Day 19: Kale & Sundried Tomato Pizza AND Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Kale Pizza(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.

Today I have a lot to write about, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfy. Tuesday night, Betsy DiJulio, the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook, came to my house to cook with me!! So excited!!

Of course I did the usual when someone is coming over – vacuum up the dog hair, clean the bathroom (remember I have boys!) and clean my kitchen. But I wanted to impress so I chose an appetizer and a dessert from the book to make beforehand. I chose Orange-Espresso Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies. I followed the recipe exactly being super careful not to inadvertently put something non-vegan in them. Everything was going well until I went to get my coffee beans out to grind one teaspoon of espresso powder. I could not find them anywhere. I love those beans. I had bought them at a little coffee roasting shop on the way to Luray, VA – but they were nowhere. So I racked my brain to come up with an alternative. Finally I ripped open a little Keurig cup and ran it through my grinder to make it into powder. It worked! One teaspoon of “espresso” done!

Next step was the chocolate chips. That’s when I saw the word “vegan” before the words “chocolate chips”. Noooooo!! I had not even considered that my chips were not vegan. Since I didn’t have any idea where to start looking for vegan chips, I was not going to the store so I divided the dough in half. One half gets real chocolate chips and the other will be Orange “Coffee” Hazelnut Cookies. (Thankfully she brought an amazing dessert so we didn’t need them.) I did, however, bake a test batch before dinner and I must say that these cookies are incredible. I have a hard time believing that this dough does not have eggs. They bake up just like any other cookies. My son looked skeptical and politely declined them but later I found the half empty container on the counter so he must like them too.

Mushrooms with SherryThe appetizer I chose was Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta. I have been looking forward to trying this recipe for a while – it sounded so good! I loved putting this together with the obvious exception that I had to use my dumb food processor. Later in the evening I did learn that silken tofu is different than the refrigerated tofu I used but no matter – I think it came out great. [Betsy’s note: it was perfection!] I got a bit heavy handed with the red pepper flakes but no one seemed to mind. My son only had a problem with the gray color but once he tasted it, he was sold.

So now my preparations are done…until I sat down and read through the recipe we had chosen to make. The pizza dough for the Kale and Sundried Tomato Pizza takes two hours to rise! I decided if I didn’t take this part on by myself we would not be eating til 10 PM. Even though I have never made pizza dough, I put on the how-hard-can-it-be attitude and got busy. And it really wasn’t too hard. I did not cheat either. I really used wheat flour. I had bought this to make dog biscuits a while ago and it was sealed up in the back of my cabinet. Nothing flew out of it when I opened it so we were good to go.

As soon as I got the dough set up to rise, Betsy arrived. She came in with an amazing looking cake roll with salted caramel icing. OK we can skip dinner now! It turned out to be a girl’s night since my husband was out for the evening and my son left for his Krav Maga class. (Oh, before he left, he pulled out a container of pork BBQ leftovers from the fridge and starts eating it out of the container right there in the kitchen. I was cringing, hoping Betsy wouldn’t notice…but she did. She was so cool about though. And that’s my family!!).

Anyway we chose a wine and started cooking. She promised me I would love the kale but I was skeptical watching her cut it up. She insisted I try it raw. She ate hers, but mine ended up in the sink. Sorry! I couldn’t even pretend to like it raw. Not good! Next she started the “cheese.” This was not my area – you know how much I cheat with real cheese – so I stepped back and watched her make it. I loved it! Would I give up my cheese for it? No, but I really loved it.

Betsy Making Pizza CrustWhen the dough was done rising, she showed me how to press it out by hand into a circle. Then we prepared the pan to sauté the kale – I forgot to turn the burner on but that was the only glitch. We put the pizza together and got it into the oven. Then we got to just hang out, she met my turtle, Desiree, and we went outside to check out my herb garden. My dog Allie was already her best friend at this point. Before long the pizza was out of the oven and ready. We took some pictures (of course!) and then served it up.

My son was back from class at this point and joined us for dinner. We loved the pizza! Even with kale!! It was flavorful and salty and the kale was very tender. We agreed later it may have been too salty because I only had course sea salt and no grinder. [Betsy’s note: totally my fault; I cook with coarse sea salt and I just wasn’t careful–must have been the wine and the great conversation.]   My husband was quick to point out the saltiness too when he tried it later – this from a guy who snacks on bouillon cubes?! Really?

The time finally came when I could try the cake she brought. OMG! So good! As soon as she posts that recipe I will be lifting it right off her website.

We had so much fun cooking and laughing together but the time came when she did have to get back home to her puppies. I loved learning so many new ways of cooking healthier. I love that she is so non-judgmental about my family’s food choices and is supportive of how I am incorporating her amazing recipes into my way of life. She is one of the sweetest, most gracious people I know and I am glad I can call her my friend. It really was a great evening.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

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Vegan Maple-Sage Tempeh “Sausage” and Grilled Apple Quesadillas (Also a Great Pizza Topping) + Recipe for Quick Vegan Cashew Cream

DSCN2028Yield: 8 quesadillas

Different, but not bizarre, this quesadilla celebrates the cozy flavors of fall.

2 large apples, halved, cored and cut into 12 wedges each

Sea salt

Olive oil

8 ounces tempeh (I use Trader Joe’s “3 Grain” variety)

2 teaspoons soy sauce (I use a lite variety with less sodium)

1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage or a tablespoon minced fresh sage

Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1/2 cup Quick Vegan Cashew Cream (Recipe Follows)

1/2 cup water

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 6-inch wheat tortillas

Optional: 1/2 cup caramelized onions

Garnish: dollops of vegan sour cream or additional Quick Vegan Cashew Cream, fresh sage or rosemary sprigs, roasted pepitas

Grill lightly salted apple wedges in well-oiled grill pan over medium high heat until tender and nice grill marks develop, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.  Crumble tempeh into the skillet, add a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, until golden brown in some places, adding about a teaspoon of olive oil if it appears to be drying out.  Add soy sauce, sage and optional rosemary, and continue sauteing until golden throughout.  Stir in balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Cashew Cream, and water, and heat, stirring, until mixture comes together.  Remove from heat and add additional salt, if necessary, and black pepper to taste.  Transfer filling to a bowl or carton and wipe out skillet.

To make quesadillas, heat another tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium high.  Place 1/8th of filling on half of each tortilla, top with 3 slices of grilled apple and optional 1/8th of caramelized onions.  Fold other half of tortilla up over the filling and toast, 2 quesadillas at a time, in skillet for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Keep warm.  Repeat with more oil as needed and remaining tortillas, filling and apples.  Serve garnished as desired.

Quick Vegan Cashew Cream:

2 cups raw cashews

2 cups simmering water (heated stovetop or in microwave)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Place cashews in a heat-safe bowl and pour simmering water over.  Let stand, covered, for a half hour.  Drain and reserve 1 1/4 cups of water.  Process cashews with sea salt and garlic powder until a thick past forms, about a minute or two.  Reheat water and, with motor running, stream in 1 1/4 cups or enough to reach desired consistency.  Serve as is, flavor as desired, or cover and refrigerate for use at a later date.

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Vegan Grilled Pumpkin Pizza with Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread, Pepita and Sage Pesto and Rosemary-Garlic Oil Recipe

Yield: 2 pizzas/8 servings (2 slices per serving)

The irresistibly adorable pumpkins at my favorite farm market inspired this pizza.  I’ve enjoyed it three or four times this week with my Vegan Caramelized Onion and Apple Pizza and am so sad there is no more.

As I’ve said before, homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make that there is scarcely any reason to purchase it, especially since it can be frozen.  Hands on prep time is just minutes, but it does take a couple of hours to rise.  So, if you are super pressed for time and favor a brand like Trader Joe’s frozen dough, then go for it.  If you choose the purchased route, I would definitely recommend a prepared dough as opposed to a prepared crust.

My dough of choice comes from my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  My recipe calls for a combination of self-rising and whole wheat flours.  However, for the pizza pictured, I didn’t have either, so I used all white whole wheat flour with some baking powder.  The only difference I found is that it makes a softer dough and, hence, requires additional flour.  The crust made this way also benefits especially from a couple of minutes in the oven before topping it and returning it to the oven to insure that the crust doesn’t become soggy.

Make the dough at least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pizza.

 

Blooming Platter Pizza Dough:

Yield: 2 approximate 8-inch crusts

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup  plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat or all purpose flour combined with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Note:  you may substitute all white whole wheat or all-purpose flour for both of the above.  However, you will need considerably more flour, added 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.

1 teaspoon “quick rise” yeast

1 teaspoon natural sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon to oil the bowl

Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, and make a well in the center.  Add the water and 2 teaspoons olive oil to the well and stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until fully incorporated.

Knead for 5 minutes with oiled hands or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.  I knead it right in the bowl.  Do not over-knead.  Lift out the dough and pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and spread to coat the interior with your fingers.

Return the dough to the bowl, rolling it around on both sides to coat with the oil.  Cover the bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.

 

Next prepare Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil (makes sure it is super flavorful)

1 5-inch stalk of fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small cup and set aside.

Before preparing topping, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place two pizza stones (or two inverted baking sheets) into the oven and heat for 30 minutes.

 

Topping:

Approximately 1/4 cup Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread (recipe follows)

Grilled Pumpkin (recipe follows)

1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto

Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves or pineapple sage blossoms

 

Vegan Pumpkin Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread:

6 ounces Silken Firm tofu (you may you “extra firm” for a firmer end result)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto

1 large garlic clove

Pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  You will have more than you need for this pizza.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Enjoy as a dip with fresh veggies, spread on bagels or sandwiches, tossed with pasta, or as a pizza sauce.

 

Grilled Pumpkin:

Approximately 3 pounds fresh pumpkin (this weight is seeded and with pulp removed, but with the skin on)

Remove the skin from pumpkin with a paring knife.  Cut pizza into bite size 1/3-inch thick slices.  Spray a grill pan with non-stick spray and preheat over medium-high.  Grill pumpkin, in two batches if necessary, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or unil tender with nice grill marks.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

 

To Assemble:

Lay two 10-inch sheets of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a work surface.    Spray each sheet lightly with non-stick pray.  With hands lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, and place one in the center of each piece of foil.

Beginning in the center of the ball and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips and palms to gently press the dough into a circle about 8 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving a slightly raised 1/4-inch wide rim.  Brush the entire surface of each very lightly with the Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil; you will likely have some left over.  Lift each piece of foil one at a time, crust and all, holding it taught, and place on one of the baking stones.  Bake for 2 minutes.  Remove the stones from the oven and spread a very thin layer (about 2 to 3 tablespoons) of Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread on each crust.  Divide the pumpkin evenly between the two crusts, arranging pieces in concentric rings.  Return the stones to the oven and cook for about 7 minutes, switching the position of the stones halfway through if pizzas seem to be cooking unevenly.  Remove the stones from the oven again and dot each with about half of the Pepita and Sage Pesto (1/4 cup each).  Return the stones to the oven and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes  or until the crusts are golden and the topping is hot.  Remove the stones form the oven, slide the pizzas, one at a time, onto a cutting board, and cut each into 8 wedges.  Serve immediately garnished with sage leaves or, if you’re lucky enough to grow this herb: ravishing pineapple sage blossoms.

Note: this pizza reheats beautifully on a pizza stone in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.

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Vegan Caramelized Onion and Apple Pizza with Smokey Cheddar Cheese and Rosemary-Garlic Oil Recipe

Yield: 2 pizzas/8 servings (2 slices per serving)

All things autumn was the inspiration for this absolutely addicting pizza.  I’ve enjoyed it three or four times this week and I have not yet had my fill!

Homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make that there is scarcely any reason to purchase it, especially since it can be frozen.  Hands on prep time is just minutes, but it does take a couple of hours to rise.  So, if you are super pressed for time and favor a brand like Trader Joe’s frozen dough, then go for it.  If you choose the purchased route, I would definitely recommend a prepared dough as opposed to a prepared crust.

My dough of choice comes from my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  My recipe calls for a combination of self-rising and whole wheat flours.  However, for the pizza pictured, I didn’t have either, so I used all white whole wheat flour with some baking powder.  The only difference I found is that it makes a softer dough and, hence, requires additional flour.  The crust made this way also benefits from a couple of minutes in the oven before topping it and returning it to the oven to insure that the crust doesn’t become soggy.

Make the dough at least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pizza.

Blooming Platter Pizza Dough

Yield: 2 approximate 8-inch crusts

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup  plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat or all purpose flour combined with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Note:  you may substitute all white whole wheat or all-purpose flour for both of the above.  However, you will need considerably more flour, added 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.

1 teaspoon “quick rise” yeast

1 teaspoon natural sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon to oil the bowl

Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, and make a well in the center.  Add the water and 2 teaspoons olive oil to the well and stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until fully incorporated.

Knead for 5 minutes with oiled hands or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.  I knead it right in the bowl.  Do not over-knead.  Lift out the dough and pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and spread to coat the interior with your fingers.

Return the dough to the bowl, rolling it around on both sides to coat with the oil.  Cover the bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.

Next prepare Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil (makes sure it is super flavorful)

1 5-inch stalk of fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small cup and set aside.

 

Prepare the Apple Cider Vinegar Reduction:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon maple syrup

Pinch sea salt

Combine ingredients in a 1-quart saucepan and simmer over medium-high until reduced to 1/4 cup.  Reduce heat if necessary, so that mixture doesn’t scorch.  Pour into a small ramekin or cup and set aside.

Before preparing topping, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place two pizza stones (or two inverted baking sheets) into the oven and heat for 30 minutes.

Caramelized Onion and Apple Topping:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium-large yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 small-medium apples, stemmed, cored, cut into 1/4-inch wedges; cut wedges crosswise into 3 to 4 pieces

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cup Blooming Platter Smokey Cheddar Vegan Cheese Spread

Optional garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for approximately 15 minutes or until onions are beginning to develop a golden color.  Reduce heat if necessary to prevent onions from scorching.  Add apple, 2 tablespoons of the Apple Cider Vinegar Reduction, and a pinch of salt, and continue sauteing and stirring about 10 minutes, or until onion is deeply colored and apple is tender and has developed some color.   Add water, a teaspoon at a time as needed if mixture appears to be drying out.  Check for salt and adjust if necessary.  Remove the skillet from the heat.

To Assemble:

Remove the rosemary from the olive oil, strip the leaves off the stalk, mince, and set aside.

Lay two 10-inch sheets of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a work surface.    Spray each sheet lightly with non-stick pray.  With hands lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, and place one in the center of each piece of foil.

Beginning in the center of the ball and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips and palms to gently press the dough into a circle about 8 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving a slightly raised 1/4-inch wide rim.  Brush the entire surface of each very lightly with the Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil; you will likely have some left over.  Lift each piece of foil one at a time, crust and all, holding it taught, and place on one of the baking stones.  Bake for 2 minutes.  Remove the stones from the oven and divide the onion-apple topping between the two crusts, spreading evenly to the rims.  Divide the Cheese Spread between the pizzas, dotting the top of each with teaspoon-size dollops.  Sprinkle each with half of the minced rosemary.  Return the stones to the oven and cook the pizzas for 9-11 minutes or until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbly, switching the position of the stones halfway through if pizzas seem to be cooking unevenly.  Remove the stones from the oven and slide the pizzas, one at a time, onto a cutting board.  Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon of the remaining Apple Cider Vinegar and cut each into 8 wedges.  Serve immediately garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs.

Note:  this pizza reheats beautifully on a pizza stone in a preheated 3350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Vegan Spanish Chorizo Pizza with Green Olives, Creamy Macadamia “Cheese” and Marconi Almonds

Yield: 4 pizzas

A couple of weekends ago, Hurricane Irene battered our coast, fortunately with much less ferocity than was anticipated.

When a major storm like Irene threatens, everyone’s minds turn to food and drink.  Water for some, wine for us–ha!  Seriously, we joined our neighbors who cleared the grocery store shelves of bottled water–also recycling bottles and filling them with tap water–but we had plenty of wine on hand too.  For this dish, I recommend something like an Albarino.

Around lunch time, we still had power, and I got the inspiration for this quickie pizza which I figured would just require 3-5 minutes under the broiler.  Surely the power would stay on that long.  And it did; in fact, it never went out.  We were so lucky!  However, the light quality on that stormy day wasn’t optimal for photography, so I apologize for this photo.

At any rate,  when you need a quick fix, regardless of the reason, this one is a keeper.

4-6 inch corn tortillas

1 cup vegan chorizo filling (This delicious filling comes from a new crostini recipe of which I had leftovers; just click the link.  Note, you only need the chorizo, not the white bean, filling.)

8 green olives stuffed with pimentos, sliced in half lenghwise (if you want more, use more!)

approximately 1/2 cup  vegan Creamy Macadamia “Cheese” Spread (this recipe was published on One Green Planet; again, just click the link.)

16 Marconi almonds (these are especially good, but any roasted and lightly salted almond will work)

Preheat broiler to high.  Place the tortillas on a baking sheet; I like to line my baking sheet with Silpat.  Spread each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the chorizo mixture.  Top each with a pinwheel of 4 olive halves(or more if you choose), cut side up, dollop with approximately 2 tablespoons of cheese, and dot with 4 or so almonds.  Broil on top oven rack for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through with toasty edges.  Serve immediately with a knife and fork.

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The Blooming Platter Cookbook Featured Again by Veggie Girl

Back Cover, The Blooming Platter Cookbook

Dianne “Veggie Girl” confesses on her blog that, although she usually doesn’t feature the same cookbook twice in her “Cookbook Project” series, my vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese-Orange Sauce inspired her to break with tradition and feature The Blooming Platter Cookbook for Project 19 and 20.  Thank you, Diane!

I commend her substitution of Spelt flour for the whole wheat.  I do that myself sometimes and am a fan!

This week, she chose to prepare a total of four recipes from The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  I trust it will always give me a thrill to see my recipes prepared by someone else!

In fact, I would have loved to have eaten at Dianne’s house this week as this was such a busy one for me that my dinner one night was my Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” Spread on Melba toast and nothing at all last night!

This week included, in addition to a two hour appointment after work on Tuesday to have my braces removed and a beautiful closing exhibition reception for my students and their artwork at Old Dominion University’s Virginia Beach Higher Ed Center on Thursday, lots of cooking for the “Incredible Edibles” cookbook launch party that is tonight (so excited!).

So while I practiced poor nutritional habits, at least at night, Veggie Girl, in addition to my carrot cake pancakes, whipped up a batch of my Zucchini-Stuffed Shells with Blooming Marinara Sauce, my Caramelized Onion and Spinach Quesadillas (with White Bean Cheese) and my “White Cheese” Pizza with Kale and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

Her addition of a pinwheel garnish of avocado slices on the quesadilla was gorgeous (but, sadly, I’m allergic to them).  And her addition of Shitake mushrooms and red onion to the pizza  looked like the delicious confetti that I’m sure it was.

It’s barely 5:25 a.m. and my mouth is watering for Italian and Southwestern food!

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Vegan Kale, Grape Tomato and Swiss "Cheese" Pizza with Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil

Yield: 2-7 to 8-inch pizzasAs this recipe proves, pizza can attain health food, rather than junk food, status.

After a wonderful lunch on Saturday of a beautiful potato pizza and gorgeous salad prepared by my good friend, Trish Pfeiffer, and enjoyed on her sun porch, I was craving pizza something fierce.

If you follow this blog, you know that I am a fan of “CPK Pizza Dough.” However, I was out of all-purpose flour–shocking, I know–but was determined to make homemade dough. So I used half whole wheat and half self rising flour, but still used the same amount of yeast called for in order to achieve a tiny bit more “puff.” My husband, the meatatarian, and I both loved it. Don’t misunderstand, though, these were not “thick crust” or “deep dish” pizzas–not even close.

In the fridge was a big, tight bunch of curly kale just begging to be used. So, I minced it in the food processor, sauteed it in a little olive oil until tender with just a few crispy bits, and spooned it over a homemade Swiss “cheese” sauce. Next, I nestled grape tomato halves into the kale in a pinwheel design, dotted the top with a tiny bit more “cheese,” and dabbed the surface and rim of the crust with olive oil into which I had crushed some fresh rosemary from my garden and some minced garlic.

After a mere 11 minutes and the sounding of the smoke alarm (I really need new pizza stones, as mine have a pizza residue that sometimes smokes), the pies were perfection: a crispy-on-the-outside-tender-on-the-inside crust and a beautiful moist red, white and green topping bursting with fresh flavors, colors and texture.

For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion Pizza with the Very Best Vegan Pizza Crust

Yield: 2 small-medium pizzas or about 4 servings

If you’ve read my last few posts, you can tell I’m on a squash kick. It seems I want to use roasted or caramelized squash and onions in every dish I make…except desserts. And this pizza is one reason why. Green flecks of pine-scented fresh rosemary leaves are beautiful against the golden crust and topping of this earthy-sweet and mellow pie. It gets a little kick from optional red pepper flakes and extra creaminess from homemade vegan white “cheese.” And this crust does not just provide a vehicle for getting the other ingredients to your mouth, but contributes fully to the taste and texture of one heck of a nutritious and delicious pizza.






For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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Vegan Caramelized Onion, Poached Pear, Bleu "Cheez" and Walnut Pizza

Yield: two 8-9″ pizzas

I created this classic pizza by special request from my foodie pal Anne who felt that the combination of pear and caramelized onions in renditions she had tasted was too sweet, never mind the little challenge of vegan blue “cheez.” Plus, the perfect crust was eluding her.

By poaching the pears in wine and lemon juice and by choosing a white onion (with a little more bite than yellow or red) and adding a little balsamic vinegar to it as it cooked, I toned down the sweetness factor just enough. I also topped the pizza with a mini-salad of mache (nice nutty flavor) tossed with a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice and olive oil. That also subdued the sweetness, in addition to being a lovely contrast in color and texture.

I had an inspiration for the blue “cheez” that worked beautifully. I am a big fan of my very slightly adapted version of Jo Stepaniak’s blue “cheez” dressing and had some in my fridge. But I wanted the top of the pizza to look pretty with little melty hunks on it rather than a drizzled sauce. So, I also had some pre-cubed super-firm (or extra-firm) tofu in the fridge. It occurred to me that I could use my fingers to gently mash the tofu–just so the pieces weren’t so geometric and uniform–with a little of the dressing. I tried it and presto!, I had blue “cheez.” For the crust, I used a California Pizza Kitchen recipe I found online. It was intended for ultra-thin crust pizzas, so I just omitted the rolling step to keep it a little thicker and it was a winner.

I thought the end result was pizza perfection and so did my meat-and-potatoes-minus-the-potatoes husband!

Please don’t be deterred by the seeming length of the instructions. It all goes quickly, as you can prepare virtually all of it simultaneously–you can even make the bleucheez” dressing in advance–and it is SO worth it. Certainly, if you want to forgo poaching the pears and opt for a commercial crust, do. I can’t vouch for the results, but if time is a big factor, why not try it?

Rosemary Olive Oil for Brushing on Pizza:

1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 stalks of fresh rosemary

Pour olive oil into a small cup or bowl. Gently crush leaves of rosemary with your fingers and add to the olive oil. Set it aside on the counter until ready to use. The longer it steeps, the more intense the rosemary flavor will be.

Creamy Blue “Cheez” Dressing

½ cup sesame tahini
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon light miso
¼ teaspoon pepper (I use white to prevent black flecks)
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes or 3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

In a medium bowl or food processor, beat together first 6 ingredients until creamy and smooth. Vigorously beat in lemon juice and vinegar until well combined. Stir in parsley or add a very small rinsed and drained bunch to the food processor and pulse a few times to mince and distribute. Keeps 10-14 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stir well before serving.

Dressing Source: slightly adapted from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak (the only changes I made were to omit all of the water, as it made the dressing far too thin, and add more parsley).

CPK’s Pizza Dough:

1 teaspoon “quick rise” or “rapid rise” yeast
1 3/4 cup unbleached bread or all-purpose flour (I used all-purpose)
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon granulated or raw sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water (“quick rise” yeast does not need the traditional soak in warm water to activate it)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

You may use a stand mixer (fitted with a paddle rather than a hook for this small amount of dough), a food processor or your hands. If you use a processor, use a plastic rather than a metal blade, as the latter will cut through the gluten strands preventing a proper rise. Place all dry ingredients in the appropriate bowl. Add water and 1 teaspoon olive oil and beat for 2-3 minutes on medium-low until dough is smooth and elastic; or process just until the dough forms a smooth ball; or knead 5 minutes with oiled hands or until smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky. Do not overbeat/over-knead. Pour remaining teaspoon of olive oil into a mixing bowl and spread with your fingers. Place ball of dough into the bowl and move it around to coat the underside and then flip over and do the same to the other side. Cover loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk about 2 hours. While dough rises, prepare other ingredients.

Note: If you have regular active dry yeast, dissolve it first in the water before adding to the dry ingredients. The water should be 105-110 degrees; any hotter will kill the yeast and prevent rising.

Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large white onion, sliced into slivers
kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add onion and some salt and saute, stirring frequently, until onions begin to turn golden. You may need to lower the heat to just above medium to prevent scorching. Add another tablespoon of oil and check for salt. Continue to saute until onions darken a bit more and oil is mostly absorbed. Add a tablespoon of water and continue cooking until onions turn amber. Add balsamic vinegar and cook until onions are a deep amber. Remove to a bowl to cool. While onions caramelize, poach pears.

Poached Pears:

2 cups Gewurtraminer (a slightly sweet white wine; a reisling might work nicely too)
4 1/4-1/2″ thick slices of lemon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white or white wine vinegar
kosher salt to taste
1 large Asian pear (I used one almost the size of a small grapefruit. If using a smaller or different kind of pear, you will need two to make a total of 16 slices)

Combine all ingredients except pear in a large cast iron skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Half pear lengthwise, core it and slice each half into approximately 1/3″ thick wedges. Place into poaching liquid in one layer and cook for about 8 minutes. Turn slices and poach for another 8 minutes just until tender. Adjust temperature as needed to keep liquid at a slow simmer. Remove pear slices to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.

Shape Dough:

Before beginning, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place two pizza stones inside and heat them for approximately 30 minutes. Divide dough in half, shape into a ball, dust lightly with flour, and place in the center of a lightly oiled piece of foil about 10 inches square, shiny side down. Beginning in the center and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips to gently press and stretch dough into an 8-9″ circle with a slightly raised rim. Repeat with other half of dough. While stones are heating, make Blue “Cheez” Hunks and have walnuts at the ready.

To Make Blue “Cheez” Hunks:

1/2 cup super-firm or extra-firm tofu cubes
1 scant tablespoon Creamy Blue “Cheez” Dressing

With your fingers, gently break up tofu and lightly mash together with dressing just so that hunks lose their geometric and uniform appearance.

Topping:

3-4 tablespoons walnut pieces

Assemble and Bake Pizzas:

Spread a few tablespoons of the remaining dressing on each crust to make a very thin layer, leaving a one-half inch margin. Top evenly with caramelized onions, using half of the onions on each pizza, followed by 8 pear slices per pizza in a pinwheel design. Dot each pizza with half of the blue “cheez” hunks and sprinkle with half of the walnut pieces. Using oven mitts, remove pizza stones from the oven. Carefully slide each pizza, foil and all, onto its pizza stone. Return to the oven and bake approximately 11 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, open the door, slide racks out, and carefully brush the edges of the crusts with the rosemary olive oil and dot over pizzas, especially over the walnuts. While pizzas bake, make mache salad (below). When crust is just golden, remove pizzas from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then slide off of foil onto serving platters, using a spatula to assist, if needed. Place a little mound of mache salad in the center of each pie and serve warm.

Mache Salad

2 small handfuls mache greens
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil

Toss together gently and place half of the mixture in the center of each pizza.

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