Messing Up and Fixing It
When cooking, mistakes are going to happen. My approach to these inevitable mistakes is having a large toolkit of methods to improvise and fix things rather than trying to prevent the mistakes from the start (which would be impossible).
I recently attempted to make Stromboli, loosely following a recipe by Our Lord and Savior Guy R. Fieri. I had made Stromboli before, but not for a long time so I wanted to consult someone with expertise in the matter.
However, I did not read the recipe closely and was a bit absentminded while cooking. Mistakes were made, and I improvised to fix them, resulting in a perfectly edible Stromboli.
Below, please enjoy the saga of my Stromboli mistakes and fixes as well as video footage set to a beautiful soundtrack of Rahul from British Bake off lamenting his challenges.
Mistake 1: Mr. Fieri recommends leaving a 1 inch border of dough without toppings on three sides. I left a 1 inch border of dough on four sides.
Fix 1: I added more salami and cheese to the naked dough on one side. However, this resulted in...
Mistake 2: What I thought was an inch was not wide enough to form a proper seal along the Stromboli's seam.
Fix 2: Pizza dough is really stretchy. I stretched it so it got wider and then created the seam.
Mistake 3: I sealed the Stromboli before I put the basil and black pepper inside.
Fix 3: I added black pepper to the top and sprinkled fresh basil over it when serving.
Mistake 4: I did not poke steam vents in the top and I did not seal the bottom seam properly, which resulted in a ton of steam and moisture with nowhere to go, a large bulge on one side, and the dreaded soggy bottom in a few spots.
Fix 4: Too much moisture can be solved in two ways: cooking longer and letting things rest. (This is common with lasagna.) Cooking it longer will allow more moisture to escape as steam. Since my Stromboli had burst a hole through which it could expel steam, I left it in the oven for an extra seven minutes. I also let it rest after I took it out, which allows moisture to distribute itself properly throughout the food and to congeal a bit. Sorry to use the word "congeal" in a food context.
Mistake 5: Because of the uneven borders (see Mistakes 1 and 2), one side of the Stromboli was very bready and the other side was very meaty. Typically, you want a very even meat:bread distribution. Mary Berry would not have been pleased with the lack of "swirl" inside this Stromboli.
Fix 5: There isn't really a physical fix for this one; it's more of an attitude adjustment. Bread is delicious and so is meat. They can be enjoyed together or separately. Who cares if it's a little imbalanced?
Bonus tip: The Mayor of Flavortown's recipe assumes you will be making your own pizza dough and marinara sauce for dipping. I, however, follow Ina Garten's advice that #StoreBoughtIsFine. Especially when the store bought is Rao's marinara.