Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Fictional Pizza Recipe: Papa Pigorino’s Grande BLD

You like pizza? Me too! I like pizza in all most of its infinite varieties.

When I was a teen, and just beginning to learn how to cook, my friend Steve taught me how to make deep-dish pizza. His recipe was similar to pound cake. (Traditional pound cake is made from four ingredients: one pound each of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter.) “Steve’s Pizza” was made from one pound each of bread dough, hamburger, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. To a fourteen-year-old with an insatiable appetite, it was heaven.

I was thinking about that leaden gut-bomb last year while working on Slider, a book about, among other things, a kid who discovers he has a talent for consuming massive quantities of food very quickly. Naturally, he enters eating contests—sliders and pizza are his specialties.
Coming September 2017

In one scene our fourteen-year-old hero, David Miller, must rapidly consume a grotesque, mutant version of “Steve’s Pizza”: Papa Pigorino’s Grande BLD.*

Fictional recipes are fun to write. For one thing, one need not worry about whether they work—they just have so sound good, or at least interesting. They can be inedible, impractical, impossible, or all three. My recipe for the BLD might produce something edible. But no guarantees.

Full disclosure: I have not tested this recipe. Nor do I intend to. If you're looking for pizza ideas you might want to, you know, eat, check out Barry Lyga's pizza-centric novel Bang (April).

Papa Pigorino’s Grande BLD

1 pound frozen bread dough
olive oil
1 can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons oregano
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and cut in half.
1/4 pound pepperoni, sliced
1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and broken into bite-size chunks
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup green and black olives, pitted
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ pound cheddar cheese, shredded
12 strips of bacon
1 egg
1 parsley sprig

Prepare crust
Thaw bread dough and let rise. Roll out dough into a disk about sixteen inches across and place in an oiled pie tin, turning up the edges to make a rim at least two and one-half inches high. Brush with olive oil and bake in a 400° oven for ten minutes to partially cook crust.

Assemble and bake pizza
Pour tomato sauce into partially baked crust. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, oregano. And the garlic cloves. Add Italian sausage and cheddar cheese. Pile on bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, artichoke hearts, and olives. Top with mozzarella and pepperoni.
Make a lattice of bacon strips to cover the mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Don’t burn the bacon!

Final touches
While the pizza is baking, make hash browns and fry one egg, sunny side up. When the pizza is baked, make a nest of hash browns** in the center of the pizza. Top with the fried egg. Add a sprig of parsley to make it classy.

* What does BLD stand for? “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.”

Slider will be published this September.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What I Like to Read

I get a lot of books thrown at me. They come from authors, editors, publicists, and friends. Now, I like books, and I like free books even better. But (you knew that was coming) I do not like the books that most people seem to think I will like. I do not like books that resemble the books I write. I like books I could never imagine myself writing. 

Here are three titles I enjoyed recently.

The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
My oldest literary advisor, Leslie Harris, who turned me on to the James Bond novels when we were thirteen, made me read this book.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book with so many WTF moments. Because this book can be described as fantasy/horror it is not one I would normally seek out. I like fantasy, but horror…scares me.

The Library at Mount Char is Hawkins’ first novel, and it reads like a first novel. I like first novels. I like books that are a little bit messy, stories that zig and zag wildly, characters that are not-quite-right and therefore surprising and altogether convincing. In short, this book was entirely satisfying, and I will certainly read whatever he writes next.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill is the juiciest writer I know. Her sentences fairly ooze and drip and gush, and I do not know how the hell she does it. I would read her grocery list.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is Barnhill’s fourth middle-grade novel, and the first one in which her storytelling caught up with her remarkable voice and prose. If you want to read an author coming into the height of her powers, check it out. Read her first three books too—they’re all excellent. 
I predict her next book will be even better, though that’s hard to imagine.

Bang, by Barry Lyga
I’ve read only two of Barry Lyga’s Young Adult novels: the remarkable Boy Toy back in 2007, and most recently an advance copy of Bang that showed up in my mail a few weeks ago. 

Lyga is a risk-taker, an edge-walker, an author who explores fraught places that scare the piss out of me. I’m often credited with writing “edgy” books. I do not write edgy books. Barry Lyga writes edgy books.

Bang is about a suicidal (yikes!) fourteen-year-old boy who, when he was four, found his father’s gun (OMG!) and shot his two-year-old sister (oof!). See, I could not write that book. My stomach clenches just to imagine it. But Lyga wades in fearlessly, confidently, and with consummate skill. There is also a fun (and occasionally funny) subplot about pizza! I could not stop reading.

Bang will be available this April.