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Cookbook Review: CIG to Pizza and Panini
Until I read The Complete Idiot's Guide (CIG) to Pizza and Panini, I never knew there were so many different ways to make pizza dough. My primary interest in this book was to get ideas for new, interesting pizza topping combinations. The book exceeded my expectations in this area, but also pleasantly surprised me in the area of dough making as well.
I'm not a baker, and I've never had a lot of luck creating dough or any type of bread that requires yeast or rising. However, this book is part of the CIG series of books for a good reason. It really does simplify the process of creating pizza and Panini dough completely fro scratch! The instructions and explanations are so detailed and easy to follow that even I can make great dough from a few simple ingredients.
Even if you have no interest in creating your own pizza dough, you will likely find the detailed explanations of both the "how" and "why" of what goes into creating a good homemade yeast bread product. I've watched pizza gurus create dough in restaurants before, and I never really understood the significance of kneading and folding dough until I read this publication.
Interesting Dough Recipes:
The CIG to Pizza and Panini provides detailed instructions for making several varieties of regular white flour pizza dough, as well as interesting concoctions, such as:
- Mixed Grain Pizza Dough
- Naan Pizza Dough
- Oatmeal Pizza Dough
- Rye Pizza Dough (and starter)
- Sourdough Pizza Dough (and starter)
There are also several recipes for different types of flat bread and an awesome Ciabatta recipe.
Putting the Pizza or Panini Together
While it's important to have a great bread or dough base to build the perfect pizza, the toppings are often the superstar portion of these great dishes. I enjoy standard pizza topping fare, such as pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc., but I also have a great appreciation for unique pizza toppings and Panini stuffers.
The CIG to Pizza and Panini provides some genius-level ideas for toppings that anybody who falls within the book's target market can easily put together.
Before you start piling toppings on your pizza or Panini, you need to top your dough with some type of sauce. CIG to Pizza and Panini several interesting sauce recipes that differ from the standard smooth tomato sauce topping so popular in pizza parlors.
Sauces include a chunky Pomodoro Fresca Sauce, which features Italian plum tomatoes and red wine, among other ingredients; Salsa featuring fresh veggies and herbs; Cocktail Sauce, something I would never have thought about putting on a pizza or Panini; a delicious White Sauce, Caramel sauce for those with a sweet tooth; and several other interesting recipes.
My Favorite Recipes from CIG to Pizza and Panini:
- Carmelized Onion and Garlic
- Grilled Eggplant Panino
- Ham, Cheddar, and Apple Panino
- Reuben Pizza (complete with sauerkraut!)
These are just my favorites so far. I haven't had the book very long! There are so many great recipe ideas in this book that it will take a while to try them all. I'm really looking forward to trying some of the more interesting combinations, and I can highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great pizza or Panini.