A Lesson in Futitlity and Pizza Making

A Lesson in Futility – January 9, 2007

Now that the day is over and a new one is beginning - a new day dawns makes me think of Moody Blues Songs - oh there I go digressing before I even begin. I've been pondering what to write and not being so darn moody today - see there's a connection. I'm trying to be in a better mood since my morning, my Monday Morning, started out on a sour note. See, I teach at a Culinary Mecca and I've been disappointed with my employer. Seems that I am not even a number and therefore, I am not an entity that counts. What I'm getting at is my cooking classes are not being promoted at all. Sales of my classes generally only happen once the public finds out about our classes - which generally only works when an email is sent to an entire data base of people in the Tri-State area. I am frustrated because I don't make any money until my classes are booked. But I have to work, or I should say, I choose to do some work gratis, to support and promote these classes so that my public will know about my cooking "show" classes. It's a vicious cycle that does not seem to be getting me anywhere but fed up. My first class of the new semester was supposed to start on Tuesday, January 9th - which is technically, today, or tomorrow (or in the near future, yesterday). Anyway, only a handful of people knew about the class - we/I put flyers in the store, but those just don't seem to have the big bang effect as the emails, so very few people tend to sign up on the basis of glancing at my cool flyers. Work and creativity that I do, without pay, so that my adoring public will have advance notice...Class was canceled. No publicity email was sent, and I submitted my class roster 9 weeks in advance of the first class. Usually, the publicity happens a few days before the start of the semester, which is a bit too late, but it helps, and occasionally, I squeak by with the first class. But this semester, my last semester teaching at the Mecca, was to be my strongest to date. I am sad. I am sad because I've made a decision to let something go that isn't' working for me. Something that is a part of me. Something that I've created, nurtured, grown and put my heart and soul into. I am letting go because Mecca isn't the right place for me anymore. "Having tasted fruit, She scorns a pasture withering to the root." Author: Frost, Robert
I am here because I don't know where else to go. I love teaching. I love the sharing of knowledge. I love the nervousness that sets into my being when I'm preparing for each class. I love the learning that I undergo when I research recipes and reference material. I love the performance time and the chance to share my stories and ideas. And I love the connection I make with the people who attend my classes - the ones who attend for the first time and the connections I have with the people who have come to many of my classes. It is realizing that people like you because you are you, not because of some title you have. I believe that I really get what performers go through when they walk out onto a stage and become this other person to the audience. I get the idea and the feeling of the rush that a performer feels on stage. I never thought that would happen. What a completely unexpected side effect of teaching. Though in my case, it is more like a performance than teaching. The learning or sharing of culinary knowledge is my happy side effect. Food has that drug affect on people. Cook for someone and you make them happy.

Pizza Dough & Pizza with Asiago, Potatoes and Rosemary

  • Food Processor or Mixer Dough
  • 1-tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1-teaspoon sugar
  • 1-cup warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for working
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • 1-tablespoon olive oil


  1. When Ready to Bake Pizza - Preheat an oven to 400º
  2. Dissolve yeast in water in a small bowl or cup, dissolve the yeast in 1-cup warm water & 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the dough blade or hook, combine the flour and salt & process with 3-4 pulses/stirs. With the motor running on dough speed or on low speed, slowly add the yeast mixture, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Continue processing until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute, then process for 1 minute more.
  4. Allow the dough to rest & double in size – Brush a large bowl with the olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size – 1 to 2 hours. If not using the dough the same day, refrigerate. The proofing process will be slower, but the dough will still rise.
  5. Turn out the dough – dust a work surface with flour. Punch down the dough. Cut the dough into 2 to 6 pieces, depending on how small each pizza will be. Lightly flour your hands & begin to press the dough out gently into the desired shape. Then, place one hand in the center of the dough and with the other hand, pull, lift & stretch the dough, gradually working your way all around the edge, until it is the desired thickness, about ½ inch for a crusty pizza and ½ inch thick for a softer one. Flip the dough over from time to time as you work with it. You can also use a rolling pin, dusted with flour, to roll out the dough. The dough should be slightly thinner in the middle then at the edge.
  6. Transfer the dough to a baker’s peel or baking sheet, and cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again until almost doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Top & bake as directed. Makes 1 ¼ pound of dough, enough for a 12-inch thin-crust pizza; a 9-inch thick-crust pizza; four 6-inch pizzas; or six 4-inch mini pizzas.
Pizza with Potato, Rosemary & Asiago Ingredients:

  • 1 Batch of Basic Pizza Dough
  • 1 – medium or large Red or Idaho Potato – Thinnly sliced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic - Minced
  • 1-Sprig Fresh Rosemary – removed from stem & minced
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 4-tablespoons Olive Oil - divided
  • 1-cup Asiago Cheese – Shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Par boil the Potatoes – Use a mandolin or cut the potatoes as thinly as possible. Place in a saucepan, and cover with water & 1 tablespoon of salt. Allow water to come to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. Drain and allow potatoes to cool slightly so you can handle them.
  3. Season the Potatoes - In a large mixing bowl, add potatoes, garlic, rosemary and 3-tablespoons of the olive oil. Generously season with salt & pepper. Gently mix ingredients to incorporate.
  4. Top pizza – Sprinkle baking surface with corn meal or flour & place stretched dough either onto a pizza peel (if using a pizza stone) or directly onto a baking sheet. Brush the pizza dough with remaining olive oil and generously season with salt & pepper. In rows, place potatoes onto pizza dough, slightly over-lapping each layer. If any oil or seasoning is remaining in bowl, pour over potatoes. Top with cheese. Bake at 400º for 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and dough edge is light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut with pizza wheel cutter or knife. Serve hot & enjoy!


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