Monday, 12 January 2015

Polenta Pizza and Other Nice Stuff

It's been a while since we posted about any food we have cooked.  Family commitments and lack of time at Christmas had us just sticking to more standard meals to meet the needs of less 'foody' family members, at the expense of time spent in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. 

This was our first weekend to ourselves for a while and the weather wasn't doing much to coax us out so it left the way clear to try out a few recipes.

Over the Christmas period I visited the Oxfam bookshop in Truro (great little bookshop by the way).  Not only were they doing a half price sale but I found a copy of the book that accompanies the film Forks Over Knives.  It's a great resource for vegan facts and dietary advice and it has a fair amount of really good recipes in it.  I didn't even know there was a book so am delighted to have found it, let alone in Oxfam.  If you see it anywhere, I would recommend it along with visiting the website for loads more great recipes.

So on to what I cooked - Plant-Powered Polenta Pizza from the Forks Over Knives book was my choice; my shortened quick fire version of which I include below. With this we had BBQ Cauliflower Salad from the latest edition of Vegan Life magazine (although I think you will agree that our version pictured looked nothing like the photo of the recipe on the front cover - still tasted good though!).  All in all it was great to get back in to the kitchen, trying out new recipes and filling our plates with not only dinner for that evening but for lunch the next day.

Polenta Pizza

For the crust the recipe said use 4 cups of water or broth to 2 cups of polenta and 1 teaspoon of salt and to cook it for 40 minutes but... I used 2 cups of quick cook polenta, 6 cups broth (made with water and Marigold vegan bouillon powder) and because the bouillon is quite salty I did not add any salt.  Make sure the broth is boiling and then slowly stir in the polenta.  This took about 5 minutes to become thick in the saucepan (keep stirring or it will stick) and then I scraped the mixture into a pizza pan and spread to the edges with a slight lip to make sure the sauce would stay in place.  I then cooked this at 200 degrees C for 30 minutes.  It got nicely crispy at the edges but not too brown.

For the tomato sauce, again the recipe said 1 pound of tomatoes (best to use lovely deep red organic ones for this), salt, 6 - 8 garlic cloves and fresh herbs of your choice.  I used about 8 medium sized tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt and only one garlic clove (Phil would have killed me if I'd used anymore as it was garlicky enough!).  Quarter the tomatoes and place on a baking tray with the sprinkle of salt and the garlic clove and pop into the oven with the crust for 30 minutes too.  Once  nicely caramelised, pop the mixture into a blender with the herbs of your choice (I used a handful of coriander) and blend to a sauce.

For the cashew cheese, I did stick to the quantities suggested which were - 1 cup cashews, 1/2 lemon juiced, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon of herbs (I used oregano which was lovely) and 1/4 cup water.  I did finely grind the cashews in a spice grinder first (which I think really helped) before then adding all the ingredients into a blender to bring to a consistency which you can roll into little 'balls'.  I might have added a little too much water but I was still able to dollop it on to the pizza in satisfyingly thick spoonfuls!

Other toppings of your choice - for this I wanted to just keep it simple.  I noticed a suggestion to make maple shiitake mushrooms by slicing them and tossing in a frying pan with a splash of both tamari and maple syrup until the liquid is absorbed.  I liked that idea so that's what I went with along with the tomato sauce and cashew cheese.

Assemble pizza by pouring the sauce onto the crust followed by dollops/balls of the cheese and the mushrooms (or topping of your choice).  Bake for a further 10 mins just to cook the toppings.


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