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Flour on the peel avoids a sticky situation.

Byline: FOOD DUDE By Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

Food Dude likes to graze. All day long I can be found munching on chips, cookies, energy drinks - did I mention chips? - and the occasional Hershey's Skor Bar (a personal weakness of mine). I'm basically junk-food eating livestock, only I'm largely confined to my cubicle like veal. A free-range food writer, I'm not.

I didn't know my eating habits made me part of a growing trend until recently, when I discovered that just about all of the major commercial dieting programs call for five or six small meals a day, as opposed to the three meals people used to eat. Apparently, I'm not the only one who eats like a hoofed animal.

If the trend continues, breakfast, lunch and dinner could be a thing of the past. Families will gather together for snack time, which will be followed by a fifth snack time, roughly two hours later. What will become of Thanksgiving?

I suppose it's a good thing we've given up ham-and-egg breakfasts, three martini lunches and meat-and-potato dinners, but part of me misses the routine of actually sitting down to eat. Besides, meal number 4 just doesn't have the same ring as "supper."

If you've got a suggestion for what to call the five or six major meals of the day, write to the Food Dude at the address at the end of the column.

Dear Food Dude: I tried to make a pizza using a peel and stone and it was a disaster. It turned into a calzone. Are you supposed to make the pizza on the counter and slide it on to the peel and then onto the stone? Or make it on the peel and then slide it on to the stone? How do you keep it from sticking?

- Stickie

Dear Stickie: Your problem is probably one of wet dough, suspects Kevin Cohen, owner of Bene Gourmet Pizza. The solution is to sprinkle a generous amount of flour or cornmeal onto your pizza peel (the giant wooden paddle used to insert and remove pizzas from a hot oven) and onto your pizza stone (the clay or stone slab that retains heat and helps simulate the baking conditions of a brick pizza oven). This will keep your dough from sticking.

Maybe you're already adding flour or cornmeal, but Cohen says you're probably not using enough. The decision to use flour or cornmeal is a personal one. Since Bene uses semolina flour (a coarsely ground wheat flour that is often used to make gnocchi, couscous and quality pastas) in its pizza, Cohen prefers to use semolina flour on his cooking surfaces.

"Be overgenerous with flour," he says. "You can't really burn flour and you can always dust off the pizza skin (if too much remains)."

If you're still having problems, Cohen says, you might try switching from a pizza stone to a pizza screen, a thin metal rack that's available at commercial restaurant supply stores such as Curtis Restaurant Equipment. Then follow these directions:

Make dough.

Proof dough (let it puff up).

Roll out dough.

Place rolled dough between two sheets of wax paper and proof a second time (the wax paper will help remove some of the moisture) for roughly 20 minutes.

Place on a heavily floured pizza peel. Add toppings.

Slide pizza onto a well-greased pizza screen and bake.

Remove pizza when it is 90 percent done and finish baking directly on the oven rack.

And if after all that you're still having trouble, Cohen says, you can always call for takeout pizza. He knows just the place. ...

Talk to the Food Dude at www.registerguard.com/blogs/index.php/fooddude. Or, send mail to Food Dude, The Register Guard, P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2168.
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Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 14, 2007
Words:629
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