Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008
A few months ago, I made something I called "The Cupboard is Bare" pizza, and a reader named Carol commented that she and her friends made something called "poverty pizza" at the end of the week when they were graduate students. She said it was always good and always unrepeatable, and that it had widened her horizons about what a pizza topping could be.
Today I decided to make another pizza--with my last round of frozen pizza dough--what a great thing to have in the freezer! And I decided I'd just use whatever I had on hand. This happened to be one serrano pepper that I didn't use in the serrano creme fraiche for new year's eve, two Yukon Gold potatoes, some kalamata olives, some cherry tomatoes that were going a little wrinkly, garlic (of course) and parmesan. I sliced and slowly poached the garlic in olive oil, and brushed the oil and garlic on the bottom of the pizza. Everything else was just sliced, or grated in the case of the parmesan, and tossed on in carefree fashion.
I had sent Jim to the grocery store a few days earlier because I needed a few last-minute things and was, as usual, running late and a little harried myself. I told him to pick up black olives--"not stuffed with anything, just plain..just pick them up from the olive bar." He came home with a can of California ripe olives. I was horrified. "No, these are not even olives!" I said. "We might as well just put these in the bag for the food shelf right now," I said, "because I'll never use them." (Nice, Marie, maybe you could also give all the things past their freshness date to the food shelf). "You said black olives," Jim said defensively, "and there were no black olives at the olive bar--just kalamata olives, and other olives that were stuffed." "What do you think kalamata olives are? They're black olives! That's just what I wanted." "Kalamata olives are purple, not black!"
Well, I could see that this fight was deteriorating rapidly, so I graciously allowed as how I could have been clearer in my instructions, and he graciously went back to Kowalski's to pick up purplish-black olives. He got a LOT. So I had to come up with many ways to use up the olives, besides reaching in the refrigerator and eating the random one now and then.
Here it is in its uncooked state. Oh, it looks like there's a little rosemary on it too--I forgot about that. The pizza dough stretched beautifully this time. I can't account for what makes it work better some times than others, but it did do a lot of resting. As did I. Maybe that had something to do with it.
It smelled so good and looked so brown and crunchy and crispy that we both dug in, forgetting entirely to take a picture of it in its whole, baked state. Jim had to take one quick picture while there was still a slice left uneaten.
Jim claimed this was the best pizza he had eaten in his entire life! Well, it was pretty good. The tomatoes gave it some sweetness, the olives saltiness, and the peppers hotness. The paper-thin sliced potatoes and garlic made a perfect base, and the crust was crispy all the way through, not just at the edges.
The whole notion of the poverty pizza got me wondering whether all leftovers would make equally happy combinations. What might I have in the refrigerator at the end of a week? Vanilla yogurt, Thai green chile sauce, and lettuce? Would that really work? I hope never to have to find out.