Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Frozen Pizza: Tabula Rasa

Sterling, MA

Bonjour en Printemps!

Wonderful days recently, I must say, especially out in the valley. Alas, I am in Sterling. I planted beets, zucchini and cucumbers as an addition to the container tomatoes (2 varieties) we have at home. Now I've got two miniature gardens separated by a sea of trees.

Some NEWZ:
A new collaborator, JPK, the famous one of course, is now going to be spewing all over these pages. JPK's main interests are Stallone and Predator. His secondary interests are alcohol and Star Wars. He's an awful guy, and we're glad to have him.

Here's the newest from the Diner:

I know you are panicking right now. It is dinner time and you're a bachelor/ette, which invariably means you have no food that isn't frozen or moldy. One of the best frozen foods to have on hand at all times for a situation like this is a frozen pizza. The bread of our bachelor generation, frozen pizza is truly a TABLUA RASA - a blank slate. Work your majick, diners, for eating isn't just a bodily activity, but an opportunity to reunite with your hunter-gatherer ancestors who experimented with food on a regular basis. This article is about how I figured out how frozen pizza works.

Frozen pizza on its own ranges from awful and overpriced (ie. Big Y nacho pizza) to pretty good and worth the cost (Trader Joe's Quattttrrrroooo Formaggio or Margherita). I say skip the sucky varieties and invest in some other the latter. They aren't that much more expensive, and the ingredients actually are of a higher quality. Naturally, this improves the overall experience.

Often, one of these TJ's pizzas on its own is sufficient to quell the riotous gut, and this is the most you will probably be able to muster for dinner if having it for lack of other options. However, if the opportunity presents itself in the form of fresher vegetables, or if you need to impress a mate, then I have some suggestions that will improve your station in this respect.

I am not offering a way for you to turn water into wine, but rather water into water with a lemon in it, so don't get your hopes up.

The procedure. Preheat the oven to hot (according to the box). When you throw in the pizza, it will probably be frozen still. If this is the case, you must wait until it has attained defrostment in the oven before adding ANYTHING FRESH. Otherwise, say, for instance, if you add tomatoes or meat at the same time you put the frozen pie in, the fresh-like toppings shall overcrizisp or in other ways worsen. Adding these things after about 2-5 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Remember that many vegetables means soggier pizza, so if you use something like fresh tomatoes, try to remove excess water, or suck on them first before the act of topping.
Also, cook longer than instructed by one-two minutes because your pizza MUST be crispy in the middle, for appropriate crispiness levels are always sought by the Diner.

Basil is a must for many varieties of frozen pizza. Fresh is really the only kind of basil to use, so try keeping a small pot of Basil Genovese (the sweet big-leaf eyetalian type) or whichever cultivar you like best (Thai is great also). Put the basil on when it comes out of the oven, or near the end if you want it a little cooked. It loses flavor when overheated.

Basil is immensley easy to keep if you buy a plant that has sprouted. A plant can be kept in the window of your kitchen if there's room, and plucking leaves when needed ensures that the your plant is a prodigious producer. Needless to say, I am a loudmouthed advocate for this plant.

Remember, you are not an amateur. You are already a Star!

- T Bars.

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