June 29, 2008

Kitchen Disasters

That was a beautiful and delicious pizza I made last week with local flour, turkey sausage and radish greens, and nonlocal tomato sauce and parmesan. Yes, you can eat the greens that come with a bunch of radishes. I wash them thoroughly, sautee them, and they wilt down a lot. They're a little bitter, but add a nice complexity to pizza.

I loved the pizza so much that I tried to make it again this week, but with the sick humidity crushing us this week, I decided to try my hand at making grilled pizza. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but I tried twice with two pizzas, and both times the edges of the dough grew colored and crispy, almost burnt, while the gummy inner dough refused to cook through, no matter how long I let them linger on the hot grill or in the toaster oven afterward. They looked tasty like they wanted me to eat them, but I couldn't. I salvaged the sausage and radish greens by scraping them off and throwing together with quick-cooking orzo for a meal, while the pizza remains above sadly went into the garbage.

I have three theories - I should have used a dough that reliably produces a thin crust since my recipe usually puffs up a bunch; I shouldn't have topped it with so much sauce and sausage; I should have let the first side cook longer before I flipped it over. We'll see. For now, it's back to my tried and true method for making pizza in the oven, despite the heat.

This meal that we made for dinner last night looks great, but it wasn't actually, because it was pervaded by bitterness. I was so excited about being able to eat radish leaves, that I decided to give carrot tops a try. The bunch that came with my carrots from the Greenmarket looked so pretty and frilly that it seemed a shame to just throw them away.


I made a salad of lolo rosso lettuce, grated carrots, and a garnish of chopped carrot tops, with a roasted garlic dressing. The dressing was a gift from Jesse's mom and was pleasant. But the lettuce was overwhelmingly bitter, and the carrot greens didn't help, being chewy and bitter and not fun to eat. I couldn't even finish my salad. I guess there's a reason why people always throw out carrot tops.


Knowing how much Jesse loves Sixpoint beer, which is brewed in nearby Red Hook Brooklyn, Jesse's mom also surprised us with this terrific growler of Sixpoint Gorilla Warfare, a rich stout. I decided we should use it to cook the mussels. We sauteed garlic scapes and another handful of carrot greens in olive oil, then added mussels and half a pint of beer, and let it cook, covered, until the mussels opened.

I had been craving mussels all week, but it was a bit disappointing. The garlic scapes weren't potent enough to lend the dish a garlicky aroma like I hoped, the wilted carrot greens weren't much to taste, and the stout gave the mussels a slightly bitter taste. I should have known that a mild lager or white wine works better for mussels. It wasn't a total disaster, like the failed grilled pizza, but it wasn't the rich warm broth of mussels that I had hoped for.

But that's how it goes with cooking. You experiment, and you learn from your mistakes. And post them on the Internet for others to learn from as well.

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