Mom of the Month: Laura Vitale
Mother’s Day is a holiday that honors moms and is celebrated in countries throughout the world. It originated in the US from the town of Grafton, West Virginia, when a daughter held a special memorial for her mother who was committed to organizing women’s groups to promote friendship and health.
Within just a few years, virtually every state was observing the day, and in 1914, it was made a national holiday. Today, many countries around the world also celebrate the holiday on this date, while others mark the observance at other times throughout the year.
In the United States, Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated in more modern ways such as presenting mothers, grandmothers, and motherly figures with gifts and flowers, a day off from cooking and household chores, and the sweetest gestures such as handwritten and artistic cards from their children and grandchildren.
It is no secret how vital a mother’s role is in her family, and Mother’s Day is a day that we can all take to appreciate them and honor them the way they truly deserve in all the best ways.
It has been both a privilege and an honor that Authentic Pizza Ovens have become such a monumental part of many families’ Mother’s Day celebrations throughout the years. We have enjoyed receiving photos from all our happy customers that highlight their families honoring the special women in their life by embracing the simpler traditions of older times with wood-fired cooking.
We relish in the photos of everyone cooking the most delicious dishes in their wood-fired pizza ovens ranging from breakfast casseroles, and special family pizza recipes to roasted chicken and rosemary pork chops, seasoned potatoes, and veggies to the sweetest cherry galettes and Dutch oven apple pies, to name a few.
Aside from the tasty dishes that our customers create, the photos that bring us the most happiness are the ones of families gathered together around the beautiful ambiance our wood-fired ovens create, from sipping wine to the children running around care-free, all while making memories that are sure to last a lifetime.
This year, in honor of Mother’s Day, we are excited to feature one of our favorite and talented moms, Laura Vital of Laura in the Kitchen - Starring Laura Vitale | Internet Cooking Show.
Laura has a natural way of connecting with people from all around the world all from her very own kitchen through her online presence Laura Vitale (@mrsvitale) • Instagram photos and videos and Laura in the Kitchen - YouTube.
Read more from our interview with Laura and learn more about how she embraces her family heritage of cooking with her daughter and the fundamentals of wood-fired cooking in her traditional Pizzaioli Pizza Oven
What sparked your interest and love of food?
I am originally from Naples, Italy where I was so lucky to grow up in a family of great cooks, but it wasn’t until my sudden move to the US that I realized how powerful food and cooking truly were. It’s a way for me to connect to a time and place, and a way to share my love and gratitude for others. It’s my ultimate love language.
Does your daughter show signs of following her mom’s love of food?
My daughter understands the importance of family meals because they are a pivotal part of our day where we connect at the end of a long day. She loves mama’s home cooking and I’m hoping that she will always feel that way.
Do you agree with the importance of regularly having family dinners together?
Wholeheartedly! A family table is a place where everyone is welcome and a place to comfort those around us. It’s a place to unwind, connect, and appreciate each other over a home-cooked meal.
Where are you from and a little background information on you?
I am originally from Naples, Italy where I was born and raised. Coming from a family of great cooks, naturally, my love for food started at a young age and I especially enjoyed cooking with my grandmother in her kitchen.
When I moved to the US at the age of 12, I continued to embrace my love for cooking in my father's restaurants over the years until they closed. Currently, I live in New Jersey where I run a popular digital cooking show. I’m also an all-around content creator on all social media platforms and I’m a best-selling cookbook author.
Which oven did you choose and why did you choose an Authentic Pizza Oven?
We chose the Pizzaioli Pizza Oven for its beautiful rustic appeal and authentic characteristics, and because it was the perfect size for the cooking space we needed. We were in love with it from the moment we received it and we have only grown more obsessed with it the more we cook in it!
My uncle Tony has owned restaurants, rosticcerias, and pizzerias for as long as I can remember, and when I got my wood-fired pizza oven, I knew he’d guide me in perfecting my pizza. Some of our favorite family memories have been made by spending time together around the ambiance of the fire and enjoying the simplicity of traditional wood-fired cooking.
Did you build a setup or have someone else do it?
We had a professional build a beautiful brick base and my husband built a crane to place the oven on its base.
What is your favorite thing to cook in your oven? And have you tried other foods besides pizza?
Wood-fired cooking is truly magic for cooking anything! There is not much I haven't cooked in my oven, but some of my favorite dishes have been roasted chicken, vegetables, grilled steaks, and freshly baked bread. I love it more and more every time I use it!
Your special Recipes
Some of my most special recipes to cook in it is pizza, of course, but a chicken cacciatore is spectacular as well as my rustic no knead bread!
Recipes by Laura Vitale
2.5 Pounds of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh
2 Large Red Bell Peppers (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 Large Onion (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 Pound Cremini Mushrooms
1 tsp Hot Pepper Flakes
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 cup Red Wine
1 28 oz Can of Whole Plum Italian Tomatoes w/ juice
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
10 Leaves of Fresh Basil
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1. Heat your wood-fired pizza oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Salt and pepper the chicken and set aside.
3. In a large deep pan, heat the olive oil and sear the chicken breast on each side for about 5 minutes total, you just want the chicken to be light golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
4. In the same pan sauté the onions and peppers until they begin to caramelize for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and pepper, toss everything, and place a lid on the pan so that everything cooks down together and all the natural juices from the mushrooms come out about 7 minutes.
5. Once all the vegetables and hot pepper flakes are cooked down, add the chicken back into the pan with the vegetables, add the red wine, and cook down for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and half of the basil, season with salt and pepper, and let this cook covered for about 1 hour near the front of the oven rotating the pan halfway through.
6. After 1 hour, carefully remove it from the oven and sprinkle in the remaining fresh basil, plate on a beautiful shallow bowl and serve with crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
No Knead Rustic Dutch Oven Bread
3 cups of Bread Flour
1-1/4 tsp of Active Dry Yeast
2 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Sugar
1-1/2 cups of Water that's been warmed up to about 115 degrees
1. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast with the sugar and warm water, and set aside until the yeast is foamy and activated about 4 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients including the water and yeast mixture, and using a wooden spoon, mix everything to mix (you will have to finish by hand because it gets a little hard to mix near the end with the wooden spoon) until the flour is incorporated with the water.
3. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and leave it somewhere undisturbed for about 18 hours.
4. Preheat your wood-fired pizza oven to 450 degrees, and place a Dutch oven in the oven to preheat it as well.
5. After 18 hours, scrape the dough (which will be very thin and sticky) onto a floured surface and just pull it together into a loose ball, add it to the hot Dutch oven, put the lid on, and pop it back in your woodfired oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
For the Dough:
3 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/3 cups of Warm Water, 110 degrees
1 Envelope of Yeast
For the No Cook Sauce/Red Pizza:
1 ¼ cup of Tomato Sauce or Tomato Puree
Dried Oregano, to taste
Dried Basil, to taste
Granulated Garlic, to taste
Granulated Onion, to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of Sugar
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella, shredded
For the White Veggie Pizza:
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella, shredded
1 Small Box of Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and squeezed out of any liquid
1 cup of Frozen Cut Broccoli, defrosted and squeezed out of any liquid
½ cup Whole Milk Ricotta
1 Small Clove of Garlic
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
Light Sprinkling of Salt
To make the dough:
1. Add the yeast to warm water and set it aside for about 3 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a dough attachment, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and olive oil. Stir the yeast in the water to make sure it's all dissolved and add it to the flour mixture.
3. With the speed on medium, mix until everything is combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix for 10 minutes.
4. Oil 2 bowls with olive oil and set aside. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll it into a ball. Place each ball of dough into the oiled bowls, seam side down, and brush the tops of the dough with a little oil to stop them from drying out.
5. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of each bowl and place the dough into a warm place. Inside a microwave or an oven (oven turned off) works best.
6. To make the sauce simply mix together all of the sauce ingredients and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Set aside.
To make the pizzas:
1. Preheat your wood-fired pizza oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Sprinkle some flour onto your counter, take 1 ball of dough, and dredge it in the flour on all sides. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10-inch circle.
3. Using a pizza peel (or a baking sheet upside down so that there are no edges) place the rolled-out pizza dough on it and start topping it.
To make a red pizza- Using a ladle add the no-cook sauce and using the back of the ladle swirl it all over the top of the dough. Top it with the shredded cheese and using the pizza peel slide it into your oven. Pizzas cook rather quickly in your wood-fired oven, so be sure to rotate halfway through to ensure even cooking.
To make the white pizza- Roll out the dough exactly the same way and place it on the pizza peel to top it. Brush the garlic oil all over the top of the dough, and place the spinach and broccoli evenly all over the dough. Using a teaspoon dollop the ricotta all over the top of the veggies. Sprinkle the veggies lightly with salt and top the whole thing with the shredded cheese. Pizzas cook rather quickly in your wood-fired oven, so be sure to rotate halfway through to ensure even cooking.
Who doesn't love pizza? I don't know a single person who doesn't. Making pizza is something that everybody in my family knows how to make, mostly because most of my family members own restaurants. So needless to say, I have been making pizza my whole life, it comes very naturally for me.
I truly think that everybody can make a pizza, it's so easy!! People often mistake time-consuming with difficult, making pizza is a little time-consuming, I won't lie but it is not difficult at all!! Try making it once and I bet you will do it all the time.
This dough is so perfect, not only does it taste awesome but it ensures a crispy crust every time! You can always make just one pizza and freeze the other dough ball. It doesn't get easier than this and trust me when I tell you that this is better than the takeout pizza.
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