Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pizza, Nightshades, Book

Although neither of us can eat wheat, my 6th-grade daughter and I shared a delicious pizza last weekend, home-made and tasting like it was fresh from the local pizzeria.  In fact our whole house smelled like a pizzeria, and it was wonderful!  I want to share the recipe I used, as it was not only yummy but also very easy and quick to make. 

The recipe (for “Pizza Margherita”) came from Alice Sherwood’s Allergy-Free Cookbook (Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 2007).  Of course being the “Adapt-a-Recipe Queen”, I made a few tweaks to it, but in general I followed her suggestions for gluten-free pizza dough as well as toppings and cooking time.  Here’s the recipe, per my modifications:

Gluten-free dough (also nut-free and egg-free)
1 c. rice flour
¾ c. potato starch
¼ c. tapioca starch
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1½ tsp. instant yeast
1 T. olive oil plus extra 1 tsp. for pan
Scant 1 c. lukewarm water
2 T. cornstarch for dusting

6 -8 T. tomato sauce
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ c. sliced hard salami or pepperoni (optional)
1 T. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)

1)    Set oven to “warm” (or 150ºF).  Oil 12-in. pizza pan or baking sheet with 1 tsp. oil.
2)    In a food processor fitted with “kneading” blade, combine flours, xanthan gum, salt, sugar, yeast, and oil.
3)    Add water and mix to form soft dough that just begins to pull off sides of food processor bowl (2-3 mins).
4)    Dust clean flat work surface with cornstarch and transfer dough to work surface, shaping dough into ball (you may need to hand-knead slightly) and making sure cornstarch covers all surfaces of the ball.
5)    Roll out dough until approximately 12 inches in diameter.  Transfer dough to pizza pan and pat down, spreading evenly to edges of pan.
6)    Cover with aluminum foil and place in warm oven for 20 mins.
7)    Remove pan from oven and re-set oven temperature to 425 ºF.
8)    Spread tomato sauce on pizza dough, leaving about a ¼-in. rim of plain crust around edges.  Sprinkle cheese on tomato sauce, add salami or pepperoni slices (if using), then drizzle olive oil on pizza and sprinkle with oregano (if using).
9)    Bake in oven for 20 mins.  Pizza will be puffed up and golden when taken out of oven, but will lose its puffiness as cools.  Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are and what else is served with it.

One drawback of the above pizza recipe is, of course, that it contains potato starch, which belongs to the Nightshade Family and so is off-limits for many people with food allergies.  I haven’t experimented with other flours in this recipe, but I do believe it can be done, perhaps with added tapioca flour or rice flour.  In thinking about replacing the potato starch, I realized that the pizza also contains another nightshade: tomato.  This is harder to replace, but a first step might be to make a “white pizza” using only a cheese sauce plus flavorful herbs/spices. 

Unfortunately, in my quest for food substitutes to put into my (hopefully) soon-to-appear cookbook (see below), I didn’t find much for tomato.  This was a disappointment because there are some dishes that just can’t be done without tomato sauce, and that’s been a thorn in my side for a while now.  Though I did find some alternatives both for red and green (unripe) tomatoes, most of the alternatives are also members of the Nightshade Family (one that is not is the bilimbi fruit, also known as Indian tree cucumber, which like its sibling starfruit or carambola belongs to the Wood Sorrel Family).  A possible consolation is that some people who are allergic to one or more members of a food family are not necessarily allergic to other members of that same food family.  So, if you’re willing (and fairly certain you won’t have an adverse reaction), you could try these substitutes in place of tomatoes: 

Substitutes for green (unripe) tomato*: tomatillo (husk tomato, ground cherry), cape gooseberry, bilimbi fruit (mimbro, kamias, Indian tree cucumber), pepino (melon pear)

Substitutes for red (ripe) tomato*: ripe tamarillo (tree tomato), roasted red (bell) pepper + lemon juice

That soon-to-appear cookbook I mentioned, by the way, is actually more of a food substitutes and adaptable recipes guide, and it’s the main reason my posts to this blog have been so sparse lately.  I am planning to ship it off to my prospective publisher this weekend (it’s awaiting a final read-through by an unbiased friend at the moment – Mom and I decided we’re too close to the forest to really see the trees objectively). 

True to my nature, I’m not going to veg out now that one project is over (at least for the moment); I’m already working on a cookbook that will include lots more adaptable recipes and resources, I have several food allergy articles in the works, and I am impatiently waiting for the new local Asian market to open so that I can scour its shelves and discover some more ingredients to add either as substitutes or enhancements to my ongoing cooking experiments.  I’ll be sure to let you know what I find!

No comments: