Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cooking Adventures: Flatbread Pizza and Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga popsicles

Even when my crafting stuff is buried in the deep dark chasm of the basement, I do find a creative outlet in cooking.  This is why I tend to contrive elaborate menus with involved preparation time even though I really need to keep scooping out my house.  But it's fun!  And rewarding and fuels my creative spirit.

(The sad news is that my camera is still out of juice, so I don't have blog-worthy pictures...or any pictures at all...of these cooking endeavors.  I'll just have to use the power of words to induce you to try out these recipes.)

Flatbread Pizza

Most of you are aware of my infatuation with The Cookbook and the subsequent cult of Cookbook followers.  Actually, The Cookbook is entitled The Food Matters Cookbook, written by Mark Bittman, and chock full of recipes that emphasize vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and so on.  The recipes are incredibly simple, absolutely delicious, and (this is the great part) inexpensive to put on the table.  The flatbread pizza recipe is a perfect example.  Not only was it absolutely delicious but it took less time to make than a frozen pizza.  And it cost less, too!  We tend to have pizza on Fridays, but this recipe was so easy and fabulous that we made it on Sunday night, too.

Here's the recipe for the flatbread (with changes by moi):

Easy Whole Grain Flatbread
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoon olive oil (I used a cast iron skillet so I only needed 2 TBSP of oil.)
1/2 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, optional (The fresh herbs would be amazing, but I only had dried and it worked just fine.)

1. Put the flour in a bowl and add the salt.  Slowly add 1 1/4 cups water, whisking to eliminate the lumps. (In his intro to this recipe, Bittman notes that use can use more or less water to create a more custardy or cracker-like flatbread.  It's up to you.)  The batter should be the consistency of thin pancake batter.  If it's not, whisk up to another 1/4 cup water into the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Cover with a towel and let sit while the oven heats, or up to 12 hours.
2. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400*F.  Put the oil in a 12-inch rimmed pizza pan or skillet and put into the heated oven.  Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot but not smoking; the oil is ready when you just start to smell it.  Carefully remove the pan.  Add the onion and rosemary if you're using them and give them a little stir.  Pour in the batter, gently swirl the pan to distribute the oil and return to the oven.
3. Bake until the flatbread is well-browned, firm, and crisp around the edges, about 45 minutes.  (It will release easily from the pan when it's done.)  Let it rest for couple of minutes before cutting it into wedges or squares.

OR make a pizza!

I baked my flatbread pizza crust in a 450*F oven and flipped it over after 20 minutes of baking to give it a crispy crust on both sides.  I baked it for about 10-15 minutes on the other side, cutting down the baking time significantly.  I added toppings, stuck the pizzas back under the broiler for 3 minutes to brown the cheese and hooray!  Pizza!  We made two flatbread pizzas last Friday: three cheese and tomatoes and mushrooms.  We noticed that the juices released from the tomatoes and the mushrooms made the flatbread really soggy and kind of weird.  So, on Sunday night we sauteed the tomatoes and mushrooms before adding them to the flatbread and it worked stupendously.  The crust has the yummy taste of a pan pizza with the crispyness of a thin crust.

Okay.  Enough gushing.

Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga Popsicles

My fantastical discovery of the week has been the book Ice Pop Joy, by Anni Daulter.  This book contains loads of recipes for organic, healthy, delicious...popsicles!  The pictures that accompany each recipe make my mouth water.  I want to make all of the popsicles.  Some of the popsicles are the typical fruit variety (although the combinations are anything but typical), but many recipes are very inventive...like adding spinach or wheat germ or even tofu to give the popsicles a nutrious boost.  Harriet loves ice cream (as in, hyperventilates when she sees it in the freezer), so I think that popsicles will be a great alternative, especially these healthy kinds.  Today I tried the Goo-Goo-Ga-Ga popsicles which was a mango and an apple steamed until soft and then blended with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt.  Pour into the molds, freeze, and you have a happy little popsicle.  Harriet went bonkers over it and sat in her highchair (shirtless, I must add) and sucked away for 45 minutes.  Brilliant, I tell you!

And now for my popsicle mold story.  Apparently popsicle molds are obsolete in central Nebraska because I looked high and low in this silly little town and came up empty handed.  Not to be dissuaded (I wanted popsicles!), I found some horribly cheap little plastic containers in the dollar section at the local Wal-Mart knock- off that were just the right size for popsicles.  Using brute strength and some really sharp kitchen shears, I poked a hole in the lids, and stuck a popsicle stick through into my pureed mango/apple/yogurt.  They worked well...but I don't have a picture to prove it.  Yet.  I really need to invest in some Real Popsicle Molds.

So there you have it: cooking adventures from this week.  I won't tell you about my banana muffins which turned into banana cake thanks to a mis-measuring of the milk.  But I will tell you that H hyperventilated over chicken and rice stew this evening with the same enthusiasm as she regards ice cream.

This gives me hope.