6 Hours + $100 = 4 Pizzas

So: Wood Oven Pizzas. It was Sunday night, and I wanted something easy, cheap, and quick. What followed was definitely not any of those three. Is the honeymoon period over? I fear it may be. Storm’s a-brewin’.

The introductory paragraph is one of Gwyneth’s most ridiculous. “We’ve got a wood-burning pizza oven in the garden — a luxury, I know, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made,” she begins. UGGGHHHHH. It’s this complete lack of self-awareness that makes you such an easy target, Gwyneth! Is the best way to start a recipe REALLY to not-so-subtly suggest that your reader probably isn’t rich enough to afford all the tools necessary to make the recipe as delicious as possible? Fire your publicist! Fire your editor! Fire everyone!

Thankfully, Gwyneth doesn’t insist that you actually build your own wood-burning pizza oven in your garden. Instead, she informs me, I can simply use a “conventional” oven, turned as high as it will go, and a pizza stone. Well, fuck. I don’t have a pizza stone. To the store!

Over $50 later, I had a brand new pizza stone and pizza peel. So, before I even stepped foot in the grocery store, I was already way over any reasonable budget for one meal. But for some reason I must soldier on with this stupid project, so I loaded up my shopping cart and swiped my card, feeling the cost like a hit in the gut. Am I going to have to start choosing between this project and spending money at the bars? I really don’t want to have to make that decision.

Finally back home, I could start cooking. The first step was to make the dough. I whisked together some water, sugar, and yeast, and let it foam for about five minutes. I’ve never actually used live yeast before, so this was quite exciting to watch. I felt like a chemist! It was almost as if I had graduated with a degree in science! It was almost as if I had a job my father could be proud of! Alas, this was all just a pipe dream, and I returned to the dreary work of cooking Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipes for no reason.

Chemistry!

I added some flour (it HAD to be King Arthur bread flour, probably because they paid Gwyneth) and water, and stirred until my arm was sore and I had a giant ball of dough. The next step required my hands to get dirty, as I kneaded the dough in flour for “8 minutes of hard work.” (It wasn’t that hard. I mean, it’s just kneading dough.) The dough then needed to sit in a plastic-wrapped bowl for at least an hour and a half.

Action shot.

Meanwhile, I needed to make the pizza sauce. This recipe was ridiculously easy – some garlic, olive oil, canned tomatoes, and salt, simmered for an hour, and then pureed. This left me with lots of downtime to drink wine, which I guess isn’t such a bad thing. Except I was hungry, and the sun was going down, and dinner was going to be at least another two hours away. Alcohol helped sooth my crankiness.

Two hours later, I could finally start making some pizzas! I quieted my impatient stomach and ripped off a chunk of dough from my dough ball, which had doubled in size and had tried to escape the bowl I had thought would contain it. I stretched and tossed and pressed the dough, attempting to make a thin, circular crust, but I quickly learned that I am terrible at stretching dough. My fingers kept poking through the center of the dough, I got flour all over the kitchen, and I couldn’t stop the dough from clumping up on the edge of the pizza, leaving enormously thick crusts and a paper-thin center. “Fuck it,” I thought. “I just need to eat something.”

I decided to start with a simple pizza, so the first was cheese. I spread the pizza sauce and sprinkled mozzarella, Parmesan, and fontina on top. I also got a little fancy and splashed the top with some white truffle olive oil my mom got me for Christmas, because I KNEW Gwyneth would approve of that. Using my fancy new pizza peel, I slid the pie onto the pizza stone (I say “slid,” which makes it sound easy, but dough, cheese, and flour went EVERYWHERE), and got to work on the second pizza.

Cheese pizza. With awkward crust.

I quickly realized that not only had I been cooking for about four hours now (granted, with some downtime to write yesterday’s blog post and drink), but cooking pizza this way was much more complicated than it originally seemed. Every time I slid a pizza in the oven, I had to immediately get to work building the next pizza, so that it could be popped in once the other pizza was done cooking. And since each pizza took only 5 minutes in the oven to cook fully, I needed to work quickly. I was sweating in no time. What happened to quick, cheap, and easy?

So, anyway, I did even worse in my second attempt at forming the perfect pizza crust (which resulted later in cheese and sauce dripping all over my new pizza stone), but I quickly threw together a Hawaiian pizza, with ham and pineapple. I don’t know why, but I had been craving Hawaiian pizza for literally weeks, which isn’t anything that I’ve ever craved before. So I was taking matters into my own hands and seizing control of my Hawaiian pizza destiny! Or something.

A not-so-round Hawaiian pizza.

The cheese pizza came out, and the Hawaiian went in. And I barely had time to enjoy my cheese pizza, because it was time to make my third pizza, with roasted red peppers, pearl onions, and artichoke hearts. This time around, I must admit that the pizza was pretty beautiful. I was definitely getting better.

Ooooooooooh.

A few short minutes later, the Hawaiian pizza came out, the veggie pizza went in, and I had to whip up my fourth and final pizza: a classic Margherita, with tomato slices and basil. Finally, at 10 PM, I was done cooking, and I had waaaay too much pizza, as well as an enormous mess in my kitchen.

This is when Gwyneth’s servants would really be nice.

But the pizzas were great! The Margherita seemed to be the favorite, although I really liked them all. I felt exhausted, but I also felt I had actually accomplished something. It turns out pizza-making with Gwyneth is not a walk in the park. However, upon further reflection, I started thinking, “Did Gwyneth even really teach me anything?” I mean, this was barely even a recipe. Yes, there were recipes for the dough and the sauce, but they’re two of the most basic recipes in the book. I mean, if I didn’t have a cookbook but wanted to make some fresh pizza dough, I’d probably just guess that I had to throw together water, flour, and yeast. And pureeing tomatoes and garlic is about as simple a recipe as you can get for pizza sauce. The rest of the “recipe” is just suggestions for toppings and descriptions of how wonderful it is if you can afford a wood-burning pizza oven.

So I’m sorry, Gwyneth, but I’m taking 70% of the credit on this one. Sure, you inspired me to go through all the trouble to make pizza from scratch, but you barely gave me any guidance (some tips on how to roll out the dough would have been greatly appreciated), and you seemed totally preoccupied with your own pizza oven. Did you even care if my pizzas turned out okay? And, for the record, saying, “Put some tomato sauce on some crust and then put whatever toppings you want on it,” is not an actual recipe. It’s just a dictionary definition of the word “pizza.”

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23 Comments

Filed under Main Courses

23 responses to “6 Hours + $100 = 4 Pizzas

  1. Sam

    You may have left the honeymoon phase, but it’s just getting good for me! But that pizza looks f-ing superb.

  2. Kimber

    Aw…now I’m hungry. Thanks Danny!

  3. Hah. This was hilarious. Instead of talking about how expensive the pizza stone and peeler were, you should’ve talked down to the reader, inferring that they probably could not afford them, and should maybe try using an old trash can lid instead.

    I hope you can release a follow-up book when all is said and done called “My Father’s Daughter for Commoners”.

  4. Andy

    Gwyneth told you to cook the sauce? Oh Gwyneth. Some might disagree with me but the sauce “cooks” on the pizza and is much better (imho) if it’s fresh/uncooked before it goes in the oven. Just puree those ingredients and let it sit while you get the dough ready.

    I LOVE your blog. Please keep it up. I’ll read it until the end!

  5. Auntie Jan

    So this is my second comment to post however because I am new at this I did not put in my e-mail the first time and the 20 minutes it took me to comment disappeared in one click when I went to post comment. Where did it go?? Into space?? Ok so I’m your mom’s age and this is all new for us. First, the blog about your mom was great but I have way better pictures of her and if she knows what is good for her she will always be my friend and even buy me a gift now and then. You also forgot to tell in your story about her that when we crashed our first college party in Seattle at your sister’s boyfriend’s house she already had on her pjs and we were both looking special. Just thought your readers would like a visual of Mom’s in PJ’s at Party. Could be a new thing or a title of a book. You children are lucky because she is a great Mom. Back to your cooking, the pizza’s really did look good and if your mom is so great she will buy you a wood stove for pizza cooking for your birthday present. I’m sure your landlord would love it and just think of the parties you can have and the friends you will make and the attention you will get.

  6. JAKE.

    My favorite line was…

    “Well fuck. I don’t have a pizza stone.”

    Love it

  7. Good grief, who made your pizza stone? Magic fairies. $50 is ridiculous! Get to be friends w/ amazon. They’ll deliver one to you in two days for under $20. (See this is why I read your blog, instead of goop. I’m cheap.)

  8. joolz

    now that you have a pizza stone, when possible (like when it isn’t thanksgiving and your oven isn’t overworked) leave it in your oven. the temperature will stay more consistent on account of the thermal mass of the stone. also… dude, you need to look for an instructional video or 2 on you tube of how to toss a pizza crust. AND, if you happen to have a stand mixer or food processor, make your pizza dough in it instead of doing it all by hand. it’s less messy.

  9. Lena

    Your pizzas are the most beautiful and delicious looking pizzas ever! Now thinking about buying a pizza stone. But that’s a bit ridiculous, isn’t it.
    I love your blog, your so damn funny.

  10. Mel

    It’s not even 7am and I want pizza…. they look fantastic!
    P.S. I find it easier to spread pizza dough using the base of my palm than my fingers.

  11. wendy_loohoo

    I love the roasted red pepper/artichoke heart/onion pizza, but you should add some capers to that pizza. It really adds some nice slightly salty tang to it.

    I am not a fan of cooking stones because I find them too heavy but I might have to break down and get one myself rather than the pan I currently have. And I had no idea what a pizza peeler was, I assume it was the wooden board….didn’t she tell you to sprinkle it with cornmeal to make the sliding easier?

  12. muffins

    I love all you gottliebs. I’m working on this book in the uk and your project is my favourite thing anyone has written about it and definitely the funniest. thank you and I can’t wait till the lobsters.

  13. chick110

    I just have to tell you that this book and your interpretation of it isn’t making me like Gwyneth any more. If that’s your intention, it’s working well. Danny FTW!

  14. Jess

    Please don’t quit this project! These posts are awesome to read.

  15. knnmom

    Glad you are still doing this. It’s very entertaining. Maybe you should have some kind of Pamper chef party to stock up on supplies although I would think that Gwen would snub Pampered chef they way Louann snubbed Romona’s jewelery party. But, you could get some free stuff out of it. Your mom and Aunt both seem hilarious. Pizza looks amazing! I hope you don’t go broke before you finish the book.

  16. I wish I thought of this!!! My best friend is OBSESSED with Gwen and I don’t get it. Love your blog 🙂

  17. mer

    I don’t know whose idea this was, but for some reason, at my house, we keep our flyswatters on top of the pizza peel, above the fridge. So, I have to rinse off fly guts if I have the time and/or energy, before I take out the pizza. But I wondered if Gweneth would actually consider fly guts a delicacy? I think some people do, in fancy-pants-land.

  18. Ceri from work

    Oh wow, I believe I saw you eating your left overs at lunch…. made a silly fool of myself saying you should just go buy dough and sauce and winco. At the time I had no idea about the danny and gwyneth project. OMG WINCO. What would Gwen say??? Also 50 bucks for a pizza stone?!? Danny next time you need to buy a gadget come see us frugal ladies in accounting. We know all the super awesome shopping deals. I believe I got mine at big lots for 10 bucks. As a mater of fact I am pretty sure I have seen one for sale at winco too
    Oh and I LOVE the blog. Don’t go famous on us too fast! 🙂

  19. Uncle B

    Danny,
    I gotta agree that these pizza’s look great and you’re absolutely correct that this isn’t a recipe.
    Let me know if you want me or Auntl Leona to give you some dough shaping lessons. We can have you spinning disc of dough in no time.

  20. Caitlin

    The last paragraph was maybe the funniest thing I have read in a while.

  21. Rebecca (sheffield, UK)

    “I returned to the dreary work of cooking Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipes for no reason.”

    the UK loves ya danny!

    xxx

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