We had a few friends in for dinner tonight and I made a couple of my Five Star Pizzas. They’re so easy to make that preparing them never interferes with cocktail hour! And although I don’t have my pizza stone this recipe worked out great on a regular baking sheet. I picked up some fresh yellow bell peppers, marinated artichokes and black olives at the market and used two remaining fresh beefsteak tomatoes. The only thing outside of the original recipe that I added to my pizza was some leftover Tamari Tempeh from yesterdays lunch . Tamari Tempeh is one of those recipes I make so often it’s committed to memory. After the tempeh and a little vegetable oil, there’s really only one additional ingredient. Tamari soy sauce. How easy is that? Basically I take a few blocks of Tempeh, cut them in half, then quarters, then cut those quarters in half to create 8 thinner slices. Fry them up in just a little oil and when they’re nice and crispy take them out of the pan and brush them immediately with Tamari. Done! Not only is this great on sandwiches but excellent crumbled on pizza, especially this colorful and crispy pizza, tossed into a tofu scramble or on top of a simple salad. Especially satisfying when we’re craving just a bit of flavor rich protein with our veggies!
Vegan Corn Bread
Don’t expect the high rise of eggy cornbread, but do expect a delicious cornbread that’s moist and flavorful. This is great with soups, chili, or as a base for taco filling. Be sure to bake it just until a tester comes out clean and no longer. Overbaking this, or any cornbread, will make it too dry and crumbly.
1 c. unbleached white or whole-wheat flour
1/2 c. organic yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. white grits or masarepa (fine white cornmeal)
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. plus 1 T. warm water
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 T. pure cane sugar
1 t. fine kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9″ round pie pan, a 9″ cast iron skillet or an 8″ square baking pan. Mix the flour, cornmeals, and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together water, oil, sugar, salt, and optional ingredients, if using (see below). Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and combine with a fork, just until everything is well incorporated. Try not to over mix because it will create a denser, heavier bread. Pour the bread batter into your prepared pan of choice and bake it for about 30 minutes, or until a sharp knife or tester comes out clean. Again, don’t over bake!
While the bread is hot pierce all around with a sharp knife or skewer and dot the top with margarine, allowing it to melt into the bread.
Serve immediately or at room temperature. Leftover bread can be toasted or used as you would leftover polenta. Simply heat slices in the oven or toaster and top with stew, chili, or whatever comes to mind.
Optional additions to your cornbread might include chopped scallions, chives, jalapeño, roasted red pepper, cumin, or vegetarian “bacon” bits. 1/4 to 1/2 cup of any one or combination of ingredients will work well. Jalapeño or any intensely hot addition should be added by the tablespoon until the desired level of heat is attained.
Traditional Italian Garlic Bread
Most garlic bread in America is prepared using a soft “Italian” loaf that is layered with hefty amounts of butter, oil, salt, and dried herbs. After baking, it’s literally dripping with fat. Italians on the other hand usually only serve plain bread at the table, and most Italian breads are unsalted, especially in Tuscany. My version, a twist on both ideas, is simple to make, light, and delicious to eat. Using hearty bread, fruity olive oil and fresh garlic, this is a recipe you’ll use over and over.
1 loaf Tuscan style bread (firm dense bread is essential)
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
Slice the bread into 1-inch thick slices. Grill, broil, or toast both sides of the slices until they’re lightly browned, but still retain a little spring to the center. While the slice is still hot, take the peeled clove of garlic and gently rub the surface of the bread, concentrating on the outer edge next to the crust. The pressure you use rubbing the garlic on the sliced bread will determine the depth of garlic flavor, so go lightly if you want less garlic. Next, lay the slices on a sheet pan and drizzle them with olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt and enjoy.
Serve accompanying any entrée or use as your canvas for a wide varities of bruschetta toppings. A slice of this bread is also wonderful placed in the bottom of a bowl with your favorite soup spooned over it.
Any dense loaf of bread works for this recipe, including whole wheat, multi-grain, and French baguettes. Slice a thin baguette into rounds and you have instant crostini, for appetizers or soups.