Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our Pizza

Disclaimer: This isn't going to turn in to a recipe blog. I promise. The reasons for this are twofold.

Reason One being that there are 80,000,000,001 cookbooks and recipe blogs out there so the world definitely doesn't need one more. Although I suppose that the same can be said for mommy blogs and mommy memoirs and that hasn't stopped me.

Reason Two being that while I can follow a recipe--as long as it involves fairly basic ingredients--I would never, in a hundred thousand years, define myself as a cook, chef, or culinary expert of any kind. In fact, just the other night I saw a commercial for a Salt Lake cooking competition. That very night I had a terrifying dream in which I had somehow managed to get myself involved with this competition. We were given only four ingredients in which to make an award winning dish. What a nightmare. Just thinking about it gives me hives.

So Ree Drummond I am not. I'm convinced that rancher's wife could make a masterpiece using only basil, flour, barbecue sauce and goat cheese. I have her cookbook. My mom gave it to me for Christmas and we proceeded to trash my kitchen with a fryer chicken, enchilada sauce, beef, noodles, and an assortment of herbs and spices. I'm convinced that you can't cook a Pioneer Woman meal without a great deal of mess. Troy is convinced that her recipes take forever to prepare and clean up so that she has an excuse not to wrangle cattle all the live long day.

So not terribly long ago I went through the cookbook page by page and wrote down all the recipes I wanted to try--someday. There are things in there that I'm never touching with someone else's tongue. Things like Guacamole. Because I remain convinced that avocados are the food of the devil. Another thing I'm never making are the Cheese Grits. Because while Hell may serve guacamole for an afternoon snack, grits are likely on the breakfast menu. Anyway. From time to time I pull out the cookbook and put one of her recipes on my list of things to do that week.

There are a couple recipes that I've flagged that have huge question marks next to them. One of them is Hot Artichoke Dip. I hated artichokes as a kid. So much, in fact, that I haven't touched one since. My friend and her family would annihilate an artichoke in a matter of minutes, sucking the flesh right off and giddily working their way to the heart. It was almost barbaric. But I feel like I haven't given the artichoke a fair shake. Maybe hot artichoke dip is the way to go to reintroduce myself to the perennial thistle. The other question marked recipe is for Potato-Leek Pizza.

I was in Winco a couple week ago and I spied leeks. Or, rather, I spied the little tag identifying something as leeks. There were so many vegetables I'd never seen before, lying all on top of one another like I was interrupting something special, that I couldn't figure out what was whom and which was that. Too self conscious to ask which one was a leek--for fear that this was something I should have learned about in a picture book when I was two--I walked away. I was never actually going to make Potato-Leek Pizza? Was I?

Yesterday I went to WalMart. As I put bananas and apples and grapes and tomatoes into my cart I saw them. Leeks. Leeks upon leeks upon leeks. And I figured, why not?

This prompted the checker to say, "What are these?" And when I informed her she questioned, "What are they used for?" To which I replied that I'd never used them before but I had a recipe that called for them so we'd see what they were all about.

The woman in line behind me supplied, "They're delicious. They are like a really enormous onion." And my stomach sunk. Because I don't like tiny, almost nonexistent onions. You can all point and laugh now. I had no idea that a leek was anything like an onion. Or, if I knew, I blocked that traumatic piece of information right out.

I decided to just go along with this silly endeavor and send Troy out to Little Caesar's if I couldn't choke the end result down. I mean, my firstborn thinks potatoes are the worst invention ever and that wasn't stopping me. Fair is fair. I suppose.

So Garrett helped me make Ree's pizza dough. (Yeah. We're totally not on a first name basis and if I ever met her I would probably look down a lot and stumble over my words and eventually say something about Rocky Mountain Oysters.) Something bad happened with the dough. It didn't really rise. The yeast was not expired so I don't have a clue what happened but I'd be lying if I said that whole "yeast spore in pancake mix killing people all over the place" thing didn't cross my mind. But this wasn't pancake mix. It was starchy, oniony pizza and we were committed. And by we I mean just me. Because I'd apparently gone insane.

My pizza looked nothing (Read: NOT A SINGLE THING) like Ree's. It had way less leek-age. I figured that, what with me being a hater and Garrett, likely, going ballistic that I put potatoes on an otherwise perfect pizza let alone smothered the thing in onions, we'd better just limit those leeks before they went all crazy-like on me. I did recently find out, as in right now, that the leek joins the onion in the Alliaceae family and is, therefore, not exactly an onion but this hardly has any effect on my story. My pizza also didn't have fresh mozzarella. No. It had shredded mozzarella. From a bag. Because that's how I roll. I also abstained from the goat cheese because, well, I didn't have any.

I called my mom and asked which part of the leek to use. She didn't really know but we worked it out together. I decided to cut mine into tiny pieces. She asked me what on earth I was making and, when I explained, asked what my husband and son thought of this little kitchen experiment. I told her they were not privy to this information. They don't have high enough kitchen security clearance to have such knowledge. A takeout pizza was in my future, I explained.

First, I fried bacon. Next, I sauteed the leeks in some of the bacon grease. Then I sliced the potatoes paper thin. I placed the potatoes directly on top of the rolled out dough. No sauce involved. After that, I covered the taters in mozzarella. Then I put the sauteed leeks and the bacon on top. Finally, I topped it all with Parmesan cheese. It looked like this.

Which I actually didn't think looked half bad. Then I baked it for ten minutes.

And it smelled delicious. And we ate it. Potatoes (on pizza no less!), leeks, and all. Troy bit into it and tried to determine what it was. So I spelled it, unwilling to tell the four-year-old that potatoes were involved. "I like it!" declared The Husband.

The Rock Star wolfed his down with somewhat wild abandon. Although, in fairness, he did get a curious look on his face with each bite as he moved it around in his mouth and said, "Something is on this. Something like...eggs." The Little Buddy eventually ate all of his. It's hard to say whether he wasn't a fan of the pizza or was having a coronary over the pair of flies that had snuck into our kitchen. He has a serious fear of flies.

Garrett called his Grandma on the phone and exclaimed, "We just had yummy pizza!" Of course, he never knew it was covered with potatoes.

I thought there was something wrong with the dough. It was heavy and thick when it should have been thin and crispy. The bacon was slightly overcooked. But, overall, I declared it perfectly edible. Maybe, even, a little short on the leeks.


  1. I love the Pioneer Woman! I'm an owner of her cookbook AND a major onion hater, too. So the potato leek pizza wasn't on top of my list of things to try. But if it was a hit at your house, maybe we'd like it too! Her enchiladas were a HUGE hit although it destroyed my kitchen.

    Love your blog. I've been lurking for a while :)


  2. I follow the PW blog as well, but have never attempted any of her recipes... yet. I discovered one the other day that omigoodness looks divine - her Chicken Scallopine. Your pizza looked delish, girl!

    I ADORED every word of this post, and I adore them more because I get to imagine your expressions at the same time, since I know you in person - yey me!

  3. The Pioneer Woman rocks!

  4. I have her cookbook too and am now inspired to try that recipe. Her leftover turkey pot pie btw is amazing!

  5. How funny, I just made her pizza dough the other day. It rose, but it was very sticky when I was working with it. I tried to flatten it out and that didn't work too well. Mine looked like yours, much thicker than hers.

  6. How can you be from southern CA and not love Avocados? I thought that it was mandatory if you're from there to put avocados on everything? (Obviously, I don't like them much either and it grosses me out how much people use them.) Also, if your dough didn't rise you probably killed the yeast with too-hot water. Or, at least that is what my mother in law tells my husband when his dough has that problem because I guess yeast is very finicky about the temp of its water....

  7. Yes, yeast is very picky about the temp of the water. And being exact in measuring ingredients to go with it. Your pizza looks delicious! Good for you for trying something so far out of your comfort food zone. I'm always trying new recipes, but have my limits on what sounds good.