Veni, vedi, ate.

Ah, the meat tornado:  

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

For those of you who didn’t spend a year living in a city with more kebaberies per block than New York City has Starbucks, a vertically mounted rotisserie of lamb may at first intrigue– even intimidate. But fear not, gentle readers, your herbivorous hosts will hold your hand every step of the way. But be prepared… because     

... and I'm eating off those abdominals.

  Allow me to explain, by way of introduction, that our theme tonight was to go Greek. And by ‘go Greek’ I don’t mean ‘wear a suit and tie to football games’ or ‘attend win-a-date auctions with functional alcoholics’. We’re talkin’ straight up democracy-inventing-Olympic-Games-dominating-banging-out-goddesses-disguised-as-mortals-or-swans GOING GREEK. And this would require gyrating. Gyroing? Doner kebab.     

Only ninjas can be trusted.

  As you can see, doner kebab is basically a huge chunk of meat which rotates on a spit waiting to be shaved down and tucked into a pita. According to my sources, doner kebab came to Greece via the Turks, who, after a raucous all-nighter of chariot races and pouring out libations with their Hellenic brethren and sistas, were positively famished, but waaaaay too tired to get up and find a fork (who hasn’t been there!) So, they simply un-sheathed their swords and hacked off some slices (we can only assume those of the hoi polloi armed with bows and arrows explains the invention of the kebab skewer.)  

"After Party"

The First Kebab

  This low-effort-high-return method of food preparation continues to thrive across the pond today, where, for fun-loving youths, kebab shops are the European equivalent of Wendy’s All Night Drive Thru. Since the Pizza What chefs happen to be vegetarian (SPOILER ALERT: so will all the pizzas…) we clearly were not going to have an actual meat tornado. But our goal was to harness the spirit and as much of the look as possible using our old friend Seitan.  

An entire package of WGF, soy sauce, a little miso to make up for the lack of enough soy sauce, mix together and simmer for an hour in a Big Pot. During simmertime, Cheese rummaged through the machine shop of 1280 N. Main St to find a suitable skewering device. And he came back with a 5 foot pole. Yeah, we’re kind of a big deal.      

      

Sadly, the seitornado would not stop doing the fireman’s slide down the skewer! Our dreams of kebaberation began to crumble like Oddyseus’ dreams of being home from Troy by dinner. Alas, discouraged but ne’er defeated, we de-skewered the seitan blob and sliced it up. Point of interest, the seitan, which was of an uneven consistency this time, had little pockets of air that were particularly tough. It was definitely more meaty than our last batch, and came a little closer to lamb or pork than chicken. Ya know… if you’re into that kind of thing.  

      

Next, we chopped up onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, some sun-dried tomatoes (which I purchased in bulk, so expect SDT cameos in several of our next pizza features)… Zeustastic.      

      

      

Sauce this time was a spicy pepper hummus with eggplant meze layered on top:      

      

     

Combined all our ingredients and dumped them on top of the crust; the effect pretty much resembling a cuddle-puddle of post-battle Spartan soldiers from 300:    

     

Add a can of chic peas and a tub of feta cheese because… well… doi. The Parthenon is practically made out of the stuff.     

     

Into the oven aaaaaaaand PRESTO!    

     

     

Veni, vedi, ate. The pizza is cast. Heck, we might as well been eating it off pieces of the Acropolis here (though Mama Cheese’s beautiful handmade plates could put red figure to shame.)     

  
Fig. 1. Blue plate special.

So, readers, at this point most of you are thinking to yourselves, “I swear. Everytime I think I’ve seen the most delicious pizza ever created, Pep n’ Cheese come out with something so amazing it reshapes my entire philosophy of eating.” This is normal. It will continue. But some of you (yeah, like you… with the face) may be experiencing a slight nagging feeling, generally ignore-able but incessant, like the buzzing of a mosquito or your mom asking you if you’ve cleaned your room: “Was this truly a KRAZY pizza? Or was it merely an Olympian Greek pizza?” In response, I offer you this story: “in the year 75 BCE,  while sailing to Greece, Caesar was kidnaped by Cilician pirates and held for ransom. When informed that they intended to ask for 20 talents, he insisted that he was worth at least 50. He maintained a friendly, joking relationship with the pirates while the money was being raised, but warned them that he would track them down and have them crucified after he was released. He did just that, with the help of volunteers, as a warning to other pirates, but he first cut their throats to lessen their suffering because they had treated him well.” The moral should be clear: if you dare to question Pizza What, There Will Be Marinara. I mean BLOOD!    

But what to CALL it? This pizza represents all the bounty of Zeus and Athena, O oracle of satisfied tummies! But it’s piled on a homemade pizza crust, O undertaking of Roman hubris! Could there possibly be a single nomenclature that would capture both Greek and Italian culinary heritages as well as convey the historical significance of such a combination in the Pizza What oeuvre? I think you know where I’m going with this…    

Pizza #4, I hereby dub you “the Caesar Milan“.    

  

Especially because after Cheese puts enough spicy stuff on it, this pizza is officially in the Red Zone. Welcome to our pack, Pizza #4. Love, The Pizza Whisperers…     

Pizza #4 recap: homemade crust, chick peas, feta, hummus, eggplant meze, red onion, cucumber, tomato (sun-dried and fresh) seitan.  

Drop the freakin' panpipes and get me another slice!

Seitan is My Motor

Who can forget the first time we took my dear Southwest Virginian roommate to Café Asia? This Wilson Blvd restaurant relies on most Americans’ ignorance of the disparate and unique cultural heritages of the individual nations that make up said continent in order to serve numerous far-eastern cuisines under a single Washingtonian roof. Don’t get me wrong: I love one-stop shopping. And happily, the establishment’s quality food compensates for a blurring of geopolitical borders. Admittedly, with her total exposure to ‘Asian’ cuisine limited to Kobe Japanese Express and the Chinese buffet at University City Mall, the bar wasn’t set all that high for our foreign food debutante. Nevertheless, when she brought that first bite of pad thai to her lips— initially approached with such trepidation!—her eyelids sinking slowly in delirium, nostrils flaring slightly at the aromas of distant lands, and finally, the tell-tale “mmmmmm”… for this corn-fed farm girl, our entire voyage to the godless, money-grubbing land of Northern Virginia had been justified. Such was the emotion I hoped Pad Thai Pizza would capture, even for the most jaded Thai schoolers among us.  Having rushed to make Mexipizza, the all-day-all-play nature of Saturday lent itself well to a more time-consuming pizza. Thus we opted to a) make our own crust, and b) make our own seitan:  

   

After asking a mutual friend (the Internet), I settled on the classic unbleached flour + yeast + a little oil combo. Knead, knead, knead. Punch, punch, punch. Ya gotta wait an hour for the dough to rise, so this is a good time to take a break. Then it’s  knead, knead, knead. Punch, punch, punch. Aye, macarena… AIGHT!  

My first time, but Cheese is an old pro. Wheat gluten flour (WGF from here on out) + regular flour + soy sauce. Knead, knead, knead. Punch, punch, punch.  How are those forearms doin, kids?  

After cooking the seitan in a pot of vegan vegetable bullion, it was time to assemble the toppings…  

 Brocs, red pepper, mung bean sprouts, thai noodles, onion, all gettin’ friendly in the Wok.  

 Sauce-wise, a suprisingly-healthy pad thai sauce with crushed peanuts mixed in seemed fitting:  

  

Having spread the dough out onto a large baking pan, we applied the sauce. Seeing our small container would not go as far as hoped, we added a little teriaki, in true Cafe Asia fashion.  

   

While our directions said to preheat at 500F, we were MOST doubtful, and opted to turn the oven down. What do parents call that again? Oh yeah, a ‘learning experience.’   

Ye of little oven temperature faith!

Mais quand même, our pizza emerged looking as gorgeous as those posters of Thailand they sell on campus at the beginning of each semester (you know…  the ones under all the Warhol reprints, the grainy Bob Marleys, and Alcohol-themed bastardizations of the periodic table.) Without further ado, Pep n’ Cheese are proud to present… Pad Thai Pizza: 

  

So, Pad Thai Pizza proved as successful as we hoped. Some minor notes: in the future, we are going to A) believe them when they say to bake at 500 degrees,  B) not fall asleep while the left-over seitan we hoped to turn to jerky is still in the oven… unless we’re TRYING to make a charcoal substitute instead of a meat substitute.  

Re-cap:  

Pizza #4:  homemadee dough, pad thai sauce w/ teriaki and crushed peanuts, onion, red pepper, broccoli, pad thai noodles, mung bean sprouts, and seitan cubes. 

Until tomorrow! You stay classy, interwebs.