Spicy Perogy Pizza (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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Potatoes on pizza? All you need, really. This is a recipe that I am very excited about! When I was a teenager, my mother cleaned the local Boston Pizza and worked out a deal that meant a lot of free pizza for us and our friends. A long time has passed since I was swimming in that pizza, but one particular creation has always stuck with me – the spicy perogy pizza. Enter the challenge: a soft, pillowy gluten free crust. Anyone who’s ordered the local pizza joint’s gluten free crust knows that it is thin and hard (and often burnt). Worry no more, I have the vegan solution you’ve been waiting for along with a zippy potato topping to get everyone talking.

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If you want to skip the homemade dough, go right ahead. Just try the topping. On the plus side, I’m working really hard to convert this pizza dough into a possible gluten free baguette, so that’s something to look forward to!

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Pan Pizza Crust (Heroically adapted from this very not-vegan recipe)

3 tablespoon ground flax
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon isolate soy protein (gives flax more stability)
2 tablespoon agave nectar
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup canola oil (any neutral oil)
2 cups tapioca starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Canola oil, for greasing

In a food processor, blender or stand mixer combine the ground flax with the water and whip for about 5 minutes. A gel should form quickly but keep whipping. Sprinkle the isolated soy protein over the flax mixture and whip until fully mixed in. I”ve included a picture, so you have a visual idea of what the flax should up up like. Transfer to a large bowl, if necessary.

 

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In a small bowl, combine the agave nectar, warm water and oil. Add that to the whipped flax and mix to combine. Next add the dry ingredients and beat the hell out of it. You really want to work air into the dough and because there is no gluten, you have no risk of overworking the strands. Go for it. The dough is going to end up being what should like a very thick cake batter. Grease an 11 inch pizza pan (really, any size you have – it’ll just be thinner or thicker, you know?) and spread the dough out to your desired shape using your hands. It will help to wet them a little because the dough is sticky.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise (rest, really) for about 45 minutes in a warm place.

Spicy Potatoes

4 cups thinly slice potatoes, skins on
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin


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In a large skillet over medium high heat, combine all ingredients, except canola oil. Bring the potatoes to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let them simmer until the water has been absorbed and the potatoes are soft, but not falling apart.

Assembly

1/2 cup non-dairy sour cream, plus more for serving
Pinch cayenne pepper
Prepared potatoes
Prepared pizza crust
1/4 cup vegan cheddar shreds
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds
1 bunch green onion, sliced thinly

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the sour cream out on the pizza crust, as you would tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne. Spread cooked potatoes out even over the crust. Top with vegan cheeses. Bake for 35 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. Turn the oven off, crack the door and let sit in the oven for 5 minutes before pulling out. Place a dollop of sour cream in the middle of the pizza and cover with green onions and serve hot.

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Comments: Vegans, there is no substitute for whipped egg whites that is readily available and that can be cooked. I’m working on it, I’m working around it and I am sad about it.

Basic Chocolate Cupcake (Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free)

This recipe is great for a pinch when you want something homemade but don’t need to pull out all the stops. People love them! They’ll never know you made the cake in one bowl (but I’ll know). I used a very slightly adapted recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, which is a totally amazing starting point for vegan bakers. As far as I know the simplicity of the recipes is owning to the fact that it is a war-time invention meant to give you cake through the rations.

I’m going to go ahead and say it: Be careful how your choose to pipe the chocolate frosting on or it will look like, well, something you don’t want it to look like. Alternatively, you might choose to do another flavour like vanilla or raspberry.

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Chocolate Cake

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (mine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil (or any other neutral oil)
1 cup cold coffee (I used brewed and cooled espresso)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place liners in muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk. Add the liquid ingredients and whisk until smooth. If you’re using gluten free flour, there is no risk of over-mixing, so relax. Scoop into liners, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cake springs back at your light touch. Let cool.

Basic Chocolate Frosting

1 cup non-dairy margarine, softened
3/4 cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped (optional)
4 cups icing sugar
2 – 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

In a large bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, whip the margarine for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to lighten in colour.  Add the cocoa, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean (if using) and mix until combined. Slowly add the icing sugar, thinning out with non-dairy milk as needed. Pipe onto cupcakes.

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Fried Tomatoes

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This wouldn’t be much of a Harry Potter food project if I didn’t get to these fried tomatoes at some point. Easy and classic, there’s not much more to say. I used my standard gluten-free flour mix with no troubles and no substitutions made.

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If you’ve never had tomatoes with your big weekend breakfast spreads, I highly suggest giving them a whirl. 

Serves 2

1 ripe tomato, sliced not too thin
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (mine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil (whatever neutral one you have on hand)

Whisk flour, salt and pepper together in a shallow bowl. Dredge sliced tomatoes in flour. Heat canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry each slice of tomato until that ideal golden brown colour is achieved on either side.

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French Country Vegetable Soup for Two (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Oil-Free)

In my quest to make quick and easy dinner recipes in small portions, I’ve taken to testing them out in the day in between my other activities. This helps ensure they are really low-prep. This soup is inspired by Amy’s Kitchen’s French Country soup but is lighter in consistency and richer in herb flavour.

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Ready to go in half an hour! The ingredients are really flexible, so add or subtract as you see fit. You want to add a potato or a handful or rice, go ahead! Red pepper or fresh basil? Do it! Soup is fun and easy!

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Soup

1 cup white beans (any kind you like, really)
540 ml canned tomatoes (diced, whole, stewed, anything)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon lavender (if your herbs de Provence does not contain it)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons dried chanterelle mushrooms, re-hydrated according to package directions.
1 litre of water
Handful of leafy greens, your choice (optional)
Black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients, except the leafy greens and black pepper, in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for fifteen minutes, or as long as you have! Just as you’re ready to eat, toss the leafy greens into the soup, taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Easiest Buckwheat Waffles (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I wanted to create a gluten free waffle for folks who can’t eat gluten to enjoy but more than that – an easy waffle anyone can make for themselves or their gluten-free friends. Buckwheat flour is widely available and makes for fantastic crepes, pancakes and now waffles!

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I never feel great after eating pancakes and they’re a lot of work when you don’t have a griddle, so they automatically become the main. I stopped making them when I stopped eating gluten. The problem is, I really love a bit of something sweet alongside a full breakfast. Enter the waffle – mix, pour and forget! I whipped these together in less than 15 minutes! They’re perfectly crispy on the outside and unbelievably fluffy on the inside. They reheat perfectly in the toaster.

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Makes 8-1/2 cup waffles

2 cups buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground flax + 1/3 cup water, mixed to form a gel
2 cups non-dairy milk (plain or vanilla)
1/2 cup canola oil (or melted non-dairy margarine)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Create a well and add the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. Turn on the waffle maker. You’ll want a thick batter, but you can thin it out with a little more non-dairy milk before cooking. Cook each 1/2 cup waffle for about 5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup or whatever you like.

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Oversized Blueberry Muffins with Struesel Topping

Sometimes I make Harry Potter-themed vegan food (which incidentally is just British food).

Of the assortment of breakfast food Mrs. Weasley offers a confused, worried and angsty Harry at Grimmauld Place before his hearing at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix, blueberry muffins are the ones he chooses but does not manage to eat.

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These muffins are delicious made with regular old flour or, as I did, with this all purpose gluten free mix. It has literally never failed me. They are my perfect blueberry muffin; not too sweet with an amazing crumb.

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Makes 6 large muffins

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 flax egg, prepared and cooled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 non-dairy vanilla milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons non-dairy margarine

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease or line muffin tins. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, flax egg and non-dairy milk. Add to dry ingredients and fold six times. I mean it: six. Add the blueberries and whisk six more times. The batter should not show any signs of unmixed flour. If it does, carefully fold one or two additional times. Fill each muffin liner, right up to the top.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add all stresuel topping ingredients and mash with a fork, until the mixture starts to resemble wet sand. Top each muffin with plenty of the topping. Bake for 25 minutes, until a nice golden colour has formed and the muffins springs back at your touch. Cool on a baking rack and carefully remove each muffin. Delicious warm and especially the following days for breakfast.

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Fiddleheads

I want to talk to you briefly about fiddleheads, the alien-looking spring vegetable of my nightmares. Seeing as my husband’s food allergies limit his list of edible vegetables so greatly, a new one is always going to be attempted. Except, these weren’t new…

I tried them about five years ago at a Christmas dinner and they immediately became my sworn enemy. They were boiled and more bitter than anything I’d ever eaten. They ruined the rest of the food that night because that taste just wouldn’t go away.

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Being the internal optimist that I am (never mind the deadpan snarker), I filled a bag and agreed with myself to eat one again (and give the rest to Devon). To my great surprise, they were unbelievably delicious. I thought they were a little bit like less-sweet asparagus. So savoury, so rich, so full of umami that I must be wrong about everything I ever thought I was right about. My roommate says that fiddleheads are so amazing that they will save any meal: don’t like the potatoes on your plate? Eat a fiddlehead with it and suddenly it’s heaven.

Lesson being, please revisit foods you’re not so sure about at different points in time, with different preparation methods. These were an absolute revelation.

Here’s all I did:

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fiddlehead ferns, brown ends trimmed and washed
1 large clove garlic, diced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste

In a microwavable container, cover fiddleheads with water. Microwave for about 4 minutes or until the water is very hot and the fiddleheads have had a chance to slightly darken. Over medium heat, in a skillet or wok, heat the olive oil. Drain the fiddleheads and add to the oil. Sautee until the fiddleheads have begun to brown and add the garlic, cayenne and salt. Serve with anything you like.