Earlier last week, Miss Mary sent me a last-minute invitation to an impromptu Belmont Stakes party. Now Miss Mary is known for her horse racing fetes (Seriously, her Derby parties are LEGENDARY) and for the last few years that we have been friends, I have been either out of town or otherwise engaged during all of the Triple Crown races (what are the odds?) and so I have missed all of her gatherings. All of them. And I have been devastated because like I said, her Derby parties make Martha Stewart look like an amateur.  Actually - everything Miss Mary does makes Martha look like an amateur. 

Anyways, long story long, not only was I in town this past weekend but I had no plans and so I was able to attend the Belmont Stakes party. Now Belmont is not nearly on par with The Derby in terms of pomp and circumstance (or signature cocktails). Nor does it quite measure up to The Preakness.  But a horse race is a horse race is a horse race (and an excuse to wear fancy headwear). And a party at Miss Mary's is on par with nothing short of awesome so I was excited.

It was my responsibility to bring a pick-up - which I had to clarify since it was a term I was unfamiliar with, and actually at first, I was thinking set-up, which is the liquor you bring in a brown paper bag to places that don't serve liquor, but which do serve things you can mix with liquor (like Coke or Sun-Drop).  Unless I am confused in which case a set-up is the Sun-Drop, Coke, and maraschino cherries you bring to mix with moonshine. I can't remember.

Thankfully, a pick-up is neither. It's fancy-speak for an appetizer. And while my original intention was to make corn, mushroom & bacon empanadas (so appropriate for a NY horse race, right?) our local grocery store didn't have frozen empanda wrappers (despite the large Mexican population in this town and the extensive selection of other Mexican foodstuffs) and I was lazy as all hell didn't feel like making empanada dough from scratch so I wound up grabbing a tube of Pillsbury pizza dough and making a free form Mexican corn, mushroom & salami pizza instead. (And anyone who busts my balls over the fact that salami isn't Mexican can just bite me. I had a bunch of salami in the house and no bacon and the first rule of clever cooking is use what you have. Also? The salami was pre-sliced so any salami jokes are officially null and void.)  Meanwhile (she sings sweetly), the pizza was super easy to make and extraordinarily delicious. I highly recommend you give it a whirl. Here's how:

Add some olive oil to a large saute pan and heat it up. Add 1 large tablespoon of chopped garlic and 3 large scallions, white and green parts chopped up.  Saute for about 30 seconds until things start to sizzle and pop. 

Add to the pan 10 slices of hard salami (or bacon or any other processed pork product you may have in your fridge) sliced and diced.  Also add 1 11-oz can of corn and about a cup and a half of diced mushrooms. I used baby bellas but any kind of mushroom (except the druggy kind) is fine.  Cook the whole mess for a few minutes until it's no longer raw. I know - helpful instruction right? I wanted to say "cook it until it's cooked through" but I didn't think that would be useful either. The whole point is you don't need to cook it to death because it's going in the oven where it's going to be cooked even more. You just don't want it 100% raw and you want to give the ingredients a chance to meet and mingle and get to know each other a little. 

While you're cooking everything down to a semi crisp-tender stage (no more than 5 - 6 minutes on medium high heat), you want to season it. I used a pre-mixed Southwest seasoning from Penzey's, some salt, and some Texas Pete hot sauce.  At the very least I recommend salt & pepper. Hot sauce of any kind if you want it spicy. And if you have some taco seasoning or chili seasoning, sprinkle it in. It can't hurt.

As for the dough, I grabbed a tube of Pillsbury pizza dough. I don't remember what size. It wasn't the super, duper extra large size. And it wasn't the mini size. So I am going to go with the Goldilocks version where it was "just right."  Now I had problems rolling it out because I originally attempted to make mini pizzas and when that didn't work I had to cobble together my efforts which resulted in a free form crust. Nonetheless, you should be able to sprinkle some flour on your counter or table and roll out the dough a little less spastically than I did.

Once you roll it out, slide it onto a cookie sheet or baking tray that's been greased with Pam.  And then spread your delicious corn-mushroom-meaty topping all over, leaving just a wee bit on the edges for a crust, To top off the whole shebang, you'll need queso fresco which is that crumbly, mild Mexican white cheese. I purchased a 10-oz wheel and used about 3/4 of it. I just broke off pieces and crumbled it on top.  Then plunk the whole thing in the oven.

As far a time and temperatures, follow the instructions on the pizza dough tube (unless your oven is as possessed as mine in which case godspeed and godbless or 10 minutes at 3 clicks from the far right).  Anyways...this is what you should wind up with:

Mexican Pizza.jpg

Actually yours should probably be a little less oblong, but no less tasty. And if it is oblong, who gives a fuck? Still tasty!!!

Anyways I highly recommend this for all of your pick-ups or NY horse races or both or neither. I just highly recommend it in general. Too bad the Internet isn't scratch & sniff.



So now I want pizza!


I have to tell you the the Penzey's gift set you sent me for my 30th birthday last year is STILL my favorite FAVORITE gift.

The closest store is in Naperville and I'm so tempted to just drive one day and spend an obscene amount of money re-stocking my entire spice cabinet with all Penzey's stuff.

Yeah, I want pizza now too. Sigh.

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