Product Review: Amy’s Daiya Cheese Pizza

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

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Shane and I decided to extend our Halloween junk food/horror movie marathon tradition to Valentine’s Day, since once a year is not enough. We got a later start than usual, and only managed to fit five movies in, instead of our usual six or seven: Citadel, The Returned, State of Emergency, The Awakening, and Fido. Thanks to a spring roll and lo mien-fueled carb overload, I started nodding off during Citadel, which actually wasn’t half bad (Aneurin Barnard, meow!); but of the five, The Returned proved my favorite by a long shot. But I digress.

In honor of the occasion, we finally broke out those Amy’s brand Daiya cheese pizzas that we scored from Natural Grocers waaaay back in November. You know what that means: frozen pizza review time!

When I first cracked it open, I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed. More cheese, please!

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And then Shane gently and somewhat bemusedly reminded me that we tend to load up our pizzas with a ridic amount of cheese, and maybe this frozen pizza is being more reasonable than me? I begrudgingly agreed, and then proceeded to load it up with more cheese (mozzarella and cheddar), along with a heaping helping of veggies: onions, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, and red peppers.

I baked it as directed, and then five or ten minutes longer. I forget, because Bridesmaids was on and commanding my attention. Basically I let it go until the crust got nice and crispy and the cheese was bubbling like a Jacuzzi.

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Amy’s crust has always been my favorite – that is, up until I tried the Vegan Harvest pizza from American Flatbread. Now it’s first runner up, but with a very honorable mention. (I mean, flatbread. There’s just no beating that.)

So it’s tricky to accurately rate a pizza after altering it so drastically, but I’ll try. The crust, as we’ve already established, is aces. I would have liked to have seen more cheese, but it’s more or less (okay, slightly less) in line with other frozen pizzas. The pizza itself has a very strong basil taste – so much so that at first I thought they’d hidden a layer of pesto in there somewhere. But nope, it’s just basil. Potent like whoah. Not bad, but a little obtrusive maybe? Especially if you aren’t in the mood for it.

Size: 4/5. As per usual, the pizza is slightly smaller than the box. Still large enough that I was only able to finish 3/4 in one sitting.

Crust: 5/5. Like it, love it, gotta have it, wanna be it.

Sauce: 4/5. Enough to get the job done.

Cheese: 4/5. It’s a Daiya Cheese Pizza, y’all! Emphasis on Daiya. Load ‘er up!

Toppings: 3/5. Ease up on the basil, mkay?

Overall: 4/5. Daiya cheese + Amy’s crust = my OTP. Replace the basil with more cheese and you’ve got yourself a perfect 5-star rating.

And now, because we were talking movies earlier, this is usually how movie night goes down at the Garbato-Brady house:

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One bowl of popcorn for me, one bowl for the dogs. (They don’t really care for my salt and vinegar seasoning.) Shane? He’s on his own.

The Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2014 edition!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

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You guys, I baked so many cookies this year, I’m having trouble keeping track of them all! In addition to sending a basketful to our omni neighbors, I also mailed a giant box to my parents. They’re in the midst of a remodel, and the entire first floor of their house is pretty much unusable. Luckily my mom’s sis is conveniently located next door, so they’re been crashing at her house a lot.

(Fun story: I sent all their gifts to my aunt’s house – since they’d have to lug everything over there anyway – and Every. Single. Package. was delivered to my parents’ house instead. I.E. THE WRONG HOUSE. I expected that of USPS, but UPS? COME ON GUYS.)

Still, I thought cookies would be a nice gesture, seeing as they don’t have a kitchen of their own at the moment.

Plus we got to eat the extras our own bad selves, so bonus.

As per usual, most of the cookies were from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which I pinky swear I’ll review this year. I had a few pretty epic fails, but overall I’m happy with my progress – I get better and better at cookies every year!

 

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Bacon Maple Biscuits for the dogs from Emma’s K9 Kitchen. With accidentally vegan bacon bits & lots of love! These smelled amazing when baking, but also lost their festive reddish hue. Not that the dogs much care. (The giant ones are for my mom’s big guy, Copper.)

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Mini-Review: The Pizza Bible, Tony Gemignani (2014)

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A Vegan Perspective

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)

I went vegetarian in 1996, vegan in the mid-aughts, and have been allergic to milk my entire life. And I love pizza! (Yes, vegan pizza exists. And it is glorious!) Whether it’s a quick pita or French bread pizza, or a complicated, labor-intensive original gourmet dealio (mac & cheese pizza, anyone?), my husband and I enjoy pizza at least once a week. I have a tumblr dedicated to vegan pizza (along with my other favorite, vegan ice cream), and Vegan Pizza Day is a legit holiday in my house. Some of my coziest childhood memories involve making pizza from scratch with my mom, a routine we revisit every time I return home.

I picked up a copy of Tony Gemignani’s The Pizza Bible in hopes of upping my pizza game. While I didn’t have any illusions that the recipes would be vegan-friendly (although, in a book dubbed the Bible, I don’t think it’s altogether unreasonable to expect the author to at least mention alternative pizzas, whether they be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or raw; “Bible” implies exhaustivity, no?), I thought that perhaps some of the dough recipes might be accidentally vegan. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed on this front!

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Candle Cafe’s Wheat Ball Heroes – and a Pita Pizza!

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

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I’m pretty sure I don’t eat enough sandwiches. Or at least not compared to my high school years. I used to have a sammie a day, like clockwork, and now I’m lucky if I make one or two a month. Adulthood, man. (On the plus side, I eat so much pizza and ice cream that my mom would be appalled if she knew. IF ONLY.)

I decided to rectify this oversight with the Wheat Ball Heroes from Vegan Holiday Cooking – one of the last recipes I’ll try before finally getting around to a review! (Just in time for the holidays, yay!) The recipe involves making both your own wheat balls and marinara sauce from scratch, but seeing as I had a bunch of homemade sauce in the freezer, I took a bit of a shortcut there. fwiw, the Candle Cafe’s marinara sauce recipe looks pretty solid; I’m sure it’s delish.

As for the wheat balls, they’re really tasty, but also rather troublesome. They’re made of seitan (homemade, using the Simple Simmered Seitan recipe from Vegan on the Cheap!),

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fried onions and garlic, bread crumbs, and assorted seasonings. After mixing the batter in the food processor, it turns into a crumbly mixture, which you’re supposed to form into little balls and bake. The dough didn’t hold together quite as well as I hoped, even after adding a little extra oil and a splash of water. Some balls took multiple tries, and still imploded while in the oven. To wit:

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Roasted Butternut Squash & Pesto Pizza

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

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C’mon, admit it: you KNEW this was coming. Every time I find myself with an abundance of produce, I invariably figure out a way to put it on a pizza (P.I.Z.Z.A.).

Before trying my hand at a butternut squash pizza, I did a little googling to see what others have done; this is kind of a mashup of some of the ideas I found. The roasted squash was heavily influenced by the Fall Harvest Butternut Squash with Almond-Pecan Parmesan from The Oh She Glows Cookbook – and the Farfalle with Zucchini, Mint, and Almonds from Vegan Italiano provided the inspiration for the pesto recipe, which is much more moist than usual. The liquidy pesto is insurance against the oven, which always dries my pesto pizzas out more than a little bit.

The result is hella tasty, and definitely one of my best uses of butternut squash to date.

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Greek Creamy Lemon Rice Soup with Yogurt Naan Griddle Bread

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

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One upside to the end of VeganMoFo? I can finally turn my attention back to the many other tasks I neglected throughout most of September. Like finally reviewing that copy of Vegan Eats World that Da Capo Press sent me all those months ago! (I’m so sorry you guys, really. The time just got away from me!)

Since the weather’s starting to turn chilly, I decided to concentrate on the soups: starting with this Creamy Lemon Rice Soup! Subtitled “‘No’ Govlemano,” this is a veganized version of the “zesty [Greek] classic egg-lemon chicken soup.” Which I’ve never had (I don’t think I ever tried an egg-based soup in my omni days!), so I can’t really comment on its authenticity vis-à-vis the original – but I can say that it’s delicious: thick and creamy, with pureed white beans and both orzo pasta and arborio rice, the pairing of which adds multiple textures to the dish. And the lemon is unexpectedly awesome.

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I decided to pair it with naan bread, mainly because I wanted to see if I could do it. I don’t have such a hot track record with breads, you see. But the naan turned out to be super-easy to make, even if baking it in the cast iron skillet did smoke up the house a little. (Worth it!) I couldn’t find any vegan yogurt locally – it seems to have plummeted in popularity lately – so I used this recipe at Oh She Glows to make my own. I know, right! How cool is that?

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The leftover naan is perfect for baking individual quickie pizzas, pita pizza styley. The bread is a little thinner than pita and results in a floppier crust, but no complaints here.

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Incidentally, the flexibility of the bread also makes it awesome for hummus wraps. (Or is this considered a sammie?) Naturally I overdid it with the fillings, so that the bread stood no chance of staying put when folded, but trust me when I say that it works even better for this purpose than the (thicker, less pliable) pita bread I normally use.

This is definitely a recipe that’ll be entering into regular rotation ’round these parts. Ditto: the soup.

Mac & Cheese Monday: Deep Dish Mac & Cheese Pizza

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

You guys, this scene made me so happy – the reference is so random and unexpected, plus PIZZA. And not just any pizza; MAC & CHEESE PIZZA!

Leslie and Ben are officially my people.

Let’s see it again, in gif form:

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Yup, I kinda sorta do.

So there was no doubt that I’d have to make a mac & cheese pizza this mofo.

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Carbs & Rec: French Fry Pizza-That-Is-Harder-To-Eat With a Side of Ranch Dressing

Friday, September 12th, 2014

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Carbs & Rec - French Fry Calzones With Ranch (0017)

Ben Wyatt and calzones. If there’s one ship I ship harder than Leslie and waffles, this would be it. (I’m totes playing it cool here. BEN + CALZONES 5EVAH!)

Calzones first make a cameo in the episode “Ron & Tammy: Part Two.” In a last-ditch effort to make the Harvest Fest happen, the Parks & Rec crew resort to bribery a la a pizza party in order to convince the police department to provide free security for the event. Ben suggests calzones, thus leading to a running gag about calzones being disgusting and pointless (the worst food ever invented!), much to his chagrin. (Quoth the Police Chief: “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”)

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Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

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BEST HOLIDAY EVER!

Deep Dish Daiya Pizza!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

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Shane lost his (okay, our) deep dish virginity this weekend with this uber-cheesy deep dish Daiya cheese pizza. Having never made a deep dish pizza before, this was a test run for a super-special, Parks & Rec-inspired pizza I have planned for this year’s VeganMoFo. (It’s in August, right? RIGHT!?! Cue: flailing panic and mass hysteria.) Luckily, Shane reports that it’s really easy to make. He used this crust recipe, halved and veganized.

In addition to copious amounts of melty mozzarella cheese, it’s got sauce, onions, garlic, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, mushrooms and basil. Soooo good, but one slice is hella filling.

In a move that can only be described as masochistic, I decided to have seconds, and am still feeling it this afternoon. I fear I might need to go on a raw liquid GF cleanse to reclaim my body, oy.

Updated to add: SEPTEMBER! VeganMoFo is in September this year. They just announced on twitter.

Pizza Pizza Pizza!

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

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Last Sunday was pizza night, and we took the opportunity to try out another recipe from Mayim’s Vegan Table – namely, the pizza crust. It’s almost identical to our go-to recipe, minus the sugar (there isn’t any). Consequently, the dough doesn’t rise quite as much, resulting in a thinner, denser crust. Shane was happy to report that it’s still plenty pliable.

Onto Miam’s pizza (top and bottom right) went mushrooms, red peppers, onions, and the pepperoni crumbles from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Pizza. (The extras made some pretty kickass burritos. Just saute with zucchini, red peppers, garlic, tomatoes, and a touch of salt and pepper and serve warm. So good I could cry. BECAUSE I’M OUT.) The other pizza (bottom left) has zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Of course there’s mozzarella Daiya on each. (OF COURSE.)

Neither of the pizzas cooked to the center, though. Possibly this is because of all the juicy toppings, but who knows? Our crust cooked through when reheated in the oven, but Mayim’s remained a little chewy on the inside. Definitely gonna try it again to see if we get different results.

Tasty either way.

Adventures in Gluten-Free Pizza: Episode 1

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

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So. The pizza on the left. It’s a mozzarella Daiya stuffed crust pizza with Lightlife pepperoni and black olives. Freaking delicious, but not really germane to today’s post.

The slice on the right represents our very first foray into the world of gluten-free pizza. Not because I don’t love gluten (wheat, yum!), but because I scooped up a copy of Daniel Nadav’s 101 Gluten Free Vegan Italian Recipes when it was just a buck on Amazon. Mostly I just wanted it for the pasta recipes – since they all call for store-bought GF noodles, I can just as easily use the gluten-filled stuff – but I thought it might be fun to experiment with some of the pizza crust and bread recipes anyway. My first attempt? Not very encouraging.

The dough came out perfectly runny, much like pancake batter and, rather than throw good GF flour after bad (it’s not like we have a whole lot to play around with), Shane decided to add some white wheat flour to thicken things up. Hence, this pizza isn’t really gluten-free. And after all that, the crust still came out a little dense and spongy. (Totally edible though. It’s pizza!)

I looked around online and found that Nadav’s ratio of flour-to-water is pretty standard, so I wonder whether the problem was with my flour: I bought a bag of Thai rice flour on Amazon, assuming it was the same as white rice flour, but it’s awfully fine. Maybe the bad was mine?

Anyway, further testing required. (Science!) On top are roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, mozzarella Daiya, basil, oregano, and just a touch of lemon zest. Yum!

The Great CriFSMas Food (and More) Roundup, 2013 edition!

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It felt like I did a ridiculous amount of baking this Christmas – so, when I went and looked back at last year’s roundup, I nearly fainted in disbelief. (Full disclosure: there may have also been a food coma involved, due to the copious amounts of sugar I’ve been ingesting.) Did I seriously make a dozen plus batches of cookies last year? Little old me?

Fun story: after feeling super-smug and self-satisfied over my achievement of baking FIVE WHOLE BATCHES of cookies in one day, I headed on over to tumblr – where some lady posted about the 40 donuts and multiple trays of cookies she baked in one afternoon. Whoops! There goes my self-confidence!

So anyway, here’s the Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2013 edition! But with bonus x-mas presents and vegan pop culture observations.

First up: the noms. As per usual, let’s start with dessert, shall we? All the cookies are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, a review of which I’ll probably have for y’all soon. Unless. Maybe I need to try out a few more recipes? You know, for the love of science and books and all that is holy and sugar-dusted.

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Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies – With their copious amounts of liquor and strong rummy taste, these cookies aren’t for kids. Very tasty and easy to bake, though I opted to make my glaze into more of an icing, so as not to risk the cookies sticking to one another during storage. If you go this route, start out with less rum. I ended up with way more icing than I could use. Or drink! (Yes, I actually tried that.)

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Chewy Caramel Pecan Cookies – SO GOOD! Caramel and pecans, what’s not to love? Well, the cookies’ inherent stickiness, for starters: I had to refrigerate the sheet of cookies for about ten minutes before I was able to peel them from the parchment paper without tearing the cookies to shreds. I wonder if my batter was too wet; the caramel pecan mix didn’t get especially thick, which resulted in a very sticky cookie dough. Further experimentation may be required.

Also, pro tip: these cookies have mad spread, so space them far, far apart. As in four cookies to a medium-sized tray. No kidding!

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Giant pot pie or legit pizza pie? You decide.

Friday, November 29th, 2013

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I’ve been feeling bummed about the holidays, so Shane volunteered to make Thanksgiving dinner this year. All by his little lonesome! And to sweeten the deal, he made it a Thanksgiving pizza. (Back off vegans, he’s mine!)

This year’s pie was a lot like 2011’s masterpiece, but with one crucial difference: Shane added a top crust, thus doubling the carb count. The result was kind of like a giant pot pie..or an honest-to-goodness pizza “pie.” He also stuffed it with mashed potatoes (I swear the layer was nearly an inch thick!), stuffing, Tofurky (slices AND Kielbasa; a weird choice, but I’m not complaining), and gravy, with extra gravy to garnish. Basically I ate my weight in gravy, is what I’m saying.

We weren’t sure what to expect – would the bottom crust cook all the way through, or simply collapse under the weight of all that deliciousness? would the gravy leak? would our oven implode from the sheer awesomeness of it all? – but the end result was bitchin’. Seriously, this is one good pizza. I might even like it better than the naked, one-crust version – but not if I’m the one making it. That top crust is tricky, yo! You’ll need two pairs of hands and a giant spatula to pick it up.

Shane mostly winged it, but here’s a basic recipe for you to follow, if you’d like to try it for your own bad self. Feel free to swap out any of the “side” recipes (mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy) for your own favorite version. Each recipe makes a big batch, so you WILL have leftovers. Better to have a little extra than not enough, though, am I right?

Pro tip: You can make some of the items a day beforehand, so pizza assembly goes more quickly. BUT the mashed potatoes and gravy are easiest to spread/drizzle when a little warm, so if you’re using leftovers, you should reheat them a bit first. You don’t want them hot, though, since they can compromise the integrity of the crust. Room temp or slightly warmer is best.

Also, one caveat: I have zero idea how easy this is to cut without a Pizza Press. My guess is, not very. Consider yourself warned!

 

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Cookbook Review: The Cheesy Vegan, John Schlimm (2013)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

It’s easy being cheesy!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a free copy of this book for review at my request.)

Vegan cheese! No two words in the English language are able to arouse the excitement, the vociferous debate, the unbridled passion of vegans quite like “vegan cheese.” (Except – maybe – “free pizza”!) Whether arguing about the merits of Daiya vs. Teese or swapping our favorite cheesy sauce recipes, us vegans love to cut the cheese. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

John Schlimm’s latest cookbook, The Cheesy Vegan, doesn’t disappoint. Filled with recipes for cheesy sammies and cheesy pizzas and cheesy pasta dishes and cheesy soups and sides (and an entire chapter of mac & cheese! ONE WHOLE CHAPTER!), there are also a ton of recipes for homemade cheeses: Cheddar. Mozzarella. Brie. Swiss. Feta. Ricotta. Blue. Jack. Muenster. Wine. American. Cottage. Cream. Parmesan. Nooch cheese. You name it! If it’s cheesy, it’s in here.

Better yet, the cheeses are all pretty easy to make: just blend and chill. I’ve been on the fence about whether I should give Artisan Vegan Cheese a try, since (from what I’ve seen) some of the recipes border on alchemy. But these are actually recipes that homemade cheese novices like myself can pull off with some ease!

While choosing recipes to test for this review, I tried to select dishes that would allow me to experiment with a variety of the homemade cheeses. Six weeks, seven cheeses, and thirteen (plus!) meals later, and I think I’m finally ready to do this!

For what it’s worth, I’ve been allergic to milk my entire life – so I’m not exactly the best judge of whether vegan cheeses taste or even behave like their non-vegan counterparts. Luckily, my husband was more than happy to help with the taste-testing and opinionating. (We’ve both been vegan since the mid-aughts and consider ourselves connoisseurs of vegan cheese.)

With that disclaimer out of the way – let’s get cheesy!

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Minsky’s Pizza in Liberty, Missouri has Daiya cheese!

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

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I don’t think this is breaking news but, seeing as I haven’t visited Minsky’s since I lived in Kansas (so, like, five years plus), it’s news to me.

This weekend was the last one of the season for the drive-in we usually frequent (which is incidentally also the last of the four drive-ins around us still open at this late date) – so to celebrate, we picked up a pizza from Minksy’s in Liberty, which is (kinda sorta) on the way there. Actually it’s twenty minutes out, so we had to wrap the pizza in several layers of blankets to keep it warm – but it worked well enough, and we needed those extra comforters to stay warm anyway.

We were happy to see that Minky’s started offering Daiya cheese since we’d been there last and, better yet, at no extra cost. Yay! We were tempted by some of the gourmet pie combos (especially the Nature’s Choice, with artichokes, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and slivered almonds), but decided to go with roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and black olives. Minsky’s was super-generous with the toppings (Daiya like whoah!), and carefully layered the red peppers under the cheese so they wouldn’t dry out. And at $23 it wasn’t that much more expensive than a cheeseless piece of cardboard from Pizza Hut. (The local Pizza Hut? Way stingy with the toppings. Sauce included!)

I only wish there was a location closer to our place. Actually, scratch that. Then I’d be eating at Minsky’s on the daily, spending all my book money on pizza. Probably it’s safer this way, loving them from a distance.

Top to bottom: the leftovers the night of, since we obviously couldn’t grab a decent pic at the drive-in; Rennie, ogling my noms (she nearly snatched the first piece right out of my hand during Thor); reheated leftovers the next day, along with a copy of Appetite for Reduction, which I snagged at the latest library sale for a mere buck. AND it’s in pretty excellent shape for a library discard!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Pretty in Pink Double Cheese Pizza

Friday, November 15th, 2013

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When I signed up for this month’s installment of the Virtual Vegan Potluck, I checked off the box for “beets please!” without giving it much thought. And then I promptly began to panic: I’ve never cooked with beets before. Never even eaten a beet, in fact! (Well, I’m at least 99% sure, so don’t quote me on that.) Next thing you know, my mind turned – as it always, inevitably does – to pizza.

As it turns out, pizzas are beet-friendly in a multitude of ways. You can blend ’em up and put ’em in the dough to turn the crust neon pink. (Bitchin’!) Or perhaps you’d rather cut your beets into fun shapes and arrange them playfully atop a pizza pie. (Crafty!) Mash them up and turn them into a hummus or a pesto and for a tasty and colorful base. (Neat-o!)

 

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Me, I decided to convert one of my favorite homemade cheese recipes into a delicious hot pink mess. Enter the Cheddary Cashew Cheese from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Pizza, which I adapted special for this potluck. Since beets don’t have much of a taste, this sauce may look sweet, but it’s 100% savory, with cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion, and paprika colliding into a plate of gooey goodness. As for the toppings, I decided to keep it simple, since I didn’t want any olives or mushrooms distracting from the pretty pink beet hearts. Just beeting hearts and Daiya cheese, please.

Shane wanted to call this a Bleeding Heart Pizza – and perhaps that would have been a more appropriate title, seeing as how the beets bled all over their pillows of mozzarella Daiya cheese, staining them a glorious shade of pink.

Ah well. Whatever you call it, you’ll be begging for seconds!

 

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Pizza, Julie Hasson (2013)

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Heck Yeah Vegan Pizza!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: At my request, the publisher sent me a free copy of this book for review.)

I just had to laugh when I spotted some reviewers questioning the necessity of a cookbook devoted solely to vegan pizza. Pizza is pretty much the perfect food; potential toppings and topping combos run the gamut, and are really only limited by one’s imagination. Some of my own personal creations of which I’m particularly proud include a Thanksliving Pizza (topped with mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, Tofurky, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce), a Cheddar Bacon Cheeseburger & Fries Pizza, a Mac & Cheese (with bacon!) Pizza, a Kalamata Olive Crust Pizza, and a Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza. And don’t even get me started on pizza variants! (Pizzadillas, dessert pizzas, pizza fries, taco pizza, pizza soup, pizza bread…I could go on and on!) It’s wonder there aren’t more vegan pizza cookbooks on the market!

Maybe I’m biased – I run a vegan pizza tumblog, after all – but yeah. I think this is one niche that deserves more attention than it’s gotten to date. Julie Hasson’s Vegan Pizza is only the second vegan pizza cookbook of which I’m aware – the first being Mark Sutton’s Heart Healthy Pizza, published in 2012. (For those who found the recipes in Vegan Pizza too unhealthy/reliant on processed cheeses, check out Sutton’s book – all the ingredients are homemade!)

Vegan Pizza is roughly divided into four sections: Dough and Crusts, House-Made Meats, Cheesy Sauces and Spreads (including tomato sauce and pesto), and THE PIZZAS (with 32 total pizza creations, five of which are dessert pizzas). I like that Hasson provides recipes for diy meats and cheeses; this is especially helpful for those looking to save some money, or who don’t always have access to the store-bought stuff. The pizza recipes range from “the classics” – Tomato-Basil; Spinach, Onion, Mushroom, and Pepperoni; and Garlic, Sausage, and Onion Pizzas – to more imaginative fare, such as the Tomato, Cucumber, and Caper; Chili Mac; and Muffuletta Pizzas.

So far I’ve tried about sixteen recipes (give or take), including:

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Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Friday, October 18th, 2013

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My Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce,
spread on Julie Hasson’s Cheeseburger Pizza!
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So this is a recipe of convenience that turned out to be even tastier than the more time-intensive version. Usually I cook tomatoes on the stovetop, slicing the grape and cherry varieties in half to release the juices. One day I found myself with a ton of tomatoes that needed cooking asap – they were on the brink of going bad – but not enough time to dice them all. Instead, I just tossed them all in a baking pan – after washing and inspecting them for bugs and blemishes, of course – and roasted them in the oven, along with a few fresh red peppers. It was a slow process, but one that didn’t require much oversight. The finished sauce was incredible, with a deep, richly layered taste.

After baking, I blended the tomatoes in a food processor to make pizza sauce – nearly as smooth as the store-bought stuff, and definitely more delicious – but you can also leave the tomatoes as-is and use it like a marinara sauce. Or blend half of the tomatoes to get the best of both worlds. You’ll wonder why you ever settled for the canned stuff!

 

Oven-Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

(Makes enough sauce for two to three 12″ pizzas, or one to one and a half pounds of pasta.)

Ingredients

8 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (or 8 cups larger tomatoes, diced into marble-sized pieces)
1/2 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red peppers, cut into large, bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
water, if needed

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large glass baking pan, combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and red peppers. Bake, uncovered on the center rack, at 350F for two to three hours, or until the peppers begin to brown. Stir every half hour to prevent the tomatoes from burning.

2. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor. Add the seasonings and pulse until fully blended. For a chunkier sauce, set 1/2 cup of the tomatoes aside prior to blending; mix them in with the sauce when done. If the sauce is too thick, add some water (a tablespoon at a time will do ya!) to thin it out. Serve on pasta, or use as a pizza sauce.

Optional: After baking, mix the seasonings with the tomatoes and serve on pasta, like a marinara sauce.

Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza

Friday, October 4th, 2013

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So I actually enjoyed this bad girl more than a month ago, during the first days of Vegan MoFo when fresh tomatoes were still abundant. Alas, I couldn’t find a way to work it into my theme – which, let’s be honest, already included its fair share of pizza! – and so it sat in my drafts folder. But that’s okay! Store-bought tomatoes will work too. Or just file this one away in your to-do list for next summer. I know I am.

Inspired by the Lemon Pepper Garlic Bread in Betty Goes Vegan, this Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza is different from previous bruschetta pizzas I’ve made in that it’s twice-baked. To start, I covered the raw, pie-shaped dough with olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon pepper and then baked it for about ten minutes before adding the bruschetta. (After which I baked it again, obvs.) This is kind of how you do garlic bread, and it allows the crust to soak up all the flavorful, oily goodness. It smelled so good baking in the oven that Shane joked about eating it as-is. I might have agreed, if I’d made a dipping sauce.

The dough is delicious – it has a rich, buttery flavor – and of course the bruschetta rocks. I threw some corn on there too; with its yellow color, I associate it with lemon pepper, and often pair the two together. Vegan mozzarella is both optional and highly tasty, but we omitted it for a slightly healthier pie. (Add it at either the beginning or the end of Step 6, if you’re gonna. I won’t judge.)

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Lemon Pepper Bruschetta Pizza

Ingredients

…for a Fluffy White Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

…for the bruschetta

2 cups tomatoes, finely diced
1 to 2 tablespoons diced marinated sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (OR 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

…for the pizza

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1/4 corn kernels, fresh or frozen

Directions

1. Several hours prior to making the pizza, prepare the dough. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and water; mix until completely blended. Add the salt and olive oil and mix well. Add the flour in stages (about 1/2 cup at a time) and mix until the flour forms into dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand and shape into a ball. Cover loosely with a towel and leave the dough to rise, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

2. Next, make the bruschetta. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Cover and chill for an hour or more.

3. When you’re ready to assemble and bake your pizza, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

4. To assemble the pizza, start by spreading a dusting of cornmeal onto your pizza stone (or lightly coat your pizza pan with cooking spray). Using fingers dipped in olive oil (optional), pat the dough onto the stone, spreading it out evenly.

5. Next, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil onto the crust. Using a basting brush, lightly brush the olive oil over the entire pizza, distributing it as evenly as possible. Add the minced garlic and do the same. Finish by sprinkling the lemon pepper on top (I use my index finger and thumb for the most consistent results). Bakes at 425 degrees for about ten minutes, or until the crust begins to firm up (but before it starts to brown).

6. Remove from the oven and carefully add the bruschetta, along with some (but not all) of the juices. Once batch should be enough to cover a 12″ pizza. Add the corn.

7. Bake at 425 degrees, for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is browned to your liking. Serve warm, topped with vegan parmesan if desired.

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