dough if going for the 3 day slow ferment? Is it a punch down, like simple bread recipes, or more of a gentle pull and fold? I've seen various articles on the subject---A16 seems to have inspired many erstwhile pizza makers.
singapore restaurant
ParkerSmith (Unregistered) 2014-05-21 04:48:04

I have explain so many article of this site in which some of them were very interesting and inspiring.This article has good title with good description.
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