Help! I don't know how to eat anymore!

Help! I don't know how to eat anymore!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chocolate, Raspberry, and Banana Dessert Pizza

Ever since the time change, my urge to hole up in my freshly-painted kitchen with fresh ingredients has grown strong. My urge to devour desserts, however, has been around a lot longer. This past weekend my friends and I held our fifth annual Fakesgiving, a Thanksgiving for friends where everyone brings a dish they're good at making and some booze and we revel in each others' company.

The tradition started one year after my mother was killed. I was living in San Francisco with one of my good friends and I was having a hard time dealing with the one year anniversary of my mom's death. My friend contacted another good friend at home and they arranged to have a bunch of my friends show up in SF for our own Thanksgiving so I would know how loved I was. 

We have managed to keep the tradition alive and well, topping ourselves every year (prom dresss, raw turkey, boys and girls switching clothes, and so on). Fakesgiving does not require Thanksgiving foods, just people bringing whatever they are good at making and booze and everyone enjoying each other's company. We basically celebrate how much we all like each other in a party fashion. 

The fifth annual Fakesgiving was held this past Saturday and it was absolutely magical. Our small town received a very large beating early Saturday evening from Alaska and we got almost a foot of snow. We lost power a few hours later until 6am the next day, so we spent a fun evening playing outside (the boys threw snowballs at each other from off the roof) with both fireplaces blazing inside the house and games and coodling by candlelight.

There is still snow on the ground outside and it's been getting dark extremely early and it's cold. Naturally, this puts me in the mood for comfort food and what's more comforting than dessert? This recipe was inspired by two things: the Hot Italian Zucchero Pizza and the confused checkout guy at my local health food store.

When I was buying my second package of gluten-free pizza crust mix after my first two epic failures, I also grabbed a bar of Chocolove Rasberries in Dark Chocolate (my favorite chocolate to carry around for sweettooth emergencies). The checkout guy asked me if I was going to put the chocolate into the dough and I looked at him confused. I told him the purchases were for separate purposes, though I flashed on that out-of-control-delicious dessert pizza I'd had at Hot Italian and began to formulate an idea.

I knew I would have leftover dough after making the Arugula and WhiteFresh Mozzarella with Arugula and White Truffle Oil Pizza so I decided to make a dessert pizza using the raspberry chocolate. The result was so delicious that my sister asked me to make three more so she could eat them for every meal. 

Chocolate, Raspberry, and Banana Dessert Pizza
1/2 package Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust mix (to make one pizza, use the whole package to make 2)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 bars Chocolove Raspberries in Dark Chocolate
1 package fresh raspberries
2 bananas
a little extra powdered sugar

Make the pizza dough according to directions on the package. When dough is finished kneed in 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on a pizza stone or pizza sheet so the dough doesn't stick and roll or kneed into whatever shape you want (I chose a heart because I heart dessert). Sprinkle with powdered sugar and bake the dough for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. While the dough is baking, melt chocolate on the stove in a double boiler. You can create a makeshift double boiler by placing a glass bowl on top of a pan of boiling water that is larger than the pan. Once the dough is done slather on chocolate and add fresh raspberries and sliced bananas. Drizzle any remaining chocolate over the top of the fruit and dust with powdered sugar. 

Bon appetit...just not wheat!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Learning Patience for Pizza

I suppose all good chefs have bad days and dishes that flop. People who are mediocre chefs, like myself, have a lot of these. Does this look like pizza dough to you?

Hint: it is not. This is watery failure number 2.

I bought an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix that claimed it could be used to make pizza dough. It claimed you could substitute it cup for cup for regular flour. It made lots of claims. What I did not see because my sister threw away the bag before I could read it was that it claimed you would need some xanthan gum for said substitutions. Luckily for me I did not figure this out until I'd made two attempts on two different days and used up all my expensive flour and driven to the store to buy more and then read the package to see what I had missed. Then I saw that xanthan gum was $10 a package and I just broke down and bought a gluten-free pizza crust mix.

This was so much easier. I ditched the bread machine and made it by Kitchenaid and everything went according to plan. All I had to add to the mix was eggs and oil and water. Simple. Bob's Red Mill mixes and flours and grains come in several varieties and I've been able to find them at both my local health food store and our bigger grocery stores. I've also heard great reviews of Pamela's Products which I will have to test out soon.

Fun fact: the eggs I used to make this pizza crust were from my own home-grown free-range happily quacking ducks.

A few weeks ago I was perusing the deals at Grocery Outlet and found a small bottle of white truffle oil for $2. I've never tasted or used truffle oil but people are always raving about it, specifically on food TV, so I thought it would be a fun challenge. I snatched up a bottle and began devising a plan.

There is a fantastic restaurant in Midtown Sacramento just blocks from my best friend's apartment called Hot Italian that I have cheated with wheat in on several occasions. They serve up pizzas piled high with lots of fresh greens and I've been meaning to attempt a recreation at home that wouldn't offend my intolerant tummy. I settled on a fresh mozzarella with arugula and truffle oil pizza. I smothered the finished product with parmesan and red pepper flakes and poured a nice glass of red wine and was a very happy girl.

Fresh Mozzarella with Arugula and White Truffle Oil Pizza
1 package gluten-free pizza crust, prepared according to directions (Pamela'sBob's Red Mill, etc...the Bob's mix made two crusts but I was only eating for one so I saved the other ball of dough in the fridge)
1/3 can organic pizza sauce
fresh mozzarella, sliced (I used about 8 thick slices, vary it depending on your love of cheese)
1/2 bunch arugula

white truffle oil

I slathered a thick layer of pizza sauce on the crust and strategically placed the mozzarella so that when it melted it would cover everything. I put the pizza in for about 16 minutes, then turned on the broiler for 3 minutes so the cheese would get all nice and crispy brown.

While the pizza was cooking, I washed the arugula and broke off some of the longer stems (aside from broccoli, I hate the stems of greens). I threw the arugula in a bowl and drizzled truffle oil all over it, tossing the greens around so they were all coated. When the pizza came out I threw the arugula on top and devoured almost the entire thing. So yummy and it reminded me of the trip to Italy I took in January.

I have big plans for the remaining ball of dough in my fridge to become a delicious dessert pizza. My dream is to involve a raspberry chocolate thanks to a misunderstanding with the health food checkout counter guy. Stay tuned!

Bon appetit...just not wheat!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Perfect Pumpkin Curry

Why, hello there! Been a while...or half a year. Whatever.

In the last few months that I'm sure you've been missing me, a lot of non-culinary stuff has gone on. It's not my fault. Summer is too warm to cook much in the Sierra Foothills and our stucco house likes to hold in the heat. I've been busy and frequenting several of the same restaurant establishments to the point where I barely have to order anymore, they just know.

BUT, the fall colors have arrived and it's getting dark extremely early and I'm ready to hole up in my kitchen and COOK. When I was in San Diego last month, my good friend over at Jack Bauer Will Save Us All had a cornucopia of different festive fall gourds and squashes on her countertop. I'd always been somewhat jealous of people who take the time and have the energy to decorate for every holiday and every season.

I was jealous of her gourds.

When I got home and started putting my house together for an extremely non-festive Halloween party, I realized something was missing. I went shopping for party snacks and there they were: gourds and squashes galore. I grabbed the most colorful and lumpy kinds along with a very small pumpkin and when I got home, I arranged them festively in a bowl on my kitchen table. A dream come true!

So Halloween was 10 days ago. I've been eyeing said gourds and squashes and reminding myself I need to actually do something with them, not to mention the two large uncarved pumpkins on my front porch, before they all start attracting flies and have to go out to the chickens. A few days ago, I flashed on this fantastic pumpkin curry I'd had when I was out to Thai food with my other good friend over at Gather Jewelry (her jewelry is FANTASTIC, go buy some). All the pieces of this gourd dream were finally falling into place.

I found a recipe at NibbleDish that had been adapted from a pumpkin curry dish at a Thai restaurant in Reno. I, in turn, adapted it to fulfill my taste buds and let me say they were absolutely singing. I scraped my bowl clean and barely came up for air. Then I had seconds. I will be making this in a much larger quantity with my two giant pumpkins and freezing it so I can enjoy it all winter. The best things about this recipe are that it doesn't take anything fancy and it doesn't take a lot of time. Did I mention it's fabulous?

The Perfect Pumpkin Curry
1/2 small pumpkin seeded, peeled, and cubed
1 can lite coconut milk
1/2 cup of water
3/4 low-sodium chicken/vegetable stock
3 tbsp of red curry paste
3 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup onion, chopped into large pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
2 large carrots, chopped

Brown Basmati Rice (cook in a rice cooker or right on the stove)
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup brown basmati rice
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp butter

Put cubed and peeled pumpkin in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread pumpkin on a cookie sheet and broil on high until pumpkin is golden brown. Combine coconut milk, water, chicken stock, fish sauce, curry paste, and ground ginger in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add bell pepper, onion, carrots, and roasted pumpkin. Simmer on medium until carrots are soft, stirring occasionally. Ladle over brown basmati rice and enjoy. 

Feeds three, two if your hunger level is high.

Bon appetit, just not wheat!