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Pizza Chronicles, Part Four: Bad dough, but a good idea for leftovers

May 4, 2007

This is not my pizza dough

This has not been the greatest of all possible weeks in the kitchen. Sure, the swordfish kebabs were good, but could there be an easier dinner preparation? I didn’t even skewer the swordfish myself! I blame the stress–I spent most of the week worry about about how I am going to fund my graduate school education, and felt in no mood for cooking. And we had so many leftovers, what with Friday’s chicken cacciatore and Sunday’s tacos, it seemed wasteful to cook. I spent most of Monday trying to figure out what to do with the leftover chicken cacciatore, and suddenly, lightbulbs, brilliant idea! Put it on a pizza!

I maintain that this was a brilliant idea. It made an excellent pizza topping, even if I did have too much of it. But something atrocious happened with my pizza dough, and I am STILL mystified. I used the Giada recipe from a few months ago, which worked just fine then. Perhaps my measuring skills were a little more casual this time around, but I know they weren’t so far off as to have produced…what they produced.

What did they produce? A glutinous, sticky mass of wet, spongy dough that wouldn’t do a single thing I asked it to do. I mean, it was useless. I had to throw it away. Throw it away and run to the hippy mart across the street to buy a pre-made pizza crust, which I have sworn I would never do again. (Well, except maybe for Boboli, because they are a unique and special treat.) Run to the hippy mart to buy a pre-made crust and a bottle of wine, in which to drown my stress and dough-failure sorrows.

Cacciatore pizza

And look at that dough! It’s gorgeous! It ended up crusty and browned and perfect. Bastards. It didn’t even get soggy with the overload of saucy toppings. This was a very satisfying home oven pizza. My failure, shown up by the success of the hippy mart? What’s a girl to do?

I like to think that my methodology had something to do with the success. (Apparently, a girl is going to claim credit wherever she can.) I did not follow package directions, oh no. And I did try out something different, cooking the pizza on the back of an aluminum baking sheet, rather than the insulated sheet I’d been using. I even turned the oven up higher than I had in the past, to a full 550F. Hopefully, this technique will produce similar results in the future, with my own dough, so I can continue to claim at least a modicum of credit for this stellar pizza.

So why in hell am I writing about this here? This meal required no amount of “cooking” from me, other than shredding cheese. I’m writing about this because it occurred to me that I am slowly becoming a master of leftovers. Reusing them in new and different ways is a strange talent that I have somehow discovered in my forays into the kitchen. I’m sure it’s a gift that a lot of single (or mostly single) people have discovered, so yeah, I’m not that special. I thought that perhaps sharing with you all my leftover-using creativity would be…interesting…for someone. Maybe.

Whatever, look at this gorgeous pizza!

Leftovers made better with cheese.

The only thing decent I made from scratch this week was Homesick Texan’s biscuits. And I can attest that they are just as good as she says. I made them to accompany a dinner of pork chops and swiss chard, neither of which I made before. Perhaps I will regale you with that disaster another day.

Let this be my apology for a week of bad food, cold cereal, and burnt toast: When it comes to leftovers, you really can’t go wrong if you put them on a pizza. Next week I will be back, and hopefully my kitchen experimentation will be way less sucky.

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