Things are not what they seem

One of the things I miss most in my efforts to be gluten-free is pizza. Not because I love pizza so much, or ever get cravings for it. If I did, I would probably experiment with gluten-free pizza dough – the mix made by Gluten-Free Pantry is supposed to turn out quite a nice one. What I miss is the ease of it – whether it’s walking down to the corner for a slice until 2am, or picking up the phone for a pie any time at all (yes, there is 24 hour pizza delivery here in SF), or pulling one of my beloved Vicolo crusts from the freezer and filling it with caramelized onions and chard.

Zucchini-Crust Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Red Onions

Zucchini Crust Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Red Onions

I’ve heard rumors that Whole Foods, which has recently added an entire GF bakery section to some of its stores, carries pre-made GF pizza crusts, and maybe some day I’ll make a special trip there to check it out. (Or, since they’re threatening to put in a new Whole Foods four blocks from my house, maybe the pizza crusts will come to me!) But so far my food co-op doesn’t carry any easy GF pizza-like choices, so I figured this was one convenience food that was gone with the gluten.

Then the other day I was wandering around the internet and came across a recipe on the gluten-free vegetarian blog Book of Yum for Zucchini-crust Pizza. I’ve been getting a steady supply of zucchini in my box all summer, not enough to qualify as a backlog yet, but enough that I’ve been looking for new ways to use them up.

I modified the recipe a bit – it was a little heavy on the cheese for my tastes – and baked a pan of it. It didn’t come out crispy at all, so it wasn’t really crust-like, but it tasted good and made a nice, easy dish for breakfast or lunch, a sort of very flat, not overly rich quiche whose toppings I could vary each time. If I had used the amount of cheese called for in the original recipe it might have been crispier, but I don’t think I could have stomached a pan of it before it went bad. And of course, with any amount of cheese in it, I couldn’t count on assistance from Duck.

Here’s the recipe as I modified it. For the original, probably crispier version, check out Book of Yum. Continue reading

Summer soup

Ah, summer in San Francisco.

I arrived home last week after a long visit to New York. (My trip is one reason this blog has gotten hopelessly out of date!) After a couple of weeks of skirts and sandals and other wispy pieces of actual summer clothing, it was a shock to return to a Bay Area August, full of fog and the kind of grim cold that lingers in the corners of the apartment, even when I have the heater going full blast. It was such a nice surprise that my new flannel pajamas had arrived while I away. Flannel pajamas in August. Only in San Francisco.

But this interesting intersection of season and weather does have one terrific silver lining, and that’s Summer Soup. A nice warm bowl containing all the produce bounty of summer, and a nice chilly day to enjoy it on!

Summer Soup with Vegan Pesto

When I saw how full of produce the fridge and counter were when I got home, I defrosted my most delicious scrap stock as a base (the delicious batch IV stock that Duck couldn’t stop sipping straight), and put together some summer soup. I tend to have trouble making soup without a recipe, trouble that takes the form of lackluster flavor, but I wanted to make a soup that would use up all the veggies I had already, not the veggies a recipe wanted me to use.

I decided to wing it, using red onions, fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, pink potatoes, green cabbage, carrots, and some roasted garlic, and the results were very good. I’m not going to post the recipe here because it was so basic and pretty much all the flavor came from the stock, so this would have been a pretty dull pot of soup if I’d been using canned broth, or even one of my milder scrap stocks. Duck also used some CSA basil and some basil he’s been growing on our front porch to make a puree of basil, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts (basically, vegan pesto) which we swirled into the bowls of soup individually. As a final touch we served the soup over heaps of steamed quinoa, and had our protein for the day as well.

And though we sat in our chilly kitchen, wrapping our frostbitten fingers around our steaming bowls, at least we could taste the warmth of summer’s goodness on our spoons.

Splendid

I would not cook so joyfully, nor clean half so willingly, without a public radio program called The Splendid Table. I download podcasts of this show from iTunes (a subscription is free, and all the archived shows are free as well – you can set yourself up with a Splendid Table bonanza and work your way through them, as I did) and listen to them in my kitchen as I clean and cook. A sinkful of dishes flies by, as does the prep for a three-course meal.

Now that I’ve worked my way through the archives and the show seems to be heavily in reruns, I have been experimenting with other radio shows to keep me company in the kitchen. KCRW’s Good Food is good, but doesn’t hold my interest so completely as Lynne Rosetto Kasper and her Splendid Table gang. This American Life is always absorbing, but there’s something about listening to food programming in the kitchen that just makes me really happy.

Tacos with cinnamon refried beans and cherry tomatoes

Last night I listened my way through a series of short podcasts made to herald the show’s new book: The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper while I gave the kitchen a much needed cleaning following a long weekend of friends and food. By the time I was done I didn’t have an ounce of energy left to make my own supper, but luckily that is the whole point of the book and these short podcasts – how to make your weeknight supper delicious and varied yet simple and not time-consuming. So I made my very first Splendid Table recipe, “Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove,” and then used those in tacos with the rest of the roasted tomatillo salsa, some of my new cherry tomatoes and some parsley.

Now the beans didn’t knock my socks off, but that wasn’t the point. They were tasty and filling and more creative than I would have come up with on my own at that point, and, best of all, I made them in a kind of mindless stupor and they still turned out exactly as they were meant to. I’m posting the recipe below, but what I truly want to share is the joy of this program, this absolutely free (I have donated money to American Public Media out of gratitude), absolutely addicting hour you can spend with someone who loves food and knows how to talk about it. Recipe follows… Continue reading