Okay, so the first week at Penn has been incredible and incredibly overwhelming. I'm in the midst of a total life-shift right now--not as enormous as the Great Vowel Shift (which was pretty huge, as I've been told)--but something quite akin to the matter.
The reorganization involves thinking spherically (in every direction), but as a sphere without a center. An unthinkable object. A puffed-up rhizome crisp. It has to do with cathecting to everything and everyone without stopping to think why or how--a wild, endless desiring that cannot be measured except in the moment. It's the first-year-of-the-rest-of-your-life syndrome, you see. Some might even say it's healthy, productive and nutritive in a schizoid way. Some might call it neurotic. I'm banking on both, putting a lot of faith in the power of the tranformative...and hey, all good academics have their neuroses, right?
Unfortunately, the Great Shift also implicates the ontology of this space. It can no longer remain purely foodie (I know! sorry!) and it might also lose its image-density (double sorry!) It may even change colors. My hope is that this will become another space of thought for me--loosen up a little, you know?--and help me through this dense jungle of ideas and the search for intellectual kinship. This doesn't mean I've given up food as a major theme--I'm not that deluded; the aliens haven't eaten and automaton-ed me yet--but it will mean that from time to time ginger roots will nudge up against rhizomatics, pork chops will come to terms with conceptions of the animal, kitchen burns and knife wounds will find companionship with the inexorable necessity of History (for after all, "History is what hurts") and the notion of a homemade life will find itself confronted with the deeply sad, deeply unsettling notion of homelessness and alienation in our modern age.
And we're off!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
When summer time is over and school time sets in, what better go-to, quick-and-easy dinner do we have than homemade pizza? I've heard it's the new thing, prompting an outbreak of gourmand pizzerias--but I guess I just haven't caught on to the trend of going out for pizza, not when you can make such scrumptious versions at home for super-cheap. You can find ready-made dough in the supermarket fairly easily (I like Whole Foods' whole-wheat variety, for under $2!), and what you put on it is up to you.
The first pizza pictured was a mixture of dried figs, Gorgonzola, bacon and caramelized onions. (Hold on, don't rush to the kitchen quite yet!) Pictured above is a delectable white pizza, made with ricotta, mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan, fresh tomatoes and garlic-sautéed spinach. I've also made a great mushroom pizza with onions, Fontina and rosemary--although I don't have a picture for that, I can assure you it is so good. And of course there's the classic Margherita, a revelation when, in the confines of your own kitchen, you can douse that baby with as much mozzarella and basil as you want. You don't need a pizza stone. I usually sprinkle a foil-covered baking tray with cornmeal and slap the dough right on top. Just be sure to crank your oven as high as it will go, unless otherwise directed; the pizzas will bake and bubble merrily for around 12-15 minutes before your judgment (or impatience, for me) deems it done. Oh, and a drizzle of olive oil and light crackling of salt pepper doesn't hurt either.
Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Figs, Bacon and Blue Cheese
from The New York Times
● large onion
● 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
● 2 bay leaves
● Kosher salt
● 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch thick batons
● 1 ball pizza dough (see above)
● Flour, for dusting surface
● 12 dried mission figs, stems trimmed, cut into quarters or small pieces
● 3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
● Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
● Freshly cracked black pepper.
1. At least 45 minutes before cooking, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the onions, thyme and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onions begin to wilt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and turn a deep, golden brown, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves and transfer the onions to a small bowl.
3. Place the bacon in the pan and set over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl.
White Pizza, very casual:
(Ingredients: ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, tomato, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper)
Put a glug of olive oil in a pan and heat to medium. Add some garlic and stir until fragrant. Sauté a whole lot of spinach in this mixture until cooked down, and drain off excess liquid. Cut up the tomato in a medium dice. Open cheese containers, and assemble at will. Just before sliding in the oven, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with light hand of salt and a liberal hand of pepper.
Wild Mushroom Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Fontina, and Rosemary
● 7 tbsp. butter, divided (I used less--you don't need 3 Tbsp of butter to caramelize onions)
● 2 tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil (I just used olive oil)
● 3 onions, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (about 6 cups)
● 2 lb. assorted wild mushrooms (such as crimini, oyster, chanterelle, and stemmed shiitake), cut into bite-size pieces
● 6 garlic cloves, minced
● 2 tbsp. minced shallot (about 1 medium)
● 2 cups dry white wine
● 1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
● Pizza Dough
● Cornmeal (for dusting)
● Garlic oil
● 3 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 10 ounces)
Melt 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter with 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 13 minutes. Add rosemary; season with salt and pepper.
Position rack in bottom third of oven. Place heavy 17x11-inch baking sheet on rack (invert if rimmed). Preheat oven to 500°F at least 30 minutes before baking. Roll out 2 dough disks on lightly floured surface to 8-inch rounds, allowing dough to rest a few minutes if it springs back. Sprinkle another baking sheet (invert if rimmed) with cornmeal. Transfer 1 dough round to second baking sheet. Lightly brush dough with garlic oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Scatter 2 1/2 tablespoons onions over cheese. Scatter 1/2 cup mushrooms over onions. Sprinkle with salt.
Position baking sheet with pizza at far edge of 1 side of hot baking sheet. Tilt sheet and pull back slowly, allowing pizza to slide onto hot sheet. Repeat with second dough disk, garlic oil, cheese, onions, mushrooms, and salt, and slide second pizza onto second half of hot baking sheet. Bake pizzas 6 minutes. Rotate pizzas half a turn. Bake until crust is deep brown, about 6 minutes longer. Using large spatula, carefully transfer pizzas to cutting board. Let rest 1 minute. Slice into wedges and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.