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 2)

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.

The Crabby Cheddar Pie came out light, delicious and perfect for a summer evening.

Strauss suggests using seafood pizza as an appetizer, or as part of a larger meal that also includes other seafood dishes, like the lobster gazpacho and Caesar salad with anchovies she serves her students.

Mussels roasted in a wood-fired oven can be heavenly. Baked stuffed clams also turn out well, and finish in just 30 seconds, Strauss says.

"The heat of that pizza oven pops the clam right open, and you can remove it and it still has all its juice" she said. "The heat creates this enormous need for the clam to release."

Clams will also work well on a pizza. What about scallops?

"You can do it," Strauss said, "but I'm terrified of making them too tough." She suggests, if you want to serve scallops, cook them separately and use them in a salad or as an appetizer.

Strauss made our class a lobster pizza covered with her own lobster cream sauce. She pre-cooked the lobster a bit, "so that the heat will just finish it off," then protected the undercooked meat with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

My losing streak with lobster pizza was over.


Our third dough was one that Strauss adapted from Cook's Illustrated. It's made in a food processor, and it's best baked in a gas or electric oven.

"It's an incredibly great recipe, which you would never expect," Strauss said. "You will never hear Enzo Coccia from Naples say 'Yeah, get out your food processor to make it.' But it works."

Each of us made a second pizza and baked it in either the gas or electric oven. My second pizza was covered in tomato sauce, crumbled meatballs, caramelized onions, mozzarella, taleggio and pecorino.

All three of the doughs Strauss taught us can be used on the grill.

"You take the sticky dough and you throw it on the grill," Strauss said. "It puffs up, and the bottom gets crispy. You take it off when it's half-cooked, put the toppings on it and then finish it with the dome down."

At the end of the class, we all went home with take-out boxes filled with our own pizzas, samples of what everyone else had made, and a few recipes.

My next project: Making my own lobster pizza.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


Twitter: MeredithGoadRecipes


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.)



The Golden Dish - Yesterday
Lamb stew for spring

More PPH Blogs