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Saturday, June 18, 2011

“Yeast Bread Seminar, Pt. XVII—Italian Loaf adds flair to Dining.”

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                                                   STINKBUG 2011


Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti

END Commentary 06-19-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 1,968.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Sunday, June 19, 2011 by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti


Yeast Bread Seminar, Pt. XVII—Italian Loaf adds flair to Dining.”

Bakersfield, CA, 06-19-2011 Su: Like my colleagues, I haven’t written a blogpost for several months now so this is always a treat to be able to step up to the plate and write for you, my friends, as that is what we are: online friends who’ve never met in person!  The Internet is a fascinating thing as it allows us to come together day after day, week after week, to have a relationship in which maybe millions of us are the best of friends even though I’ve never shaked your hand or sat down with you and had a cup of coffee or tea.  I find it to be very heartwarming to know that I have all of you out there that shares similar interests with me: cooking, fine dining, and friendship.  There is something both stimulating and relaxing to know that there are many more of you out there than I could ever meet in an hour on my job.  I’ve been in the business since 1969 when I entered the profession as an apprentice and trained under some of the old hands that had made Bakersfield the culinary Mecca it had become in the central valley of the state of California.  Places like Zingo’s Café, Clark’s Coffee Shop, Milt’s Coffee Shop, and the old Hotel Padre were a haven for the weary traveler who needed a place to sit down, rest his or her tired head and have a beverage with a meal.  I worked in all of those places before they were transformed into something new and unique or shut their doors only to be reopened like the Padre.  I always enjoyed going up front and meeting the diners and chatting with them, listening to what they had to say about the quality of the food and its flavor knowing that I could go back into the kitchen and make changes to whatever I had prepared the next time an order for it showed up in the window.  There is something both warm and caring knowing your customers and them knowing me that I never lost an interest in meeting and greeting them whenever I could!  I always enjoyed the personal interaction that took place between them and myself.

Today, I will be taking my shot at our Italian Breads segment of the vaunted Bread Seminar, which was created by Stinkbug more than two decades ago when he wrote a weekly foodservice column for the Bakersfield Californian newspaper.  Back in the day, he must have had more than fifty installments of the series over a five-plus year period of writing for the paper.  People always enjoyed it, it was very popular and he was considered to be among the best bakers in the central valley region of the great state of California.  Let me say a few words about our bread for today as it’s an interesting one and the name is somewhat misleading:

Italian bakers are fond of making loaves flavored and/or colored by a wide variety of vegetables and grains and this loaf is a lot of fun, Pane al Peperoni, or bread made with red bell peppers that not only color it, but sweeten it and add a wonderful flavor, too.  We enjoy working with the various Italian loaves as they’re fun to make and are absolutely wonderful to serve at parties and banquets.  Furthermore, Italian bakers are a highly inventive lot and always have a great deal of fun in their kitchens and as the past few days have demonstrated, this would appear to be so.  Each of the past breads have been flavored with this vegetable or that herb and each one has been both unique as well as exciting.  I mean, where else would you find breads like these? In a French kitchen, perhaps? No way, absolutely not!  I love French cooks and French cuisine but all I can say is that when it comes to fun and inventiveness, they tend to be the stiff-backed fellows in the creased checked pants and starched white stovepipe hats.  NO excitement there, I assure you!

So, let’s get to work on hearth-fired bread that is one of the best ones in my personal baking book.  Note that “Peperoni” means red bell pepper or pimiento and not pepperoni sausage such as is used on pizzas.  I guess the sausage gets it name from the paprika used to color it which comes from, if you hadn’t already guessed it, from—what else?—red bell peppers!  The finest paprika in the world—Hungarian—comes from the sweet red bell peppers of the Balkans and is found nowhere else.  Well, let’s get this show on the road—here’s the recipe for Pane al Peperoni!


For ONE large cylindrical loaf:

Red bell peppers
Tepid water
Fresh cake yeast or .75 ounce active dry yeast
Olive oil
Whole wheat flour
Bread flour
Cold water
Yellow cornmeal and kosher salt


1.      We’ve got to prepare the pimientos.  What we have to do is roast them so we can get the skins off and at the same time develop their flavor.  A gas flame is best but an electric burner will do—believe me, I know.  Turn a gas burner on medium-high and place a heatproof grid across it.  If electric, turn the burner on high.  Place pimientos on the fire and roast, turning frequently, never allowing them to remain in the same spot for longer than 30 to 45 seconds.  As they cook, they’ll begin to blacken.  When much of them looks this way, remove from fire and place in a bowl of cold water.   

2.      Remove from water and begin peeling and when all of the skin is off, hull and seed.  Rinse insides out with a little cold, running water until all seeds are removed.  Finally, dice up medium-fine and set aside. 

3.      Place tepid water in a bowl and dissolve the yeast in it. Cover with a cloth and allow it to stand for 10 minutes in a semi-warm spot.

4.      When yeast has activated, place it in the bowl of an electric mixer and using a dough hook attachment, stir in the sugar, salt, and olive oil.

5.      Next, begin to scale in the wheat and bread flours along the sides of the mixing bowl as your dough hook or paddle rotates on low speed. Scale it in a cup at a time and let it mix in and remember, the amount of flour varies from time to time, it depends on factors such as the temperature of the air and humidity so add whatever it takes to get the dough to pull off the sides of the mixing bowl and onto the hook—and stays there. When it is on the hook and no longer feels “sticky” but does feel “elastic,” or “alive” to your touch, it’s ready to round.

6.      On a lightly floured tabletop, knead the dough for about 4-5 minutes. Pull it over and down towards you and then fold the sides over and round it into a ball. Continue doing this for the specified time or if it feels like a living thing, round it into a ball and place inside a lightly floured bowl twice the size of the dough.

7.      Cover with a mildly moist towel but not sopping wet and then place someplace relatively warm and free of drafts like a high kitchen shelf or unused oven.  Allow it to “proof” or to rise until doubled in bulk, about 30-45 minutes.  Then, gently deflate, re-round, and return to the bowl to rise again—the second time requires about half the time of the first proof.  Preheat standard oven to 400°F or convection oven to 350°F.

8.      When dough’s risen again, remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface and briefly knead.  Place it in a corner of your workbench and cover with a towel and allow it to sit for 10 minutes—as it does so, it will develop an outer skin of gluten, which will produce some fabulous bread. If you’re using the bricks, get them onto a burner and get a pot of water boiling and ready.

9.      Now, once time is up, begin to roll into a loaf.  With your hands, begin rolling the dough ball down from the top all the while scrunching the left and right sides inward and rolling the dough over it; what you are doing is forming a tight, cigar-shaped cylinder. Keep one hand on either side turn with your fingers while pressing the ends shut with your thumbs. When you’ve rolled up your cylinder, press the seam shut after moistening it with some cold water and fold it slightly over itself. Roll it back and forth in your hands to elongate it and then place on the prepared sheet pan (that has been sprayed with PAM and sprinkled with cornmeal) and cover with a dry towel and return it to the proofing spot for one last, final rise

10. Allow your loaf to almost double in size for about 15-20 minutes at most. When it has, lightly brush it with the “egg wash” mixture. Finally, dip a sharp knife in melted butter or olive oil and slash 4-5 diagonal slashes approximately .25-inch deep cuts across the top. Into each slash, sprinkle a little kosher salt to add additional flavor.

11. While the loaf is rising, place a roasting pan that’s about 4-inches deep inside your oven and place the HOT bricks within it. Taking care to avoid the rush of steam, pour about 2-inches of boiling water in around them and shut the door and allow the oven to steam.  When the loaf is ready to go, insert it into the steamy oven and let it rise quickly with the steam. After about 10 minutes, pull the bricks out along with whatever water is left and lower heat 375°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes OR until you can pick the loaves up in one gloved hand and rap on its bottom; if the loaf sounds hollow, it’s done and ready to go and if not, put it back in the oven and let it continue baking until they sound hollow. The idea is to check it at about the 30 minute mark but you also need to know your oven’s temperature and the best way to do that is to buy an oven thermometer and place it inside. I cannot say how important this step is, if you don’t know how hot or how cool your oven is, you will never be able to bake a proper loaf much less a cake! 

12.  So, when the loaf sound a dull hollow, pull it out and place it atop a wire rack to cool on all sides. Drizzle with melted butter 3-4 times in order to achieve a gorgeous gloss and as you do so, the crust will soften naturally. This will make for truly fabulous loaf so good luck, my friends. Practice makes perfect and this loaf is one of the ones that is fairly easy to make and generally can suffer a lot of punishment so don’t be afraid, jump into it and go for it!

13.  When this delicious loaf is done, serve right away or finish cooling. A fresh loaf such as this can sit out for about a day covered by a towel or a cloth and then, you will have to wrap them up. Generally, if a loaf isn’t eaten within the first day, you need to slice it and wrap it up in airtight plastic bags and freeze. Bring out what you need and heat up quickly in your microwave oven 10-12 seconds at a time. Always eat as soon as possible as fresh-baked bread is only good when it’s utilized right away. We are not filling it up with all sorts of chemical preservatives so use your common sense and always do the right thing—your common sense won’t let you down!

14. To reheat bread, wrap in plastic wrap and heat in the microwave and if you can, avoid regular ovens.  One last word of advice: to slice bread properly, you need a good bread knife so invest in one as there’s no point in crushing or trashing a wonderful loaf of bread with a crappy knife. Pick one up at the local restaurant supply store when you pick up your oven’s new thermometer! If you don’t have a good restaurant supply store, order what you need from Amazon.com because they have everything! 

Note—normally homemade bread is best if consumed on the day it was baked, as we don’t have the preservatives and chemicals that are available to professional bakers, which is good!  We don’t need that sort of stuff with which to poison our systems, now do we?

That’s it for today, my friends, and like all of the rest of my friends and coworkers, it’s fun doing a blog for our good friend, Stinkbug.  Stinky is always at the forefront of the foodservice blogs on the Internet and it is his determination that keeps the Elemental News of the Day up-and-running.  All we ask of you is to please access the Google advertising links as each time you do, it puts money into our pockets which allows us to keep cooking, writing, and creating new and unique posts for you!  People of Bakersfield, the old column in the Bakersfield Californian, “What’s Cookin’” was authored by Stinky from 1985 to 1989 and was quite popular with the local readership.  This is the man in his new and present guise so you should all be onboard telling your friends, family, and neighbors that this, my friends, is the real deal! Help us keep the END up-and-running each and every day! Thank you, see you soon! Bye!

Thank you!

V. Vicky Mazarotti

V. “Vicky” Mazarotti
ACF, CWC, CPC, International Association of Culinary Professionals IACP.


END Commentary for Sunday, June 19, 2011 by Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti.

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


This original essay was authored by the one-and-only Chef V. Vicky Mazarotti.

Carrick, Brian.  “Italian Loaf adds Flair to Dining.” The Bakersfield Californian.  16 July 1987: AA 14.



“Stinky” of the Elemental News of the Day for the best of the news, politics, sports, foodservice, hotel and restaurant business, the end times, the end of days, the apocalypse, armageddon, and whatever else happens to pop up!




This is #1286, a 12” x 16" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, "Contemplation." It's among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

Web Pictures I

  This is a shot of Brian Carrick prior to the commencement of a gig on 07-03-1978 somewhere in Kern County. 

This is a shot of the Magnolia Hilltop Brewers onstage on 04-23-1977. From left to right is Vernon McMahon, rhythm guitar and vocals, Victor Gaona, bass and vocals, and Brian Carrick, drums and vocals.
     This is a shot of the crowd onstage on 04-23-1978 somewhere in Kern County.
  this is a shot of rhythm guitarist and vocalist Gerry Kleier on 04-23-1976 pointing to a bottle of inspiration.

this is a shot of the Magnolia Hilltop Brewers: from left to right Randall Kyles (lead guitar and vocals), Brian Carrick (drums and vocals) and Victor Gaona (bass and vocals).

  This is a photo of Randall and Debbie Kyles on 09-18-1976 at a band rehearsal at Shamrock in Bakersfield, California.


                      This is a shot of Randall Kyles on 08-20-1976 at a band rehearsal at Shamrock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    This is a shot of Victor Gaona preparing for a band rehearsal on 06-29-1977 at Shamrock in Bakersfield, California.

                                       Groucho the Cat on 12-23-1980 at Shamrock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



Magnolia Hilltop Brewers and What's Cookin' Productions Trademark of Quality and Symbol of Integrity. Copyright 06-18-2011, all rights reserved. No unauthorized reproductions of any of this material are permissible unless granted by written permission. Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.

Chief Editor: Stinkbug.

Assistant Editor: Moses Scharbug III

Proofreader: Amos Mosby Caruthers.





Bread Seminar, Yeast Bread Seminar, Bakery Recipes, Classic Baking, Italian Breads, Loaves, the Brick Method, Bakery Recipes, Chef V. “Vicky” Mazarotti, Foodservice News, Paprika.


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