Do you think I’m pretentious? You can tell me. I can take it.
I met a reader the other day who told me I come off as pretentious, and she was happy to see I wasn’t. It got me thinking. What about my writing, my recipes, my voice, comes off as pretentious? Maria couldn’t put her finger on it either. But really, I’m not. At least I don’t think I am. Wait. Am I?
All of us so-called foodies have been accused of snobbery or pretentiousness at some time. Some of us deserve it– turning our noses up at meals under $50, refusing a sip of table wine, or constantly correcting people’s eating habits.
But most of us just care about what we eat. We care about the farmers who grow our food, the artisans who shape our cheese, the local businesses who carry small-label products. We wake up thinking about our next meal. Appreciating and discovering new flavors is a daily occurrence. We eat with friends, with family, and form a community around a table filled with food that was prepared with love.
How is that pretentious? If I pass on Popeye’s chicken because I have a local bird defrosting at home, does that make me a snob? And why is it so much easier for people to call us snobs, instead of those who are into music, shoes, cars or video games? Most epicures I know will go 5 years before buying a new pair of sneakers, because instead they buy Himalayan sea salt, or local olive oil, or asparagus ravioli. Instead of obsessing over video games, we wake up early on Sundays to start pizza dough or slow braise pork shoulder. We bike to the farmers’ market–yes, to conserve resources– but also because there’s dangerous-smelling mold growing in our cars, and the duct tape holding our rear bumper in place is about to give.
So if I’m pretentious, fine, I’ll take it. Especially if it means I don’t have to go with you to Burger King for lunch. I’d much rather have squash blossom pizza. Which, by the way, costs about the same as a value meal anyway.
Before I get to the recipe, I have some exciting news. Sorry about the delay this week, but Erin and I have been busy. We cooked three of our mac and cheeses for the judges of Oakland’s Eat Real festival, and we’re in! Gosh, now we have to prepare 2,000 portions of mac and cheese for the August festival. Have you been to Eat Real? It’s seriously awesome. The Little Mac website is also underway. And, our architects are hard at work, and we are closing on our building tomorrow. All good things, and all pointing to us to a November opening.
And finally–I’m published! Nick from Macheesmo put together an e-book called 55 Knives, and I’m in it (along with 54 other awesome food bloggers). Find stories, recipes and tips from many of your favorite food bloggers - buy it now for $14 – it’ll be $19 next week.
Squash Blossom Pizza
(Makes two large pizzas)
Dough (adapted from Cooks Illustrated):
1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour works too)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
About 10 squash blossoms, rinsed, stems removed, and sliced in half lengthwise
3 large garlic cloves put through a press
Handful chopped parsley
12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used whole milk Belfiore – it’s slightly wet for pizza, but works really well with this recipe)
2 oz pecorino cheese, shredded
2 oz parmigiana-reggiano, shredded
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly crushed red pepper for garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 475F degrees, with a pizza stone inside.
Roll out the first pizza on a well-floured surface with a rolling pin (or empty wine bottle) until it’s the size of your stone. When I roll out dough, I start in the middle and roll outwards, turning the dough so it’s even on all sides.
Place pressed garlic into a small bowl and add olive oil to cover. Brush garlic and oil onto your dough. Spread half of sliced blossoms on top, and add half of your cheeses. Add a pinch of salt. Sprinkle on chopped parsley. Slide pizza onto your hot stone and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Drizzle on olive oil before serving, and have some freshly crushed red pepper on available on the side. Repeat with second pizza dough.
Where I shopped:
Squash blossoms, parsley, garlic: Berkeley’s Saturday Farmers’ Market
Belfiore mozzarella cheese, pecorino and parmigiana-reggiano: Berkeley Bowl