Gay pizza?

On Monday I spent the morning listening to the 9th Circuit oral arguments for and against Prop. 8, the voter initiative that amended the California constitution to discriminate against people who wish to enter into a same-sex marriage. The history of gay marriage, or more correctly the history of the fight against gay marriage, is long and confusing. But the reason we’re writing about gay marriage on our blog is that we are one of the 18,000 couples that were lucky enough to legally wed in California during that brief window in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal. We’ve been married now for two years and, this Friday, December 10th, we celebrate our 18th anniversary of the night we met at The Trapp (insert joke here), a gay bar in Salt Lake City.

As I’m listening to the court case I’m also thinking about, what else, food. Rummaging through the fridge, I spot a pizza dough just waiting to be transformed into something delicious. Then something one of the judges said struck me as an odd question: “What makes gay marriage gay? Isn’t marriage just marriage?”

My mind started to wander back to my college days with thoughts of late night pizza and philosophical discussions like, can a man truly be a feminist? and what makes art gay? Is it the subject matter or the artist creating the work that makes something gay? I thought about this a little more. Since I’m gay and I’m baking a pizza, am I making a gay pizza? I never really thought that pizza, or any food, could be considered gay or straight, but with the question posed about marriage, art, and life on my mind, why not food?

As I searched through the fridge for fixings to top the pizza it dawned on me that what I was selecting were things most people wouldn’t put on their pizza or even have in their fridge. What makes our pizzas different? For starters, we don’t do delivery. San Francisco is not known for it’s pizza, and we haven’t discovered a pizzeria that makes a better or faster pizza than our homemade ones. Next, the crust is always thin and whole wheat. No tomato sauce goes on top, just olive oil and garlic. Next, we’ll usually throw on some veggies (on this one, shaved fennel). And, instead of sausage, pepperoni, and ham (insert meat lover’s pun), we prefer a little prosciutto. To finish, we top with a little goat and Parmesan cheeses (or whatever we have on hand) and that’s what we call pizza. May sound sort of gay to folks in the red states, but some would argue that it’s just California cuisine.

Adding the layers.

Is our marriage or our pizza gay? We don’t think so. We view marriage and our pizzas as choices, neither gay nor straight, just our choices. We hope that the judges on the 9th Circuit will do the right thing and rule to secure for everyone the same choice we were given two years ago. We should all have the right to to marry whomever we choose just as we get to choose what we want on our pizzas, even if they both give us heartburn from time to time.

Marriage equality – and pizza – for all!

Pizza Dough

Watch those fingers.

Top the pizza however you wish, it’s your choice.

1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 – 1 ¼ cups water
¼ cup olive oil

In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the yeast with the flours and salt. Add the water, 1 cup to start, and olive oil and mix on medium speed for about five to seven minutes. If the dough is too dry add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time. If too wet, add a little flour, again a tablespoon at a time. Once the dough comes together cover the bowl with a damp towel and let sit for a couple of hours to relax.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut the dough in half at this point you can either make two pizzas or refrigerate or freeze one of the pizza dough. Using a rolling pin, lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out until it fits the diameter of the sheet pan. Alternately, if you’ve worked in a pizzeria before you can try to stretch the dough with your hands. Top with your favorite sauce, fixings, and cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is slightly toasted.

More pumpkin, less politics

Our boycott of the radio lasted less than a week. It was the first week of November and we were getting so tired of hearing about politics we just had to shut off the radio. We could not hear one more Meg Whitman ad without going postal, and we didn’t need to be reminded everyday that the Republicans were going to be in control again only to get us further into a grid lock where nothing in the Senate will ever get done.  And let’s pretend we didn’t even write Sarah Palin’s name here (will her 15 minutes ever be up?) We were in political burnout and needed a change from the day-by-day plays in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, along with all the other states. So for four days we stopped listening to the radio and only listened to music on iTunes.

On Friday, November 5, that all changed and all I can say is “Thank you” Michele Norris. Your interview with/story of Dori Greenspan on November 5, made me hungry and I haven’t stopped thinking about stuffed pumpkins since. If I hadn’t already had plans that Friday night, I would have gone to the nearest grocery store and picked up a pumpkin at that moment, headed home, and made the dish. But Steve was waiting for me to pick him up for drinks and dinner with a friend. The pumpkin would have to wait.

The first version I made was almost exactly like Dori’s with a few minor changes. I loved Dori’s recipe but these sorts of dishes are less about following a recipe to the T and more about playing with a technique – in this case, how to cook stuffed pumpkin. As the title of the recipe suggests, the pumpkin is stuffed with “everything good,” but it should read ‘anything good’ since she gives so many suggestions and alternatives for things to add. So with my substitutions on hand, I sautéed a leek in bacon fat rendered from two bacon slices, then tossed the leeks with bread cubes, and made a mornay sauce (béchamel sauce plus grated cheese) in the same pan I used to cook the bacon instead of adding the cream Dori calls for in her version of the recipe. I probably overstuffed the pumpkin but I didn’t want to waste one piece of cheese or cube of bread. The pumpkin, stuffed with savory bread pudding, was amazing!

Our second version was just as delicious but took all too long to bake. We stuffed it with a small sweet potato and a few small turnips along with a half dozen shredded Brussels sprouts. We used the mornay sauce again with the additions of cinnamon and thyme. We didn’t realize the tubers would take so bloody long to cook. We ended up ordering Chinese food that night while the stuffed pumpkin was left to bake for almost three hours. We left it out to cool overnight and then refrigerated it the next morning.

On day two, I cut it in half and baked one half in the toaster oven until it was warm on the inside then topped it off with some bread crumbs and butter and finished by toasting it under the broiler. The pumpkin was sweet and roasted while the sweet potato and turnip were just soft and covered with a wonderfully creamy cheese sauce. The bread crumbs gave it a nice crunch. Sweet, savory, soft and crunchy all in one dish!

We’re back to listening to the radio now that the election is over. We try not to listen to too much NPR but since we’re both news junkies we can’t help our love/hate relationship with serious radio programming. With Thanksgiving just around the corner we just want to give thanks to NPR and all that they do for us. We may not agree with everything they say but if they want to bring more pumpkin reports we’d be much happier than listening to all the political analysis.

The recipes below include the goodies we added to the pumpkins, but as Dori suggests, you can add almost anything you want.

Stuffing squash.

Vegetable Stuffed Pumpkin

1 small sugar pumpkin

1 small yam, diced

3 small turnips, diced

6 Brussels sprouts, shredded

1 recipe Mornay sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top of the pumpkin off, as you would a jack-o-lantern, and remove the seeds (you can save the seeds and roast them too). Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper. Add the diced yam and turnips in a medium bowl with the shredded Brussels sprouts, toss to combine. Add mornay sauce to the mixed vegetables and stuff the sugar pumpkin. Bake the pumpkin in a pot until the yams are tender, approximately 2-3 hours. Allow to cool to touch, (can be prepared day before, refrigerated).

Once the pumpkin is cool, cut in half and top with bread crumbs. If the pumpkin half is cold bake in a 400 degree oven until warm, 20-30 minutes. Finish by toasting the bread crumbs under the broiler for a few minutes until nice and golden brown.

Mornay Sauce

1 ½ cups whole milk

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ onion

1 bay leaf (dry)

Salt and white pepper to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Heat milk, onion and bay leaf in a small saucepan on medium until steaming but not yet at a boil then reduce the heat to low to keep the milk hot while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted and starting to bubble. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is just golden and lightly toasted, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Strain the milk into the butter and flour mixture. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg (if using) and continue to whisk until smooth making sure no lumps form. As the sauce heats it will begin to thicken. When the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Use immediately.