Sea of Cortez Pizza and a Whale Tale

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Sea of Cortez Pizza

Sea of Cortez Pizza

Prep 30 mins   Rise 1:30 hour   Bake 15 mins   Eat 2:15

Simple ingredients often make the best meals.  That’s what I like about this pizza made on a boat with few tools and pizza toppings in the Sea of Cortez.

Seashells #215 2-14Last week I had a dream vacation aboard friends Kurt and Susan’s yacht.  We cruised the Sea of Cortez out of La Paz, Mexico on the Baja Peninsula.  This is an area I had not explored before and we had some amazing experiences.  Beautiful turquoise water.  Snorkeling.  Sunsets.  White Sand Beaches. Sea Shells.  Sea Turtles. Flying Manta Rays…yes, really!

Whale mommy and 3-week old baby swimming alongside us.

Whale mommy and 3-week old baby swimming alongside us at Magdalena Bay.

Whales…babies and mommies.  Amazing Food.  Fresh Food…maybe not in a Flash.  Heck, we had plenty of time for cooking delicious meals aboard the beautiful Nordhavn Yacht, Endurance. 

Captain Kurt and Chris heading out to our yacht, Endurance at Ensenada Grande cove.

Captain Kurt and Chris heading out to board Endurance at Ensenada Grande cove.

Before embarking on a trip out to sea, where your pesos and dollars are useless, you need to pack just the right amount of food so that you can eat and drink well.  So our first stop in La Paz, was the Ley Supermarket.  We loaded up on water, beer, wine, snacks, fruit and veggies…lots of veggies, steaks, fish, chicken, lunchmeat, cheese and yogurt.  Ah yes, the cheese.  Different in every country, I love exploring what the local culture has well…cultured.  Fresh tortillas, rice and a sack of flour rounded out our provisions.

I’ve been invited twice to cruise to an exotic locale. (See Sailing and Cooking in Belize!)  Each time, I warn the Captain that I’ll be bringing some yeast in my suitcase (as in swimsuit case) and we will be baking bread aboard.  They are in disbelief, but really the tropics are the best place to make bread with the warm moist air all around.

Pizza Dough after rising

Pizza Dough after rising

This time, I had focaccia and a deep dish pizza in mind.  So in the morning, I would take five minutes to mix the yeast, flour, salt, sugar and water into a wet dough, making it soft and easy to rise and form into shape.

The oven on a boat is not as high powered as those at home, so I wanted flat breads that would bake faster.  The highest oven setting was 450 degrees, but it felt more like 300.

Focaccia ready for the oven.

Focaccia ready for the oven.

First up was the focaccia.  This helped me test the heat in the oven.  I simply spread the wet dough onto an oiled pan and minced some garlic and thyme (the only fresh herb I recognized at the market).  Spread this, olive oil and kosher salt over the top, let rise for 20 minutes or so and head the focaccia straight for the oven.  We had a jar of olive tapenade on the boat, so this served as a delicious topping.

I kept the pizza in mind as we grilled some sausages and then steaks.  I asked Captain Kurt if I could sneak a bell pepper and then some zucchini onto the grill.  Check.  Into our small refrigerator for the next day.

Pizza Day had come.  I mixed up some dough in the morning.  Everyone was excited about the idea of fresh made pizza on the boat.  Late in the afternoon, I started assembly.  First oiling the baking sheet well so I made sure our pizza would come out of the pan.  Very important.  Next I added the garlic, thyme and olive oil as I had on the focaccia.

Topping Pizza Dough

Topping Pizza Dough

Next was the tomato slices.

Pizza with Veggie Topping

Pizza with Veggie Topping

Next the roasted red pepper slices with an amazing aroma.  Ditto the roasted zucchini slices.  Then the olive tapenade and two kinds of cheese – a soft fresh panela cheese that broke apart easily and then a mozzarella like cheese – soft and rubbery.  Into the oven it went.  The salon was filled with an amazing aroma.  Everyone is happy.   Dinner is on the way.  About 30 minutes in our miniature oven…and then the Ensenada Grande finale.

Sea of Cortez Pizza 2 #384 2-14Sea of Cortez Pizza.  Simply made in the warm sea air.

Sea of Cortez Pizza #387 2-14Nothing like the salty sea air to bring on a whale of an appetite.

Grey whales surrounded our whale watch panga in Magdalena Bay.

Grey whales surrounded our whale watch panga in Magdalena Bay.

Did I mention whales?  A couple days later, a side trip took us to the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula where we were entertained by 30-50 whales in the Upper Magdalena Bay.  We lost count after seeing 20 that surrounded us with love.  Mommies, babies and this barnacled guy who kept popping up to have a look at us…and that’s no whale tale.

Print This Recipe

Sea of Cortez Pizza

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1  tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbs + olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 zucchini, sliced wide on diagonal
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbs fresh herbs, chopped
  • 2 large tomato, sliced
  • 3 Tbs olive tapenade
  • 6 oz. mozzarella cheese (or other soft cheese)

1. Place flour, salt, yeast, sugar and 1 Tbs. olive oil in a bowl.    Add 1/4 cup warm water to moisten the yeast.  Mix dough together with a spoon adding more warm water until the mixture forms a fairly wet ball. Mix the dough further to knead the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place to rise for an hour or the whole day. Punch down dough from time to time after an hour of rising.

2. Grill or roast red pepper and zucchini.  Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

4. Oil a 9 x 12 baking sheet or dish well so dough will not stick to it.  Plop dough onto baking sheet and press into place.

5. Place toppings on pizza.  First 1 Tbs olive oil, then minced garlic, then herbs, then sliced tomatoes,  veggies and cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Place pizza into preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Pizza is done when crust is golden brown on edge and cheese has begun to melt.

7. Cut into 8 pieces.  Serve and enjoy!

Servings: 4   450 calories per serving

Preparation Time: 30 minutes    Cooking Time: 15 minutes    Inactive Time: 1 1/2 hour    Total Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Oven Temperature: 400°F

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