DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.

 * The HH loved this so much, he thought it needed a more jazzy name.  So he came up with “Pesto Fiesta Pizza.” Olé!

One of the things I decided to do this summer was grow a garden, for the very first time.  Maybe it was the influence of the previous tenants, who had one of the most beautiful back yard gardens I’ve ever seen (shame they uprooted everything and took it with them to their new abode when they left!).  Maybe it was the billowing mint going forth and multiplying (seemingly by the hour) at the side of our house; maybe it was the current food prices, rising rapidly and steadily like water round a sinking ship.  Whatever the reason, I felt inspired to grow my own produce this year. 

During one of my weekly shopping trips to the local organic market last May, I bought–ta da!–TWO seedlings: one tomato, and one jalapeno pepper.  I felt a little frisson of pride as I hugged the green plastic pots and carried then back to the car.  I couldn’t help but smile as I dug little holes in the clay that is our back yard, popped in the root balls I’d loosened from the pots, and propped up the little sprouts of life with even more dirt.  And then, I waited.

Miraculously, nature (most notably the superabunance of rain we had this season) took over.  It was like one of those segments on National Geographic TV filmed with time-lapse photography: in what seemed like hours, the plants slithered and twisted and grew like crazy, overtaking the small boxed-in area in which they’d been planted. The formerly wee tomato plant with its half dozen yellow blossoms expanded in all directions and ended up yielding something like 41 fruits.  The jalapeno plant, too, proliferated, creeping both sideways and skyward and sweeping the earth below it, little white flowers dotting the branches before they sprouted miniature green peppers.  The peppers themselves, however, continued to stretch lengthwise and formed long, apple-green veggies that resembled nothing like the jalapenos I’ve ever seen.  And THEN, they turned a brilliant, stop-sign red.  Are these actually jalapenos?  Perhaps the orignal seedling was mislabeled.  Anyone out there have any idea what I actually grew?  Here’s a photo:

Anyway, the first time I tried to cook with these mysterious darlings, I plucked a couple of green ones and chopped ’em up the way I would regular jalapenos.  WHOOOO–Big mistake.  WHOAH, AGGHHH, WHOOSH, PANT, PANT, DROOL, TINGLE. . . SWEAT BREAKING OUT ON MY BROW—Whoah, Mama, those babies were HOT.  And, as someone who loves spicy foods (I generally can eat raw slices of jalapeno without a problem), let me tell you, these are no ordinary peppers.  Yowsah!!

And so, I am now cooking with these fiery rascals, using them much as I would jalapenos (though adjusting for the extreme heat). I actively sought out any and all recipes that call for hot peppers, as the count is up to about four dozen of the little monsters, and more are clearly on the way.  I’ve been cooking everything I can think of, from curries to chocolate cookies to candied varieties (thanks, Diann!), and now–pesto.

This pizza was enormously successful and beyond delicious.  It left a pleasant, buzzing tingle on the tongue without chafing.  It’s also bursting with protein (beware: not a low-fat meal!) and is probably satisfying for that very reason; the HH remarked, “This doesn’t even NEED cheese.”  In tossing the pesto together, I took my cue from Nava Atlas’s Very Green Veggie Pesto mixture, then ad-libbed elements of 2 other jalapeno pesto recipes I found on the web, to create this final version.  In the end, it seems, the sum is much greater than its peppers. 

It may appear as if there’s too much pesto for a single (12 inch) pizza; this is as it should be.  I used the entire mixture on one pizza, creating a soft, cushy mattress of green on which I lay the additional accoutrements (in the way of sundried tomato, fresh tomato–from my garden!!, broccoli, red onion, and chopped garlic). If you prefer a thinner base and heavier toppings, then use about 2/3 of the pesto and save the rest to toss over pasta or even steamed cauliflower, as I did.  The HH and I decided, in fact, that this pizza would still be superb with nothing other than the pesto and a few stray shards of sliced sundried tomato.  I used my standby thin-crust spelt recipe, but use whatever crust you fancy.

Mum, you know we can’t eat jalapenos, but how about some of those crust edges?  After all, we need more food if we’re going to proliferate, too.”

And since this pizza contained not one, but two vegetables from my very own garden, I’m submitting it to Maninas’s blog event, Eating with the Seasons.

Pesto Fiesta Pizza (Jalapeno Pesto Pizza)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

A perfect combination of smooth, spice, and protein-rich seeds and beans.  A great way to incorporate some extra minerals and protein in your pizza topping!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

 

pizzawhole2.jpg Those of you who live in the GTA will be familiar with Il Fornello: the hip, alt-chic series of restaurants that seem to be able to satisfy all palates.  Besides fabulous pizza baked in wood-burning ovens, this contemporary Italian resto also provides a wide variety of dishes for those of us sensitive to wheat, gluten, or dairy. In other words, it’s the perfect weekday dinner out for me and my HH:  he gets to have the Chicken Asiago (chicken breast stuffed with spinach/asiago mix), while I get to have my alternative pizza. We eat, we enjoy, we laugh about how my dinner costs $6.85 and his is $42.50 (okay, well, I laugh).

For years, my favorite pizza at Il Fornello was the “make your own”:  start with a crust of your choice (in my case, spelt, of course), then add your pick of toppings from their list.  Despite my best intentions to break free of old habits, I inevitably choose the same old, same old, consisting of roasted garlic, hot peppers, kalamata olives, tomatoes, and either spinach or roasted eggplant.  If I’m really hungry, I’ll add some sliced onion or capers to the mix.

Finally, after staring at the list of crust ingredients just about every time I ate there for a few years, at least, I thought, “why don’t I just try to do this at home?”  It seemed eminently achievable, given that (a) it was spelt, my flour of choice; (b) there was no dreaded yeast in the crust; (c) it was thin-crust, my preference; and (d) sometimes, you just want to have pizza at home.

So I took the basic list of ingredients from the restaurant menu, omitted a couple (such as the millet, which just didn’t seem necessary), changed another (subbed agave for honey), then played with the proportions.  What I came up with was the following crust, ridiculously easy, totally yummy, and great for a pizza night when you’re snowed in at home. Because I’m basically a lazy cook (I may have mentioned that before), there’s no rolling or throwing into the air required.  Oh, and it’s also great for breakfast the next day.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Spelt Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Artichokes and Chard

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

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After a rollicking time last evening (it was my Human Honey’s birthday, so we splurged ridiculously at one of our very favorite restaurants), I woke up, late, this morning and decided that it was time to return to the pleasures of baking.  After all, I haven’t baked anything in seven whole days!  Can it be only seven days since we left the old place??

 The first challenge to address was “what to bake?”  Then it hit me that I’m scheduled to teach a cooking class on Tuesday, and desperately needed to re-test one of the recipes I’d dashed off so cavalierly before the move.  With the class looming, I figured it best to try out the recipe before sending it in print to the cooking class coordinator.  Besides, I had all the ingredients on hand, I was sure I could locate all the necessary equipment, and–most important of all–I was really hungry for something real, something freshly baked, something–well, something not chocolate.

The perfect recipe?  My old standard, Orange-Oatmeal Muffins. 

This recipe is one of the very first I ever created with alternative-to-wheat flours, and it remains one of our favorites here in the house.  (“Yes, we love it, too, Mum!”) I’ve given it out to scores of friends, acquaintances, and cooking class participants, and everyone has been amazed at how simple the recipe is to prepare, how moist and dense the texture, and how generally yummy the result.

When I was first told not to eat wheat, I didn’t really know what to do with myself.  I’ve since learned that spelt (especially light spelt) flour is more or less a one-for-one replacement for wheat, and we have come to prefer its subtle, slightly nutty, slightly sweeter taste.  (Once, when I was baking “regular” vegan muffins–ie, choc full o’ sugar, white flour, and margarine–for a vegetarian restaurant, my H.H. and I felt the need to taste-test them to ensure they’d come out right before I dropped them off at the restaurant.  But by then, we’d been eating spelt- and kamut-based baked goods for three or four years already.  We took one bite of the pallid, unremarkable little quick bread and immediatley spat it out.  “It has no flavor!” we cried, and “this tastes like styrofoam!” we exclaimed. (Though how we’d recognize the taste of styrofoam, I have no idea.) We’d become so accustomed to eating food that has real depth, real substance, real nutritional value,  that the old, conventional baked goods tasted sickly and bland to us.) Nowadays, I think of spelt as a fraternal twin, rather than a distant cousin, of wheat.

When experimenting with muffin recipes back then, I wanted to create something with only natural sweeteners, preferably fruit-based, both for the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant properties, as well as for the fiber and stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels compared to refined sweeteners. I opted for a bit of maple syrup (for its intense sweetness) paired with blackstrap molasses (for the incredible nutritional punch, the calcium, iron, and other trace minerals). Back then, flush with my newfound natural-nutritionist zeal, I was determined to include as many whole grains as possible in each recipe, so threw in three.

 While considering which fruits to include, I was struck by a childhood memory of a strange habit my mother had had.  On afternoons when she wasn’t working, after setting up whatever dishes she’d be preparing for dinner, she’d retire to her bedroom (where the only TV in our house was located), tote along a fresh orange, and sit watching her soap opera while she munched on it.  What made her practice unusual (besides sitting on the edge of a bed to watch TV at 2:00 PM) was the way she consumed the fruit:  she’d wash the orange, then bite into it the way one usually tackles a fresh apple–chomping straight through it, skin and all.  The juice would squirt, the flesh would fly a little, and she’d chew with a slightly squishy, slightly crunchy sound as she slurped, munched, and spat out the seeds onto a paper towel (we never seemed to have paper napkins in our house). 

I thought about my mother’s odd approach to oranges as I set about creating this recipe.  Why couldn’t I include the whole orange here, too, skin and all?  After all, much of the best nutritional value in the orange actually resides in the skin and pith, the slightly bitter white lining just under the orange peel. Antioxidants, bioflavonoids, cholesterol-lowering properties–I could include all of these.  I decided to give it a try, guessing that the combination of sweeteners and slight bitterness from the full orange would complement each other beautifully.  I was right!

Similarly, the combination of spelt and kamut allows a mix of hard and soft flours for a solid, but not too heavy, texture, and the oats provide a bit of chewiness and dimension. 

These are definitely not conventional muffins.  They’re low in fat, full in flavor, dense, and very moist.  You’ll find little flecks of orange peel and date scattered throughout. I love these muffins for breakfast, warm with a little almond butter.  You’ll need a food processor for this recipe.

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Wheat-Free Orange Oatmeal Muffins

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.