pesto pizza

June 6, 2011

I blogged about pizza on the weekend after we had Saturday night pizza night with homemade pizza sauce, dough, toppings, the whole shebang. For lunch today I was keen to clean out the fridge of all weekend left-overs. I found pizza dough and toppings, but no pizza sauce. So I decided to try a pesto pizza with the dough smothered in kale and olive pesto and then lovingly “topped” with all the yummy grilled veggies we still had kicking around. For this rustic lunch sure to satisfy your chomps, just follow the instructions for pizza and pesto and throw it all together. Easy peasy pizza pie.


June 5, 2011

We were watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution the other day. I love him. He is so empassioned, determined, and committed to what he’s doing, not to mention spot on in terms of wanting people to reconnect to their food and foster healthier diets. It got me flipping through his cookbooks again which I own but don’t often use. In Jamie’s Italy, the section on pizza had me salivating so we did Saturday night pizza night. Big batch of dough. Tonnes of toppings including grilled asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled peppers, sauteed mushrooms, olives, pesto etc. Everyone made their own. Mine was, of course, cheese-less and thus vegan. Everyone else’s had a good sprinkling of mozzarella. Dive in. Bottom’s up.

basic pizza dough

1 1/2 pounds strong white bread flour

1 1/2 cups find ground semolina flour

1 level tbsp fine sea salt

1/4 oz active dry yeast

1 tbsp organic cane sugar

2 cups lukewarm water

Pile the flour and salt onto a clean surface and make a 7-inch well in the centre. Add you yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork, and leave for a few minutes,, then pour into the well. Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like stodgy porridge – continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat into a ball. Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.

Flour the top of your dough, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature. This will make it easier to roll it thinly. Now divide the dough into as many balls as you want to make pizzas, i.e. lot of small ones or a few larger ones.

basic pizza sauce

extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked

1 14 oz can of good quality plum tomatoes or 4 large fresh tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato paste

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a saucepan, add a splash of oil and the sliced garlic and cook gently. When the garlic has turned a light golden, add half the basil, the tomatoes, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, mashing the tomatoes until smooth. Add tomato paste and mix in well. Then taste, season again, and put to one side.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Take a piece of dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, and roll it out into a rough circle about 1/4 inch thick. Place it on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Spread with pizza sauce. Apply your toppings. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.

I mentioned in my post last week that Andrew and I ate at the Cloisters in NYC and, much to our surprise and pleasure, discovered an apple tofu curry sandwich at their teeny tiny little cafe by the cloistered garden. So taking their sandwich as inspiration I set out this morning to make my own and, presto, it couldn’t have worked out better. Well maybe, but honestly I don’t know how as this one was super delicious, so I’m going with this one for lunches to come in the days and months ahead. Double the recipe below if you live in a house of 5 and need lunch stuff for kids, school, work, and hungry husbands!

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped finely

1/2 granny smith apple, chopped finely

3 tbsps veganaise

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp curry powder

8 oz firm tofu, crumbled

3 green onions, chopped

salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a small frying pan. Add onion and granny smith apple and saute until soft.

Meanwhile combine veganaise, mustard, turmeric, curry powder, and crumbled tofu in a bowl. Add onion and apple and combine. Toss in green onions and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on toasted bread of your choice with sprouts, tomato, lettuce, onions, or whatever else tickles your fancy. Serve. Eat. Savour. Get on with your day feeling satisfied.

We had this for lunch today because we are now addicted to guacamole having scarfed our way through Mexico surviving on a guacamole diet. It’s so simple I almost didn’t post it but Andrew thought it deserved a spot on the blog alongside our other favourite, the VLT. Basically all you need to do is toast some foccacia and spread both pieces generously with guacamole. Then build your open face sandwich from there with arugula, sliced red onion, and sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper and eat. It’s not the neatest sandwich but fully satisfying. Why don’t people put things like this on their menus?? Simplicity is the key to life.

I haven’t baked bread in ages. Pity because as soon as I had that dough in my hands it was therapy. Warm, doughy therapy. For any of you in the need, forget spending hundreds of dollars on specialists. Just make focaccia. Then eat it. That’s all the therapy you need. And there’s no end in sight – this one boasts fennel and tomato, but anything will do. Onions, olives, different kinds of salt, herbs, thinly sliced potato. You name it. It goes with focaccia. One immediate improvement I would make? Put herbs in the dough – maybe a little thyme or basilico right in there for the baking to imbibe the whole thing with the scent and taste of those power-packed little greens.

2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tsps sea salt, any type (for this I used sel de guerande)

extra virgin olive oil, for dipping

3 1/2 cups white bread flour

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsps dried yeast

3 tbsps olive oil

1 1/3 cups warm water

all-purpose flour, for kneading and dusting

For the dough, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the yeast. Stir to combine and make a small well in the centre. Add water and 2 tbsps of olive oil. Quickly stir a few times just to combine, then use your hands to bring the mixture together. (If the mixture is sticking to your hands, add a little flour, but avoid using it if at all possible as adding too much during the kneading process can make the bread chewy). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead for 8 – 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put the ball of dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll from the center upwards in one motion, not pressing too firmly so taht any air bubbles stay intact. Roll from the centre down to the opposite end to form a rough oval shape, about 12 inches long and 8 inches at its widest point. Lightly cover adn let sit again for 20 – 30 minutes until it has risen.

Use the tips of your fingers to press dimples over the surface of the dough. Lay the fennel and tomato slices on top. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil adn sprinkle with the salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Carefully slide the focaccia off the sheet and put it directly on the oven shelf. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool before eating. Serve with a small bowl of fruity extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Adapted from market vegetarian by Ross Dobson.

I was given Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger for my birthday. He’s got a bazillion varieties of burgers in there from bean burgers to grain burgers to tofu burgers. A lot of them use eggs but there are 5 or 6 that I’d like to try that don’t require the extra binding agent. The first on my list (based only on the available ingredients in my house last night) was the Quinoa, Red Bean, and Pecan Burger. Volger called for walnuts but they aren’t a nut I keep on hand so it was pecans instead. We ate it with guacamole, fresh pea sprouts and tomatoes for a really tasty dinner. You can’t compare it to a greasy beef burger so don’t try. It’s a veggie patty packed with complex taste, a nutritional power-punch, and the ability to carry condiments really well. It’s a keeper. Next on my list? Mushroom Barley Burger. Stay tuned.

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1  bunch of scallions (green onions), chopped finely

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsps minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 cups cooked red beans

1/2 cup roughly chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the water is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, boil the potato until tender. Mash with a fork.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook just until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the parsley and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, cooked potato, parsley-scallion mixture, red beans, and pecans with a potato masher or your hands. Add the salt and lemon juice. Shape into 6 patties.

5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsps oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook until the bottoms are browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other sides until crisped and slightly firmed, 4 to 5 minutes more.


October 30, 2010

Last spring my friend Emily and I went on a yoga retreat on the shore of Lake Simcoe. It seems like a decade ago now but I can still conjure up the feeling of sitting under a huge maple tree, overlooking the vast expanse of the lake, wind and sun soaking us with their warmth. A lovely young woman, whose name I now can’t remember, made all the food. Not only was it delicious but completely vegan. For afternoon tea she made socca. Something I had never heard of before. Turns out it’s a dish traditionally made by women in Nice overlooking the Mediterranean, which was apropos to the sun, wind, water, and comraderie of the retreat.

I read on a food blog that with socca “you ain’t re-creating the Mona Lisa: socca is meant to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers, and is especially good after a long day on a sun-saturated beach when your skin is tingling with sand and you can lick your lips and taste the sand of the Mediterranean.” I get that, and would love to be there, but it’s also especially good after a errand-packed Saturday on a cold, fall day with Tagine and Roasted Spicy Sweet Potato.

1 cup (130g) chickpea flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) water

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

freshly-ground black pepper, plus additional sea salt and olive oil for serving

1. Mix together the flour, water, salt, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at

room temperature.

2. To cook, heat the broiler in your oven. Oil a 9- or 10-inch (23cm) cast-iron or non-stick pan  with the remaining olive oil and

heat the pan in the oven.

3. Once the pan and the oven are blazing-hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom, swirl it around, then pop it

back in the oven.

4. Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and burn. The exact time will depend on your broiler.

5. Slide the socca out of the pan onto a cutting board, slice into pieces, then shower it with coarse salt, pepper, and a drizzle of

olive oil.

6. Cook the remaining socca batter the same way, adding a touch more oil to the pan between each one.

From The Sweet Life in Paris. Photo credit: David Lebovitz