Thursday, September 3, 2009

Homemade Mexican Pizza (p. 32)

Another recipe from the adorable Philippe. This one was actually written more in the style that a kid would write it. Maybe the writing is a little polished for a five year old, but the intention and concerns are very innocent. His main goal seems to be to make a homemade version of Taco Bell's Mexican pizza. I've never had the Taco Bell version of the dish, I'm a man who sticks to the basics. If a place is called Taco Bell, stick with tacos. If a place is called Gyro Joe's, maybe you should order the gyro. Of course, I also enjoy Taco Bell quesadillas and gorditas, so my logic is flawed; but I like the argument just the same. Still, I'm in no place to make a comparison, which is a shame because Philippe provides an address to send him a letter if you think he got close (which struck me as very kid-like). Thinking about it, I know the author/artist of Achewood moved to a different part of the country recently (he mentioned it on the site, I'm not stalking him). I wonder if he forwarded this address. I mean, the cookbook's still in print. Whoever owns that PO Box now will probably be confused when he starts getting mail addressed to a stuffed otter. But I digress. This blog isn't about tracking the particulars of the postal service, it's about preparing food the way a cartoon tells me to.
So, that's how the pizzas turned out. I doubled the recipe so that Melissa would have something to eat, too. The ingredients listed for one pizza seemed like a lot, though. A whole tomato, a whole can of refried beans, a whole can of sliced olives. Even on two pizzas, that would be overkill. I assumed that I was supposed to use common sense (or maybe that Philippe didn't realize he was supposed to be more specific about amounts- the cute little shaver) and used what I thought seemed best. Still, it seemed like there wasn't much beef and there were too many beans. Not that the beans were totally overwhelming, I just probably could have used less and had about the same effect. On a similar note, the beef/bean mixture came out a little salty. I tried to estimate the amount of salt listed (which escapes me off the top of my head), and I may have overdone it, but I think I came pretty close. The saltiness of the canned beans probably didn't help much.

A quick note about this cookbook in general- I don't know if it's because of the altitude or if I have a broken oven thermometer, but either my oven runs hot or Chris Onstad's runs cool. After the oven fries debacle, I knew I needed to keep an eye on the tortillas when I toasted them (which was step one, much like pre-baking a crust when you make a pizza. If you don't do this already, you really should). Sure enough, a good 2 and a half minutes before the recipe said to take them out, they were crunchy and golden brown. If I had left them in for the full amount of time, they would have been blackened. I feel like I'm starting to become one with the cookbook, like I know its tricks and I'm ready to counteract them. Has anyone made a movie like that before? Hm, they probably shouldn't. Never mind.

The pizzas were very tasty, even with the extra salt. Really, they were practically the Galaxy Nachos, just in a more individualized and portable form. Since it was Top Chef night, I did a very cool and artsy drizzle with the taco sauce, but it kind of baked into the tortilla and you couldn't see it by the time it had been "plated." Maybe next time I'll drizzle after it comes out of the oven. That's right, I'm going to break the rules of the recipe. That's what chefs do, right? They innovate? Hello?

Ok, that's going to do it for this week's Selzer & Smuckles. I'm running my first half marathon at Disneyland this weekend, so I'll be off the social networking radar a little more than usual. I'll be back next week with more Tales From the Achewood Cookbook! (If you could say that title in a scary voice, like maybe Vincent Price or the Crypt Keeper, I'd appreciate it).


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