By Quentin H. / December 22nd, 2023
My favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve. It is the one time of the year when everyone is looking forward to the future together and wanting to make the following year the best one possible. It is about noisemakers and resolutions, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Auld Lang Syne, dancing and music, and spending time with people who matter.
These past 12 months have been an incredibly trying time in my life between my health issues and work and my sport activities. I’m definitely in a different place mentally than I was when I started the year out, and I have fallen a bit more in love with FINAL FANTASY XIV Online during that time period too.
For this coming year, I’ve also been trying to figure out what I want to do as a resolution – and I think it will be threefold. First, I will set a goal to lose 30-40 pounds this year as I focus on my health (boring, I know!). I’ve already been working on doing more cardio, moderating my diet, and making better life choices. I am still worried about my heart, and continuing to take proper care of myself – and even stepping it up – will go a long way towards that.
Second, I will continue to write Cooking Eorzea as much as possible. I love my (mostly!) weekly cooking column, and I want to keep writing it.
And as for my final resolution: I want to see Hikaru Utada’s SCIENCE FICTION tour in 2024. A lot of you may be saying “that name sounds familiar, but how do I know that person?” Hikaru Utada (pronouns: she/her, they/them) wrote and sang the title themes for multiple KINGDOM HEARTS games that started with Hikari/Simple and Clean in 2002 and most recently with Chikai/Don’t Think Twice for KINGDOM HEARTS III. She has been releasing music since 1999, and she has not toured since 2018. I love her music, not just because of KINGDOM HEARTS, and I have not been abroad since I went to Rome in 2019. It will be a good chance to see a bit more of the world and to see an amazing artist perform live – if I can get tickets.
That means that I am setting reasonable, obtainable resolutions (taking care of myself and writing Cooking Eorzea) and a slightly unreasonable resolution (going to see Hikaru Utada perform) for 2024. All of these resolutions will be goals that I hope to achieve with Love, Eorzean Style.
If you’ve missed an installment of Cooking Eorzea, you can check out all the prior recipes here.
Recipe of the Week
The 43rd Cooking Eorzea recipe is a ‘Medium’ difficulty recipe from the Norvrandt region, and it is a two-day recipe to make! This proved to be a bit of a problem, because I had to find the same approximate time over two days to make the dish. I ended up having to get up around 5 AM to make the pizza dough one day and then at the same time the next to finish making the pizza. I had also never made pizza from scratch before, and so it was an interesting dish to make!
Anywhere, here is what the whole pizza pie is supposed to look like:
And here is what a pizza slice looks like in the hands of a professional chef!
Featured Ingredient of the Week
This week’s featured ingredient of the week is basil! It ordinarily would be something like San Morzano tomatoes, but I immediately was drawn to the basil plant because…well…it is the first plant that I am going to try to take care of since I had a fire in my apartment. Ordinarily, I use fresh basil leaves by themselves, but I didn’t have an option for this week. As this column goes to publish, I will have the basil plant sitting in indirect sunlight and I am already planning on potting it properly to hopefully grow out!
My Cooking Attempt
Pizza doesn’t come ready-made! Instead, I had to gather together all of the ingredients needed to make it, first:
The (very early) morning before I made the final dish, I put the bread flour, active dry yeast, sugar, salt, ginger powder, and onion powder together in a bowl.
I then added the water and the olive oil together in a bowl and whisked them together.
I then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
Once that was done, I placed the bowl into the stand mixer, and turned it on.
However, the pizza dough wouldn’t come together despite me waiting several minutes, and I realized that it was probably because I forgot to mix all the dry ingredients together before I started. So, I ended up having to throw the batch out and I started it all over again. This time, I blended the dry ingredients together.
I started the stand mixer at low, and this time, it started to turn into a dough ball! I then started the mixer to knead the dough up for another five minutes.
While the dough was kneading, I scattered all-purpose flour across my silicone mat.
I shaped the raw dough from the bowl into a proper ball shape.
I then sprayed nonstick spray into a large bowl, put the dough ball inside, covered it with wrap, and then put it into the refrigerator for 24 hours to rise.
A bit before the dough was ready, I started on the sauce. First, I minced up the fresh garlic.
I added olive oil and butter together into a saucepan, and I let them melt together. Once that was done, I added in the minced garlic, and I let the garlic brown for a few minutes.
This is how the garlic looked when it was done.
I added in the whole San Marzano tomatoes, and I mixed it together with the garlic, butter, and olive oil.
Once it was well-blended, I added in the oregano, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and sugar.
I then changed the temperature, blended the seasonings in, and I let the pizza sauce cook for about 45 minutes. Every so often, I would stir and I would lightly mash the whole San Marzano tomatoes into the pizza sauce.
As the pizza sauce was cooking on the stovetop, I laid out a fresh scattering of all-purpose flour on my silicone mat and I preheated the oven to 475 for the pizza itself.
At this point, it was time to remove the pizza dough from the fridge. The 24 hours that passed had really been kind to my pizza dough, as it had definitely grown in size! First, I punched it down and then I stretched it out across the mat.
I then divided it up into three pizza dough balls, covered them in a kitchen towel, and let it all rest for a half-hour.
While the dough was rising again, I oiled up my new cast-iron skillet.
I then generously scattered onion powder and garlic powder along the inside of the cast-iron skillet.
A half-hour after I covered the dough, I uncovered it, selected a single dough ball and then punched it down.
I then tried to stretch out the dough ball to be larger than the skillet size, but I ended up having to steal dough from one of the other dough balls in order to have enough.
At this point, my pizza sauce was ready, and I added in some salt and pepper to taste! I then set it aside and then added the pizza dough into the previously prepared cast-iron skillet.
I then scooped out the pizza sauce and then laid it out over the pizza dough.
Once the pizza sauce was spread out, I added the fresh mozzarella on top and then I brushed the crust with olive oil.
At that point, I baked the bottom crust on the stovetop for about five minutes.
I then baked the pizza in the oven for about 12 minutes.
Once the timer was up, I pulled the pizza out and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top of it. I then put it back into the oven to bake for another three minutes.
While the pizza was baking for a second time, I plucked fresh leaves off of the basil plant. Once the pizza was done, I added it to the pizza.
And here is the final dish for this week’s Cooking Eorzea column! The red and gold confetti came from June’s FINAL FANTASY XVI Pre-Launch Celebration and August’s FINAL FANTASY XIV FAN FESTIVAL 2023-2024 events.
And here is a single slice from a side angle!
So, it turns out that I burned the bottom of the pizza in the skillet, and it had blackened. Other than that, it was absolutely fantastic! The pizza sauce was incredibly flavorful, and the cheese pulled apart as I ate it. I ended up eating everything but the bottom burned crust, and I loved the slight fresh pop that the basil leave added. The dough was fully cooked through too, and it was definitely a fluffy and fully done crust. The pizza was simply delicious, and it was incredibly filling.
If I was to make this pizza dish a second time, I would definitely not burn the pizza bottom if I could. Otherwise, I would have probably let the dough sit in the refrigerator for awhile longer before I used it. Otherwise, this dish turned out extremely well and I was quite happy with how it turned out!
The final thank you’s for this year’s Cooking Eorzea column! I want to first thank Victoria Rosenthal for writing The Ultimate FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook. I also want to thank the staff over at Insight Editions for giving me permission to use the photos from their book to show how these recipes are actually supposed to look, and responding to my continual photo requests throughout the year. Furthermore, I owe Brandon Rose a special thanks for creating the logo for this series on short notice and for his photoediting work. You should check him and his works out over on X.
Finally, I want to thank both Hiromichi Tanaka and Naoki Yoshida for producing FINAL FANTASY XIV Online in 1.0 and in A Realm Reborn. Eorzea was shaped by both of them, and my life is so much better off because of it.
Coming in 2024
When Cooking Eorzea returns at the start of 2024, I will be making Pork Kakuni from the Higashi region.
I am pretty excited to be working with pork belly, and the dish looks simply fantastic to make and eat. So please look forward to it!
What toppings do you like to put on your pizza?
What are your New Year Resolutions?
Let us know in the comments below!
CookingCooking EorzeaFFXIVFinal FantasyFinal Fantasy XIVFINAL FANTASY XIV OnlineHiromichi TanakaInsight EditionsMMORPGNaoki YoshidaPCPlaystationPlayStation 4PlayStation 5Square EnixVictoria Rosenthal