Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thai Chicken Pizza

It only feels as though I’ve been sick for months… :)

The thermometer reading here at our farm in southwestern PA is 93, on April 26. It was the same yesterday, and is only to “cool off” a few degrees tomorrow. Suddenly, from 58 degrees and March weather last Friday, we are now firmly in July. Until later this week, when the roller-coaster temperatures are to dip again.

Although I still feel crappy, I did a quick-clean of the screened-in porch this morning so we can catch some breezes and be comfortable as we recuperate. The interior storm windows are still up in the house, and it’s getting a bit warm in there. I don’t think that I have set up the laptop out here this early before.

So I am sitting here at the table, with a panoramic view of Springtime at the Farm. The grass is thick and green (and long, but Jack is still coughing so it will be a few days until he can get that taken care of). The profusion of colors is incredible—Japanese maple leaves are a crimson color, redbuds are pink/purple (???), the lilac bushes are clouds of purple and green, and the new growth on the row of pieris is a bronzy red. Add the pink and white bleeding hearts, white hyacinth (sadly, on their way out now) and purple grape hyacinths, and it is gorgeous outside. Pink and yellow primroses ar lining the path to the door. I am watching a toad float his way around the fish pond, and a green frog is “clucking” from a stone in the far corner.

It is truly enjoyable to sit here and watch it all. Normally I would be outside doing something, but since breathing is almost required for outdoor work, this is simply not possible today.

All in all, though, it is getting better around here. We both experienced about 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, and that is big. During the past several nights, both Jack and I have woken each other often with coughing fits (and apologies). It seems as though, after 4am or so, we both seem to sleep better. It’s probably just sheer exhaustion.

I look forward to being able to walk around for a few minutes and not have to stop and rest. Today, after a rather cursory clean-up of the kitchen, living room, and bathroom, I fell into a dead sleep for 2 hours (with nary a coughing attack, wonder why?!).

Sunday is Pizza Night, and a little thing like lack of oxygen shall not stop me from continuing this Jack-beloved tradition. Fortunately I had a ball of pizza dough in the freezer, which I actually remembered to take out and put in the freezer to thaw last night before going to bed. I believe that this will be our first grilled pizza of the 2009 Summer Grilling Season because I refuse to turn on the oven today.

Now, I must go over my notes to review the steps to making grilled, as opposed to charred pizza.

The dough must be sturdy. I once tried a very soft, no-knead dough for grilled pizza and it actually slumped between the grids and burnt into thick stripes.

I must remember to prepare all toppings ahead of time. All. No exceptions. While the pizza is cooking, there will barely be time to pour the wine (which is Jack’s job, actually).

The grill must be preheated only to 400F, which is about 12 minutes. Any higher and the pizza will scorch. Once the crust is slid onto the grids, the lid must be shut immediately and the pizza be allowed to bake for 1-1/2 minutes (but I stand by the grill for the last 30 seconds of that time, in case I smell burning). A pizza peel will be used to take the crust off of the grill, the lid shut again as I bring the crust in for embellishing.

The pizza is turned over and the toppings are arranged on the cooked side of the crust. Again, it is taken out to the grill, slid back on the grids, and baked for 2 minutes of so (checking after 1-1/2 minutes).

A few hours later...

Okay, these were the notes from LAST year! I forgot that I now have a baking stone that is not too big for using on the grill, so although the prep has remained the same, the cooking time has changed. But no big deal, just double the times above. I don’t know if I like using the baking stone, though. It certainly is easier, and less chance to burn, but I miss the “grilled marks”. And I am sure that the “grilled taste” was less apparent when the pizza was baked on the stone. But this pizza wasn't charred at all. :)

I made a Thai Chicken Pizza this evening.

Although I see numerous recipes for Thai food which includes peanuts, I’m not entirely certain that they are an authentic ingredient. However, the sauce recipe for my pizza tonight uses peanut butter and I’m keeping it because I really like the flavor and it does give the sauce added body.

I know that I have probably posted a recipe similar to this before, but I don’t often measure ingredients and this time, for the sauce, I did. It’s easy, the most difficult part is gathering all of the ingredients together.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Thai Pizza Sauce

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

4 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons lime juice -- or rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek -- or other Thai hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients except sesame oil in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until peanut butter melts. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently as the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat, and stir in sesame oil. Allow to cool (it will thicken even further).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 179 Calories (kcal); 10g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (47% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 1mg Cholesterol; 865mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

The sauce is very flavorful, but it is high in sodium and fat (that peanut butter!) so even though it’s a favorite we do try to rein ourselves in and have this only once or twice a month.

About the pizza, I have trouble initially stretching the dough even though my whole wheat recipe uses added wheat gluten, and I allow it to rest after the second punching-down. So I have discovered that taking the plastic wrap which covered the bowl during rising and placing it on the outside of the upside-down bowl, then forming the pizza dough into a flat disc and allowing it to stretch over the inverted bowl, makes the process a bit easier.

Here’s a photo of the pizza crust, still on the grill, after the first side was baked:

And after the pizza was done:

Tonight, in addition to the sauce and lowfat cheddar, I used sautéed spinach, red pepper strips, and onion; then added chopped chicken breast and water chestnuts. I have to mention that, when making this particular pizza, I try to remember to reserve a tablespoon of the sauce, mix it with a tablespoon of water, and toss the chopped chicken breast with it to keep it moist during baking. Tonight I forgot, but the pizza was still good because I had poached the chicken breast and it remained moist. The additional flavor of the sauce would have been good, though.

Okay, I just realized that although I cooked a more extensive meal for dinner tonight than I have in the last 2 weeks, I’m not particularly exhausted. In fact, I’m sitting here, typing, and not really even wheezing! Could this nasty problem be in its waning hours (oh, yes, let’s not get too excited—days. I’ll take waning days!).


Josie said...

I am glad you are feeling better!! Continue to take it easy and enjoy spring at the farm :)

Laura said...

Looks fabulous. Sorry to hear you have been sick--I have been out of town A LOT and missing everyone's blogs. Anyway wanted to say peanuts are DEFINITELY authentic, but peanut butter is not so much as far as I know. However, I see it as a great enhancer of the peanut flavor that I am sure more Thai people would taken advantage of if peanut butter were as ubiquitous (and probably cheap therefore) there as it is here.

Vicci said...

Thanks, Josie. :)

Laura, I knew that peanuts were native to Africa, but I didn't know that Thai cooking used these as well. Another reason to love that cuisine!