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no matter what the road block in life, a great recipe can get you back to the bright side

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Challenge Accepted No. 1

So a few weeks ago (at least, sorry I've been really busy with wedding things!) I asked on my Facebook page what sort of things people would like me to make. Two things that stuck out for me was the request for a different type of pizza dough - a flaky one and a gluten & dairy free dessert that wasn't simply a fruit salad. Challenge accepted!!

But first before I go into that I wanted to talk about a couple things. The first thing I want to talk about has nothing to do with these recipes. It's actually more about self-confidence and self-discovery. As many of you know the first 9mths in Newcastle were tough for me. That was 9mths straight of looking for work and having the confidence I built over the 10 years previously destroyed in a 10th of the time. I can't imagine being off work longer than that, and I have great sympathy for anyone who has to go through it. To keep this short I'll just say that over the course of that time my mind wandered to many different career territories and I've never had so much doubt cast upon myself nor have I questioned myself that much since leaving high school. Maybe it's the upcoming appraisal at work, or maybe the potential of new exciting opportunities but I'm questioning things again. Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit of a "Jack of all trades, Master of none" but if there's one thing I'm sure of, one thing I know makes me happy - food, cooking, baking. And that's why I do this blog.

The second thing is gluten and/or dairy free food. I have to say that finding recipes wasn't all that difficult but DAAAAMN finding the ingredients can be! It's a bit naive to think that your local supermarket will have the products you require. Sure rice milk and tofu are becoming more and more available and some supermarkets have a gluten free section - by section I mean 2-3 shelves in the dried goods aisle. It really can't be easy to live like that and I do hope that more supermarkets will make gluten and dairy free products available. When I was in Manchester a couple weeks ago, one of the women in our group had to eat gluten free food. I was surprised to learn that many restaurants actually have a special gluten free menu- you have to know to ask for it, in fact you have to know that restaurant has the options, but it's really good to see nonetheless. In case you're curious - Las Iguanas has a gluten free menu. :)

Ok, enough of that bumf - now to the food! Let's start go in order, main then dessert. The beauty of this pizza is that the crust is very unique and almost like a proper pie. Super delish!

I used the popular new smartphone app Vine to create a couple videos - check them out below :)

Flaky Pizza Pie

2 cups of all purpose flour and extra for kneading (polenta for the pan)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) of butter- cubed and chilled
2/3 cup of warm water
1/2 tsp of instant yeast

toppings, sauce, cheese of your choosing!

Method to the madness:

1) Preheat the oven to as hot as it will go!

2) Prep your baking pans. So I put some wax paper on 2 baking pans and sprinkled some polenta - this will add a little extra crunch to the dough!

3) In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Then add the cubes of butter and using your hands mix everything together until it's like coarse sand. Then add the warm water to the yeast in a small bowl. Let it sit a couple minutes then add it to the bowl of flour and mix together with a fork until sufficiently moist.

4) Sprinkle some flour on the counter top and tip the dough onto the surface. Knead it for only about a minute until relatively smooth and combined. Then separate the dough into two balls and leave them under the cover of a damp kitchen towel for 30 minutes.

5) In the mean time prep your toppings! I was feeling green today so we went with green peppers, green olives and mozzarella. If I had some fresh basil I would have put that on as well!

6) After 30 mins using your hands - flatten out each dough ball onto your the pans. Using a fork poke holes in the dough to let the air through. Put the dough (without toppings) in the oven for 5 mins. Then take them out, brush with some olive oil, then put on your toppings. Then cook the pizzas in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Once lightly golden brown it's ready!!

Gluten and Diary Free Banana Cake with Meringue Icing

1 1/2 cups of ground almonds
1/ cup of brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mix of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup light olive oil
2 tbsp of honey
4-5 medium bananas (ripe) mashed into a puree
2 tbsp of vanilla extract

4 egg whites (room temp)
1 pinch of salt
couple drops of vanilla extract
1 cup of granulated sugar

Method to the madness:

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line and grease your cake pan.

2) If you bought blanched whole almonds you'll want to put them in a processor and grind them down. Add the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl and mix together.

3) In a separate larger bowl whisk the eggs. Then add in the oil, honey, banana, vanilla, sugar and whisk together.

4) Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and whisk well - for about 2 minutes.

5) Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 30-35 mins - until golden brown and a stick comes out clean.

6) Whilst that is baking you can make the icing. Separate your eggs so that you only have the whites in the bowl. Add the pinch of salt, vanilla and sugar then start to whisk! This is where having and electric whisk comes in SUPER handy. Even with the electric whisk it still seemed to take forever to get soft peeks!!!

7) When the cake is done - let it cool a wee bitty, then serve with the meringue icing!



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