The 70% solution

January 13th, 2013

This weekend I experimented with a slightly wetter dough, at 70% hydration instead of the 65% I had settled on previosuly. This means that for four pizzas I used 588 grams of flour and 412 of water.

At first I was a bit worried because the dough started to show some bubbles on the surface (see photo), but the results were excellent, the pizzas had a light, airy crust and nicely charred exterior while still being chewy and wet inside, just the way I like it. In fact I’m so happy that I will update the recipe to use 70% instead of 65% hydration.

Handling the dough was a bit more difficult but still manageable, I had to take care of using a lot of flour on the working surface and pizza peel, because a dough this wet tends to stick pretty quickly. I also tried to work fast to keep the time on the peel at a minimum, shaking the peel very often to make sure the dough wasn’t getting stuck.

While I was at it, I also tried some new pizza toppings. I figured that after having spent so much effort on the dough, some amount of thought should be put also on what goes on top of it. Here is what I tried:

Spinach and pine seeds

I had some leftover spinach in the fridge, and what better use for them than to throw them on the pizza? I drained and tore to pieces some canned peeled tomatoes, mixed them with oil, basil, salt, a pinch of sugar and one garlic clove, and let it rest for about an hour. I shaped the pizza, spread the tomato sauce and put in the oven for about 5 minutes. I took it out, added the spinach (that I had previously fried in the pan with some oil for a few minutes), pine seed and mozzarella and returned to the oven until the mozzarella had melted. Although it was thrown together to use some leftovers, it turned out to be the best pizza of the set. I think the tomato mixture had something to do with it.

Potatoes, thyme and rosemary

This one is from Jamie Oliver, see the original recipe here. It was nice but not great, I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Artichokes, prosciutto, olives and egg (Capricciosa à la Jamie Oliver)

Another one from Jamie, recipe here. This would have been great except that the artichoke was a bit chewy, I think it should have been cooked a bit rather than put raw on the pizza. Still, it was good (and look at that charred crust! Heaven!)

Another thing I realized today is that the best way to prepare the mozzarella is to shred it to pieces with your hands and let it dry on a colander for an hour or so.

How to make great pizzas at home

March 27th, 2012

Update: the pizza recipe has moved to its own page. It has also evolved from its original form, so check it out!

Encouraged by a particularly successful week of pizza making, I decided to share my recipe. Here it is!

“When it’s done”

June 22nd, 2011

The Nokia N9 is finally out in the public! This is where I put my blood and sweat in the last three years, and it’s been quite a ride. I’ve met and worked with a lot of great people and some not so great ones, had my hair turn gray, seen and made a lot of mistakes and – I hope – learned a lot. This has certainly been the hardest job I’ve ever encountered and right now I feel that anything else after it will seem easy, if not a little boring.

Was it worth it? Hell yeah.

P.S.: Coming next: Flexo for N9…

Finland: we are #1, so why try harder?

August 26th, 2010

American magazine Newsweek published a list of the best countries in the world, and Finland ranked first (article here). If Italy would have achieved such a result, we would hear about it for the next two or three generations. What do you think the Finnish press did instead? Rather than boasting about it, they pointed out that the calculation was wrong, and Switzerland should have been first! (to which Newsweek replied that the calculation was indeed correct)

Humbleness is one of the things I like about the Finnish character, but you should really let yourself be proud for something sometimes, people!

Oh, and there was indeed an italian reaction (link in italian) to the news, a journalist recommending Newsweek to move their HQ to Helsinki if they liked it so much, and generally complaining that while we think these charts are irrelevant, we are still pissed off for not being at the top.

New life resolution: start a family

August 22nd, 2010

Well, he’s finally here: our baby boy was born on August 9th and (following Finnish tradition) is as yet unnamed!

New year resolution #2: start an open source project

July 30th, 2010

OK, my first new year resolution didn’t go very far, and partly the reason is that for the last few months I moved my attention to “resolution #2: start an open source project”.

The project is called “Flexo” and is a time tracker application for N900 written in C++/Qt, you can read more about it here. I started it to learn something about the environment in which I work every day (and where I hardly have the chance to get anything concrete done), and also to reacquaint myself with that old passion of mine, programming. It’s been lots of fun and working on it reminded me why I got in this business in the first place.

I was also quite pleased with the tools offered by Nokia for the purpose, although still a bit rough around the edges they are very usable and well designed (and they work on Mac, although you need to jump through a few hoops to set everything up). There is plenty of links and blog posts out there in case you are interested, so I won’t get started here.

I wish I could work on it more, but “new year resolution #3″ (more like “new decade resolution”) is approaching fast and won’t leave me much time to do anything else…

How not to do an upgrade

May 12th, 2010

In the attempt to recover from a botched upgrade to WordPress 2.9, I managed to erase all of the local files from the blog. Luckily I had an old backup and could recover the theme and some other things, but all the images I uploaded in the past few months are gone and there is no way to get them back. That’s what happens when you try to do too many things at once!

Weekend project: (over)time tracking application

March 30th, 2010

Warning: this is going to be a geeky post.

I spent a rainy and grey weekend hacking a small application to help me keep track of time at work. I tend to exceed the regular office hours more often than I should, and I’m not always disciplined enough to mark down all the extra hours I do (which I’m supposed to claim as free time at some point, though that moment never seems to arrive).

The idea is simple: I want to “punch in” when I arrive to work, be aware of how much time I have spent in the day and how much overtime I have collected. I can check out and check in again multiple times during the same day, for example if I go to lunch or continue working from home in the evening (which is sadly the case sometimes)

I mainly did it to learn a bit of Qt, the cross-platform application framework owned by Nokia. It was a pleasant experience, starting from scratch and with my rusty C++ skills it took me two afternoons to put it together. The next step is, of course, getting this to run on the N900.

(note: I lost the screenshots thanks to my sloppy webmastering)

I’m not publishing the code here because it’s, ahem, rather ugly, but I’ll do it at some point.

P.S.: after I started doing this, I realized that Stefan had created a somewhat similar application for the iPhone called FlexTool. Stefan, if you are reading this: I didn’t copy your idea! Although I did add the “checked in” and “checked out” texts after seeing a screenshot of FlexTool.

My New Year's Resolution: start a photo project 365

January 9th, 2010

Inspired by this post on Digital Photography School, I decided to start a “project 365″ this year. In short, I will be posting a photo a day on Flickr in the hope of improving my photographic skills. Let’s see how long I last!

Myths from my childhood part I – Game programmers from the 80's

December 29th, 2009

I was drawn to computers in the early 80s, when my father introduced in our household a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K. All of my friends had a Commodore 64, and we endlessly debated about which one was better (I can admit it now: it was the C64). Later I moved to the Commodore Amiga. Then like now, most of the attraction was the ability to play videogames.

Unlike today’s overbloated videogames industry, most games at the time were made by single individuals, two at most. Thanks to magazines like Zzap64! (known in Italy as Zzap!) I knew them by name and worshipped them like rockstars.

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