The Great Pizza Experiment

As I mentioned in my last post, I had received a challenge to create a gluten-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free pizza. Here at last are the results!


Pizza Part 1: The Crust

A great pizza crust is very important. Some people like deep dish, some like thin and crispy. Whatever the thickness, the crust should hold up well enough the carry layers of savory deliciousness to your mouth, no fork necessary! These two crust recipes had the right flavor, texture, and aroma for my taste. Added benefit: they won’t overload your carb quota, and should leave your tummy feeling happy.

Autoimmune Protocol Flatbread and Pizza Crust

Recipe from Breanna at hewontknowitspaleo.com.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup arrowroot flour (I usually use potato starch, but stick with arrowroot for nightshade-free)
1/3 cup coconut four
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 gelatin egg substitute* (see below)

Preheat oven to 350º.
Place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl except for gelatin egg substitute and lemon juice.
Prepare gelatin egg substitute: Whisk 1 tablespoon gelatin into 1 tablespoon room temperature water, then add 2 tablespoons boiling water, whisking vigorously until completely dissolved and frothy. Use immediately.
Add gelatin egg substitute and lemon juice to dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated.
Scrape dough out of mixing bowl and roll into ball.

Between two layers of parchment paper, roll ball of dough into 11″ circle with a rolling pin. If dough cracks, add a bit more water – no more than one tablespoon at a time.
Remove top layer of parchment paper, and transfer bottom layer and flatbread dough to pizza pan or stone.
Bake for 12 minutes.

*If you’d rather not use gelatin, you can substitute 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds and mix with the three tablespoons hot water, or use 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato as the egg substitute. I like the texture best with the gelatin, though.

Added bonus: If you overbake the crust, you will end up with a cracker! While this isn’t great if your intention is pizza crust, it does make pretty great pita chips if you cut the dough in triangles first and bake it longer on purpose. 🙂

Do visit Breanna’s website, as she has many great recipes there. Her recipe book looks wonderful too!

 Gluten-Free Yeast Dough Pizza Crust 

Revised from Gluten-Free Goddess.

1 1/8 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons warm water (100-115° F)
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/3 rounded cup brown rice flour
1/3 rounded cup almond flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon applesauce
1-2 tablespoons additional warm water, if needed

Place the warm water in a measuring cup and stir in the honey till dissolved. Sprinkle or stir in the yeast and leave to begin bubbling.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a small bowl or cup, combine the warm water, chia seeds, and applesauce.

When the yeast mixture has begun to bubble, add it to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add chia mixture and olive oil and mix until dough is smooth, like thick muffin batter. If batter is too thick, add the extra water.

Scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined pizza stone and spread with a spatula to about a 12″ circle. Place in a slightly warmed oven (10 seconds preheating) to rise for 30-40 minutes.

Turn oven on to 350°. Bake 20 minutes, until crust is just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Spread with sauce, add toppings, drizzle crust with olive oil, then bake about 15 minutes to finish.

Pizza Part 2: The Sauce

Next comes the sauce. I have discovered that people can be very opinionated when it comes to pizza. To some, a pizza must have red sauce or it isn’t pizza. To others, pesto is a far better and more adventurous alternative (I do love pesto!). Others venture into the realm of white pizza. So I tried all three.

Red Sauce

Amanda Torres of The Curious Coconut has created a wonderful tomato-free red sauce. It has great flavor; my only complaint is that it sinks into the crust and sort of disappears if you save the pizza for the next day. The first day, though, it works beautifully! It’s a huge recipe, so you will have plenty of sauce to freeze for later.

The Best No-Mato Sauce

Pesto

Here’s a link to my previous post, delicious Dairy-Free Pesto.

White Garlic Spread

1/2 cup cashews, soaked 4-6 hours, then drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut milk
1 bulb garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the tip off the gwrlic bulb and place in a small dish, then drizzle with a little olive oil and bake, covered, at 400° for about 45 minutes to an hour. When garlic is tender, remove from oven and let cool; then squeeze garlic out of the papery skins. Place garlic and the rest of ingredients in a blender and blend until the texture of ricotta cheese. Spread over pizza.

Pizza Part 3: The Cheese

Who needs cheese anyway? I must say, this is the hardest part in a non-dairy pizza. After trying a gelatin-based cashew cheese recipe, I decided that was really no good. The “cheese” gels up like oddly-flavored cashew jello. Yuck! Texture really is an important part of food…

Next I tried this recipe by Sam Turnbull. Though Sam says in the post that only tapioca starch will create the stretchy, gooey consistency desired, I found that arrowroot worked just fine. I also prefer to use less of it, as the cheese does not have a “grate-able” consistency anyway. It’s more like cheese sauce that can be “stretched” onto the pizza. Just be sure to pour it on while it’s warm!

My revised version:

1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon arrowroot
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small saucepan, cover cashews with water (not listed in ingredients) and simmer 10-15 minutes to soften. Drain and rinse cashews and transfer to a blender. Add 1 cup water and all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan and stir continually over medium-high heat until clumps begin to form. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes, until mixture is comepletely “cheesy” and gooey. Transfer cashew cheese to pizza. If your cheese has cooled, warm it up in a pan until it becomes stretchable again.

~~~

While I was not completely satisfied with the cheese aspect of this experiment, it was passable if you really cannot eat real cheese. Someday I may try some of these actual fermented non-dairy cheeses. For now, though…I have to draw the line somewhere!

Pizza Part 4: The Toppings

Which toppings you choose are in a large part defined by the sauce. Here are the combinations I came up with:

Pesto Pizza: Either crust spread liberally with pesto and topped with baked chicken pieces, sliced black olives, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and a small amount of dairy-free cheese.

“Pepperoni” Pizza: Yeast dough crust spread with no-mato sauce and topped with fresh frenched onions, mushrooms, black olives, dairy-free cheese, and sliced Kiolbassa grass-fed beef sausage.

Balsamic Glazed Fig and “Pepperoni” White Pizza: The most unusual of the three. AIP flatbread crust spread with white garlic sauce, topped with sautéed onions, fresh mushrooms, balsamic glazed figs,* and sliced Kiolbassa grass-fed beef sausage. For future, I would leave off the mushrooms and add a sprinkling of chopped walnuts instead.

*Balsamic-glazed figs: Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 4 dried figs, and 1 sprig fresh rosemary in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened. Reserve the sauce, and just use the figs for the pizza. Even better if you use We Olive’s fig balsamic vinegar! Recipe from Diane SanFilippo’s Practical Paleo.

While the pizza experiment was fun and I loved the results, I have taken a long, long time posting this partly because I was so exhausted from all that cooking! 😉 Seriously, I do recommend breaking up the tasks over several days if you want to make one of these pizzas. And definitely don’t make them all in one day. Since the Great Pizza Experiment, I have made nothing but meals you can cook in an hour or less… Ha ha! It’s about time I tried some simplicity!

I hope you have enjoyed this post on pizza! And that you will maybe even make one or two of them. My next post will be…a much easier recipe, I promise! 🙂

 

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Dairy-Free Pesto

Last month my mom and I started a food and nutrition group, sort of a support group for healthy lifestyles. We have a variety of special diets in the group, and one of the ladies was really missing pizza! So this month’s challenge was to create a gluten-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free pizza! Yes!

So this is the first installment in my pizza experimentation adventures. I made the first trial run pizza last night and it was delicious! Here is the recipe for the pesto. I had made dairy-free pesto before, but didn’t have nutritional yeast. That really adds the finishing touch! You wouldn’t know it’s missing the parmesan.

4 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup cashews, soaked about 4 hours (or additional 1/4 cup walnuts)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Makes enough pesto for about two 12-inch pizzas.

And that’s it!

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

This recipe is based on a delicious soup I had at Whole Foods. Smooth, creamy, comforting—perfect for a rainy day! 

3 pounds butternut squash
2 apples, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream (coconut cream may also work)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Place squash halves facedown in a 9 x 13 glass pan. Pour 1 inch of water into the pan. Roast at 375° for about 1 hour, until tender.

Mix the apples, onion, garlic, and ginger in a 9 x 13 glass pan with enough olive oil to coat. Bake with the squash in the oven 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are tender.

Scoop cooled squash into the blender, add the apple mixture and chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add the cream and blend again, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.*

When soup is smooth, transfer to a soup pot to warm up on low until ready to serve.

* You may wish to add some of the liquid when you transfer the soup to the pot instead, as the blender will be very full!

Variations on a Russian Teacake

As you can probably tell from the picture, these are not your ordinary Russian teacakes. What they may lack in snowy whiteness, however, they make up for in delicious flavor and gluten-free, naturally-sweetened goodness! The luscious, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth flavor is like a cross between a pecan sandie and a Russian teacake. These were such a big hit at Christmas, I decided they could qualify as a winter cookie, at least until Valentine’s! 😉

On another note, that lovely quilted and embroidered snowflake table decoration was made by someone very special who just opened her very own Etsy store! In fact, every one of the beautiful napkins and other decor in the background of my blog were all made by the fabulous and talented Elaine. Please visit her store, Anna Katherine Styles, to find your own lovely table runners, mug rugs, and specialty fabric purses. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can place an order and have it made specially for you!

And…here’s the recipe.

Russian Teacakes
revised from the original Betty Crocker recipe 

1 cup butter, softened*
1/2 cup powdered coconut sugar**
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup white rice flour 
3/4-1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot 
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and pecans 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered coconut sugar for rolling (about 1/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 400º. 
Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered coconut sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. 
Stir in flours, nuts, and salt until dough holds together (add more brown rice flour if dough is too sticky). 
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
Roll cooled cookies in powdered coconut sugar and place on serving plate. 

* If you’re like me, you don’t want to wait hours for the butter to soften! If you choose to melt the butter in a saucepan instead, refrigerate the dough about 10 minutes before attempting to roll into balls. The temperature of the butter is the key to a workable dough. If the butter is too warm, the dough will just fall apart and leave butter all over your hands. If you leave the dough in the fridge too long, it will be hard as a rock and you’ll need to let it sit out to soften the butter again!

 ** To make powdered coconut sugar, whirl regular coconut sugar in the blender until fine as dust. To minimize sugar dust in your kitchen, place a towel over the blender lid while blending and wait 5 to 10 minutes after blending before opening lid. 

Winter Spice Bonbons 

It’s time for Christmas cookies! My sweet husband has requested 7 kinds of Christmas cookies (apparently lots of cookies were a tradition in his family). We’ll see how far I get! 😊

This first installment is based on the Lara bar. Many copycat Lara bars have been posted across the internet; this one is based on the seasonal flavors (like gingerbread cookie) I had found last year at Whole Foods. They were so good! And now I can make them to enjoy any time of year!

I hope you enjoy them too!

Winter Spice Bonbons

3 cups whole pitted dates
2 cups pecans
1 cup cashews
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Grind all ingredients in food processor* until smooth and sticky (you may still have some nut pieces). Form into balls or press flat between parchment paper and cut into into bars. Store in refrigerator.

*Note: this does not work well in a blender!

Creamy Vanilla Cashew Yogurt

I have tried several non-dairy yogurt recipes, and have not been so satisfied with any as I have been with this adaptation of the Urban Poser’s cheesecake recipe. It has just the right creaminess, does not taste like coconut milk, and has just enough nutty flavor to be delicious but not overpowering. I hope you will enjoy it too!

Recipe:

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
20 billion probiotics

Blend cashews, coconut milk, and water in Vitamix or food processor until completely smooth. Open probiotic capsules and add powder to cashew mixture. Blend completely. Scoop mixture into a glass bowl and place in yogurt maker (keep warm at 100-110°) overnight, about 12 hours. 

When yogurt smells sufficiently fermented, remove from yogurt maker and scoop back into blender. Add the following and blend well:

1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cream, butter, or ghee
1/4 teaspoon gelatin mixed with 1 tablespoon hot water 

Pour into bowl or individual jars and refrigerate 6-8 hours before serving.

Honey Lavender “Ice Cream”

The first flurries of snow have finally fallen on our side of town. The winter is almost here, though a few of the flowers in the garden are still holding on. This recipe celebrates the lovely lavender, one of the last blooming flowers of summer.

4 cups coconut cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut sugar 
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon guar gum*
1/2 tablespoon bourbon, optional**

Mix all ingredients except guar gum in blender. While blender is running, sprinkle in guar gum. Pour mixture into ice cream maker freeze according to machine instructions. 

*guar gum may be omitted for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or if you are using coconut milk that already contains it rather than using the pure coconut cream. It helps emulsify the water and fat content of the coconut cream so that it freezes smoothly rather than with ice crystals formed from the separated water.

**The alcohol is added to keep the ice cream from freezing too hard. It still does freeze quite hard even with the bourbon, so you will need to take it out of the freezer about half an hour before serving it.