Gluten Free Grilled Pizza

Since the girls were itty bitty, I’ve been making homemade pizza. In fact, it’s one of my fondest memories, our weekly ritual of ‘make your own’ pizzas on Friday nights. Sometimes it would be just us, but many times it would be with friends of all ages, followed by movie night. I would throw the ingredients in the bread maker, turn it on and set to prepping the fixings. When the dough dinger chimed, everyone received a wad to form for themselves, and top how they wished, choosing from the variety of toppings I put out. For us, it was the perfect way to wrap up a week, everyone elbow to elbow, creating their own personal masterpiece, watching it bake and then enjoyment of eating it. It is just a communal meal that invites conversation and relaxation. One day, I read in a cooking magazine, someone grilling their pizza and thought that was a FABULOUS idea! From then on, if the weather was cooperative, I grilled our pizza.

Then, my daughter was diagnosed gluten intolerant and that tradition came to a screeching halt.

For those unfamiliar with the challenges of GF baking, you might take for granted the marvelous qualities gluten gives to flour. It allows you to stretch and form the dough while staying intact. Depending upon the technique and recipe, it has a lovely ‘chew’, it’s texture varying from soft to crunchy. Gluten free flours have to rely upon gums like Guar and Xanthan to keep the baked goods together, and none really seem to mimic properly real gluten. I just don’t think they’ll ever have a ‘hand tossed’ Gluten Free pizza unless a genius invents an allergen free gluten.  I’ve tried many different recipes and varying brands of pre-mixes, not one was a keeper.  Most of these have you pat the wet dough out in a pan and pre-bake, adding the toppings after its cooked through. That isn’t a pizza in my book, and not only were some attempts like trying to chew cardboard, some had spongy texture that was unappetizing. Many couldn’t hold up to the toppings, and would get a mealy sort of soggy during the bake. It was all very discouraging, and I’d considered throwing in the towel and resigning ourselves to Dominos delivery for our pizza fix. (Note: I say considered, I would really never give up!) Then recently, a friend brought over a current issue of newer cooking magazine called “Simply Gluten Free“. I was extremely grateful for the thoughtfulness because for one, its a beautiful magazine; and secondly, it sported a cover photo of grilled pizza! I flipped to the recipe and decided to give it another try. I mean, it’s pizza, and it’s grilled, and they have a photo of the finished product, so it must have been successful. Right? That is a big ole affirmative! This was SO successful that it deserves to be shared, so here is my modified version of the recipe posted by Carol Kicinski in the July-August edition, along with photos to document our success!

Grilled Pizza Dough

(makes 8 personal sized Pizzas)

2 Cups Pamelas Bread Flour

2 tsp Xanthan Gum

1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast

3/4 tsp sea salt

1-2 Tbsp King Arthur Flours Pizza Seasoning (Optional. This has salt in it, you can reduce the salt in the recipe if you wish, or you can add fresh or dried herbs like oregano and basil, or just leave plain) [2015 note: there are many no-salt seasonings out there now, so if salt is an issue for you, try one of those. Or, just add dried basil and oregano)

1/2 tsp pure cane sugar

2 tablespoons really high quality Extra Virgin Olive oil (plus extra to brush the cooked pizzas with)

1/2-3/4 Cup Hot Water, temperature should be right about 110 degrees

Put the dry ingredients in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. (I know it sounds odd, but since this is not wheat flour, it works better than a dough hook or the paddle attachment)  Add the olive oil and whisk in. Then, add about 1/2 cup of the hot water and mix, adding more until the dough has come together and starts to form a ball around the whisk. Its better to be able to add more water if you need (be careful, it can splash!) than to have it too wet. I found that the dough starts off crumbly, then comes together quite nicely with about 2/3 of a cup water. It will feel slightly tacky, but not dry, and not wet.

Remove and turn the ball out on a floured surface. (I used Pamelas Artisan All-Purpose flour to dust my counter) Give the dough a few good kneads to smooth it out until it’s no longer sticky. Cut the ball in to quarters, and then cut the quarters in to halves, creating 8 balls of dough. I kept mine covered with a clean tea towel while I worked, so they would not dry out.

Using a rolling pin, roll the balls out in to discs that should be about 7-8 inches wide. These will be fairly thin, but if you have worked the dough correctly, they will hold together. Stack on a pan, separating the disks with parchment or wax paper. Heat your grill, and lightly oil the cooking surface.

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Grill the dough, flipping at about 2 minutes.

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You are partially cooking them, not fully cooking. Many of mine puffed like a pita bread, no worries, it will deflate off the grill. After they are finished on the grill, very LIGHTLY brush both sides with olive oil. Be sparing with the oil, you don’t want them to be soggy.

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While waiting for the family to gather, you can pre-grilled these, set aside to cool, then loosely cover with a tea towel. In the meantime, I mis en place the toppings.

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When everyone was ready, I took everything outside by the grill to let the magic happen! We created the following pizzas, which we then cut in to 4ths, allowing all of us to sample each one. Cook these over medium heat with the lid down so the bottoms won’t burn while the toppings heat up and the cheese melts. Check frequently.

Margherita: Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and GF artisan pizza sauce, before

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And after:

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Garlicky Bacon-Chicken Artichoke with Smoked Gouda and roasted bell peppers:

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And after:

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Traditional Hawaiian:

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And Greek (Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Feta and Tomatoes from my garden):

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And lastly, Grilled Potato, Bacon, Tomato, Smoked Gouda and Roasted Garlic:

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Notice that these are not the traditional uber-loaded American style pizza? Do not over load these, they are study enough to grill, but they will get soggy and break if the toppings applied with a heavy hand. We rather liked this thin crust ‘flat-bread’ style of pizza, and we most certainly loved the fun of creating, cooking and eating these outdoors, al fresco style. Can anything be better than communal cooking outside in beautiful weather, then the satisfaction of sitting back with friends and family to enjoy the fruits of your efforts?

PS) I provided links to some of the products I use. These are not paid advertisements, I just really like the product and like to share  products and brands I enjoy and what I think works well.

PSS) I really recommend Pamela’s bread flour for this recipe. It has a bit of sugar in the flour, which helps the dough ‘caramelize’ like wheat flour would. I also realize the flour has xanthan gum in it already, but add the additional 2 tsp as stated in the recipe.


‘Grilled’ Onion Soup

'Grilled' Onion Soup

This is one of my summertime favorites, because in the heat of the summer the last thing I want to do is turn my oven on. In the winter, it is a nice side benefit to have its’ warmth to heat the house. In the summertime, not so much!

We finally had a break in the never-ending snow blizzards and received our first taste of spring this weekend, so I was inspired to break out one of my favorite summertime side dishes. Grilled onion soup!

I’ve made these for so long, I can’t remember where I picked up the idea. I think it was Paula Deen. All I know is that they are easy, gluten free, and tasty. Here is what you do:

*Cut the top off a sweet onion (leave the root end intact) and carefully peel away the outer paper layer.
*Using a melon baller or a sharp spoon, core out a small opening in the center.
*Using your knife, slice down (but all the way through) to create petals. I usually do 4 cuts resulting in 8 leaves. (see photo)
*Stuff a beef boullion cube (I used Better than Boullion; 1 tsp) and about 1 tbsp of unsalted butter in the well you created in the center. (at this point you can grind some pepper on the onion)
*Wrap in tin foil, sealing tightly. Use a heavy duty tin foil, or a double layer of regular weight. You want to not have any juices leak.
*Place on the middle or top rack of your grill, over medium heat. If you don’t have a rack, you can place on the grates. Placing on the upper grate allows you to walk away and leave unattended until done. If placing directly on the grill, be sure to keep an eye out for burning…use an indirect heat or the lowest setting possible.
*Cook for approximately 40-55 mins, depending upon the size of the onion. The onion should give very easily when squeezed with tongs.

I usually do these first and then let sit while I grill the rest of my food. They will stay nice and hot if left in their foil and covered with a tea towel for at least a 1/2hr. (At least they do for me)

When serving, carefully open your foil from the top. Pour the juices in your crock or bowl and place the onion in the middle.

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. It tastes just like french onion soup, only there is no standing over a hot stove worry about burning onions.

(amount of ‘broth’ will vary depending upon the juiciness of the onion)


Lamb kebabs with Gluten Free Pita

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Oh, it truly is the little things that make my daughter happy. I’m glad for it, but as it’s something as simple as a flatbread it makes me sad, just a little. Nowadays with her gluten intolerance, many of her favorite foods are tough to come by or not available, unless mom gets creative and does her homework. 

One of our favorite dinner meals are lamb kebabs done Moroccan style with tzatziki sauce (i was inspired by alton browns version, using greek FAGE yogurt), tomatoes, cucumber, white onions and grilled peppers. It hits all the main food groups so it’s a variation of a ‘one pot’ meal for sure. Perfect for a sunday sabbath day, cold outside but sunny and cheery. Not a bad day to experiment.  

The current dilemma has been a homemade gluten free pita bread that doesn’t take all day or a lot of special ingredients. Over at Gluten-Free on a Shoestring they came up with a recipe I felt fit those constraints and worthy of giving a try.  (here is the link. ) Sunday is as good a day as any to get creative, so I headed down to my freezer and pulled out the last of my ground lamb from my farmer. (see Todd & a well stocked freezer) While it defrosted, I started the bread, mixing and putting in a warmed oven to rise. (My house is kept too cool for normal bread rising. I turn my gas pro-range on just long enough to warm the oven cavity, then turn it off and put my dough in, covering with a tea towel)

Meanwhile I got the meat ready, prepped the veggies and cracked open a lovely bottle of pinot noir to sip while cooking. For the meat I made a puree of cilantro, parsley and onion, then adding cumin, paprika and cayenne, salt and pepper. I gave the meat, all the spices along with the puree a quick whiz in the food processor, then formed in to patties and grilled along with an orange bell pepper. I sliced the bell pepper to serve with the other veggies on the wraps. (grilling mellows the flavor and adds another texture as well as contrast to the dish) 

While the grill was heating, I formed and baked up the pita. This time I used Pamela’s Bread Mix and Flour Blend and holy cow, did they turn out awesome. I think the photos will testify they certainly look the part. Here is a picture of them prior to baking. (sorry for the shadows, I have a pot rack that hangs below my light!) :

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My only modification was to brush the top with some extra virgin olive oil and turn the convection fan on. I also flipped them at the 6 minute mark and let them go another 2 minutes. VOILA. AWESOME-Y GOODNESS! 

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This pita recipe is designed to make pita pocket bread. That was not my goal, so I was not disappointed at all when only one puffed as it should. In our family, we don’t care for the pita pockets, as they always seem tough. No, we prefer the ‘flatbread’ style of pita, which this recipe produces wonderfully. I can already envision my famous hummus with fresh baked gluten free pita. My daughter will be in heaven! 

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