Almond-Cauliflower (Grain-less!) Pizza Crust (+ Link Love)

I’ve been on an undeniable veggie kick lately.  My breakfast eggs are suddenly loaded with tomatoes, onions, peppers, spinach, and potatoes; my soups are turning into stews with the sheer amount of vegetables swimming in the broth; stir-fries are invading my daydreams.  I’m guessing it is due to craving the nutrients, now that we are getting close to midwinter and I keep battling bouts of cold and flu that knock me flat for days and then leave me scrambling at work.  Can I apologize any more for the unplanned absence here on this blog?

But I’m returning with a brand new cobbled together recipe and several links to others’ brainchildren.  And all of these recipes have “hidden” veggies.  Or legumes, I suppose, to be vegetation-ally-correct.  Not that I have to hide veggies from anyone, these days, but it’s nice to know I can work in extra nutrients without much fuss.

First, I made Heidi’s Black Bean Brownies.  I was intrigued by this flourless version, as a opposed to brownie-mix recipes around the web, because ‘flourless’, obviously, means one less ingredient to check or adapt to be gluten-free.  I’ll be honest, I started this recipe while I upset with other matters, and didn’t realize it called for a food processor.  Ours has begun its slow death, and after a lot of frustration, I managed to cobble together the recipe.  These brownies taste delicious, deeply chocolate-y, moist and fudgy…nearly too fudgy.  I’m slightly put off by just how much butter is in this recipe (I save my massive-amounts-of-butter-recipes for more precious things like Lemon Curd).  I would like to tweak and play with this recipe, to see if I can reduce the butter and set things up a little better.  These fudgy brownies barely stick together after refrigeration.  Despite our troubles holding them together, we had no trouble finishing off the batch over the next few days.

My second vegetable addition was to my beloved Shepherd’s Pie.  I had some cauliflower to use up, so I cooked that up with a potato or two and pureed/mashed it all in place of the potato topping (still with all of the cheesy, buttery goodness).  I had never had cauliflower mash before, but I love the texture and mild taste it added to the Pie.  I’d like to work in a lot more veggies in this dish, as it’s quickly becoming a house favorite.

Finally, I continue to play with gluten-free pizza crusts and crust-alternatives.  I’d seen recipes for cauliflower crusts, but I didn’t like how much cheese was within the crust.  I have made an All-Cheese Pizza Crust, but I prefer to have my cheesy melty goodness on top of the pizza.  To have it on top and in the crust makes me a little guilty 😉  I also found an almond crust, and played with combining the two to keep the veggies without the massive amounts of cheese, with relative success.

Cauliflower-Almond Pizza Crust, precooked

Almond-Cauliflower Crust

  • -1 c. grated cauliflower (about 1/3 of a head)
  • -1 c. almond meal
  • -2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • -3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • -1 garlic clove, minced
  • -2 tsp italian seasoning
  • -1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grate or food-process the cauliflower into a texture similar to cornmeal.  Microwave the cauliflower without additional liquid for 8 minutes.  In large bowl whisk almond meal, cheese, and seasoning.  Add cauliflower and garlic, mix well.  Stir in eggs and olive oil until thoroughly mixed.  The dough should be slightly wet and sticky, but ball together and stay together with a little pressure (mine looked kind of crumbly, but rolled into a ball as I pulled it out of the bowl).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease thoroughly (I mean it!)  Spread dough onto baking sheet, pressing flat and into preferred shape.  Lightly brush top with olive oil.  Bake for 15 minute, until crust is golden.  Spread with your preferred toppings (pre-cook any meats and tough vegetables) and broil for 5-10 minutes until toppings are warmed through.

Cooked Crust

 


Praise for Helen and Gluten-Free Popovers

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, my childhood was embodied by two delicious eggy pastries (or pastry-esque items): ‘Rolly-rollies’ and Popovers.  The thin French crepes and milder Yorkshire puddings hid in my baking repertoire for years, without my knowing that both nicknames disguised–to my lesser-travelled ears–‘exotic’ and difficult masterpieces.  But whatever you may call them, these delicious recipes have earned many fans among family and friends over the years.  My love for both of these is the direct responsibility of my maternal great-grandmother, Helen.

The granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants, Helen, from all recounts, was a formidable force throughout her life.  From the general love of her recipes through the generations, I think I’m safe to assume she was an even more formidable cook.  She passed on the original (gluten-filled) recipes to my grandmother, who taught my mother.  And the love grew.  These two were the most requested foods growing up and still remain some of my favorites to share, especially now that I’ve mastered gluten-free versions of both, with a lot of help found in the online Gluten-Free community.

Unlike my lucky success with her crepe recipe, the single egg in the original Popover recipe doesn’t quite have the strength to lift the heavy, moisture-sucking gluten-free flours.  Countless failed attempts have transpired over my 16 months of baking gluten-free.  But I finally found the Holy Grail of GF Popovers recipes in the Thanksgiving/Fall Issue of Living Without Magazine.  I was quite disappointed during my Thanksgiving post, when I tried to link the recipe, and found it was withheld to LivingWithout.com‘s register users.  But after expounding on crepes, I checked again, and the recipe has been released!

So here, without further ado, is my idea of the perfect popover recipe:

Living Without’s Crusty Popovers

I leave out the herbs when I make them.  I’m a purist.  If you are having some trouble (or have as temperamental an oven as mine) try turning down the oven temp by 50 degrees F halfway through the bake time without opening the oven.  Don’t interrupt that rise!  If its still not quite to your taste, try Living Without’s Yorkshire Puddings.  They’re almost the same, but might be tweaked enough to appease your tastebuds.

Here is my modified recipe:

Popovers

  • – 1 c. milk
  • -4 eggs
  • -1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour
  • -2/3 c. white rice flour
  • Pinch xanthan gum
  • -Dash salt 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a 12 cup muffin tin in the oven to preheat.  Keep the tin warm until you are ready to pour in the batter.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended.  Add tapioca starch/flour, white rice flour, xanthan gum, and salt.  Whisk until combined and smooth.  Carefully remove hot baking tin from oven.  Grease with butter or oil.  Pour in batter, filling cups 3/4 full.  Place popovers in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees for the final 15 minutes.  It may be my old, finicky oven, or knowing my mother’s tried-and-true recipe also necessitates a temperature change, but this is the trick that works best for me.

And last, but not least, here’s my seal of approval:

Excuse the overexposure and, instead, marvel at that browned, crispy shell; the undeniable puff.  Imagine the soft, eggy interior….

Now quit your daydreams and go make some!


Quick & Easy: Crepes

What do you get when you add

THIS

Plus

THIS

…?

LINGONBERRY (‘SWEDISH’) CREPES!

Bite me, IHOP.  I don’t need your dastardly gluten-filled pancakes (but I’ll still come back for your Sirloin Tips and Eggs, darling, don’t worry).

IHOP’s Swedish Crepes used to be my go to at the restaurant.  My siblings and I (and my mother and her brothers) were raised on “Rolly-Rollies”: my great-grandmother’s crepes buttered and rolled into long tubes and served with syrup.  While my brother, sister, and I were forced to wait through the torturous cook time of the whole batch of batter, my mother and her brothers would eat the individual crepes as soon as they came out of the pan.  I imagine there was a lot more fighting in my grandmother’s kitchen…

So, imagine my youthful self excitement on the day in IHOP that I didn’t automatically order the Chicken Fingers, to find that miraculous “International Passport” section with its selection of crepes.  Heaven!  I think I tried the lemon crepes once, but (and this is made all the more serious considering my lemon-obsession) the Swedish crepes with lingonberry jam and butter won out without question.

When I first discovered I was gluten-intolerant, there were two miserable food-deaths in my mind: crepes and popovers.  Unsurprisingly, these were two of the very first recipes I desperately tried to recreate without gluten.  Both are pretty hard to do.  I can talk about the long journey to successful gluten-free popovers later (though I touched upon the ultimate success in my Thanksgiving Post).   Crepes were a little easier.  Subbing a store-bought GF mix yielded drier, but not entirely inedible crepes.  Later on, I found Shauna’s Gluten-Free Whole-grain Crepes.  These were very good, nice and eggy and just a little stretchy.  But some mornings, I don’t want to pull out canister after canister of flour, carefully measuring, weighing, and letting rest.  If I have the time and motivation, I love having a consistent, delicious whole-grain option. But sometimes, I’m lazy.

My great-grandmother’s recipe called for 1 cup of milk, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup of flour.  I want that kind of easy.  So I decided to give it a go, encouraged by my Christmas Cookie success with a simple GF flour blend.  I used that same blend (2 parts White Rice Flour, 1 part Tapioca Starch, 1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum per cup) in my great-grandmother’s recipe.

“Rolly-Rollies”/Crepes

  • -1/2 c. (70g) GF Flour Blend (about 45g White Rice Flour, about 23g Tapioca Starch, pinch of Xanthan Gum)
  • -1 egg
  • -1 c. milk
  • -dash salt (optional)

Pour a small amount of batter into a hot, lightly oiled skillet.  Turn the skillet side to side, spread the batter over the bottom of the skillet until batter begins to set.  When edges are dry (about 1-2 minutes), slide spatula around edges to loosen crepe, slide underneath and flip.  The second side should only need a few seconds (about 15-30 seconds).  Place crepe in oven on low heat to stay warm while rest of batter is cooked.

Serve the Helen-classic: spread with butter, rolled, and topped with syrup; or Sweet: serve with jam, whipped topping, ricotta, fruit, or Tangy: lemon juice and powdered sugar; or Savory: wrap around soft, mild cheeses with various cooked vegetables (spinach!), shredded chicken, and/or herbs.

It was surprisingly successful.  The tricky part of crepes isn’t the batter, but actually cooking the thin, eggy pancake.  A nonstick skillet and thin, flexible spatula are absolutely essential, and I’ve found smaller crepes (no more than 8″) are easier to handle.  I fill up the bottom of my skillet, which keeps them a manageable size and nicely circular.  Keep practicing.  Habits are the best skill to have with crepes!

And, of course, if you stumble across lingonberry jam in your grocery, grab that jar and make some crepes!


Hello 2012

I’ve been knocked flat by the flu + a chest cold, on top of work, holidays and family.  I’ll be back in a few days, but until then, I wanted to put up my resolutions.

 

A handy-dandy form helps.   And keeps things clear and neat!

 

I made my own resolution poster!  Heavily influenced (and some phrasing borrowed) from Aileen’s at CreatingClever.com