Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pizza Heaven!

It's been so long since I've blogged but I have been recently inspired by a pizza crust that I concocted this evening so had to write about it.

Now that I am a new mom free time is something of the past, but because of all my food issues I still have to make my own meals.  Being gluten, dairy and now sugar and yeast intolerant it has been getting more and more difficult to find things to eat other than meat and vegetables.  Oh how I've missed sinking my teeth into a nice chewy and crispy pizza crust topped with oozing cheese and sauce.  But how does one go about making a pizza "sans" some essential ingredients like flour and yeast?  You find replacements.  I found a pizza mix recipe in my favorite bread book called "The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread".  It's a must have for anyone who can't eat gluten but still longs for the "gluteny" texture of a good loaf of bread.  Of course I changed the recipe a bit to make it less starchy and more wholesome (better on the ol' glycemic index). Below is the mix then use that in my crust recipe:

Nancy's Pizza/Bread Mix:
2 1/2 cups Garbanzo Bean Flour
1 cup Brown Rice Flour
2 1/2 cups Tapioca Flour
2 Tblspns Xanthan Gum
2 packets Plain Gelatin

This should be mixed well. It makes a total of 6 cups so you will only need a portion of it for my pizza crust recipe.

Nancy's Gluten and Yeast Free Pizza Crust:
1 1/4 cups of the Pizza/Bread Mix
3 Tblspns Almond Meal
1/2 Teaspn Salt
1/2 Teaspn Baking Powder
1 Tblspn Psyllium Husk (for fiber)
1/2 Tblspn Flax Meal
1 Tblspn sesame seeds (optional)
1-2 Tblspns hulled sunflower seeds (optional)
2 Eggs
1/2 Teaspn Vinegar
1 1/2 Tblspns Vegetable Oil
2/3 Cup Warm Water

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl mixing well.  Combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl and mix well.  Then combine the wet to the dry ingredients and mix well until you have a mushy glop.

Grease a cookie sheet and dust with sweet rice flour or corn flour.  Then pour the dough onto the cookie sheet and spread it with a rubber spatula (you may have to dip the spatula in water so it isn't too sticky) so that the dough is about 1/4 of an inch thick or slightly thinner depending on how you like your crust.  Don't worry if the dough doesn't fill the entire cookie sheet.

Set the cookie sheet aside and cover while you preheat the oven to 425.  Once the oven is ready place the cookie sheet on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes or until you see the edges of the dough start to turn slightly brown.  Once it's done you can now add your pizza fixings.  Here's what I like to put on my pizza:

Nancy's Pizza Toppings:
2-3 cups Baby Spinach
4-6 cloves of Garlic, minced
Chopped Basil
Olive Oil
Tomato Sauce
Fake Cheese (Daiya is my favorite brand)

Add the spinach, garlic, basil and about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl and mix together. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce onto the dough.  Then add the spinach mixture on top.  Sprinkle your fake cheese and add the pepperoni and voila, you've got yourself a pizza.  Put it back in the oven at 425 for another 10 minutes and soon you will be in pizza heaven!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Long Awaited Lasagna

Sooooooo sorry for not getting this recipe out last year!  Especially to poor Lynn who asked me oh so long ago for the recipe and I wrote it all out on a recipe card to give to her and then never did.

After discovering that gluten (wheat) does a number on my body (flu-like symptoms and digestion problems to name a few) I thought my days of gorging on pasta were over.  Well, thank my lucky stars that did not happen.  I found this pasta recipe at my local library from, I think, one of the very first gluten free recipe books.  I, of course, added my personal touch to it and made a few changes which consists of adding some fiber and modifying the amount of the starches and flours.

Here you go:

Pasta Ingredients
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2 tbsp. potato starch
1/3 cup corn starch (possibly more)
1 tspn.  xanthan gum
1/4 cup psyllium husk for fiber (optional)
1/2 tspn. salt
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Lasagna Ingredients
12 strips of Nancy's homemade lasagna noodles
9x13 lasagna pan
1 24 oz. jar pre-made tomato sauce (or homemade)
2-3 tbsp. pesto (can use fresh chopped basil instead)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup chopped spinach
16 oz. ricotta (can use tofu for a dairy free option)
one medium sized sweet potato, shredded (skin and all)
 6- 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced (can leave out if can't do dairy)
other veggies like zuchinni, diced (optional)

Pasta Insructions
In a dry mixing bowl combine the tapioca flour, potato starch, cornstarch and xanthan gum.  I use a crank sifter by putting all the dry ingredients into it first and sift it all through.  this helps to mix it.  Then once in the bowl I mix the dry ingredients again with a fork.

In another bowl mix the eggs, salt and vegetable oil.  Before combining the wet ingredients with the dry make sure you are set up to roll out the dough because once all the ingredients are combined you have very little time to work with the dough before the corn starch takes over and makes things hard.

To roll the dough I use a wooden roller on top of a freshly corn starched wooden cutting board.  You want to have a dry clean surface that is lightly coated with corn starch so the dough doesn't stick to the surface.  Also, make sure to coat the roller with corn starch too.

So now, that you are ready to roll your dough combine the wet with the dry and mix until you form a slightly sticky dough.  If the dough is too sticky (you can't get it off your hands and it is not forming into a ball) add a little bit more corn starch.  You can also coat your hands with corn starch too in order to form a ball and then place it on your rolling surface. Corn starch can be your friend or your enemy so start with a little and you can always add more.  Too much and you get one big hard glump of nothin, too little and the dough sticks to everything.  Once the dough is on the surface start your rolling.  You can get it pretty thin depending on how you like it.  I roll it until it looks as though I can make about 12-15 lasagna noodles.  Usually I get about 12 which is fine but it's nice to have extras in case some break or stick together after boiling.

Once the dough is rolled out you are ready to cut your noodles.  I use a plain ol' butter knife. They don't have to all be the same size and length--who's gonna notice once they're covered with sauce and stuff?  After they are cut I move each lasagna noodle to a dry, clean plate then put on a pot of water with a bit of salt and wait for it to come to a boil.  Once the water is boiling rapidly, add the noodles.  They don't need to long to cook, about 6 minutes or so.  *If you notice your noodles are still a bit sticky in some sections make sure to coat the sticky areas with corn starch, otherwise the noodles will stick together when boiling.

After the 6 minutes (or so) are up pour the pasta into a large colander and cool the noodles with cold water. Check to make sure none are stuck to each other.  If so, attempt to gently peel them apart.

Lasagna Instructions
While the pasta noodles are boiling start to prep for the lasagna.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce.

Combine the garlic, pesto, sweet potato, spinach and ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Add the first layer of noodles to the bottom of the lasagna pan then put the ricotta mixture on top. If you are a sauce person you can add tomato sauce too.  Add the next layer of noodles and either add your choice of mozzarella, veggies (if using) and sauce or you can continue with the ricotta mixture.  Once all your layers are done top it off with sauce and mozzarella.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and place in the center rack of the oven.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until you can see the lasagna is boiling and the cheese is fully melted.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes with the aluminum removed.  Enjoy!
*For full flavor I like to prepare it early in the day and cook it for 30 minutes, take it out and let it cool. Then I bake it again for 30-45 minutes right before serving.  This helps to evaporate some of the liquid and allows the flavors to combine.