Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Vacation Cooking Disasters
(shown above: glass of Hillinger Secco, Olive oil, bag of flour, bag of dough, silicon brush, salt, pepper, shot glass of garlic, bowl of roma tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, home grown basil and oregano. The cutting board and shot glass )
Summer Holidays; 'tis the season for train wrecks in other people's kitchens.
Things started off simple enough. We brought a giant cooler filled with food, condiments and accoutrements (strangest gadget: silicone brush. We had our reasons).
As evidenced from the picture above the plan was to do two pizzas on the grill; one night would be a marguerite; the next night a grilled vegetable pizza.
Sounds simple enough! But this was no ordinary grill. This was a cheap and small grill.
The problem with most cheap grills is uneven heating. As you can see, this grill had no indication of what the internal temperature was. Luckily, the aging kitchen oven had a removable oven thermometer to make a better guess. The hope would be that you could crank one burner to a given temperature and then use indirect heating to distribute the heat sort-of evenly. However since this was also a small grill, you have highly uneven heat over a very tiny area. And if you plan on cooking anything of decent size, you will end up with something like this:
Of note is that this was actually a double recipe for crust; so it was not stretched out very thin. Those blackened areas are completely burnt through. And those crumbled areas towards the bottom? Not even cooked.
But the lesson here is: it's my own darn fault. All grills should be treated as suspect until proven otherwise. On the first night, we grilled burgers. The grill couldn't get below 400 Fahrenheit, but turning on one side of the grill left the other side nearly cold (the burgers had no grill marks on one side and barely looked cooked at flip-time).
That really should have been my first clue.
But instead, I figured I'd use both burners on low, pre-heat a bit, and 'every thing would work out.' Famous last words!
Luckily we hadn't committed the toppings and we still had more dough which we fired in the oven (which did need a good cleaning, but I supposed we smoked the mozzarella as we went?). The results were good, and lasted us two nights.
/side note: the place was wonderful, had a lovely view of the Shenandoah valley, was wonderfully updated and quite comfortable to live in. Just not to cook in. ;)