Blueberry Pizza!?

Despite intuition that blueberries grow in cool climates (think Maine!) we’re right in the midst of blueberry season here in the Lowcountry. Last week I took a day off work and played hooky, heading out to our favorite family owned, organic farm in the area. D and I spent about an hour in the field and came out with about 10 POUNDS of fresh blueberries– many are safely stored in the freezer to be enjoyed throughout the year, but we’ve enjoyed our fair share (if not more!) this year with yogurt, in smoothies, and just popped in our mouths straight out of the bowl. Needless to say, we’ve got blueberries on the brain!

While we haven’t yet tackled canning and pickling of our own fresh veggies to keep them year round, my aunt in New York has perfected jams and compotes, and we are lucky to get to share in her bounty and creativity! She recently gave us a blueberry compote with flavors reminiscent of BBQ sauce (regrettably I don’t know the recipe) and when we found ourselves with an opened log of goat cheese, we knew the tart and sweet combination of the blueberries with the vinegar in the compote, and the smooth creamy taste of the goat cheese would be great on a pizza!

Blueberry compote, goat cheese, tempeh and kale pizza

Blueberry compote, goat cheese, tempeh and kale pizza

Blueberry Compote and Goat Cheese Pizza

1 package whole wheat pizza dough (or be 100% authentic and make your own!)

enough compote to cover the pizza dough–about 4 tablespoons

4 oz goat cheese

1 oz tempeh per person

3-4 large leaves kale, destemmed, washed, and thinly sliced

garlic powder

 

Pull pizza dough out of fridge to come to room temperature about 30 minutes before starting to assemble. About 10 minutes before ready, turn the oven to 400 degrees and put a cookie sheet or pizza stone in the oven to preheat.

Grate tempeh into a skillet with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook about 5 minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Set aside to cool.

On a pizza peel or large cutting board, lightly sprinkle cornmeal (or flour, if you don’t have cornmeal) to coat the surface. Stretch out the dough to your desired size and lay on the board, ensuring that the bottom of the dough gets sufficiently coated–you’ll need this to get the dough OFF the board and onto the cookie sheet/pizza stone. (Note: the dog will likely come visit during the stretching step– they have no faith that you won’t drop the whole thing on the ground!)

Spread the compote on the dough like you would with tomato sauce, topping with dollops of goat cheese. Sprinkle the tempeh over the goat cheese. Once the oven is fully heated and the cookie sheet/pizza stone have gotten at least 10 minutes to come up to temperature, remove the sheet/stone from the oven and spray or brush with oil. Quickly transfer the formed pizza to the HOT sheet/stone and as needed, adjust the shape and toppings.

Cook at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. When the crust begins turning golden and the cheese begins melting, top the pizza with the chopped kale and cook for another 3-4 minutes until it begins to crisp up. Remove the pizza from the oven and if you can, wait for it to cool before slicing.

everything you could want in a pizza and MORE!

everything you could want in a pizza and MORE!

HOLY PIZZA! Whether it’s considered a pizza or a flatbread I don’t know, and honestly don’t care. The sweet, the tangy, the crunch, the slight char of the kale, and the soft, chewy dough– this was a great culinary risk considering we had no idea how the compote would fare in the oven. My sole regret is that I can’t share the full recipe, since I don’t have the compote recipe and only have a few more ounces left for ourselves!

We loved this combination and look forward to integrating our fresh blueberries with goat cheese as well. Thanks Aunt Jane for the inspiration and creative use of your own local produce!

Advertisements

Vegetarian by Choice, Accidentally Vegan??

Going vegetarian was a very conscious and very intentional decision. We wanted to cut out meat from our diet, for not only ethical reasons but also health purposes, and after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals it just seemed difficult to wrap our heads, and mouths, around eating meat. But now, 2 years later, it seems our diets have changed in ways we didn’t expect. Often we find that the delicious meal we’re eating is actually vegan– quite accidentally! About 18 months ago we switched from dairy milk to almond milk– honestly because neither D nor I drink milk fast enough to justify buying even a 1/2 gallon at a time. We found we’d throw out milk almost every time we bought a bottle, and after tasting almond milk (we like Blue Diamond’s unsweetened original best) we figured…why not?! We now use almond milk for cereal, smoothies, coffee, oatmeal, baking, and everywhere else you’d add milk. I also switched over to using flax eggs in most of my baking, just because I find it an easy replacement (we dedicated our old coffee grinder to the task of grinding our seeds each time we need them) and flax seeds are much easier to store than dozens of eggs! As a result, we really only eat eggs when we’re making something…eggy… fried eggs over hash browns, quiche, fried rice, etc! These replacements were conscious, but in all honesty, by no means were they a concerted effort to be vegan…they were just replacements that made sense in our lives. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t think I could ever go 100% vegan simply because I’d miss really good quality, small batch cheeses!

But it seems, week after week, that we end up cooking vegan! Last night’s meal was the perfect example of summer eating in our house– taking the backyard ‘crops’ and turning them into a delicious meal. Our garden is flourishing and in the past 5 days, we’ve harvested 2 eggplants, a spaghetti squash, a yellow squash, 5 bell peppers, 6 jalapenos, 2 beefsteak tomatoes, dozens of heirloom and cherry tomatoes, and handfuls of herbs. We did a bunch of work in the yard after work yesterday (a 2 day project–removing a huge shrub and the remaining root ball from the yard!) and it was just too hot to eat a heavy meal. Last night’s dinner was 99% home-grown (everything except the condiments and salt/pepper came from our yard) and accidentally vegan-  a win-win! Keep reading to see what other ‘accidentally vegan’ meals we’ve been cooking up!

With 'crops' in our own yard, it's easy to skip the grocery store produce section in the summer!

With ‘crops’ in our own yard, it’s easy to skip the grocery store produce section in the summer!

Spaghetti Squash with Balsamic Tomatoes 

1 cup spaghetti squash, cooked and flesh removed from skin

handful of tomatoes, any variety

fresh basil, torn or chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

Put the tomatoes and fresh basil in a small bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper– let them sit and marinate. Coat a saute pan with olive oil and cook the garlic on medium-high heat just until it starts to release aroma. Add in the cooked spaghetti squash and coat with the garlic oil, then gently stir in the tomato mixture. Cook all ingredients together about 3-4 minutes, until the tomatoes soften. You could top it with fresh mozzarella cheese, but it’s fantastic as is, and very light!

Note: Our spaghetti squash was huge, so we cooked it up this weekend, pulled out the flesh, and will store it in the fridge for the week, pulling it out as needed. As a result, this meal took only as long to prepare as the saute pan took to heat up- if you’re cooking the spaghetti squash in the same night, it’ll be about an hour for cook time plus the time to assemble the dish.

Replace spaghetti squash for pasta in most recipes for a low-carb version!

Replace spaghetti squash for pasta in most recipes for a low-carb version!

 Morning Breakfast Smoothie

1 banana

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp flax seeds (whole is fine, the blender will chop them up)

heaping spoonful of almond or peanut butter

6-8 ice cubes

Mix all ingredients in a blender for a thick, creamy, and very filling morning smoothie!

 

Adapted from Bon Appetite's June 2014 version

Adapted from Bon Appetite’s June 2014 version

Barley and Fennel Salad

We modified Bon Appetite’s recipe from the June edition, removing the beets and red onion completely. Our vinaigrette was made with mostly freshly squeezed grapefruit juice instead of the vinegar, then just a dash of apple cider vinegar made up the remainder of the liquid in the dressing. This was tasty, filling, and had great texture between the crunch of the fennel and almonds compared to the soft barley. The mint came from our yard and we added some of the fennel fronds into the salad for some extra green and fennel flavor!

 

Our philosophy about a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle  is that reducing your animal product intake, even once a day or once a week, is better than nothing. Can you make that commitment? Can you acknowledge that not every meal needs a serving of meat, egg, cheese, or dairy? Try some of these recipes, or many of the other ones on the blog, to kick start a new kind of dining experience. Or better yet, take your favorite recipe and make it vegetarian/vegan- it’s a fun challenge and incredibly rewarding. And when it happens accidentally, it’s even more amazing! At the end of the day, adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle isn’t a sacrifice, it’s an opportunity to flip what you think about food 180 degrees. And when your ingredients happen to be as local as your backyard, or even a local family farm, you’ve got no reason not to.

Guest Blogger: D’s Grilled Asian Tofu

Hello blog world! This is D (AKA Big Daddy Veg) with a guest blog post! As a teacher I have summers off, and this inevitably leads to a daily “honey-do” list every morning from S. It also usually leads to me having a lot of free time on my hands, and so I get to spend a lot more time flexing my culinary muscles in the kitchen!

For last night’s dinner, I was inspired by a block of tofu that was already pressing in the fridge just begging for a marinade. We always have a section in the fridge full of Asian condiments, but I wanted to do something a little different. S has been making smoothies in the morning and so we had a container of pineapple in the fridge… light bulb! This marinade is full of the natural sweetness of the pineapple and it makes for an excellent char on the grill. The best news is since the tofu isn’t raw meat, the marinade can do triple duty by dressing the soba noodles after they are cooked and the rest can go on top of the tofu as a sauce after it comes off the grill!

Sweet, tangy, charred, and salty-- a great combo!

Sweet, tangy, charred, and salty– a great combo!

Grilled Marinated Tofu

1 block extra firm tofu, pressed for a day to remove water, then cut lengthwise into three “steaks”

Soy sauce

Hoisin

Sambal, or other Asian chili sauce

Pineapple, canned or fresh (we used canned)

Garlic

Ginger

Demarara or brown sugar

Combine all ingredients except tofu into a small blender or mini-chopper and puree until a smooth marinade forms. Put tofu in a zip-top bag just big enough to hold it, then add in all the marinade. Put the bag in a container to prevent leakage and place the container in the fridge. Flip the tofu every few hours to marinate evenly anywhere from one to two days (I did two). When you are ready to cook, get a grill as hot as possible and grill the tofu on both sides until a nice char and crust forms (it helps to leave the cover down to heat the whole piece through). When done cooking, remove the tofu from the grill and serve topped with extra marinade and over noodles and baby bok choy (recipe to follow).

For the soba noodles, cook in boiling water according to the directions on the package. Drain, then return to the pot and add in enough marinade to coat while tossing.

 

Steamed Baby Bok Choy

3 baby bok choy

Garlic, minced

Ginger, grated or thinly sliced

White miso paste (to taste)

Slice each of the baby bok choy in half lengthwise. In a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, add water, ginger, garlic, and miso paste and whisk to combine. The mixture in the skillet should still be watery, and come up to about halfway up the pan wall. Place the bok choy in the skillet, put on the lid and raise the heat to medium. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until bok choy is tender.

S and I put the noodles in the base of a bowl, topped them with a few pieces of bok choy and then put a tofu steak on top. The flavors in this are explosive! The sweet and spicy sauce, the perfumed bok choy, the base of the noodles… we scarfed this one down! The best part is you can customize the marinade to suit your own tastes: less spicy, less sweet, more ginger… happy eating!