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Tag Archive: cheese

Vegan Pesto Pizza

May 14, 2014 Print this page

Oh yes I did. I made completely vegan and gluten-free pizza. And it actually tastes like real pizza. Real cheesy, doughy, crispy pizza that you’d get at a pizza shop. I don’t tell lies, people. This pizza is AMAZING. Probably the best pizza I’ve ever made at home, regardless of gluten and dairy content.  Adapted from Zenbelly!

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr
Cooking Time 10 min
Total Time 2 hr 10 min
Yield 4-6 servings (2 medium pies)

2 tablespoons of yeast

1/2 cup of warm (but not hot) water

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or your preferred liquid sweetener)

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of blanched almond flour

1 1/2 cups of tapioca powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil (or melted coconut oil), plus more to finish

3/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

VEGAN MOZZARELLA CHEESE

TRADITIONAL PESTO

Basil and oregano, to garnish

Directions

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast with the warm water and maple syrup. Whisk just to combine, then let everything sit and hang out for 10 minutes. If the yeast doesn’t get all bubbly, toss it out and start over again.

Meanwhile, stir together the blanched almond flour, tapioca powder, and salt, breaking up big clumps of almond flour with your hands.

Pour the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer and also add the olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes until everything is just combined, scraping the bowl down once halfway through.

Cover with a warm or slightly-damp kitchen towel and let rise for 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and put a pizza stone in there, if you have one.

Doing the best you can, divide the ball of risen dough in the bowl into two pieces. Take one piece and put it on a large sheet of parchment paper. Using damp hands–water will prevent the dough from sticking to you–spread the dough into about a ten inch ball. If a hole appears, use a little water to smush it back together again.

Put the dough circle on the pizza stone WITH the parchment paper and bake until just beginning to turn color, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, take out another piece of parchment paper and shape the second half of dough. When the first crust comes out, put the second one in.

Now, spread half of the pesto on the first crust. Using a small spoon or ice cream scooper, make the “cheese” into balls and drop them all around the pizza to your liking.

Bake at 500 for another two minutes, then take the pizza out of the oven and turn it on broil. Slide the pizza off of the parchment paper and put it on a heavy cookie sheet. (Parchment will burn in the oven, as I learned the hard way.) Brush the top of the slightly-set “cheese” with a little olive oil, and broil until the cheese begins to turn golden brown, about three minutes. (It should bubble, too!) It’s OK if the crust gets a little burnt–it tastes better that way!

Repeat the same with the other crust and remaining pesto and cheese. Sprinkle with fresh basil and oregano before serving.


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Vegan Mozzarella Cheese

May 13, 2014 Print this page

Cheese is undeniably delicious, but unfortunately, a lot of people can’t eat it (or choose not to). No need to fear–vegan mozzarella cheese is here, providing lots of yummy flavor and texture without any dairy.

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time 10 min
Total Time 15 min
Yield About 3/4 cup of cheese

1/4 cup of cashews (soaked overnight)

1 cup of hot water

3 tablespoons of tapioca powder

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Directions

In the blender, combine the soaked cashews with the hot water, tapioca powder, olive oil,  garlic powder, salt, and apple cider vinegar. Once everything is combined, transfer the cashew liquid to a small non-stick saucepan.

Stir the mixture continuously over medium-high heat. If it starts to vigorously bubble or burn, decrease the heat to medium or medium-low. Within a few minutes, the “cheese” should start to thicken and will become very hard to stir. Just keep going and eventually, the mixture will look quite a lot like melted cheese. (It will feel like it, too, if you touch it!)

Set the “cheese” aside until you’re ready to make pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, or mac and cheese. You will fall in love.


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Pesto Pizza + Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (gluten-free, grain-free)

May 12, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Oh yes I did. I made completely vegan and gluten-free pizza.

And it actually tastes like real pizza. Real cheesy, doughy, crispy pizza that you’d get at a pizza shop. I don’t tell lies, people. This pizza is AMAZING. Probably the best pizza I’ve ever made at home, regardless of gluten and dairy content.

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The dough stretches. The cheese stretches. The dough gets golden-brown. The cheese gets golden-brown. It’s incredible that there’s no gluten, dairy, or eggs to hold it all together. But it works.

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I was sitting around my kitchen one Wednesday evening, procrastinating on chemistry or writing an essay and instead thinking about food, like I usually do. Unexpectedly, a little birdie whispered in my ear, repeating one word over and over again: “Pizza. Pizza. Pizza.” And when I get an idea stuck in my head, I drop everything and hit my cookbooks and the internet. I wanted to create a crispy, chewy pizza, but one without dairy and more “authentic” than my Zucchini Pizza, which, while beloved by my family, is basically a thin, crispy frittata with lots and lots of cheese. After much research, I decided to go with adapting a recipe from Zenbelly, which I’ve heard rave reviews about. For the cheese, I gave this one a shot and was pleasantly surprised by the results; naturally, I again made a few adjustments of my own to create a very, very “cheese-like” final product. And who says eating vegan can’t be fun AND delicious?

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As you can see, the crust is very brown: a homage to my favorite pizza ever from Pepe’s, a Connecticut restaurant that’s famous across the state for its almost-blackened, wonderfully crunchy base for its pizzas.

Pepe’s pizza is amazing. It doesn’t look fancy–they don’t even slice their pies into even-sized pieces–but it tastes like heaven landed in your mouth. Let me elaborate: one time, when my camp took us there after going to a museum, three of my friends and I demolished an entire large pizza, which is ENORMOUS. (Mind you, we were only twelve years old at the time. That’s a lot of pizza for pre-teen girls.) It was that good. I think we all had stomach aches for the rest of the week, but it still  was worth it. That crust. That cheese. That sauce. Mmmm…

Of course, I haven’t had Pepe’s pizza in years–it would probably make me both psychologically and physically sick if I ate that amount of pizza now.

Not this pizza!

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What I love about this pizza is that it’s very satisfying but doesn’t make you feel gassy, give you heartburn, or leave an unpleasant feeling in your stomach. I attribute it to the cashews: while dairy often gives me an adverse reaction, nut-based non-dairy products don’t cause me any gastronomical stress.

Instead of the traditional tomato sauce, I decided to make a thick, flavorful pesto to both lighten up the pizza for the spring and summer months and get in some greens. By the way, did you know that just 1/2 cup of basil (about 1/4 of my pesto recipe) provides almost 100% of your daily vitamin K, which helps with both blood clotting and bone health? That’s a pretty awesome nutritional benefit from eating pizza, if I do say so myself.

In the summer months, I look forward to making this pizza with really fresh vegetables and herbs for an even more amazing flavor. (Nothing tastes quite like fresh-picked basil in August.) But for now, I’ll still enjoy this delicious circle of heaven with the produce I can find at Whole Foods.

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Are you ready to see how easy (and delicious) homemade gluten-free and vegan pizza can be? I hope so! Let’s get started.

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In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 tablespoons of yeast with 1/2 cup of warm (but not hot) water, and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or your preferred liquid sweetener of choice). Whisk just to combine, then let everything sit and hang out for 10 minutes. If the yeast doesn’t get all bubbly (like the picture shown above), toss it out and start over again.

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Meanwhile, stir together 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of blanched almond flour, 1 1/2 cups of tapioca powder, and 1 1/2 TEASPOONS of salt, breaking up big clumps of almond flour with your hands.

Please remember to use teaspoons instead of tablespoons. In my second trial of this recipe, I added 1 1/2 tablespoons, making for a very very salty crust. It was still delicious (my dad and I thought it tasted quite like a pretzel), but less salty is always better.

Pour the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer and also add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or melted coconut oil and 3/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes until everything is just combined, scraping the bowl down once halfway through.

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Cover with a warm or slightly-damp kitchen towel and let rise for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the “mozzarella” cheese which, surprisingly, tastes exactly like the real thing. Scary and cool at the same time.

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In the blender, combine 1/4 cup of cashews (soaked overnight) with 1 cup of hot water, 3 tablespoons of tapioca powder, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Once everything is combined, transfer the cashew liquid to a small non-stick saucepan.

Stir the mixture continuously over medium-high heat. If it starts to vigorously bubble or burn, decrease the heat to medium or medium-low. Within a few minutes, the “cheese” should start to thicken and will become very hard to stir. Just keep going and eventually, the mixture will look quite a lot like melted cheese. (It will feel like it, too, if you touch it!)

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Look at that stretch. That’s the power of tapioca for you!

Set the “cheese” aside until pizza-making time comes around. Now is also a good time to make the pesto.

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In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups of fresh basil with 1/2 cup of pistachios (or your favorite nut), 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, the juice of 1 medium lemon, 1 clove of garlic, and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Pulse about 30-60 times to combine, then add salt and pepper to taste. This is obviously best with fresh, in-season basil; if you find your basil is very bitter, I recommend adding a little sugar or maple syrup to cut it a bit.

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At this point, your dough should be about ready to get rolling. That means you should preheat your oven to 500 degrees and put a pizza stone in there, if you have one.

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Pizza stones are wonderful tools to have around. As you can tell by this picture, we actually have two, but I took out the smaller one because the big one is a bit unwieldy for a person of five feet tall with short arms. My dad originally bought them for bread-baking, but we don’t do much of that nowadays.

But for this pizza, a pizza stone is your secret to getting a crispy, dark brown, restaurant-style crust. If you go to an old-school (good-quality) pizzeria, you’ll see that the pizzas are put directly on the floor of the oven which, if well-seasoned, imparts wonderful flavor and makes the crust a beautiful color and gives it a great texture. The pizza stone uses the same technique: that stone absorbs a LOT of heat, and that heat goes right to your pizza crust. That’s what you want.

Back to the crust itself.

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Doing the best you can, divide the ball of risen dough in the bowl into two pieces. Take one piece and put it on a large sheet of parchment paper. Using damp hands–water will prevent the dough from sticking to you–spread the dough into about a ten inch ball. If a hole appears, use a little water to smush it back together again.

Put the dough circle on the pizza stone WITH the parchment paper and bake until just beginning to turn color, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, take out another piece of parchment paper and shape the second half of dough. When the first crust comes out, put the second one in.

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Now, spread half of the pesto on the first crust. Using a small spoon or ice cream scooper, make the “cheese” you made earlier into balls and drop them all around the pizza to your liking. (This one was very cheesy–the other one I made only had a few dollops!)

Bake at 500 for another two minutes, then take the pizza out of the oven and turn it on broil. Slide the pizza off of the parchment paper and put it on a heavy cookie sheet. (Parchment will burn in the oven, as I learned the hard way.) Brush the top of the slightly-set “cheese” with a little olive oil, and broil until the cheese begins to turn golden brown, about three minutes. (It should bubble, too!) It’s OK if the crust gets a little burnt–it tastes better that way!

Repeat the same with the other crust and remaining pesto and cheese. Sprinkle with fresh basil and oregano before serving.

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I had forgot how much I love(d) pizza.

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What is your favorite pizza topping combination? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

April 24, 2014 Print this page

I wanted to have macaroni and cheese, but I wanted it to be filled with healthy, wholesome ingredients and not leave me feeling groggy, icky, or guilty. This was no easy task, but I think I have accomplished it.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 15 min
Total Time 30 min
Yield 4 servings

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight

5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon of red palm oil (or 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric + 1 tablespoon of coconut oil)

1 cup of vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

1 roasted red pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

The juice of 1/2 of a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

The equivalent to 4 servings of gluten-free pasta (I used this one), spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles

Directions

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Don’t look at it much: remember, a watched pot doesn’t boil!

Soak the cashews in a warm water bath overnight, then strain and put in the blender with the nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder, red palm oil, vegetable broth, roasted red pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, then taste and adjust.

Once the ingredients are all blended up, pour the cashew-cheese-like mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to simmer just to keep warm, and give the sauce a good whisk frequently to prevent it from sticking.

Meanwhile, your water should be boiling. It’s time to add your pasta!

Cook the pasta according to the box’s instructions, then strain in a colander. If you’re using veggies instead, well, let your veggies do their thing.

Toss with the sauce and eat immediately. I’d recommend a side of roasted brussel sprouts or cauliflower.

Oh, one more thing: if you’d like, you can bake your macaroni and cheese, too! Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour, and sprinkle the top with some almond flour or ground walnuts for extra crunch.


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Macaroni and Cheese (vegan + gluten-free!)

April 24, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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If you had approached me on the street ten, five, even two years ago and asked me what my favorite food was, I would have immediately replied, “Macaroni and cheese.”

And no, not especially the 10,000-cheese-and-truffle-oil macaroni and cheese from fancy restaurants. I was more a fan of the stuff in the blue box.

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It was one of the first things I learned how to “cook,” too, and I do believe I tried next to every shape that was available. Even when I was thirteen, my favorite kind was still the Scooby Doo shapes, perhaps because I ate it nearly every weekend throughout my childhood.

I was a really weird kid–I was obsessed with the presidents, viruses, and outer space, hated anything that involved running, and watched Nova and documentaries on the History Channel (back when it was good) instead of Disney. Naturally, social interactions with peers were difficult, but I somehow managed to always have friends. (I still don’t really know why I have friends now, haha.) But when I would have a friend over for a playdate, my mom would make us macaroni and cheese, slice up some apples and grape tomatoes, and read us a book while we ate our food.

Even though I’ll be turning sixteen in less than a month (!!!!!!!!!!), those are still some of my fondest memories. Even though they’re, er, cheesey, they revolve around happiness.

And macaroni and cheese.

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The blue boxes were some of the first processed food to go after I decided to clean up my eating habits. Into the cupboard and garbage they went, along with the microwave popcorn and frozen Mystic pizzas I enjoyed frequently noshing on.

Fast-forward about two years later, and I can’t remember the last time I ate macaroni and cheese. Even though I wouldn’t deem the stuff in the blue box “enriching” in a million years, it is kinda sad. It was my favorite food for more than a decade, and I don’t think anyone should have to completely give up his or her favorite foods just to be “healthy.”

Physical health is important, but what many nutritionists and experts often glaze over is that eating (and enjoying) food is also a very emotional experience, and what we eat has other outlets besides our internal and external physique.

So, what was a girl to do? I wanted to have macaroni and cheese, but I wanted it to be filled with healthy, wholesome ingredients and not leave me feeling groggy, icky, or guilty. This was no easy task, but I think I have accomplished it.

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While I do enjoy cheese and yogurt on a somewhat-regular basis, I’ve found that I don’t tolerate heavy, dairy-laden foods very well. A little goat cheese with breakfast or in a salad or a small bowl of yogurt is usually fine, but rich cream sauces tend to sit around in my stomach and disrupt traffic. I don’t like that very much.

Thankfully, I love cashews, and they make a wonderful substitute for dairy in everything from ice cream to smoothies. (I tried making cashew yogurt, too, but it was pretty gross. I’ll have to keep working on that.) When soaked overnight, this wonderful nut becomes very soft and blends up into a wonderfully thick, luscious cream that’s just rich enough to be decadent but not heavy enough to be overly-indulgent.

Paired with nutritional yeast, homemade stock, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, cashew cream goes from boring to BAM! The created sauce also keeps well in the fridge, so feel free to double the batch and keep a container around for a quick weeknight dinner.

Ready to see how amazing vegan macaroni and cheese can be? Good. Let’s go.

Adapted slightly from THIS recipe.

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Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Don’t look at it much: remember, a watched pot doesn’t boil!

Soak 1 cup of cashews in a warm water bath overnight, then strain and put in the blender with 5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 heaping tablespoon of arrowroot powder, 1 tablespoon of red palm oil, 1 cup of vegetable broth (preferably homemade), 1 roasted red pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the juice of 1/2 of a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Blend until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, then taste and adjust.

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A word about red palm oil: no, it does not come from red palm trees. It’s simply less-processed palm oil, and full of Vitamins A and E. Unfortunately, palm oil in general is not very sustainable, so make sure you purchase a brand that sources from small farms and makes an effort to support the environment and avoid deforestation. (I really like Nutiva.)

No red palm oil available? No problem: use 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil instead. I used turmeric with my initial recipe, but I prefer the red palm oil instead for its more neutral taste.

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Once the ingredients are all blended up, pour the cashew-cheese-like mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to simmer just to keep warm, and give the sauce a good whisk frequently to prevent it from sticking.

Meanwhile, your water should be boiling. It’s time to add your pasta!

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While I don’t advocate having noodles–even gluten-free ones–every night, I think they’re fine once in a while, especially when balanced out with other healthful foods like fresh vegetables, pasture-raised meat, and good fats for added nutrients.

I used gluten-free elbows made from organic corn and quinoa flour. It’s pretty tasty, but you can definitely tell that it’s not wheat flour. (I don’t mind that, though.) You can also use brown rice pasta, sprouted wheat pasta (if you aren’t eating gluten-free), zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash–be sure to let me know how it turns out if you give any of them a try!

Cook the pasta according to the box’s instructions, then strain in a colander. If you’re using veggies instead, well, let your veggies do their thing.

There’s enough sauce to coat 4 servings of pasta, so either add your 4 servings to the pan with the sauce or pour half of the sauce over 2 servings of noodles, a fourth over 1 serving, and so on and so forth. Sorry, I’m not good at explaining these things. I try.

Eat immediately. I’d recommend a side of roasted brussel sprouts or cauliflower, as my friends in the cabbage family happen to taste amazing with mac and cheese.

Oh, one more thing: if you’d like, you can bake your macaroni and cheese, too! Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour, and sprinkle the top with some almond flour or ground walnuts for extra crunch. I loved how it tasted after some time in the oven, but the pictures were er, not pretty, so I used the ones I took for the stove-top version instead.

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Om nom nom nom nom nom…

What was your favorite meal or dish as a child? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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