July 17, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Playing with fire at Jillyanna's Woodfired Cooking School

The flour flies and the teachers burn with a passion for cooking over a wood flame at this new culinary school in York County.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Instructor Jill Strauss shovels a Crabby Cheddar pizza into the oven, where the heat registered over 750 degrees, at Jillyanna’s Woodfired Cooking School in Kennebunkport.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A pizza cooks in an oven at Jillyanna’s.

Additional Photos Below



141 Wildes District Road, Kennebunkport


EMAIL: cook@jillyannas.com

WEB: jillyannas.com


Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Makes 4 7-ounce, thin-crust pizzas

Bake pizzas on preheated baking stone or pizza steel.

It is important to use ice water in the dough to prevent overheating the dough while in the food processor. Semolina flour is ideal for dusting the peel.

3 cups (16½ ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

11/3 cups ice water (10½ ounces)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for work surface

1½ teaspoons fine sea salt

In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.

Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. Remove dough from refrigerator 2-3 hours before using.

One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone or steel on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. To get oven and stone even hotter, turn on overhead broiler 10 minutes before cooking individual pizzas.

Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured countertop. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 10-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch.

Transfer dough to semolina dusted peel and stretch into 12-inch round.


Adapted from Jim Lahey's "My Pizza"

2 cups (486 grams) whole milk

1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter

2¼ tablespoons (18 grams) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt

3 rasp grates of nutmeg

Pour 1/3 of milk into a saucepan. Cut butter into a few chunks (so they'll melt more easily) and add to the milk. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until butter melts, but without allowing milk to reach a boil.

Meanwhile, put flour in a medium mixing bowl, add remaining milk, and whisk into a slurry.

Once butter has been completely incorporated into hot milk, ladle some of the warm mixture into the cold flour mixture to warm it. Pour contents of the bowl back into saucepan and whisk it in. Stir in the salt.

Over medium-low heat, whisk mixture frequently -- to prevent sticking -- as it cooks and thickens. The bechamel is done at about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, when it has reached the consistency of runny sauce or heavy cream. Grate in the nutmeg and allow sauce to cool to room temperature. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.

Use bechamel immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bring it back to room temperature before using.


1 ball of pizza dough, shaped and waiting on a semolina dusted peel

Scant 1/2 cup bechamel sauce

4 ounces fresh Maine crabmeat

¼ cup grated Vermont cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place pizza stone or steel in a gas oven on a rack about 8 inches from broiler. Preheat oven on bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes.

With the dough on the peel, spoon the bechamel sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Evenly distribute the fresh crab over the sauce. Sprinkle generously with grated Vermont cheddar and 1 to 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3½ minutes under gas (will be a little longer if using electric oven) until crust is slightly charred and top is golden brown.

Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter, slice and serve.

Once everyone arrived, Strauss started us off with some amazing lobster gazpacho and a slice of zucchini-Gruyere pizza to fortify us for the class ahead. "I have to warn you to pace yourself because you are going to be trying a lot of pizzas tonight," she said.

She wasn't kidding.

We started with a no-knead pizza dough made with all-purpose flour (Strauss took a class with Jim Lahey, the father of no-knead dough, in New York City.) It's a wet dough that gets bubbly and soft and a little sticky after sitting for 18 hours.

"The annoying part of this dough is it's a little unwieldy," Strauss said. "You have to be brave."

We each get some dough and make our own pizzas. No seafood yet -- we dig into a cornucopia of toppings, including our own pesto, uncured pancetta, Glynn's homemade meatballs and tomato sauce, caramelized onions, pecorino, mozzarella and taleggio. One by one, we take the pies out to the wood-fired oven and Strauss bakes them for us. They only take 90 seconds to puff up and lightly brown.

Everyone shares their pizzas with each other, then it's on to the Neapolitan style. We're going to make a Crabby Cheddar pie with Maine crabmeat.

First, the dough, which is made with caputo flour. "This dough," Strauss said, "you're going to smack around."

She showed us how to make a tight, round ball out of the dough, stretching it and folding it into itself until it looked like a ball of mozzarella.

"I always say stretch it as if it's Joan Rivers' face and she's having another face lift," Strauss said. "It's very tight."

Our dough balls went to rest for 24 to 48 hours and wouldn't be brought out again until the next class. Strauss pulled out another tray of dough balls that had already been resting, and showed us some of the tricks she learned in Italy. We slapped the dough with a thwack and starting pushing the ball into a circle with our fingertips on the floured granite countertops.

The pressing pushes air bubbles into the rim and starts forming the dough into a circle. The dough goes over the left hand, then back to the right for more smacking, turning and stretching over the knuckles. With every turn of the hands, the dough gets rounder and thinner.

This is one dough that cannot be used at home.

"If you make this Neapolitan pizza with a Neapolitan dough in your own home kitchen, it will turn into a cracker because it can't get hot enough," Strauss said. "On the other hand, people have told me they can get their grills up to 750 (degrees). If you can get your grill up to 750, you can probably create a Neapolitan pizza on it."

The crabby cheddar topping that will go on this dough begins with a bechamel sauce Strauss got from Jim Lahey that is "a smart little bechamel, and impossible to hurt."

"Bechamel is basically a white sauce made with butter, flour and milk," Strauss said, "and if you add cheese to bechamel you basically have a cheese sauce."

Strauss also adds a little cayenne to warm up the sauce, and a touch of nutmeg.

It's important to cover the seafood with something to protect it from the heat -- in this case, the Vermont cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.

(Continued on page 3)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Jill Strauss sprinkles Parmesan cheese on the pie, which also is topped with bechamel sauce, crab meat and cheddar.

click image to enlarge

The dough for a Neapolitan pizza takes a pounding under the hands of Jillyanna’s instructor Jill Strauss.

click image to enlarge

Prepared for the class is a lobster pizza topped with her own lobster cream sauce.

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)



More PPH Blogs