Pizza Love

Oh my goodness, this post is barely sliding in before midnight. My excuse? I slept in until 10:30 this morning and then went hiking, and then ate soup, and read two new cookbooks that recently arrived on my doorstep, and then ate a bagel.

I didn’t have a post in mind for today so I thought I would give a quick shout out to my love of pizza. We try to eat pizza once a week because it’s just so darn delicious and versatile and fun! Last night we made pizza with shaved Brussels sprouts, roasted fingerling potatoes, marinara, homemade dough, bell peppers, and fresh rosemary. It was amazing. Here is a photographic tribute to my adoration for this wedged delight.

Tell me about your favorite way to enjoy pizza!

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 :)

Oh Pizza, How I Love You

Did you know that yesterday was the first annual Vegan Pizza Day? I think it’s exciting that vegan pizza now has its own holiday. I’m surprised it took so long but happy to partake in the celebration of one of my favorite foods. I can’t imagine not liking pizza – you can cater the crust and toppings to suit your needs. Pizza is so flexible!

Last night Tim and I made two pizzas. We usually only make one pizza but I really wanted leftovers (which have now been demolished). We opted for two very different pizzas:

Spicy Pineapple & Tempeh Crumbles Pizza

Veggie Pizza with Daiya

The Spicy Pineapple & Tempeh Crumbles pizza (topping recipe from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions) was made with a whole grain crust. I even added a hefty tablespoon of chia seeds to the dough for a nice dose of Omega 3’s. The topping is a mixture of sauteed tempeh, Indian spices, pineapple bits, and spinach. It was a nice balance of spicy and sweet. The next time I make this pizza I might drizzle a coconut curry sauce over the top before baking.

The Veggie Pizza was pretty basic – spelt crust, homemade marinara, red bell peppers, black olives, broccoli, and Daiya. I am not a big fan of Daiya but I do appreciate that it is soy-free.

We sprinkled ground chipotle flakes and cashew crumbles (a mixture of finely ground nutritional yeast and cashews) on top of our slices and watched Revenge of the Nerds IV while we ate. Lame movie (but I did laugh a few times), good pizza. Hooray for Vegan Pizza Day!

My birthday is coming up this week and Tim has agreed to make me Purple Cow Cupcakes. Stay tuned for photos! It is supposed to be sunny and in the mid 50’s on my birthday so there might be some worthwhile adventures happening to celebrate my ever-increasing old age.

Birthday Adventures

Yesterday was Tim’s 34th birthday. We awoke to unusually sunny skies and temperatures nearing 60 degrees – ideal for a bike ride and lunch at our favorite Portland cafe, Proper Eats. I was fooled into thinking spring had arrived early! Although I think the ridiculous headwind we pedaled into for the first half of our bike ride made me realize winter is holding steady. Check out the clouds looming over downtown Portland:

Onward we pedaled…

Proper Eats is a cozy, welcoming place with super kind folks cooking and serving delicious food. The menu is entirely vegetarian (mostly vegan). They support local farmers, businesses, distributors, and artists. I’ve never had a disappointing meal at Proper Eats and the food is so healthy, nourishing, and well-priced. There is a small grocery/bulk foods section at the front of the cafe. The kitchen is open so you can watch people preparing your food – I love that!

It’s challenging trying to capture decent food photos in eateries (especially with low light conditions). Here is what we enjoyed:

Collard Wraps served with Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Potato & Garlic Soup

Spinach Salad w/ Carrot-Ginger Dressing (and local hazelnuts and cranberries!)

Tempeh Reuben (the only thing Tim ever orders at Proper Eats, it’s his favorite sammie)

The bike ride home was easier since we were riding with the wind (and fueled by yummy foods). When we got back to our place we decided it was okay to have some birthday cake a bit early. This poor cake had a traumatic day – it stuck to my cooling rack, cracked in half as a result, and then stuck to the serving plate. What a stinker! The issue of the naughty cake was resolved and disguised with peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache (plus a side of Coconut Bliss ice cream!).

Tim demands pizza for dinner weekly. His birthday was no exception. He kept reminding me over the weekend to make the dough. We learned from a friend that making the dough several days ahead of time and putting it in the fridge (no rising) creates a chewy, crisp-on-the-bottom, pizza. Just remember to let the dough rest on the counter a few hours before you plan to make your pizza.

And then, of course, we enjoyed more cake and Coconut Bliss after dinner. It was a good day.

“P” is for… Pizza Pretzels!

I have a problem. I am addicted to pizza. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you already know this little factoid. During the summer months, pizza makes its sneaky way into my meal plans almost weekly. During the colder months, it’s less frequent, which is silly since pizza warms me from head to toe(s).

Recently Tim and I were hiking and trying to think of MoFo post ideas. We were working our way through the alphabet (since that’s my theme!) and when we arrived at “P”, Tim eagerly suggested pizza and then pretzels and then some festive combination of both. Why the heck not, right? Pizza in a pretzel form is pretty exciting! I tied my apron strings, gathered my ingredients, and set to work creating Pizza Pretzels and Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce. Want to see the end result?

I adapted a basic soft pretzel recipe from Urban Vegan, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. If you don’t own it, maybe you should! I will share my recipe here, since I made several changes. The next time you want pizza, try these!

Pizza Pretzels

Makes 6 big, soft, pizza-licious pretzels

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon dry sweetener (preferably unrefined and organic)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried ground rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
1 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
seeds/seasonings for sprinkling, optional (I used pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt)

Directions:

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk yeast and sugar with the warm water. Set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), stir together flours, salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, and fennel.
3. Add in the yeast mixture, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic.
4. Knead for about 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
5. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. If you have a second baking sheet that is the same size, stack that under the first one. This will help keep your pretzels from browning too quickly on their bottoms!
7. Fill a large, wide (my pot is 7″ high and 12″ in diameter) pot halfway with water. Stir in 1/4 cup baking soda. Bring the water to a boil.
8. Meanwhile, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14-16″ long and shape into a pretzel (make a U-shape, twist the ends together twice at the top, and fold them down to meet the bottom of the U. Press the ends gently to secure the shape). Place formed pretzels on prepared baking sheet.
9. Once water is boiling, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering (just make sure it isn’t at a rapid boil). Submerge pretzels, one or two at a time, in the water. They will rise to the surface pretty quickly. Let them simmer for about 30 seconds and then remove with a slotted utensil and transfer back to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with seeds of choice.
10. Once all of your pretzels have been water-boiled and sprinkled, slide your baking sheet into the oven. Bake the pretzels for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Rotate halfway through baking, and check often to make sure they don’t burn.
11. Let pretzels cool, only slightly (they are best warm!) and serve with Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

*I considered sprinkling these with cheezy cashew crumbles (grind cashews, nutritional yeast, and a bit of salt together until powdery), but only after I’d eaten one, so next time for sure!

Super Speedy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (14-oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dry sweetener
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
pinch dried ground rosemary
pinch chipotle flakes

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (I am NOT a fan of chunky sauces!!). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with your pretzels.

Enjoy!

Any requests for my “Q” post tomorrow? All I can think of right now is quinoa, and that’s boring. Maybe boring will be necessary though!