When I think back on my cooking journey I can think of a number of mistakes and failures as I was learning my way around the kitchen and around food. As time went on, the number of these failures decreased greatly.
Until I wanted a Margherita pizza.
If you are not familiar with this type of pie, first you need to try it yesterday! The flavors are awesome and are quite similar to my Tomato Basil Mozzarella Bread, just in pizza form. It is a perfect mixture of cheese, tomato, olive oil and basil on a chewy, crispy pizza crust.
Or at least it is supposed to be.
I tried a number of time to make this pizza and each time I failed at something new. The tomatoes were too runny and made the crust doughy and undercooked, the crust got too cooked and blacked at the bottom, the crust stuck to the pan, the cheese melted off the pan. You name it, it happened to me in trying to make one darn pizza.
And the thing that really rubbed me was week after week, I was making a plain cheese for my son for dinner that night and lunch the next day and that thing was turing out perfectly. I was using the same dough, same methods and while he got cheese perfection, I got runny tomatoes with half the crust stuck to the pan and the the other half too gooey to choke down.
Eventually I was this close to giving up. Really I mean how many times can you mess up the same thing? But I did not. Mostly it was because where I live this type of pizza does not appear on many menus (why I have NO IDEA!!!) so if I wanted this wondrous flavor, I had to buckle down and figure it out.
So I did. I tweaked and tried new things each time. I made sure I was very generous with the cornmeal on the pizza pan, ensured the over fully preheated to the full 450 degrees before I slid the pies in, cut up the tomatoes in advance and added a thin layer of salt (this tends to help the juices come out a bit more and dries them up a tad) and lastly I just kept doing it. Finally one glorious, magical Friday night came when Jim took a bite and pronounced it perfectly done. The pizza had not stuck, nothing was doughy and most of all, I did not have to take a jackhammer to my pizza pan to get the pizza off!
So what did I learn? First of all, not all pizzas are the same so you cannot actually use the same techniques you would use for one on another that has different ingredients. This is true of many aspects of food, so if you try a new recipe and it has ingredients you are familiar with but are used in different ways than you have used them before, take your time, read the instructions and make sure you check on it often. I felt that since I could make cheese pizza I could use the same level of attention for all other kinds, which did not bode well for me at all.
I also learned the lesson that I am really trying to stress week after week in sharing these failures with you all. Don’t give up!!! If you have a stove, some ingredients and people or pets who love you no matter what you burn in the kitchen then you have everything you need to cook, fail, try again, fail, try again and succeed! But for those pizza moments, have a back up casserole or some Busy Day Meatballs in the freezer so nobody starves, ok? ;)