The first two dinners of the week were less than blog-worthy, but I think it’s important to talk about my flubs and failures as well as my successes. Everybody has them, after all, and I hope that, particularly since today is Mike’s birthday and I’ve got something special planned for tonight’s meal, that the last few days aren’t indicative of a downward spiral.

the dinner that wasn't

I had such high hopes for Monday’s dinner. Since the first hint of chill in the air and the appearance of winter squashes at the market, I’ve wanted to make an apple and squash risotto, so I wrote it into the menu for this week. Even when I turn out a meal that isn’t up to snuff, I’m lucky that I don’t often turn out a complete disaster, but this, folks, was inedible. The squash I used was all wrong for the dish, the apples were too sweet and soft and reduced to mush rather than caramelizing like I wanted them to, and the ratio of rice was far too low – the texture was just off. The risotto didn’t come together at all, and it pains me to admit this because there is little that I hate more than wasting food, but I just couldn’t save it. So at 9:30 at night, after going through the seven stages of failed-dinner-induced grief, I made spaghetti with sautéed tomatoes. And it was fine, if uninspired. We didn’t go to bed hungry.

Another dish I was desperate to make immediately if not sooner was Terry B’s gorgeous pizza. Mike usually does the pizza making in our household, making his own dough, grilling pizzas in the summer and turning out an iron skillet version in colder months, but I wanted to start sampling some of the pre-made pizza dough available to us. I had him pick up a package of dough (from Olga’s Cup and Saucer) at Whole Foods, and I used it as the base of our pizza. I sautéed a mix of white and small portabella mushrooms from Wishing Stone Farm with plenty of fresh thyme and a healthy splash of sherry, and layered them on the par-baked crust with a little roasted tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced red onion and grated parmesan. I topped the pie with a big handful of baby arugula when it came out of the oven, a sprinkle of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil. The crust smelled and tasted great, but I let it bake too long – it was, shall we say, extra-crispy. The toppings were fantastic, though – a great combination of flavors and textures, and I must thank Terry for the inspiration.

Despite the fact that neither of these dishes turned out quite as I had hoped they would, I’m eager to try my hand at them again. I just hope I can get back on track tonight.

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