green skillet pizza

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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.

berry blox

What better way to enjoy the last berries of summer, than to put them in a delicious snack! Instead of using gelatin, which is made from parts of the cow that, trust me, you don’t want to know about, use agar-agar, which is made from seaweed. Thus this snack, a variation on the Knox Blox that I used to carry to my daughter’s soccer games, is a vegan jelly treat. It’s also low in sugar. So it’s (mostly) good for you.

3 cups strawberries
1 cup blackberries (or blueberries)
1/4 cup water
1 cup applesauce
1 cup apple juice (or orange juice)
8 teaspoons agar-agar powder*

First put the berries and the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally. This will take about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. I hate it when America’s Test Kitchen uses the shorthand “off the heat.” It reminds me of the Queen of Hearts screaming at Alice “Off with her head!” So turn off the heat and put the berry mixture in the blender. Puree the berries until the mixture is smooth. You’ll end up with strawberry seeds but unless you want to strain it, the seeds won’t hurt. They’re just a minor inconvenience.

Put the puree back into the pot and add the applesauce. Stir and set aside. In a large bowl, pour the apple juice and sprinkle the agar-agar powder on top. Whisk to dissolve, about 3-5 minutes. Pour the juice mixture into the pot with the berry mixture and heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Agar-agar needs to come to a boil in order to activate its jelling properties.

Pour the mixture into one 8×8 inch square pan or dish. Unlike gelatin, any mixture with agar-agar in it doesn’t need refrigeration to set. Just leave it on the counter to cool and thicken. Refrigerating the pan will hasten the process, of course. Cut cooled jellies into squares or triangles. If there are any leftovers, refrigerate them. To me, these Berry Blox taste best cold. They are not gelatinous, they don’t wiggle, they are not “gummies.” But they are yummy!

*Agar-agar powder is available in small packets from Asian markets and is usually quite a bit cheaper. I bought mine in Chinatown New York from Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco and Mulberry. They were just $1.00 a packet.