Tag Archives: pecorino romano

Cauliflower Pizza Crust ? A MUST TRY

11 May
Pizza Ingredients

Ingredients for Pepperoni Pizza with a cauliflower pizza crust

With Gluten-Free/Paleo/Ketogenic interest remaining at a fever pitch, it seems everyone is looking for terrific recipes with low/no carbs and no gluten. I myself am following the Ketogenic Diet; the older I get the more difficult it has become to lose weight and keep it off, damn it! (That gin has no carbs is a lifesaver.) But even if you couldn’t care less about avoiding gluten, today’s recipe — homemade pizza with a homemade cauliflower crust — is a mind-blowing must try. I’ll say ‘damn it’ one more time because this pizza is so damn good.

Pizza!

Pepperoni Pizza with a cauliflower crust

I owe this stunner to my wonderful friend Jeff, an amazing chef who constantly teaches me about cooking. He stumbled onto the recipe, perfected it and encouraged me to give it a try. Jeff and his husband Owen, btw, are in the ‘could care less’ about avoiding gluten camp. In fact, they eat more gluten than any people I’ve ever met… and yet both are annoyingly super slender. I’ll say “damn it” one more time in envy. Fortunately I love them too much to stay very annoyed. 

Other than one caveat in the next paragraph, this is a very easy recipe anyone can master. Those who follow the blog know I am not a baker and avoid anything resembling dough at all cost. I tried making my own homemade pizzas with dough a few times; what came out of the oven looked a lot more like amoebas than pizza. So if I can do this, you can too. And you will make it over and over and over again. I’ve been making these pizzas at least twice a week as of late, often more. This doesn’t so much replicate pizza exactly but gives you a new twist that is healthy, extremely tasty and gets crispy just like good thin crust pizza.

The one caveat? It involves a purchase. I don’t think I’ve ever suggested buying anything on this blog, save once giving a shoutout to buying a cast iron skillet, which is very cheap, will change your life, will pass on to the next generation and is also very effective if you have a home invasion. For this easy cauliflower crust to work, however, a very particular pizza stone is needed:

baking-steel-superior-alternative-pizza-stone1-798x798_1024x1024

Metal Pizza Stone at bakingsteel.com

This remarkable piece of equipment is $89 dollars. Trust me. If you like pizza of any kind, this metal pizza steel will live in your oven 24/7 and you will use it constantly. It has many other uses than this cauliflower pizza, from regular pizza to creating incredible pie crusts. But I guarantee you will make this cauliflower pizza all the time.

You can get the steel at bakingsteel.com, a wonderful company run by incredibly nice people with terrific customer service. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Click here to check out the steel.

Interest piqued? Here’s how you do it. 

CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST

(for a basic pepperoni pizza)

Equipment

Baking Steel pizza steel

parchment paper

Pizza Peel (optional but makes it ridiculously easy. Click here for a cheap one.)

Ingredients (for a basic pepperoni pizza)

Crust

1 large beaten egg

2 oz powder fine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or Pecorino Romano)

8 oz. riced cauliflower

Note: Trader Joe’s sells bags of fresh riced cauliflower. Fresh is a must as you want the natural water that remains in the vegetable. Also, it’s a very good idea to weigh the cheese and cauliflower rice if you want this to turn out perfectly.

Pizza

approx. 2/3 cup pizza sauce 

4 oz grated Fontina or Mozzarella cheese (Fontina works wonders here)

Pepperoni slices

Note: Trader Joe’s sells a pretty terrific pizza sauce but I love making my own, see recipe below.

Directions

On the center rack of your oven, preheat your steel at 450 degrees for a minimum of 45 minutes. This is a must to get the crust just right. As Jeff says, your finished crust will thank you for your patience.

In a bowl, combine the beaten egg and the cheese to form a paste. Add the riced cauliflower and any seasoning. (I always add about 1/2 t of both salt and pepper, and often some fresh thyme leaves and/or a sprinkle of cracked red pepper.) Mix well. To insure an even consistency, use your hands towards the end and squish it all up really well. Jeff calls this ‘cooking therapy’ and it is indeed fun. 

Mound all the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. (I make this directly on my pizza peel.) Using your fingers and your palms, press down onto the mound, slowly spreading it out into an evenly thick round shell approximately 10.5 inches in diameter. EVEN is key here. Remember, if I can do this, you can do this. Make sure it is all connected with no gaps. 

Dough before bake

Pizza crust before baking

Slide the parchment onto the baking steel and roast for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

dough after bake

Pizza Crust after baking

(You can make the crust hours in advance. Once cool, just cover with foil or wrap. I usually do this when I am going to make more than one pizza. Just make sure the steel has been preheated again before making the actual pizza.)

*While the crust is baking or cooling, place your pepperoni slices on two layers of paper towels, cover with two more and put in the microwave for 50 seconds. This is a genius trick from Jeff. It removes a lot of grease from the pepperoni you don’t want watering down the pizza and ensures terrifically crisp pepperoni on your finished pizza.

Pepperoni after

Pepperoni after the microwave

When the crust has cooled, top your crust with 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup pizza sauce. Sprinkle evenly with 4 oz of grated Fontina cheese. Lay as many slices of pepperoni as you want, covering the cheese. Slide the pizza back on the baking steel and roast 10-12 minutes, until the top is to your liking. 

Remove from the oven and, if desired, top with chopped herbs and/or grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Slice and serve!

Pizza!

Pepperoni Pizza with a cauliflower crust

This is a basic recipe. The possibilities are endless. Pesto pizza, white pizza, any toppings you like, go crazy! You will thank Jeff. You will thank the Baking Steel company. You will thank me.

LOVELY TOMATO SAUCE

This sauce is perfect for many uses. I love it so much I eat it with a spoon. One of its many uses is as a terrific pizza sauce. I always double it. It freezes beautifully and you can always use a good tomato sauce.

Ingredients

2 T olive oil

1 small onion finely minced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

One 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, pureed

2 T chopped herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, whatever you like

One T butter

Directions

Combine oil and onion in a large saucepan and cook over medium-low until the onion is softening. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring, until the onion is soft and the garlic is golden but not brown. 

Add the tomatoes, stir to blend and simmer, uncovered, stirring every few minutes for 15 minutes. Add the herbs and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

When the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency, add the pad of butter and stir to incorporate. 

If you want an incredibly smooth sauce, you can process in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Enjoy. 

Garlic Salad, My Most Requested Dish

10 Aug
GS Ingredients

Ingredients for Garlic Salad

Given all the food I cook, it should be annoying that something so ridiculously simple as my garlic salad would be the dish people currently request the most. Annoying, that is, if I didn’t love it myself and could eat it every night.

And often do.

GS - salad

Garlic Salad

I say its “my” garlic salad because I landed on this recipe after many, many attempts and variations. But to be honest, it’s my attempt at recreating a favorite dish from growing up, Mama Colichia’s House Salad. Colichia’s Italian Village was opened by Mama Colichia in 1935 in Port Arthur, Texas. I’m not sure the original location but when our family was going, which was often (same for much of my hometown), the restaurant was in the Colichia’s house on Proctor Street. The tables were set up in the living room and dining room and Mama Colichia worked out of her kitchen. 

The food was pure old fashioned Sicily and absolutely wonderful. I always ordered either the Veal Parmigiana (mostly) and the lasagna (on special occasions). The Spaghetti and Meatballs were also a town favorite. But the most remarkable dish that came out of that kitchen was the house salad Mama Colichia served with every meal. She made each salad by hand right before it came out of the kitchen. She used — and pardon my Texas-French — a shitload of garlic and distilled white vinegar. Good Lord, that salad. You can live on it.  We would talk about it as a family, obsessing on it. My dad, whom Mama Colichia loved, thought for years she put a dash of Dr. Pepper in the salad, because she used a Dr. Pepper bottle to hold her vinegar. (It works great!) You could see her making the salad when the swinging door dividing the kitchen from the dining room would swing back and forth when the waiters walked through the door. 

While Mama Colichia passed years ago and the house on Procter is no longer an Italian Village, her children and grandchildren still run updated versions at home and I always slide in to have the salad. 

Over the years, I’ve tried different variations to see if I could get close. I’ve finally ‘mastered it’, if you can call the rather ramshackle recipe below mastering. No matter. I will in no way claim this is a good as Mama Coilichia’s, but if/when I ask people what they want for dinner, I hear this the most. And so I give it to you.

Don’t be scared of the garlic. It’s good for you and you will love this.

Oh, and when I made this salad to take the pictures for the blog, I ate the whole bowl. It’s all I ate for dinner, with a martini, so don’t think I’m a pig. And I’m a rabbit, I love all salad in general. But yes I ate the whole bowl. It’s that good.

GS garlic salad

My dinner

For the recipe, click here: Continue reading