Saturday, August 31, 2013

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

One of the things prevalent in both the Down syndrome community and the Autism community is the presence of people on gluten-free diets.  In the Ds community, a lot of our kids are gluten intolerant.  The bear cub is not one of these fortunately since she seems to be drawn to every wheat product in sight.  In the Autism community there are a few that are gluten intolerant, but the greater reason a lot of kids are on the diet is because it often affects behavior.  In this case I'm not sure that I'm fortunate that the nerdlet's symptoms aren't affected by diet because I would love some control of her issues.  I have, however, been trying to eliminate a large amount of the gluten in all our diets simply for the health benefits, so I have been checking out a number of books on the subject from the library, and just recently I have started checking out cookbooks (and possibly I might have bought a few).

I finally broke down and started buying some of the ingredients because it seems that all the recipes require a ton.  I started with the cookbook "the diary-free & gluten-free kitchen", and yes, the title is in all lower case which has sort of been driving me nuts since I've had it.  For a couple of years while we lived in Panama, we lived next door to a family that had pizza every Friday and I always thought that was very cool and lately I've been thinking that I'd like to implement that tradition in our family so I figured that was a really good way to try out gluten-free recipes.  If anyone has their own gluten-free suggestions for cookbooks, recipes, flour mixtures, or binders, I'd love to hear/read them.

First, the gluten-free flour mix from the cookbook:
     1 1/4 cups brown or white rice flour
     3/4 cup potato starch
     1/2 cup tapioca flour
     1/2 cup sorghum flour
Combine and mix with whisk until thoroughly combined.  Keep in airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 months.

Making this was interesting.  First potato starch and potato flour are two different things and not only do Whole foods employees all the way up the chain not know this, apparently even some manufacturers of the products do not know this and you will find one company label their box with both names.

Next, I decided to be cheap and ground both the brown rice flour and the tapioca flour in my Vitamix.  Grinding the flours isn't difficult.  The tapioca flour requires no instruction really.  I simply put the tapioca in the dry container and started at low variable speed and slowly went up until it was on high and left it there until a flour.  It didn't even take that long, maybe a minute.  The brown rice flour took a little more work.  I did a cup at a time (this wasn't the only flour mix that I was making with brown rice) and maybe if I did a 1/2 cup like the tapioca, it would have worked slightly better.  I started a variable low and slowly raised it to 5 and left it there for about a minute.  Then I raised it slightly again and left it there for a few minutes.  When it got to the top variable speed, I left it until I started seeing that there was flour flying around and the bigger pieces were being left behind.  Then I shut off the machine, banged the container around, and started over as needed, until I had a nice consistent flour.  The vitamix was pretty warm when I was all done.

Since this made 3 cups of flour and the crispy and traditional pizza crusts in the cookbook required close to that, I decided to try both recipes out.  I only took pictures of the crispy crust, but here they are.

They were pretty well received. Darth Baby ate two pieces herself, half of the bear cub's and most of the bear cub's toppings, and bites of Q's. The nerdlet ate a whole piece herself and a bit of the crust from mine. Teh bear cub only ate half of her piece (the half with the crust). Q liked the thin crust better, but I liked the traditional crust better.  I will say that I normally love cold pizza for breakfast and I found the traditional crust leftovers tolerable but I couldn't eat the crispy crust version cold.

Crispy Pizza Crust:
     1 1/2 gluten-free flour mix
     2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
     1/4 tsp xanthan gum
     1/4 tsp thyme
     1/4 tsp oregano
     1/4 tsp garlic powder
     1/4 tsp salt
     1 cup water
Preheat oven to 425.  Line a metal pizza pan with parchment paper (I used silicon sheets).

Mix dry ingredients with a whisk thoroughly.  Add water and stir to combine with rubber spatula.  Work quickly to spread batter less than 1/2 inch thick on parchment paper.  Pre-bake crust 15 minutes.  After adding toppings, bake another 8 minutes.  (My suggestion is to not underbake at either point).

Traditional Pizza Crust:
     1/2 cup dairy milk alternative, warmed to 110 or 115 (I used pre-made almond milk but the book has a recipe)
     1/2 teaspoon date syrup (1 1/4 dates, 1 cup water, 1 tsp lemon juice blended in vitamix)
     1 package quick-rise yeast (I used 2 1/4 tsp of my bread machine yeast)
     1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
     1 tsp xanthan gum
     1/2 tsp dried oregano
     1/4 tsp dried thyme
     1/4 tsp garlic powder
     1 Tbsp olive oil
     1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 425.  Line a metal pizza pan with parchment paper (I used silicon sheets).

In small bowl, combine milk and date syrup and stir.  Add yeast and stir until dissolved.  Set aside until mixture doubled in volume, about 10 minutes. 

Mix dry ingredients with a whisk thoroughly.

Add oil and vinegar to milk mixture and stir.  Add this to flour mixture and stir to combine with rubber spatula.  Spoon dough onto prepared pan, smoothing out center and building edge slightly.  Cover with damp ktich towel and place in warm area to rise for ~20 minutes.  Pre-bake for 15 minutes.  After adding toppings, bake another 8 minutes.  (Again I would suggest not underbaking at either point).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jalapeño Cheese Pretzels

My mom made pepperoni pizza pretzels using the recipe on Ciao Italia a few weeks ago.  I told her they were fine, but that I think I would appreciate having jalapeño cheese ones more.  She came down this week to see the girls off to school since they started this past Monday - the bear cub for another year of preschool and the nerdlet for kindergarten, and since she was saying she was going to leave yesterday, I talked her into staying another night and put out all the ingredients on the counter last night.  This morning while I walked the nerdlet to her bus stop, my mom started to put them together.

Didn't they come out beautifully?  They are tasty, too.

Here is the modified recipe:

1 1/2 cups warm (110°F) water
1 tablespoon honey1 package Fleischmanns pizza crust yeast2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil4 to 4 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt 2 4oz containers of pickled jalapeños
8 oz grated cheddar
8 cups water1/2 cup baking soda

In a large bowl combine the water, yeast, honey, butter, and olive oil. Add 4 cups of the flour a cup at a time, the salt, and mix with the dough hook until the mixture is well combined and moves around the blade and begins to form a ball. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead it a couple of times.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (we did 16).  Roll each piece of dough under the palms of your hands into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the 2 ends of the rope, cross them over each other twice and press them into the center of the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on the parchment-lined pans, spacing them about an inch apart.

Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a soup pot.  Use a wide face flat spatula or skimmer and boil the pretzels a few at a time until they float in the water. Drain them well and place them on the parchment lined pans, at least 2 inches apart. 

You can brush the pretzels with the egg wash and sprinkle them with coarse salt and cheese, but we skipped this step.

Bake until they are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool on racks. Best eaten warm.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Zendala Dare #70

I recently discovered zentangle and I found a site with templates called The Bright Owl.  Apparently each week she posts a template with a dare.  So I decided to make an entry this week.

Here is my entry.

And the original template:

I'm not sure what the normal procedure for getting the template on to your paper, but I'm clearly not using the same technique since I simply printed it out on card stock.  I know that this is not what other people are doing because they do not end up with all the lines on their drawings.  I probably should read through some of the older entries to find out.

I did do another, but the nerdlet wouldn't let me shade it because she said it was perfect the way it is.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fiesta Honors the Military

Yesterday, Q and I took the girls to the Witte Museum in San Antonio and they currently have an exhibit of gowns for the 'Duchesses of the Armed Forces'.

My pictures of the gowns didn't come out as well as I liked because we hadn't eaten yet and I was shaking a little and you aren't allowed to use flash in the museum.  Still, I thought you might enjoy them anyway.