Pizza on Pavana
A spoonful of inspiration.
Pizza made with a mahi Banff harvested baked in Pavana’s oven, served with a salad on the side.
It seems that of all the foods we crave while adventuring on Nila Girl, which are many, pizza is at the top of the list. It’s hard to find descent pizza in the Bahamas and if you do, it’s not likely to be worth the pretty penny you would spend on it. Ren and I crave Antonio’s Commentatore pie from back home. Lots of sauce, garlic, eggplant, basil and two cheeses perfectly melted on top with just the right amount of cheese grease drip when you fold a slice in half. We miss ordering out a Commentatore and drinking one beer each while we wait for the pizza to be ready for pick up. We pick up the pie and eat it with lots of crushed red pepper while taking in a movie projected on a king sized sheet in our old living room. Next year, we’re bringing the projector with us on our cruise.
As Banff of Pavana, Ren and I perused the grocery aisles in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, we brainstormed about the night’s supper. Within minutes, and almost jokingly, Ren sighed, “Pizza would be good.” I groaned and immediately started pouting, knowing that this wasn’t an option until Banff, a beacon of light on our grim pizza situation, said, “Alright, let’s do the pizza thing.” Banff already had the whole wheat flour and yeast needed to make the dough, which was really the only limiting factor. Pavana was also adequately overstocked with everything we would need for the top of the pizza or anything else your culinary heart desired. In short, Pavana was like a floating grocery store, but not Food Lion. Pavana was a Whole Foods or Fresh Market, complete with organic selections and vegan options. I think I spent a total of $40 shopping at ‘Groceries a la Pavana’. Anyway, Banff already had pizza sauce, soy cheese, jalapenos and mahi to be grilled and added to the top. Nila Girl isn’t exactly shabbily stocked herself. She was to contribute fresh parmesan, straight off the block (thanks to a little Italian ancestry) and a nice big salad with all the fixings. We picked up some mushrooms to add to the top, payed out and met Oreo at the grocery store sliding doors where he was keeping a close eye on the golf cart we rented.
Eager to get back to the boat and start the dough, we finished our uneventful self-guided golf cart tour of Spanish Wells and hopped back into Banff’s dinghy to head back to the strong ships…
Spanish Wells was uneventful if you consider I stayed up half the night researching the small island and it’s history of inbreeding. It is safe to say that I became momentarily obsessed with the history of Spanish Wells, which includes Anglo-Saxon settlers, racial pride, and a long line of inbreeding. I searched the internet for pictures of the people and family trees with branches intertwining like the trunk of a ficus. Needless to say, I was disappointed when we got there. First, the long history of inbreeding was not readily apparent in the people. They looked normal, just with a backwoods sense of style. Second, the place reminded me of my hometown of Richlands, NC but Richlands about 30 years ago. Industrious people with a big red streak in a mostly white town. Nothing unusual about Spanish Wells if you are already from the rural south.
We needed to shower, feed Oreo and pack our “supper time bag” (a waterproof bag made of recycled sailcloth by Ella Vicker’s Recycled Sailcloth Collection, perfect for keeping food items dry on the wet floor of a dinghy) for Pavana. Snapping photos of the locals while heading out of the harbor area, I spotted something strikingly red floating in the water. so red, it reminded me of that scene from the book, The Giver, where the young giver gets his first glimpse of color in an otherwise black and white world. The color he saw was red and the imagery was powerful. We approached the bobbing red objects with caution until…holy geez! The floating red balls were bright ripe tomatoes with the occasional red bell pepper sprinkled in. Apparently a box of fresh tomatoes and peppers had fallen off the dock right into the dinghy’s path, and nobody was claiming them. Guess what goes surprisingly great on pizza…yep! Tomatoes and red bell peppers.
Banff weaved in and out of the crimson gates as Ren and I stretched to retrieve very piece of valuable food we could. Trust me, if retrieving floating food with a dinghy was an olympic sport, we would be representing Team USA. A local, who was working on his boat engine nearby (I told you they were industrious people), noticed us scrambling and joined in on the aqua-harvest. He relinquished his bounty to us poor sailors and we greedily grabbed the goodies. Besides being on a budget, we were Team USA of the Aqua-Harvest event, not him. He should check himself! Ah but the pizza was looking better and better. We wiped the drool from our mouths with our sleeves and continued on to the boats.
The four of us, Oreo was always welcomed on Pavana, met back up on Banff’s boat around 6:30 or 7:00, all freshly showered and hungry. Banff had already let the dough rise and it was time for the art to begin. Ren saddled up on the settee with a cold Budweiser and watched the magic happen. Oreo sat right between my feet and waited for me to drop some magic on the floor. Banff worked on shaping the whole wheat dough and grilling the fish while I threw together the salad and prepped the toppings for the pizza. Cucumbers, chopped spinach, grated parmesan, tomatoes, squash, zucchini and some basil colorfully lit up the stainless steel mixing bowl the salad was contained in. For a dressing, I mixed together olive oil and pear infused balsamic vinaigrette. Banff opted for Amy’s Goddess dressing (a noble choice). When the pizza dough was sculpted, Banff added jarred tomato sauce and swirled in spoonfuls of my Nannie’s homemade pesto, which I will be bringing a lot more of for our next cruise. Pesto is good for a lot more than just pizza and pasta, folks. The base of the pizza was painted perfectly with the sauces before flaked bits of lightly seasoned, grilled mahi were sprinkled in. The already radiant pizza required some more green so chopped spinach and jalapenos were thrown on top. The tomatoes and red bel peppers we found were sliced and delicately arranged on the bed of spinach, offsetting the green. A few sliced mushrooms, the yellow soy cheese and white parmesan…voila! The beauty of the meshing pizza ingredients made the raw colors palatable.
Banff popped our canvas into the oven and the three of us started giggling in anticipation. Oreo did not giggle. In fact, he was pretty pissed that I had prepared my share of the meal without dropping a single slice of anything. Don’t worry, he always gets his share of, well, everything that we cook. So that we didn’t start gnawing our fingers off, we passed the pizza cooking time in the most painless way possible. Ren and I cracked open a couple of beers and the crew settled in for two episodes of the hilarious TV series, 30 Rock. The laughter was the only thing strong enough to distract our appetites. Of course, we checked on the pizza no less than four times while watching. The hardest ten minutes of the evening came when the pizza was taken out of the oven and placed on the counter to cool. Who’s idea was it to let food cool anyway? We stared at the pie and suffered through the last ten minutes of our second episode.
Finally, the moment arrived. The pizza was judiciously served in even amounts to prevent WWIII. Since I am an athlete in training, i got a fair share of the pie too, despite being of the fairer sex. The salad was dispersed, a mere afterthought lying next to the pizza. A fluffy side dish to keep our slices comfortable before we devoured them. We ate, savoring every bite, while watching a third episode of 30 Rock. If you haven’t seen the show yet, you’re walking backwards. We shared a solitary tear when supper was finished and the dishes were licked clean. Banff took Nila Girl’s crew back to our boat and we said our goodbyes. You see, homemade pizza was the perfect last supper to share with our new friend on Pavana. We parted ways with a good taste left in our mouths, already eager for our next encounter with Banff.
Mahi Pizza (Pavana Style)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
1 grilled Mahi steak, lightly seasoned
1 cup cheddar or cheese substitute
1/2 cup parmesan (NO substitutes)
1/2 cup canned pizza sauce
1/4 cup pesto
Our Pizza Toppings:
red bell peppers
*Get creative with your toppings. Include on your pizza anything that is on the verge of spoiling. This avoids food waste and makes the pizza interesting.
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup seawater
1 tblsp powdered yeast
1 tblsp sugar (we use agave nectar)
4 cups unbleached flour or wheat flour
Combine yeast warm water sugar and seawater and let stand 5 minutes. Mix in flour and let stand until dough doubles in volume. When dough has doubled, punch down and knead. Let rise again by 50%. Punch and knead again. Take out 1/3 of the dough for the pizza crust. Bake the rest as bread!
Mix “pizza herbs” into the dough (basil, parsley, etc). Spread the dough out on the cooking surface (foil works well on the boat). Cover the dough with pizza sauce and add half the cheese. Let the toppings begin. Add your toppings and cover with the remaining cheese to hold it all together.
Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let the pizza cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
NOTE: I never measure amounts when I cook and guessed all the ratios in the recipe above.