Forcella Pizza-Making Class, in brief

Tonight’s blog post is going to be a little bit different. First of all, Hello! I’m back! Second of all, I and the gang were out of our element, if I may say so. We decided to go all crazy on your donkey and take a private pizza-making lesson at Forcella. The chef was offering this perk for a few weeks for free, as long as you paid for the pizza! How could we not try it, right? Unfortunately, not only was MTA hardly running at the time, the fine folks before us went over schedule so we ended up waiting about an hour at our table before anyone even so much as touched a piece of dough. Regardless, for me at least, the excitement tempered the hunger growls and transit nightmare. The pizza-making counter could fit three people max, so I let the rest of my party enjoy themselves with the chef while I thought about the future blog post (omg so meta, right?) and took 300 photographs.

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Don’t be a gentle patter. And notice the extra hands-on help.

As I walk you through our pizza-making experience, I will try to highlight the three most memorable portions of the evening: the Italian and the Italians, the aprons, and the fails. I think it’s important for everyone to know straight out that we were basically being taught how to make pizza by people we could hardly communicate with; although one of them felt pretty confident he could communicate with my lovely BFF4EAE by lightly touching her all over repeatedly.

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No, like this.

After some standard miscommunication in the sink area, my lovely friends had to don the white floury aprons, tie the string behind their back, and get down to business. I mention this only because washing hands and getting on those aprons really was kind of a big deal, if you know what I mean (and I’m sure you don’t. But it was).

But then, of course, there was the business to attend to. First the dough had to be removed from the container filled with many flattened balls of pizza fetuses. This took about three minutes of intense explanation before everyone could give it a go. Apparently, not that easy, and it didn’t get easier from there. My lovely pizza chefs then had to flatten the dough to release the air bubbles. Some of us may have thought they really had it down pat (no pun intended!), until the actual chef mocked his approach with an all-out dramatic reenactment highlighting his pranciness and soft touch, whereas the dough really requires a heavy palm and no mercy whatsoever. Speaking of no mercy, one of the patted down doughs took a quick hot oil bath before being returned to the counter and topped with all the fixins imaginable: speck, arugula, mozzarella, tomato sauce and, somehow, gorgonzola managed to sneak its way in. Remember the intense language barrier and/or power differential? Yeah, so gorgonzola all around, folks. The other two pizzas were wonderful as well and included such exciting things as truffle oil, shaved something-or-other cheese (parmesan? reggiano?) and an entire bin of mushrooms.

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Fried pizza!

Anyway, long story short, we all made pizza, we all made fools of ourselves, and we all learned almost nothing about the techniques involved in using 1000-degree ovens despite the hands-on instructional time. Good times and good food were had by all. And the subway worked on the way home!

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Harder than it looks.

Hello goodbye

Tomorrow I officially return to my academic cave of solitude. Some people may want to spend their last true day of vacation reading a good book, going on a fancy date, or even watching Star Trek (the one with Patrick, duh) in footie pajamas. Other people, myself included, might consider a trip to Staples and three hours in the kitchen way more relaxing. So that’s what I did, obviously. I also decided to start photographing my food with my fancy camera; it feels totes legit. But this is a food blog, not a life blog. So I should shut the poop up and share with all you five readers out there the wonders of baked ratatouille, courtesy of Deb Perelman’s chatty cookbook.

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Almost everything in this ratatouille belongs on the “Foods I Wouldn’t Have Touched Two Years Ago” list, aka the “Foods I Currently Can’t Live Without” list. Try to tell 23-year-old me to eat a zucchini cooked in onions and I probably would have spit in your face. Or at least wanted to. Ever since I’ve become the proverbial modern woman keeping up both a home and a budding career, however, I’ve realized that one cannot live on macaroni & cheese and chickenless nuggets with ketchup alone. Well, actually, one probably can. But that’s beside the point. Things that were once part of my life (like being a picky eater by trade) are gone, and others have taken their place.

The directions told me to slice the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, and onions into very thin slices, about 1/16 of an inch. Without a mandolin, however, this was impossible. I probably got everything down to about 1/8 of an inch and I assure you, everything tasted just fine. Better than fine, actually. Darn delicious, boyfriend-approved.

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Don’t forget to mix it all up before putting your sliced veggies on top.

Have you ever needed something from your freezer right now even though it really needs to defrost for at least 12 hours? Come on, you know it’s happened. Like when you need to make cookies but all your butter’s stiff as…frozen butter? Tonight I tried to microwave my frozen box of strained tomatoes without realizing the inside of the carton was lined with silver something. So I made a fire in my microwave. Pop pop shizzam! Luckily, I was able to salvage 1 cup of strained tomatoes, which I mixed with one thinly sliced sweet onion, 1 tbsp of minced garlic, a bit of salt, 1 tbsp oil, and some’o’that Bohemian Forest Rub I adore so much. Everything went right to the bottom of my oval stoneware.

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I didn’t get any tomato on my white sweater.

The best part about this recipe is that no matter what you do, it’s going to be beautiful. Yellow, green, purple, red all in a spiral of concentric circles. Top it off with more spices and oil, bake for 45-60 min at 350 covered with foil (the last 15 at 425 without the foil to crisp the top) and you’re good to go. I recommend serving it over toasted French bread with ample goat cheese. You really can’t mess this one up.

It’s a little bit like my last meal, right? Starting tomorrow I’ll be neck deep in the messy, muddy, processed-food-filled world of being a slave to academia. Goodbye, cruel world. Thanks for letting me hang out on this blog; it’s been fun, y’all. [Over and out]. Oh, and thanks Deb Perelman, for turning me into someone who knows how to make food.

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