Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pizza Margaret

My mother-in-law, (Margaret) is one of those ladies who is full of incredible talents and skills yet will hardly give you a chance to praise her. She is a wonderful woman. I find her a bit of a wonder at times. She and my father-in-law raised my husband and his sister in a truly picturesque village in the heart of Southwest England. It's hardly a short drive to be on the beautiful nearby beach. On the other hand, I grew up in one of the largest cities in America - Portland, Oregon. Both are wonderful, yet, I can't help but notice things I find "quaint" about the life my in-laws lead and raised my husband with.

(totally armature shot) on the hill overlooking the beach near the village
When Dan and I got married, I found myself in awe of the range of puddings, (aka desserts) Margaret knew how to make (yum!). She does not have a "tumble dryer" and prefers to hang all her laundry on the line. I felt overwhelmed with laundry the first two years I lived in England without a dryer. I don't remember a time we didn't have a starter, main, then pudding at a meal she served us. I'm sure she would say that isn't normal but its all I've ever seen. :-) At the holidays, I can usually ask where the turkey or other meat was bought and get a local farm or butcher mentioned. The local bakery graces their kitchen with fresh bread ("not that awful sliced stuff!" say's my husband). In November I phoned about something and asked what she was up to only to be told she was making the Christmas cake! No wonder it tastes so good, it has time to "develop".  :-)

One recipe that Margaret makes often which Dan loves is her pizza. Okay, so its not dairy free. But honestly, if you are dairy free, you might have local alternative cheeses you can use so I'm posting this anyway. Me? Well, I cheated. I don't have reactions from dairy so a treat every so often isn't worth fretting about. Since we have gone gluten free, Dan has missed having the pizza. It is very easy to make being yeast free. Although the crust isn't "springy" like some, its got a wonderful crust to it which we love. It is so tasty. As for the sauce, all but the onion is my mother-in-laws recipe. I learned on American's Test Kitchen recently that if you add grated onion to a tomato base, it will naturally sweeten the mixture meaning you don't have to add sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes. Brilliant. I've told you how in the recipe. I've tried a few pizza crusts since we went gluten free and I can assure you they were nothing short of d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r. Recently, I decided to see what would happen if I simply replaced the wheat flour with gluten free flour. Nothing changed. It is still the same! Success! It was delicious and Dan ate the rest for lunch the following day wanting to know when I'll make it next. Try it, then thank my mother-in-law. She doesn't remember where she got the recipe from. She thinks she just made it up. Genius. I give you, Pizza Margaret...

Pizza Margaret

*Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Yeast Free, Nut Free, NOT Dairy Free.
*Serves 2-3 with sides accompanying, can be easily doubled, freezes well.

Tomato Sauce -
1 400g or 15oz can crushed tomatoes (mine were citric acid free)
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 medium onion grated (optional)

If you have a ready-made sauce you want to use instead, just skip this simple step. On this occasion, we didn't take the time to use an onion in the sauce which tasted great anyhow but its amazing with one! Grate half of an onion by hand (or in food processor to keep from crying) and place in small pot on low heat. Sweat onion for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add oregano and using a regular table spoon, transfer spoonfuls of the crushed tomatoes into the pan leaving behind about 1/4 can worth of juice when finished. (Or, simply toss it all in and take the time to reduce it in the pan.) Turn up the heat to medium and continue to stir it occasionally until it has reduced to a good consistency to spread on your pizza. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool while you make your crust and prepare your toppings.

Crust -
8 oz Plain Flour (ready-made gluten free mix or wheat or white flour)
4 oz Margarine / soft butter (I used an olive oil type)
2 eggs
1 tsp oregano
pepper to taste

Using a scale, place flour in a bowl with margarine. Using your fingers, rub in the margarine until the mixture looks crumbly (like picture). Add oregano, pepper, and eggs in and stir up with a fork or fingers. If needed, add 1/2 tbsp of flour at a time to mixture until it no longer sticks to your hands when held. Spread it into a 9 inch pan at about 1/2 inch thick (I used a spring form cake pan) using your fingers to press it level into place all the way to the edges. Don't be a perfectionist, the crust looks level when its baked! My husband said the only thing he'd change would be to perhaps make the crust even thinner (which would probably bake faster).

get a bit more crumble texture to your mix
before adding eggs
Toppings -
After your sauce is made and your crust is in your pan, spread a nice layer of the sauce onto the crust as close to the edge as you can get to prevent browning. Then, add your toppings! We put on mature cheddar cheese (fyi, we live 20 mins from Cheddar, England). We also added some roughly sliced ham and fresh sliced spinach. I finished off with a grinding of pepper on top... or should I say... my husband felt the urge to use the pepper grinder for the "finishing touch".  :-)

you can tell I just threw it all on and
it tasted amazing
To Bake -
When your pizza is built, place it in a pre-heated oven at 350F/180C/Gas4. Check at 20 minutes. It will probably need 30 minutes to cook perfectly. Great with a side salad and some small boiled potatoes.

Yum! Not sure how long we will wait to have this again! The flavor combinations are endless! Please comment if you try this and what you put on top. I'd love more ideas!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gluten Free & Hand Rolled Baklava

Are you one of those gluten free people who longs for the "good old days" of eating baklava but can't due to diet restrictions? This is a total labor of love but I might just try it some time for fun but I'd have to replace the sugar first for sure! I've copied the recipe direct from the video link. Let me know if you try this!

Ingredients & Method

Dough recipe: 
1-1/3 cup warm water 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon dry yeast Proof the yeast, combine with 2 eggs 3-1/2 cups Jules All Purpose GF flour Set aside for one hour in a warm spot

Baklava filling:
2 cups chopped pecans 2 cups chopped walnuts 1 cup chopped almond 1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground clove

Syrup: 3 cups sugar 1-1/2 cup water 1/2 cup brandy ( I prefer Metaxa 7-star) 3 tablespoons honey 1 slice of lemon 2 cinnamon sticks in pieces

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Authentic Corn Tortillas

When I want to get good at anything in life I always go to the expert. I guess its in my nature. Why go halfway right? Naturally, when I don't know how to do a technique in cooking, I look for someone who knows what they are doing and ask them for advise. This recipe was no exception. First we must ask ourselves, who is the best at making corn tortillas? Mexican's of course!

I started by asking my dear grandma who lived in Mexico as a missionary for 50 years. Her response was classic. "Oh hunny, I don't make them. I let the Mexican women who know it best do that and I just buy from them!" haha I don't have that option so I looked around and called to see if I could get a Mexican on the other end of the phone to talk with me. I live in England so finding a Mexican here isn't as easy as in America. They were lovely on the phone as all Mexicans are. I shared my request to know the secrets and they spared nothing. I am LOVING these tortillas that turn out perfect now. Do me a favor if you are in England and support their store if you can't find what you need locally. I want them to stay in business. :-) On to the truly authentic corn tortillas; naturally gluten, sugar, yeast and dairy free.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Corn Tortilla Chips

I'm one of "those people" who really don't survive well without tortilla chips. They are a fundamental part of my diet. Small confession, when I got my first nice car, my dad suggested as a joke that I get a personalized license plate, (number plate) for my car saying something about "chips n' salsa". Needless to say, I've always felt the cupboards were empty when these ingredients were missing. Since being told I couldn't have refined flours, wheat or fried foods... I needed some creativity. Did you really think I would go without? HA! Not a chance. These chips are pretty good and super easy to make, I'm not sure why people don't just make their own actually. They are so much healthier than the fried version. And no, healthier does not mean gross! Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

Tonight I ventured into a long awaited moment in my kitchen history... I roasted cauliflower. Yes... it was divine! I used the "regular" variety of cauliflower though I'm LOVE to get my hands on some romanesco cauliflower which is a variety from Rome. It is so cool looking and apparently has a rather nutty flavor. For now, the common variety spared me no joy in its simplicity and depth of flavor. Needless to say, my success felt so exciting that I feel like throwing nearly any sort of vegetable I can into the oven! We'll see where this leads. For now, enjoy the recipe and please do share how you feel about it. Does it make you like the flavor any more than usual?