TORTA DI ZUCCHINI, A FLASHBACK

This is a recipe I used to make all the time and for some odd reason disappeared from our menu. The other day I was searching the blog for ideas, and fell on this post from twelve years ago! I made it twice, two in a row, and tweaked it slightly. This is a lower-carb version, and if you skip the breadcrumbs on the topping it can also be gluten-free.

LOW-CARB TORTA DI ZUCCHINI
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 zucchini, 2 grated, 2 thinly sliced
4 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup almond flour plus more to sprinkle on plate
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
topping: 1/4 cup breadcrumbs + 1/8 cup Parmigiano cheese
drizzle of olive oil

Grease a pyrex pie dish with butter. Sprinkle some bread crumbs or almond flour to coat.

Mix the beaten eggs with the lemon zest, herbs, Parmigiano cheese, 1/4 cup of almond flour, salt and pepper. In another bowl, place the grated and sliced zucchini. Shake the dish carefully to distribute the slices more or less evenly. Add the egg mixture to it, mix gently, and pour into the prepared pie dish. Sprinkle the remaining mixture of bread crumbs (or you can use almond flour) and cheese on top, forming a very light coating. You may not need to use it all. Drizzle a bit of olive oil.

Bake in a 375F until set and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is the type of recipe that makes the cook a bit nervous. As you put it together, it seems impossible to work. But trust me, it does. Normally recipes using zucchini tell you to squeeze the liquid, but this one does not. The mixture of grated zucchini with the slices is what makes the whole texture perfect. Think about a baked frittata, but without that intense eggy flavor that some people object to. I used almond flour in place of bread crumbs in the body of the recipe, but added some bread crumbs to the topping. You can just use almond flour instead for an even lower in carb concoction.

It is very important to let the torta rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. I actually like to leave it for about half an hour and enjoy it barely warm. That’s when everything sets nicely. I don’t know why this delicious side dish left our rotation, but it is so simple and so tasty, I felt it was worth re-blogging, with the minor modifications I introduced in this version. I hope you give it a try… Next on my plans? To make a mixture of carrots and zucchini. Stay tuned!

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HONEYED JALAPENOS ON SPELT PIZZA

This could very well go in the Incredibly Easy files, or in the “Follow Joanne” files, as once again I trusted her tastebuds and made a very simple ingredient she raved about: honeyed jalapenos. There is absolutely nothing to it. You slice jalapenos, add them to honey, boil gently until they start to get all mushy and a bit darker. Let it cool. Your job is done. They topped a simple veggie pizza and we both could not believe how much flavor and pleasure they brought to the party.

SPELT PIZZA DOUGH
(adapted from this post)

1 package (2 + 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 +1/2 cups very warm water (110F)
14 ounces all purpose flour
4 ounces spelt flour
(total flour amount about 4 cups)
1 + 1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil

Measure the water in a pyrex bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top, and mix gently to dissolve. Add the flours and salt to the bowl of a food processor and process for a few seconds to mix well.  With the processor running, add all the water/yeast mixture. Process for about 5 seconds, open the lid and add the olive oil.  Close the processor again and mix for about 20 seconds longer.  You want the dough to form a tacky ball, but don’t over process it or it may get too hot.

Remove the dough from the processor, knead it a few times by hand and form a ball. If you want to make a  large pizza, leave it whole. If you want to make individual pizzas, quarter it, place them in a large plastic bag and refrigerate until ready to use (from a few hours to a couple of days).

Remove the dough from the fridge 1 hour before shaping the pizzas.  Roll it out with a floured rolling pin, top with your favorite home-made tomato sauce, and the toppings of your choice.

HONEYED JALAPENOS
(slightly modified from Joanne’s blog)

1/2 cup honey
2 jalapenos, sliced thin

Add the honey to a small saucepan. Place the jalapeno slices, seeds and all inside. Bring to a boil, cook a few minutes, stirring constantly. Pay attention because the honey tends to boil furiously and rise up in the pan. You might have to remove the pan from the heat, let it calm down and simmer it again. Cook until the jalapenos get soft and a little darker. Remove from heat, let it cool. Use the slices to top your pizza, drizzle the spicy honey on top too.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here

Comments: If you are not a pizza person (is there such a thing?), I still urge you to make these jalapenos and use them in other ways. Over mashed cauliflower, with rice and beans, and also you can process one little slice, some of the honey, and incorporate in a salad dressing. As to the spelt pizza, I advise you not to use more than 25% of spelt in your recipe, as it changes the texture a bit, it will be less airy than a pizza made with all-purpose flour only. I do love the flavor and the slightly denser texture. You can always use my original recipe (blogged in 2009) if you prefer.

Joanne, thanks for another winner recipe!


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BAGHRIR: MOROCCAN SEMOLINA PANCAKES

If you don’t know Tara’s Multicultural Table, you are missing on a must-follow food blog. I am quite fond of bloggers who open my horizons, and Tara does that on a regular basis, with unusual recipes from all over the world. Indeed, a multicultural virtual experience. I have not hit these pancakes perfectly, but they were so delicious I could not wait to share. The batter needed to be slightly thinner, so that they would form a nicer looking circle as they fried. But I am calling them rustic semolina pancakes, and I hope Tara will forgive me.

BAGHRIR
(slightly modified from Tara’s Multicultural Table)

2 cups (470 milliliters) lukewarm water 105-115˚F
2 + 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
1 + 1/4 cups (210 grams) fine semolina flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder

Vegetable oil for greasing the pan

Pour the warm water into a blender and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for a minute before stirring to dissolve. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Add the semolina, flour, sugar, and salt to the blender with the water and yeast. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.Add the baking powder and blend again briefly until incorporated. Either leave in the blender or transfer to a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to rest for 30-45 minutes. Bubbles should begin to form on the surface.

Place a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Grease with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Once heated, pour about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the puffed batter into the center of the pan in a circle. Cook just until no moisture remains on the top and little holes have developed throughout the pancake. Do not flip the baghrir. Adjust the heat higher or lower as needed to prevent the bottom from burning. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with remaining batter. If you feel the batter is too thick when you fry the first one, dilute with a little water.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Tara’s version is sweet. You enjoy it with honey and almonds, as a little dessert or breakfast item. I opted for a savory version to pair with a turkey chili that is always a regular appearance in our kitchen. In the first photo above you can see how bubbly things got in that measuring cup… try not to walk away and forget all about it, or better yet, use a bigger container… As I mentioned, the batter could have been thinned out a bit so that the pancakes would end up as delicate and lacy as the ones Tara showed in her site.

Before I forget, I made half the recipe, since it was just for the two of us. I am however publishing the full version, as most people cook for larger families. Don’t forget to stop by Tara’s site and be amazed at the diversity of recipes she shared over her many years of blogging.

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SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE

This recipe captured my imagination the moment I saw it in Cooking Light and I could not wait to make it, because c’mon, we are talking quiche… I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like it. Ok, I take it back. My first husband didn’t. Obviously, things could not have ended well in that relationship. One wonders. Back to culinary issues, quiche is such a great recipe: it has elegance, it has substance, and you can come up with all sorts of variations for the filling. The only thing that gives me pause about making it is the pastry part, since it needs to be refrigerated, rolled out, etc etc. Not a huge deal breaker, but it definitely makes this delicacy less likely to show up at our table on weeknights.  This variation takes care of that problem. Instead of dealing with the dough, you grab a couple of sweet potatoes, peel them, slice them thin and call it a day. It also has the added bonus of being quite a bit lighter. What’s not to like?

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE
(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

2 medium sweet potatoes
a few sprays of coconut oil
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup full-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. Coat a pie dish with coconut cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Once the entire dish is filled, spray one more time with cooking spray and season lightly with salt. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat up to 375°.

For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Combine milk with all the spices and eggs in a bowl, stir well with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes; cut into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

quichecompotsite

Comments: I loved this recipe! To me it was close to perfection because I liked the slight sweetness offered by the potato crust in contrast with the sharp feta cheese. However, Phil would prefer the crust to be harder, and due to the nature of sweet potatoes, that is not an easy task. He thought maybe if I baked the crust longer and at a higher temperature it could work better. It’s definitely worth experimenting. One of the issues is “shrinkage.”  Baking for the time specified in the recipe already caused the sides to shrink down considerably. I guess I could add a bit more slices to the sides and see how it goes. But, even with a slightly soft crust Phil thought the quiche was flavorful and made for a delicious side dish for our dinner. I know most people would serve it with a light salad, but we are meat lovers and savored a nice T-bone steak with it, medium-rare in all its glory. My apologies to all our vegetarian friends and two of my nieces in Brazil.

slice2

So many flavors going well together here!

 

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CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA

I might very well be the last food blogger to try it, but after reading about cauliflower crust pizza for a couple of years, here I am to report on my first attempt at turning a classic into its lighter, gluten-free cousin. First, let me say that I don’t see it as a way to replace the “real deal.”  All those glorious characteristics of the authentic pizza crust will always have a place in our kitchen. But, if you are in the mood for something lighter or if you need to cook for someone who suffers from celiac disease, this recipe will please you more than you imagine.  I wolfed down a little more than half a pizza (!!!!) and instead of heading straight to the couch to lay down and wait for that carb-induced coma, here I am typing this post to share with you.  Behold the power of the cauliflower crust!

baked

(Broiling issues, courtesy of a Jack Russell named Buck)

 

CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA
(slightly modified from Chef in Disguise)
.
Yield one pizza crust
.
1 small to medium-sized head of cauliflower (about 1 cup after squeezed to remove liquid)
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used dried thyme)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used 1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese)
tomato sauce
toppings of your choice

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or turn a baking sheet upside down and use it if you don’t have a pizza stone. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Wash and thoroughly dry the head of cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and process until they are the size of rice. Place the cauliflower rice in a pot and add enough water to fill the pot 2/3 of the way up. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the cauliflower. Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and twist the towel around the cauliflower and wring it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a pizza like crust.

In a medium bowl, combine the cauliflower, egg whites, cheeses, dried herbs and salt,  and mix by hand, you sort of knead the dough together. Transfer the crust to your parchment paper. Press evenly forming a circle. Make sure it is as tight as you can make it. You also don’t want it to be too thin or too thick.  With the help of a cutting board, transfer the parchment to the oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it after the 10 minute mark. When it starts turning golden brown, it’s done.

Remove the pan from the oven. Add your sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler till the cheese melts and bubbles. Watch it carefully or it will bun.

 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

caulicrustcollage

Comments: Two things are very important when making pizza crust out of cauliflower. First you absolutely must minimize the amount of water present in the processed cauliflower or the binding agents (egg whites and grated cheese) will not be able to hold it together. When you think you squeezed enough water out, squeeze some more.  Made me think  of David Rosengarten decades ago when demonstrating a recipe for tabouli. Mince the parsley, when you think you minced it enough, mince some more. You simply cannot over-squeeze the cauliflower. Capisci? Second thing, once you place it under the broiler, watch it like a hawk. Sawsan says clearly in her blog “it will burn quickly.”  Which makes you wonder why yours truly would place it under the super powerful broiler of our oven, and then decide that Buck seemed too agitated and needed to go out to the backyard. I said to myself “this will only take a minute.” Indeed. Problem is that it also only took a minute to almost burn part of my beautiful pizza.  Lesson learned.  Do as I say, not as I did. Watch the pizza, move it around, especially if your broiler is very powerful.

charred

 

Will I be making it again? No doubt.  But probably not as the single item in our dinner, because making one pizza was already quite involved, and it would not be enough for the two of us, since it’s so light.  But I can see us having two pizzas, one “authentic” and one cauli-crust version. Or the cauli-pizza and a huge salad with barbecued ribs on the side… (just kidding).

I made this version a couple of days after having our entire lab over for a “regular” pizza party. There was one small pizza leftover, and some toppings like grilled zucchini, cheese and tomato sauce. The leftover pizza was warmed up in the oven and made Phil a happy man. The cauli-crust was embellished with the toppings that were ready and waiting in the fridge, and made Sally a happy woman. Don’t you love happy endings?

Sawsan, thanks for your great tutorial on the pizza crust! 
Next time I’ll be a better virtual student…
(sigh)

ONE YEAR AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

TWO YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

THREE YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

FOUR YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

FIVE YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

SIX YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola