Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adventures in Cooking: Valentine's Day pizza

Since pizza is my favorite food (yes, I know this makes me sound like I'm 12), I'd wanted to try my hand at making pizza for quite awhile, long before I even came to Istanbul. But I had extra incentive to give it a go here -- while most of the major American pizza chains have shops in Istanbul, including my favorite Papa John's, it's relatively expensive here. (Eating out in Istanbul is fairly expensive, more so than Dallas, especially if you have alcohol with your meal, and take-out isn't all that more economical.)

But I put the pizza making off again and again, mostly because I was nervous about making the dough. Which, now that I've actually done it, seems like a silly fear. (I used this recipe from the aptly named and it turned out well.)

My first attempt at pizza was about two weeks ago and alas, it was a disaster. (So much so that I'm a little surprised I dared to give it a second go, for Valentine's Day, no less.) I decided to make a pizza margherita, more or less following Lucinda Scala Quinn's recipe on, except that I used the above-mentioned dough recipe and a sauce recipe that I'd clipped out of Parade at some point. In this attempt, the sauce was the issue; it calls for pureed tomatoes and the ones I bought ended up being really bitter. And then I made the mistake of putting on too much sauce, so in the end, my pizza was just a hot mess.

So, for whatever reason, I decided that making pizza on Valentine's Day was a good idea. Valentine's Day is as big here as at home, which means crowded restaurants with expensive meals, but neither Cagatay not I are huge fans of the so-called holiday so we decided to skip presents and just have a nice dinner at home. (We had been planning to ignore it altogether but then we watched the V-Day Grey's Anatomy episode on Monday night and it encouraged us to be a wee bit sentimental.) This time, I used the same pizza dough recipe but bought regular tomato and basil pasta sauce, a pre-shredded mix of provolone and mozzarella cheeses, and an assortment of veggies. It was a vast improvement, and now that I've managed to make pizza successfully, I imagine we'll be making it more at home and ordered it less. I especially appreciate the fact that it's "quick" to make, in the sense that, if you spend the 15 minutes (and 2 hours of wait time) making the dough the night before, it only takes another 20 minutes when you're desperately hungry after work to prepare it for dinner. And I am ALWAYS hungry after work...which has more to do with the crap they serve us at lunch (getting fed is a Turkish work perk), but that's a story for another time... Pin It

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