Reheating Pizza

Into every bachelor’s life, a little leftover pizza must fall.

Granted, this isn’t a bad thing. I usually order pizza by the slice for a number of reasons: I’m eating alone, it’s cheaper, and I really like when they reheat the slice in the oven leading to a crispier crust.

However, I will occasionally order a whole pizza, which almost always results in leftovers. Like any self-respecting bachelor, a good portion of these leftovers will be consumed cold while I stand over the kitchen sink. This is mostly because reheating pizza at home never results in a desirable slice.

If you go the microwave route, the crust can quickly become limp & soft (that’s what she said), and reheating in the oven never seems to get the right combination of heat throughout the slice without something burning.

But, I was sent this video, which will now be my method of re-heating slices at home. You know, when I feel like sitting down like a civilized human being.

Bachelor Meal: Polish Blowout

Like many wise 18 year-old men, I decided to join a fraternity in college. While my next four years were filled with plenty of Animal House-esque shenanigans, one of the best parts of my particular chapter was that it was designed and built to be a fraternity. This meant 17 bedrooms, large communal rooms, and a commercial kitchen.

Yes, ladies & gentleman, a group of 18-22 year-old men (boys) actually cooked for themselves. One of the most important roles in the house was that of Steward, who was responsible for planning menus, ordering food, scheduling cooks & dishwashers, and putting up with all the crap that comes with feeding 50+ fraternity brothers. For some foolish reason I held this role for several semesters.

Polish Blowout - Final Product

Thankfully my predecessor, Josh, had grown-up working in his parents’ New Jersey catering business. Under his reign, Josh managed to feed each brother 10 meals a week (5 dinners & 5 lunches) for less thatn $20 per person.

One way he was able to do this was by creating filling meals using inexpensive (not cheap) ingredients. A personal favorite of mine was Polish Blowout, which consisted of kielbasa, sauerkraut, and pierogies. All of these items are easy on the wallet, and eating a plate of sauerkraut and potato pierogies was incredibly filling. (The “Polish” part of this meal is pretty obvious… the “Blowout” came later.)

While I still make many of the old college standbys, I’ve added some twists. For example, my ex introduced a new ingredient into the recipe: simmering the sauerkraut and kielbasa with a can of diced tomatoes.

Having received a new Crockpot for Christmas from my sister Kim, I figured this meal would be a great way to break in the new appliance. After simmering for a few hours, I put on some boiling water, cooked up the pierogies, and enjoyed dinner.

Polish Blowout in the Crockpot

While I really enjoy the sauerkraut and tomato combination, I found that the kielbasa softened up quite a bit from the braising. In the future, I will likely return to pan grilling the kielbasa. Also, depending upon the time available, I like to pan fry the pierogies with diced onions.

But, this is essentially a 2-pot meal that is filling, inexpensive, and provides plenty of leftovers. However, I would hesitate to make this for a date, especially if you only have one bathroom.

Polish Blowout Recipe

2 cans of sauerkraut
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 package of kielbasa
1 package of pierogies (I like Mrs. T’s “Potato & 4 Cheese Blend”)

In a large pot or slow cooker, combine the sauerkraut and tomatoes. Allow to simmer for at least one hour.

The kielbasa can be prepared either by cutting into bite size rounds and including it with the tomato & sauerkraut mixture or by pan frying butterflied sections. I prefer the latter.

Cook pierogies per package instructions.

 

 

How I Learned to Cook – Part 1

The incomparable Julia ChildMy earliest food memories are of watching the incomparable Julia Child on NH public television and helping my mother in the kitchen. While I can’t remember a single recipe, aside from fluffy scrambled eggs, from watching Julia, I do remember that she was fearless in the kitchen; nothing seemed to fluster her. She would laugh at her mistakes, compensate if she couldn’t find an ingredient, and made it all seem so fluid. I even convinced my mother to send away for some recipes – I wish I still had those laying around.

My mother, like most mothers, did an excellent job of feeding the family on a daily basis. But what really stands out for me is helping my mother prepare for a dinner party. She pulled out all the stops when we had guests over: Coquilles-St. Jacques,  Beef Bourguignon, Chateaubriand, asparagus, cocktails… the whole 9 yards.

One dinner party, Crazy Ootie (my mother) was making some sort of dessert that she had never made before. I can’t remember the specifics, but it was some sort of custard with blueberries. She was using the blender, and in her concentration she forgot to put the top on before hitting ‘start’. Suddenly custard & blueberries were EVERYWHERE in the kitchen. I was totally in shock, waiting for some sort of immediate outburst. After all, she just made a mess of the entire kitchen, hours before her party. Instead, her reaction was to laugh. I mean, it was hysterically funny. I have yet to see a similar blender mishap.

But, between Julia and my mother, I was able to learn two of the most important culinary lessons very early in life: don’t be afraid and have fun.