Teaching middle school students how to cook in a pre-school classroom furnished with tiny chairs and miniature tables can be tricky at times, especially when all I’ve got is a microwave, toaster oven and a small slop sink to wash the dirty pots and pans. I’ve gotten quite good at cooking on a single burner portable electric cooktop and have found some nifty pans to fit my shrunken equipment. My make shift kitchen has sparked some ingenuity and creativity with my cooking techniques and the dishes I choose to make with my students. (And it’s also making my small non-gourmet kitchen at home more desirable.)
But if I’d have to pick one lifesaving piece of equipment, the one that has proven to be the most versatile, I’d have to put my electric skillet high up on a pedestal. Previously, this piece of equipment came out only at the holidays to slow cook a beef brisket. But now, it’s proving to be quite flexible in allowing me to make a variety of foods — from pancakes to falafel to pizza.
This week, I taught my kids how to make Electric Skillet Margarita Pizza and wow was it phenomenal. The bottom of the pizza came out perfectly crispy while the top melted the cheese and dreamily steamed the tomatoes and basil. It was a brick oven worthy treat made in just about ten minutes. I’m thinking how great it will be in the summer when it’s too hot to turn on the oven and the grill is being used for something else. If you’re like me and have an electric skillet hiding somewhere in the closet which rarely gets used, it’s time to take it out and get creative.
Electric Skillet Pizza
Homemade Pizza Dough (Mark Bittman’s recipe works perfectly)
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 ¾ cups water
Mix all ingredients in a Cuisinart until blended (about a minute). Remove and form into a ball and store in a zip lock bag drizzled with olive oil. Let it rise for an hour or two at a minimum.
I large ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 vine ripe tomatoes, very thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Press dough into an olive oil season electric skillet. Mold the dough into the corners of the pan so that the dough covers the entire skillet. Flip the dough over and turn the skillet on 375 degrees. Cook the dough for about 4 minutes until golden. Lay the tomatoes, sprinkle with some kosher salt, lay the cheese and sprinkle the basil leaves. Cover the skillet with the lid, turn heat down to 350 and cook until the cheese is melted — about another 7 minutes or so.