GF Pizza Foray

My general rule for cooking gluten-free is to seek out recipes that were never intended for wheat or other gluten-containing grains. For example, I love Asian recipes that feature rice, or Mexican recipes with corn tortillas. However, there are some traditionally wheat-based dishes that are just too much a part of our culture for me to ignore them — like chocolate chip cookies — so I make them with an “alternative flour,” as my dad calls it. You can use the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe very nicely with amaranth flour instead (plus two teaspoons of xanthan gum), for example.

Now, the pizza: I am not a gluten-free pro, because GF is not a necessity in our house, but more of a lifestyle choice. Therefore, making GF pizza crust is somewhat hit-and-miss for me, and has included the panicked addition of lots of extra flour — not exactly a relaxing evening in the kitchen. Imagine my happiness at finding a tasty GF pizza crust in the freezer case at Giant! I forget the brand, but based on the ingredients, the maker appears to have used a variant of this recipe. Whipping up a tasty pizza was pretty easy, with the crust already made.

First, pre-heated the oven to 375 degrees. Then I pan-fried some bacon and set it on a paper towel to dry. We get our pastured bacon from Stryker Farms, via Pure Sprouts organic delivery. I am incredibly happy with their quality, selection, and service. We get most of our groceries via Pure Sprouts. If you’re in eastern Pennsylvania (Northampton County and the surrounding area), check them out!

Next, I put the crust on a pizza stone, and poured half a bottle of strained tomatoes on top. After smoothing out the tomato sauce, I covered the pizza with three cheeses I had grated: Kerrygold Vintage Dubliner, Parmesano Reggiano (the real deal, from Italy, via Wegmans), and Jarlsberg. Then I sliced up a couple of onions, separated the rings, and spread them over the cheese. Finally, I topped it all with the pieces of bacon and put it in the oven for 12 minutes. Amazingly tasty. I could have eaten the whole thing, but my husband and our daughter wanted some, too 😉

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White Pizza

This is a nice dinner for a cold winter evening. It doesn’t take too long to make it, and you don’t have to have a lot of ingredients on hand. I used a pizza stone, but you can bake it on a circular pizza tray if you choose.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Start with Garvey’s organic Irish brown bread mix (or your own recipe for a soda bread). Mix half of the package (1/2 pound, roughly) with 3/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt, knead it for a bit, then place it on your pizza stone and spread it out a bit so it is the size and shape that you want your pizza to be. Set it aside.

Take 1/2 pound of sliced bacon, cut each slice in half, and saute the bacon in a frying pan in just a tiny bit of olive oil (medium-high heat) until it is just done. While the bacon is cooking, slice two onions extremely thin; when the bacon is done, add the onions to the pan with a hearty shake of all-purpose seasoning. Cook it all together over medium heat, stirring periodically with a fork, until the onions get slightly soft; then turn off the heat and use a fork or a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and onions from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

With a fork, mix together one egg yolk, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese (or soft farmer’s / Georgic cheese), and 1/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt. Spread it on the pizza dough, then cover it with slices of cave-aged Gruyere, then cover that with fresh basil leaves, then top it all with the bacon and onion mixture. Put the whole thing into the oven for 25 minutes. Be extremely careful when you take it out, as it will be tremendously hot Slice it up with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

Salmon Plate

My daughter created this recipe. although I did all the oven-related and sharp item-related work 😉 This is a hearty, savory meal that’s just perfect for cold fall and winter evenings.

Ahead of time, make the mashed potatoes: clean, peel, and cut 1 pound of potatoes into small pieces. Put the pieces in a pot, cover them with water, put a lid on the pot, and heat the potatoes and water on “high” until the water begins to boil. Remove the lid (with a pot holder), reduce the heat a bit (so it’s still boiling, but not overflowing), and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and drain the potatoes (using a pot holder — be careful when handling any hot pot), then add five tablespoons of butter and a shake of Himalasalt, and mash them so they’re smooth and fluffy. Put them in a Pyrex dish, cover the dish with foil, and put it into the oven. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.

Now start the salmon: put as many pieces of salmon filet as you have guests (one filet per person, in other words) into a Pyrex dish, and put the dish (uncovered) into the oven. You’ll want the salmon to cook between 15 and 30 minutes — it depends on how thick the filets are, so you’ll have to experiment with baking salmon before trying this recipe to be sure you get it right.

Around 20 minutes before the salmon is schedule to be done, start boiling water in a pot. When the water boils, drop in 1 cup of Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta (I like the “pagoda” shapes) and cook for nine minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, melt five tablespoons of butter in a shallow pan. Add three tablespoons of corn starch (or tapioca flour, if you are sensitive to corn), a shake of Himalasalt, and a shake of pepper, and whisk it all together. Add 1.5 cups of milk, raise the temperature, and bring the mixture to a boil while whisking it to keep it smooth and thicken it. Add 6 ounces of shredded cheese (any flavorful, melty cheese will work — I like Emmi cave-aged Gruyere, Kerrygold, smoked Dutch Gouda, and raw milk Amish farmer’s cheese … which is why my wallet is always empty when I leave Wegman’s) and keep whisking. When the salmon, the pasta, and the cheese sauce are ready, drain the pasta, and prepare to assemble the salmon plate:

Place a generous helping of mashed potatoes in the center of each plate. Surround the mashed potatoes with a decorative rim of pasta. Place a salmon filet on top of the mashed potatoes. Pour (or drizzle, if you’re less of a cheese addict than I am) cheese sauce over everything and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Butterhead Lettuce Makes a Lovely Fall Salad

I get my butterhead lettuce (via Pure Sprouts) from Butter Valley Harvest, which grows its greens hydroponically. They’re crisp and delightful, and they make a great salad. For fall, I like to take a head of butterhead lettuce, tear it apart, and add dried cranberries and white Stilton cheese with dried cranberries embedded in it. Then I toss it with a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and sesame oil.

Kids Love Broccoli!

That is, when it’s prepared with a bit of cheese 🙂 If your family eats dairy products, this is a great way to “fancy up” (as Nancy would say) your greens.

Steam the broccoli: Pour an inch of spring water into a pot. Put a steamer basket (I use the top part of my rice cooker) on top. Cut florets from 1/2 pound of cleaned broccoli into the steamer basket. Put the whole thing on the stovetop and boil the water until the broccoli turns bright green (which won’t take very long).

While the broccoli is steaming, melt 4 tablespoons of butter (I like Natural by Nature and Kerrygold) in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons of corn flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill organic), 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I like Himalasalt), and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (Simply Organic black pepper is great). Allow the mixture to come to a boil, while stirring to thicken it. Add 2 cups of cut-up or shredded cheese (I like Calkins Creamery Highlander and Kerrygold Vintage Dubliner) and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Put the steamed broccoli in a buttered Pyrex dish, cover it with the cheese sauce, stir it all together, cover it with foil, and heat it in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Tasty!

A Twist on the Traditional Easter Ham

Some people like slices of ham, with vegetables on the side. If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, or to stretch a ham with the use of vegetables in a casserole, or if you need to have your vegetables mixed with meat and cheese in order for a small person to eat them, this recipe is for you.

Grease a 9×12-inch Pyrex dish with butter or olive oil spray. Fill the dish with: 2 pounds of ham, cut into 1-inch cubes, 1 pound of potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes, and 1 pound of this amazing cheese. Make sure the three ingredients are mixed together evenly. Bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to verify that the ham is completely cooked before serving. Some people like a little salt and pepper on this dish, but I’m happy to eat it plain.