Thursday, December 15, 2016

Holiday Toffee Bars

Doubled the recipe to fit on a 9x13 or larger pan & first lined it with parchment for easy cutting & clean up.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Gluten-Free Pizza Cooked in the Outdoor Pizza Oven

We love food. Our whole family does. Enjoying food together is a regular highlight of many of our family activities, whether it's going out to eat somewhere cool or at home enjoying one of the many scrumptiously savory food delights Colette blesses our family with day in and day out. My culinary responsibilities in the family consist mainly of eating and doing dishes, but I do pitch in with the cooking from time to time in a few specific areas: grilling meats, smoking meats, and making pizza (all of which take place on the back deck, so I guess that makes the deck my own personal backyard kitchen) and with Christmas around the corner, I am feeling especially festive & festive = pizza in our house!

Pizza is the food topic today. I love to cook for Colette, so she can kick her legs up and be served for a change. I like to be able to give Colette a much-needed break from the kitchen, and to make her something she really enjoys. Thankfully pizza is one of those things! I experimented with something new yesterday -- pizza with a gluten-free pizza dough, baked in the outdoor pizza oven. It turned out great!

Here I am getting the project started with my very capable cooking crew...

I used to make pizza indoors in the oven, but no more! Ever since Colette gave me this Pizzeria Pronto outdoor pizza oven as a gift, I can hardly bring myself to cook pizza the "traditional" way anymore. This awesome pizza oven cooks on a stone at a very high temperature just like a wood fired pizza grill, and the results are off the chart amazing -- especially if you like neapolitan style pizza crust.

So back to the gluten free pizza. For the most part I followed this recipe from King Arthur Flour as described, but I made a few slight departures from the exact ingredients and steps listed. I'll walk through the whole thing here.

First I made the dough. I measured and mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then added the wet ingredients and mixed by hand.

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free brown rice flour (instead of the brown rice flour blend listed in the K.A. recipe)
2 tablespoons buttermilk powder or nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon glucomannan (instead of the xanthum gum listed in the K.A. recipe)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup stevia (or whatever sweetener you choose, note this is more sweetener than listed in the K.A. recipe)

Wet ingredients:

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

With reckless abandon, I completely disregarded the dire warning in the K.A. recipe about not mixing the dough by hand. That seemed silly and it mixed just fine by hand using a large spoon. The "dough" is really more of a batter at this stage - a wet, sticky mess that in almost no way resembles pizza dough. But just keep on keeping on, it all turns out just fine in the end.

Next came another of the recipe departures. I didn't let the dough sit as instructed. Instead, Colette came up with the great idea to treat the dough at this stage like she does cookie dough, spooning it out and rolling it flat between two pieces of parchment paper. What a great suggestion and I learned something new to add to my cooking repertoire!

I spread out a large piece of parchment paper on the counter, sprayed it with Pam, then sprinkled corn meal all over the parchment paper. (By the way, corn meal and the outdoor pizza oven are an unbeatable combination. I've always used corn meal to keep my dough from sticking to the pizza peel so it slides easily into the pizza oven, and the added texture and taste it brings to your dough is so good!)

Next I spooned the dough/batter onto the middle of the parchment paper and then laid another large piece of parchment paper on top (also sprayed with Pam and sprinkled with corn meal). So at this point I had a dough and parchment paper sandwich. Then I took a rolling pin and flattened the dough out, rolling over the top of the parchment paper. This is the step where you get to decide how thick you want your dough. So roll it out as thick or thin as you like!

Next we stuck it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This step is key, because freezing the dough a bit takes it from a sticky unworkable state and turns it into something more resembling pizza dough that you can actually work with. After you take the dough out of the freezer you peel away the parchment paper and lay the dough down in a greased baking sheet.

One lesson learned here. I should have left the dough in the freezer a little bit longer than I did, because when we peeled away the parchment paper it peeled easily off the edges but the middle of the dough was still fairly sticky and tore apart a bit. Freezing it longer would have left the middle easier to work with. The length of time you have to freeze probably also has a lot to do with how thick or thin you roll out your dough.

Stick the baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or so to firm it up and get it ready for assembling and baking.

One other lesson learned - the next time I make this pizza I'll roll out the dough thinner and try to get it to turn out almost like a crunchy, "crackery" crust (which is what Colette really loves). I think the amount of dough you get from this recipe is good for 2 medium sized pizzas, with thin crust, or one with regular crust thickness.

Before getting to the last steps, actually making and cooking the pizza, I'll share with you the pizza sauce recipe I used, in case you need one:

5 cans tomato sauce
3/4 cup oregano
3/4 cup stevia (or sugar)
1/4 cup garlic and several hefty shakes of salt (or just use garlic salt)
1/4 cup parsley
several hefty shakes of pepper
1/4 cup of onion powder
**Note: I usually don't measure the ingredients when making the sauce, so the above measurements are approximate.

Mix all this together in a bowl. Taste, and adjust as needed to suit your taste. Note: this is fairly large amount of sauce. If you're only making a few pizzas, you can halve this recipe.

The last step is to spread corn meal onto your pizza peel, then lay the dough down onto the peel and build the pizza: sauce, cheese, then toppings. Here we topped with green and red peppers, onions, and jalapeno peppers.

Slide the pizza into the pizza oven at about 700 degrees, and it should cook in about 10 or so minutes, depending on how crispy you want it to be. Make sure you rotate the pizza (using the peel) inside the oven a couple times while it cooks so it cooks evenly.

And then enjoy!

Thanks for reading!