Just Like A Circus

I believe in the art of organizing. Marie Kondo is my hero. I could spend hours at The Container Store. So now that all of the planet is pretty much under lockdown, I’ve had time to purge, audit and organize our fridge and pantry cabinets. In trying to store all the food we have for X amount of time, I took pleasure in organizing the shelves and FIFO-ing (kitchen term for First In First Out) all of our food. When making breakfast the other day, I had a handful of perfectly ripe pears that I wanted to add in this oven pancake recipe I found. Of course I had to veganize it. Honestly, these oven pancakes tasted like funnel cakes and transported me to a time not long ago where we could go to the county fair and eat all the things.

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Caramelized Pear Oven Funnel Cake Pancakes

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

6T vegan butter, divided

3 ea. pears, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4-inch wedges

2T coconut sugar

Juice of half a lemon

1t ground cinnamon

1C plant-based milk (I used oat milk and had great results)

1t pure vanilla extract

1C Bob’s Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake + Waffle Flour Mix

2 T flaxseed + 4T water

Powdered sugar for dusting

METHOD

Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flaxseed eggs, 1T of the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Add in the flour mix. Whisk till the batter is just incorporated. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, melt 2T of butter over medium-high heat. Then add in half of the pears and half of the coconut sugar and cinnamon, sautéing till it’s nice and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Add 2T of butter, melt, and pour in half of the pancake batter.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pancake is golden and puffy.

Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Bagels for Days

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Bagels are such a versatile treat–you can pretty much top them with anything and they’ll be delicious. Cream cheese, jam, peanut butter, avocado, lox, pesto, seriously anything.

Here’s a super-easy recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Homemade Bagels
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Yields 6-12, depending on size

INGREDIENTS
1 and 1/2 cups warm water
2 and 3/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

FOR THE WATER BATH
2 quarts water
1/4 cup honey

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 3 teaspoons white sugar
3 Tablespoons raisins
egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water

METHOD
Quickly whisk in the yeast into the warm water till completely
dissolved. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed the flour, sugar, and salt for about 30 seconds. With the mixer continuing to run on medium speed, slowly drizzle the bloomed yeast mixture, making sure to scrape out any undissolved yeast with a spatula, getting all of the yeast into the dough.

Turn down to low speed and mix until all the flour has been well incorporated into the dough. The dough will look choppy; once you get it to this point, bump up the speed to medium and mix for 8 minutes. Once done mixing, the dough will be super stiff, that’s OK.

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(Mine somehow managed to resemble the mandrake root in Pan’s Labyrinth. Creeeeepy.)

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(Note: If you’re making cinnamon and raisin-flavored bagels, section off about 1/3 of the mixture and hand-mix the raisins into the dough.)

Otherwise, remove from the mixing bowl and shape the dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place into the bowl, turning the dough ball to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and place in a warm area of your kitchen to allow the dough to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The dough should to be noticeably larger.

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Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or SILPAT mats if you have them. Place a wire rack over a third baking sheet.

To shape the bagels, gently punch down the dough if you notice any air bubbles. Turn it out onto a clean surface and divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces.

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Shape each piece into a ball and place 4 balls onto the two lined baking sheet. Then, hold up one dough ball and press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole, widening it. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest as you prep the water bath.

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Preheat your oven to 425°F.

To prepare the water bath, fill a large, wide pan with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring the water to just-simmering. Once simmering, add in the bagels, about 2-3 at a time, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook the bagels for about 1 minute on each side, then transfer each bagel to the cooling rack.

To prepare your optional toppings: Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel, then sprinkle each with your desired toppings.

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Place the bagels on the lined baking sheets, and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to get an even coloration. The bagels should be golden brown and delicious.

Remove the cooked bagels from the oven and to cool for about 20 minutes before enjoying.

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(Cook’s Note: You can freeze your bagels in an airtight bag. Refrigerated bagels will keep for about 7-10 days.)

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj, Sententia Entertainment and Telecinco.)

West Toast

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It’s so crazy to think about how much of your life can change in one year. 1 year. Last Thanksgiving I spent the entire night working as a cocktail waitress at a thankless job. It was by far the WORST job I have ever had. Luckily, I only stuck around for a month.

At last week’s Thanksgiving, I spent it with some truly awesome friends. We had a delicious meal and plenty of libations. Being away from your family during the holidays is oftentimes hard, but when you have amazing friends, it’s not that bad at all.

My contribution to our Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving meal are these mini Guava and Cream Cheese Tartlets (Pop Tart knockoffs), but they’re soooo good. The filling was inspired by this AMAZING Cuban bakery in LA that I used to frequent, called Porto’s. Their Pastelitos de Guayaba (Guava Pastries) are a reason in itself to visit if you’re ever in LA.

The guava filling can be made at home, but I was a bit lazy this time around, and just visited my local Latin American food market and purchased this GOYA Guava Paste package. For $3 it’s a steal. And it’s so good, guys.

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Guava Cream Cheese Tarlets 
(Pastelitos de Guayaba)
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg (plus 1 egg for egg wash)
2 tablespoons milk

METHOD
Using a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt, working the butter in till the mixture holds together when you press it with your fingers. The mixture will be just a tad bit lumpy, with specks of butter still visible. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and add the egg and milk, mixing till everything is cohesive.

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Split the dough in half. Shape each half into a rough 3″ x 5″ rectangle, smoothing the edges. If making the dough ahead of time, you can refrigerate for up to 2 days; allowing the dough to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature before rolling out.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Place the first half of the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″.

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Trim off the edges; save the scraps and set them aside, along with the 9″ x 12″ rectangle of dough.

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Proceed by rolling out the other half of the dough, and cut it as you did with the first half.

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Place a rectangle slice of the guava paste and cream cheese onto the center of each marked rectangle.

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Lightly beat the last egg, and brush the outer corners of the surface of each pastry dough. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using the tines of a fork to press firmly around each pocket, sealing the dough on all sides.

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If you have dough scraps, press them together into a ball, then re-roll them out. Repeat the rolling and cutting of the dough according to the size of the dough and fill them if you’re able to.

Gently transfer the tarts to a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet tray. Lightly brush the tops of each tarlet, and then place into your oven.

Bake the tartlets for 15 to 23 minutes, or till they’re a light golden brown.

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Eat Like a Viking

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Much of the history surrounding the origin of the Danish aebleskive is shrouded in mystery—and to some, in ancient Scandinavian folklore. Legend has it that during the days of the Vikings, after the warriors returned home, hit hard in battle (many poorly wounded and hungry) mixed together flour with milk, and cooked the batter inside the hollows of their iron shields and horned helmets (which, too, were dented and broken) over an open fire.

The result: A delicious golf ball-shaped cake, golden on the outside and fluffy in the middle.

Today, aebleskiver (plural) which roughly translates to “sliced apples” are enjoyed by just about anyone in every corner of the world. Topped simply with powdered sugar, filled with delicious lingonberry jam, or dipped in a creamy lemon curd—the possibilities with these apple-shaped delights are endless. For my first solo (and best!) attempt at aebleskiver-making (I can briefly remember a short lesson on making them in culinary school), I decided to pair a simple aebleskive recipe with an of-the-moment curd. While we’re still in a weird transitional season from late-fall to winter fruits, I made a delicious pomegranate-lemon curd that pairs perfectly with this recipe.

Cooking with a special aebleskiver pan makes this recipe so much easier, but I used a mini muffin pan, and it worked out PERFECTLY.

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Aebleskiver (Danish Pancakes)

Yields 16
Recipe slightly adapted from Serious Eats

INGREDIENTS
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 cup half and half
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
Aebleskiver pan (found in select cooking supply stores, like Sur La Table)
or, use a mini muffin pan (which I did.)

METHOD
Whisk together the AP flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk and 3 tablespoons of the melted butter until just-combined. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, don’t overmix, as it should be slightly lumpy.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form,  about 5 minutes. Then fold in the whipped egg whites into the lumpy batter.

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If you have an aebleskiver pan, place the pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter evenly to each well of the mold, and once the butter starts to bubble, add 2 heaping tablespoons of batter. Allow the aebleskiver to cook till the bottoms are golden, about 4 minutes, then flip and continue cooking till the tops are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate covered with foil to retain heat. Repeat steps till the rest of the pancake batter is used.

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If you DON’T have an aebleskiver pan, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place a mini muffin pan into the oven to heat up. Once your oven is up to temperature, remove the muffin pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into each mold well, then add about 2 heaping Tablespoons of pancake batter into each well. Place into the oven and allow the aebleskiver to cook till the bottoms are golden, about 3 minutes. Once you see that the bottoms are golden, remove from the oven and flip each pancake onto the other side.

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Raise your oven’s temperature to 425 degrees, and once heated up, place the aebleskivers back into the oven to finish cooking for another 3-5 minutes, till golden brown. Once done, immediately transfer the cooked aebleskiver to a plate covered with foil to retain heat, and repeat the steps till the rest of the batter is used.

Garnish with Pomegranate-lemon curd. (Recipe here)

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A Sweet and a Meat

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I last travelled to the Philippines over 15 years ago with my family. My aunt and her husband were renewing their vows on their 25th wedding anniversary in the Philippines where they met as teenagers. At least, that’s how I remember the story. Our entire family on my mom’s side went to the islands to celebrate this beautiful occasion.

My mom, born and raised in the Philippines, had not been back to the homeland since she was about 20 years old.  My mom was really excited to show me, my brother and father, where she grew up. We got to see the grade school she attended and the house she lived in as a child with her other nine siblings. It was a sweet and humbling experience.

Being half-Filipino, I was only exposed to, I guess you can say, half of the cuisine. While my other half was exposed to the Italian-Spanish-German American cuisines my dad was brought up with. When we stayed in the Philippines for the month we were there, my brother and I had the same breakfast every day: longanissa (Filipino sweet pork sausage) or beef tapa with garlic fried rice and a fried egg (a longasilog) with ube ice cream. (We indulged. We were on vacation!)

A recent trip to the local Asian food supermarket gave me flashbacks to my childhood and that family vacation, where I found longanissa and ube ice cream in the frozen food aisle! I was giddy with excitement. For this week, I posted a recipe on homemade English Muffins. Then I thought afterward, why don’t I make my own sausage breakfast sandwich with the muffins and longanissa? Why not add an egg and cheese, too? This dish is a sweet little mish-mash of my Filipino-American heritage. And I’m happy to share it with you!

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Filipino-Style Breakfast Sausage Sandwich
Yields 1 sandwich

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 links longanissa sausage, casings removed
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ea. sandwich-size English Muffin
butter, for spreading

METHOD
Defrost the sausage (if frozen). Remove the sausage from the casing by using a knife to cut a small slit. Shape the meat into an equal-shaped patty. Heat a non-stick skillet or cast-iron to medium-high heat. Drizzle the pan with the oil and place the sausage patty onto the skillet, creating a nice sear on the side. Cook it for about 4 minutes. Flip the patty and cook for another 4 minutes. Check the center for doneness. Cook further if needed. Turn off the heat and place the cheese on top of the sausage patty. Use the skillet’s lid to cover the patty, allowing the residual heat to melt the cheese.

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In another skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, making sure the entire base of the pan is coated evenly. Crack the egg into the pan, allowing the egg to cook fully. Swirl the pan a bit to make sure the white is entirely cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

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Cut the English muffin in half and place into the toaster to re-heat. Spread some butter on the inside of the bread and place the sausage with cheese onto the base. Top with the egg and cover with the other half of the muffin. Easy.

Nooks and Jammies

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As a child of the ’80s, I can recall watching some of the best commercials like it was just yesterday. Remember this one? Thomas’ English Muffins were a breakfast mainstay when I was a kid. The “nooks and crannies” are key–they’re like little pools collecting all the butter and jam or whatever you put on the bread.

I’m a breakfast person but I’m always on the go in the mornings, so it’s sometimes difficult to have a decent breakfast before I start my day. Making these homemade English muffins ahead of time is a great option when you’re on-the-go like me. And the best part is, you can top them with whatever butter, jam, or spread you like. Or you can make your very own breakfast sandwiches. Endless options, really.

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Homemade English Muffins
Recipe slightly adapted from The Woks of Life
Yields 14 muffins or 7 sandwich-size muffins

INGREDIENTS
3 2/3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup plain yogurt
semolina flour, for sprinkling
canola oil, for frying

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METHOD

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Add water and yogurt, and mix into a soft dough. Knead the mixture for about 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets too sticky. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

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Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¾ inch. Cut out 14 circles with a 3-inch round cutter (I used a Mason jar lid). Sprinkle a sheet tray with semolina. Cover the portioned muffins with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size.

For sandwich-size muffins (like the ones pictured above)  pair up the muffins and stick them together my pinching the side creases with the tips of your fingers to create a seam for one large muffin. Repeat this process for as many larger-size muffins you want to make.
(Cook’s note: I do this step after the muffins have been proofed because the slight separation of the two muffin halves post-proofing makes it super easy to cut them in half at serving.) 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a flat griddle pan to medium-high heat and brush with oil. Add the muffins and cook for 6 minutes, three minutes per side, till golden brown. Once both sides have been seared, transfer to a sheet tray and finish in the oven for about 3-6 minutes. Serve with butter, jam and coffee.

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Body by Pizza

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As a professional cook, I’m often asked what is my favorite thing to make at home. My answer is always breakfast; it’s my favorite meal. And the best thing about breakfast is that you can essentially eat it any time of day, sans guilt. (At least I don’t think so, anyway.) My go-to breakfast food that I usually make at home is chilaquiles. I usually have made-ahead enchilada sauce, tortilla chips, cheese and eggs in my pantry, so it takes just a few minutes to put it all together.

After a year working at an Italian restaurant, I became a bit of a pizza expert. I lived and breathed pizza. If you thought eating pizza every day would be tiresome, it’s surprisingly not. The pizzas we made changed daily, so there was always something new to try. I thank that job for these rock-hard abs I’m sporting these days. (That’s completely false, by the way. Purely fiction. The only thing hard on me is my inability to give up major vices: namely cookies, coffee, beer, hot men and, of course, pizza.)

After one night of not being able to decide between making chilaquiles or pizza for dinner, my brain had a ding-ding-ding! moment, where I thought: Why don’t I just put them together?

And that, I did.

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Chilaquiles Pizza
Serves 1-4

FOR THE RED SAUCE
Recipe slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

INGREDIENTS
1 pasilla chile, charred and scraped
15 ounces (1 can) tomatoes
1 medium shallot, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3/4 cup beer
2 handfuls, tortilla chips
salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
Place the pasilla over the grates of a gas stove. Heat the chile, rotating it on medium-high heat and char till it’s evenly blackened. Place the charred pasilla in a medium-size bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap. (The lack of released oxygen will cause the charred skin to easily separate itself from the flesh of the chile.) After about 5-7 minutes, remove the chile from the covered bowl and scrape apart the charred skin using a knife. Chop the pasilla’s flesh, removing the seeds and thick membrane. Place the chopped pasilla and canned tomatoes into a blender and pulse till smooth.

Meanwhile, in a medium-size skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook till lightly browned (but not burned), about 7 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the beer. Stir to get all the tasty, sugary bits incorporated. Pour the tomato/pasilla sauce mixture and tomato paste into the skillet. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, until reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture often, to avoid scorching. Add the tortilla chips and stir till softened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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FOR THE SALSA VERDE

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, small dice
1 jalapeño, charred, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 poblano, charred, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 – 1 cup olive oil

METHOD
Add all the ingredients except the oil into a blender and pulse till incorporated. Stream in the oil to create an emulsion. Add more oil if too stiff. Season with salt, to taste.

FOR THE PIZZA DOUGH

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water**
2 cups flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Place the room warm water and yeast into a KitchenAid mixing bowl and quickly whisk till incorporated. Allow to rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. **The yeast won’t properly activate if the water is too cold. And thus, will over activate if it’s too hot.**

Add the flour and then the salt. (Adding salt directly to yeast can kill it.) With the dough hook attachment, start mixing the dough for about 3 minutes on the medium speed. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Mix till fully incorporated and a little sticky.

Transfer the dough onto a well-oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot in the kitchen. (I usually have it placed on top of the stove while I’m heating up the oven.) Let the dough proof until it doubles in size (about 1 hour, depending on the room temperature).

Once the dough has been proofed, roll out onto a well floured countertop. Knead the dough with your hands and divide into two equal size balls. Set one ball aside for later use by tightly wrapping and placing in the fridge or freezer. Roll the other ball evenly. Using a a floured rolling pin, roll out until evenly sized on a baking or pizza pan.

**PIZZA ASSEMBLY**

INGREDIENTS
1 pizza dough, rolled out
olive oil
1-2 ladles chilaquiles sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg
salsa verde, garnish
Mexican crema (optional)

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METHOD
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush three dots of olive oil onto the pizza dough. Sprinkle a bit of salt onto the dough, too. Using a ladle, spoon the chilaquiles sauce onto the surface evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Create a little well in the center of the pizza to add the egg at the last few minutes of cooking.

Bake for 8 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Rotate pizza to make sure all sides cook evenly. Check for doneness. Cook for another 5 minutes. When the dough is 1/4 done (just slightly doughy) Slowly crack in the egg. This should cook for an additional 1-2 more minutes, till set but still runny.

When fully cooked, remove and place onto a cooling rack. Drizzle with salsa verde and crema, if desired.

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