It’s Pizza Time!

Pizza!

As promised, I’ve successfully made some gluten free pizza crust. I was amazed at how simple it really was. I started with a recipe that I found in the recent version of the Joy of Cooking that I bought, probably 10 years ago. I was very surprised to find some gluten free recipes in there. So, I started by following their basic pizza crust recipe. It turned out to be pretty good, much like a traditional pizza crust, a little chewy in that pizza crust sort of way. Yum!

Baked white crust

Rising dough

 

Since I prefer a crust that isn’t quite so white, I made a second one that added different flours to improve the nutritional value. I’ve been experimenting to get to know the different flours, so I chose teff and sorghum. I like the flavor of these flours and they both have great nutritional value. According to Wikipedia, Teff is a grass native to Ethiopia. Sometimes it is called Lovegrass – perfect, huh? It is high in dietary fiber, protein, iron and calcium.

 

Baked Teff/Sorghum Crust

 

Sorghum is also native to Africa and has been produced in America primarily as cattle feed. In India, however, it is a staple, often used to replace wheat in China, and in Korea, sorghum is often cooked with rice. Sorghum is known for its high protein content is a valuable grain in times of scarcity.

This crust, also quite tasty, ended up being reminiscent of a whole wheat crust. Not as chewy as the white crust, though full of flavor and a lovely crunch in the crust. I think that, though I liked both of these crusts, I prefer something in between. Next time, I will combine these recipes and I expect then it will be perfect!

 

Pizza Toppings

Toppings are an important part of making good pizza. In many ways, I am a  pizza traditionalist at heart. I prefer the marinara sauce, sliced pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, green and red bell peppers, onions, with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top. Since it is hard to come by nitrate free pepperoni, I decided to use some of the turkey bacon that I had in the frig. It turned out to be very good, tasting somewhat like Canadian bacon, which was a favorite of mine as a kid. The turkey bacon is already cooked, so I simply sliced it into bite sized pieces and laid it out over the sauce.

Open faced pizza -before the cheese

 

Canned pizza sauce is certainly available, but I find that any time I can make something fresh it tastes better. Being winter, I didn’t make fresh tomato sauce this time. That would be a great thing to do with those extra summer tomatoes for next year. I started with a 15 oz. can of organic tomato sauce and added my favorite Italian herbs, some of which I had dried over the summer from plants in my garden. I used these spices: oregano, winter savory, marjoram, basil, garlic powder, salt. This amount of sauce made enough for 2 pizza dough recipes.

 

 

Ready to bake

Pizza can host a large variety of sauces and toppings. I like to mix it up with pesto  or alfredo instead of tomato sauce. Try  adding whatever’s fresh in the garden for toppings.

Toppings:

Sliced Onions              Sliced Green or Black Olives                Artichoke Hearts           Pineapple Chunks

Zucchini slices            Red and Green Bell Peppers                 Sliced Mushrooms

Bacon Pieces – cooked, nitrate-free            Turkey Bacon Pieces – uncooked, nitrate-free         Ground Beef or Sausage Pieces

 

Cheeses:

Mozzarella, Fontina  or Havarti Cheese, shredded

Grated Parmesan or Asiago Cheese

Feta or Goat Cheese

Here’s the revised recipe that will make a nice, wholesome crust for your healthy pizza!

Baked Pizza

Cut Pizza

Pizza Slice

Smell it?

Gluten Free Pizza

2/3 c. brown rice flour

1/3 c. white rice flour

    1/3 c. teff flour

    2/3 c. sorghum flour

    1 c. arrowroot powder

    1 c. potato starch

    1 Tbsp. xanthan gum

    1 Tbsp. sugar

    1 ½ tsp. salt

    2 ½ Tbsp. active dry yeast

    1 c. buttermilk

    3 Tbsp. + olive oil

    2 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

    2 large eggs

    1 egg white

    ¼ c. warm water

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400ᵒ.
  2. Use extra olive oil on non-stick, round pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
  3. Put all dry ingredients listed above in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.
  5. Mix until fully incorporated. If the dough is too wet, add a little more rice flour. Or add more warm water if it is too dry.
  6. Pour a little bit of olive oil on your hands to complete mixing the dough by hand. Break it into pieces and pat evenly onto oiled pizza pans.
  7. Place in a warm location to rise, covered with a dry towel, for 20- 30 minutes. On cold days, I put it on the stove next to the back of the stovetop where it is warm from the oven preheating. Or a warm , sunny car is good, too.
  8. Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven to add sauce and toppings. (If you are going to freeze the pizza, let the crust cool completely before adding toppings, including cheese. Wrap well with clear wrap, and put inside a plastic bag to seal for freezing.
  10. Bake pizza without cheese for 10 minutes. Add cheese and bake for 5 minutes. Serve.

 


April Garden Fun

This has certainly been one of the weirdest winter-spring times ever! It is raining again today and is supposed to continue all week. This is quite odd in my neck of the woods. The cats are certainly as confused as the plants. They keep sitting on the bench watching the rain. And then they come in the house and complain. Jade, especially, thinks I have magical powers to stop the rain so she can scamper around chasing bugs in the sun!

peach leaf rot

 

My beautiful little peach tree that Ofer grew from seed is suffering with this strange looking leaf rot that I have never seen before. I assume it is from these late rains. On the other hand, it has some lovely little peaches growing. Hopefully, the rains won’t ruin those too.

 

We spent the weekend working in the garden. The flowers continue to bloom creating a cacophony of color and beauty all around the garden! Lavendar, lilac, rosemary, California poppies, freesias, mustard and broccoli blooms, alyssum, blue-eyed grass, sweet peas are just a few…and the tulips are also starting to come up!

White Tulip

Alyssum

Lavendar blooms

Mustard and broccoli flowers

White Spanish lavendar blooms

Lilac and rosemary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

colorful freesias

Purple Freesias

Lavendar sweet peas

Blooming Pear

We decided to put out a codling moth trap in the pear tree this year as sometimes we find evidence of their presence in our pears. Hopefully, that will completely eradicate the minor problem that we have. Our apples used to also be affected by this moth, but have grown stronger and now don’t have any problems. Our pear tree is quite old so maybe it is just more vulnerable.

 

 

California Poppies

Blue-Eyed Grass

 

These California natives do beautifully in our yard. In fact, the poppies are volunteers and have found exactly where they like to be. They are more abundant each year and everyone compliments us on them. My neighbor asked me last night if he could get some to plant in his yard, too!

 

The lettuce is finally growing some too. I have had trouble with lettuce for some reason over the years, I guess because I have a very sun-filled, hot yard.

We’re making plans for a big garden this year. Ofer and Yo’el are building beds like crazy and we are planting lots of seeds – too many to list here. I’ll tell you all about it as we go along.

Baby romaine

spring beds

 

We were blessed with the help of friends on both days this weekend. Thank you to Anne, Tyler and Kathryn for all your help!

Here’s Kathryn taking a much deserved rest while I was watering at the end of the day. We spent the time pulling weeds, preparing spring beds for planting, planting strawberries, transplanting seedlings and harvesting the last of the winter vegetables that are still around. I made a lovely gratin with the fennel and today am making a quiche with the  spring onions. I love using them like leeks, caramelizing them and then adding herbs, eggs and cheese for a delicious golden quiche.

 

Brussels, Fennel and Parsnip Gratin

fennel

1# brussels sprouts, sliced

1 medium fennel bulb, sliced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, sliced

4 sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, sliced

1 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs – marjoram, oregano or winter savory

Olive oil

1 ½ c. parmesan cheese, grated

⅔ c. milk (goat, soy, almond or cow)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.
  2. Prepare vegetables and steam for 12 – 15 minutes until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, sausage and herbs in a little olive oil until lightly browned.
  4. Lightly oil the casserole dish.
  5. Layer the steamed vegetables on the bottom of the oiled casserole. Sprinkle half a cup of cheese over the vegetables.
  6. Spread the onion-sausage combo over the cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  7. Pour the milk over the top, spreading evenly.
  8. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove the cover and bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad.

Enjoy!