Friday, January 30, 2009

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

For our second recipe of the Home Made/ Deprocessed Reader's Choice Challenge, we made a couple of vegan pizzas. Unfortunately, my cooking partner was unable to post this entry on time, so this actually wasn't submitted for our group cooking blog. I'll make my report about here, nonetheless!

We made three pizzas, using a whole wheat pizza crust recipe we got from the Chopping Block as a starting point. It's a pretty simple and versatile recipe, and I can see myself using it on a regular basis to make my own, healthy home made pizza! My favorite part about it is that it's really easy to roll very thin, and I LOVE thin crust pizza (a blasphemy among Chicagoans!!)

Whole Wheat Pizza

For the pizza dough:
1 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
Pinch sea salt

In a medium sized bowl, combine water, yeast, and honey. Allow to sit for about five minutes or until yeast becomes foamy.

Add olive oil, flour, and salt. Work with your hands until the dough forms a ball that comes away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Punch down the dough and knead it on a lightly floured surface for one minute.

Roll the dough very thin into a circle or rectangle. Place rolled dough on a pizza peel coated lightly with cornmeal.

Prick a fork to prevent bubbles, and brush lightly with olive oil. Slide the dough onto a pizza stone in the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from oven, build with pizza toppings, and then return to oven for 5-8 more minutes or until toppings are hot and bubbly.

We ended up making 3 pizzas, which were all pretty good, but completely different. I'll blog about each separately since they each had their own intricacies when we made them. Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

High Protein Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burger

For the Home Made/ Deprocessed Reader's Choice Challenge, I decided to make veggie burgers from scratch. I rarely ever buy them, though a lot of times when eating out at non-veg-friendly restaurants, veggie burgers are often the only choice.

My cooking buddy & I ended up making these twice (a week apart), since they came out a bit bland the first time, and we tend to have a group coming together on Friday nights anyways. I loosely followed the Simplest Bean Burger recipe from a few of my fellow Iron-Chef Bloggers' favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. I changed the basic recipe to veganize it, make it higher protein, and give it more of a Southwestern kick. Here's what I ended up doing:

High Protein Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burger

One 14-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein
1 tbsp Pilsen Latino Seasoning from the Spice House
1/4 block tofu

We doubled the recipe, since we were originally expecting about 4-6 people for dinner. I pulsed all the ingredients in a food processor until chunky. The first time we did this, we put the double batch in the 10oz food processor. Bad idea. It didn't process very well. When we tried it the second time, we just repeated the recipe twice to get the double batch.

Once the ingredients are wet & chunky (but not too mushy), I formed them into pretty thick patties, and chilled them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. I found out later that thick patties were easier to handle than the thinner ones, which tended to crumble.

I cooked them on a griddle pan, about 5 minutes on each sides so that they were browned and cooked through.

I thought they were ok, but the spices didn't come through the first time. When we made them the second time, but increased the spices to 2 1/2 tbsp (per recipe) and adding olive oil for fat. They turned out better that way, but ended up a bit overspiced. The next time I make them, I'll probably saute the onions with 1 tbsp of the spice in olive oil, and add that to the beans, tofu, and tvp. That'll probably give it a much better flavor than just increasing the amount of spices.

We served the burgers with whole wheat buns, greens, tomatoes, avocados, and condiments. To make mine a bit more diet friendly (since we also had vegan pizza with the meal), I just ate mine as a salad instead of as a burger, and it was pretty good that way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Home Made Challenge

Happy New Year! Sorry I've been MIA lately. . . I guess I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging after the holidays. But now I'm back, and reporting the results of the latest cooking challenge that my cooking buddy & I entered for our Iron-Chef style group blog! This time, the challenge was dubbed the Home Made/Deprocessed Reader's Choice Challenge.

The challenge was suggested by one of the Iron Blog's participants, who commented on the habits of people who've successfully accomplished healthier lifestyle changes:
One of the things that it seems like a lot of successful people here have done is limit the amount of processed foods eaten.

How about a challenge to make something from scratch that you usually don't

So for our de-processed meal, my friend and I decided to get ready for the upcoming Super Bowl by making veggie burgers and vegan pizza from scratch!

We made the veggie burgers by loosely following the recipe for Simplest Bean Burgers from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. They definitely have a lot of potential, and can be modified in various ways to give different flavors!

The pizza recipe was also pretty free-flowing. We got a recipe for a very thin whole wheat crust from the Chopping Block, and we were able to use it to make various types of pizza, such as:

    A White Mushroom & Rosemary Truffle Pizza

    A Cheeseless Veggie Pizza

    And A Vegan Cheese & Sausage Pizza

We had such a blast with this challenge, we decided to re-do both recipes the week after to test and incorporate improvements that we thought could have been made to our original recipes.

Stay tuned, and I'll post each recipe separately:
High Protein Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burgers
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Vegan Pizzas