Monday, February 24, 2014

Mediterranean Hummus Pizza


A few years back,  I managed to convince my Pampered Chef consultant and friend to do an all-vegan Pampered Chef party at our home. Very few of the Pampered Chef recipes are actually vegan in their original state, BUT we managed to fine some contenders. And, with only a few simple tweaks or omissions, we pulled off cruelty-free vegan goodness, and quite well, too.
Still to this day, one of my favorite recipes was the Mediterranean Hummus Pizza, which, as you can see, is a virtual rainbow of vegan fun! It’s fresh and delicious, especially if you are in the mood for pizza, but don’t want something really heavy.
The basic recipe that I follow is below, but there is room for great improvisation here, which makes it all the more fun:
Crust
1   half recipe of whole wheat pizza dough (Julie Hasson's from Vegan Pizza)
1   tablespoon olive oil, for brushing
1   garlic clove, pressed
oregano, salt and pepper to taste

Toppings
15  grape tomatoes, halved
1/4   medium red onion, finely chopped
2 baby cucumbers, halved and chopped
1/2   cup pitted kalamata olives
1   container (7 ounces) plain hummus spread (roasted red pepper is great, too)
1/2 cup each diced bell pepper (I had yellow and green this time)
OR
2   jars (6-7.5 ounces each) quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained

*some swaps that work well too:  roasted red peppers, tofu feta cheese, scallions, vegan tzatsiki, fresh basil for garnish



First we are going to bake the crust. Preheat a pizza stone in your oven at 425 for 30 minutes. I actually cook this crust at a little lower heat than my usual pizza with toppings.

Roll out you dough on some parchment paper into a 12" circle. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle on the garlic or powder, then some oregano, salt and pepper. Sometimes I will add some crushed red pepper too!

Slide dough onto your stone and bake for 12-14 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven off the pizza stone and onto a cutting board. Spread the container of hummus evenly onto the crust. Then arrange the chopped vegetables on top. Cut into squares, (I like the square shape rather than wedges for this) and enjoy!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spinach & Broccoli White Pizza


I went a little nuts with the pizza dough recipe from Vegan Pizza, which meant Pizza Night twice in one week!  What you see below is actually two batches of the whole wheat version of Julie's dough, where I used 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached white.  The rest of the recipe is exactly as written in the link above.


The inspiration for this particular pizza came from the leftovers that happened to be in my fridge at the time: One (1) container of Olivia's Organic Baby Spinach, and two (2) small broccoli crowns leftover from when I made Broccoli Mac and Cheese Casserole the night before. AND...for some extra cheesy goodness, I had already sliced open my free sample of Mozzarella Teese from Vida Vegan Con to use on The Rocket Pizza earlier in the week, so I had a good 3/4 of it left!  

I decided on a White Pizza: home made crust topped with a creamy garlic Alfredo base, then topped with lightly sauteed baby spinach, blanched broccoli, and lots of garlic, then finished with some strategically placed mozzarella slices.

Before I began, I preheated a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven. My pizza stone is the large round one from Pampered Chef, and it's best to let it preheat for a good thirty minutes.

For the sauce, I decided to tweak Julie's Smoky White Cheese Sauce recipe a bit, to stand in for the Alfredo on the pizza.  Basically, I omitted the "smoke" and added in 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning.

Cheesy Alfredo Pizza Sauce (adapted from Julie Hasson's Smoky White Cheese Sauce)

1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend well, until no bits of nuts remain.  Sauce should be very smooth.
  • Add blended mixture to a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking the whole while.
  • Lower heat and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Be careful not to burn.  The sauce with thicken more as it cools.
I set the sauce aside to cool while I cooked my greens and rolled out my dough. I quickly blanched my fresh broccoli florets in the microwave covered with a damp paper towel with 2 TBSP of water for about 3-4 minutes. I then sauteed the baby spinach in 1 TBSP of olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, and 1 tsp crushed red pepper (pepper can be omitted of your tongue can't take the heat). As the spinach wilted, I added the blanched broccoli to the pan, tossed everything together with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside to cool a bit.
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The unbaked pizza
I had enough dough, sauce and toppings for two pizzas. I usually roll my dough out onto parchment paper on top of my cutting board, so I can quickly transfer the pizza and parchment right onto my preheated pizza stone without loosing too much heat from the oven. Once the dough was rolled out, about 1/4" thick, I used about 3/4 cup of sauce on each pizza, then topped each one with half of my garlicky spinach and broccoli. I then sprinkled a bit of nutritional yeast, and placed around 6-8 slices of Mozzarella Teese over top.  Finally, I baked each one in the oven for 11-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden.

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So the next time you are craving something garlicky and green, why don't you give this delicious pizza pie a try ^_^

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Deconstructed than Re-constructed Omelet, Tofu Style

There are some days where a dish comes together from the random leftover ingredients in the fridge, and this particular Tofu Scramble is just that.  The day prior, we had treated ourselves to our favorite diner for breakfast.  Patriot's Diner in Woonsocket, Rhode Island has some of the best home fries I've even had, the service is great, and the decor is fantastic!


Now this place is far from vegan, but after going there for several years, I have settled on my old-standby: A side of home fries, which is HUUGE, and then add on the vegetable medley (broccoli, peppers, mushrooms tomatoes and onion) from the Vegetarian omelet on the side, which is equally as huge. Most of the time I bring home at least half of the dish, so the next day, I decided to make my own "Vegetarian" Omelet, Tofu Style!


I had a coupon for the Black Soybean Tofu pictured above, as well as half a package of Tofurkey Kielbasa that we had eaten the night before, dipped in mustard (YUM).


Next time we are going to serve them on crusty sub rolls with spicy mustard, but I thought the leftovers might be a nice meaty addition to the scramble.


So, scramble away!

Don't forget to add some salt, pepper, turmeric if you want it yellow (I didn't this time) and extra Nooch! Serve with Frank's RED Hot, if you dare. That's how we do it here! ^_^

Friday, September 20, 2013

Farmer's Market Friday!

On Fridays during the Fall, Bon Appetit dining services here on campus hosts a lovely Farmer's Market right in the quad outside of the Bookstore.


Being the veggie lover that I am, I usually head out and buy something; one, because I can always use it, and two, because I want to show support for their event.

Today was extra special because there were samples that I could eat. (The last few weeks had been artisan sausages and local cheese). This week was pea greens from Allen Farm in Westport, MA, a 50 acre farm run by Debbie Barrett.


Debbie's sweet delicate pea greens have become quite well known here in southern New England, and are often found in many restaurants here in Providence.

Today the new Chef de Cuisine, John, was featuring the pea greens in a colorful salad that was making my mouth water. He was even kind enough to make a small batch withOUT the cheese so that I might have a taste!


I am not sure of exact amounts, and I'm never too strict when making up a salad, but you can see all the ingredients here below:


Toss together ingredients above with a generous amount of the fresh pea greens, salt and pepper to taste, and some home made Lemon Vinaigrette.

Basic Lemon Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together until well combined.


Here is my cheeseless sample on an adorable bamboo bite size plate!  I was so thrilled that Chef took a moment to make up a batch with out the cheese that I bought all the ingredients to make the salad this weekend at home.

Just look at these beautiful carrots:


Thanks again, Bon Appetit, for another great week! Keep up the good work. ^_^

*** Here is my recreation of Chef John's salad at home. This one is the undressed version still in the bowl. It looked a little better on the plate ;)))

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Rocket - Margherita with a twist!

The inspiration for this pizza comes from one we had at Providence Coal Fire Pizza. Essentially, it is a Margherita Pizza topped with a few handfuls of fresh arugula after baking. Fantastic!


The homemade crust you see here is from Julie Hasson's new book, Vegan Pizza, for which I was lucky enough to be a tester. 




This is the whole wheat version of her homemade dough, which is quick, simple, NO knead, and comes out fantastic every time! The recipe for the "Easy-Peasy" basic white flour pizza dough can be found here in this article from The Oregonian. To make you dough whole wheat, simple replace two (2) cups of the white flour with whole wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill). One of the many things I can say about being a tester for this book, is that I have lost ALL fear of homemade dough, and working with yeast. Pizza is now in the regular dinner rotation here at our house. Thank you, JULIE!

So for the rest, we have:




THE ROCKET (adapted and veganized from Providence Coal Fire Pizza)
  • 1/2 batch of whole wheat pizza dough form Vegan Pizza, (brushed with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper)
  • 1/2 cup San Marzano tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Greek oregano (from the festival)!
  • 6-8 slices of Teese mozzarella (sample from Vida Vegan Con)!
Bake pizza at 500 degrees on a PREHEATED pizza stone for 11-12 minutes. 
*Try and preheat your stone for at least 30 minutes. I roll my dough out on parchment paper on top of my cutting board, top the pizza with sauce, cheese and/or toppings, and then use the cutting board to transfer the parchment right to the pizza stone. I try and work as quickly as possible, so the oven doesn't loose any of that wonderful heat while the door is open.

While the pizza bakes, toss several handfuls of baby arugula with a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt to taste. When the pizza comes out of the oven, I spray it a bit with the fantastic chili basil oil (pictured in the back of the first photo), that my mom brought me back from Italy. And, then top with the fresh arugula and a bit of nutritional yeast. Today, we also had some leftover cherry tomatoes, which I thought looked nice on top, too!

Slice in to 8 pieces and ENJOY!!  The peppery arugula gives this traditional plain pie a nice fresh kick. Try it out and let me know what you think. ^_^





Monday, September 16, 2013

"What do you mean, you don't eat no meat"?

"That's okay. I make lamb". ~My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This past weekend was the Greek Festival here in Cranston, RI at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.  OPA!!  A day to celebrate Greek heritage and food, that would make most carnivores weep for joy.  I was, most likely, the only vegan for miles, but still managed to get my full share of Greek food and fun!


I have to say, the Greeks must be doing something right, because the line for the food tent curled right out past the church, and onto the street! We fortunately went during mid afternoon, and our wait was not long at all. 


While everyone else stood in lines for gyros, pastitsio, and roast meat on a stick, I searched for something a bit more vegan-friendly. L's mother was kind enough to pick up the tab for everyones food, so I went with Dolmades, 6 to and order. Dolmades are the young leaves of the grapevine stuffed with a lemon flavored mixture of rice and onion, usually served cold. These were made fresh, and were fantastic! The rice inside is short grain and creamy, something like the Greek version of arborio rice in Italy. They even had some for sale, right next to the ouzo table!



And, I picked up a bag of the most gorgeously fragrant oregano brought back from Greece! I see some pizza in my future...



After our snack, I was looking for a pick me up, so I thought a nice cup of Greek coffee would do the trick!

Traditional Greek coffee is a bold, full flavored shot of coffee, much like the Italian's espresso.  It is served with a luscious foam on top, and the grounds left in the bottom of the cup. Although it can be made in a different pot, the traditional small pot called a briki (shown in photo) is best because it allows the proper amount of foam, which adds to the unique taste. The coffee itself is finely ground, much like the consistency of cornstarch or powdered sugar.  You can see it in the container to the right of the stove, it almost looks like cinnamon. I was telling the nice gentlemen preparing the coffee that I prefer mine black, and he said that it was NOT traditional to add dairy to the Greek coffee.  Perfect!

This preparation is called sweet boiled coffee:

1 tsp ground coffee
2 tsp sugar
very cold water, about 1/4 cup

Stir until coffee and sugar dissolve.  Place the briki over the medium flame, and lift the briki up and down from the heat, allowing the coffee to come just to the boiling point THREE times.  This will make a lot of the precious foam that gives the Greek coffee its distinct taste.  Serve piping hot!

And do not forget!!  The GROUNDS ARE STILL AT THE BOTTOM!!  I'll know for next time...



I'll leave you with a little dancing, in the traditional Greek style!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wacky Cake with Chocolate Glaze

*Today, I am dusting off this recipe because it is my friend's bridal shower! Mailed out with the invitation was a recipe card to fill out with a (family) recipe to share. Of course, I wanted my recipe to be vegan, but I DID want it to be one she would actually consider making.  This is the one I shared:


I think almost every vegan has a Wacky Cake recipe up their sleeve. For those of you that don't know, WACKY CAKE is "wacky" because it's a chocolate cake, made without any milk or eggs. Recipes such as this one came to be during the Great Depression, where ingredients such as milk and eggs were extremely had to come by, and often too expensive for the average family. The "lift" in this cake comes from the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar. 

I found this recipe buried in a random website, labeled as the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER" and it just so happens to be vegan. The chocolate glaze totally makes this recipe, so do yourself a favor and try it at least once. Cake IS still amazing in its own, dusted with some powdered sugar. I added in the "optional" extracts that I use when making the cake too. They really add a great flavor.

THE Best Wacky Cake with Chocolate Glaze

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar or 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons margarine (I use Earth Balance vegan margarine)
2 tablespoons soymilk or 2 tablespoons almond milk, unsweetened
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a square cake pan (mine's 9x9) with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a whisk, making sure it is blended together well.
  4. In a large measuring cup add the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar, and whisk to combine.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix batter until blended together well.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  7. Pour batter into cake pan, place in oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack completely.
  9. For the glaze: in a small saucepan, bring sugar, margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil.
  10. Stir frequently; then reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  11. Remove from heat and stir for another 5 minutes.
  12. Add vanilla and almond, if using, stir, and immediately pour onto cake.
  13. The glaze will begin to dry really quickly, so if it doesn't cover the whole cake (mine usually does) spread the glaze to the edges quickly, before it dries.
  14. If you like, top with sprinkles, and let cool for a hour.