Kitchen Experiment – Gluten Free Pizza

I am always on the look out for a good gluten-free pizza dough recipe.  I have been making homemade pizza since I was young.  My Mom would make her own dough and then set us up to make our own pizzas.  We would have friends over so that we could “teach” them how to make pizza the right way!  Pizzeria pizza is good, but I am very picky.  There is nothing like making it yourself.  Since starting the ALCAT diet, we have not been able to make pizza dough because my husband has a severe intolerance to yeast. Gluten-free is hard enough, but without the yeast, it is even more complicated. When I saw this new recipe made with Arborio rice, I knew I had to give it a try!

I like easy recipes and this was definitely easy.  Basically it was cooked Arborio rice, some parmesan cheese and an egg.  You mixed all of that together and then pressed it into a pan.  The recipe said that you could use the back of a fork to spread it out in the pan, but I found that wet hands worked much better.  When I usually make pizza, I like to use my cast iron skillet and a stone cookie sheet so I decided to use the same thing.

before crustpizza crust

You cook the crust first at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes before adding the toppings.

baked crustThe idea is to crisp is up first before you add the wet toppings.  So, as I said before, my Mom has been making pizza since I was little and I just love to make traditional pizza with tomato sauce and cheese.  My Mom would line up the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, parmesan cheese, olive oil and mozzarella cheese and show us just the right amount of each to put on the pizza crust.  I of course have to do it just the same way.

plain pizzaI also made one with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and artichokes hearts …

pizzaI had some pesto that needed to be used so I made one more with pesto and sheep feta …

pestoSo, how did they turn out?  They were delicious, but I think that the crust could be crisper!  The next time I will cook them a little longer before putting the toppings on and I will put the pans closer to the bottom element in the oven before and after the toppings.  It seemed like if you kept the pizza in the pans, they stayed a little crisper than trying to take them out to cool on the cutting board.

Final say:  give it a try if you need an easy gluten-free pizza crust!

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Kitchen Experiments – Millet “Pizza” with Greens

Growing up in an Italian household, my Mom would make something that she called polenta pizza.  I am not sure why they called it pizza but it must have something to do with the italian word for pizza because pizza it was not!  It was more like a thick polenta with a delicious crust on the outside and a firm center.  She always made it with minestra which is basically greens and beans.  In recent years she has made it when my uncle would come to visit as a bread substitute since he has celiac and can’t eat wheat or gluten. As a kid, I did not like the greens and beans but I loved the polenta pizza.  We would eat it with maple syrup making it more like a dessert.

Since doing the ALCAT plan, I have not been able to have corn, cornmeal or polenta but I can have millet, which when ground is pretty similar to cornmeal. So I decided to give millet pizza a try.  What I love about this pizza is the crusty exterior!  It is very simple to make and yet versatile and delicious.  My family and I still love it smothered with real maple syrup.

millet pizzaTo make the pizza, you need to have a cast iron skillet.  Well, maybe not need, but I think the crust is best when cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Basically you make a thick polenta or millet by cooking 1 cup ground millet or cornmeal with 2 cups water.  Spray or grease your cast iron skillet with olive oil and then spread the millet or polenta in the skillet and spray or grease the top of the mixture as well.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 35 – 45 minutes, then flip the pizza to crust up the other side. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.  I found the cooking time to be a little less with the millet than with the polenta.  Serve warm!

When I made it the other night for dinner, I sautéed escarole with some sun-dried tomatoes and butternut squash and then added cannellini beans and served it on the side with the millet pizza.  It was delicious.

millet and greensFor dessert we had millet pizza with maple syrup!  It brought back some good childhood memories.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Experiments – Lentils with Spinach and Shitake Mushrooms

I really like lentils – red, black or green – soup, stew, loaf – almost anyway you cook them, I love them!  Once again this recipe came out of the necessity of finding something to eat for dinner that was different but easy and definitely delicious.  I had made something similar to this previously before we started the Alcat diet, so I will offer some changes at the end that you can try at home.

My first step in this recipe was to cook the lentils.  I sautéed my scallions and celery first in some olive oil and then added the black lentils.  I always like to sauté them together for just a minute before adding the water.  I added only enough water to cover the lentils because I did not want a lot of extra broth since this was not a soup recipe.  My mom always added oregano and a bay leaf when she cooked her lentil soup, so of course I always do the same. I cooked the lentils until almost all of the water was absorbed – about 30-40 minutes.

While the lentils continued to cook, I took my cast iron skillet and added olive oil and shiitake mushrooms and cooked them for several minutes until the mushrooms were soft.  I added the spinach and turned off the heat with a lid on to wilt the spinach and wait for the lentils to be cooked.

In a separate skillet, I sautéed potatoes until brown and crispy on all sides.

When the lentils were cooked, I added them to the cast iron skillet with the mushrooms and spinach.  I tossed it all together until it was well mixed.

lentilsI cannot eat potatoes, but my husband can.  When I made this recipe before, I would toss the potatoes right into the skillet as well and mix it all together and top it would some goat cheese!  Yummy, I can’t wait until I can eat goat cheese again.  This time, I put some potatoes on my husband’s plate and some oat groats on mine and topped them both with the lentil mixture.  It was a very delicious dinner once again! If you have never tried lentils and potatoes together, I encourage you to try them! Good cooking!

Kitchen Experiments – Millet Roti

I have been sitting on this recipe for about 3 months, afraid to try it because it just looked like it would take a long time to make.  Then a lovely lady named Nafisa came to the office and we got talking about my restricted menu since starting the Alcat diet and how we are always looking for new recipes to try with the grains that we can eat, like millet.  She said that as part of her diet, she makes a millet flat bread every week for her husband and she would be happy to teach me.  Her idea reminded me that I had this recipe for a millet flatbread tucked away waiting to be made. She inspired me to pull out the recipe again and take a look!

Well, she was right!  It was really not that complicated, though it is time-consuming!  Basically you take millet flour, or in my case fresh ground millet, and you place it in boiling water for just 2 minutes and then let it sit.  After it sits, you mix the millet and the water to form a soft dough.  It really is surprising how easily it pulls together into a soft ball.  After allowing it to cool, you take it and form it into balls.

roti ballsThe recipe suggested that you roll the balls between the sheets of a cut plastic bag but I used a bottom sheet of wax paper and a small rolling-pin and rolled them flat.  It was pretty simple.

rolled rotiTo cook the roti, I used a cast iron skillet sprayed lightly with olive oil.  I wish that I would have had something bigger so that I could have done more than 1 roti at a time because it did take a long time to cook them individually.  Now, I have made pita before so I was familiar with the cooking technique, but if this is your first time trying a flat bread, don’t be discouraged; it really is an art to get them to puff. Most of mine did not fully puff though I did get a few.

puffed rotiThe cookbook Flatbreads and Flavors describes the technique really well in their pita bread recipe.  This is a beautiful cookbook for anyone interested in making some fabulous breads!

  flatbreads-flavors-jeffrey-alford-hardcover-cover-art

Basically the technique is all in the flipping!  Flipping early and often in the beginning for some reason allows the bread to puff.  Well, puffed or not, the roti was delicious.  I slathered mine with ghee and ate it hot out of the pan.

I hope you won’t be intimidated like me and not try this roti millet flatbbread because it was well worth the effort!  And it froze beautifully so you might as well make a double batch!

Click here for the recipe!