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Thai Chicken Pizza

Boy, has it been a while. Has anyone else been stuck in a time warp this summer? Somehow it’s already mid-August, and I’m still trying to figure out why I’ve been to the beach ONCE this summer.

Oh, now I remember! The past month has been utterly devoured by a huge life change – moving to a new apartment for the first time in three years. It’s pretty amazing how much stuff a person can accumulate in just a few years, and how that stuff can disappear into a rather small two-bedroom NYC apartment. Trying to fit it all into an even smaller one-bedroom apartment is quite the challenge, and hence my summer has rushed by in a swirl of packing, cleaning, un-packing, cleaning some more, painting, learned how to rewire light fixtures, and oh yes, painting.

In the midst of all this, we’ve found a decent amount of time to cook in our new, even tinier kitchen (though apparently little time to share such cooking adventures). With Whole Foods dangerously situated just around the corner, meal planning has become our new best friend in an effort to eat better and spend less. So far, it’s working out pretty well; we’re spending a bit below our weekly grocery budget, while still enjoying dishes like eggplant parm, oven roasted pork chops with smashed potatoes and “Nini’s Barbeque Sauce,” and one of my favorites, Chicken Paprika. These meals have been shamelessly inhaled during DIY breaks, and taking pictures was a low priority. Last night’s dinner, though, was too good to not share.

Thai Chicken Pizza. This inspiration came from the Tasty Kitchen Blog, by way of HowSweetEats. It was penciled into Tuesday’s dinner slot, and we picked up all the essentials on our grocery run Sunday. But because, however, a Culinary Education still can’t teach me the visual differences between a zucchini and a cucumber (I like to think I was too distracted by the nearby pluot samples), some slight modifications occurred. I think the end result may actually be better with raw cucumber than cooked zucchini; it made it more reminiscent of many Thai dishes, like Bahn Mi, that often have a raw cucumber slaw in the mix.

I knew this was going to be a hit the second I smelled it coming out of the oven. When I took my first bite, I called to Adam, “Oh, you’re going to love this! It’s like Bahn Mi on a pizza!” And sure enough, he did. In fact, only two small slices remain from our whole pie – it was that good!

Best enjoyed after lots of hard DIY work, with an ice-cold glass of Trader Joe’s Coastal Sauv Blanc!

Thai Chicken Pizza – Serves 2 – 4

Barely Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of pizza dough (we used Whole Foods pre-made pizza dough)
  • 1/2 cups Sweet Asian Chili Sauce, plus extra for dipping if desired
  • 1 whole shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cups chopped peanuts
  • 1/4 cups cucumber, sliced into match sticks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough to about a 1/4 inch thick, or however your like the thickness of your crust. Lay dough down on a pizza stone or baking sheet that has been lightly greased with olive oil.
  3. Spread Asian chili sauce on the surface of the dough to create an even coating. Add the sliced shallots and  red chili flakes. Then add the sliced chicken breast and top with the cheese.
  4. Place the pizza in the oven and cook for about 8 to 10, keeping an eye on your crust and toppings so they do not burn. Once the crust is golden around the edges and the cheese is nice and bubbly, remove pizza from the oven.
  5. Top pizza with the sliced cucumber, chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro and basil. Slice and serve with additional chili sauce if desired.

This pizza was perfect! Crunchy crust, slightly spicy but also sweet, which left you coming back, bite after bite, for more. I had a reasonable two slices for dinner, but wound up snacking  on another two over the course of the rest of the night while I read Game of Thrones (book 3, oh my god!).
Also worth mentioning – any left over toppings will make a pretty spectacular thai chicken salad for lunch the next day, if tossed over lettuce. Just mix a bit of the sweet chili sauce with some vinegar for a sweet and spicy dressing!
Enjoy 🙂

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Last night, during a particularly aggressive bout of spring cleaning, I found a long-lost treasure in a hidden corner on top of my refrigerator.

Double-Zero (00) Flour. I was pretty dismayed to realize that this quality Italian flour had just been hanging out hidden from sight for almost two years! You see, a few summers ago, after my parents came back from a three-week-long trip to Italy where they had sampled some of the “best pizza of their lives,” they went on a bit of an online shopping spree to order the flour used to make that very special authentic Italian pizza crust. You know, the kind you just can’t get in America (this was before we found Keste, of course). Well, my dad was a little overzealous with the online flour purchasing, and they wound up with several two-pound bags of Caputo ultra-fine flour. Realizing there’s only so often two fully-employed adults will take the time to make (and rest) their own pizza dough for dinner, they graciously turned a couple of bags of said flour over to me. Because really, who’s better to unload your excess flour bags on than your epicurean daughter?

The only problem was, back in my culinarily-immature days, I didn’t do the necessary research on 00 flour before using it. And after one giant kitchen flop using the Caputo (incorrectly, I should add), the bright red sacks were relegated to a high, hidden corner of my kitchen, and forgotten about.

Until last night. While scrubbing every last corner of my countertops, I suggested to Cara and Adam that we finally put that 00 flour to good use – the way it was intended. My cleaning spree had also unearthed a few packets of Dry Active Yeast, and with that, a pizza plot was born.

One of the best things about pizza is the ability to customize it. Sure, pizza is traditionally Italian, but really, crust is just bread – a good, starchy base for whatever toppings fit your fancy. So while you can cure a craving for traditional Mediterranean with a simple crushed tomato sauce, a few slices of fresh, creamy mozzarella, and some sweet basil, you can also take your pizza south of the border with Queso de Papa and ground seasoned beef, or do something slightly less conventional – and more delicious – like my new favorite, barbecue chicken pizza!

Last night, Cara and her friend Carlos took a trip to one of our favorite markets, Agata and Valentina Fine Foods, where the upper east side gains access to some of the most delicious and authentic Italian specialties money can buy. They returned with big bags just brimming with everything from fresh basil and bright ripe tomatoes, to delicate, crepe-thin slices of Serrano ham, dense links of chorizo, and buttery, salty manchego.

Oh – and three balls of burrata. Have I told you all about burrata? Imagine the freshest, sweetest mozzarella you’ve ever had, except when you slice into it, the center is full of rich, creamy cheese – almost the consistency ricotta. The contrast of the silky smooth filling with the slightly denser exterior is pure heaven – particularly on a thin slice of ripe tomato, topped with a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel…

But I digress! After snacking on the various toppings as we sliced and diced, we cranked our baby oven up to 550° F and started rolling out our dough. Because we were trying to achieve a perfectly thin crust, and were working with limited counter space (and square pans), we opted to roll the dough out with a rolling-pin, and it worked beautifully. The result was perfectly thin sheets of pizza crust that cooked and crisped evenly in the oven, and though thin, stood up to the hefty load of toppings we piled onto it.

In the end, we made two each of three type of pizzas. That’s six pizzas. For four people. (Please don’t judge us.) But when you have this dough, this beautiful dough, and so many toppings, how can you not experiment and indulge? Our group just couldn’t resist.

Pizza numero uno – a new favorite, juicy barbecue chicken breast, caramelized red onions, roasted red peppers, hot sauce, more barbecue sauce, and plenty of manchego cheese. This pizza came out bubbling, ooey-gooey, and the perfect mix of salty from the manchego and sweet from the onions, peppers and sauce.

It was to die for!

Our next pizza was a classic for the second course – pizza margherita. We smeared the crusts with a little bit of tomato sauce, then topped it with thin slices of fresh tomato and chunks of burratta, adding some wine-soaked mushrooms to half.

When the pizza came sizzling out of the oven, we hit it with some fresh chopped basil that wilted and imparted amazing fresh flavor onto the pizza. The only thing we agreed we’d do differently was roast off those sliced tomatoes first – they gave off a lot of liquid while the pizza cooked, and left the crust a bit soggy in the center. Still – it was really delicious.

Finally, last but certainly not least, our Spanish stallion of a pizza – Serrano Ham, chorizo, burrata, manchego and caramelized onions. Holy pizza! This was ridiculous – the Serrano ham was so thin and delicate that it practically melted into the crust, leaving behind its rich meaty flavor. And the chorizo was exactly what I always wished pepperoni was – salty, slightly spicy but complex in flavor, and each piece was bite-sized. These toppings are a combo we’ll definitely be trying again.

After having a blast in the kitchen, a great time with friends, and more pizza than our stomachs could reasonably handle, I can’t help but pass along this recipe for an amazing 00 flour pizza crust. Sure, getting your hands on this special flour might take a little extra work – like a quick trip to your local Italian specialty store or a quick search online – but it’s complete worth it. This flour has a long shelf life, and the crust it makes gives you the foundation for a perfect pizza, and a perfect evening with friends.

And, really, what’s more fun than a pizza party?

Perfect Pizza Crust – Makes 3 – 12 inch crusts

Barely adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of warm water (around 100° – 110° F)
  • 3 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 3 cups of 00 flour, plus more for dusting

Method

1. In a large bowl, combine yeast and sugar. Add warm water and stir to dissolve. Let stand for about 10 minutes or until yeast start to foam (you should see small bubbles).

2. Add the salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir to combine. If using a standing mixer with a dough hook, assemble at this time. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring after each addition to incorporate. If you are mixing by hand, once about half the flour is added you will need to start kneading the dough with your hands. Continue until all the flour is incorporated; if the dough starts feeling very dry, add another tablespoon of water until it has a nice, pliable consistency.

3. Form the dough into a large ball in the center of the bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and coat the dough. Cover with a dish towel and place somewhere warm (like next to the oven) to rest. Allow dough to rest until it has doubled in size – about 60 to 90 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 550° F.

5. Once the dough has risen, divide it into three equal portions and roll each into a ball. Return dough to the oiled bowl and allow to rest until you are ready to use. If you are not going to use the dough immediately, it can be wrapped up in plastic wrap and refrigerated or frozen at this point.

6. Roll or pat dough into desired shape and thickness (each of the three balls will make a 12″ circular pizza). Place on a pizza stone or sheet pan. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and top with desired toppings. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until crust is firm and lightly golden and cheese is bubbling. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.

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