Skillet pizza – potato and leek

My latest challenge has to been to develop a good vegan pizza – without the use of vegan cheese. Obviously it wasn’t going to be cheesy but I wanted it to have a combination of flavours and textures that satisfied my pizza appetite.

At the same time, I also want to document the cast-iron skillet + grill (US: broiler) technique I use to cook pizza these days.

Pizza with roast potatoes and leeks on a chopping board

Ingredients

Makes 3 medium pizzas, serves 3-4.

You will need a cast-iron skillet and a grill (US: broiler).

Cashew sauce

  • 0.5 cup raw cashews
  • 0.25 cup water (approx)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (approx)
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Pizza base

  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 180ml warm water
  • 315g strong flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil

Pizza

  • 3-6 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp extra light olive oil
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh (or dried) rosemary
  • 2 cups diced roasted potatoes (about 3 good sized potatoes)
  • 1 leek – sliced

Method

The general order of things is:

  1. Much earlier – make pizza dough and leave to rise
  2. Earlier – roast potatoes
  3. Make cashew sauce
  4. Prep other ingredients
  5. Make pizza
  6. Eat pizza

Cashew sauce

  1. Combine ingredients and blend.

The texture should be spreadable, add more extra virgin olive oil if required.

Pizza base

  1. Mix yeast into warm water and leave 10 minutes to develop. It should froth up a bit. If it doesnt, either the water is too hot or the yeast is dead, try again.
  2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Make a well, pour in yeast mixture and olive oil.
  4. Mix to combine.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it’s all the same consistency and springs back when pressed.
  6. Apply a fine coat of olive oil, put back in the bowl and cover. Leave in a warm place until it has risen to at least twice the original size.

Pizza

Get everything ready first.

  1. Take a third of the dough and roll out to the size of your skillet.
  2. Heat the skillet to medium-hot and the grill to medium.
  3. Put 1 tbsp of extra-light olive oil into the skillet.
  4. Put the rolled out dough into the skillet.
  5. Coat with about 2 tablespoons of the cashew cream and 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste (to taste).

Rolled out dough in skillet with cashew cream and tomato paste spread on it

  1. Sprinkle leeks, roast potatoes, rosemary and salt.
  2. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top.
  3. Put the skillet under the grill.

Skillet in the grill

  1. Leave under the grill until it looks cooked (some slight blackening is expected).
  2. Return the skillet to the burner and cook until the base is done (it should be nicely browned).
  3. Remove, slice and serve.

 

Orange chocolate chip muffins

This recipe is a minor variation on this one.

It is surprisingly delicious.

Ingredients (makes 10-12 large muffins)

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup of brown sugar
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp of orange zest
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips (compound works fine)

Muffin tin and, ideally, paper muffin cases.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. In a bowl put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest and chocolate chips. Mix it all until well combined.
  3. In another recipient put the orange juice together with the olive oil.
  4. Prepare the muffin tins/cases.
  5. Mix the oil and juice with the dry ingredients only as much as necessary to mix and pour/spoon into the cases.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until colored.

Cabbage hash for burgers

Inspired by this recipe for Vegetables Manchurian, I made a type of cabbage hash that worked very well in a burger.

Ingredients (makes 4 burgers)

  • 1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup green beans, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk
  • Cooking oil

 

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients (except for oil) in a bowl.
  2. Heat oil in pan
  3. Add mixture to pan and press out for even coverage
  4. Cook for a while
  5. Section into quarters and flip
  6. Serve straight into burger buns with the usual accoutrements

The Really Simple Vege Chilli

This is a really simple vegetarian chilli that we make quite a bit. It is tasty with nachos, on rice, with baked potatoes, etc, etc.

It also freezes really well so we always have a few bags in the freezer ready for “Oh dear, what shall I cook?” dinners.

Think of this as a base and, if you follow these rough proportions, you can make all sorts of changes. Switch out one or more cans of kidney beans for black beans, add mushrooms or capsicum alongside the onions, do your own spicing, etc, etc.

Ingredients

  • Tablespoon of frying oil (canola, light olive oil, etc)
  • 2 onions (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cans kidney beans in brine (drained)
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 1 packet el paso chilli spice mix
  • 250gm frozen chuckwagon corn (mix of corn, peas, capsicum, etc)

I often double or triple this in a large stockpot.

Method

  1. Chop the onions and fry at medium heat until somewhat cooked/translucent.
  2. Drain the kidney beans and add.
  3. Add the tomatoes (don’t drain them).
  4. Add the spice mix.
  5. Bring to a simmer and keep it that way for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the frozen veges and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Done!

 

Baked Eggplant Layer

From Healthy Food Guide March 2013.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 eggplants sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190c. Arrange eggplant slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spray/paint with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick pan and cook onion and garlic until softened.
  3. Add tomatoes, pesto, sugar and chilli. Simmer for about 4 minutes until sauce has reduced. Add most of the basil. Season to taste.
  4. Place half of eggplant slices in lightly greased baking dish. Spoon over half of the sauce. Repeat layers.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and serve garnished with remainder of the fresh basil.

Kim Edit: I quite like adding roasted asparagus, roasted mushroom, 2 tablespoons of cut up sundried tomato and 2 tablespoons of marinated artichoke. Yum.

Tabouli, taboule, tabbouleh, tabouleh

This is a straight cut’n’paste of the delicious tabouli recipe from here (well, with half as much pepper). I make it quite a lot and got tired of searching for it each time.

  • 2 cups bulgur or cracked wheat
  • 2 cups very hot water
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, (8) sliced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

 

Method

  1. Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. When it’s ready, drain any excess water, if necessary, and squeeze dry.
  2. Meantime, prepare the vegetables for the salad and mix the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
  3. Stir the prepared bulghur, other salad ingredients, and dressing together in a medium bowl.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 8 cups, 12 to 16 servings.

 

The New Toasted Sandwich

So, as part of setting up our new kitchen I bought a nice combination sandwich press/griller. It makes a good toasted sandwich and I’m very happy with it… but it hasn’t been used as much as I expected because I stumbled upon an even better way to make them using the oven griller.

Tuna Toasted Sandwich

This recipe for a tuna toasted sandwich is an example of the technique. It can easily be modified for any fillings you like although I recommend keeping the tapenade no matter what else you change!

Ingredients (per sandwich)

  • Turkish bread (ideally not the Quality Baker brand – it’s very dense)
  • 1/2 small can of lemon-pepper tuna, drained
  • About 1/2 tbsp tapenade (recommend Genoese brand)
  • About 1tbsp basil pesto (recommend Genoese brand)
  • Half a tomato, thinly sliced
  • Small amount of grated mozzarella cheese
  • Handful of lettuce

Instructions

1. Turn on your oven’s griller (I think this is the broiler in US-speak)
2. Cut the bread into sandwich sized sections
3. Carefully slice the bread to separate the top and bottom
4. Lightly toast the outer sides of the bread (careful, it doesn’t take long)

5. Spread pesto on bottom piece of bread
6. Spread tapenade on the top piece

Spread that bread
7. Put the tomatoes on the bottom
8. Spread the tuna on top of the tomato
9. Put the cheese on top of the tapenade

10. Place back under the grill (again, it doesn’t take long)
11. Remove from the grill (to assist you with getting it just right, I carefully cooked the one in the picture one a little bit too much)


12. Put the lettuce on
13. Put the sandwich together and eat

Changing Tastes

I never used to like sushi, but yesterday I was sitting at work scoffing my prawn and avocado rolls and reflecting on how my tastes have changed over the years. (If anyone feels an urge to tell me that I’m using the term sushi incorrectly because blah, blah, blah – please don’t.)

I started making a list of foods I’ve learnt to like, and then I realised that the learning came in two clear phases. The first I started liking as a teen, the second happened after I reach adulthood.

The Teenage Years

* Mushrooms

* Asparagus

* Avocado

* Fish

* Mussels

* Chocolate mousse

I note that my parents thought it was a sad day when I started liking mushrooms and asparagus – it meant there was less for them!

The Gourmet Adult

* Sushi

* Prawns

* Olives

* Feta cheese

* Coffee

And then there’s the foods that other people love but I still just don’t get.

Ick! Still!

* Oysters

* Blue cheese (although I’m getting there)

* Coriander

I’m sure there’s a bunch I’ve missed. Anyone else finally seen the light on something?

~Thomas

The Living Room, Auckland.

The other night we went to Living Room on Ponsonby Road for dinner and it was really very nice. Kim’s salmon fillet served on bruschetta was interestingly flavoured with wood smoke. While the components of the dish didn’t integrate that well, working more as a piece of grilled salmon with a bruschetta chaser, it was still generally delicious. I ordered the seafood chowder which was generously laden with mussels, whitefish, squid and cockles.

Both of these dishes were from the cheaper ‘light meals’ menu but were more than sufficient to ensure that eating the sides we ordered was more of an indulgence than a necessity. I hate to think how large the mains were.

~Thomas

Wednesday Night Dinner Report.

Ok, I admit the menu was a slight repeat on a previous occasion, but the company was new! Thanks to Wendy and Jonathan for joining us for what will be the last of the Wellington Wednesday dinners. (Depending on how things work out we might be starting an Auckland chapter soon).

Guests: Wendy, Jonathan, indoor Yeti and outdoor Igor

Appetiser: antipasto with feta, chilli olives and dolmathes

Main: broccoli pasta with super-size garlic bread

Dessert: peach … soggy crumble with cream

Words: armadillo, wasabi, tumescent

Training: advice on dogs

Peach crumble-gunge made a good warming breakfast after taking the dog for his morning walk in the painfully cold southerly. I miss my tuque.

Other dinner parties this week: The Amateur Gourment cooks and presents the Big Pot of Food and a Dessert Theory of Dinner Parties. We’d probably alter that to “Snacky Things, A Big Pot of Food and a Dessert”.

Thomas.