green skillet pizza

DSC03917

I used the electric pan as a pizza maker and this is what I found out: the top griddle does not brown the top of the crust when it is closed, so I will have to flip the crust over to brown the top. Basically, the pan fries the bread, and in the absence of clear instructions of how to cook a pizza in the electric pan, I had to experiment. To those of you who have the Homemate brand Double Electric Pans/Pizza Maker, this is what you will have to do: roll out or pat the pizza as thin as possible–about 1/4 inch thickness. Put about 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet part to heat up (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes) on maximum. Put the crust in and let it fry about 5 minutes. Flip it and let the top brown slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Then flip it back over, add the toppings and close the lid and cook for another 5 minutes on 180˚C. Pizza in ten!

Pizza Crust (from America’s Test Kitchen)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Proofing: 30 minutes

2 1/2 cups (312g) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package instant yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup (200ml) skim milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar

Heat the oven to 200˚F. Once it reaches the desired temperature, turn it off but do not open the door.

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, salt, and yeast in the mixing bowl. In a measuring cup, add the milk, oil, and sugar. Combine the flour, salt, and yeast on low speed, while it is mixing, add the milk mixture. Continue beating until just incorporated. Turn the speed up to medium low and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny and comes together in a ball.

Baker’s note: I used a handmixer fitted with dough hooks. It takes longer to make pizza dough with a handmixer because it’s not as powerful. So when the recipe says low speed, use medium low speed, and so medium low becomes medium high. My arm got tired holding the motor so I had to use both hands to hold it!

Lightly flour a board and knead the dough two times and form into a ball. Put dough ball in a large greased glass bowl, turning it several times to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the warm oven to proof for 30 minutes.

By now the dough should have doubled in bulk. Take it out of the oven and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half with a bench scraper.

Baker’s note: I wrapped both dough balls in plastic and refrigerated them to stop the rising process. This is because I didn’t want to make the pizza right away. If you refrigerate the dough, use it within 24 hours. If you want a thick crust you will have to make the pizza right away when the yeast is fresh. For a thin crust pizza, where very little rising is involved, cooking the crust later is no problem.

To make the crust, roll out one dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Or use your fingers to stretch and tamp the dough into a roughly 10 inch round. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet and add the pizza dough.  Prick the dough with a fork. Fry 5 minutes on one side, flip and fry 2-3 minutes on the other.

Green Skillet Pizza:
Prep time: 15 minutes (includes sauteeing the toppings)
Cook time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
6 cups spinach, chopped
5 ounces arugula,any tough stems removed, chopped (about 6 cups)
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1/2 cup prepared pesto (I used basil pesto, recipe to follow)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, lightly saute the mushrooms and garlic in oil. Add the spinach and arugula. Saute until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. In the pan add the water and heat to boiling. Add the peas and cook until bright green. Drain the peas and discard the water. Add peas to the cooked vegetables.

Baker’s note: Prepare the pizza toppings ahead of time and refrigerate.

When the top of the pizza crust is browned, spread half the pesto. Add half the toppings and half the cheese. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the second crust.

Andy complained that the pizza was slightly bitter. I think the arugula and the spinach were not a good combination. I should have used broccoli with either arugula or the spinach, not both. He said the crust was excellent–it was fresh, slightly crisp on the bottom but soft on the inside.

Basil Pesto (adapted from Skinnytaste)
Prep time: 10 minutes

1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

The easiest thing to do is to process all ingredients in a food processor. Since I’m in Salaya and not in my kitchen at home, I had to make the pesto by hand. For this, I needed one sharp santoku knife.

tomato ratatouille

DSC03899

This vegetable stew is hearty and filling, and it comes with the added feeling of virtuousness because it is made entirely of fresh vegetables.  There is nothing in it to feel guilty about. I used salsa to season it, but a tomato paste or puree with some wine would be wonderful.

Tomato Ratatouille (adapted from The Photo Cookbook-Quick and Easy)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion cut into thin wedges
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used two tablespoons salsa for flavor and bite)
3 tablespoons water
2/3 cup sliced mushrooms (I used fresh shiitakes)
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
pepper
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil, to serve, optional
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve, optional

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch pot. Add the onion, garlic, and eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
2. Add the bell peppers and zucchini.
3. Mix together the tomato paste and water in a small bowl and stir into the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes, with pepper to taste, and continue to simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
5. Garnish with shredded basil and serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

steamed chicken breast with herb butter and coconut basmati rice

DSC03902
I forgot the pickled vegetables.

This dish is made in 2 steps; the rice is cooked in a rice cooker and the chicken is steamed by wrapping each breast in foil then baking the packets in the oven. The original recipe from The Photo Cookbook-Quick and Easy directs steaming packets of chicken over the rice as it cooks. This is tricky, since both rice and chicken cook at different rates depending on the temperature. I thought it would be easier to do them separately. My solution worked, for the chicken and the rice came together wonderfully, with delicate undertones of coconut and herbs. The original recipe called for just a butter-cilantro stuffing. Though I love cilantro, by itself, the taste can be monotonous. The Chinese know this, and often combine it with other herbs such as Chinese celery (kunchai in Thai) and onion. The result is a more complex flavor, however, it lacks that extra bite and tang. The Thai solution is to put in chiles, and I agree with this approach. You want the flavor of chile without burning off your taste buds.

Coconut Rice
2 cups (8 oz each) Basmati rice
1 250ml coconut cream
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt

Rinse the rice, if directed to do so. Then put all ingredients in a rice cooker pot, press the button and forget it!

Cook’s Note: If desired, dress up the rice with fried garlic and minced scallion.

Steamed Chicken Breasts with Herb Butter
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 fresh Thai chile, seeded and chopped (if more heat is desired, leave in the seeds)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped Chinese celery stems (reserve leaves to garnish a soup otherwise discard, they are bitter)
3 tablespoons onion, minced
8 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
8×12 inch square pieces of aluminum foil

Preheat the oven 350˚F/185˚C

To stuff the chicken breasts, slit each chicken breast from the thickest part almost to the end of the thinnest part. The pocket should be about 2 1/2 inches deep at the thickest part. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, chile, cilantro, Chinese celery, and onion. Stuff each chicken breast with a generous spoonful of the herb mixture. Sprinkle top and bottom of the breast all over with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the stuffed chicken breast in the center of a piece of aluminum foil, bring to edges together and fold to seal. Fold and seal each end. Place on a baking tray and repeat with the other chicken breasts.

Place the baking tray in the oven. Do four at a time or at the most, six. Bake about 15-18 minutes. Pierce the thickest part of one chicken packet with an instant read thermometer. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165˚F. If not, bake an additional 3-5 minutes.

Spoon cooked coconut basmati rice on a plate and place one cooked chicken breast on top; pour reserved juices from the packet on top. Serve with Pickled Vegetables, which as I said,  I forgot.

Pickled Vegetables
1 medium carrot
1 medium cucumber
3 scallions
1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 tablespoons simple syrup

Shred all the vegetables. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and simple syrup. Pour vinegar mixture over the top of the vegetables and toss to combine.

 

arugula burger

DSC03894

I put greens underneath this burger, inside it and beside it! When my children were little, I used to make a version of this with spinach called Popeye burgers. This is my low-calorie “healthy” burger made from lean ground pork and arugula or rocket salad as it’s known here, on top of grilled iceberg lettuce served with fresh guacamole on top of mixed salad. . In fact, any kind of greens can go inside the burger patty–spinach (called English spinach in Bangkok supermarkets), and pak khom or Thai spinach. I haven’t tried it but I bet chopped broccoli would be good too.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes or 5 minutes per side

1 lb lean ground meat (pork, chicken, or beef)
1 lb rocket salad or arugula, lightly sauteed and chopped coarsely
1 large egg well beaten
2 large cloves garlic, minced
fresh herbs such as thyme and basil
salt and pepper

iceberg lettuce
guacamole

In a medium bowl put the meat, rocket salad, egg, garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and shape into 6 patties. Grill 2-5 minutes on each side.

I served it on top of a slice of grilled iceberg lettuce, and, on the side, some home made guacamole made with crushed avocado, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, scallion; seasoned with lime juice, salt and pepper. It was a simple and easy meal to make.

 

asian style grilled chicken legs

DSC03891

grilled vegetables, green banana with escovitch sauce, asian style grilled chicken leg

I found this recipe for grilled chicken legs on Skinnytaste and thought it was easy to adapt.  The basic ingredients are soy sauce and vinegar in equal proportions, but you can dress up this marinade any way you like. I’ve made it twice and each time I used what I had on hand. The first time I substituted mirin, a Japanese cooking wine, for the vinegar. The second time I made it I used ordinary white vinegar. I added chopped garlic instead of garlic powder and I found it ramped up the garlic flavor deliciously.

Asian Style Grilled Chicken Legs

prep time: 12-18 hours
cooking time: 20-25 minutes

8 skinless chicken legs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar or mirin
5 large cloves of garlic, crushed
ground ginger
black pepper
Seasoning salt

Glaze, optional
1/4 cup sweet chicken chili sauce, available at Asian groceries
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon honey

To de-skin the chicken legs, grasp both ends with paper towels and simply pull down the skin. It’s a bit like taking off skinny jeans! Put the skinless legs in a glass bowl fitted with a lid. You can use a zipper lock bag but it’s more environmentally friendly to use the glass bowl.

If you wish season the legs with ground ginger and black pepper. It occurs to me that instead of ginger and black pepper, you can also use a light sprinkling of seasoning salt, my mother’s favorite chicken seasoning. But the chicken will still be flavorful without any seasoning. The secret is in the simple marinade.

In a small bowl, combine equal parts soy sauce and vinegar or mirin. Add the garlic. Pour over the chicken legs and cover. Shake the bowl back and forth to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

Grill the chicken legs. I used my electric skillet on 180˚C with a teaspoon of rice bran oil brushed on the bottom. Turn the chicken legs every five minutes for a total of 20 minutes. At the end of grilling, if desired, brush with the glaze. Done!

 

fish tacos with corn-guava-avocado salsa

DSC03876 We woke up this morning to discover one of the neighbors looking in through the window. It’s been pretty quiet in the condo complex because of the switch over in the school year at the university from June to March to August to June. This means that this year’s summer holiday is 5 months long. Not many uni students are back yet of course, and at the high school, we are just beginning our two month summer break. The students seemed quite bewildered, some of them, at suddenly having nothing to do after exams last Tuesday were over. Since some of their friends came back for ROTC on Wednesday afternoon, they decided to show solidarity and showed up at school for old times’ sake. I suppose this curious visitor was doing the same thing, wondering where everybody had gone. What should he do now that his time is his own?

DSC03881With grades in, I’ve been cooking with the electric pan. The lid can open out and double the cooking surface, so I have both a skillet and a griddle. Cooking on the balcony is somewhat challenging because there is no electrical outlet so I have to run an extra long extension cord outside. Plus, there is just a little two-foot square space right next to the sink. If I angle the pan just so I can open it out. Last night for supper I made grilled chicken thighs, but I had made them in Bangkok. We ate them with a mango-avocado salsa. If it seems that we are eating more avocado it is because we found them for Baht 20 apiece at the Suan Luang market yesterday.  We bought 6 and the vendor added 1 more for goodwill. I hope she will be there next weekend. I love avocado.

 

DSC03885Because I love to eat, I really should exercise more. To respect one’s body is to exercise, and then to eat good food that is fresh and homemade. Today, we rode our bikes around Phuttamonthon, the Buddhist park, and then we each swam 500 meters in the Sirimongkol Pool. We decided to eat in rather than eat out. For lunch today I prepared lightly sauteed pangasius fillets which we ate wrapped inside warm flour tortillas topped with corn-guava-avocado salsa and Greek-style yogurt.  It’s so good to be cooking again!

 

 

Fish Tacos with Corn-Guava-Avocado Salsa

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes (in a double electric pan heated to 180˚C)

2 white fish fillets (e.g. tilapia)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon rice bran oil
4 flour tortillas

Pat dry the fillets then sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Lightly sauté in a little oil until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas. Keep warm until ready to serve. Cut the fillets into large chunks just before eating.

Corn-Guava-Avocado Salsa
1 ear of fresh corn, niblets removed from the cob
1 small Thai guava, peeled, seeded, and chopped (can substitute jicama or mun kaew)
1 medium avocado, peeled, pit removed, and chopped
8 grape tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 of a large onion, thinly sliced
the juice of 3 small limes
salt to taste
1 tablespoon minced scallion for garnish
1-2 chopped fresh Thai chilies, optional

Lightly cook the corn in the microwave for 4 minutes, drain the niblets and cool them. In a medium bowl, put the niblets, the guava, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro and onion. Squeeze the lime juice all over. Add salt to taste. Garnish with scallion and chilies, if using, and spoon over fish chunks on top of a warm tortilla. Put a generous dollop of yogurt on top and eat–leave out that steaming side-dish of guilt and enjoy. It’s low in carbs and calories.

stuffed chicken breasts with orange-mustard sauce

DSC02054

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Orange-Mustard Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3-6

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup frozen spinach, slightly thawed
1/2 cup chopped bacon
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon grain mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven 350˚F.

Prepare the chicken. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat. Split each breast in half horizontally so that you get two thin steaks about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the bacon. Fry the bacon in a small skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from rendered fat and let bacon drain on a sheet of paper towel. Don’t discard the bacon fat.

Fill the chicken rolls. In the middle of each steak, put about 1 tablespoon bacon and 2 tablespoons frozen spinach. Fasten with toothpicks.

Sear the chicken rolls. On medium high heat, lightly brown the chicken rolls in the bacon fat. Don’t discard the fat and brown bits in the pan. In fact, don’t wash it!

Bake the rolls. Put the rolls in an 8-inch baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the rolls are cooked through. If some rolls are small, test them with an instant read thermometer after 10 minutes. Test the larger rolls after 15 minutes. Cook for 4-5 minutes more until the temperature reaches 160˚F. Remove the toothpicks.

Make the sauce. Meanwhile in the pan in which the chicken was browned, add the chicken broth. I like to save time by using concentrated chicken broth paste. It’s very salty so there’s no need to add salt, but do use it sparingly. If it says a teaspoon, use half a teaspoon then add the water to the pan. Add the orange juice and the Dijon mustard and cook down until the liquid is thickened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Remember you have almost a full bag of frozen spinach left over? Well, cook it with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over each chicken roll,  add a generous spoonful of cooked spinach on the side, and eat! I also recommend serving these stuffed chicken rolls with roasted vegetables.

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

This juicy pork tenderloin recipe was inspired by Gina at skinnytaste. com.  To me it is mildly spicy, and the cool slightly sweet salsa accompaniment just soothes the tongue!
P.S. I wanted to add this note to anyone concerned about the safety of pink pork. Pork is safe to eat when the internal temperature rises to 150˚F. For more information visit this link by America’s Test Kitchen/Shine Food.

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Mango-Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Prep time: 5 hours (or overnight) plus 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-35 minutes depending on the weight
Servings: 6-8 as appetizer, 2-4 as main course

Ingredients:
• 1 lb lean pork tenderloin, all fat and silver removed
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 – 3 tablespoons Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 lime, squeezed
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/4 -1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

For the salsa:
• 2 Haas avocadoes, diced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 2 large ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
• 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine the garlic, jerk seasoning, and salt, rub all over pork (wear gloves if you wish). Place in a 8 inch square pan, then pour the lime and orange juices over the pork. Turn so that the juices cover all the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally.

The next day (or 5 hours later), preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Bake the pork 25 minutes for 3/4 pound roast or up to 35 minutes for at 1 pound roast. When it has reached an internal temperature of 155˚F (check it 5 minutes before time is up), remove it from the oven and let it rest on the stovetop. The tenderloin should come to 160˚F during resting, about 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Meanwhile make the salsa: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.

turkey patty with broccoli, celery, and fennel

DSC01968

This is a great meal: turkey patty served on a bed of grilled iceberg lettuce, kale chips, and asparagus and tomato-olive dressing with Canadian bacon and onion. Putting broccoli and celery in the turkey patty adds moisture and also crunch–not to mention increasing your daily vegetable portion!

Turkey Patty with Broccoli and Fennel

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 minutes per patty
Servings: 5 patties

Ingredients
1 pound lean ground turkey (93% or higher)
1/2 cup broccoli stems, chopped
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons celery, minced
1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 egg, beaten

Preparation
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and combine. Cut a wide sheet of wax paper. Dip a 1/2 cup measure in water. Scoop up some of the turkey meat mixture and scrape off the excess. Empty the scoop onto the wax paper sheet and repeat. Press each patty to flatten slightly. This much seasoned turkey mixture yields  five patties.

Cook’s Note: Dipping the 1/2 cup measure in water helps to release the patty.

I used the George Foreman grill to cook these patties. It took just four minutes per patty. Patties can also be broiled or pan-fried in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Cook until each patty reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F.

asian grilled tofu triangles with thai cabbage salad

asian grilled tofu triangles

This recipe was inspired by the South Beach Diet Cookbook. That recipe originally called for tempeh but as I’m not a tempeh fan I decided to use its first cousin, extra firm tofu. This recipe takes longer to make because you need to press out the excess water from the tofu and then marinate it for at least 4 hours. After it was grilled, I was a bit disappointed in the taste–the ginger and garlic flavors were overshadowed by the sesame oil. Next time I make this I will increase the garlic and ginger by one tablespoon each.

Asian Grilled Tofu Triangles

Prep time: 40 minutes
Marinating time: 12 hours
Cook time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4

1 pound extra firm tofu drained and cut into triangles
1 tablespoon canola oil (can use peanut oil)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons scallions sliced thinly on the diagonal for garnish (optional)

Press the tofu. Spread two layers of paper towels on a medium rimmed baking tray. Spread the tofu on top of the paper towels. Put another layer of paper towels on top. Cover the paper towels with a small rimmed baking tray. Place canned goods and or books on top to weight down the small baking tray. This will press out the water and flatten the triangles to about half the size when they were sliced. It takes about 20 minutes to remove the excess water.

Cook’s Note: The tofu may need a change of paper towels and an additional 20 minutes if the triangles have not reduced in size significantly.

Make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk the oils, ginger, garlic and soy sauce until they emulsify. Put the pressed tofu in an 8” square pan and pour the marinade on top. With a pair of tongs, gently turn the tofu several times to coat. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours. I let them sit overnight in the marinade.

Grill the tofu triangles. The next day, I heated up the George Foreman grill and grilled the tofu 4 minutes. That was enough time to cook them and also get that wonderful burnt grill lines. If desired, sprinkle sliced scallions on top. Serve at once.

Cook’s Note: Save the marinade as a dressing for the grilled tofu. The tofu turned out slightly sweet and with a delicate flavor.

To accompany the grilled tofu, I made my favorite coconut kale recipe (kale, coconut oil, pepper flakes and Maldon’s sea salt. Yum!) and tried a new recipe for Thai Cabbage Salad from epicurious. I adapted the measurements because there was enough to feed everybody at a pot luck supper and then some. I think I could even halve the recipe one more time.

Thai Cabbage Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1/4 head each red & green cabbage (sliced thinly)
3 carrots grated
1 medium cucumber diced small
1 large red pepper diced small)
1/2 cup scallions (sliced thinly)
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped coarsely)

Dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar or mirin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
2 Thai chilies (minced)
4-6 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1/2 cup peanuts

Do ahead: make salad dressing in a large jar and store in the refrigerator up to one week

Toss all salad ingredients together. Twenty minutes before serving, add dressing to salad and toss. Let sit 20 minutes to let flavors develop. Sprinkle peanuts on top.

thai cabbage salad