Monday, 8 October 2018

13 Ways We Do It Better @ Diana's

1. Not Health Food Just Healthy Food
2. We Only Use Top Quality Produce
3. We Only Use Top Quality Meats
4. We Make Our Sauce Fresh Daily—and let it marinate for over 24 hours before it’s ready for you.
5. We Make All Our Artisan Pizza Doughs Daily In House
6. We Only Use 100% Olive Oil
7. We Only Have Low Fat Mozzarella
8. We Don’t Use Imitation Meats
9. We Only Use Sea Salt In Our Recipes
10. It’s Easy To Order Vegetarian
11. We Don’t Use Fake Cheese, We Don’t Use Lard
12. Awarded Canada’s Best Pizza 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009
13.  Special Orders Don’t Upset Us

I would like to extend the following term that I've spoken about for years:
Non-food ingredient hangover - when the food you've eaten has more non-food ingredients than real-food ingredients and causes your body to feel unwell. Symptoms can include extreme heartburn, headaches, blurred vision, upset stomach, tiredness, irritability, you get the picture. What if the main reasons you don't feel good in your body is because the foods you're giving it aren't actually real food?

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Did You Know About Our Cheese?

            At Diana's, we only use 100% Canadian dairy cheeses on our pizzas, with the exception of the *by request only* Daiya shred, a non-dairy, non-GMO, vegan friendly cheese and the Buffalo Mozzarella which comes straight from Italy.  That sounds pretty straight forward, right? Doesn't every pizza ever made come with real dairy cheese? Nope, not in Canada, and it hasn't been that way for a while.  Let me explain.

            The other day I got a flyer in the mail from one of the pizza chains, advertising a new line of designer pizzas, with, of all things 100% REAL Canadian Mozzarella cheese.  Yes, it appears that they are now offering to put REAL dairy mozzarella on their pizzas, but not for the usual $5 a pizza price.  They are marketing this designer line of pizzas as ‘gourmet’ because they put REAL dairy mozzarella on them, so they’re more expensive.  Yeah, it's impossible to make a pizza with real-food ingredients for the low, low price they usually push their pizzas at. 

            This is no surprise to me, as a master pizza chef I've been educating people for years.  The facts are that pizza chains are not using real 100% dairy mozzarella.  Most use either soy or canola based cheeses.  Yeah, you read that right, cheese made from oil, not dairy.    The worst offenders use a cheese made from a petroleum based oil.  So the same stuff we put in our cars is what many non-food ingredient cheeses are made from.  But don't worry, this is a food grade version of petroleum, so you know, it's like the petroleum jelly they sell that you can use on skin.  Except I don't know anybody who uses that on their skin.  Mmmm, can I get extra petroleum jelly cheese on that pizza? Yeah?! I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat that.  Even if it looks like something I usually really like, like pizza.  Eating that kind of stuff gives me a really bad non-food ingredient hangover.  And I know I'm not the only one.

There is a lot of pressure in today's society to get 'the best deal' and 'the lowest price', for goods and services to the extreme that many feel that if they don't get the lowest price then it means they have been taken advantage of.  And who wants to feel that way? While there may be little or no difference between some goods and services I must be a beacon of reason when it comes to pizza.  Not all pizzas are created equal.

  At Diana's, we only use 100% Canadian dairy cheeses on our pizzas, with the exception of the *by request only* Daiya shred, a non-dairy, non-GMO, vegan friendly cheese and the Buffalo Mozzarella which comes straight from Italy.  That sounds pretty straight forward, right? Yeah, that's how we do.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Did You Know About Our Marinara?

At Diana's, we start our award winning marinara with premium, grade 'A' canned tomatoes. The best and most expensive in the industry, and I say that with pride! They are bright red in the can, naturally sweet and don't need any dyes, nor any added sugar.  Then we add our own blend of top quality herbs and spices and let it marinate before we use it on your pizzas.

Places that make pizzas to compete with the lowest price use grade 'C' or 'D' quality tomatoes which are orangey/brown in the can.  The acid level in these low quality tomatoes is so high, that it leaches tin flavour from the can into the tomatoes.  The more expensive of these low quality canned tomatoes have a vinyl liner inside the can to prevent the metal 'flavour' transfer.  MMMMmmm, yummeh.  People with hyper-sensitive palates like me can taste that.  I can't eat anything with low quality tomatoes, rather, I can't eat it without needing to chase it down with some kind of thick pink digestive aid. 

To mask the bitterness of the low quality tomatoes pizza chain places add copious amounts of sugar.  Sometimes it's actual sugar, mostly it's the equally inexpensive fructose syrup.  A lot of it.  The other ingredient they use in copious amounts is red dye.  Red dyes have been linked to increased aggression in children.  Google it.

If you're a parent and have ever noticed a behavioural change in your child 5-65 minutes after ingesting a $5 pizza, it could be the sauce.  If you've ever woken up in the middle of the night with intense heartburn after having a $5 pizza that day it could be the sauce.  Or it could be that a $5 pizza is made with more non-food ingredients than real-food ingredients and your body is telling you it doesn't like it. 

Consider that your body takes an average of 30-48 hours to digest a meal, when you have a pizza from Diana's, you feel great, when you have pizza made with non-food ingredients, you need digestive aids to help you cope.

At Diana's, we start our award winning marinara with premium, grade 'A' canned tomatoes. The best and most expensive in the industry, and I say that with pride! They are bright red in the can, naturally sweet and don't need any dyes, nor any added sugar.  Then we add our own blend of top quality herbs and spices and let it marinate before we use it on your pizza.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Do You Know About Our Dough?

        We make our pizza dough fresh in the Cucina every day using 7 simple ingredients and we only use Olive oil - YES it's more 4 times more expensive than the mainstream canola or soy oil but it gives our pizza crust that authentic Italian bread flavour.  And we only use Sea salt in our dough, because it's what the Olive oil deserves.  Did you know that each dough ball is hand rolled? Yup, you don't let a machine work over this nice of a pizza dough! And after each dough ball is hand rolled, we let it cold ferment (aka proof/rise) and develop it's flavours for a minimum of 30 hours before it's ready to be your pizza crust or flatbread.  

            Back in 2008 when I took my certified Italian Pizza School course, my Italian instructors talked at great lengths about the importance of using Olive oil over other forms of oil or fat, (*did you know some places use lard???It’s true, I don't want to scare you, but some places even use imitation lard which is really, really bad for your health!) and they also spoke at length about the importance of a high quality Sea salt.  They spoke about the importance of choosing a high quality flour, and allowing the dough to develop it’s flavours at a slowed pace. .

           All of this, they said, is of great importance to how your body digests the pizza, and if you skip these high quality ingredients, or one of the steps to allow the flavours to develop in your dough, your body knows it and will have a difficult time digesting the food.  Knowing that your body takes an average of 30-48 hours to digest a meal, it’s not something we want you and your body feeling bad or unsettled about later in the night or the next day.  Rather, we’d like you and your body to just enjoy all the goodness of all the ingredients that actually nourish your body and soul, not just fill an empty tummy:).   At Diana's, we know that we cater to those with discerning tastes, those who can appreciate an authentic pizza made with a great artisan pizza dough.  Next post I'll discuss ingredients we use at Diana's vs 'ingredients' mainstream places use.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Why I love sharing my knowledge of artisan pizza with home pizza chefs

You may not know that I have been teaching pizza making classes for over 10 years and I’m often asked why I would share my extensive knowledge about the art and craft of pizza making.  Well, initially it started with people buying my pizza dough.  Then people started calling the store to ask how to hand stretch it and bake it at home - which is challenging to describe over a phone, never mind in the middle of a busy supper rush!  Naturally, it evolved into pizza making classes, both private and with the city of Winnipeg's Leisure guide.  As it turns out, I've found a similar passion for a great pizza from these kindred spirits and over the years I’ve come up with several reasons for sharing my extensive knowledge...

A passionate home pizza chef is rarely concerned with how much the ingredients cost, or how much time it takes to make it, they are solely concerned with the best quality and taste.

A home pizza chef...

... stocks their kitchen pantry with the same simple ingredients that you would find/have found in their grandmothers’ kitchens.  

... won’t use fake or imitation cheeses – unless there is a dietary restriction.  And even when there is a dietary consideration, you will never find a home pizza chef who searches out the cheapest non-dairy imitation cheese, rather they are looking for one made with good ingredients that anyone can pronounce. And one that they find appealing in taste and baking consistency.

...will never try to make a pizza for $1. 50* [*in the pizza industry the average $5 pizza actually contains $1.50 worth of ingredients – and that includes the highly colourful logo’d cardboard box – the most expensive “ingredient” for a $5 pizza.]

...discerns true quality ingredients over marketing slogans.  A home pizza chef is concerned with how their body and their loved ones bodies digest the food that they have so lovingly made. They see the ‘you are what you eat’ connection with the quality of the food they choose to nourish their bodies and of their loved ones.

...rarely refer to us as expensive.  They realize that the time and hard earned money they spend shopping for premium ingredients, cleaning, prepping, and baking up of those ingredients and then cleaning up after the meal is a labour of love whereas a business that strives to meet the same excellence pays its team each step of that process.  

                We’d thought it’d be fun to see your creations, so home pizza chefs –especially those who start off with a Diana’s Cucina dough ball, we’d love to see what you’re making – please post a pic to our Instagram page and share what kind of dough you used, and what’s on your pizza creation – each month my team and I will vote on our favourites and the winner will win a special Diana’s home pizza chef prize! 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Why I regret buying these butter tarts

It’s not what you think.  It’s not that I regret buying a treat that I know isn’t totally awesome for my body, nope it’s because these butter tarts are deceptive.  They look like they’re the real deal.  They look tasty.  The font on the front of the box reminded me of another company (not a baking company), that makes authentic potato chips and I transferred my trust from that company over to this box.  Because of the way the box looks.   But as it turns out, these are not real butter tarts. What do I mean by real? I mean authentic.  What do I mean by authentic? I mean ingredients authentic to the original recipe.  Period.  No modified smodified shortening aka fake butter. Butter tarts means “butter” is actually on the ingredient list.  Like the first or second ingredient on the ingredients list.   Let me back up.  

I don’t buy a lot of treats and sweets for my household, but I’ll buy one every other week.  The other day I was shopping with my boys and we picked up some brownies – ones that are made with real butter and cocoa.  I saw these butter tarts advertised on sale.  It’s been a good while since I’ve treated myself to a butter tart, and I decided that I deserved one that night.  I know my boys don’t like them and I didn’t want the pressure of having to eat an entire box to myself, but I reasoned that at the sale price it would be ok if I enjoyed half the box before they expired.  So I put them in the cart and brought them home.  As I prepped and cooked dinner I was salivating thinking about these butter tarts.  Yes I realize that I’m a grown up and I could have just eaten one in the truck on the way home or as soon as I got all my groceries unpacked and put away.  But I was waiting to have it for my dessert.  My indulgence, my reward for a job well done, a good day.   

I couldn’t stop thinking about them, I even went lighter on my dinner, knowing that I was gonna eat one of those delicious looking butter tarts afterwards.  When the time to eat one finally arrived I couldn’t stand the wait any longer.  I opened the wrapping and the box.  I took one out and took a bite, and I immediately knew I had been duped.  THESE AREN’T BUTTER TARTS! THESE ARE IMPOSTER BUTTER TARTS!!!  I wanted to throw it in the garbage, but for some reason unknown to me at the time, I kept eating it, more and more dissatisfied with each bite, feeling the tension rise.   Then I needed to check the ingredient list, to confirm what my taste buds already knew.   I realized I felt that I MUST eat it because I paid good money for it, and afterall, I waited to enjoy this treat.  But I wasn’t enjoying it.  Not one bit.  Each time I took another bite I was expecting something different.  Like somehow it would magically turn itself into the thing I was expecting.  Didn’t happen.  

I finally took the disappointing imposter butter tart out of my hand and threw it in the garbage.   The box with the rest of the phony butter tarts sat on my counter for days.  I want to give the rest away, but I realize I couldn’t.  There’s this part of me that feels like I’m not being authentic by giving this ‘phoney’ treat ‘here, I think these are crap, but maybe you can’t tell’.   And maybe the person I’d give them too doesn’t have the hyper sensitive palate I do, maybe they don’t care?  But I do.  These aren’t real ingredients, and I can’t give anyone I care about crummy ingredients that I instinctively know is the really bad stuff to put in your body.  Your body knows the truth, your body would rather you eat REAL BUTTER with SUGAR instead of modified shortening – aka imitation lard.  It’s not the same, it’s not even close.  

Go ahead and google up the history of margarine and modified shortening.   And you know, a lot of pizza chains use this same ingredient to make their extremely cheap pizzas – the dough AND the cheese.  Yup, same ingredient to create different phoney foods.  Great job modern day humanity;  let’s make fake ingredients just so we can make cheap imitation foods.  My kids have plastic fake foods to play with, and I don’t even let them put those in their mouths!  And, I’m done with cheap.  I’d rather have paid 3 times what I paid for the imitation butter tarts for the real thing. If I had done that, I would have enjoyed them.  You get what you pay for and the truth is, you are what you eat.  This lady is all authentic and doesn’t like imposters...growing up, there was the name ‘poser’ given to something or someone pretending to be something or someone it wasn’ give me the real thing or throw it in the garbage.   

I ended up throwing the imitation butter tarts in the garbage, before the expiry date.  And I’m pretty happy with myself for doing that; a younger version of me might have attempted to eat another one, or let them sit on the counter until the expiry date, or given it to someone else, because I severely dislike wasting perfectly good food.  But the wiser me knows that this food wasn’t made with edible ingredients.  So it belongs in the garbage.   And before you start sending me emails or post comments about being grateful for things I’m just going to say to stop yourself.  Conversely, if you are ever gifted any kind of food by me, you will know that it’s REAL food, something I would eat myself, feed to my children, because I care about what goes in.