Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Loving Leftover Pizza


Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza

The only thing better than pizza you made yourself is leftover pizza you made yourself. It's true. If treated properly, a day old slice can easily taste as good (or even better) than it did the first time it came out of the oven.

There are people who refuse to eat any leftover thing. I think they are crazy. (And they probably do not cook.) I adore homemade leftover anything. How can a person not love something so perfect? With leftovers, everything is done! You do not have to cook them. They do not make a mess of the kitchen. They require no thinking, as in, What in the world am I going to have for dinner? And most of all, you are able to enjoy your wonderful food even more the second time around because you are not already full from having nibbled and sampled your way through its initial preparation. Leftovers are a cook's dream. After a long and tiring day, leftovers can save your life.

Many foods actually taste better after sitting around for a day or two: shortbread, chicken salad, herbed yogurt cheese, and of course nearly any kind of soup or stew or chili.

Restaurant leftovers are not the same as homemade, but they do have their own unique virtues. Restaurant leftovers can transport you places. Say you are visiting New York City and it is your last day there. You decide to pop into the famous Carnegie Deli for a corned beef sandwich before heading to the airport. You sit at a table and munch on half of your enormous sandwich, blissfully absorbing this true New York experience. Later that night, when you are back at home in the kitchen, jet-lagged and exhausted and starving, you can eat the other half while you reminisce about your trip and marvel over the fact that just several hours earlier you were on the other side of the country. (Or you can pull out your leftover half sandwich on the plane and make all of the other passengers jealous.)

Leftover pizza is one of my favorite foods, and I will happily eat it for days on end. By leftover pizza, I do not mean a cold slice for breakfast, though some people find this a real treat. I still remember a girl in my junior high school whose family went out every Thursday night to the best pizza parlor around. Every Friday she would bring two pieces of leftover pizza to school for lunch, and she was the envy of the playground. But everyone knows that even pizza that has been sitting around all morning in a locker is a million times more exciting than a tunafish sandwich and an apple.

Junior high playgrounds aside, I want my pizza hot. I like the cheese melted and the crust to have some crunch. I will often stick a half-eaten slice back in the oven to crisp up the crust and re-melt the cheese.

Any kind of pizza can be returned to its original state of piping hot perfection. The trick is all in how you handle it. Leftover pizza should be treated with a respect that borders on reverence. It should never, ever see the inside of a microwave.

The very best thing to do, of course, is to reheat your pizza in a very hot oven for about ten minutes on a baking stone that has been allowed to heat up for at least half an hour. It should be loosely covered with foil so the cheese does not get too brown. Pizza reheated this way can often be passed off as freshly baked.

This method is fine if you have the time, and it is a nice way to heat up a chilly kitchen in the winter. But if it is summer and you are starving, you can turn to the toaster or convection oven and achieve spectacular results.

For several years I reheated my pizza on an inexpensive round pizza stone in an ancient monstrosity that I believe may have been the world's first combination microwave/convection oven (using just the convection mode of course). The numbers one through five on the keypad were broken, and on rainy days it would lapse into a coma, but one learns to work around these things. When the Start button finally quit working, the old warhorse was bid a fond farewell and replaced with a DeLonghi Convection/Toaster Oven that is absolutely adorable and a whole lot smaller. It makes beautiful toast (very handy as the toaster died recently, too) and half a loaf of my sourdough onion rye fits exactly between the two top heating elements. It will hold two large slices of pizza, but not the big round pizza stone. No problem.

We headed to the home improvement store in search of 8-inch, unglazed ceramic tiles to create a homemade hearth. Less than three dollars later, I had three pieces of tile cut to perfectly fit inside my new little oven. To reheat pizza, I let the tiles heat up at 400 degrees on the convection setting for at least ten minutes (longer is better if you have the time), and then I lower the temperature to 350 and slide in the slices, covering them loosely with foil. Ten or so minutes later (cooking time depends on the thickness of the pizza), the cheese is bubbling and they're ready to eat. More pieces can be reheated while the first ones are being devoured.

So now you know what tastes even better than homemade pizza. And if your pizza is so delicious that it looks like there won't be any leftovers, you can quickly remind everyone that they need to save room for dessert, especially when it is a new twist on an old favorite. But that's for next time.

12 comments:

  1. i really like your blog, while i grow up on a farm and have a foodblogg as well (in swedish with two friends, http://ragazze.blogspot.com/). I bookmark your blogg and will come back!

    /Elin, Stockholm Sweden

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  2. Elin,
    Thanks so much. How wonderful to have a visitor all the way from Sweden!

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  3. HI farmgirl!
    I love your blog, the pizza looks great :) I think pizza for brekkie is awesome, I always make sure there is enough... or at least enough for lunch the next day anyway :)

    Will you post piccies of ur kitties on the weekend?

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  4. Hi Clare!

    Thanks for your kind words. Yep, leftover pizza is the best.

    Kitty pics on the weekend? I think that could be arranged. In the meantime, did you see the Daily Farm Photo for 6/17/05?

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  5. Hi! I found you from good friens Amy at beautyjoyfood.com. I just 10 minutes ago finished my lefyover pizza, and then I found this. It was fate!! Pizza is one of my favorite leftovers, but I have to say three day old lasagna is my favorite!!

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  6. Hi Cara,
    So glad you found me! This is just too much fun. I wrote this post about leftover pizza last night, then this morning found Clare's site (see her comment above) for the first time, and her two latest posts were about using leftover roasted vegetables and pizza dough. I thought that was fate. Amy found me through the comment I left for Clare. And then I found Amy's BeautyJoyFood where you found me. So I guess we're still going!

    But now you have me thinking about lasagne. Oh, I mean LEFTOVER lasagne. Yummmmmmm. . . .

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  7. lol

    that is soooo funny how it all worked out...

    patchy is sooo cute!

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  8. Hey, here's a faster way to reheat pizza that means NO clean up, at all!

    Place slize on a square of aluminum foil and place that in a dry skillet. Turn the burner on med-med/hi and cover the skillet. Check it in about 10 minutes to see if the crust is becoming hot enough. When you get to that point, put in about 1 tsp of water in the dry skillet taking care not to get any inside the pizza foil. Cover again and in about 2-3 minutes more, you'll have crispy hot pizza with softly melted cheese on top!

    You can do the same without using the foil but you have to come up with a way to elevate the pizza (say on a overturned spatula) if you want to do the mini-steam step.

    This method will undoubtedly save energy because there is no preheating.

    Try it - it really works. Proven through intensive testing by a crazy teen who always wanted reheated pizza for breakfast before school but never wanted to get up with enough time to spare to do it in the oven.

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  9. Hi Littleleena,
    Welcome to the farm! That sounds like a great way to reheat pizza. I'm definitely going to have to try it. Obviously some of the truly great ideas were born from loudly rumbling tummies (and serious pizza cravings)! : )

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  10. Hi,

    It is possible to reheat pizza in a microwave but you have to be really very careful, and I find a little crisping is sometimes required afterwards (depending on the crust).

    To do so, place your pizza slices on a plate in the microwave and zap on the lowest power level for a minute and a half. Test to see if it's warm enough, then transfer to a griller for a short crisping (watch it carefully or you'll end up with burnt pizza).

    The trick to microwaving is to use the lowest power setting and don't microwave for too long.

    I've successfully reheated all manner of pizza leftovers this way and all turned out as good as the original.

    Dave

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  11. I work for a pizza place and occasionally take home pizzas that were made wrong and would be throw away. I put them in the oven and they taste wonderful. I don't see why other people would waste them. They do taste just as good as the freshly baked ones, if not better.

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for pizza dough! I almost always make my own dough but have always been slightly disappointed with the result despite using a pizza stone when baking. I like soft puffy but crispy crust and mine were always on the hard side and flatish. No more thanks to your recipe! I made the yummiest pizza using your crust recipe and the swiss chard artichoke hearts topping! Thank you, thank you!!!!!

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