“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Focaccia Pizza and Meatballs in Marsala sauce with mushrooms

Ciao lovely readers!! Everyone loves pizza; I have yet to meet anyone who will argue with the previous statement. It is the perfect food, combining all of the basic food groups. Dough, cheese and sauce. Really, who needs anything else? It is made even better when it is prepared with a delicious homemade focaccia crust and served with a side of meatballs in a Marsala sauce with mushrooms. So for your next “Pizza night”, put the down the take-out menu and trying whipping this up!

La Pizza

Focaccia Pizza:

Focaccia Bread (recipe below)
Tomato sauce (recipe below)
1 fresh mozzarella

Slice your mozzarella (as thick or thin as you like, depending how covered you want the pizza). Spread the tomatoes sauce on the focaccia bread (which should have been baked for around 5 minutes) and add the slices of mozzarella. Put the oven on 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. Take out and let sit and cool for 10 minutes. Eat and enjoy!!

Panis focacisu was flat bread baked in the ashes of the fireplace in ancient Rome. The word is derived from the Latin meaning “centre” and also “fireplace” – the fireplace being in the center of the home.

The basic recipe is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine. Because of so many small towns along the coast of Liguria, the focaccia recipe has been adapted into countless varieties (in Camogli they like it hard, in Voltri, they like it oily and soft). There are also many regional variations, such as focaccia dolce (sweet focaccia), popular in some parts of north-western Italy, which is a basic focaccia dough, sprinkled lightly with sugar, sometimes it’s made with raisins, honey, or other sweet ingredients. There is so much you can do with focaccia, you can prepare it for a basic pizza or you can get crazy and top it with goat cheese, olives and sun dried tomatoes. In this case, I am making it a classic tomato sauce-mozzarella pie. Whatever way you decide to top it is up to you, just as long as you enjoy it!


1 and ¾ cups of warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups of whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, split

Mix warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl someplace warm, not to hot of cold, just right, until the yeast is bubbling, probably around 15 minutes.
In a bowl with a dough hook, mix flour, herbs, salt, ½ cup olive oil and the yeast mix on low speed. Once it has all mixed, knead for about 5 minutes on a medium speed until smooth.Put the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead by hand 2 times. Cover with plastic and put in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, this should take around an hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining ½ cup olive oil. Put dough on the jelly pan and press to fit the size of your pan. Turn the dough over to coat with olive oil. Continue stretching to fit the pan.

Put the dough in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, another hour. Preheat over to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the top of the focaccia with sea salt and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Bake for 5 minutes before adding pizza toppings.

There are many recipes for focaccia, feel free to use your favorite for the pizza!!

Tomato sauce

15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic (or as much as you like)
Basil (finely chopped)
Crushed Italian herbs

Coarsely chop your garlic, cook in the olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and crush Italian herbs. Cook 6-7 minutes, until garlic is soft. It will continue to cook slightly when it is on the pizza in the oven.

Il secondo (second course, main course)

Every culture has its form of a meatball, so it is impossible to know exactly where they originated. However, the ancient Roman cookbook, Apicius (compiled in the late 4th or early 5th Century AD) featured many meatball type recipes.
In Italy, meatballs are known as polpette and are mostly eaten as a main course.

Meatballs in Marsala mushroom sauce

½ pound of ground sirloin
½ pound ground round
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup half and half
1 egg
Garlic powder (You can use fresh, just chop very finely, same for the onion)
Onion powder
Finely chopped Italian parsley
½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs, crushed
Crushed Red Pepper (to taste)

Marsala Sauce

Crushed garlic
Thinly slice mushrooms (any kind)
½ cup Marsala wine
½ water or stock

Put your bread crumbs in bowl, cover with half and half, let soak until the bread crumbs are fully absorbed. Add your meat and the rest of your ingredients. Mix gently (too much handling makes for a tough meatball.) Shape into approximately 2 inch balls (Some people like their meatballs slightly flattened, whatever your prefer) Brown slowly, at least 8-9 minutes per side.  

For the sauce- Add your mushrooms and garlic to the same pan with meatballs. Allow the mushrooms to cook for about ten minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add the Marsala and your cooking liquid. Cover and let cook for an additional 10-
15 minutes.

For this meal, I’m going to suggest some Sinatra and Chianti. Buon Appetito!  


  1. Ciao Carolina! Come stai? I am sending this again because the last comment I left a few minutes ago looks like it disappeared. Such pearls of though that I will never recapture went with that one, I'm afraid. So, prima di tutto; grazie, grazie! Thank you for the friend add on FB. I happily accepted. Please excuse me for not responding sooner. Work and life and fun here in California has been busy.
    Tu parla italiano? Io lo parlo ma mancha la practica. Wow! What a great blog. And what a great life. Opera, food and New York! That's such a cool combination for exciting stories and adventures. I'm thinking book material. I like your writing style; personal and direct. Pizza is a fantastic food and your recipe looks tasty and easy. I like the ambiance of Italian culture, food history and music you write about. I too like to listen to Sinatra. When I bake biscotti I will put on my "Ciao Amore" mix which includes Sinatra, Louis Prima and company. Congratulations on your blog launch. Bravo, bravo Carolina!
    Well, please stop by and visit my blog. Like yours, I write about food. But as a therapist, I also share my musings on life, love and relationships. So stop by. Visit. Maybe follow. That would be cool.
    Again, grazie Carolina! A presto amica mia!

  2. This looks amazing! I hear focaccia bread and you make it look so easy!

  3. You have shared such a tasty recipe thanks for it.I like mushrooms and having it with pizza yummy.