Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cauliflower pizza crust

Here's another fun recipe to try from the always-entertaining blog, "Eating Our Words".

Cauliflower Pizza Crust a Delicious Work in Progress

Cauliflower Pizza.JPG
Photos by Christina Uticone
Not exactly finger food.
Like many, I'm trying to take this first month of the New Year to detox a bit, by making better food choices and upping my workout schedule. We tend to throw it down during the holidays, and the cumulative effects of rich food, plentiful booze, and sleep deprivation had me scouring the Internet for some new, healthy recipes. After seeing a dozen Tweets and Facebook status updates about cauliflower pizza crust, I set out to give it a try. My husbandloves cauliflower, and I liked the idea of a lower-cal version of a favorite dish.
The recipe is pretty simple, especially if you have a food processor (which we do not) but even if you have to chop the cauliflower yourself, it's a pretty fun project.
I looked at a few recipes online -- see them herehere, and here -- and got started. You'll need:
• One head cauliflower
• One egg, beaten
• Salt, pepper, herbs & spices to taste (dried or fresh)
• One cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
• Toppings of your choice
Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. After chopping the entire head of cauliflower into rice-sized pieces (this is where a food processor would have come in awfully handy) I put everything into a microwave-safe bowl and nuked it for about eight minutes, until the cauliflower was translucent. One of the recipes calls for boiling the riced cauliflower and then draining the water, and then further squeezing out moisture with a dishtowel, claiming that this method will result in a drier crust, one that can be picked up and eaten like a regular piece of pizza. After ricing an entire head of cauliflower by hand, that sounded a little labor intensive so ... maybe next time.
After the cauliflower was softened in the microwave I added the egg, salt, pepper, cheese, some dried basil, and three cloves of minced garlic. Onto a pizza stone, I pressed the mixture into a pizza crust shape approximately 1/3 inch thick, and then popped the whole thing into the oven for about 25 minutes, until the crust browned on the edges and top. I removed it from the oven, added toppings--not a lot, as a veggie crust didn't seem likely to hold much weight--and the whole thing went back into the oven, where I broiled it for about three minutes. (In addition to a schmear of Don Pepino pizza sauce I added some chopped olives, spinach, and cherry tomatoes, plus another quarter-cup of mozz.)
Cauliflower Pizza Half.JPG
The crust stays quite moist, so it doesn't exactly make a clean getaway from the stone.
On the plus side, this is truly a yummy alternative to a traditional pizza crust. On the negative side, there was no way to eat this with our hands -- the dough was still somewhat wet, and didn't easily separate from the pizza stone. This was definitely a fork kind of meal.
It was a nice change of pace, though, and filling enough to count as dinner, especially with a side salad. A bit of experimentation is in order -- especially if the claim that the crust can be prepped for a drier outcome is true. Overall, one of the better versions of a healthy pizza I've tried, and great for anyone who is going for gluten-free.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Atomic Deer Turds

When I saw the name of this dish, I just had to share it.*  This comes from a food blog I follow, "Eating Our Words", a feature of the Houston Press, and I thought you might enjoy it!

Texas Tailgating: Atomic Deer Turds

Sausage Fest
Photo by Robb Walsh
Note: This is a rerun of a post from 2008 in which former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh shares a favorite tailgating recipe in honor of game day.
Tailgaters love to stuff jalapeños with cheese (usually cream cheese) and wrap meat around them. To make "atomic buffalo turds," you stuff a half a jalapeño with a "cocktail smokie" sausage and cream cheese, wrap it with bacon, secure with a toothpick and grill until the bacon is crisp. Then there's "armadillo eggs," made by wrapping pork sausage around a cream cheese-stuffed pepper.
In Texas, where tailgaters, trail drive riders and hunting camp cooks have lots of venison on hand, variations on this theme use deer meat. I've seen butterflied venison backstrap and venison hamburger meat used as the outer layer around a stuffed jalapeño -- but the most common meat for this use is venison sausage. These are known by a number of names including "atomic deer turds," or, in polite company, "venison sausage balls."
I made some of these on my backyard grill for breakfast this morning. The initial burn of the jalapeño was intense enough to wake me up, but it quickly subsided into a pleasant mouth buzz that went great with my morning coffee. The trick to taming the heat is to clean out as much of the white inner membrane as you can before you stuff the pepper with cheese. If you really want to tone it down, you can also cut the pepper in half.
Atomic Deer Turds
I usually use aged gouda or jack cheese, but you can use whatever you have handy. Cream cheese works, too. Substitute pork sausage and you've got "armadillo eggs."
  • 2 small jalapeños
  • 2 one-inch chunks of cheese
  • 6-8 ounces venison sausage, cold
  • Cooking spray
Cut the the tops off the jalapeños, leaving one and a quarter inches of the bottom end of the pepper. With a butter knife, hollow out the inside of the pepper, removing all of the seeds and as much of the white pith as possible without puncturing the chile. Cut some cheese so that it fits inside the pepper.

Photo by Robb Walsh

Flatten a cold 3- to 4-ounce patty of venison sausage on a cutting board with your palm. Peel it up and fold it around the stuffed pepper, squeezing to form an oblong shape. Spray some oil on a grill or griddle and cook the stuffed sausage over medium heat, turning often, for about 15 minutes or until well-browned on all sides.
Allow to cool enough to handle, then, with a sharp knife, cut each oblong in half so you can see the pepper and cheese. Serve immediately.
Makes 4.