Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bread Machine Pizza Crust

I love to make my own pizza crust. You really do end up with a far superior pizza. I don't like to spend a whole lot of time and effort though. I came across this crust recipe that you make in your bread machine dough cycle - EASY! And it was enough dough for two medium pizzas. I used half and froze the rest until I was ready to bake another pizza. This crust was super firm and held up well with lots of toppings. I would make it again! The only issue I had making it was there didn't seem to be enough water and I added about an extra quarter cup water to the bread machine during the mix cycle. It varies depending on your flour, how dry the air is, etc. You just need to eye-ball the dough and adjust accordingly. At the end of the day, pizza dough is very forgiving and 99.9% of the time it will be delicious!

Whole Wheat & Semolina Pizza Crust
1-1/4 cup warm water (reserve 1/4 cup to add if needed)
1/2 tsp agave syrup
1 tsp coarse ground salt
1 TB olive oil
1 cup semolina flour
1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
2 TB vital wheat gluten
2 tsp yeast (or one package)

Select dough cycle on bread machine. Place all ingredients in bread machine maker in order given. Push start button. After it is mixed check the consistency of dough and add more water if too thick. It may just be fine; when I made the dough, it was too thick. If that's the case for you, add 1 TB of water at a time till it looks "right." Don't get worked up about this.

Preheat oven with baking tiles or stone at 500 degrees for an hour. Split dough in half, and roll out one ball. If it's too springy, let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Roll, place on pizza peel with piece of parchment paper on it, and top away! Bake for about 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned. I like to slide parchment paper out from underneath the pizza about halfway through. But if you forget, or don't, it's okay. Enjoy your totally awesome, healthy, home made pizza pie!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

First off, I have to say that until this past week, I have NEVER bought pre-mixed cookie dough. Too much sugar, too many additives, dairy, eggs, etc. However – I was shopping at Fred Meyers and I saw this Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk cookie dough in the health food section cooler and had to try it. I want to encourage and support their efforts to buy anything vegan. Gluten was the only kind they had so I bought it. Wow! Was I in for a treat. These cookies are so delicious! Chewy! Not too sweet! And the great part is you can bake the whole package or just a few. It was a bit pricey at about $6.79 but I'd buy this stuff again. I do know that I am going to explore making my own gluten-free cookies. I really loved the texture.

Here is the website if you want to check out the other flavors:

For you curious folks out there, here is the list of ingredients: Garbanzo Bean Flour, Brown Rice Flour, *Gluten free Vegan Semi-sweet Chocolate (sugar, chocolate, soy lecithin, vanilla), Expeller-pressed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola and olive), filtered water, pure salt, natural flavor (derived from corn, no MSG, no alcohol, no gluten), soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy, derived from sugar beets), and beta-carotene color (from natural source), *Brown Sugar, *Apple Sauce, *Evaporated Cane Juice, Pure Vanilla Extract (vanilla extractives in water), Baking Soda, Xanthan Gum, Sea Salt.

*Certified Organic Ingredients, Fair Trade Certified™ This Product Contains Soy. This product is made in a facility that uses peanuts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chip Garnish

These are rather lovely peanut butter cookies, a bit lower in fat than usual, and each one has a single chocolate chip garnish – just for fun! My tasters really seemed to love this cookie. I enjoyed the chewiness and kind of wished I had put more chocolate chips on the top... Makes 24-30 cookies depending on how you scoop ‘em out. I used a tablespoon scooper and got 24 cookies.

1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup plus 1 TB whole wheat pasty flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, room temperature
3 TB canola oil
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
24-30 vegan dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift sugar, flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into bowl. Stir so the dry ingredients are well incorporated. Combine peanut butter, canola oil, non-dairy milk, vanilla and vinegar in food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add dry ingredients to processor and pulse a few times until dough starts to come together. Transfer to a bowl and mix with your hands until dough is smooth. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place on cookie sheet and press fork tines into top to smash each cookie and make a criss-cross design. Use your little finger or something else about 1/4 inch round and press a hole into the middle of each cookie. Place a chip into each indent. Bake each sheet of cookies for 8-10 minutes and lightly browned on the edges. Let cool a minute or two and transfer to rack.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mexican Cabbage

You know cabbage is good for you. Black beans too. Some of the other ingredients In Mexican Cabbage are green chilies, corn, spices and a few baked corn tortilla chips. This delicious and quick-to-make recipe from The Happy Herbivore cookbook is even better the next day. I really wish this book was available a couple of years ago. It would have made my transition from vegetarian to vegan much easier. The recipes are fairly simple and quick to make without exotic ingredients. If you were to buy just one vegan cookbook, this one would be among my recommendations. Incidentally, my all time favorite recipe of Lindsay Nixon’s is the Single Serving Brownie, available on her website.

Here is the recipe for Mexican Cabbage:

It would probably be even more delicious with a bit of vegan sour cream!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Big Fat Kitchen Fails

 I spend a lot of time cooking and it’s not all wonderful. I've had a lot of “fails” these past two months. I made a lemon tart (for my BFF’s birthday) that sucked and then I made a replacement dessert – a light and luscious lemon cake that was overly sweet, dense, and inedible.

Looks good until you pick it up, then it falls apart!
I should know better but sometimes I just plunge ahead without giving the recipe more thought. (Fools rush in?) The recipe for Sweet Tater Black Bean Burgers looked absolutely delicious. However, it was from a blogger whose recipes were not tried and true. I was worried that the recipe might turn out too sweet which is sometimes the case when you use sweet potatoes. It had a great flavor. It just didn’t hold together. Rule number one when making a veggie burger is it has to keep it’s shape.

Here's an Arugula Tart. Boy did I have high hopes for this one. The crust was so interesting, made out of corn meal, rice flour, millet flour, and corn flour. Try rounding up all those flours! I actually ended up grinding some on my own. The dough was very hard to work with. The filling was soy free (no tofu!) and made with cashews which I was very excited about. In the end it was a whole lot work for a rather unremarkable tart.

Hmmm. I don't remember what kind of cobbler this was 
but there's some kind of oatmeal dribbled on the top.

More kitchen fails:

The Egg-Free Vegan Potato and Carrot Kugel that was rather gummy.

The Cheezy Vegetable Lasagna that was mediocre which isn’ such a big deal but when you have a whole pan of it to get through, well, I’m still pulling leftovers from the freezer.

The Cantaloupe Sorbet that was sickly sweet.

The Blueberry Ice Cream made with the Mimic Cream that just didn’t cut it. It’s still sitting in the freezer ’cause I can’t bear to eat it or toss it!

Here’s the moral of this story: I came across this little homily in a book I’m reading right now, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. It really made an impression on me.

“Our perfection lies in our inperfection.”

I'm going to apply that to all the food I make, and then it’s all good. Even when it’s not perfect.