The Gluten-Free Pizza Challenge!

I have mentioned numerous times on this blog that I am a pizza fanatic. There is no doubt in my mind that I could live off of pizza and burritos if those were the rules. In fact, Tim has been traveling for work these past few weeks and my menu has consisted of a variety of homemade burritos, tacos, and pizza (I make sure to include plenty of greens, veggies, and fruit too- I’m no dummy!).

Recently, my dear friend Kittee posted a fun challenge on the new gluten-free vegan blog (created by Kittee, Allyson, and Jessy). The challenge involved making a scratch pizza that is 100% vegan and gluten-free (no mixes!). Since I have never made a gluten-free crust before, I thought this would be a good opportunity for me. I did some research online and ended up adapting a crust recipe that seemed promising. It turned out pretty well considering it was my first attempt. I would definitely like to improve the recipe a bit, but I happily devoured three slices!

I topped my pizza with homemade marinara, cashew cheese, red bell peppers, broccoli, and local potatoes. The crust was beautifully golden, crisp, and chewy. It was a perfect thickness – just enough to appreciate the dough and the toppings equally. I think next time I might try the recipe over at Seitan is My Motor since bread is Mihl’s specialty!

Here is what I did (recipe adapted from here):

Ingredients:

1 scant cup very warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon unrefined sugar

1/2 cup oat flour (certified gluten-free)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
2 1/2 Tablespoons almond meal
1 1/2 Tablespoons unrefined sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

2 Tablespoons finely ground flax seeds
6 Tablespoons warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Whisk together the first measure of water, yeast, and sugar in a glass measuring cup. Set aside until frothy, about 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the ground flax seeds and second measure of water in a small bowl. Add the remaining wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
4. Add yeast mixture and wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir well to ensure everything is combined. The dough will be sticky.
5. Place the dough on a large piece of parchment paper. Wet your hands and shape the dough into a round (to your desired size, mine was about 14″ in diameter). Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour. It will puff up nicely.
6. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 475 degrees and place a pizza stone in the oven. If you don’t have a pizza stone, just preheat the oven.
7. Once your dough has risen for about an hour, cover with desired toppings and slide the pizza (with parchment) onto a baking pan or the pizza stone. Do this step carefully!
8. Bake your pizza for 15-18 minutes. Watch closely though, the timing depends on your pan, oven, and toppings. I suggest checking it after 10 minutes to ensure it doesn’t burn.
9. Allow to cool for several minutes before slicing.

If I had to guess, I’d say this sassy lil’ sparrow was hoping for a bite of gluten-free pizza too :)

Just Another Cookie Recipe

I am pretty sure we all have our favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies, right? My favorite is one Tim and I created years ago in an attempt to replicate a cookie brand we loved in New Zealand. While they didn’t turn out exactly the same, they were close and pleased us immensely. When I veganized the recipe, they were even better; imagine that!

The other night Tim requested chocolate chip cookies (big surprise!). It was late, I was lazy, and I didn’t feel like following a recipe. My solution was to toss ingredients into my mixing bowl and hope for the best. Who needs baking science?

The result was a delicious, chewy, chocolate chip cookie with a subtle hint of coconut.

A few notes about this recipe: I am pretty sure you could reduce the sugar amounts to 1/3 cup each and still have excellent results. Also, I used light coconut milk but it was very thick, and that is essential for this recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

yield: about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup organic, unrefined sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic chocolate chips
2 T unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Mix in the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine.
6. Stir in the chocolate chips and coconut.
7. Use a cookie scoop (or spoon) to distribute dough onto prepared baking sheets.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until cookies are slightly golden. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Enjoy!

One Special Sammie

Last month, I spent a week in Omaha helping a much adored cookbook author make dozens of pies. In between all the baking, sweeping, and intermittent couch lounging, we took advantage of Omaha’s fine vegan food offerings. I posted about them previously, here, here, and here. My favorite place we dined at was The Daily Grub. I had a veggie sandwich that was absolutely unique and delicious:

Veggie Sandwich = Roasted red peppers, sweet potato, avocado, and pepita spread tucked between a toasted baguette

I vowed to recreate this tummy pleasing lunch once I returned to Portland. And then, I forgot about it for nearly a month. It was bulk pumpkin seeds at my local co-op that sparked a memory of this sandwich. Yesterday I took shelter from the (never-ending) rain and made my own version:

And I fought off laziness and wrote down a recipe to share!! Here we go:

Roasted Veggie and Pepita Spread Sammie

(inspired by The Daily Grub’s Veggie Sandwich)

Ingredients

1 large red bell pepper (yellow or orange would work too, but NOT green!)
1 large sweet potato (orange fleshed would be the prettiest, but I had boring white ones), peeled
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 small clove garlic
Juice from 1 medium-sized lemon (about 3 1/2 Tablespoons)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
4-6 Tablespoons water, to thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large avocado, sliced
1 long, good quality baguette (I found a nice, seven grain baguette at Trader Joe’s)

Directions

1. Preheat your oven broiler and line a small baking sheet with parchment or foil. Set aside.
2. Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and core. Place cut side down on the foil and place in the oven. Broil until the outside of the pepper is charred and black, approximately 10-15 minutes (WATCH CLOSELY, TIME DEPENDS ON YOUR OVEN). Remove from oven and cover with a bowl until cool enough to handle.
3. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
4. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise. Cut each half into planks about 1/4″ thick (or just a tad thicker). Place sweet potatoes on prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until spotted and tender. Make sure to flip them over halfway through roasting. Remove from oven and set aside. While the sweet potato is roasting, peel the charred skin from the roasted pepper and slice pepper into long, thin strips.
5. To make the pepita spread: Place pumpkin seeds, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until well combined, stopping and scraping the sides of the machine as needed.
6. Drizzle in the olive oil, 1 Tablespoon at a time until the mixture is relatively smooth.
7. Add in the nutritional yeast and continue to process. At this point the mixture should be thick and pasty. Add in enough water to thin it to your desired consistency. You want it to resemble pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste and process breifly to combine everything.
8. To assemble: Cut the baguette widthwise into desired number of sandwiches (mine yielded 4). Cut each portion in half lengthwise and toast lightly. Spread each piece of bread generously with pepita spread. Top with sweet potato planks, roasted red pepper strips, and avocado slices. I added lettuce to my sandwich. Spinach or arugula would be tasty too. You could also add a drizzle of hot sauce if that floats your boat. Enjoy!

Northward to Seattle

Last weekend Tim and I visited our good friends in Seattle. We were treated to plenty of Mighty O Donuts, gorgeous weather, dinner at an amazing vegan restaurant, mini golf, homemade pizza and pancakes, and boxing battles on Nintendo Wii. That is a lot of fun to pack into one weekend!! Here are some photos of our adventures:

Thanks, Kim and Dave!

Stay tuned for tomorrow because I am posting a recipe for a fantastic sammie. You don’t want to miss it – promise!